Friday, 24 December 2010

24th December 2010 Beachy Head N2 Very cold

Red-throated Diver 1 on sea
Great Crested Grebe 4 on sea
Fulmar 1
Peregrine 2
Curlew 2W, 1E
Lapwing 1 Top Fields
Common Crane 2 adults ex. flying over top fields and then south over Belle Tout
Common Gull c.80
Skylark c.150
Song Thrush 10
Redwing 5
Long-tailed Tit 6
Linnet 3
Goldfinch 2
Raven 2

Seven Sisters from Birling Gap

Adult Common Gull over the Top Fields

Skylarks over the Top Fields

Lapwing over the Top Fields

Common Cranes over Beachy Head

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Doreen and myself decided to walk into Whitbread Hollow,checking the mist-net runs for Woodcock or Water Rail, then walk into Cow Gap and down into the Gully and onto the beach, my first time into the Hollow since my transplant. Not to many bushes with berries and therefore no Waxwings and in fact very few birds seen during our walk:

Kestrel 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1
Rock Pipit 1 Cow Gap beach.
Blackbird 8
Goldcrest 1
Long Tailed Tit 5
Jay 1
Raven 2 heading towards Holywell.

View from Holywell towards Langney Point.

Whitbread Hollow.

Long Tailed Tit at the start of Foyles Way.

It must be Christmas!!!

Friday, 10 December 2010

10th December, 2010 Beachy Head

RDME covered Birling and up to Belle Tout Lighthouse and back:

Long Tailed Tit 6
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1
Common Gulls 100 in fields.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

5th December 2010 Beachy Head NW1

Little Egret 1
Fulmar 1-2
Pheasant c.25
Red-legged Partridge 2
Herring Gull c.50
Scandinavian Herring Gull 3 adults Top Fields
Lesser Black-backed Gull c.10
Common Snipe 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1
Skylark 5
Rock Pipit 3
Long-tailed Tit 8
House Sparrow 15
Chaffinch c.12
Linnet 10

Hare 2

Adult Scandinavian Herring Gull L.a. argentatus in the Top Fields

First-winter Common Gull in the Top Fields

Friday, 26 November 2010

26th November, 2010. Beachy Head. Sunny N1

Went to Beachy with Barry and walked from Birling to Belle Tout Lighthouse and then down to Belle Tout wood, through the field opposite back to Birling. Then visited The Old Trapping Area and the Hotel Garden:

Sparrow Hawk 2
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1
Skylark 100 in field.
Rock Pipit 2
Black Redstart 1-2 Belle Tout Lighthouse
Dartford Warbler 1 female
Goldcrest 1

Lighthouse view

Barry working the Gully behind Belle Tout wood.

Female Dartford Warbler.

Black Redstart at Belle Tout Lighthouse

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Blast from the Past No.4

Blast from the Past No.4

The remainder of the scarce/rare Phylloscopus Warblers.

To complete the analysis of the scarce/rare Phylloscopus warblers recorded at Beachy Head since 1960, I will now deal with Wood, Bonelli’s and Greenish Warblers. I did briefly comment on an earlier Blast from the Past on Greenish Warbler but will now complete the picture for this species.

Wood Warbler - Phylloscopus sibilatrix

This species is virtually an annual migrant albeit in very small numbers at Beachy Head. Our earliest Spring date is the 11th April, although the majority in the Spring are recorded in the last couple of days of April and the first 10 days in May. In Autumn, our latest date is the 6th September, but by far the majority are recorded from the end of July to mid - August.

During the years 1960 to 1968, it was first recorded from the Headland in 1963 when 2 singles were seen during August. There were 3 sightings during the Springs, with the earliest being seen on the 21st April, 1966. In 1969, singles were recorded on 9 separate dates with just one in Spring with the other eight being recorded from the end of July to the end of August.

During the 1970’s it was recorded annually, with at least a total of 49 different birds being seen or ringed during this decade. Six were found in 1970, with the last being seen on the 30th August. Seven were found in 1975, of which no fewer than 5 were in the Spring, between the 11th May when 3 were found to the 31st May, but only 2 during the Autumn and both occurred on the 8th August. During 1976, six singles were found or trapped with 3 each in both the Spring and the Autumn, between the 30th April to the 5th September. Our best year to date was in 1977, when no fewer than 12 were seen or trapped, all of these were in the Autumn between the 8th to the 29th August. In 1978, a further 8 were recorded of which 4 were trapped for ringing purposes, between the 11th to the 27th August. Although only 4 were recorded in 1979, three of these were on the 11th August.

In the 1980’s numbers of birds recorded remained fairly stable, although the ringing effort in Whitbread Hollow during the early mornings during August, the prime month for this migrant, was far less than in the 1970’s. Therefore fewer birds were trapped and our numbers were less overall. Even so, it was regularly seen with 3 different individuals on the 3rd August, 1980, at least 3 and probably 4 different birds seen on the 3rd May, 1984. In 1987, 1 was seen on the 26th June and although this may have been a very late Spring migrant it may also have been a failed breeding bird and was just wandering locally around.

During the 1990’s, a decline of this attractive migrant was noted from the Headland and several years during this decade sadly none were recorded. This accords with the numbers of breeding Wood Warblers in Sussex which also declined during this decade. In 1994, 4 singles were recorded with 1 in the Spring and 3 in the Autumn. Three singles were recorded during August, 1996, but sadly none in 1997 or 1998 and only 1 in 1999 on the 24th April.

2000-2009: Pleasing to report that more sightings have been made during this last decade than during the 1990’s, although this can be partly explained by the use of tape luring, and it was recorded annually during this decade. In total 30 individuals were recorded during this period with 8 seen between 2000 to 2004, in 2005, 7 were recorded with 2 in the Spring between the 30th April and the 8th May and 5 during the Autumn between 31st July to the 6th August and on this latter date 3 were seen including 2 together along the Cliff Path and 1 in the Old Trapping Area. Five were seen during 2006, with 4 during 2007, only 1 in 2008 but 5 in 2009.

Wood Warbler in the Old Trapping Area on the 30th July 2007. (Martin Casemore)

Wood Warbler in Belle Tout Wood, July 2009. (John Cooper)

Bonelli’s Warbler Phylloscopus bonelli

Our first record for the Head and also for Sussex, was found by Roger & Liz Charlwood in their garden at Hodcombe on the 25th August, 1970. It particularly favoured the large sycamore tree in the garden and spent the rest of the day in this tree. It was also seen by John Cooper and Peter and the late Valerie Wilson. When this species was split into Eastern and Western Bonelli’s Warblers, British Birds were unable to ascribe this individual with certainty to either Western or Eastern species. It was the 21st record for the UK.

One was found by Keith Verral, Roger Haggar & Bob Smith in the run, leading up from the cliff edge in Whitbread Hollow during the morning of the 9th April, 1972. It moved up the run and was then lost in the bowl of the Hollow, and was not seen again. The bird was heard calling and this record was acceptable to British Birds as a definite Western on the call. It was the second record for Sussex and the first acceptable Western. It was the 33rd record for the UK.

Our third record, was trapped in Whitbread Hollow by John & Doreen Cooper at the bottom of the run leading up from the cliff edge. It occurred with a large fall of Chiffchaffs during the morning of the 15th September, 1977 and proved to be the 4th record for Sussex. It was also seen in the hand by Tom Gravett, and the late Brian Whitby et al and also by chance by Frank Lambert who just happened to be passing and looked in at the Ringing Hut, one of the few occasions he has done this. This record was acceptable to British Birds as a definite Western on its bio-metrics. It was the 51st record for the UK.

Our fourth record was a migrant found singing above the Gully in Cow Gap during the early morning of the 5th May, 1979, by John & David Cooper. It sang and showed very well for around 10 minutes before if headed up into Cow Gap proper. There was a good arrival of Willow Warblers and other migrants and subsequent looking failed to re-find this bird by the original and other observers. Although singing constantly, it did not call, and therefore British Birds were unable to ascribe it as either a Western or Eastern Bonelli’s. It was the 5th record for Sussex.

Our fifth record was trapped by Roger & Liz Charlwood in their garden at Hodcombe on the 30th September, 1986 and was seen by a number of local birders. In the hand it was aged as an adult and was acceptable to British Birds on its bio-metrics as a Western Bonelli’s. It was the 6th record for Sussex.

Our sixth and final record was originally found in the Old Trapping Area at around 9.00am on the 2nd September, 2005 by John Cooper, Roger Haggar & Liz Charlwood. It then moved to the bushes on the cliff edge and we were joined by Roger Charlwood, David Cooper & John King. After several minutes, it departed along the line of bushes leading to Shooters Bottom. John Cooper and Roger Charlwood then walked through the bushes looking for the Bonelli’s and they then went into Hodcombe at 11.00 am and were joined by Bob Smith. John then played his tape and attracted the Bonelli’s to them. We quickly contacted David Cooper who joined us in the garden. It remained fairly elusive and mobile and around 11.30 am it flew out of the garden towards the Old Belle Tout Lighthouse, and was not seen for the rest of the day. It was again present in Hodcombe the following morning and was well settled and showing very well. It was seen by a good number of Sussex birders and it stayed until the 4th September. It was heard calling and was acceptable as a Western Bonelli’s by British Birds.

Bonelli’s Warbler, trapped at Hodcombe, 30th September, 1986 (Roger Charlwood)

Greenish WarblerPhylloscopus trochiloides

Our first record and also the first for Sussex, (after four previously accepted birds by BBRC have now no longer found to be acceptable, following a full review by BBRC) was found by Colin Winyard in Belle Tout Wood on the 19th May, 1981. It was a male bird and spent most of the day singing which helped observers to locate it in the wood. During the day it was seen by several observers including Richard Fairbank and Roger & Liz Charlwood. The song was recorded by observers from the Sussex University. Just as John & David Cooper and David Parmenter arrived at the wood, the sun went down below the downland and the bird stopped singing and it could not be re-located.

Our second record and the second for Sussex was found by Mike Nolan and Tony Quinn in the hedgerow on the northern side of the Beachy Head Hotel Garden on the 10th September, 1995. It showed well and remained in the hedgerow for most of the day and was seen by a number of Sussex birders including Roger Charlwood, David Cooper and John King. It was one of a large national influx of 32 individuals during the 2nd to 20th September. John Cooper was present on Out Skerries at the time and found 3 Greenish Warblers and trapped 2 of them during this influx.

Our third record, was present in the Gully below Cow Gap from the 7th to the 10th October, 2005, and was the third record for Sussex. It was first seen briefly by John Cooper on the 7th, but as it only had the wing bar on one wing only, and not the wing John was looking at, and it wasn’t calling and Roger Charlwood had just found a Raddes Warbler in Hodcombe, John felt it was best left for later. On the 8th, John with David Cooper and Martin Casemore, re-found the Greenish, and after hearing it call we could confirm that it was a Greenish. It was seen by a good number of observers during its stay including Roger Charlwood Tony Quinn, Alan Kitson and Richard Fairbank and it was photographed by Tony Cook. John was highly delighted with it, as it was a Sussex tick for him as he had missed the two earlier birds.

Greenish Warbler in the Gully below Cow Gap on the 8th October, 2005. (Tony Cook)

Greenish Warbler trapped on the Out Skerries in September, 1995 (John Cooper)

Monday, 22 November 2010

22nd November,2010. Beachy Head

Pete & Mim covered the area from Birling to Belle Tout lighthouse and back through the wood and recorded the following:

Sparrow Hawk 1
Peregrine 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1
Black Redstart 4 (1 at Birling and 3 around Belle Tout Lighthouse)
Dartford Warbler 2 (pair)
Firecrest 1
Long Tailed Tit 12

Redwing trapped in Whitbread Hollow on the 7th November,(Bob Edgar).

Saturday, 20 November 2010

20th November,2010 Beachy Head Dull NE2

Went to Beachy with David and met up with a number of birders including RJF, JWK, ME, PN & GG. No sign of the Pallas's in the wood with the following being seen:

Fulmar 1
Sparrow Hawk 1
Kestrel 1
Golden Plover 1
Med. Gull 1 ad w/p in fields.
Black Headed Gull 200 in fields
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1
Skylark 30 in fields
Swallow 1 per RJF.
Black Redstart 1 ad on cricket field at East Dean, per RJF
Dartford Warbler 1 per PN RJF & JWK
Chiffchaff 2
Goldcrest 2+
Long Tailed Tit 5
Starling 400 in top fields.
Brambling 2+
Siskin 2+
Redpoll 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker in Belle Tout Wood

Friday, 19 November 2010

19th November,2010 Beachy Head.

We received a phone call from Pete & Mim, they have just found a Pallas's Warbler in Belle Tout wood this afternoon. Bob & Sarah went to see it and other migrants seen included 1 Firecrest, 4 Goldcrest, 2 Chiffchaffs. Also 1 Black Redstart still in the car park at Birling, 2 Peregrines & 2 Ravens.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

17th November,2010.Beachy Head Overcast,SE3-5

We sea-watched from Birling 07.50-09.20 with SE winds, and also visited Belle Tout wood:

Red Throated Diver 6 E
Great Crested Grebe 2 E
Fulmar 10 mainly E
Gannet 25
Little Egret 1
Brent Goose 1E
Wigeon 11 E
Common Scoter 6E
Red Breasted Merganser 1E
Merlin 1 which came along the cliffs at Birling.
Lapwing 2 E low over the sea.
Dunlin 13 E
Skylark 2 E low over the sea.
Black Redstart 1 imm. type Birling car park.
Stonechat 1 pair
Redwing 4 Belle Tout wood.
Goldcrest 2
Long Tailed Tit 5 Belle Tout wood.

Monday, 15 November 2010

15th November,2010. Beachy Head NE 2-3 Cool

RDME visited sites from Birling Gap to Shooters Bottom:

Peregrine 1
Woodpigeon 300 E
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1 female at Birling.
Dartford Warbler 1 female.
Goldcrest 1
Siskin 2
Goldfinch 100 + East.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

13th November,2010 Beachy Head Overcast W 2

Went to Beachy with Doreen and David and we covered most of sites on top of the Headland. We met up with Bob & Sarah briefly at Birling. The following were seen:

Little Egret 3 off Birling
Sparrow Hawk 1
Peregrine 1 adult male
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1
Rock Pipit 1
Stonechat 2
Dartford Warbler 2
Goldcrest 4
Firecrest 1 Belle Tout wood
Long Tailed Tit 5
Brambling 2 plus others heard calling.
Goldfinch 150 (40 W)
Siskin 4
Linnet 20 W
Lesser Redpoll 3

Stormy weather off Birling.

Male Dartford Warbler

Female type Dartford Warbler.

Rock Pipit in Birling Gap car park.

Long Tailed Tit in Belle Tout wood.

Friday, 12 November 2010

12th November,2010 Beachy Head WSW6 gusting to 8.

We decided to do a sea-watch today with all the rough weather around and watched from 07.35 to 09.10. We also looked in Belle Tout wood which was fairly sheltered:

Red Throated Diver 2
Fulmar 1W
Gannet 1 W
Little Egret 1 off Birling
Teal 1 W
Goldeneye 2W @ 07.50
Velvet Scoter 3 W

1 Long Tailed Tit
1 Brambling feeding on the ground in Belle Tout wood
400 Starlings in the Top Fields.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

10th November,2010 Beachy Head Sunny N4-5

We birded a number of sheltered sites on the Head, but little was seen:

Sparrow Hawk 1
Wood Pigeon 750
Black Redstart 1 imm. type by the side of Belle Tout wood.
Stonechat 2
Redwing 2
Long Tailed Tit 5


Red Admiral 1

View taken from the Cliff Path of Eastbourne with Langney Point.

Long Tailed Tits on the sunny side of Belle Tout wood.

Blue Tit

Sunday, 7 November 2010

7th November,2010 Beachy Head, NE 3/4

RDME went ringing in the Hollow for the last time this year. Birds seen with ringing numbers in brackets:

GoldenPlover 1
Wood Pigeon 1,000
Blackbird 20 (4)
Redwing 15 (1)
Blackcap 1 (1)
Goldcrest 3 (1)
Firecrest 1 (1)
Brambling 1
Siskin 11
Lesser Redpoll 8 (8)

Tree Creeper in Belle Tout wood taken on the 6th November. (Roger Haggar)