Sunday, 13 July 2014

13 July 2014 Beachy Head Foggy with early drizzle. SW 4

We arrived to misty conditions and strong SW breeze. Sea-watched from 06.30-07.00 until the fog rolled in and very little seen although another juv. Yellow-legged Gull E.
With foggy conditions over the Headland, we headed down to Whitbread Hollow, Gully and Cow Gap. Although the area was generally quiet, we had a Greenshank calling, 2 Whinchats (ad and juv) and a juv Cuckoo. Again just a few butterflies seen including 2 Chalk Hill Blues.

Gannet 5 E
Little Egret 3 feeding on beach off Cow Gap
Common Scoter 16 E
Common Gull 1
Yellow-legged Gull 1 juv. E at 06.45
Stock Dove 2 feeding on the road near B/T.
Cuckoo 1 juv.Cow Gap
Whinchat 2 (Ad. and juv. Cow Gap)
Common Whitethroat 20 Cow Gap area
Blackcap 1

Adult Whinchat Cow Gap

(All three images taken by David Cooper)
Juv.Whinchat Cow Gap


Distant shots of a juv. Cuckoo being mobbed in Cow Gap.


 Juvenile Cuckoo in Cow Gap taken in misty conditions.

 2014 Spring summary covering Thrushes, and Warblers

Mistle Thrush, Fieldfare and Redwing: 2014: Spring:  Not a single record logged during the first 6 months, for these three Thrushes.

Song Thrush: 2014 Spring: Due to the very mild winter, no hard weather movements were recorded.
Spring: Just very small numbers recorded throughout the Spring but never more than 3 on a day and no influx's logged. 3 pairs appeared to breeding in our area, with odd birds heard singing throughout the Spring, adults seen carrying food and the odd juv. seen in the area.

Ring Ouzel: 2014: Spring: Recorded on just 2 dates, with 1 on the 11/4 and 1 one on the 14/4.

Blackbird: 2014: Spring: No influx noted and numbers remain low with no more than 12 were logged on a day. Several pairs bred on the Headland.

Wheatear: 2014: Spring: Recorded on 21 dates from 14/3 (1) to 14/5 (1). A total of 68 bird-days with daily maxs: 20/3 (7), 19/4 (7) and 27/4 (7).
Surprising a large percentage were considered to be of the Greenland race leucorhoa,
with 2 on the 19/4, 4 on the 26/4, 7 on the 27/4, and 6 on the 22/5.
In 2013, it was considered our worst Spring passage recorded from Beachy and although a slight improvement this year, it was still a poor Spring for this migrant.

(taken by John Cooper)
Northern Wheatear along the Cornish Farm track, April, 2014.

(taken by John Cooper)
Greenland Wheatear race leucorhoa along the Cornish Farm track
April, 2014.

Stonechat: 2014: Jan and Feb: After one of the mildest winters on record, and with no long cold spells recorded,  odd birds were seen during our few visits during the winter although no more than 2 on a day.
Spring: Passage commenced on the 1/3 when 3 females were logged, and then recorded on virtually every visit with up to 10 birds on a day. It was pleasing to report that probably 10 pairs bred this year at various sites on the Headland and Cow Gap area, and the first young seen out of the nest was on the 6/5 when 2 pairs had flying young.
A striking male with a large white rump bred in Hodcombe and was considered to be rubicola race and reared 4 juvs, with the female appearing quite dark looking and may very well have been the pair which bred last year in Shooters Bottom.
After the severe winters of 2011/12 and 2012/13, when the breeding population in 2013 fell to just 4 pairs, it was encouraging that it had increased to around 10 pairs this year, and fair numbers of juveniles have been seen.

(taken by John Cooper)
Adult male Stonechat in Chat Vale, April, 2014.

Whinchat: 2014: Spring: Just recorded on 3 dates, with 1 on the 21/4 (Hodcombe), 13/5 (2) and 14/5 (1).

Common Redstart: 2014: Spring:  Recorded on 9 dates from 10/4 (2) to 15/5 (1). A total of 21 bird-days were logged with daily maxs: 4-5 (all males) on the 11/4, and 4 on the 14/4. Probably 15 different individuals were involved, although probably this could be increased if all of Hodcombe numbers were known.
Our best Spring for about 10 years. 

(taken by John Cooper)
Adult male Redstart Belle Tout wood April, 2014.

Black Redstart: 2014: Jan and Feb: From the 31/1 to 4/3, a female type was present around Birling and Mr. Nash who lives in the bungalow directly behind the car park, reported its present in his garden on a number of occasions during Feb. We  last saw it on the 4/3 in the car-park.
Spring: Migrants were recorded on 9 dates from 6/3 (1 in Hodcombe) to 1/6 (1st S. male singing at Birling). A total 12 bird-days logged (although RHC considered that he probably had 10 different birds in Hodombe during the Spring although only female types were seen). Probably allowing for Hodcombe records, probably a total of around 12-15 different individuals were seen on passage during the Spring.

(Taken by David Cooper)
 1st Summer male Black Redstart at Birling Gap on the 1st June, 2014.

Nightingale: Sadly, for the second year running no sightings or song recorded during this Spring.

Robin: 2014: Winter and Spring: After one of the mildest winters on record, with no real long cold spell, Robin numbers were reasonable with birds being recorded throughout the Headland. The gardens up the lane at Birling hold a reasonable population all year, and on the 14/3 8 were logged chiefly from Birling and territorial disputes were regularly seen. Several pairs bred in the vicinity at Birling with odd pairs in Shooters Bottom and no doubt at other sites, and a number of juvenile birds were seen during the breeding season.

Grasshopper Warbler: 2014: Spring: Sadly none recorded this Spring.
In 1970, 12 pairs bred in the Beachy Head Recording Area.

Reed Warbler: 2014: Spring: Singles recorded on four dates from 3/5 to 1/6.

Sedge Warbler: 2014: Spring: 4/5 1 at Crowlink and 31/5 1 singing in Hodcombe.

Blackcap: 2014: Spring: Recorded from 31/3 ( 1 in Whitbread Hollow). Small influx's logged as follows: 10/4 7, 11/4 14, 14/4 11. A decline in the breeding population has again been seen with probably no more than 2-3 pairs in Whitbread Hollow, 1 possible pair along the Cliff Path and a male in song in Belle Tout wood for a couple of days.

Garden Warbler: 2014: Spring: Recorded from 28/4 (1 in Shooters Bottom), with a daily max of 5 on the 13/5. An interesting Spring for this species as at one time 3 singing males took up residence in Shooters Bottom, although 2 departed after a day or two, one stayed for around 3 weeks before it departed or just stopped singing. In Whitbread Hollow, probably 3 pairs took up breeding territories. 

Common Whitethroat: 2014: Spring: Recorded from 10/4 (1). Small influx occurred on the 12/5 when 40 were seen on the Head, unfortunately Whitbread Hollow was not covered although the Cliff Path was checked with reasonable numbers being seen, these have been included within the 40. An estimate of 35 pairs bred. 

(taken by John Cooper)
Common Whitethroat in the Old Trapping Area, April, 2014.

Lesser Whitethroat: 2014: Spring: Recorded on 11 dates from 11/4 to 19/5, with just a total of 12 individuals with 2 on the 13/4. Sadly for the second year running, none stayed to breed. 
In 2012, it was estimated that 6 singing males were present during the breeding season.

Willow Warbler: 2014: Spring: Recorded on 22 dates from 28/3 (1 in Hodcombe) to 17/5 (1). A total of 222 bird-days with daily maxs: 10/4 35, 11/4 42, 13/4 45, 14/4 25, 22/4 12.
After an exceptionally poor Spring last year, it was pleasing to see a few small falls of Willows this Spring during mid-April.

(taken by John Cooper)
Willow Warbler in the Old Trapping Area, April, 2014

Chiffchaff: 2014: Spring: Recorded from 8/3 (1). Small influx’s occurred as follows: 18/3 (10), 9/4 (10), 10/4 (36), 11/4 (14), 14/4 (14), 15/4 (11). 
Breeding population estimated at 10 pairs for the whole area. 

(taken by John Cooper)
Chiffchaff in the Hotel Garden, April, 2014.