A morning of arrivals here today with my first Hobby in over the cliffs first thing. Later, both a ring tailed Hen Harrier and a female type Marsh Harrier were picked up distantly out over the water and made their way in taking the same line as one another and probably making landfall a km to the west of the lighthouse as i viewed from Lighthouse down.

21 swallow, 4 House martin, 12 yellow&3 white wagtails 3 Tree pipit (my first of the year) also flew in off the sea, A single Redwing was aalso on Lighthouse down while 2 willow Warblers at Langdon and a male common Redstart in Fan bay area. 10+ wheatear were counted during the morning.

22/04/23 Turtle Dove

Light Southerlies and overcast skies, clearing by mid morning sounded good on paper but delivered a deathly quiet morning in the bushes. A single Willow Warbler as I climbed the cliff path, a Yellow wagtail in off, 6 Swallow and singles of House and Sand martin while 6 Common and 2 Lesser Whitethroats were noted during the morning.

A Turtle dove saved the day on light house down, appearing in the top of an ash tree before flying down into the valley and showing nicely atop another large leafless tree in a garden. Perhaps still around as it dropped down, presumably to feed.

2 Red Kites and 5 Buzzards floated high over the valley aimlessly and a flock of 41 Brent Geese and several Sandwich terns flew up Channel while 10 Med Gulls flew down Channel calling.


A quiet period since the last post although a small selection of migrants seen across the headland: Common Whitethroats have arrived, a Lesser Whitethroat was singing in Langdon hole on the 20th, 2 Willow Warbler and 2 Ring ouzel on the 19th and a smattering of Yellow Wagtails and Barn Swallows in off most mornings plus the odd Wheatear whilst Black Redstart are being heard singing in a few places.

With it quiet in the bushes I’ve turned some attention to the sea, with the geography of this place keeping seawatching mostly poor and birds distant – South Easterly winds today pushed birds closer to land and around 400 Bartailed Godwit went through just west of the harbour at shakey this afternoon, along with 115 Whimbrel, 66 Brent geese with around double figures of Gannet, Kittiwakes, Common scoter and Sandwich terns.

Whimbrel & Bar tailed Godwits close in from shakey beach.

A less productive sea watch the day before was highlighted by 2 Redbreasted Mergansers and the adult Glaucous Gull, who’s still hanging round to my surprise.

08/04/23 Serin

Light NW winds and sunshine with a cloud bank moving in from the East and my first Yellow Wagtail of the year in off the sea first thing. 2 Swallows and 3 House martins did the same thing followed by the highlight – a Serin which came straight over the cliff right in front of Michael Mcnaghten and I as we walked east from Fan bay.

The bird dropped into the gorse then flew another 100m and perched in the blackthorn above the entrance to the deep shelter. Brief views of it here before if carried on West, a dull female but nice still.

3 Brambling flew North, small numbers of Siskin and perhaps 150 chaffinches. 4 White Wagtails and a Red kite were also noted.

07/04/23 Short-toed Treecreeper!

Before he moved to Dorset Ian Hodgson told me that the first day of a North westerly here along the cliffs was ‘not to be missed’. A water pipit over langdon and 3 Swallows in off the sea were my first notable birds of the day, a relatively small number of Chaffinches (240) were moving North but the morning kicked into gear when I caught a glimpse of a Treecreeper sp on the edge of Fan bay. It was initially seen in flight but then perched in a low gorse bush and It looked to have a long decurved bill and brownish flanks.

It flew down into the dense scrub of Fan bay with me in pursuit, running over the features in my head from the bird I’d found less than a km to the west in 2019. I was able to see it again and took some distant photos. The initial shots showed a nice gradual primary wing bar made up of pointed, not blunt, blocks with a small spot on p4. The primary tips showed nice, clearly demarcated white tips rather than the washy looking diffuse crescent shaped tips of eurasian treecreeper and seemed to have the correct spacing between p6, p7 and p8. I could see a pale unbroken fringe to the outer web of the alula and a pale buff coloured (rather than white) super, that didnt extent down the nape, a clean white throat with slightly grey breast sides contrasting with brown flanks.

Everything was looking good for Short toed treecreeper and the bird showed well despite being mostly obscured but at this time was making the high pitched waxwing like call, reminiscent of eurasian treecreeper. It flew up again to the gorse and continued along a line of small isolated bushes, it was at this point I first heard it give the coal tit-like call as it flew between isolated bushes near the main path, confirming it as a Shorttoed Treecreeper. The news went out and the bird flew back into the shelter of Fan bay. more close views and photos revealed distal darkening to the tail tips and an all pale lower mandible, the hind claw also appeared to be shorter than the toe.

Local legend Phil Smith and visiting birder Micheal Mcnaghten were the first to arrive and after 20 or so minutes saw it moving about within the blackthorn aswell as perched. After this it flew to the very edge of the cliff and wasn’t seen again despite 5 or 6 birders looking.

I did a quick loop of the valley and had a superb male Common Redstart plus 10 Swallows flying into the NW wind.

Click here for short toed treecreeper id notes, (based on 2019 Langdon bird)

03/04/23 Water Pipit

A moderate Easterly wind, clouds clearing to sunshine by mid am and the morning’s highlight was a smart summer plumaged Water pipit that flew along the cliff tops calling. Id suspected hearing one yesterday but the bird was too high to get views of which made todays bird all the more satisfying.

My first swallows of the year also, with 12 counted throughout the morning including the birds that breed at the office buildings in the car park, singing overhead. 2 Sand martin over the valley, c1,000 Chaffinch (I didn’t pay full attention as many birds were high up and moving on a broad front) Id counted 2,015 on Saturday. A single Brambling, 340 Siskin, 3 Black Redstart (including a singing bird) 6 Firecrest, 11 Chiffchaff and 2 Grey Partridge. A male Marsh harrier came in high off the sea over the lighthouse just before 11am, my third in the past month.