Lesser Florican - August 2023

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Sunday 16 August 2020

Seaford Head & Cuckmere Haven 16/8/20

Today was Mum's 60th birthday, therefore, a reasonable excuse to hit the patch beforehand. I left Alton at 4am and arrived on Seaford Head at first light, though frustratingly it was shrouded in low cloud. I was half-tempted to go down the Cuckmere instead, but with so many goodies turning up on the East coast I felt compelled to give the Head a go.

It was a fairly quiet affair, though around 6.40am, I heard what I assumed to be a Stone-curlew flying in from the West. With such low cloud, I didn't remain optimistic on a sighting, however, the calls got closer and sure enough, the shape of a Stone-curlew (just) could be made out flying through the blanket. It was a very poor view but the outline and a couple of other features were apparent; the bird's ongoing calling was much appreciated! Elsewhere on the Head, a total of three Pied Flycatchers and three Nightingales 'croaking' to each other in Hope Bottom were nice, as were plenty of Lesser Whitethroats, including a lovely flock of five birds at Hope Gap.


Willow Warbler - 12
Whitethroat - 22
Reed Warbler - 3
Blackcap - 4
Stone-curlew - 1 E at 06.40
Nightingale - 3
Lesser Whitethroat - 9
Wheatear - 1
Pied Flycatcher - 3
Redstart - 1

After the heavy rain early afternoon I was keen to hit the Cuckmere. The rain did the trick as on the meanders a nice variety of waders were present, including six Common Sandpipers and three Green Sandpipers. As I was scanning the many Dunlin, I noticed, from a distance, one supporting a red breast. Knowing this would be a Curlew Sandpiper, I edged closer, only to realise that there was an entire flock of Curlew Sandpipers... totalling nine birds and all moulting adults! They remained until the evening allowing a few people to see this very rare event nowadays in Sussex. 

My last adult Curlew Sandpiper on the patch was in August 2004, which was the same morning I found my first Spoonbill here too! Since, only juveniles have occurred almost annually. I would be interested to know when the last 'big' flock was in Sussex?

Pied Flycatchers at Seaford Head

Adult Curlew Sandpipers at Cuckmere Haven