Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Beachy Head 2011 Summary No.26

2011: Jan-Feb: Up to 11 on a day recorded during this period.
Spring: Again just small numbers recorded with 8 on the 4/6. Breeding not recorded.
Autumn: Just small numbers recorded upto the end of September. Movement got under way in October and from the 6/10 to 20/11 good numbers were recorded on many dates with a total of 7,160 moving E during this period, with daily maximums of: 8/10 660 E, 14/10 500 E, 28/10 1,000 + E, 2/11 350 E, 5/11 2,135 E, 13/11 500 E, 19/11 180 E. Winter: Just 4 found feeding on the 10/12. Per B.H.Log.
(An average Autumn. In the 1960's approx. 15 breeding pairs were estimated and good numbers of juveniles could be found feeding on thistles in Whitbread Hollow in early August, which sadly is no longer the case).

2011: None recorded during the Spring.
Autumn: Recorded on 26 dates from 9/9 (15) to 13/11 (4). In total 779 bird-days although on a number of days, birds were very high and could only be heard, and many must have been missed. Daily maximums: 9/10 150 W, 15/10 173 E, 5/11 217 E (142 E over Holywell & 75 E over Birling, so there may have been some double counting between the two sites). Per B.H.Log.
(Another excellent Autumn and generally more birds are now being seen during the Autumn passage than in our earlier years. Our largest movement so far recorded was on the 29/9/1988 when a total of 1,500 were logged moving West).

2011: Spring: Only odd birds seen until the 26/3 (15). By the 3/4 120 were in the rough field, although these had moved on by the 10/4 when only 10 were seen. On the 9/4 40 arrived in off the sea, and on the 16/4 60 moved W. On the 30/5 the whole area was walked and 38 were logged which probably represents the breeding birds.
Autumn: On the 14/8 a flock of 50 were in the field opposite Belle Tout wood, with a 100 on the 10/9. On the 22/9 200 were logged, of which 100 moved W. A large Westerly movement on the 8/10 with 1,100 and 100 was still in the field. 400 East on the 14/10 with 100 E on the 15th, and a further 130 E on the 27/10. On the 28/10, 300 moved East with another 400 were seen in the field. There were 300 still in the field on the 2/11, but then numbers quickly fell away and by the 15/11 only 8 were left. Winter: A flock of 26 were feeding in the field on the 10/12. Per B.H.Log.
(Back in the 1960's the breeding population was estimated at around 70-80 breeding pairs and now probably less than 40 pairs, and many of the former breeding sites are no longer used.  Although good movements are still being recorded larger movements were regularly logged in the 60's & 70's for example 3,600 West on the 9/10 to the 10/10. Also large flocks of 2,000 birds were often recorded in the kale fields on the Head).

 2011: Spring: None recorded.
Autumn: Recorded on 28 dates from 3/10 (5) to 22/11 (12 E) with about 900 bird-days, which also includeds the numbers seen and ringed in Whitbread Hollow. On the 16/10 a party 6 flew W over the Hotel Garden of which 1 showed a large white rump and was considered to be a Mealy (DC & JFC). On the 5/11 236 moved East (147 E over Holywell & 89 E over Birling).
Good numbers were ringed by the BHRG in Whitbread Hollow with their daily maximums of 16/10 200 (52 ringed), 17/10 60 (40 ringed), 21/10 60 (25 ringed), & 12/11 100 (77 ringed). Per B.H.Log.
(In 1972, large numbers of Redpolls were recorded moving over the Headland and several Mealy's were identified.  One Redpoll found dead was sent to the Nat.History Museum and was identified as belonging to the Icelandic race).

2011: A female briefly in Hodcombe before departing around the 14/6, and 1 briefly again on the 19/6 (R.H.C)  Per B.H.Log.

(At least 50 have been logged since 1966 when our first was positively identified with our best year was in 1972 when 13 different birds were claimed from the Headland).

2011: Recorded on 19 dates from 11/4 (2) to 22/11 (3). Almost all the records were from Whitbread Hollow where probably at least 1 pair bred and on the 6/8 2 were trapped of which 1 was a re-trap from 2010, and at least 10 new birds were ringed during the year. Other records: 5/11 1 E & 2 near Belle Tout, 19/11 1 Shooters Bottom. Two were again seen in Whitbread Hollow on the 10/12. Per B.H. Log.
(During the 1960's 8-10 breeding pairs. During October daily numbers would be in the region of 15-40 birds on a day with the daily maximum of 60, and between 1960-1970 a total of 561 were ringed on the Headland averaging at 50 per year).

Monday, 30 January 2012

Beachy Head 2011 Summary No.25

2011: Spring: Only small numbers recorded.
10 pairs were counted breeding in Cow Gap on the 4/4 and on the 10/7 50 were recorded in the area.
Autumn: Daily maximums: 14/9 400 (300 in the area & 100 + W), 19/9 250 (50 W),
8/10 200 (150 W), 9/10 150 (100 W). . Per B.H.Log.
(An average year)

2011: Spring: An early migrant was seen on the 24/3 when 1 was seen and heard calling moving N. over Birling. 1 was seen on the 24/4.
Autumn: Recorded on 12 dates between 14/8 (5 W)  & 3/10 (2). In total 33 were recorded with a daily maximum of 12 on the 10/9. . Per B.H.Log.
(Our previous earliest Spring record was the 26/3 although the earliest for Sussex is the 17/3. Like so many of our other migrants numbers of Tree Pipits recorded during the Autumn have declined since regular watching commenced in 1960. For example, in 1972, (and this was just an average year),  it was recorded on 32 dates during Autumn passage with 362 bird-days and daily maximums of 40 on both the 16/8 and 16/9 compared with the 33 recorded during this last Autumn).

2011: Mainly singles were recorded on odd dates from Birling Gap but also seen on the beach at Cow Gap although this site is rarely visited now. On the 17/12 3 were present in the Birling Gap car park. Per B.H.Log
(1965: A survey of the cliffs between Birling Gap and Holywell produced 23 singing males holding territory.)

2011: Between 12/3 to 24/4  14 alba types were seen coming in off the sea or moving over the Headland and several of these were probably White Wagtails.
Autumn: On the 17/8 12 alba types and were considered to be White Wagtails were feeding on the Downs above Belle Tout wood. Main movements: 1/10 23 E, 2/10 55,
8/10 40 W, 15/10 70 E, 16/10 50 E, 5/11 14 E. . Per B.H.Log.
(A fairly typical year)

2011: Spring: Recorded on 5 dates from 22/3 (1) to 10/4 (2). 26/3 7 found feeding in the rough field with 4 alba types coming in off the sea. 9/4 4 Whites in the field plus 4 albas coming in off the sea. . Per B.H.Log.
(A good Spring, also see the comments under Pied Wagtail)

2011: A single bird appeared to be wintering at Birling Sewage plant and was seen on the 3/1 and 12/2.
Autumn: Recorded on 5 dates from 29/8 (3W), and 1/10 (1). In total 17 were seen with the maximum of 10/9 9 (5 W). . Per B.H.Log.
(Numbers of Grey Wagtails in recent years have been in decline. Just 17 recorded this Autumn and 32 during the Autumn of 2010. In 2009, it was just logged on 2 dates, this compares with 52 recorded in 1970, 55 in 1971 and 100 in 1972).

2011: Spring: Just seen on 2 dates as follows 22/4 1 in off the sea & 24/4 2.
Autumn: Recorded on 13 dates from 14/8 (2) to 1/10 (2). Daily maximums 28/8 62 passing over the Top Fields,  4/9 28, 10/9 70, & 14/9 35. . Per B.H.Log.
(Our best Autumn for several years).

2011: One spent 2 minutes near the cliff edge at Birling before departing inland on the 6/11. J.W.King, J.F.Cooper, D.Cooper & B.Kay. Per B.H.Log.
(Our first record since 2007 and only our 3rd record this century. From 1966 until 1973 one regularly wintered in Whitbread Hollow and was frequently seen catching House Martins when it first arrived. Our best year was in 1971 when an exceptional 8 different birds were considered to have been recorded).

2011; Winter 9/1 200 recorded. Spring: Upto 200 in the Bullock Down Farm area in March, but only 50 seen by the 6/4. On the 30/5 15 including a few juveniles.
Autumn: In July upto 400 were present in the Birling/Top Fields area and were virtually all juveniles. Similar numbers of Starlings were present in August, September and into October often around the manure field at Bullock Down Farm. On the 28/10 60 were seen going over Whitbread Hollow. In November, passage was noted with 520 on the 6/11 of which 420 moved West, 120 W on the 12/11, and on the 19/11 500 were again seen in the Bullock Down Farm fields. Winter: A flock of 200 were feeding in the fields on the 10/12. Per B.H.Log.

30th January, 2012 Beachy Head Overcast clear NE 1

Sea-watched 07.35-09.10:

Red Throated Diver 6 E $ W & 1 on the sea
Great Crested Grebe 1 E
Teal 26 E
Auk Sp. 51W & 9E
Razorbill 9 E, 7W & 30 on the sea

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Beachy Head 2011 Summary No.24

2011: After the recent severe winters it was only recorded on 5 dates during the Spring from 25/3 (2) to 3/4 (1) with a daily maximum of 13 on the 27/3.
Autumn: Recorded on 47 dates from 30/8 (1) to 10/12 (1). Daily maximums: 27/9 (13), 16/10 (12), 23/10 (16), 28/10 (20), & 1/11 (14). One was still present on the 30/12. Per B.H.Log
(Pleasing to report that after no Spring sightings last year, a recovery was seen this year although it will probably take a few mild winters before the numbers recover completely).

2011: Spring: Recorded on 8 dates from 9/2 (1 at Holywell) to 15/4 (1). In total 15 bird days with probably 10 different individuals seen, with a maximum of 4 on the 12/3 and 13/3.
Autumn: Recorded on 21 dates from 24/9 (1)  to the  10/11 (1). In total 68 bird-days with probably 44 different individuals seen. Daily maximums: 23/10 (4), 25/10 (7),27/10 (8), 29/10(12), 31/10 (4). Per B.H.Log.
(Another good year and an improvement on last Autumn, when I estimated probably 23 different birds were recorded. Our last good Autumn influxs was on the 10/9/06 when 26 different birds were logged, and on the 18/9/96, 32 different birds were present on the Headland.
 An interesting ringing recovery was in 1988 when on the 15/10 one was ringed on Beachy Head and was controlled just 11 days later on Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel. It is probable that this bird was a newly arrived continental migrant when it was ringed and that its westward movement is typical, as central southern and south-west England is where most winter sightings occur).

A Spring Firecrest in Belle Tout Wood in March.
(Another good year at Beachy for this lovely migrant).

2011: Not recorded in the Spring.
Autumn: Recorded on just 7 dates from 10/8 (1) to 23/9 (1) with just 14 birds logged with a daily maximum of 3 on the 14/8 & 4 on the 23/9. Per B.H.Log
(A very bleak year for this declining summer visitor and has to be our worst year ever. Back in the 1960's, 2-3 pairs regularly bred in Belle Tout wood and this year is probably our first year it was not logged during the Spring migration period. Even as recently as 2007, our last good Spring, when on the 22/5, 22 different birds were seen. Autumn numbers in 2011 were also very low, for comparison in 1970, it was logged on 31 dates with a total of 206 bird-days with daily maximums of 20 on the 29/8, a good influx on the 30/8 with 50 birds and 20 on the 16/9). 

2011: Spring: 1stS. male showed well and was photographed in the Old Trapping Area on the 11/4.
Autumn: Just recorded on two dates 27/8 (2) & 29/8 (1). Per B.H.Log
(This species has always fluctuated from year to year, and is not always recorded every Spring. I remember many years ago in 1961, arriving with Tony Quinn during the afternoon of the 2/9, to commence a weeks bird ringing in the Old Trapping Area, and just in the afternoon in the Old Trapping Area seeing 35 Pied Flycatchers and 40 Whinchats. Those were the days!!).

1st S. male Pied Flycatcher in the Old Trapping Area on the 11th April, 2011.
(Lets hope for some more in 2012)

Friday, 27 January 2012

27th January, 2012 Beachy Head Fine clear & cool W 2

Sea-watched 07.35-09.05

Red Throated Diver 20 E, 4W & 1 on the sea
Brent Goose 7 E
Common Scoter 9 E
Auk Sp. 11 E & 6 W

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

25th January, 2012 Beachy Head Overcast & mild. W 1-2

Sea-watched from 07.55-09.00 and then covered the rough field and Belle Tout wood:

Red Throated Diver 1 E
Black Throated Diver 1 E @ 08.45
Gannet 8
Bonxie 1 E @ 08.35
Auk sp. 20
Razorbill 1 on the sea.

Skylark 65

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Beachy Head 2011 Summary No.23


2011: Spring: Recorded from 24/3 (1 at Birling). Daily maximums: 7/4 50 with (1 of the Northern race acredula seen in the Old Trapping Area). 8/4 22, 11/4 20-25.
Autumn: Recorded from 23/7 (3 all 1stY birds), Daily maximums : these include the BHRG numbers from Whitbread Hollow. 25/7 22 (4 ringed), 6/8 95 (26 ringed) 10/8 142 (27 ringed), 14/8 113 (25 ringed), 17/8 87 (31 ringed).  Last recorded: 29/10 to 1/11 with one present in Belle Tout wood. Per B.H.Log
This November record represents our latest date.
(The numbers of Willow Warblers now seen during the Spring migration period is far less than it was back in our earlier years, and the last good Spring fall occurred on the 10/4/2007 when 150+ were logged, although much larger Spring falls were recorded in our earlier years.On the 15/4/1970 a fall of some 800 phylloscopus warblers with the majority being Willows, were logged in the area.
Back in the 1960's 20-40 breeding pairs were estimated from the Headland, and in 1970 up to 30 pairs were breeding mainly along the Cliff Path. During the last few years, just the odd bird has been logged during the breeding season and it probably no longer breeds on the Head.
Numbers of migrants seen during the Autumn do tend to fluctuate from year to year mainly due to the weather conditions at the end of July to mid August. A warm settled spell will tend to attract good falls of mainly 1st yr. birds. with some very large falls logged right up to the 1990's for example in 1997 600 were logged for the 9/8 with 800 on the 10/8 and it was estimated that the August total was around 2,600).

2011: Spring: Recorded from 22/3 (1). Generally only small numbers noted with the daily maximums of 11 on the 24/3 & 23 on the 26/3.
Breeding: A number of singing males were holding terriority in the whole area, although chiefly in the Whitbread Hollow area although the breeding population is probably less than 10 pairs. On the 25/7 11 juveniles were ringed in Whitbread Hollow and an adult was re-trapped which had been ringed there on the 28/7/2010. Further birds were ringed here in late July/early August which were probably local breeding birds and odd moulting adult birds were also seen on the Headland at the end of July which suggests local breeding birds.
Autumn: Migration commenced towards the end of August and BHRG numbers are included in these totals. Daily maximums:  On the 31/8 15 (9 ringed), 14/9 60, 15/9 316 (65 ringed), 16/9 70 (15 ringed), 19/9 280 (54 ringed), 22/9 160 (48 ringed), 23/9 550 (73 ringed), 27/9 230 (37 ringed), 3/10 60 (19 ringed). By the early November just odd birds were being seen although on the 12th a small influx of 10 occurred with 3 being ringed and one seen and photographed at Birling probably belonged to an Eastern race fulvescens or tristis. On the 10/12 1 was photographed at Birling. Per B.H.Log.
(Numbers of both migrant and breeding Chiffchaffs from the Headland during the last 50 years are fairly stable with some good years but also some poor years).

2011: Just a single record on 1 in Hodcombe on the 30/7. Per B.H.Log.
(During the last 20 years, the Wood Warbler has sadly been in decline. During the 1970's, 12 were logged during 1977, and 8 in 1978).

 2011: A single bird was found by Nigel Taylor, a visiting birder, at the top of the lane at Birling Gap on the 25/10 and stayed to at least the 28/10, when on this date it seemed to have picked up an eye infection and had become very elusive. It was well photographed by Mick Davies. Per B.H.Log.
(This is now our 73rd record since regular watching commenced in 1960).

2011: 23/10 1 found by Chris Ball in Holywell, with a second bird in Belle Tout wood on the 27/10. J.F.Cooper, R.D.M. Edgar, P.Netherway, R.E.Smith, R.K.Haggar et al. Per B.H.Log.
(We have now recorded 45 Pallas’s Leaf Warblers since the first for Sussex trapped in Whitbread Hollow by Barry Cooper in 1968, up to 2010, a total of 80 Pallas's have been seen in Sussex).

Sunday, 22 January 2012

22nd January, 2012 Beachy Head Overcast, clear WNW 7

Sea-watched 08.00-09.30:

Red Throated Diver 4 E & 1 W
Gannet 9 E & 10 W
Teal 2 W
Common Scoter 3 on the sea, 2E & 1W
Bonxie 1W @ 08.15
Auk 2W & 2E.
Razorbill 5W

Stonechat 1

Saturday, 21 January 2012

21st January, 2012. Beachy Head. Overcast WNW 5

Sea-watched 12.30-13.30:

Red Throated Diver 4E & 9 on the sea.
Gannet 1 E & 18 W
Common Scoter 3 on the sea
Bonxie 1 W @ 12.35
Common Gull 250
Curlew 8 E & 1 W
Auk sp. 2 W

Beachy Head 2011 Summary No.22

2011: After the last 2 winters which were very severe, we were delighted to find and photograph a male in Shooters Bottom on the 23/10. We searched for this bird on subsequent dates without success. Per B.H.Log.
(Unfortunately, the pair which had taken up residence in late Autumn of  2010 when the male was seen in song flight in November, disappeared shortly after the severe cold spell in early December. In the 1960's & 70's it bred in several areas and in 1970, 4-5 breeding pairs were present, but breeding ceased in the late 1970's after several fires took place in the gorse).

2011: Spring: Recorded from 27/3 (1), with a daily maximum of 7 on the 10/4.
Breeding: Several pairs bred and on the 30/5 4 males were in song in the area.
Autumn: Recorded throughout the Autumn until the 13/11 (1). Large numbers were again ringed in Whitbread Hollow which is by far the main area for this species on Beachy Head, and the BHRG totals are included in this summary. Daily maximuns: 17/8 53 (19 ringed), 24/8 125 (42 ringed), 29/8 400 (119 ringed), 31/8 200 (84 ringed), 15/9 400 (84 ringed), 23/9 550 (141 trapped), 27/9 260 (73 ringed), 3/10 85 (34 ringed). Per B.H.Log.
(The August totals clearly shows how climate change is changing the Blackcap movements. During the 1970’s, the elderberries were ripening in mid-September and the Blackcap numbers being ringed in Whitbread Hollow were mainly concentrated in mid-September, but now with elderberries ripening in late August onwards far more Blackcaps are present in Whitbread Hollow now from mid-August onwards, although  mid September is still the main time. Unfortunately, the weather this year in mid-September was very unsettled and this effected the ringing effort in Whitbread Hollow.
Tony Quinn in his summary of the Blackcap Autumn migration in 1970, states that the numbers passing through Beachy Head, is no less than 8 times the total of the seven observatories considered by Peter Davis, and at least 50 times as many as at either Dungeness & Portland Bill. In the years from 1960 to 1970 a total of 4.471 Blackcaps were ringed on the Headland with the majority of these in mid- September. Last year a total of 1,243 Blackcaps were ringed in Whitbread Hollow).

2011: Spring: Just one Spring sighting on the early date of the 16/4.
Autumn: Recorded on 26 dates with 105 bird-days, from the 25/7 (1 ringed) to the 1/10 (1). Daily maximums: 6/8 12 (10 ringed), 10/8 10+ (8 ringed), 17/8 10+ (8 ringed). The totals from BHRG have been included, and this shows how Whitbread Hollow is by far the main site at Beachy for this species. Per B.H.Log.
(Sadly, since the 1980's numbers have been in sharp decline. In 1970 for example, it was recorded on 15 dates during the Spring with 71 bird-days and a daily maximum of 20 on the 13/5. During the Autumn, it was recorded on 52 dates with 1,323 bird-days with a daily maximum of 120 on the 14/8 and 130 on the 15/8. This compares with this years daily maximum of just 12 on the 6/8).

2011: Spring: Recorded from 9/4 (3). Daily maximums: 10/4 (12), 24/4 (50 in the whole area),
Breeding: On the 30/5 a full count was made in the whole area, with a total of 58 logged, 80% of these were singing males and a breeding population of approx. 40-45 breeding pairs.
Autumn: An excellent year. Recorded upto 4/10 (1). Daily maximums (which includes totals from the BHRG in Whitbread Hollow), 3/8 88 (19 ringed), 6/8 100 (23 ringed), 10/8 185 (54 ringed), 14/8 350 (79 ringed), 15/8 145 (30 ringed with only 1 re-trap from the previous day), 17/8 400 (89 ringed), 24/8 100 (33 ringed), 29/8 135 (22 ringed), 15/9 58 (10 ringed). Per B.H.Log.
(Pleasing to report that the population of Common Whitethroat appears very similar to what it was back in the 1960's when the breeding population was estimated between 20-40 pairs, although the peak numbers logged in  the Spring migration periods were considerably higher in the early 1960's, with the maximum number recorded in the Spring was in early May 1965 when 300 were logged. In the Autumn, numbers are fairly similar with this year, with 400 were logged during early August in both 1967 and 68. During the winter of 1968/69, there was a massive depletion of the population in the UK as a whole, due to a drought in the Sahel, and this was clearly shown in the numbers of migrants recorded on the Headland in 1969, and the slow rate of recovery in the 1970's. Between 1960-1971 a total of 4,671 Whitethroats had been ringed on the Headland averages nearly 400 a year and it was estimated that some 3,670 birds passed through our area during the Autumn migration period during the 60's. In 2010, a total of 274 birds were ringed by the BHRG although this year the number is in excess of 500 birds ringed).

2011: Spring: Recorded from 11/4 (1 in Cow Gap). On the 4/6 7 singing males were located in the area, and probably represents the breeding population.
Autumn: Recorded on 35 dates and last seen on the 27/9 (2). In total 121 bird-days, which includes the BHRG totals, with daily maximums of 10+ on the 14/8 (7 trapped), 17/8 17 (8 trapped). Per B.H.Log.
(Although the local breeding population has remained fairly stable, with up to 5 pairs during the 1960's and an estimated 12 pairs in 1970, the daily numbers recorded especially during the Autumn migration period has fallen dramatically since the early 1990's. Prior to this the daily maximums regularly recorded were between 80-100 per day and in 1982 the daily maximums were 200 on the 28/8 and 150 on the 5/9 this compares with the daily maximum in 2011 of just 17 on the 17/8. Between the years 1960-1971 a total of 1,336 birds were ringed an average of 110 birds per year, compared to approx. 36 being ringed by the BHRG in 2010).

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Beachy Head 2011 Summary No.21

2011: Spring: On the 15/4 when 1 was singing in Shooters Bottom.
Autumn: Recorded on 25 dates from 23/7(1) to 27/9 (2 trapped). In total 39 birds seen with 3 on the 14/8, 4 on the 24/8 (3 trapped), 4 on the 15/9 (3 trapped). In Whitbread Hollow a total of 23 birds were ringed. Per B.H.Log.
(Encouraging, that even allowing for the fact that Cow Gap,which is a good area for Grasshopper Warbler, is not now being covered as well as in past years, our numbers are similar to numbers seen in recent years. Although back in the 1960's & 70's with at least 6 breeding pairs numbers were far higher. In 1972, it was recorded during the Spring on 22 dates with 133 bird-days and a daily maximum of 13 on the 26/4. During the Autumn it was recorded on 32 dates with 134 bird-days and a daily maximum of  15 on the 30/9).

2011: Spring: 2 singing birds at Birling on the 30/5 & 1 on the 4/6.
Autumn: Recorded on 31 dates from 13/7 (1) to 16/10 (1 photographed in Shooters Bottom). In total 225 bird-days which includes the BHRG numbers, with daily maximums of 31/7 (8), 6/8 (35, with 15 trapped), 14/8 (40, 15 trapped), 17/8 (31 with 17 trapped). Per B.H.Log.
(Another good year, our largest fall recorded was on the 20/9/1980 when at least 100 were logged and for a fairly skulking species probably good numbers were missed. An interesting ringing recovery was of one ringed on the 14/9/2002 and was controlled on Queen Mary Reservoir, Surrey a week later, seemingly having travelled in the 'wrong' direction).

2011: Spring : None seen. Autumn: Recorded on 19 dates from 11/7 (1)  to 19/9 (1). In total 28 bird-days which again includes birds ringed by the BHRG. Daily maximum of 3 on the 21/8. Per B.H.Log.
(A poorish year with none logged during the Spring. The Sedge Warbler has become much scarcer than the Reed Warbler at Beachy Head but in the 1960's the Sedge Warbler was commoner than the Reed. It used to be regularly seen during the Spring with a daily maximum of 12 and in fact one year a pair bred above Whitbread Hollow. Between 1960-1970, the Autumn daily maximum was 70 on the 5/9/67, although on an average Autumn, the daily maximum of 30 to 40 being the norm. A total of 552 birds were ringed during these early years, an average of around 50 per year compared to this year when less than 15 were ringed).

2011: One 1stW trapped in Whitbread Hollow on the 6/8. (RDME & PF). (Also seen by JFC, DC, BK & JK). Per B.H.Log.
(Our 31st Record since regular watching commenced in 1960, 1 was also trapped in Holywell in 1958).

1stW. Melodious Warbler trapped in Whitbread Hollow on the 6th August.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

17th January, 2012. Beachy Head Part Cloudy & cool S2

RDME sea-watched from 07.55-09.55:

Red Throated Diver 60 E & 2 on sea
Great Crested Grebe 2 E
Little Egret 1 E about a mile off Birling & was probably a new arrival.
Brent Goose 27 E
Common Scoter 10 (7E)
Auk Sp. 30 (16 E, 8 W & 6 on sea)

Beachy Head 2011 Summary No.20

2011: Spring: Recorded on 23 dates from 14/3 (2) to 25/4 (10). (After this date JFC & DC were away on holiday, and no additional numbers have been logged). In total 110 bird-days with daily maximums of 27/3 (16), 14/4 (11), 24/4 (10). The Greenland race leucorhoa were recorded as follows: 2 on the 11/4, & 1 on the 15/4. On the 26/3 1 was seen to arrive in of the sea.
Autumn: Recorded on 43 dates from 27/7(1) to 13/11 (1). In total 392 bird-days with daily maximums of 3/9 (40), 10/9 (40), 15/9 approx 100 was estimated although most had moved on very quickly. A number of Autumn birds were considered to belong to the Greenland race leucorhoa but were not identified for certain. Per B.H.Log.
(An average sort of year)

2011 A 1stW. was discovered by M.E.& R.H.Charlwood with G. & A.Swash on Crowlink on the downs just to the E. of Crowlink hamlet. It stayed for the rest of the day and was enjoyed by a good number of birders including JFC, DC, RKH, RES & RDME and was well photographed and pictures were published in Birding World. Unfortunately, it was not seen the following morning. First record for Sussex. Per B.H.Log.        

(An excellent find, and up to 2010 there has been 28 accepted records in the UK and with the Crowlink bird there were 3 records during 2011).

2011: Recorded from the 12/2 to 20/11. Spring: No real influx noted and probably only around 5 breeding pairs. On the 30/5 11 birds logged including 5 juvs.
Autumn Maximums: 2/9 14 & 24/9 17 also a small influx noted on the 6/11 with 11 logged. A pair were seen in the often used wintering site near the Birling Sewage Farm on the 10/12, and 3 were in the rough field at Birling on the 17/12.
A pair belonging to the Continental race rubicola took up terriority in the small gully running along the cliff edge above Belle Tout wood. We managed to photograph these and they bred raising 3 young.Per B.H.Log
(This would appear to be the first proven breeding in the UK of this particular race, although they have probably bred before and not reported and we have had similar birds breeding at Beachy in past years. In 2009 probably the same pair bred in this Gully, and in 2010 a male with a large white rump was photographed and appeared to be holding territory in Shooters Bottom. In 2007, what was considered to be a rubicola, was found breeding in the Gully below Cow Gap and raised 3 young. I also remember seeing brightly coloured males with good white rumps on a number of occasions going right back to the 1960's chiefly in the Shooters Bottom area).

2011: None recorded during the Spring. Autumn: Recorded on 24 dates from 14/8 (4) to 16/10 (1). In total 64 bird-days with daily maximums of 21/8 (5), 10/9(8), 19/9 (5),
& 24/9 (5). Most surprising that there was not a single sighting from Whitbread Hollow all Autumn. Per B.H.Log.
(Another poor year and the last year it was recorded in the Spring was in 2007. During the 1960's & 70's far higher numbers were being recorded in both the Spring and especially in the Autumns. 100 in a day was not to unusual and during the night of the 20/9/1980 with SE winds between 500-1,000 Whinchats were estimated in our area on the 21/9 but they soon moved on).

 2011: Spring: Recorded only on the 18/4 with a female in Hodcombe.
Autumn: Recorded on 21 dates chiefly singles from 25/7 (1) to 29/10 (1 in Hodcombe). In total 43 bird-days with daily maximums of 15/8 (5), 17/8(7), & 21/8 (4). Per B.H.Log.
(Another species which is in decline. In the 1960's the Spring daily maximum was 33 on the 22/5/1965, and in 1970 it was recorded on 20 dates during the Spring with a daily maximum 20 on the 18/4 with 100 bird-days. A similar story is for the Autumn passage with daily maximums often in the region of 20 in a day and during our first eleven years of ringing a total of 394 Redstarts were ringed averaging some 35 birds per year).

2011: Winter: An adult male seen at Birling on the 9/2 & 12/2.
Spring: Recorded on 8 dates from the 12/3 ( 1 in the Hotel Garden) to 8/4 (1). Probably 13 different birds were involved allowing for overlaps, with daily maximums of 8 on the 26/3, & 4 on the 27/3.
Autumn: Recorded on 13 dates from 17/10 (1) to 22/11 (2). After allowing for duplications probably 10 different inviduals involved with the daily maximum of 4 on the 29/10. Per B.H.Log.
(An average Spring and Autumn. An interesting ringing recovery was of a juvenile ringed in Hodcombe on the 17/10/85 was found dead just 8 days later on St. Mary's, Isles of Scillies, some 475km to the SW).

2011: Just recorded on 4 dates during the year: 11/4 1 in Whitbread Hollow, 27/7 1 trapped, 31/7 1 croaking in Shooters Bottom, 12/8 1 in Whitbread Hollow.  Per B.H.Log.
(Back in the 1960's & into the 70's, 3 pairs bred in Whitbread Hollow with additional pairs probably at Long Down. During the first eleven years of ringing a total of 54 birds were ringed and a pair ringed in Whitbread Hollow in April, 1962 were re-trapped there in May, 1965. I can also remember ringing in the Old Trapping Area probably in 1961 and found 3 Nightingales in the mist-net together).

2011: Autumn Maximums logged : 17/8 25, 29/10 25, 12//11 26 (4 ringed), although not all totals from the BHRG have been logged. Per B.H.Log.
(A poor year, with daily maximums during past Autumns have been in the region of 50 to 100 on a day. On the 30/10/2004, 100 were estimated in Whitbread Hollow with a further 50 estimated from the Headland. In 1998, 200 were logged from Whitbread Hollow on the 9/10 and during this Autumn 185 were ringed in Whitbread Hollow which was the best total since 1977).

Monday, 16 January 2012

16th January, 2012. Beachy Head Fine clear & frosty E 2

We sea-watched from 07.50-10.50 and RDME joined us:

Red Throated Diver 88 (85E, 2W & 1 on the sea)
Great Crested Grebe 4
Brent Goose 904 E
Wigeon 5 E
Shoveler 6 E
Common Scoter 6 (3E)
Red Breasted Merganser 1 E
Auk sp. 35 E
Razorbill 1 E

Brent Geese again on the move off Birling

Party of Brents & Wigeon landed briefly on the sea off Birling

Sunday, 15 January 2012

15th January, 2012 Beachy Head Clear & cold E2-3

Sea-watched 08.00-11.15:

Red Throated Diver 10 (9E)
Great Crested Grebe 7E
Gannet 130E
Little Egret 1
Brent Goose 588 E
Wigeon 14E
Shoveler 5E
Eider 1E
Common Scoter 3 on sea
Velvet Scoter 2 females E
Arctic Skua 1 d/p E
Kittiwake 60E
Auk Sp 20+ E
Guillemot 15
Razorbill 22 mainly E
Chiffchaff 1 outside sea-watch hut.

Brent Geese on the move

A January Chiffchaff at Birling

Saturday, 14 January 2012

14 January, 2012 Beachy Head Clear, cold & frosty NE 0-1

Sea-watched 08.00-09.30 and then walked part of the field and birded Belle Tout wood:
RDME & SM visited Whitbread Hollow

Red Throated Diver 13 (9E, 3W & 1 on sea)
Great Crested Grebe 3
Gannet 12 W
Grey Heron 1 W long way out to sea
Brent Goose 100 (97 E)
Wigeon 2E
Pintail 1 drake E
Common Scoter 6
Common Gull 250 in fields
Herring Gull 1 Scandinavian race on beach off Birling
Auk Sp. 183 (177W)
Guillemot 2
Razorbill 50 (42E)
Great Spotted Woodpecker 2 (1 B/T wood & 1 Hollow)
Skylark 50
Jay 2 calling inthe Hollow
Tree Creeper 2
Linnet 8

Field Mouse 1 in a bird nesting box in the Hollow

Scandinavian Herring Gull on the beach at Birling

Friday, 13 January 2012

Beachy Head 2011 Summary No.19

2011: No records were logged during the Spring.
Autumn: On the Headland, the first record was on the 15/8. It was not recorded after this until the 3/10 and then recorded regularly until mid-Nov, with 5 seen on the 10/12.  Maximum numbers seen: 23/10 (10), 27/10 (10), 28/12 (12 with 4 being trapped), & 5/11 (8). . Per B.H.Log.
( In the early 1970’s the Autumn daily maximum was around 100 with 150 recorded on the 30/9/1974, and shows how this species has declined at Beachy Head in the interveining years).

2011: 12/2 (1) Autumn: Recorded on 4 dates 1/10 (4 N), 17/10 (3), 6/11 (3 W), & 26/11 (4). Winter: 10/12 to 30/12 1 was feeding in the Belle Tout wood area. Per B.H. Log.
(In the 1960's it was estimated that 7 pairs bred in the area and our daily maximum was 60 which occurred on the 14/10/72, but by the 1990's it was considered rare in Whitbread Hollow).

2011: 12/2 (1), 20/2 (1), 20/2 (1), Autumn: 13/10 (32),  21/10 (2 E), 28/10 (2), 6/11 (6) & 12/11 (1). Per B.H. Log.
(No exceptional movements recorded since 2001, when 735 were counted moving SE in one hour on the 28/10).

2011: Only recorded on 28 dates during the year in very low numbers. Daily maximum was only 8 on the 13/10. Several Continental migrants were trapped in Whitbread Hollow. Per B.H. Log.
(Numbers of Song Thrushes have been in sharp decline during the last decade or so. In the 1960's 30 breeding pairs were estimated in the area although a decrease in numbers were noted after the severe winter of  1962/63 although by 1967/68 numbers seen during the Autumns had recovered with 250 logged on the 19/10/68 and 220 logged on the 14/10/69. Autumn daily maximums during the 70's were around the 100 mark but by the 80's onwards a rapid decline in numbers was noted and our daily maximum logged this year was just 8).

2011: Autumn: Recorded on 9 dates from 6/8 when an adult female was trapped in Whitbread Hollow), to 15/11 (1) with a daily maximum of 70 on the 9/10.
(The 6/8 record is the earliest Autumn record for Sussex). Per B.H. Log.
(Redwing numbers do fluctuate from year to year, and our last large movement logged was way back in 1991 when 1,000 moved W. on the 19/10. A huge cold weather movement occurred on the 16/2/69 when an incredible 40,000 were estimated moving W).

2011: Autumn: Recorded on 17 dates from 16/9 (3) to 16/11 (1). A total of 36 bird-days with a daily maximum of 7 on the 9/10. Per B.H.Log.
(None recorded in the Spring and a poor Autumn. Our last good year was in 2005 with a daily maximum of 53 on the 18/10 with a flock of 40 feeding on the side of Whitbread Hollow).

2011: Daily maximums: 20/2 (10), 6/4 Probably only 10 in the whole area, 28/10 (22 with 7 ringed), 29/10 & 1/11 (35), 8/11 (56 with 11 ringed). 12/11 (37 with 11 ringed), 22/11 (40 mainly in the Cow Gap/Hollow area). 30 July (1 re-trapped in the Hollow was first ringed in 2003). Per B.H. Log.
(Yet another species in decline. In the 1960's it was considered to be one of our commonest resident with up to 40 breeding pairs. It suffered during the severe winter of 1962/63 and the breeding population fell to just 10 pairs,but numbers recovered in just a few years. During the 1970's and into the 80's daily maximum numbers were around the 100 mark, although since then the daily maximum is now only about 50).

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Beachy Head 2011 Summary No.18

2011: Up to 2 pairs present on and off all year and display was seen during the Spring. Frequent tussels with the local Peregrines were recorded and Ravens were also seen mobbing Red Kites and even hassling the Glossy Ibis. On the 3/9 6 were seen soaring in the sky with rooks, and on a number of occasions juvenile type birds were seen. Per B.H.Log.
(Since regular watching commenced in 1960, Ravens were first seen on the Headland in 1976 with a single bird which was present from April and was occasionally seen up to May 1977, although it did commute to other sites in Sussex. The next sighting was not until April 1997, when a single bird was seen on one date only. A pair were seen several times in 1999 and 2000 and breeding was confirmed on the Headland in 2001. Odd pairs have regularly bred successfully virtually annually since then).

2011: A party of 23 were seen feeding in the rough field opposite Belle Tout wood on the 27/2. Between 11/3 and 21/4 a total of 31 arrived in off the sea with a daily maximum of 11 on the 10/4. Per B.H.Log.

2011: Again recorded regularly from Whitbread Hollow/Holywell area and the only movement recorded was 2 seen at the top of the lane at Birling on the 22/11. Per B.H.Log.

2011: Jan-Feb: Birds continue to be seen in the Belle Tout to Birling Gap area (see 2010 summary) 8/1 (6 in Belle Tout wood), 30/1 (8 passed through Belle Tout wood), 12/2 (9 in Belle Tout wood), 14/2 (11 moved W up the lane at Birling.
Spring: Recorded on 9 dates up to 13/4 and probably related to the wintering birds.
Autumn: Just recorded on 3 dates with 15/10 (7 on Crowlink), 16/10 (3 in Whitbread Holywell), & 22/10 c12 above Whitbread Hollow. These do not include sightings from the BHRG. Per B.H.Log
(A wintering party is fairly unusual at Beachy, in 2008 a wintering party of 12 was recorded from Belle Tout wood from November until January, 2009 at least).

2011: Autumn: Recorded on 24 dates with 31 bird-days, from 30/7 (1 trapped ) to 20/11 (2 in Belle Tout wood). In Whitbread Hollow  different singles were ringed on the 30/7, 31/7, & 17/8.
In Belle Tout wood there was a number of records which may or may-not relate to just 2 birds: 31/7 1 seen in the wood, with 2 seen on the 6/8. 1 possibly 2 seen on the 7/8. No further sightings until 24/9 when a single bird was seen in the wood. From the 4/10 to 27/10 a single bird was recorded on 9 dates with 2 again from the 29/10 to 1/11, then just one was then  recorded on several dates to the 20/11 when 2 were again seen. One was still present in the wood on the 10/12. Per B.H.Log.
(Tree Creepers in the past have not been recorded annually and this year is without doubt been our best year to date, although all these records may in fact relate to just 5 different birds. The two seen on and off in Belle Tout wood during the Autumn now appear to be wintering and from their behaviour  may be a pair and hopefully stay to bred).

12th January, 2012 Beachy Head Clear & mild W 4-5 gusting to 6.

Sea-watched from 07.45-09.15:

Diver Sp. 9 (6E & 3W)
Fulmar c12
Gannet 4
Grey Heron 1W
Dark Bellied Brent Goose 4E & 2W
Pale Bellied Brent Goose 1W @ 09.00 with 2 Dark Bellied Brents.
Shelduck 3W
Common Scoter 1 on sea
Auk Sp. 18
Guillemot 1E

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Beachy Head 2011 Summary No.17


2011: Spring Recorded from 1/4 (2). 17/4 13 arrived in off the sea with 7 arrived the next day. 25/4 30 were present in the area.
Breeding Season: Several pairs breeding around the Farms with 3 pairs at Hodcombe.
Autumn: Main movements: 1/9 1,000 E, 16/9 500 E, 19/9 1,000 mainly W, 25/9 500  E. Last seen 19/11 1 E, & 20/11 1 E over Birling. . Per B.H.Log.
(It is quite depressing when you compare the Autumn passage so far this century with the numbers logged back in the 1960's & 70's. The last big movement logged was in the year 2000 with 10,000 on the 10/9. Back in the early 1970's numbers estimated were far higher with 35,000 estimated on the 14/9/74, and in 1971, 55,000 were logged on both the 13/9 & 14/9. Mid-September has always been the height of the Autumn passage, although with the sheer numbers of birds being seen on some days, estimation is frequently quite crude).

2011: 30/4 1 around Hodcombe RHC 13/5 2 around Hodcombe RHC. Per B.H.Log
(Eleven records of 12 birds for Beachy Head, since 1960, and our first record of 2 together)

2011: Spring: Recorded on 6 dates from the 10/4 1 until 4/6 (3 arriving in off the sea).
None were recorded breeding around the Birling Gap Hotel this year.
Autumn: Recorded from 31/7 (1) to 5/11 (2). Passage was poor with our maximum days: 31/8 500 (197 trapped), 19/9 2,000 W, 1/10 300.
(This autumn had extremely poor numbers and probably our poorest autumn to date. If you compare this autumn passage to 1987, when an estimated 45,000 moved East on the 16/9 with 10.000 East on the 26/9, with a further 20,000 East on the following day).  

2011: Spring: Recorded on just 3 dates: 9/4 (1), 10/4 3, & 21/4 (1 in off the sea).
Autumn: Recorded from 2/7 (1) to 9/10 (2-3). Main movements: 13/7 40 E, 14/8 250+, 29/8 100, 1/9 80+ E. . Per B.H.Log.
(Sand Martins at Beachy are never as numerous as the previous two species of hirundines and with an earlier Autumn passage this species is often one of the first species to be seen moving in the Autumn. Numbers sometimes in the thousands have been recorded in past years with 7,000 on the 29/8/1963 was probably our best passage day).

Monday, 9 January 2012

Beachy Head 2011 Summary No.16


2011: Recorded virtually throughout the year and although this species is generally under-recorded in the log, no more than 3 on a day were logged. Per B.H.Log.
(It was generally felt that from the Headland, numbers have decreased this year by around 50%, in 2010 up to 6 birds were logged during the year and in 2005, 3 breeding pairs were estimated in the area. Perhaps last year's severe winter has taken its toll).

2011: 8/1 One female in Belle Tout wood. Spring 1 heard drumming on several dates in Whitbread Hollow and may have bred in this area.
Autumn: Recorded from the 25/7 (2) throughout the Autumn but never more than 3 on a day. One present in Belle Tout wood on the 10/12 to 30/12. Per B.H.Log.
(Probably most of our records relate to local breeding birds although from time to time some sightings do indicate that occasional passage birds are recorded ie on the 26/9/2008, 1 was seen flying North over the Hotel Garden and appeared to have just arrived in from the sea, and continued flying inland until lost to sight).

 2011: Two singles were seen in Shooters Bottom, the first from 28/8 to 31/8 and the second on the 3/9. They were both photographed and were separated on plumage and bill colouration. (Many observers) Per B.H.Log.
(How the fortunes of this scarce migrant have changed, unfortunately not for the better. From 1965 to 1970, approx. 60 different individuals on some 60 dates were seen. The best years were from 1968 to 1970, with between 13-17 individuals per year, with up to 5 being recorded on a single day. In 1976, it was recorded virtually daily between 21/8 to 6/9 with up to 5 on a day during this period. It was estimated that at least 40 different individuals were seen during this Autumn, of which 14 different birds were trapped and ringed and not one was re-trapped. For comparison, since 2006 just nine birds have been logged).

2011: Our only record was of 2 seen on Crowlink on the 16/10, which was surprisingly as the rough field opposite Belle Tout wood was regularly walked through all Autumn and plenty of Skylarks were seen. . Per B.H.Log.
(The Woodlark has never been a common migrant at Beachy and isn't recorded annually. Occasionally small parties have been seen ie a flock of 12 flew west on the 10/10/98, and our best year to date was in October, 2005 with 18 reports).

2011: Jan – Feb: 1/1 16 flew S out to sea from Birling & 90 were seen in the rough field opposite Belle Tout wood. By the end of Jan and Feb the numbers in the rough field fell away to 15 by the end of Feb.
Spring: 7/3 40 again present in the field but after this 10 was the norm and these probably reflected the breeding population. In May a nest with eggs was found in the field.
Autumn: 7/8 just 8 seen in the rough field, but numbers soon started to increase with 50 by the 14/8. and by the 22/9 80 were seen. Movements: 8/10 60 W with 50 in the field, 15/10 21 E, 29/10 23 E. 5/11 31 E 25 W & 50 in the field, 15/11 100 in the field but then numbers quickly declined with only 20 on the 26/11, although 70 were logged on the 17/12 in the field. Per B.H.Log.
(The total demise of the stubble fields at Beachy has had a big impact on what was considered to be the commonest species on the Downland and Top Fields. Good numbers used to build up in the top fields during late October and the peak was usually in November or December. In 1966 & 1969 this peak was estimated at around 2,000 birds, although 500 would be the norm depending how much stubble was left in the top fields.
In 2008, the numbers had really crashed and the daily maximum logged during the year was just 10. Since 2010, the rough field at Birling has allowed some relief for Skylark numbers although of course if this field reverts back to grass then the low numbers we are now seeing may start to decline again).

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Beachy Head 2011 Summary No.15

2011: Pairs present in Belle Tout wood, Whitbread Hollow and possibly in the Holywell area. One was found dead on the road near Belle Tout wood on the 25/7, although 2 were seen again in the wood in October. Per B.H.Log.
(Pairs have always bred in Whitbread Hollow since regular watching commenced in 1960, and a pair has been present in Belle Tout Wood since at least 2002. It was therefore depressing when I found a dead adult on the road, and therefore it was encouraging to again see 2 birds in the wood in October, although the destruction of the ivy on the trees which the owls used to roost in may still be bad news).

2011: Spring: 1 in off the sea on the 5/5. Autumn: Recorded on 8 dates from 15/9 to 13/11 probably involved 6 different birds with 2 on the 16/10 & 29/10. A dark breasted individual was present in the rough field opposite Belle Tout wood from 29/10 to 13/11. Per B.H.Log.
(A good year although we have had a number of better years in the past. In 1982 we found 11 roosting in Shooters Bottom on the 9/10 with 6 still roosting on the 10/10).

2011: Sadly no Little Owls recorded.  Per B.H.Log.
(In the 1960's there were probably a minimum of 3 pairs regularly breeding in the whole area, and in 1972 pairs were found on the cliffs below Whitbread Hollow, a pair in the barn at Bullock Down Farm, a pair in the Cattle Field area, a pair at Long Down, and a pair possibly bred in Hodcombe. Hopefully, some of these areas are very rarely visited now, and therefore an odd pair may still be present).

2011: First recorded 10/4 with 1 over Hodcombe, and last date was on the 10/9 (2). The only movement logged was 40 E on the 1/8. Per B.H.Log.
(The 10/4 is our earliest arrival date, previously was on the 12/4/98, otherwise a poor year for numbers).

2011: R.H.C. had 2 over Hodcombe on 7/6. Per B.H.Log.
(This now brings our total to 37 since regular watching began in 1960, our first was also over Hodcombe on the 5/6/69 and our largest party was of 6 which came in calling off the sea and landed briefly in Whitbread Hollow on the 28/5/89,  before departing NE and were later seen flying over East Kent).

Saturday, 7 January 2012

7th January, 2012 Beachy Head Clear & mild. W3

Sea-watched from 08.15-09.30 and then walked field, Belle Tout wood and back to Birling:

Red Throated Diver 24 (21W & 3E)
Great Crested Grebe 8 (5W, 1E & 2 on sea).
Fulmar 12 virtually all W.
Gannet 2W
Brent Goose 4W
Shelduck 2W
Wigeon 2W
Pintail 4W (3 drakes)
Common Scoter 8 (6 on sea & 2 E)
Red Legged Partridge 1
Auk sp. 13
Skylark 60
Rock Pipit 2
Stonechat 3
Tree Creeper 2
Raven 1
Linnet 25

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Beachy Head 2011 Summary No.14


2011: Recorded on seven dates during the Spring with 13 on the 7/3 (3 W & 10 E), & 12 on the 13/4. No breeding activity recorded but 1 was logged on the 23/7.
Autumn: Recorded on 10 dates from the 14/8 (5), with maximums of 206 chiefly South on the 13/11 and 49 S on the 15/11. Winter Flock of 25 on the 10/11 flying around the Head.  Per B.H.Log.
(In 2010, we had an exceptional movement of 750E on the 10/10, and in several past years movements of up to 500 on a day have been recorded. In 1972, a breeding survey on the cliffs was undertaken between Birling Gap and Cow Gap when 9 pairs were found on the cliffs. Also up to 30 were present up Long Down and local breeding may very well have take place in this area as well).

2011: Small numbers recorded throughout the year. Late Autumn passage recorded on 8 dates from 2/11 to 19/11. Maximums on 6/11 with 1400 (590 E & 810 W) & 13/11 when approx. 6,300 S. Per B.H.Log.
(A generally poor Autumn for Wood Pigeon movement this year with just one date when a reasonable passage took place).


2011: Single birds heard “purring” in Belle Tout wood on the 6/5 and in the Gully below Cow Gap on the 30/5.  Per B.H.Log.
(How depressing, when you review this species. Just 2 brief sightings this year logged, and since 2007 we have logged only 8 individuals. In the 1960's and 70's, I can personally remember walking the stubble and flushing small feeding parties on many occasions during the Autumns and in 1974, an influx of 120 occurred on the 15/9 with 70 on the 16/9). 

2011: Spring: Recorded on 8 dates from 14/3 to 4/6 but never more than 2 on a day.
Autumn: 3 on the 10/9 & 1 on the 1/10. Per B.H.Log.
(How the fortunes of this species has change on Beachy Head since regular watching commenced in 1960. Our first record was in 1962, when it was still a scarce bird in the UK, and we found 3 in the Cattle Field on the 4/11. During the remainder of the 1960's. a chicken farm was established in the Cattle Field and during the Autumns good numbers of young birds commuted from Eastbourne to feed here and the nearby stubble fields and often over 100 could be seen and counts of 200 were made. In 1968, the chicken farm folded and in 1970 our maximum count for the area was 30. Breeding during this period was never confirmed.
Since 1970, numbers have generally been poor with the occasional flock flying over, and they also seem to be a favorite prey of our local Peregrines). 

2011: Just recorded on 3 dates: 2/7 1 adult near Birling flew off high to the South,
23/7 1 possibly 2 juvs. in the Belle Tout area & 3/8 1 juvenile in Hodcombe Per B.H.Log.
(None logged at all this Spring, which in the past has been the main time for recording this species. In 1968, it was logged on no fewer than 36 dates during the Spring passage, and in 1975, 7 were logged on the 16/5 of which 4 were seen to arrive in off the sea. During our early years, 2-3 pairs usually bred using Meadow Pipits as host species).

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Beachy Head 2011 Summary No.13


2011: Jan-Feb: (See also Auk sp.) 3.264 birds were identified as Razorbills, with daily maximums of 500 Razorbills i/d on the 22/1, 480 i/d on the 23/1, 1/2 600 identified and 9/2 950 were identified. Autumn: Just i/d on 2 dates-24/10 8E, 2/11 1 on the sea,  December: 28/12 5E. and 30/12 2.Per B.H.Log.
(Exceptional numbers were seen during Jan and Feb and by far our best numbers ever. Most of the Auks which were close enough to identify were Razorbills and less than 100 Guillemots were identified during this period. There were large numbers of Auks flying to far out to identify, and it just may be that Guillemots were moving further out than Razorbills, although we will never know).

2011: Jan-Feb: (See also under Auk sp.) Unlike Razorbill, realitvely few of the large numbers passing were specifically identified as Guillemots, although many Auks sp.were moving far out to sea and it may just be that Guillemots were moving further out than Razorbills. In total just 81 were actually i/d as Guillemots with a daily maximum of 40 on the 9/2.
Spring sea-watches: Just 4 birds were actually i/d as Guillemots.
Summer: Identified on 3 dates : 19/6 1 E & 1 on the sea, 8/7 1 W, 23/7 2 on the sea.
Autumn: Just identified on three dates. December: 2E & 1W on the 28/12. Per B.H.Log.

2011: Jan-Feb:  Huge numbers seen off Birling during these two months. Sea-watched on 19 dates during this period and recorded the following: 3,724 were recorded moving East and 3,362 West. Also good numbers were sitting on the sea. Daily maximums: 2/1 435 E & 20 W, 1/2 350 E & 2,205 W (c600 were i/d as Razorbills but only 10 Guillemots i/d). 9/2 2,280 E & 150 W. Majority of the birds were considered to be Razorbills during this period, although of course the Guillemots may have been moving further out than the Razorbills.
Spring sea-watch: Just small numbers recorded on 14 dates with a daily maximum of 55 E on the 4/4. Summer: just odd birds seen on 8 dates. On the 7/8 there was an adult with 1 young on the sea off Birling. Autumn: Recorded on 7 dates with 22/10 61 E & 23/10 80 E. December: 8 E on the 23/12. Per B.H.Log.
(From the Beachy perspective we have never seen Auks moving in such large numbers in previous years, when I realised that large numbers were moving I decided to try to record it to the best of my ability and was able to sea-watch on 19 dates during this period. There were of course huge numbers seen of Pett Level and from Dungeness which suggest local feeding movements. The Auks were moving in very long lines and proved to be a spectacular sight and this movement coincided with exceptional numbers of Red Throated Divers).

Monday, 2 January 2012

2nd January 2012 Beachy Head Clear W4

DC & BK did a 1.5 hrs. sea-watch and then covered most of the area including Whitbread Hollow/Cow Gap including the beach:

Red Throated Diver 7E, 4W & 3 on the sea
Great Crested Grebe 9 on the sea & 3 W
Fulmar 4
Gannet 12
Little Egret 1 Cow Gap beach
Brent Goose 1W
Scoter 12 on the sea
Pomarine Skua 1 pale phase juv. E & 8.07 (Different to yesterdays bird)
Auk Sp. 7
Razorbill 8W & 3 on the sea.
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1
Skylark 60
Stonechat 1 female
Goldcrest 1
Wren 1
Tree Creeper 2 in B/T wood.

Female Stonechat at Birling Gap

Beachy Head 2011 Summary No.12


2011: 19/4 3 E, 3/5 3E & 4/5 1E Per B.H.Log.

(19/4 would appear to be our earliest listed date. In recent years, the Black Tern has become a lot scarcer on our sea-watches, compared with the numbers being recorded between 1970 to 1990. with our maximum of 320 E on the 9/5/1989).

2011: Only identified on 5 dates. Earliest date 2/4 (2 E) and last identified 17/9(21 W). See under Commic Tern. Per B.H.Log.

2011: 23/7 1 juv. lingering off Birling, 17/9 2 W., 29/10 2 juv’s W, & 2/11 1 juv feeding of Birling is our first November record. Per B.H.Log.
(Also see under Commic Tern).

2011: Spring sea-watches: Recorded from 10/4 (71 E) until the 18/6. A total of 2,344 moved E during this period with the daily maximum of 317 E on the 19/4 & 1009 on the 3/5. On the 12/6 25 E and these appeared to be all Arctics. Autumn: Recorded on just six dates from 6/8 (16 W) to 11/10 (2 W). On 10/10 15 were seen of which 10 appeared to be Common & 5 Arctics. Per B.H.Log.


2011: Recorded on 6 dates: From 10/4 (2E) to 7/5 (3E). In total 24 E during the Spring sea-watches. Per B.H.Log.


2011: Spring sea-watches: Recorded from 12/3 (3 E). A total of 1,265 moved E, with daily maximum of 379 E on the 2/4.
Small numbers recorded on 14 dates during the Autumn with a daily maximum of 60 W on the 23/7, and on the 9/10 (12). Our first December record was 1E on the 28/12. Per B.H.Log.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

1st January, 2012 Beachy Head Overcast SW4

DC & BK did a sea-watch from 08.00-12.30:

Red Throated Diver 107 (91W, 7E & 9 on the sea)
Great Crested Grebe 8 (5W & 3 on the sea)
Fulmar 2 E & 9 W
Gannet 36E & 422W
Brent Geese 12 (4 E & 8 W)
Shelduck 39 W in several small parties.
Wigeon 5 E
Common Scoter 12 on the sea
Curlew 3E & 4W
Pomarine Skua 1 juv. intermediate morph E at 12.03 (Juvenile birds have been recorded in October and November in recent years, but this is our first record for Jan-March).
Great Skua 1 W @ 11.42
Common Gull 400 around Birling
Kittiwake 72 (11 E & 61 W)
Auk sp. 7E & 24W
Guillemot 1E & 2W
Razorbill 85 (64W, 13E & 8 on the sea)
Rock Pipit 2

Beachy Head 2011 Summary No.11

I will now tackle the Gulls


2011: 22/1 100 on the beach at Birling, 15/4 50 in the fields, 22/9 50 chiefly adults,
8/10 200 (160 chiefly adults loafing in the fields & 40 W along the cliffs). 24/10 60 E chiefly adults. Per B.H.Log.
(No real large numbers recorded this year, although in past years some large numbers have been recorded ie in 2000 600 chiefly adults were loafing in the Top Fields on the 8/10).


2011: 27/2 1,000 + drifted W including many 1st W’s., 2/7 250 in field, 10/7 150 in field including the first juvenile of the year. 24/7 45 juvenile plumage birds, but no adults, moved W during the early morning. Per B.H.Log.
(Always interesting to record the first juveniles of the year as juvenile Yellow Legged Gulls can occur from early July in the UK, before our juveniles birds are flying and this helps to pick them out).


2011: We made a concentrated effort to identify the juvenile birds and a total of 14 birds were identified on 10 dates. Most birds were seen in the rough field with Herring Gulls opposite Belle Tout wood. Although difficult to be certain, most of these birds were considered to be probably different birds:
 9 July 4 juv’s in rough field  DC
13 July 1 Juv with Herring Gulls in rough field JFC & DRC
23 July 1 Juv flew S out to sea and lost to sight still going out. DC& JFC.
24 July 1 Juv in rough field
31 July 1 Juv/1stW in rough field DC, JFC, RJF, JK.
6 Aug 1 juv in rough field. DC,JFC, JK.
12 Aug 1 juv in rough field JFC
13 Aug 1 juv in field by Sewage Farm. DC & JFC
1 Sep 1 Juv E off Birling JFC, RDME & MK.
6 Nov 1 1stW in rough field. DC, JFC, PN, JK. Per B.H.Log.
(This now bring our totals to 17, with only 3 prior to this years sightings. with the first for Beachy being recorded in Aug  2007).


2011: Jan. Feb.& Mar.: 400 were present in the Top Fields from the 1/1 – 4/1. On the 19/1 & 22/1 800+ were on the sea off Birling. 400 were again present in the Top Fields on the  27/1 & 29/1. 600 in the Birling area on the 6/2 with 400 on the 9/2 & 300 on the 14/2 & 500 in the area on the 20/2, with 600 again in the Birling area on the 27/2. Numbers then generally fell away with 250 in the Birling area on the 13/3, but by the 29/3 only 30 were seen, with just 40 in  the Birling area on the 6/4.
On the 2/7 an immature was present, and the largest number logged during the latter part of the year was 40 in the Birling area on the 8/11 & 200 on the 10/12. Per B.H.Log
( No count was made off Whitbread Hollow/Holywell during the early part of the year, which is also another site which holds good numers during the early Spring)


2011: Winter: 3/1 1 ad in fields, 9/2 2 in the Birling area, 24/2 1 ad in summer plumage E, 27/2 1 in the Birling area.
Spring sea-watches: Recorded on 18 dates from 7/3 to 29/5.
A total of 81 birds recorded mostly moving E. Daily Maximum 7/4 26 E.
Summer: Recorded on 8 dates during June & July with a total of 24 birds were seen, with 12 E on the on the 18/6 on most of the other dates birds were seen moving West.
Autumn: Recorded on 5 dates from the 6/8 to 11/10 when a total of 9 birds were recorded. In Dec. 2 (1E & 1W) on the 28/12. Per B.H.Log
(Our first record for Beachy occurred in 1965, and it was then logged in very small numbers almost annually until this Century when numbers increased markedly which coincided with breeding expansion in Sussex and Southern England. Numbers would appear still to be on the increase with this current year being our best to date). 


2011: Spring Sea-watches: Recorded on 9 dates from 2/4 (11 E) and 4/5 (3E). In total 407 birds moved E with daily maximum of 249 E on the 19/4 of which 239 were seen during an evening sea-watch.
Autumn: On the 29/10, 8 flew over the field opposite Belle Tout wood and then out to sea over Birling. Per B.H.Log
(Another excellent Spring, although not quite a record Spring which was in 2007, when 517 birds were logged moving East with 400 being logged in 8.75 hrs watching on the 21/4. The Autumn record was of interest being seen flying over the fields and not out to sea, and although Autumn records are far scarcer than Spring records, in 1972 good numbers were recorded on several dates when around 200 were logged from mid-Sept, to early Oct).


2011: Jan-Feb: Upto 70 recorded on 7 dates, with 200 off Birling on the 27/2. Spring sea-watches: On the 14/3 120+ were seen in the Birling area and E. movement logged on 8 dates during March & April with a daily maximum of c200 E on the 17/4.
On the 10/8 80 were feeding in the surf off Birling & on 8/11 70 were in the Birling area. Per B.H.Log


2011: Spring sea-watch: With a breeding colony situated at Seaford Head, with around 800 pairs, this species is often seen during our sea-watches. A good E movement was recorded on the 2/4 when an estimated 800 were seen, with 200 E on the 9/4.
On the 7/8 approx. 100 juveniles were feeding of Birling, and on the 23/10 100 moved E. On the 28/12 22 E. Per B.H.Log.


2011: On the 12/9 a juvenile was seen feeding close in with Black Headed Gulls in the surf off Birling Gap for around 45 minutes,before departing E. (R.H. & M.E Charlwood) Our first Beachy Head Record. Per B.H.Log
(An excellent addition to the Beachy list although perhaps not before time. This individual occurred at the same time as a bird was present in the Newhaven area and odd juveniles were reported from nearby Seaford Head and all these records may relate to the same individual).