Wednesday, 9 July 2014

9 July 2014 Beachy Head Overcast,cool N breeze 3 increasing to 4

Visited the Headland and covered all the sites including the Cliff path. Very few birds seen and little singing and with only a few Whitethroats present it would appear that the post breeding dispersal has commenced. No early Autumn migrants seen and the overcast conditions with the cool breeze kept the butterflies quiet, although a walk along the sheltered Cliff path produced 60 Gatekeepers.

Peregrine 2
Tawny Owl 1 flushed from the ground in B/T wood.
Swift 2 W
Swallow Only 3 seen all morning
Meadow Pipit 12
Stonechat 10
Common Whitethroat 9
Blackcap 2
Chiffchaff 1
Willow Warbler 1
Raven 6+ (1 in heavy wing and tail moult).
Starling c100 almost all were juvs.
Greenfinch 1
Linnet c20
Corn Bunting 2

During the last few days a few returning early Autumn migrants have been seen including a few Sand Martins, 1 Willow Warbler and 1 Reed Warbler which was singing yesterday in Whitbread Hollow.


Fox cub growing up above Belle Tout wood.

Round-headed Rampion also know as the Pride of Sussex
our first for the year.

Marbled White along the Cliff Path.



Some of the 60 Gatekeepers seen along the sheltered Cliff Path

2014 Spring summary covering Quail, Waders, Skuas, Gulls, Terns and Auks.

Quail: 2014 Spring: Single bird was calling from the field opposite Belle Tout wood towards Cornish Farm during the evenings of the 7/6 and 8/6. (LP)

Ringed Plover: 2014: Spring sea-watches: 21/4 1 E.

Grey Plover: 2014: Spring : Just two sightings during the Spring sea-watches: 23/4 1 E and 4/5 7 E.

Curlew: 2014: Spring sea-watches: Recorded on 21 dates generally in small numbers and a number appear to be wintering along the Birling beach. On the 30/3 33 moved E and on the 20/4 10 came in off the sea. 

Whimbrel: 2014: Spring sea-watches: Recorded on 14 dates from 15/4 (10 E) to 19/5 (3 E). A total of 317 E with daily maxs: 21/4 78 E, 23/4 53 E.
An improvement from the last two Springs.

(Digi-scoped by David Cooper)
Two Whimbrels moving past Birling on the 5 May.
After the last two Springs which were poor and below
our Spring norm, it was pleasing to seen some improvement although
 still way off the numbers seen back in the 1970's..

Bar-tailed Godwit: 2014: Spring sea-watches: Recorded on 9 dates from 19/4 to 18/5, with a total of 190 E. Daily max: 35 E on the 21/4 and 26/4.
Yet another dismal Spring, back in the 1960’s and 70’s thousands could be seen during the Spring.

Common Sandpiper: 2014: Spring: 5/5 1 E.

Redshank: 2014: Spring: 29/3 a party of 4 E.

Knot: 2014: Spring sea-watches: 5/5 1 E and 18/5 4 E.

Dunlin: 2014:  Spring: 8/3 2 E and 21/4 2 E.

Sanderling: 2014: Spring sea-watches: Recorded on 7 dates from the 21/4 to 25/5. A total of 70 E with daily maxs: 5/5 11 E and 22/5 31 E.

Arctic Skua: 2014: Spring sea-watches:  Recorded on 23 dates from 20/3 (1) to 7/6 (2). A total of 130 with the majority moving E with daily maxs: 26/4 23 E, 5/5 26 E.
A good Spring movement recorded and slightly above our Spring average but doesn’t compete with our best Spring in 2012 when 301 were logged.

(Picture taken by David Cooper)
Light phase adult Arctic Skua of Birling

(taken by J.F.Cooper)
Dark phase adult off Birling on the 27th April.
We tend to see more dark phase than light phase birds passing.
130 Spring Artcic Skuas passed Birling this Spring,
a slightly higher average than normal.

Great Skua: 2014: Spring sea-watches: Recorded on 18 dates from 1/1 (1 E) to 25/5 (3 E). A total of 89 E with daily maxs: 23/4 23 E, and 26/4 21 E.
An above average Spring passage logged with 2012 being our best Spring to date when an exceptional 292 were seen.

(taken by J.F.Cooper)
Bonxie moving E. off Birling on the 26th April when a total of 21 were
logged in just over 4 hours of sea-watching.
In recent years, numbers have increased dramatically during the
Spring passage, back in the 1970, 3 individuals were a highlight
of the day.Our best Spring to date was in 2012 when an 252 were
logged during the Spring with our largest daily total for any Spring,
of 133 were logged in 10 hours of sea-watching on the 23rd April, 2012.

Pomarine Skua: 2014; Spring sea-watches: Recorded on 7 dates from 23/4 to 24/5 with a total of 134 birds. 23/4 3 E, 4/5 1 E, 5/5 125 E in 11 hours of watching, 18/5 2 E, 19/5 2 E and 24/5 1 E.

At long last a Pom Spring, and our second best year to date. Our best year was way back in 1976 when the Spring total was 152 E. Also this year saw our largest daily total of 125 E in 11 hours of watching. Our previous largest daily total was in 1981 when 102 moved E and the total for that year was 125 E. This year the 5/5 fell at a week-end allowing more observers to observe the passage, whereas in 1981 the large passage occurred mid-week and it was chiefly watched by just one observer.

(all pictures digi-scoped by David Cooper)
  A total of 125 E  on the 5th May in 11 hours of sea-watching
and out best daily total ever from Beachy.
Certainly a day to remember!!

Greater-Black backed Gull : 2014: Spring: : Present in small numbers with the only movement logged was 150 drifted E on the 8/3.

Lesser Black-backed Gull : 2014: Spring: Only small numbers recorded with 18/1 5, 23/2 1 and 4/3 3 of the graellsii race off Birling.

Herring Gull : 2014: Spring: 1/3 200 mainly juvs. drifted W, 8/3 400 drifted E, 16/4 c300 on the rocks of Birling, and 3/5 c500 feeding on star fish off Cow Gap.

Common Gull : 2014: Spring:  12/1 300 in the Birling area. From late Jan to end of March, only low numbers were seen in the fields at Birling this Spring with a max of 100 on the 9/3. None were seen at all on the 1/3. In April, immature birds were seen moving E with 60 E on the 17/4 and c70 E on the 26/4. 

Glaucous Gull : 2014: Spring : 26/2 An adult in w/p @ 08.00 to 08.05 off Birling (JFC and DRC).

Our 19th record but only our 2nd since 1991. In recent years Glaucous Gulls have become scarce in Sussex and this has been reflected in our own records.

Mediterranean Gull : 2014: Spring sea-watches: Recorded on 29 dates from 22/2 to 1/6. A total of 194 with the majority moving E, with daily maxs: 2/3 60 E, 30/3 20 E and 5/4 20 E.
This species goes from strength to strength. After last year’s record Spring, this year saw an almost 50% increase to a new record. Also our largest daily total doubles from 30 birds in 2013, to now 60 birds on a single day. 

(taken by J.F.Cooper)
Adult Mediterranean Gull flying off the sea and over our heads inland.
A record year with 194 recorded off Birling. In 1978, just 2 were
recorded during the year. 

Little Gull : Jan : 4/1 1 ad. in winter plumage arrived from the W and returned W.
Spring-sea-watches: Recorded on 13 dates from 7/3 (1 E) to 5/5 (5 E). A total of 312 E with daily maxs: 5/4 34 E, 16/4 96 E (in 1 hour during the evening), 17/4 62 E, and 21/4 37 E.
Our first January record. A good Spring but not a record Spring, which was in 2007, when a total of 517 birds moved E with 400 being seen on the 21/4/07. It was interesting that 96 moved E during an hour in the evening on the 16/4, this Spring, and I wonder how many more are being missed as little sea-watching is carried out at Birling during the evenings. 

(taken by J.F.Cooper)
Juv. Little Gull off Birling on the 5th May, most Little Gulls are a 
long way out off Birling and are easily missed by the older birders,
 so a chance to take a record shot of one closer in, had to be taken.

Black-headed Gull : 2014: Spring sea-watches: Movement was recorded on 25 dates from 12/1 (59 E) to 25/5 (14 E). A total of 1,382 E with daily max: 5/5 263 E.
We made a concerted effort to record movements of Black-headed Gulls on the Spring sea-watches this year. 

(taken by J.F.Cooper)
Black-headed Gulls on the move on the 5th May.

Kittiwake : 2014: Spring sea-watch: Recorded moving E on 26 dates from 1/1 (15 E) to 25/5 (250 E). A total of 2,759 E with daily maxs: 2/3 413 E, 16/4 620 E.
With the breeding colony of Kittiwakes at Seaford Head, it does prove difficult to decide if birds are actually moving or the adults from the colony are just moving to feeding grounds. 

Black Tern : 2014: Spring sea-watches: 5/5 7 E and 18/5 8 E. 

Commic Tern : 2014: Spring sea-watches: Recorded on 18 dates from 4/4 to 25/5. A total of just 1,159 E with daily max: 5/5 858 E. None were specifically identified as either Common or Arctic Terns.
A very poor Spring passage although several large passage days were missed due to lack of observer coverage. In the 1970’s over 10K were recorded in a year, and over 2K on a day. 

Roseate Tern : 2014: Spring sea-watches:  22/5 1 E @ 07.12 with 5 Sandwich Terns (JFC, DRC, and N.Taylor) 
Our 18th record involving 25 birds, since 1960.

Little Tern : 2014: Spring sea-watches: Recorded on just four dates with 1 E on the 21/4, 39 E on the 5/5, singles E on the 18/5 and 19/5. 
In the 1970’s much higher numbers were seen on our sea-watches and this reflect the  recent decline of this species as a breeding bird in the UK. 

Sandwich Tern: 2014: Spring sea-watches: Recorded on 41 dates from 24/3 (1 E) to 26/6 (3 E). A total of 1,509 E with daily maxs: 30/3 104 E, 17/4 116 E, 26/4 105 E, 5/5 276 E, and 25/5 108 E.
Although at times it seemed a long drawn out and slow Spring passage for this specie, it turned out to be our best Spring passage since 2005

(taken by J.F.Cooper)
Sandwich Tern - 1,509 moved passed Birling during this Spring, 
and this is our best Spring since 2005

Razorbill : 2014: Jan-Feb: 257 were identified during this period with a daily max of 197 E on the 12/1.
Spring sea-watches: Just 10 were identified during the Spring, although no great effort was made to try to i/d Auks this year. 

Guillemot : 2014: Jan and Feb a total of 109 were identified with daily max of 94 identified on the 12/1.
Spring sea-watches: Only 12 were identified during the Spring, but as with Razorbill, little effort was made to try to i/d Auks this year.

Auk Sp. : 2014: Jan-Feb: During this period a total of 436 E with smaller numbers W over 10 dates.
Spring sea-watches: Recorded on 31 dates from 2/3 to 25/5. A total of just 290 E with a daily max of 57 E on the 2/3.
In recent years the main movement of Auks have been recorded in Jan.and Feb.