Thursday, 26 December 2019

Beachy Head - Autumn 2019.


This Autumn 2019 summary was extracted from the Beachy Head log which includes bird records from a few local observers and includes details from Robert Edgar who runs the Beachy Head Ringing Group (BHRG) which operates from Whitbread Hollow. Unfortunately, virtually no sea-watching was carried out this Autumn other than some casual looking out whilst birding around the various sites.

Sooty Shearwater
29/9 1 off Cow Gap (KBG, AR)

Recorded chiefly singles on  7 dates with the last logged on the 2/9.

Again very little sea-watching carried out during the Autumn, although small numbers were regularly seen during this period off Birling. On the 18/9 100 were feeding off Birling.

Small numbers regularly seen during the Autumn, on the 21/7 party of 9 E, and on the 29/7 party of 7 W.

Little Egret
Up to two recorded on Birling beach on 19 dates from 5/7 to 7/10 with 5 on the 17/9

Great White Egret 
21/9 Party of 4 came in from over the sea at Birling at 07.40 and then headed high over the Downs.
photos (JFC, DRC)
Our 6th record and our first party, all previous records have been of single birds.

Four Great White Herons arriving in off the sea at Birling.

Grey Heron
Recorded on 6 dates from 24/8 to 19/9. Five singles with a party of 6W on the 24/8.

Common Scoter
No sea-watching carried out during the Autmn and therefore just a single bird moving E on the 5/10.

Red-breasted Merganser
4/11 4 flew low over Birling lane.

Barnacle Goose
30/10  A party of 8 flew past Birling.
Our 7th record since 1960, and our largest party seen, although possibility of feral birds cannot be ruled out.

Brent Goose 
No sea-watching carried out during the Autumn. Just a single bird present on the playing field in Whitbread Hollow on the 8/11.

Common Buzzard
Recorded on 28 dates from 2/7 to 6/11 with a total of 67 bird-days with daily max: 23/8 (10).

Sparrow Hawk
Recorded on 45 dates from 8/8 to 9/11 with a total of 83 bird-days with daily maxs: 21/8 (4+), 17/9
(5 in the whole area), 3/10 (4 present in the Hollow).
Almost an identical Autumn to last year.

Red Kite
13/7 1 W over Headland around 9.00 am (RHC), and 29/8 (1) behind Hotel Garden at 11.55 and then drifted E (RAB).

Honey Buzzard
24/8 3 adults over Hotel Garden area between 12.15 to 13.40 and then drifted N. photos (LP.JP). 25/8 Same 3 adults as above N at 10.30 photos, with a different 4th adult drifted NE at 11.49, photos (LP,JP). Also 3-5 seen by RE which were probably the same birds. 27/8 Different adult W @ 11.25. from the Old Trapping Area. Photos. (SL, GG, LP, JFC, DRC).

Five different adult individuals seen.

Adult Honey Buzzard over the Old Trapping Area

Marsh Harrier
25/8 1 juv Bullock Down (LP, JP) and 1 juv S over Old Trapping Area at 11.00 photos (LP, JFC, DRC, RKH).

Juvenile Marsh Harrier over the Old Trapping Area.

Hen Harrier 
29/10 1 Ring-tailed E over Belle Tout wood at 08.46 photo (LP), and at 08.50 over Icky Ridge and then out to sea (RAB).

Pallid Harrier
2019: 17/9 and 18/9: 1 2nd cal female over fields opposite Belle Tout wood during the evening, hunting over the fields between B/T wood and The Old Trapping Area before departing S over the cliffs during mid-morning. Photos (LP, JFC, DRC, RHC, RKH, KH, RES et al)
(It was colour ringed as a chick in June 2008 at Tyrnaya near Oulu, Finland with both parents i/d as Pallid Harriers)

Our 2nd record for the Headland, although the first record was rejected by BBRC., but still considered to be a Pallid by the observers concerned.

2nd year female Pallid Harrier over the |Headland.

Montagu's Harrier
7/9 to 9/9 1 Juv giving good views over the Top Fields. Photos (MEC, RHC, LP at al), 15/9 1 juv drifted high E at 10.30 to 10.40 from the Old Trapping (SL, ME, JFC, DRC). This bird may relate to the earlier record. 
Our first record since 2014 (which was rejected by the SOS records committee) and prior to this record the previous was in 2006.

24/8 1 W out to sea at 10.57 and then seen carrying a fish along the cliffs at 11.20 (LP, JP et al.), 26/8 1 circled W-E at 12.50 over the Headland before departing towards Eastbourne (RHC, MEC), 27/8 1 distant W at 12.20, then at 13.15 high out to sea, photo (LP, SL, GG)
All three records may relate to the same individual bird.

Recorded on 9 dates from 24/8 to 5/10, chiefly singles with 2 on the 31/8. Mainly seen on the Headland, apart for 1 on Crowlink.

Hobby hunting flying insects over Shooters Bottom.

Chiefly recorded from the Headland throughout the Autumn with a daily max of 5 on the 5/10 (3 at Michael Dene, and 2 at Shooters Bottom). Present at 3 breeding sites, although only the odd juvenile birds were seen.

Singles recorded from the Headland on 9 dates from 10/9 to 30/10 which includes both male and female type birds.

Recorded on 49 dates from 2/7 to 9/11 with a total of 72 bird-days but never more than 3 on a day. This included a family party of 3 in Whitbread Hollow on the 23/7, although local breeding not suspected. 
Magpie seeing off a Kestrel along the Cliff Path.

Red-legged Partridge
Just recorded on 3 dates: 29/7 2 Birling lane, 22/8 4 Birling lane, and 20/10 2 Whitbread Hollow.

20/10 One flushed near Cornish Farm on the walk to Long Down (LP) 
Our latest record, our previous latest record was a single bird present on the road during the evening in the Meads and was caught and ringed on the 2/10/1977.

Just a single record reported of one seen along the Cliff Path on the 7/11.
No sign of any breeding this year.

Present in small numbers on Birling beach, with 10 on the 2/8. 


31/10 4 E.

Ringed Plover
23/8 1 calling, flying over Belle Tout.

Golden Plover 
Recorded on 7 dates from 3/8 to 27/10 with a total of 11 bird-days with a daily max of 4 on the 21/10 flying over the Headland.

27/10 1 flushed in Whitbread Hollow.

5/10 1 came in off the sea at Birling and landed on a lawn along Birling lane.

26/8 1 standing on the cliff edge at Birling.

19/8 4 flew over Birling car park and out to sea.

13/8 3 W

Great Skua
26/9 1 close in off Birling (RAB)

Lesser Black Backed Gull
3/10 Party of 12N flying over the Downs.

Herring Gull 
13/7 c300 feeding off Cow Gap, 29/7 c400+ on the Headland with 100 moving W along the cliffs.

Yellow Legged Gull 
23/7 1 juv. over Birling (JFC), 31/8 1x1stW in the top fields photos (LP,JP).

Caspian Gull
23/11 2 (1st W and 3rd W) past Birling Gap (photos of 3rd W) (LP; JP).
Our 3rd record

Mediterranean Gull
28/9 1 ad E, 23/10 1 ad. off Birling.

Stock Dove
Recorded on 8 dates from 26/7 to 30/10. On the 26/7 and 31/7, 2 were feeding on the road near Birling Manor.
Movements: 17/10 87E in two flocks, 20/10 c1,220 between 07.40am to 09.40am chiefly going E, with one flock of 200 W (maybe returners), 23/10  c450E, 28/10 75, 30/10 17NE.
The 20/10 was our largest movement day on Beachy Head since 1960.

Wood Pigeon
23/10 c3,000E, 27/10 200 E, 28/10 425 E-SE, 29/10 c1,000 E, 6/11 c8,000 E-SE out to sea during the first hour of light, 8/11 c2,000 over Whitbread Hollow, 9/11 500 over Whitbread Hollow.

Turtle Dove
Sadly no reports received this year.

Collared Dove 
21/7 2 W over Birling, 26/7 1 W over Shooters Bottom, 25/8 1 W over Birling. 

16/7 and 17/7 just a single bird present in Shooters Bottom.
No sightings during the Spring and just a single bird during the Autumn. Our last reasonable Autumn was in 2016.

Tawny Owl
17/7 1 present in Shooters Bottom, otherwise Whitbread Hollow had a regular pair present with 3 on the 23/10 with only 1 sighting in Belle Tout wood on the 22/10.
The Shooters Bottom record was as far as I can recall is the first sighting in this area and may have been one of the young birds present in Belle Tout wood earlier.

Short-eared Owl
Recorded on four dates; 2/10 1 Birling, 17/10 1 Belle Tout area, 19/10 1 Whitbread Hollow, 1/11 1 Belle Tout area.

24/8 1 @ 20.47 hawking around the hedgerows near the Hotel Garden (LP) 
Our 13th record and the fourth year running Nightjars have been seen.

Recorded on 17 dates from 2/7 to 17/9 with a total of 278 bird-days. Daily maxs: 21/7 106 chiefly W, 25/8 75 of which 60 were calling out over the sea during the evening.
Another poor year, it would appear to be in a sharp decline in Sussex.

Green Woodpecker
Recorded throughout the Autumn but never more than 3 seen on a day, and generally just a single bird seen on the Headland and in Whitbread Hollow. 1-2 juveniles were seen on the 4/8 on the Headland.

Great-spotted Woodpecker
Recorded on 24 dates from 2/7 to 23/10 with a total of 31 bird-days. Chiefly singles were seen although 3 on the 7/10 (2 in the Hotel Garden, and 1 flying high N over the Old Trapping Area), and 3 on the 23/10 (2 at Birling and 1 in Whitbread Hollow). Odd juvenile birds were seen during the Autumn.

Adult Great-spotted Woodpecker at Birling.
20/8 to 6/9 One present in Shooters Bottom and was also seen to fly over the road to Hodcombe. photo (JFC, DRC, +many observers).
Last three years have seen the numbers of Wryneck decline on Beachy Head.

taken by Richard Butler
Wryneck in Shooters Bottom.

20/10 (1E over the Old Trapping Area @ 08.25) (CSB), 23/10 2 E low down over Shooters Bottom @ 10.55 (JFC, KH, RKH, RES), 3/11 1W over the Old Trapping Area @ 10.30 (LP, JP).

Present throughout, but no counts made in the top fields. Movements: 17/10 9W, 20/10 23E, 22/10 35 flyover the Headland, 23/10 38 flyover the Headland, and 29/10 30 E.

Recorded on 57 days up to the 6/11. August movements: 21/8 c450 (250 feeding over the top fields, 150 S and 50 E). 25/8 600E, 27/8 c500 feeding over the Headland.
Main September records: 10/9 1,500E, 13/9 2,000E, 17/9 1,000E.
October:  Recorded throughout the month, daily max: 3/10 300, 7/10 200, 17/10 150, 22/10 110.
November: 1/11 6 and 6/11 4W.
Another poor Spring and Autumn. During our early years of watching on Beachy Head, a five figure daily passage in mid-September was not unusual.

House Martin
Recorded on 32 dates from 22/8 (8) to 31/10 (4). Daily maxs: 13/9 c3,000 E, 15/9 2,000, 16/9 c5,000+, 17/9 c2,000, 19/9 c1,000E. Numbers then dropped off  3/10 500 and 7/10 290 the largest counts.
An interesting mid-September period with early morning visits to Shooters Bottom, we observed large numbers of House Martins (well in the hundreds) settling on the grassy cliff edge then flying for a short distance before settling again. It appeared that the House Martins may have roosted overnight on the cliffs, and we witnessed this behaviour on three consecutive mornings.

Sand Martin
Recorded on 28 dates from 16/7 (25E out to sea), to 5/10 (1 in Shooters Bottom). A total of 864 bird-days with a daily max: 13/9 (200E).
After a poor year last year, it was pleasing that numbers had picked up this year.

Small numbers recorded throughout the Autumn, with a party of 6 on the 7/9.

Carrion Crow
Recorded throughout the Autumn, but no influx logged.

13/7 c350 feeding in the Birling fields.

11/7 c300 in the Birling fields, 20/10  Large numbers present at dawn, they appeared to be flying all over the Headland calling. At least 1,000 estimated, but could have been many more and birds were very active virtually all morning.

Good numbers present throughout. On the 20/10, a flock of 29 W over the cliffs at Birling, and on the 28/10 an impressive flock of 66 W again over the cliffs at Birling, our largest single flock recorded. 

Up to 2 recorded on 15 dates in Whitbread Hollow, otherwise on the 17/10, 3 were present along the cliff path. 

Great Tit 
Recorded throughout the Autumn, 8/7 12 juveniles on the Headland, 16/9 party of 7 departed high E at Birling, 3/10 15 on the Headland, 7/10 8 moving with Blue Tits, 22/10 30 on the Headland and 23/10 c30+ with several parties moving across the Headland.

Blue Tit
Good influx seen during the Autumn: 12/9 Party of 6 in the Old Trapping Area before departing high E, 17/9 40+ logged in the whole area, 18/9 Flock of 17 departed E from the Old Trapping Area calling a lot, 19/9 c50 (parties of 18, 6 and 9 moving E), 2/10 45+ on the Headland which included parties of 19W over the Old Trapping Area and 12N. 5/10 c50 on the Headland including a party of 15W. 7/10 c45  including parties of 12, 7 and 17 moving along the cliff path. 8/10 c45 including parties of 6, 25 and 12. 10/10 (party of 25 along the cliff path which were very active). 17/10 32 with a flock of 30 along the cliff path.
54 were ringed in Whitbread Hollow this Autumn.

Coal Tit
Recorded on 9 dates: 15/9 3 in Cow Gap, all were of the English race, 17/9 1 briefly in the Old Trapping Area (not i/d to race), 22/10 1 in the Old Trapping Area (English race), 3/10 1 at Birling i/d as the Continental race alter, (JFC, DRC), 17/10 1 Holywell not i/d to race, 19/10 1 Headland, not i/d to race, 22/10 1-2 (1 Old Trapping Area, English race and 1 B/T wood not i/d to race), 23/10 2 (1 Holywell and 1 the Old Trapping Area both i/d as English race), 6/11 1 B/T wood i/d as English race.

Long-tailed Tit
Recorded on 40 dates from 2/7 to 14/11 with a total of 256 bird-days. Parties were seen chiefly in Shooters Bottom and Whitbread Hollow with daily maxs.: 10/9 14 Shooters Bottom, 2/10 10 in the Old Trapping Area, 6/11 32 (14 Hollow, 12 Old Trapping Area and 6 B/T wood) 14/11 22 B/T.Wood.
20 Long-tailed Tits were ringed in Whitbread Hollow this Autumn.
It would appear to be a very successful breeding season, with probably record numbers logged this year.

Long-tailed Tits in Shooters Bottom

Juvenile Long-tailed Tit along the Cliff Path.

8/9 1 trapped Whitbread Hollow, 15/9 1 Cow Gap area, 5/10 1 Whitbread Hollow.
Possibly all three records related to one individual.
Our 15th record since 1960.

Tree Creeper
5/10 1 Shooters Bottom (responded to tape play-back of Tree Creeper but not to Short-toed Tree Creeper). 8/11 1 trapped and ringed in Whitbread Hollow.

Present in low numbers throughout the Autumn, on the 20/10, 10 were estimated in the area.

Mistle Thrush
Recorded on 6 dates from 3/10 to 30/10 with a total of 45 bird-days with a daily max: 37 on 
30/10 (8 N over the radio mast bushes), 29E over Icky Ridge between 08.50-09.00). 
Probably our best Autumn since 1975.

21/10 c300 flew over Hodcombe during the afternoon after heavy rain, 23/10  20 on the Headland, 28/10 2, and 29/10 40 E.
Our best Autumn passage since 28/10/2001 when 735 flew SE in one hour.

Song Thrush
Recorded in small numbers throughout the Autumn, 2/10 20 on the Headland, 7/10 20 (including several continental birds including 2 which were trapped and ringed in the Hollow), 8/10 30 including a flock of 22 flying over the Headland.

6/11 (6) and 9/11 (1)
A very poor Autumn.

Ring Ouzel
Recorded from 3/10 to 6/11 with a total of 150 bird-days, Daily maxs: 7/10 (21), 8/10 (34) (including a flock of 22 flying over Shooters Bottom), 19/10 (20).
Our best Autumn since 2014 when a total of 178 bird-days were logged. Our best Autumn ever was in 2013, when on the 12/10/2013, an exceptional influx of c400 were  present in the whole area including a flock in excess of 160 on Crowlink.

Male Ring Ouzel along the cliff path.
Present throughout the Autumn. Influxes: 22/10 50 (30 Hollow and 20 Headland), 27/10 36 (16 Headland and 20 Hollow.

Recorded on 37 dates from 4/8 to 23/10 with a total of 214 bird-days with Daily maxs: 26/8 30 (21 Headland, 9 Crowlink) 27/8 (21). 
An average Autumn compared with recent years, but no comparison with our earlier years of watching at Beachy Head for an example in 1969, 805 bird-days were logged (Approx. 350% more than in recent Autumns).

An Autumn Wheatear in the fields behind the radio mast bushes.

Only small numbers recorded from July until 21/8 when 20 were recorded on the Headland. On the 17/9 26 were logged virtually from the whole area, and on the 28/9 16 were present in the area. A large arrival occurred on the Headland on the 2/10 when 70 were seen which included 24 in the rough field opposite Belle Tout wood. On the 3/10 only 6 could be found on the Headland and only one was present in the rough field, with just 3 birds were seen on the 4/10.
Another small arrival occurred on the 20/10 when 25 were present in the area. 23/11 2 were seen on the Headland.
Our largest ever daily total during the Autumn passage was 70 on the Headland this year, and if the Hollow/Cow Gap areas had also been counted, the days totals may have been nearer 100. Our previous best year was in 1976 when 60 were present on the 17/10/1976 and the 19/10/1976.

Male Stonechat after a busy breeding season. 

Recorded on 23 dates from 16/8 to 22/10 with a total of 121 bird-days and daily maxs.: 24/8 (15) and 26/8 27 (23 on the Headland and 4 on Crowlink.
The Autumn passage was our best since 2006 when 144 bird-days were logged, but doesn’t compare with the 1970’s and 80’s. On the night of the 20/9/1980, SE winds drifted large numbers of Whinchats onto Beachy Head and on the morning of the  21/9/1980 estimates of 500 to 1,000 Whinchats were present on Beachy, but by the 25/9/1980 only 20 were left.

Whinchat near Birling.

Common Redstart
Recorded on 22 dates from 3/8 to 5/10 with a total of 55 bird-days with daily maxs: 24/8 (5), 25/8 (10), 26/8 (5), 29/8 (5), and 2/10 (5).
Just 1 Common Redstart was ringed in Whitbread Hollow this year.
A poorer Autumn compared to last year when 83 bird-days were logged.

Female type Common Redstart in the Old Trapping Area.

Black Redstart
Recorded on 17 dates from 20/10 to 24/11 with a total of 52 bird-days with daily maxs.: 23/10 (15), 3/11 (6-7).
A good Autumn, but our best Autumn was in 1977, with a total of 108 bird-days and a daily max of 28 on the 28/10.

Female type Black Redstart at Birling.

Taken by Richard Butler
Male Black Redstart at Birling

Recorded on 15 dates from 2/7 to 30/8 with a total of 17 bird-days probably involving 5+ different individuals. No more than 2 were recorded on a single day and birds were recorded in Shooters Bottom and Whitbread Hollow.
Just 1 was ring ed in Whitbread Hollow.

Daily maxs: with a small influx noted in mid-October 8/8 24 (9 on the Headland, and 15 Hollow with 12 ringed). 25/8 30 (20 Hollow, 10 Headland), 30/9 32 (22 Headland, 10 Hollow), 15/10 35 (25 Headland, 10 Hollow), 22/10 55 (20 Hollow, 35 Headland), 27/10 45 (15 Headland, 30 Hollow).
101 Robins were ringed in Whitbread Hollow this Autumn.

Cetti's Warbler
20/10 1 female trapped Whitebread Hollow (RDME, MB).

Grasshopper Warbler
Recorded on 28 dates from 15/7 to 28/9 with a total of 49 bird-days. Daily maxs: 25/8 4 (1 Hollow, 3 Headland), 27/8 5 Headland, between Hotel Garden and Shooters Bottom).
28 were ringed this Autumn in Whitbread Hollow.
The Gropper field in Cow Gap was only visited on a couple of occasions during the Autumn.

Grasshopper Warbler in the Old Trapping Area.

Reed Warbler
Recorded on 35 dates from 13/7 to 2/10 with a total of 284 bird-days. Daily maxs.: 8/8 35 (5 Headland and 30 Hollow), 13/8 30 Hollow, 24/8 25 Hollow, 25/8 32 (30 Hollow and 2 Headland), 31/8 24 (20 Hollow, 4 Headland).
145 Reed Warblers were ringed this Autumn in Whitbread Hollow.
Another good Autumn, but not as good as in 2017 when 417 bird-days were obtained. Also the Headland this Autumn had a poor year for Reed Warblers.

Reed Warbler at Birling
Sedge Warbler
Recorded on 28 dates from 15/7 to 30/9 with a total of 68 bird-days. Daily maxs.: 3/8 (7), 8/8 (10).
22 Sedge Warblers were ringed this Autumn in Whitbread Hollow.

A very similar passage to last year.

Sedge Warbler at Birling.

Dartford Warbler
5/10 2 on the Headland, 22/10 1 Shooters Bottom, 3/11 1-2 Headland, 6/11 1 Birling loop.

Recorded on 65 dates from 8/7 to 9/11 with a total of 3,382 bird-days. Daily maxs.: 28/8 240 (200 Hollow, 40 Headland), 2/9 262 (250 Hollow, 2 Cow Gap and 10 Headland), 15/9 285 (200 Hollow including 60 birds in a single bush, 75 Cow Gap area, 10 Headland), 16/9 206 (200 Hollow, 6 Shooters Bottom), 30/9 285 (250 Hollow, 35 Headland).
1,323 were ringed in Whitbread Hollow this Autumn.

Autumn numbers also showed around a 20%  increase from last year, although the 2014 Autumn was still our best to date.

Male Blackcap in the Hotel Garden.

Garden Warbler
Recorded on 23 dates from 21/7 to 5/10 with a total of 59 bird-days with daily max: 21/8 5 (4 Hollow, 1 Headland).
45 Garden Warblers were ringed this Autumn in Whitbread Hollow.
Another poor showing with a 75% of all the Garden Warblers recorded were trapped for ringing purposes.

Common Whitethroat 
Recorded on 53 dates from 2/7 to 19/10 with a total of 1,403 bird-days. Daily maxs: 3/8 60 Headland
13/8 87 (27 Headland, 60 Hollow), 23/8 80 (30 Headland, 50 Hollow), and 24/8 95 (65 Headland and
30 Hollow).
126 Common Whitethroats were ringed in Whitbread Hollow this Autumn. 

Almost an identical Autumn passage as last year.

Common Whitethroat enjoying the blackberries in Shooters Bottom.

Lesser Whitethroat 
Recorded on 38 dates from 5/7 to 6/11. A total of 111 bird-days with daily maxs: 24/8 (10), 25/8 (10).
On the 20/10 to 22/10 A Blythi type Lesser Whitethroat was seen in the Long Down area, photos (LP), and on the 27/10 to 6/11 the same or probably a second individual was found at Birling, photos and showed well. This individual had diseased feet which bled, and samples were sent for DNA analysis which confirmed the Blythi race. (LP, JFC, RDME, RHC et al).

11 Lesser Whitethroats were ringed this Autumn in Whitbread Hollow.
For comparison, in 1975, we logged 1,284 bird-days during the Autumn of which 320 were ringed in Whitbread Hollow by the BHRG. This compares with only 111 bird-days for this year and only 11 were ringed in Whitbread Hollow.
Our first November record, our previous latest record was on the 28/10/1971 which was also considered to be a Blythi which was trapped and ringed in Hodcombe by RHC. Also at least two other birds seen in earlier years in the area, were also considered to be the of the Blythi race. (JFC, DC).

Blythi Lesser Whitethroat at Birling.

Willow Warbler
Recorded on 35 dates from 15/7 to 2/10 with a total of 792 bird-days. Daily maxs: 8/8 140 (40 Headland, 100 Hollow with 67 ringed). 13/8 91 (21 Headland, 70 Hollow).
144 Willow Warblers were ringed in Whitbread Hollow this Autumn.
A poor Autumn with our latest date was on the 1/11/2011.

Willow Warbler in the Old Trapping Area

Recorded on 59 dates from 11/7 to 23/11, with a total of 2,999 bird-days. Daily maxs: 15/9 140 (75 Hollow, 13 Headland, 52 Cow Gap area), 30/9 520 (400 Hollow, 120 Headland), 7/10 220 (70 Hollow, 150 Headland), 15/10 100 (30 Hollow, 70 Headland, which included 50 in Shooters Bottom which arrived during a heavy shower), 17/10 150 (134 Headland, 16 Holywell),
A total of 616 were ringed in Whitbread Hollow this Autumn.
Autumn numbers were very similar to last year when 2,980 bird-days were logged.

Chiffchaff in the Old Trapping Area

Recorded on 39 dates from 8/9 to 24/11 with a total of 700 bird-days. Daily maxs.: 17/10 40 (33 Headland and 7 Holywell), 22/10 95 (50 Hollow, 45 Headland), 23/10 100 (50 Hollow, 50 Headland),
24/10 70 on the Headland, 3/11 55 on the Headland.
Another good Autumn by recent standards, although in 1975 for comparison the number of bird-days was 2,990 which is 400% more than this year, and with a daily max. of 300 on the 25/10/1975.

Recorded on 30 dates from 2/9 to 23/11 with a total of 98 bird-days. Daily maxs.: 22/10 10 (4 Hollow, 2 B/T wood, 1 Holywell, 1 Cliff Path, and 2 Birling), 3/11 small arrival of 18 on the Headland, 6/11 7 (5 Headland and 2 Hollow).
15 Firecrests were ringed in Whitbread Hollow during the Autumn.
Our best Autumn since 2006.

Firecrest feeding low down on the Headland

Spotted Flycatcher
Recorded on 19 dates from 20/8 to 3/10 with a total of 49 bird-days and daily maxs.: 10/9 (6), and
15/9 (6).
Just 1 Spotted Flycatcher was ringed in Whitbread Hollow this Autumn.
Our best Autumn since 2012.

Spotted Flycatcher in the Hotel Garden. 

Pied Flycatcher
Recorded on 9 dates from 3/8 to 3/10 with a total of 18 bird-days with daily maxs: 24/8 5 (2 Hotel Garden, 1 Shooters Bottom, 1 Birling, 1 B/T wood). 26/8 4 (1 near Hodcombe, 1 near the Hotel Garden, and 2 Crowlink).
No details from Hodcombe and generally a poor Autum.

Pied Flycatcher in the Old Trapping Area.

Hedge Sparrow
Good numbers present at the main birding sites. On the 30/9 50 were estimated on the Headland with several small parties appeared to be on the move.

Meadow Pipit
Recorded throughout the Autumn. August just small numbers chiefly from the small breeding population. On the 22/8, a party of 15 were feeding on the road sides near Birling.
September: Influx noted on the 2/9 with a flock of 80 present in a field at Birling. On the 17/9, 60 were in the top fields, and on the 18/9 c250 were found near Cornish Farm. On the 28/9, 200+ were present on the Headland and on the 30/9 150 were on the Headland of which 90 were moving W.
October: 1/10 50W, 2/10 110 (80W and 30 in a field), 5/10 50 (18E), 23/10 150 chiefly W and 29/10 25 E.

Tree Pipit
Recorded on 16 dates from 8/8 to 3/10. A total of 71 bird-days with the daily maxs.: 13/8 (11), 24/8
(15), 25/8 (11).
6 Tree Pipits were ringed in Whitbread Hollow this Autumn.
A good Autumn and compares well with 2017 with 80 bird-days which was our best year this century.

Tree Pipit in Shooters Bottom.
Rock Pipit
Just seen in small numbers on 14 dates from 15/7 to 20/11. Never more than 3 on a day and chiefly seen at Birling Gap although 2 were also seen on the Cow Gap beach.

Pied Wagtail
Another poor passage recorded during the Autumn with daily maxs.: 20/10 (59E), and 23/10 (54 overhead migration).

White Wagtail
27/8 2 present in the Birling area, photo (SL).

Grey Wagtail
Recorded on 12 dates from 25/8 to 23/10 with a total of 29 bird-days with a daily max: 31/8 (10).

Yellow Wagtail
Recorded on 28 dates from 3/8 to 10/10 with a total of 717 bird-days with daily maxs: 25/8 120 of which 40 moved NW, 31/8 80 feeding with cattle.
A good Autumn, although not as good as 2012 when 750 were seen on a single day.

Yellow Wagtail on the Headland
Small numbers during July to Sept. with a daily max.: 4/8 (100). Increase noted in Oct:
7/10 150 moving high W. 15/10 flock of 500W high over the Headland, 25/10 250W.

Recorded on 6 dates from 8/8 to 6/11. Overhead movements: 23/10 (12), & 6/11 (5). 


29/7 (50), 3/8 (70 with many juveniles), Movements: 7/10 c400 chiefly along the Cliff Path,
10/10 (550 of which 450 W and 100 along the Cliff Path), 15/10 (240 of which 140W), 20/10 c750 E,
23/10 c1,500 over three different sites on the Headland, 27/10 100 E, 29/10 200+E, 30/10 350E,
31/10 300 E.

Recorded on 8 dates from 5/10 to 6/11 with a total of 44 bird-days with daily maxs.: 23/10 (11),

and 29/10 (10E). 

Lesser Redpoll 

Recorded on 7dates from 22/10 to 9/11 with a total of 49 bird-days with daily maxs.:  27/10 with 20 in Whitbread Hollow, 28/10 14 (1 Headland and 13 Hollow).
17 were ringed in Whitbread Hollow this Autumn.
Another poor Autumn.

July-mid August only up to 20 on a day, on the 27/8 50 were present. September: 50 were present increasing to 80 in the whole area on the 28/9. October: 2/10 50W, 3/10 70E, 13/10 155 which included 115W. 15/10 420 (220W and a flock of 200 feeding in the set-aside field), 
19/10 Flock of 250 feeding in set-aside field. 20/10 340E, 22/10 200E, 30/10 100E.

2/9 1 Hollow, 7/9 1 Hollow, 16/9 3 Hollow, 29/10 1 male along the Cliff Path.

Autumn movements: 20/10 20 W, 23/10 c50 overhead movement, 30/10 20 E.


20/10 3 over the Headland, 21/10 1 Hodcombe, 22/10 5 Headland, 27/10 7 over the Headland, 28/10 2 and 29/10 3. 

Yellow Hammer 

Just two sightings this Autumn, 22/10 1 fly-over the Headland and 14/11 1 Belle Tout area.
Unfortunately, no sign or sound of any breeding taken place on the Headland.

Corn Bunting
Just small numbers recorded throughout the Autumn, but never more than 6 on a day.
Poor numbers present during the Autumn, but this may have been due to the set-aside field (the usual field where Corn Buntings are seen), has now become very dense with plants and difficult to walk through and no check was made during the Autumn.

Ortolan Bunting
24/8 1 above Whitbread Hollow (KG et. al.).
Our 44th record since 1960, and identical date as last year.

Reed Bunting
Recorded on 8 dates from 3/10 to 29/10 with a total of 34 bird-days. Daily maxs: 20/10 (8), 22/10 (10), 23/10 (7).

House Sparrow
Up to 50 present at Birling Gap during July and August with numbers dropping off during September. On the 7/10, 7 migrants were present along the Cliff Path but they soon flew off to the W.

Great Bustard
Re-introduction programme
6/11  A female which came flying in and landed in the Birling field and stayed for just over an hour before departing W. It had a red-ring and was ringed in Wiltshire from introduced stock in August. (SL plus many observers).

taken by Keith Hackett

taken by Matt Eade

Great Buzzard flying off from Birling