Zino's Petrel off Madeira - June 2018

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Monday, 30 October 2017

Seaford Head & Cuckmere Haven 30/10/17

My last day before a week of earlies was superb weather wise, and with regards to the birds it was ok. Due to the clear and biting cold conditions early on there was a good selection of stuff moving over. Upon arrival Fieldfare and Redwings dominated, and then Bramblings started to get going that soon turned to be a personal record count at this site. Very little else was grounded however with the long staying Treecreeper being the highlight.

Afterwards the Cuckmere and Haven Brow loop produced a few bits that are locally noteworthy.

Seaford Head

Fieldfare - 10 W
Redwing - 40 W
Brambling - 28 W
Snipe - 2 W
Corn Bunting - 1 W
Redpoll - 75 E
Siskin - 20 E
Bullfinch - 1h
House Martin - 1
Swallow - 1
Treecreeper - 1
Firecrest - 1

Cuckmere Haven

Shoveler - 1
Water Rail - 1
Redshank - 23
Dunlin - 4
Brambling - 1
Swallow - 4


some of the Bramblings from this morning. Annually I struggle to get over ten in a day in October, so today was exceptional. Its been a good month for Finches here but little in the way of anything else.
Shoveler mixed in with the Wigeon and Teal on the river
aircraft sp. over the Cuckmere










Friday, 27 October 2017

Seaford Head & Cuckmere Haven 27/10/17

The first 90 minutes this morning was exactly what I wanted from the first clear morning for many days. Birds were very much on the move, especially Redpolls and I assume I counted a site record today, with some flocks up to 40 birds. Some other noteworthy Finches also moved over but once again there were no Hawfinches (glad I saw some two weeks ago here). Away from the Finches, two Barnacle Geese flying over was something of a surprise. Passage came to a halt once the sun was fully up. Also good to see the first flocks of Woodpigeons gathering.

I moved onto the Cuckmere after including the full Haven Brow loop seeing more Goldcrests and two Snipe flew west over Haven Brow.

Totals for the Head are:

Redpoll - 318 W
Firecrest - 3
Bullfinch - 1 N
Redwing - ca. 20
Brambling - 4
Reed Bunting - 15
Woodpigeon - ca. 1500
Barnacle Geese - 2 E
Merlin - 1 fem

 a shimmer of Redpolls above Hope Bottom - serves me right for having the wrong camera settings
 two Barnacle Geese over Hope Bottom
 Firecrest in Hope Gap

 Bullfinch over Hope Bottom - once a regular sighting but now a very good bird to get here
a one-eyed Goldcrest on Haven Brow

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Seaford Head  24/10/17

Grim conditions this morning but finally found my first Ring Ouzel of the autumn. It's not normally a highlight but this autumn has been dire so certainly worthy of a mention. Also of interest in Hope Bottom this morning was a Common Whitethroat and a Treecreeper. Thankfully the autumn is nearly over!

Common Whitethroat in Hope Bottom

Today (25th) a Short-eared Owl flew west over Seaford Head this morning but nothing else was seen of any interest. I stopped off at Newhaven Harbour on the way home and had a 1w Yellow-legged Gull and 2 1w Mediterranean Gulls on the beach. Also three colour-ringed Gulls were present but I could only get details on a first-winter Great Black-backed Gull, but despite trying I couldn't get details on the Med. Gull or an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull, both of which would have been much more interesting.



 first-winter Yellow-legged Gull in Newhaven Harbour
first-winter Mediterranean Gull in Newhaven Harbour


Monday, 16 October 2017

Seaford Head & Cuckmere Haven 16/10/17

With being on standby this morning and knowing I'd probably survive I did my normal circuit and thankfully didn't get called. The area held good numbers of Goldcrests today with the odd Firecrest also seen, but nothing like the numbers down in Dorset. Finches again were passing overhead but just the likely species encountered today.

The Cuckmere held a single Firecrest and Willow Warbler at Foxhole with a further 15 Goldcrest also scattered around the area.

I was going to head out this pm but the Sahara desert arrived in force making all the Gulls go to roost early and no doubt most other things, but the intensity of 'dust' was very cool.

With southerly winds dominating this week a Pallas's must be on the cards!!

Totals for Seaford Head are:

Firecrest - 4
Goldcrest - 42
Chiffchaff - 4
Blackcap - 3
Redpoll - 30 over
Siskin - 5 over
Plus large numbers of the commoner Finches and a few flocks of Starlings moving east as well.


Firecrest in Hope Bottom
Willow Warbler at Foxhole Farm

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Seaford Head 15/10/17

With the wind hitting a SE direction overnight and with clear conditions to start of with myself and Marc Read set off full of hope on the Head, where straight away there was a reasonable passage of Finches moving over. There was however little on the ground and optimism soon turned. Thankfully the news feed on the bird services were stating there was another good passage of Hawfinches moving, again mainly in the inland counties. With this in mind we sat at the top of Hope Bottom to watch various Finch flocks moving over, when out of nowhere I looked up to see a small group of birds dropping out of the sky that soon revealed themselves to be five superb Hawfinches. They circled Hope Bottom and came quite close and disappeared behind the bushes. A brilliant patch tick, just a shame the camera didn't want to focus on them.

After a bit more scanning with little else, I walked Tide Mills seeing nothing where news then filtered through of a probable Izzy Wheatear at Beachy. Arriving on site there was no sign, so instead of looking, I went and had a green tea and biscuits round Roger and Liz's, which was by far the highlight of my first visit to Beachy this year!

Totals for Seaford Head:

Willow Warbler - 1
Chiffchaff - 8
Brambling - 4
Golden Plover - 1 over
Yellowhammer - 1 over
Hawfinch - 5 over
Mistle Thrush - 1 over
Lesser Redpoll - 10 over
Siskin - 4

 Brambling in Hope Bottom
Mistle Thrush over Hope Bottom

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Seaford Head, Cuckmere & Newhaven Heights 14/10/17

This week has been pretty grim in terms of birding and the birds on offer. Sussex in October is difficult at the best of times but when dominated by SW winds its very hard going and from my point of view its been the worst October I can remember.

Today I did Seaford Head and the Cuckmere including the Haven Brow loop and found nothing of any note, and even small numbers of the common migrants. Thankfully this evening along the cliffs between Peacehaven and Newhaven I found two Dartford Warblers, bringing some form of joy to the week. The rough field I regularly check here held one Dartford, and also 18 Corn Buntings a few days ago.

In the week I went out most days with Thursday being the brightest, but even the still morning conditions brought nothing better then a Merlin in the Cuckmere and a small westerly movement of Jays walking the same circuit as above. Anyway tomorrow could be ok with the wind changing to a SE overnight, and with stacks of Hawfinches moving in the inland counties and on Scilly, one would be very welcome tomorrow, as would anything with some form of rarity status.

This Dartford was more confiding then the individual below. Mid to late October is the best time to find migrant Dartfords. 
Dartford in the roug field, and due to the large size of the field, it remained very flighty. 
Fox along Peacehaven cliffs



Thursday, 5 October 2017

Isles of Scilly 5/10/17

After a very long week at work with plenty of sleep deprived nights thrown in for good measure, last night I landed at LGW and drove straight down to Penzance to catch the Scillonian III over to the Scillies.

The crossing was quiet with just 2 Storm Petrels seen and was increasingly uncomfortable as the journey went on.

Once docked, myself and others quickly boarded the boat to St Agnes and briskly walked over to the other side of the island where we were rewarded with good views of the CEDAR WAXWING. Being in juvenile plumage I was surprised on how striking it looked, a real stunner. Whilst watching this, a Yellow-browed Warbler dropped in from who knows where and joined the Waxwing for a short time before carrying on elsewhere.

Having had good views I left the island to twitch a Vagrant Emperor, a new species of Dragonfly for me. It was a long walk but upon arrival an Emperor was on view, with later on a second Vagrant Emperor joining the first.

With Ian, we walked around the other sites that held a Cliff Swallow, Isabelline Wheatear and an American Golden Plover.

An excellent day but now just looking forward to chilling out tomorrow walking around the north part of St Mary's in the hope of finding a mega yank.

Unfortunately the mega yank didn't materialise, or anything for that matter. A real hard slog around the north of the island produced hardly anything, with the most notable birds being two Merlins and a couple of Firecrest. However the weather was superb and it was nice to walk around in pleasant conditions.

My last day was much the same but with drizzly weather. With regret I caught the Scillonian Saturday evening seeing singles of Balearic and Sooty Shearwater. The journey back home was good and I made it back in 4hr 40mins alongside Jamie Partridge who's flight had been cancelled and had no way back of getting back towards London. A very successful three days, and with now a stonking male Siberian Blue Robin on Orkney, who knows what's next.


 juv Cedar Waxwing on St Agnes
Vagrant Emperor on St. Mary's. A real surprise and added bonus to my three days

Cliff Swallow on St. Mary's - my second in the UK and almost in the exact spot I saw my first.
Isabelline Wheatear on St. Mary's
Merlin on St. Mary's. After walking around the island for most of the day I had a little nap on a headland, and then woke up to this beauty next to me.
 Yellow-browed Warbler on St. Mary's
Spotted Crake on St. Mary's





Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Peacehaven Wryneck 3/10/17

Been very busy at work this week so yesterday I walked a recently ploughed field behind Peacehaven sewage works where there were plenty of Pipits and Wagtails. Roll on 24 hrs and there were very few birds about other than a flighty Wryneck which eventually showed well on a fencepost, and straight after 2 Continental Coal Tits moved quickly up the hedgerow pictured below. A very productive hour on a random bit of land. No camera however other then the phone.