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).