Magnolia Warbler - Ohio, May 2017

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Saturday, 23 September 2017

Seaford Head, Peacehaven & Cuckmere Haven 23/9/17

This morning on the Head was dire and I soon became bored and went home. I chilled for the rest of the morning but soon became bored indoors so I walked the cliffs between Peacehaven and Newhaven, and although the birding was quiet, I was fortunate to spot a superb Convolvulus Hawk Moth in the short grass along the cliff top. I moved it to a safer position out of harms way. Previous to this I had received a phonecall from Tim Squire who had found a Grey Phalarope in the Cuckmere, and spent an enjoyable hour with the bird as it showed down to a few feet. I had joked with Tim earlier on in the day to find me a Red-necked Phalarope in the Cuckmere, so not a bad outcome.

Seaford Head:

Chiffchaff - 44
Grey Wagtail - 2
Yellow Wagtail - 4
Goldcrest - 15
Spotted Flycatcher - 1
Blackcap - 26
Whinchat - 1
Reed Bunting - 2
Whitethroat - 1

Cuckmere Haven:
Grey Phalarope
Wigeon - 8
Teal - 1
Tufted Duck - 1

Spotted Flycatcher by Harry's Bush

Convolvulus Hawk Moth at Peacehaven
the group of Wigeon to arrive in the Cuckmere

Grey Phalarope in the Cuckmere - the second in 11 days!

Friday, 22 September 2017

Seaford Head & Cuckmere Haven 22/9/17

The morning started off very well with plenty of birds moving overhead and Chiffchaffs moving inland, but everything came to a halt abruptly and from then on it was hard work. The Cuckmere was devoid of anything other then a lost Lapwing that soon departed west. Hirundines were very abundant throughout the morning. Despite lots of searching the birds aren't giving themselves up easily. Roll on tomorrow.......

Totals for Seaford Head are:

Yellow Wagtail - 45
Chiffchaff - 37
Goldcrest - 6
Reed Bunting - 6 over
Grey Wagtail - 5
Blackcap - 30
Whitethroat - 5
Sedge Warbler - 1
Wheatear - 2
Lesser Whitethroat - 1

Yellow Wagtails by South Hill Barn
Sedge Warbler in Hope Gap
Lapwing over the Cuckmere

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Local Stuff 21/9/17

I teamed up with Marc Read for most of the day and we concentrated on most of the local sites, but the strong southerly wind made birding hard work, and despite 7.5 hours in the field there was little to show for our efforts.
Sites visited were Seaford Head, Cuckmere Haven, Crowlink, Arlington Reservoir, Tide Mills and a half hour seawatch off from Peacehaven.

Highlights for the day are:

White Wagtail - 4 (Foxhole)
Redstart - 2
Little Stint - 3
Marsh Harrier
Merlin (Arlington)
Arctic Skua - 1
Common Scoter - 4

 Firecrest at Crowlink

 Redstart at Crowlink
 Marsh Harrier at Arlington
 Common Sandpiper at Arlington

 Little Stint at Arlington
Whinchat at Tide Mills

Monday, 18 September 2017

Cuckmere Haven 18/9/17

Up late today due to working late last night so the Cuckmere was the option of the day. Not too much about but a Knot on the meanders along with 9 Dunlin was nice. An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was along the river. Work again this pm so regrettably no twitch to Norfolk today.

 Knot on the meanders
Lesser Black-backed Gull along the river

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Seaford Head 17/9/17

Unfortunately fog greeted my arrival on the Head this morning, and it stuck around until I had left. This obviously resulted in low numbers of grounded migrants and nothing moving overhead, though the odd flock of House Martins were heard moving over. With work later this was all I had time for today.

Totals are as follows:

Wheatear - 2
Goldcrest - 5
Whitethroat - 11
Reed Warbler - 2
Grey Wagtail - 1
Chiffchaff - 35
Blackcap - 36
Firecrest - 1

Stoat - 1

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Lodmoor RSPB, Dorset 12/9/17

After work I twitched the American duo in Dorset then spent a few days with the family in Devon. Both birds showed well and were both belated UK ticks.

Great White Egret - 1

Monday, 11 September 2017

Cuckmere Haven 11/9/17

After work this afternoon I resisted on having a nap and went down the Cuckmere to hopefully find a Grey Phalarope. On the way to the beach I checked every body of water, but it wasn't until I reached the scrape that my luck came in. Alongside the northern bank was a dainty Grey Phalarope, a long overdue find for me. The bird was very skittish and flew around twice and calling quietly but repeatedly as it did. A superb bird! Other then this the area was quiet.

Earlier today in Montenegro a Black Kite flew over the airport, as did some Hooded Crows.

 Grey Phalarope at Cuckmere Haven this evening
it was mainly keeping close to the northern bank of the scrape

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Seaford Head & Cuckmere Haven 9/9/17

A longish day out in the field today but little to show for my efforts. The Head was good this morning but just the standard migrants in relatively good numbers, although Yellow Wagtails have completely dropped off, and unfortunately little was moving overhead. Blackcaps yet again dominated in Hope Gap, and Whitethroats were rather abundant today. Willow Warblers (mainly adults) were also trying to compete for the most common Phyllosc but were outnumbered.
Afterwards I walked all of Cuckmere Haven and up onto the top of Haven Brow with just a Whinchat and 13 Dunlin present.
After a few domestic duties at home I walked the cliff between Peacehaven and Newhaven but with the strong wind nothing of note was seen.

Yesterday in the heavy rain the Cuckmere was quiet despite the hopes of a Phalarope or another far-flung Wader. A seawatch was also a waste of time so I ran 17 miles instead in preparation for the Beachy Head marathon later next month.

Totals for the Head are:

Yellow Wagtail - 4
Whitethroat - 32
Willow Warbler - 10
Blackcap - 100
Whinchat - 2
Sedge Warbler - 1
Chiffchaff - 25
Goldcrest - 2
Lesser Whitethroat - 6
Reed Warbler - 4
Tree Pipit - 1
Redstart - 3
Garden Warbler - 1
Wheatear - 2

 Willow Warblers in Hope Bottom
Redstart east of Hope Gap - a few years ago in this exact position was a Wryneck.
Fox alongside Peacehaven Cliffs
Whinchat on Seaford Head on 7/9

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Seaford Head 7/9/17

A calm but gloomy start to the day that never brightened up until late morning, and then the wind got up. Despite the first calm morning for a while there wasn't as much as I was expecting, but still a relatively active morning. Hope Gap was filled with Blackcaps but much smaller numbers of everything else. Yellow Wagtails were very conspicuous and in relatively sizeable groups. The first Reed Buntings of the autumn were noted moving overhead. Looking down into the Cuckmere I could see several people dipping the Baird's who then went on to search other areas in the valley, so I decided to go home.

Totals are:

Whinchat - 3
Yellow Wagtail - 70W
Chiffchaff - 17
Blackcap - 120
Whitethroat - 13
Tree Pipit - 1
Reed Bunting - 2W
Goldcrest - 2
Reed Warbler - 4
Lesser Whitethroat - 4
Willow Warbler - 1
Redstart - 1
Grey Wagtail - 4W
Sedge Warbler - 1
Wheatear - 3

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Cuckmere Haven 3/9/17

A stressful 1200 mile twitch from Sofia, Bulgaria to see this Baird's Sandpiper, representing the 8th record for Sussex. Another great find by Andrew Whitcomb to whom I'm very grateful for a phonecall, even if I was in the wrong country.

After watching the Baird's, it was great to bump into Tony Hukin, who I spent 8 days with in Ethiopia back in 2012. 

juv. Baird's Sandpiper

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Gibraltar & Newhaven Heights

Flew to Gibraltar this morning where upon opening the aircraft door I instantly noticed a few raptors heading towards the rock. It soon became apparent that they were Honey Buzzards and I must have seen up to 40 birds within ten minutes.

This afternoon after work I walked the cliffs between Peacehaven and Newhaven (a route I've been doing in the autumn every so often for a few years now) and found an elusive Wryneck in some dense scrub just west of the chalets at Newhaven Heights. Little else about however.

Wryneck at Newhaven Heights

Friday, 1 September 2017

Seaford Head 1/9/17

Unfortunately my last day off today after what has been an excellent week of birding and various other bits. I guess I used all my luck on day 1 finding a Hoopoe and then finding a good variety of migrants, at times in good numbers after that. This morning wasn't too bad but without the goody that Seaford Head ever so often lacks. Still a very good variety today. 

Totals are: 

Wheatear - 11
Whinchat - 3
Yellow Wagtail - 15
Willow Warbler - 13
Whitethroat - 28
Lesser Whitethroat - 9
Grey Wagtail - 1W
Chiffchaff - 5
Blackcap - 70
Tree Pipit - 1
Garden Warbler - 2
Merlin - 1
Reed Warbler - 4
Redstart - 1
Grasshopper Warbler - 1
Goldcrest - 1
Spotted Flycatcher - 1

Photos to be added tomorrow. 

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Seaford Head 31/8/17

An enjoyable morning today with several good flocks of migrants located at various parts of the route. Sparrowhawks are very conspicuous at the moment and I witnessed two successful hunts today, one of which was on a Wheatear. For the first time this autumn the sound of Chiffchaffs was widespread and numbers finally reached double figures, however a sound I wasn't expecting was when a flushed Grasshopper Warbler started reeling for a few seconds. Blackcaps are really building up now and easily over 100 were counted today, but getting an actual count is as usual impossible. Finally, our first Merlin of the autumn flew through.

Afterwards I cycled my usual 12 mile route over the downs, and it seems the day I missed during the week was the day a single Dotterel was found alongside a Golden Plover on one of the fields. At least the farmer is aware of these birds passing through.

Totals for Seaford Head are:

Wheatear - 10
Yellow Wagtail - 15
Whitethroat - 31
Willow Warbler - 19
Chiffchaff - 14
Spotted Flycatcher - 2
Reed Warbler - 4
Lesser Whitethroat - 10
Blackcap - 110
Grasshopper Warbler - 2
Redstart - 2
Garden Warbler - 1
Merlin - 1 fem

 Chiffchaff by South Hill Barn
 Wheatears by South Hill Barn

 Grasshopper Warbler in Hope Bottom
 Blackcap in Hope Bottom
 Garden Warbler by Harry's Bush
 Lesser Whitethroat on a coastguard cottage
Willow Warbler at South Hill Barn

Monday, 28 August 2017

Seaford Head & Halcombe Farm 28/8/17

Another morning on the Headland but it was by far the quietest of the four days so far. The only decent bird was the Wryneck that done the decent thing and hung around another day. However as soon as it saw me it flew off into the bushes but kept a constant eye on me. I therefore retreated and carried on with my circuit.  

The whole area however was fairly quiet and all too soon I was back at home and on my bike to cycle to the Queen of Spain Fritillaries nearby. However, despite the rarity value its always underwhelming knowing that this local population is more like of a dubious origin rather then the real thing.

Totals for Seaford Head are:

Yellow Wagtail - 37
Whinchat - 1
Wheatear - 6
Willow Warbler - 25
Lesser Whitethroat - 5
Whitethroat - 17
Tree Pipit - 1
Blackcap - 40
Reed Warbler - 5
Chiffchaff - 3
Wryneck - 1
Sedge Warbler - 1
Spotted Flycatcher - 1

 Wryneck in Hope Bottom
 Wheatear at South Hill Barn
 Spotted Flycatcher at Coastguard Cottages

Queen of Spain Fritillary at Peacehaven

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Seaford Head 27/8/17

A very enjoyable morning today with plenty of variety on offer. Straight away it was obvious there were more birds around then yesterday with a few inbound Willow Warblers and Blackcaps making themselves known. With it being so murky out to sea I wasn't expecting any raptor movement, and despite no large raptors the highlight of the morning came in the form of a Sparrowhawk spotted way up flying directly out to sea with plenty of purpose until lost to view. Other then that the standard migrants seen with nothing unusual in the mix.

This afternoon I was halfway up to the hills above Saltdean etc. when I received a text stating a Wryneck had been found in Hope Gap. Annoyingly I decided to try for it and dipped, and wishing I had carried on cycling.

Totals are:

Willow Warbler - 36
Tree Pipit - 4
Wheatear - 4
Yellow Wagtail - 95
Blackcap - 45
Whitethroat - 19
Sedge Warbler - 2
Redstart - 3
Reed Warbler - 5
Nightingale - 1
Grey Wagtail - 1
Chiffchaff - 4
Lesser Whitethroat - 5
Whinchat - 3
Spotted Flycatcher - 1
Hobby - 1
Sparrowhawk - 5 incl. 1 south out to sea
Grasshopper Warbler - 1

Sedge Warbler in Hope Gap
Whinchat in Hope Gap
Yellow Wagtail by Harry's Bush
Reed Warbler in Hope Gap
Sparrowhawk above Hope Gap
Wheatear by South Hill Barn