I’m slightly lost for words. At about 10.15 this morning I heard a distant sylvia warbler singing from a line of bushes 30 ft from the cliff on Lighthouse down . At first it sounded like a small syliva singing with a rolling momentum punctuated by pauses, I could hear it wasn’t any of our common breeding sylvias but also not unfamiliar to me. At this point not distinguishable from a number of other options in that family. As I got closer and the bird continued I began to pick out the Sardinian warbler type call notes scattered within the song; stuttered harsh and rapid rattling ‘tt-tt-tt tzek’s which are audible in the video link and recordings below. The bird then went quiet and after an hour of searching I relocated it 150m down at the bottom of the valley, where it called straight up like a Sardinian Warbler several times. It was this call that I found most useful and my moment of confirmation although I still hadn’t seen the bird. I spoke to a couple of friends before putting the news out, to say the words out loud and this helped alot.
UPDATE 31/05/22. It took over a day to get decent enough views but Ive seen the bird in flight several times and moving on the front of a bush aswell as perched a couple of times. It is a nightmare to try and photograph but a fantastic male Sardinian Warbler all the same. To my knowledge, It showed its best on Monday to myself, Rich B and a crowd of 10 or so. Most visiting birders (which there have been many due to the proximity to the Falcon) have either only heard it or seen it in flight (or nothing at all). It has been vocal at periods throughout each day until today (Tuesday 31st) where it seems to have disappeared.
Below are some recordings of the call, recorded on Sunday 29th by Andrew E.
A bright & sunny morning and a light NW met me as I climbed the cliff path. With nothing of note until I reached the Lighthouse and picked up a CaspianTern out to sea.
It was moving North East and circling lazily about. Presumably the recent Pegwell Bay bird out on an excursion, Very exciting to come across it though, a real “Fucking ‘el!” moment.
Lighthouse down held a SpottedFlycatcher and a commonNightingale, which sang on and off from cover but also came to a ‘between the teeth’ whistle and showed it self briefly.
The rest of the afternoon was taken up by two twitches; the first was to see Tony M’s 3rd StripedHawkmoth of the year, the second was to see the Eleanora’sfalcon which was incredible, along side a female Red–footedFalcon and a few Hobbies. Really Glad I went. Great to catch up with some really nice folk.
20 mph SW in the channel delivered a male HoneyBuzzard in off the sea at 10.55 am over st Margarets that circled the east end of the valley and promptly flew off North.
It must have snuck in at the base of the cliffs because I’d been scanning out to sea in the hope of picking one up against the water. In looking I’d seen a flock of 17 CommonScoter fly West and 5 Gannets together East.
There was nothing to report in the bushes. I saw probably 20 of each Swallow and Housemartin and 5 swift. Winds increased in strength during the day so birding called off.
Showers overnight and fairly strong Westerly winds produced a SpottedFlycatcher, GardenWarbler and 2 Hobbies between Langdon Hole and Lighthouse Down. 3 RedKites flew NE and many were seen a few miles North up the coast later in the morning.
Light Southerly winds, a bank of Sea fog over the channel and an early start deliverd for Rich B and I.
As we walked over Light house down at 5.40am we both simultaneously came across parties of Serin with Rich seeing 3 together and I picked up 2. Brief flight views of vocal birds with the 3 birds flying off NW and the 2 seen again shortly just after and then again at 7.40 By Rob R and Ian S. Shortly after the Serin excitement we picked up a Harrier out over the channel which was coming our way which turned out to be a female Hen Harrier.
Bee Eaters were being seen close by and despite efforts to see birds we thought would come our way, we didnt manaage to connect.
Just before 10 am and right on cue I had a female HoneyBuzzard come in off the sea at st Margarets Bay which gathered height over the valley despite the attention of the local crows & gulls. Look away now if you’re not into a few too many HB pics, I cant get enough of the species and have been obsessing over them recently, perfect to see one like this today.
After we left at 11ish news from the area involved a flock of 8 BeeEaters, mostly flying around the monument at Bockhill. Mark and Lucy L also saw presumably the same flock aswell over their garden on light house down and a party of 3 over too but despite my attempts to see them from near my House I failed. A fantastic day on the headland still and thanks to all involved.
After a week of nothing too much to write about news of a RedRumpedSwallow found at Bockhill by Richard H was gladly received. Rich B and myself were out on Lighthouse down and eagerly awaited it flying into the westerly wind and thus towards us. Over an hour later we picked it up moving West with a small mixed flock of Hirundines. Views were alright but photos alot worse, It was exciting all the same and seemed to be part of a wider movement of the species in Kent today with birds seen along the north coast of the county aswell.
Slightly better Pics from Rich B below.
Earlier in the Week Chris C had a Beeeater over the valley, also heard by Lucy L. I had a wing tagged Marshharrier (details soon)hunting near the light house, 2 Hobbies, a few YellowWagtails and a Treepipit, Fairly slim pickings from my part!
Back from what seemed like an age away and a decent morning on the headland, despite the average looking forecast (moderate to strong WSW winds). Good dates though and they delivered: 2 smart Dotterel in off the sea calling and heading North over Langdon Hole just after 8am.
Langdon Hole itself held a male Whinchat, a BlackRedstart and two SpottedFlycatchers. Small parties of Swifts, Swallows and HouseMartins were also arriving and a YellowWagtail flew west.
More Hirundines ‘in off as I walked Eastwards and added WillowWarbler to the day’s birds with one in an isolated hawthorn along the cliff top and another singing in Top wood. 2 Wheatears and a 2 WhiteWagtails were between the fields and Lighthouse down where a Turtledove flew at point blank range from the cliff top towards Mark and Lucy’s garden.
3 RedKites (including wing tagged individual 6J, details below) and c75 Swallows, c30 Swifts and c20 HouseMartin flew West up the Valley whilst I skywatched.
After a few Days away on a Survey in the South of France at the end of April Ive returned home and gone away again! More Survey work, this time in Scotland but I’ll be back mid may for a decent bit of time on the patch. Meanwhile enjoy the below WesternSubalpineWarblers from the hills above Marseille, Hopefully some of the birds of this region will follow me back up to Kent this spring/summer.