Sunday, 14 October 2012

Beachy Head (14 October 2012)

I met John King at Birling at 07:15 having had to scrape my car windscreen for the first time this autumn.  We covered all the normal areas on top to as far as the rides above the eastern side of Whitbread Hollow.  There was good early visible migration, most notably pigeons (a sure sign that autumn is getting on), but a clear night seemed to have cleaned out most of the smaller land birds.  Fortunately Ring Ouzels were still present, and performing better than previously.

In 7 hours I saw 4 Sparrowhawks, 2 Buzzard, 3 Peregrines, at least 35 Stock Doves (most pigeon flocks included one or two), 2000 Wood Pigeons (flocks were counted in 50s so a more accurate count than it may seem), 3 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 80 Swallows, 70 House Martins, 47 Pied Wagtails, Grey Wagtail, 21 Robins, 12+ Ring Ouzels, Blackcap (just one!), 6 Chiffchaffs, 12 Goldcrest, Firecrest (in the hotel garden), 16 Great Tits (more obvious than usual), 6 Jays (2 at Birling, 2 at Shooter's Bottom and 2 over Whitbread Hollow), 600 Jackdaws, Raven, 590 Goldfinches, 28 Siskin, 7 Redpolls and 5 Reed Bunting.

We saw at least 10 Ring Ouzels in Shooter's Bottom with 2 or 3 more seen in the hotel garden and at least one heard in both France's Bottom and Whitbread Hollow (where I'd seen 2 and 4 respectively the previous day).  At Shooter's Bottom they were favouring the north east quadrant but were keeping out of sight most of the time.  On one occasion 7 got up and flew across towards us in a loose flock, most appearing to be males - a wonderful sight.

juvenile Ring Ouzel in Shooter's Bottom
considered to be a female as the throat is paler than the breast, at least that is my reading of Svensson's ID Guide to European Passerines!

close foliage being annoying
another Ring Ouzel at Shooter's Bottom, nice of it to sit up , pity it wouldn't turn around ...
the rounded tail feathers in autumn suggest an adult
and the white crescent, the edge of which is just visible here, a male. Stunning birds whatever.
Low tide on the Adur was its usual disappointment - 1 bait-digger, 1 Little Egret, 15 Ringed Plover, 6 Redshanks and few gulls (no colour-rings).

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