Sunday, 31 March 2013

31 Mar 2013 Beachy Head Clear cold frosty NE 1-2

Just when you think things can't get any worse at Beachy, then along comes today. We sea-watched from 07.20 (BST) to 08.20 and when we returned to the car there was still ice on the car doors, that's how cold it was. Sea-watch was useless, and we walked Birling lane and the Birling to Belle Tout loop and saw virtually nothing.

Red-throated Diver 4 (2 E & 2 on the sea)
Gannet 10 E
Common Buzzard 2
Kestrel 1
Peregrine 2
Black-headed Gull 10 E & 30 on beach
Sandwich Tern 2 E
Auk Sp. 1 E
Wood Pigeon 12 in off the sea
Meadow Pipit 12 in off the sea
Alba Wagtail 1 in off the sea
Stonechat 4
Song Thrush 4
Chiffchaff 1
Carrion Crow 3 in off the sea
Corn Bunting 1

Friday, 29 March 2013

29 Mar 2013 Beachy Head Overcast cold light snow shower NNE 3

Another cold unpleasant morning with very few birds. Just can't ever remember it being this bad at the end of March in earlier years. We sea-watch from 06.30-08.00, but very little movement recorded. RDME was walking the Birling/Belle Toot loop and also covered the Hollow area and we also covered most of the Head including the Cornish Farm Track. Virtually no migrants were seen anywhere.

Red-throated Diver 27 E & 2 on the sea.
Great Crested Grebe 1 on the sea
Gannet 34 E
Grey Heron 2 (1 N & 1 in the field)
Brent Goose 30 E
Common Scoter 2 E
Kestrel 1
Curlew 6 (5 E & 1 in off the sea)
Black-headed Gull 20 E
Common Gull 60 off Birling
Lesser Black Back Gull 23 on Birling beach (One with a blue colour ring MWAK)
Auk Sp. 20 E
Woodpigeon 30in off the sea
Rock Pipit 1
Alba Wagtail 1 in off the sea
Robin 8
Stonechat 5
Wheatear 1
Song Thrush 1
Chiffchaff 1
Carrion Crow 3 in off the sea

Harbour Porpoise 1 off Birling

Curlew which came in off the sea and landed on the beach.


Kestrel hovering at Belle Tout.

Colour-ringed Lesser Black-backed Gull at Birling

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

27 Mar 2013 Beachy Head Becoming sunny with some haze, cold NE 4

 Another cold NE windy day. We sea-watched from 06.30-0800, but other than Red-throated Divers and a single Slavonian Grebe little else was moving.
We then covered the Birling to Belle Tout loop walking the Cornish Farm Track and onto Shooters Bottom,
with just the odd migrants seen.

Red-throated Diver 65 E and 4 on the sea
Slavonian Grebe 1 w/p E
Great Crested Grebe 3 E
Gannet 19 E & 1 W
Peregrine 1
Curlew 1 E
Sandwich Tern 1 E
Auk Sp. 26 E & 1 W
Collared Dove 1
Meadow Pipit 8 (1 in off the sea)
Alba Wagtail 1 in off the sea
Black Redstart 1 Birling
Stonechat 2
Chiffchaff 1
Corn Bunting 1

Our only Chiffchaff  was present in Belle Tout wood.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

24 Mar 2013 Beachy Head Overcast cold murky snow. NE4-5

Arrived at Birling to a very cold overcast morning with light snow flurries. We sea-watched from 06.20-08.35 and although passage was light, some interesting species were logged. We then covered virtually all the sites on the Headland in a biting cold NE wind. A few Thrushes were seen and also a thin scattering of summer migrants. The only diurnal migration recorded were 4 Meadow Pipits and 1 Alba Wagtail arriving in off the sea:

Red-throated Diver 11 E & 1 on sea.
Great-crested Grebe 4 on the sea
Slavonian Grebe 1 w/p on sea and then departed E.
Gannet 80 E
Brent Goose 15 E
Shelduck 3 E
Teal 2 E
Pintail 8 E
Shoveler 10 E
Common Scoter 7 E & 3 W
Red-breasted Merganser 4 E
Kestrel 1
Peregrine 1
Common Redshank 1 in off the sea
Black-tailed Godwit 12 E (Just our 6th record since 1960 and the first for March).
Dunlin 7 W
Lesser-Black Back Gull 6 E
Sandwich Tern 4 W
Auk Sp 6 W & 1 on the sea.
Meadow Pipit 4 in off the sea.
Rock Pipit 4
Alba Wagtail 1 in off the sea.
Black Redstart 2 at Birling
Stonechat 5
Wheatear 5
Blackbird 10
Fieldfare 1
Redwing 1
Song Thrush 5
Chiffchaff 2
Raven 1 displaying

Harbour Porpoise 1 off Birling
Weasel 2 

Male Wheatear near Belle Tout. (5 were logged today)

Black Redstart at Birling

Brent Geese passing Birling

Winter-plumaged Slavonian Grebe off Birling

Continental Song Thrush at Birling

Female Kestrel at Belle Tout.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

23 Mar 2013 Beachy Head Early rain cold murky NE 4

Late start due to heavy early morning rain. Short sea-watch from 10.20-11.10.
Many hundreds of manics on the Head today for an endurance event. They all had the latest expensive gear on but they still couldn't run up the slopes. Belle Tout car park was taken over with toilets and large tents, cars parked everywhere.
Unable to make our usual walk, we covered Shooters Bottom and the Old Trapping area but not a single migrant seen.

Red-throated Diver 1 E
Gannet 14 E
White-fronted Goose 1 ad E with Brents. (Our first record since 2006).
Brent Goose 270 E
Scaup 1 drake E with Brents.
Common Scoter 3 E
Red-breasted Merganser 2 E

Grey Seal 1 off Birling with a large fish.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

21 Mar 2013 Beachy Head Overcast, cold & clear E1 increasing to 4

We sea-watched from 06.15-09.15 and were joined by RHC for the last hour. Surprisingly, a reasonable movement especially Sandwich Terns for March. We then covered Birling lane, Belle Tout wood and Cornish Farm Track but by now the cold wind had increased and no sign of any migrants.

Red-throated Diver 15 E, 5 W and 2 on the sea.
Great Crested Grebe 2 E
Gannet 126 E (all adults).
Brent Goose 180 E
Shelduck 8 E
Shoveler 14 E
Common Scoter 94 E
Red-breasted Merganser 1 on the sea.
Common Buzzard 1 over Cornish Farm.
Mediterranean Gull 7 s/p ads E
Common Gull 250
Kittiwake 25 E
Sandwich Tern 142 E
Auk Sp. 314 E
Guillemot 3 on sea
Razorbill 1 on sea

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

19 Mar 2013 Sunny periods & mild. Calm becoming E 1

A quieter morning sea-watching from 06.15-08.00 and we were joined by RHC and briefly by RDME. Highlight was a close Black-throated Diver in almost s/p with 4 Red-throats.
We then walked the Birling Gap-Belle Tout loop covering also Cornish Farm Track and then the Old Trapping Area and the Hotel Garden. Just a slight hint of some arrivals which included 2 Chiffchaffs, 4 Stonechats and an Alba Wagtail which flew high in off the sea.

Red-throated Diver 12 E & 1 on the sea
Black-throated Diver 1 in partial s/p E with 4 Red-throats.
Great Crested Grebe 1 on sea
Brent Goose 151 E
Shelduck 3 E
Common Scoter 7 E
Red-breasted Merganser 2 E
Kestrel 1
Peregrine 1
Curlew 1 E
Mediterranean Gull 2 on sea and then E
Black-headed Gull 50 on sea and then E
Common Gull 200 Birling area
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1 drumming B/T wood
Meadow Pipit 2
Rock Pipit 1
Alba/Pied Wagtail 1 alba high in off the sea & 1 Pied at Birling.
Stonechat 4
Song Thrush 1 in song
Chiffchaff 2
Raven 1
Corn Bunting 1 singing Cornish Farm Track.

Monday, 18 March 2013

18 Mar 2013 Beachy Head Overcast,sunny periods milder We

We sea-watched from 06.20-08.40 and was joined by RHC for the last hour. We then walked Birling lane, Birling loop to Belle Tout and onto the Cornish Farm Track returning back to Birling. Also called into Hodcombe. We failed to find any migrants in the areas we covered and again no diurnal migration recorded of migrants arriving on the sea-watch, even thou conditions were much nicer today.
Liz recorded a male Wheatear on her cycle ride this morning beyond Cornish Farm.

Red-throated Diver 73 E
Black-throated Diver 1 in partial s/p E with R.T.Diver.
Great Crested Grebe 6 on the sea & 1 E.
Gannet 9 E
Brent Goose 91 E
Common Scoter 61 E
Curlew 1 E
Mediterranean Gull 5 ad s/p E.
Kittiwake 16 E
Stock Dove 1
Robin 5
Wheatear 1
Stonechat 3
Song Thrush 1
Corn Bunting 1 in song Cornish Farm Track.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

17 Mar 2013 Sunny periods cold S to SE 3-4 to 6.

We sea-watched from 06.20-08.35 and then covered the Birling area and loop to Belle Tout. Pathway leading up to Cornish Farm and Shooters Bottom. No sign of any migrants at all on the Headland and no diurnal migrants seen arriving in off the sea.

Red-throated Diver 33 E
Great Crested Grebe 5 E 3 W & 1 on the sea
Gannet 43 E& 2 W
Brent Goose 217 E
Scoter 18 E
Red-breasted Merganser 13 E
Kestrel 1
Peregrine 1
Curlew 2 E
Mediterranean Gull 7 E
Little Gull 4 E
Lesser Black Back Gull 4 on beach
Kittiwake 60 E
Sandwich Tern 7 E
Rock Pipit 1
Robin 2
Stonechat 2
Blackbird 4
Song Thrush 2

Saturday, 16 March 2013

16th Mar 2013 Beachy SW6 Overcast

After a morning of heavy rain and strong southwesterly winds we seawatched from 2pm to 4pm after the rain had stopped. The first two minutes appeared promising with our first Sandwich Tern of the year and a close adult Little Gull flying east and was followed by a steady trickle of more expected fare but including another 2 Sandwich Terns and 3 Eider. A walk of Birling, Belle Tout and Cornish Farm produced nothing more than a couple of Song Thrushes.

Red-throated Diver 21E
Great Crested Grebe 1 on sea
Gannet 13E, 2W
Fulmar c.35E
Brent Goose 4E
Eider 3E (2 drakes)
Scoter 7E
Peregrine 2
Kestrel 1
Lesser Black-backed Gull 1E, 3 in fields
Kittiwake c.50E
Mediterranean Gull 4E adults s/p
Little Gull 1E adult
Sandwich Tern 3E
Auk sp. 41E, 2W
Curlew 2E
Rock Pipit 2
Meadow Pipit 2
Song Thrush 2

Birling still looking wintry

the sun eventually broke through over Birling

Friday, 15 March 2013

15 Mar 2013 Beachy Head Overcast cold with rain SW 5-6

We sea-watched from 06.40-08.10 and just had time to visit Belle Tout wood before the onset of rain. Still snow-drifts along the side of the road and in the fields.

Red-throated Diver 18 E
Great-crested Grebe 1 E & 1 on the sea.
Gannet 7 E & 3 W
Brent Goose 950 E
Common Scoter 9 E
Curlew 1 E
Bonxie 1 E
Mediterranean Gull 3 E
Kittiwake 40 E
Auk Sp. 20 E
Razorbill 9 E

Sunday, 10 March 2013

10th March 2013 Beachy ENE2 Overcast & cold

We arrived to a cold northeasterly wind and seawatched from 7am to 9am with the passage mainly comprising of a distant westerly movement of Auks. A few alba Wagtails and Meadow Pipits and a single Wood Pigeon were seen arriving. Walking Birling & Belle Tout it was evident that Stonechats had doubled in number but otherwise just 2 Chiffchaffs were the only Summer migrants seen.

Red-throated Diver 47E, 68W
Great Crested Grebe 2E, 1W
Scoter 6E, 2 on sea
Wigeon 10E, 2W
Gannet 30E, 10W
Peregrine 1
Kestrel 1
Auk sp. 5E, 482W
Razorbill 22W, 1 on sea
Curlew 3W
Black-headed Gull 10E
Wood Pigeon 1 in off
Alba Wagtail 3 in off
Meadow Pipit 4
Rock Pipit 5
Stonechat 6
Chiffchaff 2
Raven 1

Robin at Belle Tout

Saturday, 9 March 2013

9th March 2013 Beachy WNW1 Foggy

We were greeted by a striking male Stonechat but also thick fog at Birling so no early morning seawatching was possible. A walk up the lane at Birling produced a few grounded Thrushes and a Reed Bunting quickly followed by some mixed flocks of Blue and Great Tits departing high into the fog and the first two Chiffchaffs of the Spring. Walking the Belle Tout loop proved less productive although there was a steady trickle of incoming alba Wagatils and Meadow Pipits. Cornish Farm hosted small parties of Redwing and Corn Bunting and another Chiffchaff. The fog lifted at 11am allowing time for a brief seawatch from 11.25am to 11.55am but little was seen moving although a couple of vocal adult Mediterranean Gulls were found amongst a flock of Black-headed Gulls.

Red-throated Diver 6E, 18W
Brent c.10E
Red-breasted Merganser 5E
Scoter 4E
Peregrine 1
Kestrel 1-2
Mediterannean Gull 2 adults on sea with c.80 Black-headed Gulls
Stonechat 3
Robin 6
Blackbird 6
Song Thrush 4
Redwing 6
Fieldfare 2
Meadow Pipit 68N
Rock Pipit 2
Alba Wagtail 30N handful identified were all Pied
Chiffchaff 4
Starling 50
Corn Bunting 5
Reed Bunting 1
Chaffinch 6
Goldfinch 50
Linnet 7
Raven 1
Male Stonechat at Birling
A striking individual showing an extensive white belly extending to the centre of its lower breast, white flanks and large flared white neck patches all of which are considered characters of Continental Stonechat S.t. rubicola (Walker 2001). More here:

Male Chaffinch at Birling

Song Thrush at Birling
A real pea-souper greeted us at Beachy today but was presumably responsible for grounding some Thrushes

Same image as above after editing - amazing what can be salvaged in digital photography!

Fieldfare at Birling

Blue Tit and Great Tit at Birling
Three small mixed parties of Blue and Great Tits seen early in the foggy conditions today incuding this flock that departed high into the sky being lost to view into the fog.

Chiffchaff at Birling
Being the first, a welcome sight in the fog.

Redwings over Cornish Farm
As summer visitors start to arrive, winter visitors are departing.

Female Kestrel at Birling

Mediterranean Gull amongst Black-headed Gulls off Birling

Adult summer Mediterranean Gull off Birling
Two amongst c.80 Black-headed Gulls were constantly vocalising having previously been heard in the thick fog when it was impossible to see the sea from the top of the cliff!

Moulting Rock Pipit still present at Birling

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

6 March 2013 Beachy Head Overcast cool but murky out to sea. E 1-2

We  sea-watched from 06.45-09.00 and then birded several sites around Birling/Belle Tout area meeting up with PN. Sea-watch again produced good numbers of Divers but generally quieter than recent days and the only migrant passerines seen were 2 Skylarks arriving in off the sea.

The tenants at Cornish Farm have installed 3 bird scarier gas guns in one of their fields. I am not sure why as the Headland fields at the moment are almost bird-less. Perhaps its to annoy the local residents!!

Red-throated Diver 105 E & 5 on the sea.
Black-throated Diver 1 E with Red-throat's.
Great-crested Grebe 5 on the sea.
(Possible Red-necked Grebe E with 2 Auks, but just too far out to be certain of i/d).
Gannet 28 E
Brent Goose 20 E
Shelduck 2 E
Wigeon 11 E
Mallard 2 E
Common Scoter 9 E
Kestrel 1
Curlew 11 E with others heard only.
Mediterranean Gull 2 E
Kittiwake 23 E
Auk Sp. 179 E
Skylark 2 arrived in off the sea.
Rock Pipit 1
Robin 8
Stonechat 2
Song Thrush 1

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

5 March 2013 Beachy Head Sunny, mild E 1

Bob joined us for a sea-watch from 06.50-09.20 and we also met up with PN. We covered virtually all the sites on the Head after the sea-watch allthough no sign of any Spring migrants in the area, and we also called briefly into nearby Princes Park but again no sign of the Bonapartes Gull.

Red-throated Diver 106 E & 1 W
Great crested Grebe 2 E & 1 on the sea.
Gannet 11 E
Brent Goose 627 E
Shelduck 1 E
Wigeon 2 E
Teal 24 E
Mallard 3 E
Eider 9 E (6 drakes)
Common Scoter 67 E
Red-breasted Merganser 6 E
Smew 1 Red-head E with a single Scoter (Just our 3rd Record since 1960).
Curlew 5 E
Mediterranean Gull 5 E
Kittiwake 112 E
Auk Sp. 55 E
Razorbill 4 E

Rock Pipit 1
Robin 15
Raven 2

Monday, 4 March 2013

4 March 2013 Beachy Head Fine with haze at sea, cool. ENE 1 to 2

Again visited Birling and sea-watched from 06.50-09.35. We were joined briefly by RHC and PN.

Red-throated Diver 41 E & 2 on the sea.
Great Northern Diver 2 One was in w/p and the second bird in transitional plumage. (Both on the sea with one departing E with Red-throated's @ 09.15, the second bird still present when we left).
Great-crested Grebe 3 on the sea.
Gannet 37 E
Brent Goose 81 E
Shelduck 1 E
Wigeon 45 E
Gadwall 8 E
Mallard 2 E with Pintail
Pintail 20 E
Tufted Duck 6 E
Common Scoter 23 E
Curlew 12 E
Mediterranean Gull 1 ad. s/p E.
Black-headed Gull 60 E
Kittiwake 20 E
Auk Sp. 110 E with 20+ on the sea.
Guillemot 1 on the sea.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

3 March 2013 Beachy Head Overcast, cold NE 2

Another overcast day with a cold NE wind. Visited Birling for a sea-watch from 06.55-09.10. 

Red-throated Diver 83 (77 E, 4 W & 2 on the sea).
Great Northern Diver 1 w/p E with Red-Throated Divers @ 08.40. (Our first record since 2008).
Great-crested Grebe 4 (1 on sea and 3 E). 
Gannet 22 E
Shelduck 4 E
Common Scoter 13 E
Curlew 2 E
Bonxie 1 E
Black-headed Gull 70 E
Yellow-legged Gull 1 ad. s/p on beach. (Our 18th record).
Lesser Black Back Gull 10
Kittiwake 36 E
Auk Sp. 126 E & 8 W
Razorbill 43 E

Adult summer plumage Yellow-legged Gull with Common, Herring
and Lesser Black-Backed Gulls

Adult summer plumage Yellow-legged Gull on the beach at Birling.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

2 March 2013 Beachy Head Overcast, cool and clear NE 2

With the NE wind still blowing, we had little expectations with a sea-watch or birding around the sites. We sea-watched from 07.25-08.45 and then covered the usual sites  in the Birling Gap and Belle Tout area including walking the field:

Red-throated Diver 54 E
Great-crested Grebe 2 on the sea.
Gannet 16 E
Common Scoter 2 E
Kestrel 2
Peregrine 2
Bar-tailed Godwit 1 W then E
Common Gull 300 in fields.
Lesser Black-Backed Gull 11
Kittiwake 12 E
Auk Sp. 125 E
Guillemot 2 on the sea
Razorbill 36 E
Skylark 60 in B/T field
Meadow Pipit 1
Rock Pipit 5 (1 Birling & 4 B/T gully)
Robin 6
Stonechat 2 (pair) Birling
Song Thrush 4
Goldfinch 20

Rock Pipit at Birling.

Some of the 11 Lesser Black-Backed Gulls on the beach at Birling.
These are often one of the first Spring migrants seen at Beachy.