Wednesday, 30 April 2014

30 April 2014 Beachy Head Sunny with sea fog from 07.30 Wind light

We sea-watched from 07.00 to 07.30 when sea fog rolled in and was present until at least 12.00 noon when we departed. We met up with my good friend Tony Quinn and covered most of the sites on the Headland and also saw briefly a number of other local birders.
In our 30 minute sea-watch virtually no passage was recorded, the area was again very quiet with a small increase noted in Common Whitethroat numbers and 3 Garden Warblers were present in Shooters Bottom.

Common Scoter 17 E
Swallow 2
Common Whitethroat 18
Garden Warbler 3
Blackcap 2
Chiffchaff 4

Monday, 28 April 2014

28 April 2014 Beachy Head 6/8 cloud clearing, NE1/2

RDME sea-watched from 06.10-07.10 and was joined by RHC. Bob also covered Birling lane and the Belle Tout wood loop, Cornish farm track. Met up briefly with PN and MN who had covered the Old Trapping Area, Shooters Bottom and Belle Tout wood. Sea-watch very quiet and again and very few migrants present in the area, although our first Garden Warbler for the year was found.

Gannet 33 E
Shelduck 6 W and 4 E
Arctic Skua 3 E
Kittiwake 52 E
Collared Dove 2
Swallow 3
Stonechat 8
Wheatear 1
Common Whitethroat 10
Garden Warbler 1 Shooters Bottom
Blackcap 2
Chiffchaff 10
Corn Bunting 2

Grizzled Skipper 1

Sunday, 27 April 2014

27 April 2014 Beachy Head Overcast with showers SE 2-3

Met up with RDME and we sea-watched from 06.00-09.35. RHC joined us for some of the time. With a SE wind blowing all night, hopes were high, but we were soon to be disappointed with only a small movement recorded, perhaps due to unsettled weather to the west of us. We briefly checked some of the sites on the Headland but other than a few Greenland Wheatears, night migrants were very much in short supply.

Red-throated Diver 2E
Gannet 200E
Brent 5E
Eider 4E
Scoter 223E
Bonxie 5E
Arctic Skua 9E
Kittiwake 200E
Sandwich Tern 15E
Commic Tern 8E
Razorbill 2E
Auk sp. 17E
Whimbrel 1E & h
Greenland Wheatear 7
Blackcap 1
Whitethroat 5
Lesser Whitethroat 1


 Dark phase Arctic Skua heading East off Birling

Saturday, 26 April 2014

26 April 2014 Beachy Head Early morning rain clearing S 5-6

We sea-watched from 08.50-13.00 after the early morning rain, (unfortunately good numbers of terns etc were moving at other sites before we had arrived). Still a reasonable movement with the highlight being a good count of Black-throated Divers many in superb full summer plumage.
We also managed to check Belle Tout wood and walk the Cornish Farm track, but other than several Greenland Wheatears, little else was seen on the ground.

Red-throated Diver 17 E
Black-throated Diver 18 E - many in full s/p.
Great-crested Grebe 1 E
Fulmar 27 E but only 2 W
Manx Shearwater 4 E @ 11.39
Gannet 140 E
Brent Goose 57 E
Eider 5 ( 4 W and 1 E, 4 drakes)
Common Scoter 125 E
Hobby 1 in off the sea @ 09.59
Bar-tailed Godwit 35 E
Whimbrel 35 E
Curlew 4 E
Arctic Skua 23 E
Bonxie 21 E
Mediterranean Gull 3 ad's E
Little Gull 1 juv E
Black-headed Gull 22 E
Common Gull c70 E chiefly 1stW types.
Sandwich Tern 105 E
Commic Tern 20 E
Auk Sp 13 E
Wheatear 5 (at le ast 4 were Greenlands)
Corn Bunting 2

140 Gannets were seen moving E today



21 Bonxies moved E today


Greenland Wheatears along the Cornish Farm track.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

24 April 2014 Beachy Head Overcast virtually no wind

Bob sea-watched from 06.15-08.15 and was joined for some of the time by RHC. Bob also covered Birling lane, Belle Tout wood, Whitbread Hollow, Cow Gap and the Gully.
Still a small passage of sea-birds in the calm conditions but again very few migrants seen in the area.

Diver Sp. 1 E
Gannet 14 E and 4 W
Canada Goose 1 W
Bar-headed Goose 1 W
Shelduck 5 E
Gadwall 2 E
Common Scoter 78 E
Arctic Skua 3 E
Bonxie 7 E
Mediterranean Gull 2 adults E
Sandwich Tern 14 E
Auk Sp 5 E
Tawny Owl 2 Whitbread Hollow
Common Whitethroat 8
Blackcap 2
Chiffchaff 4
Willow Warbler 1
Raven 1
Corn Bunting 1

Harbour Porpoise 1

Late news for yesterday was a Hobby over Hodcombe.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

23 April 2014 Beachy Head Part Cloud with some mist out to sea SE 1 Between

Met up with RDME and sea-watched from 05.45-09.45 and were joined by RHC, RKH, RES and KH for some of this time. Between us, we covered most of the sites on the Headland including the Cliff Path.
A reasonable sea-passage although with SE winds, it could have been better, but very few migrants seen on the land.

Diver Sp 2 E
Gannet 31 E
Brent Goose 56 E
Common Scoter 464 E
Red-breasted Merganser 1 E
Peregrine 1
Grey Plover 1 E
Whimbrel 53 E also 1 in off the sea and then present at Birling
Curlew 1 E
Pomarine Skua 3 E (2 @ 07.05 and 1 @ 7.10)
Arctic Skua 9 E
Bonxie 23 E
Sandwich Tern 81 E
Auk Sp. 10 E
Swallow 10
Common Redstart 1 male in song
Stonechat 10 (several females carrying food)
Wheatear 2
Common Whitethroat 15
Blackcap 2-3
Chiffchaff 8
Corn Bunting 3

Brimstone 4
Wall 4
Green Hairstreak 2
Early Spider Orchid 21 counted at the usual site.
Harbour Porpoise 1

Still a few Brent Geese on the move.

 23 Bonxies were seen this morning-our best total so far this year.

Pair of Swallows taken up residence in the Beachy Head hotel.


Been a good Spring so far for the Brimstone

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

22 April 2014 Beachy Head Early morning rain clearing to a fine day but cool SW 3-4

Met up with RDME for a sea-watch from 06.30-10.40 with RHC, RKH, RES and KH joining us. Difficult conditions at first until the weather cleared and there was a steady movement. We also covered Belle Tout wood, Shooters Bottom and the Old Trapping area, a small arrival of night migrants with 2 fine male Redstarts being the highlight.

Diver Sp. 6 E
Gannet 71 E
Brent Goose 68 E
Shelduck 6 W and 2 E
Gadwall 2 E
Teal 1 E
Shoveler 4 E
Eider 2 on the sea off Birling
Common Scoter 523 E
Red-breasted Merganser 2 E
Whimbrel 8 E
Arctic Skua 5 E
Bonxie 8 E
Sandwich Tern 43 E
Commic Tern 19 E
Auk Sp 12 E
Swallow 7 (4 in off the sea)
Common Redstart 2 males
Common Whitethroat 6
Blackcap 4
Chiffchaff 5
Willow Warbler 12

Green-veined White 1


 Two Eiders off Birling during the early morning.

Two adult Gannets.

Monday, 21 April 2014

21 April 2014 Beachy Head Part cloudy,mild NE 1 to W 1-2

Met up with RDME and we sea-watched from 05.50 until 12.00. RHC, RKH, RES, RK and PN joined us for some of this time. We also covered Birling Lane, Belle Tout wood, Shooters Bottom and the Old Trapping Area. The highlight without doubt was a White-billed Diver which showed well on the sea off Birling before departing East. Our first ever record for Beachy and just the fifth for Sussex. A brief account appears below and some digiscope pictures taken at about 300 metres by David Cooper in mirky light.
A fine Short-eared Owl also came in from the sea, flew along the cliffs before departing back out to sea.

Red-throated Diver 8 E
Black-throated Diver 2 E
Diver Sp 5 E
White-billed Diver 1 on the sea departed E @ 11.05
Gannet 85 E
Little Egret 2 E
Grey Heron 1-2 off Birling
Brent Goose 6 E
Shelduck 6 E
Common Scoter 537 E
Red-breasted Merganser 2 E
Ringed Plover 1 E
Sanderling 2 E
Dunlin 2 E
Bar-tailed Godwit 35 E
Whimbrel 78 E
Arctic Skua 7 E
Bonxie 5 E
Mediterranean Gull 8 E
Little Gull 37 E
Black-headed Gull 12 E
Sandwich Tern 66 E
Commic Tern 8 E
Little Tern 1 E
Auk Sp. 16 E
Guillemot 1 on the sea
Razorbill 4 on the sea
Short-eared Owl 1 in off the sea @ 09.14
Swallow 5
House Martin 1
Whinchat 1 Hodcombe
Wheatear 1
Common Whitethroat 2
Willow Warbler 4

Early Spider Orchids - several seen
Harbour Porpoise 2+

Brief account of the White-billed Diver off Birling Gap

Whilst sea-watching from Birling Gap, DC picked out a large diver sat approx. 300 metres out on the sea and quickly drew our attention to it. We had already seen several Red-throated and 2 Black-throated Divers on this sea-watch.

Our immediate reaction was a White-billed Diver probably in 1st Summer plumage, as it appeared as large if not larger than a Great Northern Diver, with a pale bill which it held skywards at all times and had the appearance of being upturned. It was diving and at one time caught a large fish which a nearby Greater-black backed Gull immediately poached. It also attracted a fly-by Fulmar which landed by it and which was literally drawfed by the diver.

It continually dived but after a short period of time a sailing boat came along, which unfortunately flushed the Diver which then flew around the boat before heading off eastwards and we followed it with our scopes as it flew around the Headland and was lost to sight.

Bill was pale and at certain angles had a yellowish appearance, probably when the sun highlighted this. At certain angles the bill looked huge but at other angles it didn't look quite so large but certainly always larger than the commoner divers and was always held skywards and always had a distinctive upturned appearance.
The head and neck appeared very thick and heavy with a distinctive steep forehead onto a flat crown giving a kink where the forehead joined the crown. The crown appeared quite a pale greyish brown and the sides of the face and cheeks were very pale with just a pale brownish wash and this extended above the eye, although a couple of slightly darker brown small patches were visible on the side of the head when it was side on. The eye was black and was completely surrounded by the pale face. The whole crown and face was noticeably paler than a Great-northern Diver. At the base of the neck was a thick black collar which was bordered on the upper side by a narrow whitish patch. The rest of the chin and throat were white and on several occasions it raised it self up out of the water and flapped and the remainder of the under-parts were white.

The upper parts had a brownish appearance with quite an obvious scaly appearance.

In flight it looked very large indeed, with a large bill, thick head and neck, broad wings and the whole of the upper-parts had this very distinctive brownish hue which I have never ever seen on any diver before. It had strong looking legs which trailed behind with very large feet. In flight it appeared a little ungamely which at the time I described as appearing clumsy.

1stS White-billed Diver off Birling Gap showing the pale bill
upturned and the brownish upper parts and crown.

Again showing the up-tilted bill, bill appears darker in this
image due to the mirky light conditions, and the pale face

With a Fulmar, showing clearly the broad blackish collar
and how large it was compared to the Fulmar

Images of the White-billed Diver off Birling Gap which departed E.
Showing the large head and thick neck and forehead bump.
These images were digiscoped at about 300 metres in mirky
light at 3x digital zoom through a 30x telescope and have been
heavily cropped. All taken by David Cooper

Short-eared Owl arriving in off the sea.

Grey Heron off Birling

Male Stonechat at Birling

Early Spider Orchid - several now showing

Sunday, 20 April 2014

20 April 2014 Beachy Head Rain clearing becoming warm and sunny ESE 1-2

After the rain had cleared, we sea-watched from 15.00 -18.00, but although the wind had gone ESE no real movement got going.

Gannet 20E, 3W
Merganser 5E
Scoter 9E
Bonxie 2E (5.02pm & 5.54pm)
Sandwich Tern 9E
Commic Tern 4E
Razorbill 2 on sea
Auk sp. 6E
Curlew 10 in off
Whimbrel 14E
Bar-tailed Godwit 17E
Swallow 30 in off
House Martin 1 in off

Harbour Porpoise 1+

Saturday, 19 April 2014

18 and 19 April 2014 Beachy Head

18th April, 2014 

We started at Birling lane and also covered Birling to Belle Tout loop and then visited the Cliff Path. Briefly met up with RKH and RES who had covered most of the other sites on the Headland. Just small numbers of Willow Warblers and Common Whitethroats:

Kestrel 1
Swallow 1
Whitethroat 5
Chiffchaff 5
Willow Warbler 10

Wall Brown 2

19th April, 2014
DC and BK visited all the sites on the Headland and then covered Whitbread Hollow, Cow Gap and the Gully. Again  poor numbers of night migrants seen although 7 Wheatears including two Greenland types were new arrivals. An afternoon sea-watch between 14.00-17.00 recorded a small movement:

Canada Goose 1 over Cow Gap
Whimbrel 1 on Birling lawn
Red-legged Partridge 2
Swallow 2
House Martin 2
Sand Martin 1
Wheatear 7 including 2 Greenland Wheatears
Blackcap 3
Whitethroat 9
Lesser Whitethroat h singing
Willow Warbler 2
Chiffchaff 3

Seawatch 2pm - 5pm E4

Red-throated Diver 1E
Gannet 4E
Little Egret 1E
Shag 1E
Merganser 6E
Scoter 7E
Arctic Skua 1E
Bonxie 1E at 14.40pm
Sandwich Tern 31E
Auk sp. 2E
Curlew 1E
Whimbrel 41E
Bar-tailed Godwit 18E

(taken by David Cooper)
Male Greenland Wheatear at Cornish Farm

(taken by David Cooper)
Bar-tailed Godwits, Curlew and Whimbrel over Birling

(taken by David Cooper)
Shag passing Birling.

(taken by David Cooper)
Drake Red-breasted Mergansers passing Birling

Thursday, 17 April 2014

17 April 2014 Beachy Head Sunny clear mild SW 3-4

Met up with RDME and we sea-watched from 06.20-09.25. Bob then walked the lane, and then the Birling to Belle Tout loop also Cornish Farm track. We covered all the other Headland sites including the Cliff Path. We also met up with PN and MN who were birding Shooters Bottom to Birling sites.
An interesting sea-watch with more Little Gulls moving but just a small increase in night migrants from yesterday.

Red-throated Diver 7 E
Gannet 17 E
Little Egret 2 moving E a long way out to sea
Brent Goose 440 E
Common Scoter 612 E
Velvet Scoter 3 E
Kestrel 1
Peregrine 1
Whimbrel 5 E
Arctic Skua 2 E
Bonxie 2 E
Mediterranean Gull 1(1stW) E
Little Gull 62 E
Black-headed Gull 89 E
Common Gull c60 immature birds E
Kittiwake c100 E
Sandwich Tern 116 E
Auk Sp. 1 E
Lesser Whitethroat 1
Common Whitethroat 4
Blackcap 1
Chiffchaff 8
Willow Warbler 11
Carrion Crow 3 came in off the sea from a long way out .
Raven 1
Corn Bunting 2

Peacock 3
Small Tortoiseshell 6
Brimstone 4
Orange Tip 3
Wall 1
Green-veined White 1-2
Speckled Wood 3
Early Spider Orchid 5 showing
Weasel 1 along the Cliff Path.

Late News from yesterday - An evening sea-watch from 18.45 to 19.45 the following were logged:
Red-throated Diver 4E
Great Crested Grebe 1W
Arctic Skua 1E
Black-headed Gull 4E
Little Gull 96E
Sandwich Tern 7E
Commic Tern 14E
Swallow 1 in off

Chiffchaff along the Cliff Path


Weasel on the hunt along the Cliff Path.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

16 April 2014 Beachy Head Clear sunny but cold with early morning frost. E3 to SE 4

We joined RDME, RKH and RHC for a sea-watch from 06.15-10.15 and RES and KH also joined us. We then covered a number of the birding sites including the Cliff Path and PN also covered most of the Headland sites.
A reasonable sea passage although it could have been better with the E to SE winds with the highlights being a pair of Garganey and 4 Velvet Scoters. The area seemed very quiet for night migrants, with just a few regulars present.

Red-throated Diver 12 E
Gannet 13 E
Grey-lag Goose 2 W
Brent Goose 2 E
Shelduck 5 E
Pintail 3 E
Garganey 2 E (pair with Scoters)
Shoveler 30 E
Common Scoter 176 E
Velvet Scoter 4 E
Red-breasted Merganser 2 E
Peregrine 2
Whimbrel 8 E
Arctic Skua 3 E
Mediterranean Gull 2 E
Kittiwake 620 E
Sandwich Tern 33 E
Auk Sp. 17 E
Swallow 5
Chiffchaff 6

Wall Butterfly 2
Green-veined White 2

Late news for the 14th with a male Pied Flycatcher in Hodcombe and for the 15th with an evening sea-watch from 18.30-20.00 by DC and BK recorded the following:

Common Scoter 12 E
Sandwich Tern 12 E
Whimbrel 9 E

Green-veined White in Belle Tout wood


Wall along the Cliff Path

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

15 April 2014 Beachy Head Clear sunny and cold with an early morning frost. N-NE 2-4

RDME sea-watched from 06.40-07.20 and then covered the Birling to Belle Tout loop. We covered all the usual sites on the Headland including the Cliff Path and Cornish Farm track. We also met up with RK and RB.
Virtually no movement at sea, and other than a few Swallows and Linnets arriving ,very few migrants seen on the Headland.

Gannet 2 E and 3 W
Common Scoter 6 E
Sparrowhawk 1
Peregrine 2
Whimbrel 1 E - our first for the year
Black-headed Gull 5 E
Kittiwake 80 E
Swallow 12
Stonechat 6
Chiffchaff 11
Raven 1
Linnet 50
Corn Bunting 4

Corn Bunting in full song.

Monday, 14 April 2014

14 April 2014 Beachy Head Sunny, very cold at first becoming warm. NE 4

RDME covered Whitbread Hollow, Cow Gap and the Gully, Hotel Garden, Old Trapping Area, Shooters Bottom and Belle Tout wood. PN was also covering a number of the Headland sites.
Just small numbers of night migrants with the highlight being a Ring Ouzel and 4 Redstarts.

Kestrel 1
Swallow 12
Common Redstart 4
Wheatear 1
Ring Ouzel 1 in the Old Trapping Area
Lesser Whitethroat 1
Common Whitethroat 2
Blackcap 11
Chiffchaff 14
Willow Warbler 25
Raven 2
Corn Bunting 1

Orange Tip 2 - Our first for the year.
Early Spider Orchid spike showing in the Gully

13 April 2014 Beachy Head Overcast becoming sunny and warm W 1

DC and BK covered all the Headland sites including Cornish Farm Lane, Cliff Path and the Rides.
A reasonable fall of Willow Warblers and 2 new male Redstarts were found at the top of Birling lane, although when the cloud cleared and it became sunny activity of night migrants quickly dropped off.

Tawny Owl h
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1 drumming
Swallow 10
White Wagtail 1 female
Wheatear 3
Redstart 2 males
Blackcap 5
Lesser Whitethroat 2h singing
Willow Warbler 45
Chiffchaff 5
Raven 1

Brimstone 4
Peacock 5
Small Tortoiseshell c.15
Speckled Wood 3
Large White 2
Small White 2
Small Copper 3

(taken by D.Cooper)
Willow Warbler in Chat Vale - 45 were seen chiefly during the 
early morning

(both taken by D.Cooper)
Female White Wagtail with cattle at Birling

(taken by D.Cooper)
Male Wheatear at Birling

(taken by D.Cooper)
Small Copper at Chat Vale - Our first for this year