Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Beachy (21 September 2016)

Wednesday 21 September. The 21 September is a special date for me. It is the day I first saw the stunning Yellow-throated Vireo at Kenidjack, Cornwall in 1990 (still one of my 'best' rarities). Closer to home but ten years earlier was perhaps the biggest fall I've witnessed (at Beachy Head, but more of that later). 

Back to the reality of a so far very disappointing autumn and I hoped a slight change in the weather might lead to some improvement. Bob Self recording a 'personal worst' at Seaford Head the previous day was not encouraging but having stayed local on Monday when I could have gone to Beachy I didn't want to risk making the same mistake again. It turned out to be the right decision as I had a good day. Not a great one but very enjoyable with enough birds to keep my interest from 06:30 to 15:30 when I had to leave. I walked around Birling then up to the rides above Whitbread Hollow and back via Long Down. Beachy Head Road was closed from Birling to the car park west of the Beachy Head Hotel for resurfacing (due to last up to 8 weeks) although I would have walked anyway. During my visit I saw a juvenile Honey Buzzard (flying steadily SE over me on Long Down at 14:05, continuing out beyond the para-gliders over the cliff edge, no pics as I couldn't find it in the viewfinder when I finally decided it might be a good idea to take some), 7 Buzzards, 4 Sparrowhawks, 9 Sand Martins, 1050 Swallows, 550 House Martins, an adult White Wagtail (on hotel roof), 2 Redstarts, 6 Whinchats, 21 Stonechats, 4 Wheatears, a flushed Grasshopper, Sedge and 3 Reed Warblers, a Lesser and 27 Common Whitethroats, 31 Blackcaps, 40 Chiffchaffs and 18 Corn Buntings (in bushes at Birling).
Whinchat at Birling

another Whinchat
the first Redstart I have seen this September
the second Redstart this month and hopefully not the last, a smart male, 
juvenile female Green Woodpecker
Tuesday 20th. Wheatear was on Southwick Beach as I was cycling to work.

Monday 19th. After a disappointing visit to Beachy on 18th I stayed local visiting the Adur for the early morning high tide (just 9 Ringed Plover and 13 Dunlin) before walking around Mill Hill. I faced my usual dilemma, wanting it to be reasonably good to make it worth going but not too good to make me wish I'd gone to Beachy. It was heading towards the former with 5 Brent Geese (west over the sea at great distance trying out a different telescope), 110 Swallows, 14 House Martins, 5 Whitethroats, 21 Blackcaps and 12 Chiffchaffs but a Spotted Flycatcher tipped it towards the latter and by all accounts there were a lot of birds at Beachy. Later I saw a Wheatear on Southwick Beach as I was cycling home from the dentist.
Song Thrush at Mill Hill
Spotted Flycatcher at Mill Hill

Journey through the past

21 September 1980. Marsh Harrier 1, Hobby 1, Turtle Dove 4, Little Owl 1, Swift 9, Sand martin 50+, Swallow 2000+, House Martin 500+, Tawny Pipit 6, Yellow Wagtail 10, Blue-headed Wagtail 1 male, Redstart 7, Whinchat 250, Wheatear 200, Ring Ouzel 6, Sedge Warbler 1, Lesser Whitethroat 2, Whitethroat 15+, Garden Warbler 5, Blackcap 30, Chiffchaff 25+, Willow Warbler 5, Goldcrest 2, Firecrest 2, Spotted flycatcher 16, Pied Flycatcher 2.

In September 1980 I was 26, had seen 364 species in Britain (which at the time seemed like quite a lot!) and 1650 in the World thanks to birding trips to Morocco, Kenya, Thailand, Nepal and Canada. It all seems a very long time ago now.

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