Saturday, 13 October 2012

Beachy Head (13 October 2012)

With the days drawing in I won't be cycling to and from work in daylight for much longer, unfortunately, although a busy week meant that some return journeys ended in darkness -definitely time to put some new batteries in my lights.  A Peregine was seen on Southwick chimney twice, a Grey Wagtail over Brighton and colour-ringed Herring gulls A4AH and A4AJ at Sussex University, where both had been ringed (as adults) in 2007.

I got away on time on Thursday and, with the lock-gates open as a cargo ship was going out, I cycled on to the East Arm of Shoreham Harbour.  There I was rewarded with a nice view of a Purple Sandpiper, 3 Turnstones and a Rock Pipit.  It is not often that I thank the Shoreham Harbour lock-gates for being open, although as one side or the other must always be closed it is beyond me why cyclists and pedestrians can't be directed across the western lock-gate when the eastern one is open to boats.

the hyper-efficient Gatun Lock, Panama Canal, August 1985.  Shoreham could learn a few things from them.
13 October.  I made the basic mistake of believing the previous evenings weather forecast and anticipating a nice sunny day left home just after 6 a.m. to start at Shooter's Bottom at dawn.  To make matters worse, as I anticipated doing a fair amount of walking, I left my umbrella behind.  I arrived at 7 a.m. to find it hardly light, just starting to rain and with heavy black clouds heading my way.  The rain got progressively heavier and I got quite wet in my not-so waterproof trousers before it finally blew over and the sun came out.  Until then I was rather wishing I'd been due a flu jab which had kept JK away although I ended up having a fairly satisfying day.   I covered all the usual areas on the Head including Cow Gap beach and Whitbread Hollow although by the time I got to Birling (done last rather than first) there was little to be seen there.  I recorded 4 Sparrowhawks, 3 Stock Dove, 500 Wood Pigeons, Great Spotted Woodpecker, 25+ Sky Larks, 85 Swallows, 4 House Martins, 67 Pied Wagtails, 22 Robins, 7 Ring Ouzels (2 in France's Bottom, 4 in Whitbread Hollow and 1 in the hotel garden), 21 Blackbirds, Whitethroat (east of Belle Tout Wood), 17 Blackcaps, 64 Chiffchaff, a late Willow Warbler along the cliff path, 7 Goldcrests, 4 Firecrests, 15 Jays (10W and 5 around Whitbread Hollow), 2 Ravens (over the hotel and again tumbling over Belle Tout lighthouse), Brambling (heard only), 470 Goldfinches, 2+ Siskins (several others heard) and 3 Redpoll.   Unfortunately none of the Ring Ouzels gave particularly good views.  I only saw 2 perched and those were not for long enough to digiscope.  In addition 4 Ring Ouzels were seen in Shooter's Bottom after I left there.

Few gulls, a Little Egret and 2 Redshank were on the Adur at low tide although it was hardly worth looking.  Finally 8 Blackbirds in our small back garden at dusk.

Raven at Beachy, regularly seen these days but they still give me a thrill
Whitethroat at Beachy, or did I just overlook a Swainson's Thrush?
no birds on the Adur (as is usually the case for me) but an interesting sky
Aurora adurensis

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