Saturday, 31 May 2014

31 May 2014 Beachy Head Fine sunny and becoming warm N 2RJF and JK

Met up with RJF and JK and covered virtually all the Headland sites including the Cliff Path. PN and MN were also birding some of the sites on the Headland.
Needless to say just the odd migrants seen with a Hobby and Turtle Dove being the best.

Common Scoter 16 E
Sparrowhawk 1
Common Buzzard 2
Hobby 1
Peregrine 1
Turtle Dove 1 drinking from a puddle at Birling
Swift 6
Swallow 12
Reed Warbler 1 singing Icky Ridge
Sedge Warbler 1 singing Hodcombe
Blackcap 1

Wall 1
Common Blue 6
Dingy Skipper 2
Bee Orchid 8
Leopard Slug 1

Hobby over Chat Vale
dark morph silhouette!! (taken by David Cooper)

Adult male Chaffinch in breeding plumage

Male Common Blue

Female Common Blue (blue colour variant)

Bee Orchid-pale variety

Leopard Slug at Birling.
A Beachy tick, but not really the one we wanted to find!!

Sunday, 25 May 2014

25 May 2014 Beachy Head Sunny but cold, S 4

Joined RDME for a sea-watch from 06.00-11.20. NT joined us for some of the time. Bob covered Birling lane, and we covered the Old Trapping Area. PN and MN were also birding on the Headland.
For the time of the year, a reasonable sea-passage but lacking any quality with the highlight being 2 Manx Shearwaters.

Manx Shearwater 2 E
Gannet 156 E
Little Egret 4 E
Shelduck 5 E
Common Scoter 222 E
Sanderling 9 E
Arctic Skua 8 E
Bonxie 3 E
Mediterranean Gull 2 adults E
Black-headed Gull 14 E
Kittiwake c250 E
Sandwich Tern 108 E
Commic Tern 25 E
Auk Sp. 20 E
Guillemot 1 E
Raven 8

Comm Blue 6
Wall Butterfly 1
Common Blue Damselfly 1 in the Old Trapping Area

Late News for the 23 May 2014.

NT and RHC did a sea-watch from about 7.10-09.15 in a strong SE wind and recorded the following:
Manx Shearwater 10 E
Gannet 110 E
Great-crested Grebe 1
Common Scoter 46 E
Arctic Skua 4 E
Sandwich Tern 22 E
Commic Tern 8 E
Auk Sp. 4 E

Also 1 ad.male Black Redstart in Hodcombe on the 24 May.

Pictures of some of the 5 Bee-eaters seen on the 20 May at
Belle Tout. All pictures taken by Nigel Taylor

 Common Blue Damselfly in the Old Trapping Area

Saturday, 24 May 2014

24 May 2014 Beachy Head Early morning rain then overcast cool, wind S-SE 4-5

We did two sea-watches this morning, 06.30-07.45 and 09.25-10.30, in the hope of catching out a Long-tailed Skua, but needless to say we failed miserably. Very little moving, although another fine close Pomarine Skua with a superb tail, made the sea-watching worth while. We also birded Belle Tout wood and Shooters Bottom but no sign of any new migrants.

Gannet 110 E
Grey Heron 1 over Belle Tout area
Common Scoter 61 E and 13 W
Common Buzzard 1 over the top fields
Peregrine 1
Sanderling 3 E
Pomarine Skua 1 E @ 09.30
Arctic Skua 2 E
Black-headed Gull 12 E
Sandwich Tern 8 E
Auk Sp 3 E
Guillemot 1 E

Thursday, 22 May 2014

22 May 2014 Beachy Head Overcast cool SW 4 decreasing to 3

We met up with NT and sea-watched from 05.45-08.00. We also covered between us Birling Lane, Belle Tout wood, Shooters Bottom, Old Trapping Area and Hotel Garden.
Small sea-bird passage with the highlight being a close Roseate Tern with 5 Sandwich Terns, but the only new night migrant was a Spotted Flycatcher:

Red-throated Diver 1 E
Gannet 30 E
Little Egret 3 E
Shelduck 10 E
Common Scoter 27 E
Sanderling 31 E
Kittiwake 70 E
Sandwich Tern 55 E
Roseate Tern 1 E with 5 Sandwich Terns @ 07.12
Commic Tern 10 E
Auk Sp 13 E
Guillemot 1 E
Swallow 22
Garden Warbler 1
Spotted Flycatcher 1

Short Account of today's Roseate Tern.

Sea-watching from Birling with a small passage of Sandwich Terns. Picked out a party of six terns moving E at a distance of 100-200 metres. As I was watching them with my 30x telescope, the first 5 were all Sandwich but the back one was smaller and far more elegant, slimmer wings and very long tail streamers. I immediately got DRC and NT onto this last bird which had now caught the Sandwich Terns up, and I was able to identify it as a Roseate Tern. We all followed this tern as it flew past us and it was extremely white all over and we were unable to see any contrast at all in the whiteness, lacking the greyness of Common/Arctic Terns, with a smart black cap. Compared with the Sandwich Terns, it appeared about 2/3rds the size but much slimmer with very long tail streamers, which gave it a long tailed appearance. From the distance we were looking, the bill looked all black, the plumage looked as white as the Sandwich Terns and we could not see any pink flush to the underparts. The flight was quite fast keeping up with the Sandwich Terns although perhaps more buoyant at times.
This is now our 18th record of 25 birds since 1960. 

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

20 May 2014 and 21 May 2014 Beachy Head

21 May 2014 Early mist,overcast cool E 1-2
Met up with NT and sea-watched from 06.00-07.05. We then covered the main birding sites on the Headland and met up with RHC and MEC at Hodcombe. No sea-passage recorded and virtually no new night migrants seen although an adult female Hen Harrier was seen hunting in the field directly E of Shooters Bottom. A full account below.

Gannet 5 E
Common Scoter 8 E
Sandwich Tern 1 E
Hen Harrier 1 ad. female
Peregrine 1
Swallow 20
Stonechat 1 Continental male (race rubicola) present with a female and 1 juv.
Common Whitethroat 20
Garden Warbler 1
Blackcap 1
Chiffchaff 3
Raven Party of 5
Corn Bunting 3

Adult Female Hen Harrier Hunting over the field directly E of Shooters Bottom.

As we approached Shooters Bottom, we noticed a large Harrier flying ahead of us along the side of the field. We quickly drove up to where it was showing and had some good views from c.60 yards range as it was hunting low over the field and heading East away from us. We decided to drive further up the road to the Old Trapping Area where hopefully the Harrier would fly along, perhaps allowing some photographs. Unfortunately, the Harrier didn't appear and I quickly made my way along the southern side of the field where I could look down into the field, but again no further sighting.
We then returned to Shooters Bottom, and I again re-located the Harrier which again was heading up towards the Old Trapping Area. I watched it until it disappeared over a ridge in the field and we then again quickly drove back to the Old Trapping Area and I decided to walk through the field as I felt it had probably landed in the long grass on the first sighting. I covered about two thirds of the field but no further sign.
Large heavy looking Harrier, with broad very rounded wings with a number of primary fingers showing. The upper-parts appeared a washed-out brownish with a paler area on the wings and a conspicuous large white rump with a greyish patch directly above the rump. The tail was medium length quite broad looking again washed-out brown with black bars. The under-parts had brownish streaking extending right down on a white breast . The face appeared quite uniform. It was identified as an adult female due to the pale area in the wings which is lacking in immatures, and the white with brown streaks extending down on the underparts which is rufous/brownish in immatures with the streaking more restricted to the upper breast. The flight was quite heavy often gliding with wings up in a V. lacking the buoyancy associated with a Montagu's.
Although a late Spring date, it is not our latest as in 1991 a large female was present in the top fields from 25 May to 3 June, and in 2010 a male was seen on the 27 May and in 2011 a male (perhaps the same bird) was also seen on the 24 May.

Male Stonechat but not the rubicola

Chiffchaff in Shooters Bottom

20 May 2014 Sunny periods SE 2-3
Unfortunately, I had to attend the Brighton cancer clinic and was unable to visit Beachy today. NT sea-watched from 05.45-06.37, when he heard a party of  Bee-eaters calling nearby. He quickly located 5 sat out on trees on the slope directly up from looking E at 06.37 and they stayed till 06.45. The Bee-eaters departed E just when RHC arrived, but luckily they were relocated in the bushes below the old Belle Tout lighthouse at 7.00 and were seen well until 07.25 when a Blackbird flushed them and they departed E.
NT then covered many of the sites on the Headland and also walked the Cliff Path and looked down into Whitbread Hollow but no further sign.

Gannet 9 E
Shoveler 1 E
Common Scoter 30 E
Sanderling 5 E
Black-headed Gull 3 E
Sandwich Tern 3 E
Commic Tern 120 E
Auk Sp. 3 E
Bee-eater 5 departed E (Our 41st record since 1960)
Garden Warbler 1

Some of the 5 Bee-eaters seen at Belle Tout all pictures taken 
Nigel Taylor

Monday, 19 May 2014

19 May 2014 Beachy Head Overcast becoming sunny cool E 3-4

We joined NT and sea-watched from 05.35-10.45 and was joined for some of the time by RHC and RB.
RB had also covered Shooters Bottom and Belle Tout wood.
Sea-watch very similar to yesterday with another 2 fine Pomarine Skuas and a Marsh Harrier moved East some way out to sea.

Diver Sp 1 E
Gannet 12 E
Little Egret 1
Grey Heron 1 E
Grey-lag Goose 1 E
Mallard 2 E
Common Scoter 590 E
Marsh Harrier 1 E out to sea 
Whimbrel 3 E
Pomarine Skua 2 E @ 10.40
Arctic Skua 2 E
Bonxie 1 E
Black-headed Gull 15 E
Sandwich Tern 71 E
Commic Tern 7 E
Little Tern 1 E
Auk Sp. 1 E
Lesser Whitethroat 1

Brimstone 1

Sunday, 18 May 2014

18 May 2014 Beachy Head Sunny and warm SE 1-2 increasing to

We sea-watched from 06.25 to 11.10 and was joined by NT. We also visited Belle Tout wood and PN was also birding the Headland sites.
A reasonable sea-bird movement recorded which tended to be more quality than quantity, with the highlight being 2 majestic Pomarine Skuas both with superb tails.

Diver Sp. 1 E
Gannet 10 E
Little Egret 3
Grey Heron 1 E
Garganey 3 E (1 pair briefly settled on the sea)
Shoveler 2 E
Common Scoter 447 E
Knot 4 E
Sanderling 9 E
Bar-tailed Godwit 6 E
Pomarine Skua 2 E @ 07.22
Mediterranean Gull 1 1stS E
Black-headed Gull 125 E
Sandwich Tern 80 E
Commic Tern 26 E
Little Tern 1 E
Black Tern 8 E
Auk Sp. 2 E
Guillemot 1 E
Swift 3
Swallow 10

Saturday, 17 May 2014

17 May 2014 Beachy Head Overcast with sunny periods. Wind light

We covered most of the main sites on the Headland, although with very few new migrants being seen.

Sparrowhawk 1
Common Buzzard 1
Collared Dove 1
Swift 1
Swallow 12
Common Whitethroat 18
Garden Warbler 1
Chiffchaff 3
Willow Warbler 1
Spotted Flycatcher 4
Corn Bunting 5

Wall 3
Small Heath 2 - Our first for the year
Dingy Skipper 2
Fox cub 1

Fox cub taken by David Cooper

Garden Warbler at Shooters Bottom
taken by David Cooper

Small Heath - Our first for the year

Friday, 16 May 2014

16 May 2014 Beachy Head Cloud 1/8 NE2/3 becoming very warm

RDME covered the Belle Tout loop, Shooters Bottom, Old Trapping Area, Whitbread Hollow, Cow Gap and the Gully. He met up with NT at Birling lane.
Migrant numbers, other than the usual breeding birds, were again in short supply with a new Spotted Flycatcher and a Reed Warbler.

Stock Dove 1 singing at Birling
Swallow 4
Song Thrush 3
Reed Warbler 1
Garden Warbler 3
Blackcap only 1
Chiffchaff 3
Spotted Flycatcher 1
Raven 1
Corn Bunting 4

Peacock 1
Wall 1
Common Blue 1
Small Copper 1
Dingy Skipper 2

Thursday, 15 May 2014

15 May 2014 Beachy Head Fine and sunny, light and variable wind

We met up with RDME and NT at Birling and sea-watched from 06.10-07.15. Between us we covered all the usual sites on the Headland including the Cliff Path and the Cornish Farm track meeting up with RKH and RES in Shooters Bottom

The sea was flat calm and this summed up the sea-watch, and the only new night migrants seen in the area was a Spotted Flycatcher and a female Redstart.

Late news from Nigel Taylor for yesterday which included a Turtle Dove, 5 Spotted Flycatchers and a Whinchat.

Little Egret 1 off Birling
Common Scoter 9 E
Sandwich Tern 2 E
Stock Dove 1
Woodpigeon Party of 25 E
Common Redstart 1 female in the Old Trapping Area
Common Whitethroat 20
Garden Warbler 1
Blackcap 1
Spotted Flycatcher 1
Corn Bunting 2+

Drinker moth (Philudoria potatoria)

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

13 May 2014 Beachy Head Cloud 2/8 to 5/8, wind W 3 –2 cool at first warmer later.

Bob birded Birling lane, Belle Tout loop and track to Cornish Farm, Shooters Bottom, Whitbread Hollow and Cow Gap. Laurence Pitcher also covered Shooters Bottom, per the SOS web site.
Small fall of night migrants including 7 Spotted Flycatchers.

Pair of Red-legged Partridges
Swallow 12
House Martin 11
Common Redstart 1 female Shooters Bottom
Whinchat 2 (male and female)
Song Thrush 2
Lesser Whitethroat 1
Common Whitethroat 21
Garden Warbler 5
Blackcap 2
Chiffchaff 4
Willow Warbler 2
Spotted Flycatcher 7
Long-tailed Tit 2
Corn Bunting 4

Dingy Skipper 1

Monday, 12 May 2014

12 May 2014 Beachy Head Overcast becoming sunny W 3-4

Spent an hour sea-watching between 06.30-07.30 and NT and RHC joined us. We then covered the Headland sites including the Cliff Path and met up with RKH, RES and KH.
No movement recorded on the sea, an increase noted in Whitethroat numbers and fair numbers of Swallows passing through including a few House Martins.

Common Buzzard 1 over the Top Fields
Red-legged Partridge 1pair
Sandwich Tern 3 W
Swallow 40
House Martin 6
Common Whitethroat 40
Garden Warbler 1
Blackcap 3
Chiffchaff 5
Willow Warbler 3
Spotted Flycatcher 1
Raven 1
Corn Bunting 2

Brimstone 1
Wall 10
Common Blue 1
Small Copper 1
Dingy Skipper 2
Green Hairstreak 3


 Green Hairstreak at Belle Tout wood

Chiffchaff at Belle Tout


Common Whitethroat along the Cliff Path

Sunday, 11 May 2014

11 May 2014 Beachy Head Sunny but cold. W 7-8

We sea-watched from 06.50-08.45 and were joined by RHC. We then visited Whitbread Hollow but the wind was still strong and watching was very difficult. We finally visited Belle Tout wood.
Little moving out to sea although an immature Spoonbill E with a Little Egret, proved to be our 8th Record involving 15 individuals since 1960, which was also a Beachy tick for DC. Also a Hobby seen arriving in off.
Difficult birding around the Headland due to the gale force winds with most birds keeping their heads down but in the more sheltered Belle Tout wood 2 Spotted Flycatchers were seen.

Spoonbill 1 immature E @ 07.50
Little Egret 1 E with the Spoonbill
Eider 1 female on the sea off Birling
Hobby 1 in off
Arctic Skua 5 E
Sandwich Tern 6 E
Commic Tern 1 E
Auk Sp 1 E
Swift 5 (4 in off )
Swallow 5
House Martin Party of 20 in off
Spotted Flycatcher 2
Corn Bunting 2

Dingy Skipper 1

Friday, 9 May 2014

9 May 2014 Beachy Head Sunny periods cool, WSW 6 gusting 8

We sea-watch from 06.40-07.55 and were joined by RHC for some of the time. With the strong winds, it was hoped for some Manx Shearwaters, but disappointingly none were seen and very little sea-bird movement was logged. We then covered Belle Tout wood, Shooters Bottom, Old Trapping Area, Hotel Garden and a look along the Cliff Path, but with the blustery wind, the areas covered seemed very quiet although our first Spotted Flycatcher for the year was seen.
Bob and Sarah visited Whitbread Hollow this morning.

Gannet 10 E
Shag 1 ad. E
Sandwich Tern 5 E
Swift 4 in off
Swallow just 3
Garden Warbler 3
Blackcap 3
Spotted Flycatcher 1 - Our first for the year.
Raven 1
Corn Bunting 1

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

6 May 2014 Beachy Head Early overcast with drizzle becoming sunny Wind SW 3 to 4

Bob and Nigel were sea-watching from 05.45-07.45 and we joined them for a short while. We also sea-watched from 09.25-09.55 and we also covered Birling Lane, Shooters Bottom and Belle Tout wood. Bob went down to Whitbread Hollow, Cow Gap and the Gully
The drizzle made sea-watching difficult during the early watch, but after yesterdays superb watch, the movement was somewhat less inspiring. The Headland was again very quiet with virtually no migrants.

Black-throated Diver 1 E
Diver Sp 2 E
Gannet 40 E
Little Egret 1 off Birling
Eider 4 E
Common Scoter 83 E and 15 W
Bar-tailed Godwit 14 E
Whimbrel 6 E
Arctic Skua 2 E
Bonxie 1 E
Sandwich Tern 30 E
Commic Tern 5 E
Auk Sp. 3 E
Swallow 6 in off the sea
Stonechat 2 pairs feeding young out of the nest.
Reed Warbler singing
Garden Warbler 2
Willow Warbler 2
Corn Bunting 1

Monday, 5 May 2014

5 May 2014 Beachy Head Fine and sunny SE 1-2

We joined RDME and Nigel Taylor and sea-watched from 05.45-16.45. RHC, RKH and RES joined us for some of the time. It started rather slowly, but the pace quickened just before 9.00 am when the first Pomarine Skua flew past. It then turned into a record day for Poms with a total of 125 E recorded and this compares with our previous largest daily total of 102 E on the 7 May 1981. Also another good passage of Black-throated Divers many in superb summer plumage.

Red-throated Diver 12E
Black-throated Diver 17E, 1 on sea ex.
Diver sp. 10E
Great Crested Grebe 1 on sea
Little Egret 3E
Gannet 15E
Shag 2E
Brent 8E
Shelduck 7E
Scoter 990E
Pintail 2E
Bonxie 1 at 7.31am
Pomarine Skua 125E
Arctic Skua 26E
Mediterranean Gull 1E first-summer
Black-headed Gull 263E
Little Gull 5E
Sandwich Tern 276E
Commic Tern 858E
Black Tern 7E
Little Tern 39E
Guillemot 6E
Razorbill 1E
Auk sp. 49E
Curlew 1E
Whimbrel 20E
Bar-tailed Godwit 17E
Knot 1E
Common Sandpiper 1E
Sanderling 11E
Swallow 3 in off
alba Wagtail 1 in off

Some digiscoped images taken by David Cooper of some
of the Pomarine Skuas seen today

Good numbers of Black-headed Gulls were moving today.


Two Little Egrets flying past Birling


Sandwich Terns passing Birling with some taking the opportunity
to fish whilst moving past.


Nearly a thousand Scoters passed Birling today.



First winter Little Gull passing Birling


Two Whimbrel moving past Birling

Sunday, 4 May 2014

4 May 2014 Beachy Head Fine and sunny Wind light becoming SE 1

Met up with RDME and we sea-watched from 05.55-11.55. We were also joined by RK and several other observers looked in.
Generally disappointing sea-movement although RDME had a Pomarine Skua before our arrival.

Red-throated Diver 10 E
Black-throated Diver 2 E
Gannet 20 E
Little Egret 3 off Birling
Grey Heron 1 on the beach off Birling
Canada Goose 2 W
Brent Goose 1 E
Shelduck 10 E and 2 W
Pintail 2 E (pair)
Shoveler 2 E
Common Scoter 528 E
Red-breasted Merganser 4 drakes E
Grey Plover 7 E
Bar-tailed Godwit 28 E
Whimbrel 35 E
Pomarine Skua 1 E @ 06.10
Arctic Skua 3 E
Mediterranean Gull 2 (2nd S's) E
Little Gull 3 (1stS's) E
Black-headed Gull 25 E
Sandwich Tern 58 E
Commic Tern 25 E
Swallow 16 in off
House Martin 1 in off

Harbour Porpoise 2

Little Egret off Birling