18/08/22 Another Honey Buzzard

This female Honey Buzzard came in from the west and right over head just inland from the South foreland valley, It may have even been roosting in Top wood as it was only tree height when first seen.

It circled and flew north, perhaps will try and leave again later today. The 7th bird I have seen here along the headland since late May.

HBs are the best – they get me going every time!

Also Myself and visiting birder David C saw a Pied fly, 3 Whinchat, a few willows here and there and a Golden Plover, I also heard Ringed plover and a few yellow wags earlier and half heard what sounded very much like Dotterel but distantly and only once.

14-16/08/22

Much the same weather on the 14th (moderate NE winds and high pressure) and up to 5 Pied Flycatchers and 2 Spotted Flycatchers around the Corrale at Langdon.

The Hen Harrier was still over fields on Wanstone farm on the 14th but not seen since.

A clear out on the 15th but a few Willow warblers here and there plus numbers of Lesser and Common Whitethroats still, a Golden Plover flew over the farm and a Hobby flew over the western end of the patch.

The 16th was fairly quiet with similarly small numbers of common migrants but my first Grasshopper warbler of the autumn plus 5 Sedge Warblers were in suitable cover between the lighthouse and the two copses.

up to 10 Wheatear and a Tree pipit also noted, plus a few Jersey Tiger moths and this nice Hummingbird Hawkmoth.

13/08/22 Autumn HB season begins

A light South Easterly and 26 degrees by 7am made for some decent birding today. Langdon hole held a Pied Flycatcher, feeding on the path in the second valley, a Tree pipit over and a Whinchat was along the fence at the memorial pull-in.

Another 2/3 Whinchat between fanbay and southforeland where a pied fly was still in the NW end of the wood and a Ring tailed harrier briefly quartered the stubble field between the coppices. Distance, dreadful heathaze and brief views delayed me in figuring out it was as suspected a Hen Harrier. It Showed again and flew into cover near Wanstone farm and wasn’t seen to fly out. Id imagine a bird from Calais, where they are easy to see and breed in the giant farmland landscapes over there.

The star of the show came just after midday as I walked back home via upper/reach road: a Female Honey Buzzard, picked up low coming straight for me from the direction of Langdon cliffs.

It flew low over the top fields and circled right over head before continuing on due North. Very much what they do in spring and even on the exact kind of weather. Isnt it time some of them were leaving!

Turnstone, Greenshank and Golden Plover were all heard over the patch today aswell.

12/08/22 First Pied Fly’s of Autumn

Another moderate NE wind and warm conditions first thing. Rich B and I birded from Foxhill Down to South Foreland and back and tallied up: 2 Pied Flycatchers (one atop the cliffs just west of Fan bay and the other along the edge of Top wood) 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Whinchat, 1 Tree Pipit (my first for Autumn) 2 Yellow Wagtails, Reed + Sedge warblers and 12 Willow Warblers, 5 Wheatear, 2 Black Redstart also small numbers of hirundines were noted and a single juv Yellow Legged Gull. A common Sandpiper flew across the harbour as I was having a swim at lunchtime.

The first Pied Fly, originally picked up perched on a cliff top bench, then worked its way along the fence line and fed on the ground at the very highest peak of the cliffs before hopping over the edge and heading towards Langdon. Very enjoyable!

There are still a few obvious omissions including Common Redstart to the autumn’s bird list but today certainly provided a little boost.

11/08/22

A light sea mist hung over the cliff tops this morning and the light NE winds and sunshine took a couple hours to burn it off but it had dropped in a small selection of autumns migrants. Namely a Whinchat, a Spotted Flycatcher, a Nightingale, Reed and Sedge warblers all in Langdon Hole, where many lesser and common whitethroats and still 2 Black Redstarts were also found. A Golden plover flew over calling and unseen plus c20 Sand martins and a handful of Swallows. An afternoon Skywatch resulted in 8 Common Buzzards, 2 Red Kites and c10 Swift all East.

The past couple of days have been mostly quiet with small numbers of Willows being counted and very little else.

Juvenile Yellowlegged gulls have been seen flying along the cliff tops and in the harbour but it wasnt untill today that i was able to photograph one nicely amoung the local gulls on the harbour beach, some second generation scapulars moulting through on this bird.

Silver Spotted Skippers are on the wing on light house down.

06/08/22

Back from working in Scotland and hoping for some migrants on the headland I headed up the cliffs first thing. A moderate NE wind had brought in 10 Willow Warbler, 2 Reed Warblers and a Wheatear to Langdon and Foxhill down area.

60 Swift and a few Swallows were circling high above the Castle and 2 Juv Yellow Legged Gulls flew West along the cliff edge where 2 Juv Black Redstart were flitting around in their usual late summer creche spot.

A time of year that I greatly look forward to has begun.

21/07/22

A change in the weather, much cooler temperatures and a light NW wind delivered 3 Cuckoos, 5 Yellow Wagtails, c60 Swift, 15 Swallow to the headland this am. A Black Redstart was also near the lighthouse whilst 6 Med Gulls flew west out to sea including my first juvs of the year.

Probably days away from my first Willow Warbler of the Autumn though Im off to Scotland for another round of Surveys on Monday so it will have to wait till the first week of August.

15/07/22 First Juvenile Yellow Leg of’22

Probably my latest date for a number of years but an anticipated moment in the birding calendar for me. This years approach to searching for juv YLGs has been very much laissez-faire and today I had 2 birds fly past us on whilst swimming at st Margarets beach.

I chased after the second bird and caught up with it on the water a kilometer or so East of where we’d pitched up, though it remained at distance on the water.

Very little else to report other than my first Yellow Wagtail over west of the ‘Autumn’ this morning along with c30 Swallow and a handful of Swift. 2 Black Redstart were along the cliff tops first thing, in fact; Im seeing them everywhere at the moment!

30/06/22 An inland Honey Buzzard

I continue to obsess over Honey Buzzards and have been looking on Google Earth and OS maps for vantage points overlooking habitat in an attempt to find unknown summering or even breeding birds. Today it paid off and I watched a dark, unbarred female circling over woodland before sparring with a Red kite and moving off. 3 Hours later it returned, showing very well and perched in a tree, preening for 10 minutes; Not the behaviour of a migrant, I will therefore be keeping an eye on the area and not sharing its whereabouts except with the county recorder.

28/06/22 3 Honey Buzzards

Moderate SSW winds, a clear view over to Calais and I had Honey Buzzards on my mind. I even texted Jacob S at Dunge to say today is ‘Perfect HB conditions’, if only it was a little earlier in the month I thought. But despite the late date Colin J and I had 3 fantastic Honey Buzzards arrive at South foreland during the space of an hour after the first at 10.01 am (right on queue)

Calais viewed from South foreland

The First bird, a partly unbarred pale female came in low from the direction of the lighthouse cliffs, circled and gained height then flew WNW.

The Second bird came almost exactly an hour later, picked up out over the sea it flew along the cliffs and inland at st Margarets, circling over John N on his balcony. An intermediate female with more barring than the first bird. It got some hassle from the gulls and a Peregrine too.

The third bird came in just after this one, and a little closer, a darker female which again was picked up out over the water and came in, circled and flew North, which is pretty much what they all do here.

A thrilling bit of birding and brings my personal total of HBs this spring here to 5 aswell as equalling my best day count locally of 3 in June 2020 just before we moved down here. I have continued to obsess over them and seeing them arrive over the water is exactly the views I crave. Always leaves me wanting more though!