Lesser Florican - August 2023

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Sunday 20 September 2020

Cuckmere Haven 20/09/20

It felt good this morning with an apparent drop of Chiffchaffs and a few bits flying overhead. The usual waders were about, which included two Knot, two Greenshanks, 15 Dunlin and a Common Sandpiper.  

The highlight was a smart Ring Ouzel on Haven Brow, and whilst walking the top fields, a Tree Pipit flew over.

Ring Ouzel at Haven Brow


Tuesday 15 September 2020

Thorney Island 15/9/20

An early start at Thornham Marina today where the stunning juvenile Pallid Harrier flew right past in front of me (and behind the birder who went running down the lane following the pager message... who runs for a Pallid?!) soon after sunrise. It performed for ten minutes before seemingly drifting low north and out of sight. An Osprey also flew over, a Whinchat was out in the reeds and a Firecrest was calling along the east side of the island. There were also a number of Sandwich Terns in the channel.

After a short time guiding two ladies, I quickly went and saw the showy Red-backed Shrike in the south-western corner. 

It's been a tough autumn, so it was re-assuring to see some decent birds today.

This is now the third Pallid Harrier I've seen in Sussex (why didn't I go for the Beachy bird last year!) with other juveniles, both at The Burgh, in 2011 and 2015.

Sunrise at Thorney Island

juvenile Pallid Harrier

juvenile Red-backed Shrike

Friday 11 September 2020

Beachy Head & Whitehawk Hill 11/09/20

Another tour up on Beachy Head today was a vast improvement compared to yesterday. From the off, Siskins were ploughing west and over the course of the morning I counted 180! Hirundines were also a main feature with thousands along the cliff edge creating a brilliant sight as they whizzed past our heads. A White Stork over Hodcombe created some excitement for the group, but other migrants were in relative short supply, though a respectable list was formed in the end.

Afterwards, I quickly nipped up to Whitehawk Hill and saw perhaps three Long-tailed Blues.

Beachy totals are as follows:

Siskin - 180 W
Grey Wagtail - 5 W
Pied Wagtail - 3 W
Yellow Wagtail - 10
Wheatear - 3
White Stork - 1 W
Meadow Pipit - 30 W
Chiffchaff - 30
Whitethroat - 10
Spotted Flycatcher - 2
Tree Pipit - 2 W
House Martin - c. 2000
Swallow - ca. 500
Sand Martin - 10
Swift - 1

Spotted Flycatcher at Chat Vale

White Stork over Hodcombe

Long-tailed Blues at Whitehawk Hill

Thursday 10 September 2020

Cuckmere Haven 10/9/20

After a rather disappointing session at Beachy this morning with my Naturetrek group, this evening down the Cuckmere just about revived me. The waders are still keeping interest high, with now four Knot, 25 Dunlin, singles of Green, Common and Wood Sandpiper and three Greenshanks amongst the highlights. As I was walking back up towards the pub, a White Stork flew past me and decided to land on Exceat Bridge... it thankfully stayed long enough for a record shot! 

Today, at Beachy, a raptor watch with LP produced a Marsh Harrier and a distant White Stork - presumably the one seen in the Cuckmere later on. A Swift also flew over plus a small scattering of common migrants.

Four Knot

Saturday 5 September 2020

Seaford Head 5/9/20

A return to Seaford Head today in far chillier conditions than previous days. Despite the clear conditions, there was little in the way of any overhead migration and it took some time for the grounded migrants to appear. Probably the highlight was a good number of Wheatears present with 45 counted; this included a flock of 28. A smart Pied Flycatcher and perhaps the same Merlin that was encountered down the Cuckmere last night were also noteworthy.

Afterwards, I walked the hills behind Denton, but it was disappointing to find no fields suitable for Dotterel. There were however plenty of migrants about, including a Spotted Flycatcher and a smattering of Whinchats and Wheatears.

Totals from Seaford Head as follows:

Pied Flycatcher - 1
Spotted Flycatcher - 2
Willow Warbler - 10
Chiffchaff - 7
Wheatear - 45
Grey Wagtail - 4 W
Yellow Wagtail - 15
Merlin - 1
Garden Warbler - 1
Blackcap - 35
Whitethroat - 20
Lesser Whitethroat - 2
Sedge Warbler - 1
Reed Warbler - 3
Redstart - 1
Siskin - ca. 10 W 

Pied Flycatcher


Friday 4 September 2020

Beachy Head & Cuckmere Haven 4/9/20

Another Naturetrek trip to Beachy Head today, this time in thankfully good weather after yesterday's 'hurricane', was far more productive than expected. There was plenty of variety flying over, whilst the usual grounded migrants were present. A couple of clients were keen to see a Grasshopper Warbler, therefore, I took a couple of them down to the gropper field and found four warblers in all.

This evening, with Dad, the Cuckmere was visited with highlights going to an Osprey, Merlin, and the long-staying Knot

Beachy Head totals:

Wheatear - 5
Willow Warbler - 15
Chiffchaff - 1
Redstart - 5
Siskin - 40 W
Whitethroat - 30
Lesser Whitethroat - 2
Grey Wagtail - 4 W
Yellow Wagtail - 20 
Tree Pipit - 1 W
Whinchat - 6
Grasshopper Warbler - 4
Blackcap - 10
Spotted Flycatcher - 1
Swallow - 300 W
Sand Martin - 20 W


Hummingbird Hawkmoth

Osprey over Cuckmere Haven

Thursday 3 September 2020

Cuckmere Haven 3/9/20

After a disappointing tour on Beachy Head this morning (thankfully two Grasshopper Warblers showed), finding two juvenile Curlew Sandpipers in the Cuckmere was some form of compensation. Also about were a Knot, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, ten Dunlin and five Whinchats. 

Yet again, a visit to Seaford Head failed to find any Wrynecks, both this morning and evening!

Curlew Sandpipers


Tuesday 1 September 2020

Seaford Head & Ditchling Beacon 1/9/20

I only had a couple of hours this morning before starting work. The area started off relatively quiet, but as the morning wore on, a respectable number of migrants were found. Blackcaps have now arrived in force into Hope Bottom, and Harry's Bush was also somewhat lively with many Willow Warblers and a couple of Chiffchaffs present. A steady trickle of Swallows were flying eastbound, but little else was noted in what seemed like perfect conditions for some hefty diurnal migration. 

This evening, after work, I twitched the trio of Dotterel near Ditchling Beacon (thanks Rich Kelly for putting the news promptly out after a great find!). Initially elusive and static, they soon became mobile and showed well, though they never came too close. 

Totals for Seaford Head:

Blackcap - 50
Willow Warbler - 25
Whitethroat - 25
Yellow Wagtail - 30
Redstart - 2
Chiffchaff - 2
Grasshopper Warbler - 1
Siskin - 2 
Spotted Flycatcher - 2
Reed Warbler - 3
Tree Pipit - 3
Lesser Whitethroat - 3
Wheatear - 5
Garden Warbler - 1

Grasshopper Warbler

Tree Pipit

Garden Warbler


Dotterels at Ditchling Beacon