Sunday, 21 October 2012

Beachy Head & Hove Sabine's Gull (21 October 2012)

21 October.  After yesterday's success Beachy seemed worth another go despite an pretty indifferent forecast.  I met John King outside the University, giving us a chance to cancel just in case the weather was worse than expected.  Fortunately it wasn't and JK drove me over to Birling where we arrived at 7.30 am just after Doreen, John & David Cooper and Brenda Kay.  First bird up the lane was a Black Redstart and a strong easterly passage of Goldfinches was evident.  The Siberian Stonechat was performing along the original fences by the road back to East Dean although viewing was often into the rain.  The light was duller than yesterday which made it look more contrasting but again I failed to see the axilliaries (thanks to Bob Edgar for correcting me on the name of these feathers).  After another couple of hours with the stonechat JK and I covered the rest of the top of the head, leaving Belle Tout to others.  I saw 12 Gannets,  Little Egret, Grey Heron, 2 Sparrowhawks, 2 Peregrines, 4 Stock Dove, 60 Swallows, 30 House Martins, 51 Pied Wagtails, Black Redstart, a late Whinchat, Siberian Stonechat, just 3 Stonechats (keeping their heads down), 2 Ring Ouzels, 5 Chiffchaffs, 4 Goldcrests, 1600 Goldfinches,  4 Redpolls, 220 Linnets and a Reed Bunting.

Siberian Stonechat still along the fence at Birling and showing whitish throat, supercilium (at  this angle) very plain underparts and black flight feathers

this photo shows the long primaries but the supercilium disappears
Hearing that a Sabine's Gull had been seen again along hove seafront we came back that way, seeing our only Jay of the day fly over the road in Seaford.  We parked near hove police station (no charge on Sundays) from where it was a 5 minute walk down Holland Road to the sea.  Shortly after we arrived Mick Davies picked up the bird flying along over the sea from the west level with Brunswick Square.  It landed on the water and in the next two hours was watched walking around on the promenade oblivious to all but the closest people.  When disturbed it would fly at little above head high before pitching down on the prom again, although it did go missing on a couple of occasions and did land on the sea briefly again.  Also a Wheatear on Hove beach was particularly pleasing as we'd looked for but not found a couple at Beachy.   Another excellent day in Sussex, and how often can one say that.

Sabine's Gull on the sea off  Hove

flying over the promenade
flying west along Hove promenade
juvenile Sabine's Gull on Hove promenade

very approachable, it caused quite a stir amongst birders and  promenaders alike even though it was very well camouflaged and many walked right past without seeing it. 

many thanks to someone for an absolutely superb find

I was particularly taken with the black smudge in front of the eye

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