Lesser Florican - August 2023

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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

Saturday 26 August 2017

Seaford Head 26/8/17

A pleasant morning with Richard and John, but despite plenty of variety today, numbers of most species were exceptionally low after what was obviously a major clear out of migrants. The only notable presence was that of the Blackcaps that were moving around in one flock. Once again Hirundines were moving in good numbers with a couple more Swift thrown in.

With Laurence having seen a couple of HBs over at Beachy my neck is now slightly hurting with no reward.

This afternoon a longish bike ride out the back of Saltdean etc produced 27 Wheatears (incl. a flock of 18), numerous Yellow Wagtails and 3 Whinchat. Another good day though with still another 7 days off ahead of me.

Totals for Seaford Head are:

Wheatear - 6
Chiffchaff - 6
Yellow Wagtail - 50
Blackcap - ca. 80
Willow Warbler - 16
Green Sandpiper - 2 west
Reed Warbler - 5
Whitethroat - 12
Goldcrest - 2
Lesser Whitethroat - 4
Golden Plover - 1 heard only
Garden Warbler - 1
Snipe - 1 west
Whinchat - 1
Swift - 4
Spotted Flycatcher - 3
Redstart - 1

 sunrise on Seaford Head, although it soon clouded over adding to the difficulty of finding anything today.
 the left hand corner of this field held 18 Wheatears

Friday 25 August 2017

Seaford Head 25/8/17

A very productive morning with good numbers of grounded and overhead migrants. The first half hour of daylight was dominated by inbound Willow Warblers, but numbers of these soon fizzled down leaving a good variety that included our first decent number of Blackcaps moving in one big wave like they always do creating quite a sight. An immature Spoonbill was found roosting on the west side of the Cuckmere viewed from the headland. By 10am Swallows were moving west in good numbers. A very satisfying morning.

Around 1pm at Newhaven Sainsbury's an Osprey flew NW. This is the third sighting of an Osprey at this sight since last August, obviously a hot spot for them.

This afternoon I kayaked from Southease to Hamsey (just north of Lewes) and saw 2 Hobbies, 8 Common Sandpipers and stacks of Swallows and Yellow Wagtails.

Totals for Seaford Head are:

Tree Pipit - 4
Wheatear - 4
Yellow Wagtail - 110 (mainly moving east with one flock of 40 recorded)
Redstart - 2
Whitethroat - 25
Willow Warbler - 90
Blackcap - 62
Spotted Flycatcher - 3
Grasshopper Warbler - 1
Reed Warbler - 8
Chiffchaff - 6
Lesser Whitethroat - 5
Garden Warbler - 4
Spoonbill - 1
Sedge Warbler - 1
Swift - 2

 Wheatear at South Hill Barn
 Sedge Warbler at Coastguard Cottages

 Spoonbill in Lower Cuckmere
Swift over South Hill Barn

Thursday 24 August 2017

Cuckmere Haven 24/08/17

Despite numerous visits in the past 8 days, today was the first day to have a bit of change avian wise. New in on the scrape were a Black-tailed Godwit and my first sighting of a Water Rail this autumn, and along the reeds a Spotted Flycatcher was present. Still, only 7 Dunlin were present (52 present on the 17th). Looping back over through Foxhole Farm produced the same Whinchat and male Redstart from yesterday, but then I noticed a Crow chasing  the unmistakable shape of a Hoopoe. I was amazed and quickly ran off a series of photos but thankfully the bird settled down and up until near dusk it showed well feeding in the sheep field above the track leading towards Foxhole Farm. A major find tick after years of hoping to find one on every single spring visit to either here or Seaford Head.

Other visits have found a colony of 30+ Autumns Lady's Tresses, 3 Teal (17th) and five Sandwich Tern and 2 Little Grebe on the 21st.

Totals for this evening:

Black-tailed Godwit - 1
Water Rail - 1
Common Sandpiper - 1
Spotted Flycatcher - 1
Hoopoe - 1
Whinchat - 1
Yellow Wagtail - 100+
Wheatear - 15

Spotted Flycatcher by the scrape

Wednesday 16 August 2017

Upper Cuckmere  16/8/17

Probably no better way to start a day then a world tick. Just as I was getting up for work, this superb juv AQUATIC WARBLER was trapped and ringed at Charleston Reedbed this morning, and much to my delight a good friend kindly invited me in to take a look at it. 

This is the tenth record for the Cuckmere Valley and 7th (?) for the site, and a brilliant reward for the hard work put in to maintaining this ringing site. A huge thanks to the Charleston Reedbed ringing group, although going to work smelling like a ditch was far from ideal. 

Besides the obvious features such as the central crown stripe and mantle stripes, the pale lores, lack of streaking to the sides of the breast and straw-coloured look easily separate this from Sedge Warbler.
juv/1st winter Aquatic Warbler at Charleston Reedbed

Tuesday 15 August 2017

Upper Cuckmere 15/8/17

After running 14 miles this morning I was a bit at a loss of what to do, so decided on twitching the Cattle Egret just south of Litlington. It showed nicely viewed from the layby on the Litlington Road south of the village.

 Cattle Egret in the Cuckmere
High and Over in the distance

Monday 14 August 2017

Seaford Head 14/8/17

A much quieter day today (despite the lovely clear and calm conditions) with almost the same variety as yesterday but just smaller numbers of migrants, apart from Whitethroats which were everywhere. In fact it was a great sight seeing so many in Hope Gap. Outside of the Gap, there was little to see and only the odd bits were noted moving overhead, with Yellow Wagtails slowly but surely starting to get going.

Totals are:

Whitethroat - 85
Yellow Wagtail - 10
Wheatear - 6
Willow Warbler - 9
Tree Pipit - 2
Reed Warbler - 5
Blackcap - 16
Nightingale - 3
Chiifchaff - 2
Lesser Whitethroat - 5
Garden Warbler - 4
Redstart - 1 male
Spotted Flycatcher - 1

Autumns Ladys Tresses - 1
Silver Spotted Skipper - 6

 Yellow Wagtail in Hope Gap
 Willow Warbler in Hope Gap
 Silver Spotted Skipper on Seaford Head
Autumns Ladys Tresses on Seaford Head
lower section of Hope Gap

Sunday 13 August 2017

Seaford Head 13/8/17

At long last a day off when the weather is suitable for migrants. My first visit this autumn to start my 14th consecutive year of birding Seaford Head in the autumn (and the first time I've missed July!!). There was a reasonable selection of birds about but no great numbers. Nightingales were particularly conspicuous this morning and as the morning warmed up a few Hirundines were trickling through, and a couple of Hobbies also. Just as I was leaving, Bob sent a text stating that 3 Spot Fly and a Redstart were by Harry's Bush, frustrating as this area was devoid of anything when I was there. Still a good morning and fingers crossed a decent autumn ahead.

Totals are:

Willow Warbler - 20

Whitethroat - 45

Lesser Whitethroat - 6

Wheatear - 4

Reed Warbler - 6

Blackcap - 5

Nightingale - 3

Tree Pipit - 4

Whinchat - 2

Yellow Wagtail - 1

Garden Warbler - 2

Sand Martin - 70 W

Chiffchaff - 1

Hobby - 2 adults hunting together

Spotted Flycatcher - 1 in car park

Nightingale in Hope Gap - one of the most reliable sites to see this species on their return migration
Whinchat in Hope Gap
 Reed Warbler in Hope Gap
 Wheatear at the Dung Heap
Hobby over

Friday 11 August 2017

Newhaven Harbour 11/8/17

With working all day there wasn't much else to do then go down the beach and watch the Gulls again. With blustery conditions four juv. Yellow-legged Gulls were present and all different from yesterdays bird. Also a couple of juv. Lesser Black-backed Gulls this evening.

Yellow-legged Gulls
Yellow-legged left and Herring right
juv. Lesser Black-backed Gull