My last bash around the headland for almost a fortnight today as I’m working away until early December from tomorrow. I woke to more gloomy skies but gladly a very light NW wind. A BlackRedstart greeted me as I made my way up the cliff path and as I checked the vertical chalk cliff faces (as I do everyday at the moment) I counted up another 3. Fast forward to the valley and I was noticing numbers of Goldcrests for the first time this autumn, probably 10 between the bottom path and the hollow wood. Im currently checking the spot where I came across the Radde’swarbler in early November everyday and whilst doing so today, a bright and beautiful Pallas’swarbler flitted infront of me between a dense privet and a conifer. My first look at it was head-on in all its glory. Views were really enjoyable but it moved about abit, as they do, and in the low light photos were hard work so I only took a few.
I saw it 2 more times in the strip of varied cover along Sea view road. It fed low down mostly and called sporadically whilst on show.
Another fantastic phyllosc to add to the list that have turned up in that small area this november. This bird follows a report of one present 9 days ago but despite 4/5 people looking at the time, and me checking everyday since hasn’t been seen. I like to think the obvious arrival of Goldcrests might have something to do with todays bird, but but who knows.
Finally a day without thick cloud cover. Another light NW wind, which Im seeing more and more to be a good wind for the site. 4 BlackRedstarts including an excellent male were along the undercliff at Langdon, 6 GreyPartridges flew out of cover near the harbour field and as I walked the cliff edge just east of the hole, a new HenHarrier appeared along the cliffs.
Quite pale, peachy underparts which very briefly gave me a fright as I picked it up, although its an obvious HenHarrier and appears to be a juv female. Different still from the other 3 birds in the last 2 weeks. It circled and flew out to sea just East of the port.
A RingOuzel was in Fan bay for the 2nd day running and just as I got to the lighthouse I heard the (currently very) familiar call of a Snowbunting out over the sea to the East; a female came in and flew around the lighthouse briefly before continuing West.
A Firecrest was all the valley had to offer really although c35 Redpolls and c50 Siskins (over 100 yesterday) flew both East and West whilst I walked around.
A pair of SnowBuntings announced themselves as I walked past the old airstrip at Reach road, Landing on the fence occasionally. Presumably there are several birds moving around the greater area as Im hearing and seeing them in differing numbers most days.
An overcast gloomy start to the day with light Northerlies and the first bird I put my bins on was this late HouseMartin. Presumably having roosted on the cliff above the Port it fed for 20 mins before the light was good enough for decent pics but its black upper tail coverts, size of rump to tail length ratio and underwing seem to be ruling out either of the eastern taxa.
My walk East was mostly quiet but 3 Brambling flew west and when I reached lighthouse down I heard a SnowBunting calling whilst it headed towards st Margarets mid morning. At least 4 Firecrests were between the valley and the top wood along with a few Chiffies.
I picked up the below HenHarrier high over the farm, it continued west without loosing much height and doesn’t look like either of the two recent birds to me.
A virtually windless morning here and my circuit of the patch was fairly quiet albeit for 4 Firecrests (2 As I climbed up the cliff path first thing and 2 more in the Valley). A single Swallow hawking over the top field, c30 Siskin and 3 Redpoll and then 5 SnowBunting over Reach road old airstrip.
I thought I could hear Snow/Lapland type call earlier on, distantly but couldn’t see anything at the time. The birds flew around over the field with the cattle in and seemed to settle towards the airstrip.
Another great morning up on the cliffs with significant birds for me here, this has been an excellent week!
Damp, dark and overcast with the continuing NW wind a little stronger today. Very Little in Langdon again and nothing to report untill I reached the valley where I picked up a Hawfinch calling as it flew towards the lighthouse.
Into the light but a bird that I’ve been hoping to find here. I could still hear it calling a few minutes later, presumed it to be perched up and whilst scanning for it in the tree tops I had 2 more fly high in the direction of st Margarets. A beautifully subtle and silvery call.
Whilst walking back home to begin work on the house I bumped into Steve R and whilst chatting this monstrous White–tailedEagle came along the cliffs over the harbour field at Langdon!
It headed inland towards the north after initially heading towards Dover, Raven’s in pursuit and every Gull in the area going berserk.
It looks like it has a radio tag, so likely form the Ilse of Wight release programme but hopefully i’ll have more info this evening. An exciting bird to see either way.
A damp overcast NW’ly start with mizzle turning to rain by 10 am. 3 Brambling ,6 Siskin and c10 Redpoll were all of note in Langdon hole and a fairly uneventful trudge east was highlighted by 2 or 3 Firecrest on lighthouse down and the valley. Also at that end of the patch I had a 5 second view of a Coaltit (unusual here) resembling the continental race: small crest and slate grey upper parts but I didnt see it again.
Whilst walking back West I heard the sweet fluting call of a Woodlark which I picked up heading west towards the farm, a new bird here for me, poor pic below.
A quick check of the harbour area and the juv Arctictern was fishing along the main beach, 4 Guillemots were in the new marina along with a Grey seal. A first winter Yellow–LeggedGull and this 2nd winter CaspianGull were flying around at the end of the western pier as the light faded and among the streams of Black–headedGulls filing into the harbour were dozens of MedGulls.
Still and warm with the lightest of NW breezes today. Langdon Hole was quiet in the bushes though a decent number of Brambling were heard and seen flying west first thing; I had 27 in the end with a flock of 16 being the largest group. A Snowbunting flew west along the cliff and out to sea just west of the light house and both Firecrest and Woodcock were in the valley.
Upon heading home I scanned over the fields and picked up what I presumed was the recent HenHarrier coming my way. However this bird looked warmer beneath, dark eyed and longer winged with distinctly dark secondaries – a juv female, a completely different bird which quartered around the field near Reach road for 5 minutes before continuing west across the fields north of where i stood.
Upon inspection of the images I noticed 6 consitent bars in the longest primaries aswell as 4 clear bars on p10, this is usually a pro Hudsonius feature and apparently rare in Cynaeus however the streaked belly, shaft streaking to under tail coverts, overall tones, dark trailing edge to the inner primaries and pattern to secondaries likely land it on the safe side with regards to the ID. An interesting bird and comments welcome.
Another day of NW and with little change to the birds locally. RB was down for the morning so we birded together from Langdon to South Foreland and back highlights were The ring tail HenHarrier which appears to be a juv male, a single RingOuzel, c30 Siskin,5 Redpoll, Reedbunting and 5 Swallow over.
A visit in the last hour of light to watch the Harrier again was rewarded with great views. Now in its 3rd day here i wonder how long it will stay. Plenty of prey for it : I counted 90 Cornbunting this eve! Below in pursuit of a flushed Snipe.
SW airflow today and with it seeminly less migrants, Bar some Redpoll, siskin and Brambling over there were no Redwing or Fieldfare in Langdon and a RingOuzel around the cafe (whilst looking for the reported YBW) was the only the only thing of note at that end of the patch for me.
I came across the above HenHarrier early yesterday morning as it quartered over the fields near fan bay and towards the farm. It was seen by a few people today too, Sadly there was no sign of either rare Phylloscs in the valley and a Firecrest was my only thing of note in the bushes.
A trip to the Marina to have a look at a frosty juv Arctictern was easy enough to find but the star of the show was this Czech ringed 1CY CaspianGull, sat with all the local herrings on the pontoons near Cullin’s yard. My first Czech ringed bird!
On another pontoon I noticed a 1st winter bird with obvious wing moult but overall tones of a Herring Gull. It Didnt take long however to see it for what it was ; a pale Yellow–LeggedGull with quite delicate scapular pattern, which flew off eventually. Ive seen similar birds in the Med in winter but the advanced moult, head and bill shape plus facial expression and primary projection leave me with no doubts about its ID.
Juv ArcticTern below, I think its been around for a while as Steve R mentioned to me he’d had one. Elegant bird and nice to see so close here.
Strong (and cold!) NW winds today. I Cant really believe that this was found the same day as my Radde’s yesterday but it certainly was! Again congrats to Gerald S and Brendan R. Below is Brendan’s photo of what was a vocal bird today . Glad I saw it and I have a hunch it will stick around. With no sign early doors Mark, Lucy L and and I walked towards the spot they’d seen it in y’day and it began calling as we approached.
Sadly no sign of the Radde’s but some nice birds en route to the valley and back, highlights as follows: Maximum 5, minimum 3 SnowBuntings (reliable male still in situ, 2 birds (looked like a male and female) out over the sea and flying about under the cliff just east of Fan bay, Plus singles over the valley and the farm.
Up to 5 RingOuzel in Langdon hole along with c40 Fieldfare, c55 Redwing, 10 Songthrush and a Mistlethrush. 6 Brambling, and a Swallow flying back and forth around the sheltered undercliff, just how I’d love a rare hirundine to perform one day.
Other things of note were 2 Juv Gannets close in, a RedthroatedDiver on the sea near the lighthouse plus a small party of BrentGeese East.
Ive just seen reports that both Hawfinch and CattleEgret were seen over the valley this afternoon. Just goes to show what increased numbers of eyes can do for a site.