Hooded Grebes - Patagonia - November 2016

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Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Seaford Head 30/8/16

A very impressive sunrise upon arrival was then interrupted by a stream of inbound Willow Warblers that totalled forty birds in just three minutes. The fog then rolled in which completely screwed things over. This lasted about an hour where only a handful of migrants were seen, one of which was a very confiding Grasshopper Warbler. Once it had cleared Willow Warblers were again the main feature (with now the odd Chiffchaff thrown in for the start of the overlap), and in one section by Harry's Bush a group consisting of Redstarts and Spotted Flycatchers rounded off an ok morning, with me feeling a little hard done by whilst everyone was finding Wrynecks on their patches.
Afterwards, I arrived at Sainsbury's for a quick supermarket sweep, when an Osprey flew over heading east, and could well have been one of the birds seen at Beachy later on.

Totals are:

Wheatear - 7
Whinchat - 5
Willow Warbler - 72
Whitethroat - 17
Blackcap - 8
Chiffchaff - 7
Grey Wagtail - 2 E
Grasshopper Warbler - 1
Sedge Warbler - 1
Lesser Whitethroat - 4
Spotted Flycatcher - 2
Redstart - 5
Yellow Wagtail - 6

Osprey - 1 E at 11.19 over Sainsbury's, Newhaven


 the best sunrise of the autumn so far

 Grasshopper Warbler in Hope Gap
 Spotted Flycatcher by Harry's Bush

 Willow Warblers adjacent to Harry's Bush
 male Redstart by South Hill Barn
Osprey over Sainsbury's - makes up for the supermarket being slightly more expensive then others!!

Monday, 29 August 2016

Seaford Head 29/8/16

A very cloudy morning and a northerly breeze wasn't enough for any fall of birds. I covered the normal sites but all too quickly I was home having seen very few migrants, with the only notable birds being a Grasshopper Warbler and three Redstarts. Hopefully tomorrow is better.

Totals are:

Wheatear - 3
Whinchat - 1
Willow Warbler - 11
Whitethroat - 26
Reed Warbler - 3
Yellow Wagtail - 11
Lesser Whitethroat - 9
Spotted Flycatcher - 1
Garden Warbler - 2
Redstart - 3
Grasshopper Warbler - 1
Chiffchaff - 2
Tree Pipit - 3
Hobby - 1
Swallow - 50 E

 Garden Warbler in Hope Gap
Redstart by Harry's Bush


Saturday, 27 August 2016

Seaford Head 27/8/16

With work commitments yet again I could only spend three hours on the head, although that was long enough to note a considerable drop in migrant numbers. Whilst contemplating this and wishing I had stayed in bed, I turned around and noticed a small Dove flying low over the cliffs towards me, which turned out to be a juv Turtle Dove. It flew into Hope Gap and seemed to settle but I couldn't re-locate it. This is only my second patch record, with the first being a juvenile last autumn. Other than this, a small flurry of Willow Warblers first thing and small groups of House Martins moving east were the only notable migrants. 

Totals are:

Willow Warbler - 30
Wheatear - 3
Yellow Wagtail - 34
Whinchat - 2
Whitethroat - 28
Reed Warbler - 2
Lesser Whitethroat - 2
Grey Wagtail - 2 E
Chiffchaff - 2
Garden Warbler - 1
Tree Pipit - 2
Turtle Dove - 1 N at 7.55
Sedge Warbler - 1
Red-legged Partridge - 4
Raven - 7 W
House Martin - 150
Swallow - 75

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Seaford Head 25/8/16

Yet again another morning with plenty of birds to see in yet more lovely conditions. No scarcity today but it was great to see my first Pied Flycatcher and Grasshopper Warbler of the autumn, two species that in theory should have been seen already. There were lots of House Martins today but going in no purposeful direction, with some going east whilst hugging the cliff edge, and other groups heading west a little bit inland. The sheep field by South Hill Barn now has plenty of Yellow Wagtails in, with a group of at least 70 birds.
Conditions felt perfect for a Honey Buzzard but work had me scuppering off earlier then I wanted, putting the raptor watch on hold 

Totals are:

Yellow Wagtail - 90
Tree Pipit - 7
Lesser Whitethroat - 9
Willow Warbler - 36
Whitethroat - 55
Wheatear - 12
Corn Bunting - 1
Whinchat - 3
Reed Warbler - 4
Blackcap - 7
Nightingale - 2
Grasshopper Warbler - 1
Hobby - 1 adult
Sedge Warbler - 3
Redstart - 1
Pied Flycatcher - 1
House Martin - ca. 600
Swallow - ca. 150
Swift - 2

Clouded Yellow - 5
Silver Spotted Skipper - 3

 Corn Bunting at the Dung Heap - not the Bunting I was hoping to encounter at first light
 A skulky Grasshopper Warbler in Hope Gap - just visible is the streaked crown and spotted undertail coverts
Wheatear at the Dung Heap




Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Seaford Head 24/8/16

The conditions felt very promising as I arrived on the headland today, and with a small wave of activity in the 'quarry', I was optimistic. Yet again a good selection of common migrants seen, and at long last and about time, a scarcity was found in the form of an Ortolan Bunting, that was first picked up by its very distinctive call as it flew low north and out of sight (details below). Unfortunately no raptors today but overhead were plenty of Swallows heading east, as well as plenty of Yellow Wagtails. A productive morning, and with the autumn still early, here's hoping for a few more goodies before its over.

Ortolan Bunting find: Whilst walking along the western path of Hope Gap with Bob, I heard the very distinctive single-note call of what I believed was an Ortolan Bunting. Picking the bird up straight away confirmed my initial thoughts as it revealed uniform faintly coloured underparts, and more importantly no white in the tail. Unfortunately, Bob managed to get onto the bird quite late on but still managed to see it. The bird called three to four times and carried on in a north-westerly direction towards the dung heap until out of view. This was at 08.45, but in the distance Phillip Wells was walking pretty quickly towards us as he (completely unbeknown to us) had photographed what he thought (and correctly so) was an Ortolan Bunting at the top of Hope Gap, roughly ten minutes beforehand feeding with some Chaffinches. He showed us his very gripping picture (see below) and the rest is history. A great bird to have on the patch, even better to find/co-find and if records are correct, this is the first Ortolan Bunting on Seaford Head since 1961!!

Totals are:

Willow Warbler - 22
Blackcap - 11
Lesser Whitethroat - 10
Reed Warbler - 14
Wheatear - 9
Whitethroat - 85
Whinchat - 6
Tree Pipit - 5
Grey Wagtail - 1
Sedge Warbler - 4
Yellow Wagtail - 80
Chiffchaff - 1
Ortolan Bunting - 1 N at 8.45, originally in Hope Gap at 8.32
Swift - 3
Nightingale - 3
Redstart - 1
Swallow - 200+ E
House Martin - 2 E
Sand Martin - 50 E

This evening down the Cuckmere produced a mass of Yellow Wagtails presumably going to roost. Totals are:

Yellow Wagtail - 170
Whinchat - 2
Wheatear - 7

 Wheatear above Hope Gap
 two Whinchats by South Hill Barn
juv. Ortolan Bunting in Hope Gap - thankfully captured here by Phillip Wells.
The bold streaking on the breast ages this bird as a juvenile.
Clouded Yellow in Hope Gap





Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Seaford Head 23/8/16

The first calm day for a short while was bound to produce some new arrivals, and with a fresh SE wind blowing the chance of a continental scarcity was good........but not for us today. A good range of species were seen today with one that possibly got away, when early on a Golden Plover seen in flight calling an obvious double-noted call (with more emphasis on the second syllable) flew across us heading north and quickly out of sight. Initial views revealed slightly paler underwing but with the low sun shining straight onto the underwing this could have over-exposed the colouration. No foot projection was seen but the bird wasn't close, though the call does match a Pacific Golden Plover, but with no other key features noted there's not much point going on really, though it could just have been a dodgy calling European Golden Plover. Of interest, a European Golden Plover was heard calling roughly four hours later by the coastguard cottages.
Probably the highlight of the morning was an Osprey that flew straight out to sea, though a preening Spoonbill was spotted on the scrape from the coastguard cottages, plus a good number of Reed Warblers were about although the goody still awaits.......hopefully!

Totals are:
Golden Plover sp. - 1 north at 6.35am
Willow Warbler - 25
Garden Warbler - 2
Yellow Wagtail - 36
Whitethroat - 45
Wheatear - 4
Tree Pipit - 3
Reed Warbler - 15
Nightingale - 3
Lesser Whitethroat - 5
Blackcap - 20
Redstart - 2
Spotted Flycatcher - 1
Chiffchaff - 2
Swift - 7
Osprey - 1 sth at 9.24am
Hobby - 1 adult
Swallow - 50 E
Sand Martin - 75 E

Spoonbill - 1 on scrape briefly this morning

This afternoon whilst writing this blog post, an Osprey flew NW over my Peacehaven garden, all thanks to the local Gulls for the alert.

 Osprey over Seaford Head - fantastic views
 a skulky Lesser Whitethroat in Hope Gap
 Reed Warbler in Hope Gap - best total of the autumn today with at least 15 birds seen
 Willow Warbler in Hope Gap
Hobby over Hope Gap




Saturday, 20 August 2016

Splash Point 20/8/16

With a strong passage of Balearic Shearwaters in the channel today, it wasn't a surprise I saw a handful late afternoon. All birds appeared very dark in cloudy conditions, and going east they were motoring shearing with the wind. Very little else moving. 

16.30-17.30 Wind SW 6-7
Balearic Shearwater - 4E (3@ 4.42 & 1@ 4.45)

Earlier in Thessaloniki over the terminal were several Pallid Swifts and Yellow-legged Gulls

Friday, 19 August 2016

Splash Point & Cuckmere Haven 19/8/16

After work and realising the wind was southerly I tried my luck on a seawatch but the murky weather put an end to that, so a walk down the Cuckmere that produced no new birds from yesterday other than an eclipse Wigeon on the scrape. 
Another seawatch once the weather had cleared was far more productive with the following seen between 18.20-19.30

Arctic Skua - 5 incl one l/p bird continuously offshore. 
Manx Shearwater - 1 (anticipating a Balearic I was somewhat disappointed)
Common Tern - 50 incl many juvs
Gannet - 47
Sandwich Tern - 7

Harbour Porpoise - 1

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Cuckmere Haven 18/8/16

Quite typically the first morning I work in months coincides with a decent fall of common migrants on Seaford Head, and then to add salt into the wounds, a Great White Egret was on the scrape in the morning only. All very frustrating but I was pleased to get down the Cuckmere this evening seeing the following:

Whinchat - 3
Greenshank - 4
Green Sandpiper - 2
Dunlin - 22
Common Sandpiper - 2

 Whinchat by the scrape
 looking west towards Seaford Head with the scrape in between. Having not known about the GW Egret sighting (no surprise there really) at the time I could enjoy the view.
Foxhole Farm looking typically rare hidden in the valley

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Seaford Head 17/8/16

Much breezier then what I was expecting this morning and there was little change from yesterday in terms of migrants. Four Red-legged Partridge were on the approach road to the barn, and upon arrival a small number of Willow Warblers were moving inland. Finally the first Whinchat of the autumn arrived and by late morning a small easterly flurry of Swallows, Sand Martins and a couple of Swifts were seen. As Portland were reporting small groups of Balearics passing I made an hours visit to Splash Point, first checking out Hawk's Brow where there were some Clouded Yellows, including one of the helice form. A 45 minute seawatch didn't produce the hoped for Balearic, though conditions out to sea looked very promising, and no doubt more time would have a produced one.

Totals are:

Red-legged Partridge - 4
Whitethroat - 35
Wheatear - 6
Willow Warbler - 30
Grey Plover - 1 E
Garden Warbler - 2
Yellow Wagtail - 6 E
Blackcap - 4
Reed Warbler - 4
Spotted Flycatcher - 1
Lesser Whitethroat - 3
Whinchat - 1
Redstart - 1
Corn Bunting - 1
Swift - 3 E
Swallow - 20 E
Sand Martin - 3 E

Splash Point  10.45-11.30 Wind E3:

Sandwich Tern - 3 E
Gannet - 1 E
Common Scoter - 2 drks o/s

 Willow Warbler in Hope Gap
 Reed Warbler at coastguard cottages
 Garden Warbler in Hope Gap
 Swift over South Hill Barn
 Wheatear at Hawks Brow
helice Clouded Yellow at Hawks Brow





Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Seaford Head 16/8/16

Another lovely morning and in the car park a few different migrant species were present so I had high hopes, but it wasn't a mega morning though again a good mix of species were seen, and with the odd Melodious and Greenish turning up there is always a chance of finding a goody. An obvious arrival of Whitethroats was apparent today. A good mix of Butterflies today including Clouded Yellows and Silver Spotted Skippers around the Hope Gap area. The first Redstart for a few days was found in the quarry when leaving the car park, spotted by glancing back through the rear window and noticing a small movement. The Cuckmere was filled with people so I gave it a miss.

Totals are:

Wheatear - 4
Tree Pipit - 4 E
Reed Warbler - 2
Willow Warbler - 13
Whitethroat - 40
Yellow Wagtail - 1 E
Snipe - 2 E
Lesser Whitethroat - 6
Garden Warbler - 4
Blackcap - 7
Nightingale - 2
Spotted Flycatcher - 1
Redstart - 1

Clouded Yellow - 3
Silver Spotted Skipper - 1
Brown Argus - 1
Small Tortoiseshell - 5 (a fresh emergence/arrival noted)

Last night I visited Hindleap, Ashdown Forest on the way back from work and luckily found a Nightjar, me thinking that they may have already moved on.

Nightingale in Hope Gap - nice to get a shot that isn't a Willow Warbler. This bird was just sitting out when originally spotted, making a change from the long staying individual at the top of the Gap that has only been seen once in maybe two weeks.


Sunday, 14 August 2016

Seaford Head 14/8/16

With a slight change in wind direction I was keen to get on the headland this morning. There was more variety today with the first noteworthy species being a small group of three Snipe flying west and a high-flying Tree Pipit, giving me some hope of diurnal passage but it never picked up, though the first Yellow Wagtails were good to see. Another small drop of Willow Warblers was apparent. A very enjoyable morning however and with the wind coming from the continent next week, there might finally be something good to search for.

Totals are:

Snipe - 3 W
Tree Pipit - 4 E
Wheatear - 1
Spotted Flycatcher - 1
Nightingale - 1
Yellow Wagtail - 3 E
Whitethroat - 30
Lesser Whitethroat - 3
Blackcap - 5
Willow Warbler - 42
Chiffchaff - 1
Reed Warbler - 2
Sedge Warbler - 1
Corn Bunting - 1 N

 Raven over the coastguards
a distant Spotted Flycatcher at Harry's Bush

Friday, 12 August 2016

Seaford Head 12/8/16

A lovely morning to be out but I could only cover half the circuit due to work. Another fresh arrival of birds but not the numbers of earlier in the week. As the season is progressing a few 'firsts' of the autumn are appearing, but other species are slow to get going, with today noting no Acros at all, and still no Groppers seen yet. Very little moving overhead today and by mid-morning the area became quiet due to the strengthening westerly wind.

Totals are:

Tree Pipit - 1
Nightingale - 2
Corn Bunting - 3 N
Redstart - 1
Whitethroat - 30
Lesser Whitethroat - 10
Blackcap - 5
Garden Warbler - 1
Willow Warbler - 45
Chiffchaff - 1


 Willow Warblers in Hope Gap
Whitethroat in Hope Gap


Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Seaford Head & Cuckmere Haven 9/8/16

Looking out the window this morning I nearly went back to bed as the wind was apparent. However, I gave it a go and I'm very pleased I did. Arriving at the car park with Bob, Willow Warblers were moving continuously inland which is always a good sign. The flow of migrants carried on throughout the morning with an obvious arrival of Sylvia Warblers being present, especially Garden Warblers. The highlight by far was finding a stunning Wood Warbler in Harry's Bush, this being my first autumn record here. As the area warmed up Hirundines started moving west in moderate numbers, and leaving the car park a Marsh Harrier flew over which rounded off a successful visit.

Totals are:

Wood Warbler - 1 Harry's Bush
Spotted Flycatcher - 2
Nightingale - 1 juv
Redstart - 1
Whitethroat - 21
Lesser Whitethroat - 9
Garden Warbler - 10
Blackcap - 6
Willow Warbler - 70
Chiffchaff - 3
Sedge Warbler - 2
Reed Warbler - 3
Wheatear - 1
Marsh Harrier - 1 juv/fem W at 10.25
Sand Martin - ca. 100
Swallow - ca. 75

Cuckmere produced a new arrival of Waders along the river with totals of:

Knot - 1
Common Sandpiper - 2
Dunlin - 40
Black-tailed Godwit - 1
Redshank - 8 (one tight flock mainly consisting of juvs)

Yesterday in Milan I saw an adult Night Heron, Hooded Crows and butterflies consisted of Scarce Swallowtails, Clouded Yellow and an unidentified White.


 Wood Warbler in Harry's Bush - having seen three spring birds, it's about time an autumn bird showed up
 Willow Warbler in Hope Gap - largest total of the autumn so far
 Garden Warbler in Hope Gap
 Marsh Harrier over Seaford Head
 s/p Knot with Redshank
Black-tailed Godwit & Redshank in the Cuckmere




Saturday, 6 August 2016

Seaford Head 6/8/16

Unfortunately missed yesterday's calm conditions, but was pleased to get up on the head this morning where a small flurry of inbound Willow Warblers were evident upon arrival. These turned out to be the theme of the morning. Still very few Sylvia Warblers about but the first Garden Warblers were good to see. Not much else around and after the area had walmed up it became very quiet. I however could've spent longer walking around but work commitments as per usual gets in the way.

Totals are:

Nightingale - 1
Redstart - 1
Whitethroat - 13
Lesser Whitethroat - 3
Garden Warbler - 3
Blackcap - 6
Willow Warbler - 60
Reed Warbler - 6
Sand Martin - 42 W
House Martin - 2 W

 Willow Warbler in Hope Gap
 Reed Warbler in Hope Gap
Redstart by Harry's Bush


Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Cuckmere Haven & Newhaven Harbour 3/8/16

Still too windy for the headland so the same routine as yesterday, resisting the easy twitch to Devon for a Least Sandpiper. The Cuckmere was again quiet. A small movement of Gulls moving down the valley and out to sea held a juv. Yellow-legged Gull, but other than this not much with the following totals:

Yellow-legged Gull - 1 juv
Dunlin - 23
Common Sandpiper - 1
Hobby - 1

This afternoon in strong sunlight I could only find one Yellow-legged Gull among the larger numbers of Herring Gulls at Newhaven West Beach. Maybe I should've gone to Devon!!


 Dunlin show very well this time of year

 juv. Yellow-legged Gull in the Cuckmere - a very long-winged individual appearing larger then the accompanying Herring Gull (out of shot)
 juv. Yellow-legged Gull - I actually picked this bird out by it's tertial patterning, not very cool!! The bird is on the far left and appears larger and longer then the juv. Herring Gulls to the right.
juv. Yellow-legged Gull at Newhaven Harbour