Saturday, 12 October 2013

Beachy comes good (12 October 2013)

Saturday 12th.  I'd not intended going to Beachy but an improving forecast and conversations with John King persuaded me otherwise.  We arrived at Birling at 07:45, a bit later than usual, to avoid early morning rain that hadn't materialised.  Bob Edgar had already been up the lane and seen a number of Ring Ouzels in the pines at the top.  This was encouraging as I'd only had a brief flight view of one this year (at Mill Hill) but JK and I reached the gate on the track to Went Hill before I heard one.  It was to be a Ring Ouzel day. Previously my best ever day count was 69, at Beachy, on 12 October 1991 (22 years ago to the day) while in 2008 I managed to go all year without seeing one.  My record was set to tumble as I covered most of the head with JK, John & David Cooper and Brenda Kay.  I saw 19 at the top of the lane at Birling and c20 flying North.  We then went straight to Shooter's Bottom which is traditionally one of the better sites at Beachy for Ring Ouzels and were not disappointed.  At least 50 flew east across one of the eastern rides as soon as we arrived while at least 40 were sitting up and flying around the SW quadrant.  Others were zipping back and forth and an estimate of 100 is probably conservative. Next stop east was the old trapping area where about 10 seemed to be feeding in the bushes but they were suddenly disturbed and 35 flew out wit at least 5 still in there and another 4-5 in the next buses up.  About 60 flew out of the Beach Head Hotel garden with another 5 still feeding and 17 in low bushes by the cliffs at Icky Ridge.  The Cliff Path, another classic area for Ring Ouzel, was surprisingly disappointing with none seen.  A quick look around Belle tout wood also drew a blank but 7 were seen on the way back to Birling.  I estimated I'd seen about 273 but with a couple of hours in hand before visiting my dad we decided to try Crowlink in the hope of seeing some more.  Here we disturbed a large flock from a patch of scrub near the car park which flew off high N.  DC was better placed than JK and I counted 114.  I saw 6 more in Crowlink, 41 in the scrub below Crowlink and the sea and 5 in Flathill Bottom.  Returning to the car park there were still about 40 Ring Ouzels in the original bushes.  I estimated that I'd probably seen 162 in the Crowlink area making a day total of 435, fantastic!

Otherwise it was very quite with Sand Martin, 4 House Martins, 19 Fieldfares, 19 Song Thrushes, 3 Redwings, 2 Blackcaps and 6 Chiffchaff.

juvenile Ring Ouzel at Beachy

Ring Ouzel over Beachy, one of quite few!

Ring Ouzel at Crowlink

Much better images on the Beachy blog!

7-11 October.  A Peregrine was on the Power station chimney on 7-8th, Grey Wagtails were seen/heard over Southwick/Brighton on 7-9th, Herring Gull A4AH was seen at the University most days.  The locks at Southwick must be amongst the least efficient of any, at least for those wanting to cross them - after all one end of the lock or the other must be closed yet crossers are never diverted over the closed (western) gate when the normal one is open (it is possible as the western gates are used as the crossing point when the eastern gate is repaired).  However it is not all bad news.  On Monday while I was waiting 15 minutes with a dzen or so others for the smaller lock to be filled up and the lock-keeper finish a conversation with the yachtsman two Kingfisers flashed past heading low up Southwick Canal.

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