Sunday, 21 September 2014

Beachy Head 20-21 September 2014 (and 21 September 1980)

Sunday 21 September 2014.  The anniversary of my best ever day at Beachy (see below) I walked from Birling to Whitbread Hollow and back.  A pleasant walk with plenty to see although some obvious migrant omission that one would hope, even expect to see, at this time of year (e.g. Redstart).  I recorded visible migration of 4 Sand Martins, 230 Swallows, 420 House Martins, 200 Meadow Pipits and 15 alba Wagtails (moving east in small numbers throughout the six hours I was watching) although a male Pheasant flying west along the cliff edge took pride of place.  It was about as migratory as the 27 Canada Geese that flew east over Long Down!  In the bushes/fields were 6 flava Wagtails (one quite pale), 3 Whinchats, 16 Stonechats, 27 Wheatears, Lesser Whitethroat, 10 Whitethroats, Graden Warbler, 28 Blackcaps (only 10 in Whitbread Hollow by the time I got there), 68 Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, 2 Firecrest (at the top of Birling Lane), 2 Goldcrests, 3 Spotted Flycatchers, 2 Ravens, Yellowhammer and Lapland Bunting.  The latter flew up from the side the northerly track leading east into Chat Vale, called (a rattle similar to Snow Bunting) and dropped behind a bank of gorse but could not be relocated.  It was only 5m away when it flew and I got good flight views of a stocky short-tailed bunting with chestnut in the wing. not being able to refind it left me wondering if I might have seen it before it was flushed ...

Later on Sunday 21 September 2014 Megan and I walked around the Adur seeing 36 Lapwings, a Knot and 2 Greenshank by the airport.  swallows were still moving with 80 east in an hour and a further 10 over our road when we got back.

Sunday 21 September 1980 was the most exciting day I've ever had (and am ever likely to have) at Beachy Head.  I've seen rarer birds here on other occasions but for sheer numbers nothing has come close.  With Martyn Kenefick I saw Marsh Harrier, Hobby, 4 Turtle Doves, Little Owl, 9 Swifts, 50+ Sand Martins, 2000+ Swallows, 500 House Martins, 6 Tawny Pipits, 10 flava Wagtails (one a Blue-headed), 7 Redstarts, 250 Whinchats, 200 Wheatears, 6 Ring Ouzels, Sedge Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 15 Whitethroats, 5 Garden Warblers, 30 Blackcaps, 25 Chiffchaffs, 5 willow Warblers, 2 Goldcrests, 2 Firecrests and 16 Spotted and 3 Pied Flycatchers while Yellowhammers were too commonplace to get a mention.

21 September 1990 wasn't bad for me either with John and David Cooper and I seeing Yellow-throated and Red-eyed Vireos in West Cornwall while on 21 September 1977 I saw 3 Yellow-breasted Buntings and a Citrine Wagtail on Fair Isle.

Wheatear near Birling
Eastbourne and Bexhill
Yellow Wagtail near Bulling Down

a much paler individual in a sheep field near Bulling Down

Belle Tout lighthouse
Wheatear near Frost Hill

Chiffchaff by Belle Tout

Spotted Flycatcher on the edge of Belle Tout

Saturday 20 September.  A very pleasant walk around Beachy Head with Martyn Kenefick (over from Trinidad), John and Doreen Cooper and, until he legged it off to Spurn, John King.  Birds were a bit thin on the ground - I saw 3 Sparrowhawks, Buzzard, Peregrine seeing off a large falcon, 50 Swallows, 2 House Martins, 220 Meadow Pipits, 4 Yellow Wagtails, 2 Whinchats, 3 Wheatears, Lesser Whiethroat, 7 Whitethroats, 5 Blackcaps, 39 Chiffchaffs, Goldcrest, 2 Ravens and 40 Goldfinches.  More of a social event although I was disappointed West Ham hadn't recorded only the second convincing win over Liverpool tat i can remember a few hours earlier.

large falcon seen tussling with a female Peregrine, note apparent jesses
darkness of underwing coverts and full tail suggest some saker influence?
bells and whistles on this one?
Friday 19 September.  Peregrine on Southwick Power Station
Wednesday 17 September.  2 Wheatears on Southwick Beach
Tuesday 16 September.  7 Wheatears on Southwick Beach, easterly hirundine passage with 70 House Martins on my way to work and 50 Swallows and a Sand Martin when I got home.
Monday 17 September.  Wheatears on Southwick Beach.

Sunday 14 September.  Beachy Head with John King, John and David Cooper and Brenda Kay.  Decent easterly movement of hirundines with 12 Sand Martins, 250 Swallows and 600 House Martins.  Also a Hobby, 200 Meadow Pipits, 9 Grey and 5 Yellow Wagtails, 3 Whinchats, 17 Stonechats, 11 Wheatears, Grasshopper Warbler (thanks Simon), 4 Whitethroats, Garden Warbler, 4 Chiffchaffs, 2 Ravens and 3 Corn Buntings.  Best bird of the day was a juvenile Honey Buzzard identified at the time as a Common, despite looking long winged and long tailed (albeit unbarred).  It was very high and none of us had a telescope but fortunately DC got some images to carefully check and confirmed its identification.  Very educational.

An evening visit to the Adur at low tide produced the Curlew Sandpiper along with Greenshank, 2 Common Sandpipers and a Kingfisher.

Curlew Sandpiper on the Adur in fading light

when does a courgette become a melon? 
more from the allotment

Sunday 31 August.  Megan and I walked around Cissbury Ring seeing Red Kite, Buzzard, 4 Sand Martins, 40 Swallows, 3 Redstarts, Wheatear, 8 Whitethoats, 9 Blackcaps, 3 Willow Warblers, 2 Spotted Flycatchers and 3 Yellowammers.  In the afternoon we cycled up Mill Hill.
Shoreham Airfield under attack
Douglas's with black & white striped D-Day markings

Lancaster flight

Hispano Buchons (Spanish Civil War ME 109s)

Flying Fortress

2 Mustangs and a Spitfire

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