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EASTBOURNE 2024

12th May  -  Birling Gap

 

A really good seawatch this morning with POMARINE SKUAS on the move - a total of 15 went through before 09h30, by which time activity had died down and a heat haze was kicking in. 3 BLACK and 6 LITTLE TERNS were spotted in amongst distant packs of COMMIC TERNS scurrying low, and 5 MANX SHEARWATERS were also quite a way offshore. 

Star bird though today was arguably Terry the TREE SPARROW, who arrived very recently and was there again this morning with the HOUSE SPARROWS around the cafe - it's a major bird for Beachy. 

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10th May  -  West Rise Marsh

47 species this morning on a nice early wander, including these 2 GREENSHANKS which flew around a bit, had a look and carried on by - with the high water levels these days there's little chance waders will land on site. An exception is COMMON SANDPIPER which is always quite happy to run around on the low, grassy banks, and there was a group of 6 such birds today, a record number for me.  

Great views of a few BEARDED TITS today, and a singing CUCKOO and LESSER WHITETHROAT were year ticks for West Rise.

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9th May  -  Beachy Head

Not a lot going on out at sea early this morning - like a millpond it was in the windless conditions. A few SCOTER and BAR-TAILED GODWITS were moving though, and a shifting line of 60 godwits, high in the sky, was quite impressive. After that I wandered up the track to Cornish Farm with all its singing SKYLARKS and CORN BUNTINGS. From here this QUAIL, a county first for me, was heard singing briefly in the distance! 

8th May  -  West Rise Marsh

Lots of RED KITES are moving at the moment - there were 9 this afternoon going high to the northeast, and there were at least 14 doing the same yesterday. 

00:00 / 00:11

30th April  -  Birling Gap

With the end of that blasted northerly and a shift

to light southeasterlies, and milder, warmer

weather, there were high hopes of a "Pom Day"

today at Birling: but alas it was not to be. Can't

really complain though - there was a handful of

them along the south coast and fortunately one of

those birds, a super pale morph with spoons, was

spotted by Sean on our second seawatch of the day

as it careered around in the distance after a

HERRING GULL. It was pretty good seawatching

with a fair few ARCTIC SKUAS, a GREAT

NORTHERN and 2 BLACK-THROATED DIVERS,

and no less than 4 GREAT SKUAS (as many as

there were all last spring!).

In the late afternoon a stroll up to Cornish Farm

produced corking views of several singing CORN

BUNTINGS.

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29th April  -  Hampden Park

 

Grainy record shot here of my first ever GREAT

BLACK-BACKED GULL on site here, a surprise find

on the playing fields in the early morning

before any dogs and dogwalkers arrived.

 

It was a good morning actually - 43

species seen including my first SWIFT of the year.

There are apparently two REED WARBLERS at the

pond, and a FIRECREST is singing. 

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19th April  -  West Rise Marsh

 

Incredibly another OYSTERCATCHER put in an

appearance this morning (or maybe it was one of

Tuesday's birds?)...it flew in calling and spent an age

flying round and round the lake, low over the water,

looking for somewhere to land. 

Around the buffalo shed was a small band of 7

WHEATEARSsticking very much together, and a

couple of WHINCHATS (my first of the year) were

tagging along. 

Surprisingly few hirundines about at the mo (just a

couple of SWALLOWS today).

 

2 COMMON SANDPIPERS on site.

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18th April  -  West Rise Marsh & Cuckmere Haven

 

 

Nice wander around West Rise this morning, although for the second time this week I had the tricky job of avoiding the newly-arrived herd of cows (or are they bulls?) which meanders menacingly all around the marsh. There were 2 smart-looking WHITE WAGTAILS on site, a PEREGRINE sat on its favourite pylon, more groups of MEDITERRANEAN GULLS flying high overhead, and the first HOUSE MARTIN of the year.

 

Later in the morning I made another failed attempt for the LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER that's still at Cuckmere Haven. In order to avoid parking charges the trip involved parking at Birling and then doing the long, knackering, up-and-down walk along the clifftops...at least the weather was good. 

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16th April  -  West Rise Marsh

2 OYSTERCATCHERS on a flooded field were a real surprise this morning (patch tick!). Again, not much on the lake but a distant group of about 25 MEDITERRANEAN GULLS flew northwest, calling en route, and SEDGE and REED WARBLERS were singing.

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14th April  -  Hampden Park

I was there early enough today to get close to two vocal TAWNY OWLS, and at first light a drake MANDARIN was a surprise find on the pond. Bird of the day though was easily this CUCKOO, a patch tick, which called on 3 occasions but remained invisible. 

00:00 / 00:40

 

13th April  -  Beachy Head and Hampden Park

 

Early morning at Birling Gap proved to be a waste

of time with no wind, and sea like a mill pond. A little

later Whitbread Hollow produced my first

WHITETHROAT and LESSER WHITETHROAT of the

year, and a BLACK REDSTART was singing from the

cliff edge. 

During a short walk around the lake at Hampden Park

in the late afternoon, two RED KITES meandered

slowly overhead. LITTLE EGRETS and GREY

HERONS are busy at nests now on the central island.

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12th April  -  West Rise Marsh

 

 

 

There's a different feel to the place right now - there's warmer, drier, weather and an empty look to the lake (almost all the ducks have gone). BUZZARDS are about again, and summer migrants are appearing in dribs and drabs. Today's star birds were this BARNACLE GOOSE (although "plastic" to some I'm having it as a patch tick!) and at least 3 singing SEDGE WARBLERS, just in today from Africa. 

Yesterday's 3 WHEATEARS were still there at the buffalo shed, and there were another 4 running about on the fields beyond the Langney Sewer. An invisible REED WARBLER was singing, and a very nice MARSH HARRIER flew low overhead.

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10th April  -  Hankham 

Drove the short distance to Hankham near Pevensey this afternoon in search of the reported HOOPOE, which duly obliged in a field not too far from the side of the narrow country road. It seemed very content to be there, feeding for ages in a tiny area of grass, visibly wet with a good supply of worms and grubs which were downed with relish.

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23rd March - Hampden Park

 

No birding really today, but whilst sitting on the

garden step with a mug of tea this smart WILLOW

WARBLER, my first of the year, suddenly popped

up in a nearby bush, in the close company of a

CHIFFCHAFF.

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22nd March  -  West Rise Marsh

The first WHEATEARS of the year were near the buffalo shed this morning, and my first BLACKCAP could be heard tacking at the car park.

21st March - West Rise Marsh

 

 

It was cold and misty out at the marsh this afternoon. The first SAND MARTINS of year were racing over the water and flocking up and disappearing for periods in the mist - it was quite difficult to see whether there was just one large group or whether several groups were migrating through. There was a huge group of MEADOW PIPITS over the fields behind Lotty Pool, at least 120 I'd say, all wisping around and never landing. A large number of preening GULLS were settled in a field, including this 2nd cycle YELLOW-LEGGED GULL.

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20th March - Cuckmere Haven

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I've got this thing about not twitching anymore - what a

waste of time and money! However today, on a wonderously

warm and sunny spring afternoon, I finally cracked and drove

(with Al) the few Kms down the coast for the long-staying

LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER that's been hanging around for last

6 months or so. Unsurprisingly we could not locate the little

blighter, but it was a thoroughly agreable afternoon, and this

distant SPOTTED REDSHANK was a nice find along one of the

muddy creeks. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18th March - Birling Gap & West Rise Marsh

 

A pretty unproductive seawatch early doors with Richard - just a few small flocks of BRENT GEESE going through, conveniently high up and in lines which made counting easier. One or two RED-THROATED DIVERS also, a few sitting on the sea. 

At West Rise later in the afternoon I was happy to see a bunch of 4 BEARDED TITS diving down into reeds, the first I've seen in ages. My first SWALLOW of the year was picked up, racing low over the water. 

 

 

 

 

14th March - Birling Gap

Another seawatch early with Chris, James, Laurence

and Richard. The wind was more southerly than

yesterday and there were far fewer BRENT GEESE

and BLACK-HEADED GULLS on show. They were

still both migrating though, and occasionally the

odd DUCK could be spotted sneaking in with the

geese, like this single GADWALL here.

Unlike yesterday there were plenty of

RED-THROATED DIVERS moving east.

 

 

13th March  - Birling Gap

Spectacular seawatching early from the Gap this morning with 3365 BRENT GEESE moving east in a 3-hour spell, exciting stuff and, according to Richard, the highest ever morning count from here. There wasn't much variety though, it was basically geese and BLACK-HEADED GULLS (at least 877) that were hurrying along in flocks, with hardly any ducks or divers or auks. 

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10th March - Sovereign Harbour

 

 

Rain all day today! In the early morning me and Sean chanced a short trip to the northern section of the harbour where the fabulous long-staying BLACK-THROATED DIVER was there again, giving excellent views (Sean's best photo here for the record).

 

Made a short stop on the way back at West Rise but gave up quickly as the rain set in - a nice array of DUCKS on the lake, including a lonely-looking GADWALL.

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8th March - Birling Gap

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two very different mornings at Birling: yesterday was all go, with a few flocks of BRENT GEESE, interspersed sometimes with SHOVELER, COMMON SCOTER, SHELDUCK and PINTAIL (and a distant flock of those appears above). A fine MEDITERRANEAN GULL went east along with small numbers of COMMON GULLS, and the first migrating SANDWICH TERN of the spring appeared close offshore. 

Today, however, the wind was a stiffer easterly, and it was colder and all totally different - not a single goose in sight, and nothing else either apart from this tight group of TEAL going east.

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5th March  -  Sovereign Harbour & Darwell Reservoir

The BLACK-THROATED DIVER which I saw last week has now moved slightly east, to the northern section of Sovereign Harbour, where I managed to find it just after daybreak in the pouring rain. Great views again before it flew off high towards to sea. Another target today was GREATER SCAUP, a bird I haven't seen in over 30 years. 3 of them have been at Darwell Res for a while and so I drove there with Al later in the morning. After a long slog in the rain through the forest, sloshing about along poorly marked tracks, we eventually got to the water's edge where we found the birds swimming about contentedly, half hidden behind an annoying wall of tangled branches.

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29th February  -  Princes Park

 

 

 

Absolutely brilliant views of the reported BLACK-THROATED DIVER this morning down at Princes Park Lake. At one point it was just yards away and could be heard calling, but by the time I'd rushed to the car and back with a sound-recorder it had flown off over the houses towards the nearby sea...drat !  Luckily it returned a little later (it obviously likes the place) and swam around more distantly. 

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19th February  -  West Rise

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Good birding early doors in spite of the grey, cold and windy weather. Once again a MEDITERRANEAN GULL flew over towards the coast but there were no large gulls gathered out on the lake, where a lonely-looking drake GADWALL was looking on at a small group of WIGEON and POCHARD. 

A fine RED KITE battled slowly southwest against the wind, getting briefly harassed by a RAVEN on the way. And just as the first rain shower arrived one of the WATER PIPITS suddenly dropped in close and gave some rare good views.

15 February  -  Birling Gap & West Rise Marsh

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An agreable seawatch with Richard and Laurence early doors but nothing much happening, in spite of a favourable southeasterly blow. Plenty of RED-THROATED DIVERS were flying east though, along with quite a steady stream of COMMON GULLS.

In the early afternoon I made a good decision to try West Rise, which turned out to be quiet and sunny with no wind, and wonderously free of dog-walkers. A couple of WATER PIPITS were flushed, and this lovely CASPIAN GULL was amongst a small gaggle of gulls on the water.

 

 

12 February  -  West Rise Marsh

A nice afternoon stroll around the marsh: it all felt rather spring-like with 3 calling BUZZARDS swirling around together in a blue sky and the first singing CHIFFCHAFF of the year. There was a good array of ducks on the lake including plenty of TEAL and 9 GADWALL, and this SHELDUCK flew off and away from one of the flooded fields.

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31st January  - West Rise Marsh

This CASPIAN GULL was out on the lake this afternoon.

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12th January - West Rise Marsh

An argentatus Herring Gull was out on the water today and

this STONECHAT by the beehives had a silver ring on its right

leg - the second time I've seen this bird there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4th January - West Rise Marsh

Not a lot of birds about this afternoon but brilliant views of this NOCTULE

hawking around over the flooded fields. 

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