August Bank Holiday Weekend

For the past few years I have made sure Im free for the bank holiday in August, mainly to see common migrants in decent numbers with fingers crossed for something scarcer down at Beachy Head.

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The bird of the trip was an Ortolan Bunting, found early on by Kris Gillam. We just about got onto it before it flew off east calling.

My personal Highlight however were 4 Honey Buzzards (three together on in the early part of the weekend and then another lone Male bird the following day) that Laurence and I picked up between us over the headland.

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we’ve seen HBs before on these dates at Beachy Head but to get 4 in 24 hrs was great. An Osprey headed east along the coast on the Saturday about midday and a Hobby was seen once or twice probably attracted by the 1000s of Swallows that lingered around the headland and seemed to thin out towards sunday.

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Common migrants were present in good numbers rough totals are as follows for the two days: 23 Wheatear, 15 Whinchat, 15 Redstart, 10 Pied Flycatcher, 6 Spotted Flycatcher, 10 Robin, c50 Willow Warbler, c65 Whitethroat, 10 Lesser Whitethroat, 25 Blackcap, 2 Grasshopper Warbler,  c70+ Yellow Wagtail, 35 Tree Pipit,

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We spent saturday evening’s sunset on the headland hoping to glance a Nightjar in the gloam. LP picked one up from the car whilst driving home and we saw it a couple of times hunting around the lights of the pub.

Early Sunday morning and we heard of new of a Tawny pipit over west just a mile or two down the coast, abit of a blow as we were totally primed to find one, next time.

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Sometimes looking at the size of the place I’m amazed that anything is found at all, there is so much cover and potential, I wish I could be there more.

Walthamstow 3rd – 16th August

From about the 3rd onwards Ive been doing the odd morning at Walthamstow before work. Its been quiet with very little in the way of waders beyond a handful of Common Sandpipers. Passerines fairly quiet too with again handfuls of Willow warblers (below), one or two Garden warblers but otherwise good numbers of Reed, Whitethroat, Blackcap and Chiffchaff seen daily. Numbers (in the 100s) of Martins are using the site daily and still between 30-60 swifts

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The Bomb crater field on the Marsh is well known for its propensity to attract Chats, particularly Whinchats (and Wheatear ) in August and later in the year Stone Chats. There are currently 2 Whinchat on in the field and Im sure this number will rise before the end of the month, They are really a highlight for me locally.

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Im still waiting to see: Wheatear, Spotted flycatchers, yellow wagtails etc  this autumn, these can all be expected in my brief ‘mind clearing’ walks before work often accompanied by Walthamstow’s most vigorous and intrepid local David Bradshaw. He and I bumped into the 2 Garganey that were found the evening before on the Lockwood by RE on the 14th.

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Strong SW winds are waylaying plans i had made to be looking for passerines on the south coast this weekend so it will be the London Gulls i’d imagine.

Juvenile Caspian Gulls from Erith.

This blog has been a little quiet of late. Fear not however! with last weeks arrival of a handful of juvenile Caspian Gulls (found by Rich Dante and Josh down Erith pier) I have snapped out of my june/july lack of inspiration and caught up with a couple of them over the weekend.

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Above and below, a nice pale bird that was present on saturday to an audience of Rich, Richard, Josh and I. A striking bird that I really hope sticks around to see what it looks like in a month or so.

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This next bird showed well for Rich and I on Sunday, a small, dark a delicate bird with a nice deep tail band.

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Besides the Casp today there was a particular theme to some of the YLGs: White headed and pale underwinged, slightly gingery.  

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Now that its almost mid August I will be posting with more regularity. expect trips from the south coast for the next few weeks untill I go back to Shanghai for the first 9 days of September!