23/06/21 Red-backed Shrike

The winds have been predominantly in the North East for the past few days and today didn’t really look like a day to be rushing up onto the headland for 5am. A later start and a saunter took an exciting turn when a female Red-backed Shrike hopped up onto a hawthorn and perched in front of me as I walked East under the Radar station this am.

I enjoyed good views and watched/photographed it on and off over the period of an hour, during which time it disappeared regularly only to pop up near the place I originally found it. It endured some mobbing from a Chaffinch and local Whitethroats brielfy.

The last time I saw the bird it had begun to fly between the upper and lower level above Langdon hole and the under-cliff and I lost track of it.

Not much else bird-wise to remark upon: c18 Swallows moved East, the Stonechat family in Fan bay were notable and the Peregrine nest that Ive been watching has fledged 2 of the 3 chicks already. A Hummingbird Hawkmoth and a Slow worm were noted aswell as many Common Spotted, Fragrant and the below Bee Orchid

June continues to be good!

16/06/21 Serin

Warm South Easterlies met me as I climbed the path up the cliff early this morning. Visibility out to sea was fairly poor but c200 European Starlings moved west in small flocks, some at great height and Swifts seemed to be coming in off in 3s and 4s.

At about half seven, whilst walking east on Lighthouse Down I heard the flight call of a Serin a couple of times coming towards me, I picked up the bird fairly low and then managed a couple of flight shots as it moved away from me and continued West, a 10 second interlude but good fun!

Other things of note were a recently fledged Juv Peregrine which I enjoyed watching it noisily drop and catch a disembodied pigeon wing in the early morning haze. To my knowledge this bird isn’t from the nest which I watch regularly.

The Black Redstarts are well into they’re second brood, below the female taking food to their well hidden and inaccesible nest.

A first summer Med gull was flying around Lighthouse Down on sat the 12th, seemingly catching insects…

With this morning’s Serin, June continues to be good for scarce migrants. Soon it will be time to look for juv Yellow Legged Gulls, looking forward to that?

09/06/21 More Bee-eaters + Honey Buzzard

The sea fog that had been present for the past 2 days had lifted and France looked closer than ever. Straight southerlies first thing and another good morning on the headland.

France! – Cap Nes Blanc from Langdon hole

A slightly later start for me but as I walked along the tarmac path just before South Foreland lighthouse I heard the arresting calls of several Beeeaters moving high above me. they remained unseen, I just couldn’t get on them. I presumed these might have been part of the flock of 10 that was found the day before in west Dover but it seems Iain R had 9 fly in off the sea and East at Folkestone Warren 20 mins before. A few minutes later and Sandwich bird obs tweeted 4 over and just after that Mark K had one fly over him in the Dover area too, it seems like there were quite a few in south east Kent today.

I thought the conditions seemed good for birds of prey so I got comfortable above the valley and at 10.00 am I had a Honey Buzzard fly in off the sea and gain height to the distress of the local gulls, the bird flew off NE and was later seen over Bockhill. Distant pics below.

My first HB since moving down here and first since I had 3 in a day just to west of here in the middle of June last year, have a look

05/06/21 Off-patch Bee-eater

A quick look around the headland in light Northerlies and mizzle held a few hundred Swift East, 2 Red Kites drifting around and a late Whinchat at south foreland lighthouse.

The remainder of the day was spent with friends on the beach at Dungeness, en route to which Amy and I found a Beeeater perched on wires on the road to Lydd just before the golf course. We were running late so I didnt have much time, the bird flew around abit on both sides of the road, catching insects and seemed happy on the wires. It stuck around for Martin C to connect with it 10 mins later. I didn’t look for the Rosy Starling that was present at Dunge all day as I’d used up all my birding allowance on the Bee eater 😉

04/06/21

Low cloud, light drizzle and northerlies in early June wasn’t as bad as i expected; the first birds I put my bins onto as i walked up the cliff path at 06.00 am were a female Marsh Harrier and a Red Kite sharing c100 metres of airspace over the harbour. The Kite flew towards Langdon and the Harrier over Dover Castle and away to the west.

The Kite was later seen feeding on a carcass from Foxhill down surrounded by Corvids, and was one of 3 birds seen this morning.

The most surprising bird of the day was a singing Willow warbler near the radar station, this along with a perched and calling Siskin were the only passerines of note.

The Below Dingy Skipper was noted the day previously but forgotten about in the excitement…

03/06/21 Black Stork

A colder start to today and some sea fog meant not much to look at so me and Rich Bonser had time to catch up whilst walking east from Langdon Hole first thing. The winds had switched over night to a South Westerly and the only thing of note really was a singing Black Redstart and a displaced Reed Warbler in song too.

The sun eventually burnt through most of the mist at around 09.30 and a few moments later, whilst we stood on lighthouse down, Rich suddenly exclaimed “Fucking Hell!’ I looked up and shouted… “Black Stork!”- as an immaculate Black stork drifted over our heads only about 80 metres up.

The bird drifted south and out to sea from where we stood on light house down and into the mist, We put the news out and it was seen by some of the Bockhill lot as it came back in and moved west (I think).

Another great day on the headland and really nice to share the excitment with a pal.

02/06/21 5 Rose Coloured Starlings and Bee Eater!

A memorable morning for me out on the headland today with a South easterly breeze coming in off the sea. At about 08.40, and Just 10 minutes after discussing the approaching invasion of Rosy Starlings with Jane and Mark Love I had a flock of 5 fly North over fields just north of SouthForeland lighthouse!

I picked them up as a tight ball of starling sp’s flying across the horizon about half a field away (their commoner congeners have been hard to find at the moment) and as I quickly got my bins on them the SHOCK of seeing 5 Rose coloured Starlings flying together will stay with me for sure.

My camera wasn’t focusing immediately so I lost a few seconds whilst they got further away, although I managed some distant heat hazed shots. They really seemed to be in migration mode and I lost them towards Reach road.

Now hot in pursuit and imagining them perched on and around the sheep or on the fences in that direction I made my way whilst putting out the news only to be interrupted 25 minutes later by the familiar sound of a Bee Eater calling above Langdon Hole to my left, I heard it 3/4 times before picking it up as it came over the Radar station and right over my head as I stood at Reach road, Id imagine it flew over my house just before that too.

A couple of Record shots, A few more calls, and it was gone, headed East over the fields north of the road.

Other birds of note were a Hobby (that Im seeing everyday in a similar place…) and perhaps 20 Swallows East. A really exciting hour or so and a sea swim to celebrate! Im happy we moved here.

Looking back at South foreland lighthouse from near Reach road

1/06/21

Officially the first day of summer and another warm bright day with Easterly winds. Notable birds were my first Crossbill of the year, an immature male that flew over West calling only to appear 5 mins late in a coniferous tree on lighthouse down, fed for a couple of minutes then moved on again. Later on a Hobby flew West over the Castle around mid pm.

I was excited to learn when we moved in that we have Wall lizards in the garden and between our garden, next door and the waste land at the end of the road there seems to be a very healthy population, apparently the Italian subspecies, I havent managed to photograph the largest males which are quite impressive but heres a couple smaller males from today.

Butterflys are becoming more obvious this past day or two but this Mother Shipton, day flying moth, was nice.

31/05/21

Again Ive neglected this blog (and birding) due to work commitments but this week is the start of me spending more time down here away from London so expect more from now onwards.

Seemingly decent drift conditions didn’t produce much of that nature for me today but the highlight was an adult male Hen Harrier that flew west way out over the port of Dover as I sat expecting the Bee eater that had just been reported at Samphire Hoe to come over my head. That wasn’t to be however.

Other things of note were around 20 Swallow 10 House martin and 10 Swift that tracked east throughout the day and a Hobby that gunned through also East.

With high pressure and winds set in the east this week i’ll be out every day.

Looking west from the west end of Foxhill down, Port of dover and Dover Castle

20/05/21 Woodchat Shrike

This morning I learned that a Woodchat Shrike had been photographed on Tuesday near the top of the stairs leading to Langdon Hole. News reached me via Phil S who’d ID’d the bird from a photo taken by a birder who was unsure of what he’d seen 2 days previously. An excellent bird for the area and somewhat heartbreaking ! Images were posted on the Kent FB page this evening – A smart male!

A Shame the house is currently an inhabitable building site and I’ve been working in London all week and all next week too. Well done to the finder and photographer of the above image – Adrian H.