Zino's Petrel off Madeira - June 2018

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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

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