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.
Yesterday was very quiet in the bushes, I bumped into Mark and Lucy and watched a handful of CommonScoter Fly up channel from the cliffs near their house. News of BlackKite heading my way was exciting but I somehow managed to miss it. The same or perhaps Another flew West from Bockhill over the patch but despite my legging it up the cliff I couldn’t see it, well done to all involved however!
A change in wind direction over night and what was probably the best morning so far this April for migrants. My First TreePipit of the year flew over North calling as I climbed the cliff path at first light, around 6 WillowWarblers were between Langdon Hole and Foxhill down, where I met Rich B, We had a Ringouzel calling from the thicket in the field north of the Radar station, which flew towards the castle. A few Swallows were around up top also. I left Rich to it as I had a date with a Car boot sale and he Had a TurtleDove fly NW inland from the Lighthouse, and 2 ContinentalCoaltits at Langdon.
I spent an hour or two on the patch after the car boot and had my first LesserWhitethroat of the year, a smart Whitewagtail in off and a Woodlark that seemed to come off the deck near the old lighthouse garden and fly around calling only to disappear towards the valley.
A quieter couple of days for me here but the addition of WillowWarblers (5) and Sandmartin on the 15th was later than expected but still nice. commonWhitethroats seemed in to have arrived in numbers throughout the patch now and the local Swallows appear to be back in business.
Single Yellowwagtails are being seen flying in off the sea as too are the occasional WhiteWagtail, however a flock of 4 of the latter kindly alighted on the recently ploughed field just east of Langdon hole for me on the 15th.
Phil S kindly let me know the whereabouts of 2 flowering EarlySpiderOrchids which I went to have a look for and eventually came across 3 of them. fantastic things.
I spent much of today working out in the garden and the gulls kindly let me know when any Buzzards passed too low for their liking including this pale bird that I’ve not seen locally before. The Peregrines went absolutely ballistic and almost killed it before it moved on.
Another morning of light southerlies, and a sea mist had rolled in and covered the entire channel by the time I was climbing the cliff path.
I cursed it for having formed slightly too late to drop many migrants in, but as I walked through Langdon I heard my first CommonWhitethroats of the year followed by 4 Wheatears and 5 Swallows between Foxhill down and the recently ploughed fields up top.
Another first of the year in the form of a female CommonRedstart was in the old light house garden but the star of the morning was found 500 metres East, on the path in front of me as I walked over Lighthouse down: A Hoopoe!
It was in the worst spot for phone signal and had to leave it whilst trying to put out the news, but within 30 minutes or so a few birders arrived and eventually everyone saw it. Nice to see all the locals today!
I went back for seconds in the afternoon and saw it several times feeding in the same spot I’d found it in earlier.
Other firsts for the year were a YellowWagtail in off and over light house down and a Housemartin over the top wood.
Below: Russ Blackman’s Pic of the Hoops flying infront of the old light house.
Back home and keen to get up the cliffs, today’s warm southerly wind promised more than it delivered but I was very happy to see my first sub-saharan migrants in the form of 2 Wheatears sat on a feed trough in fields off Reach road.
3 Swallows were also counted whilst out including one joyously singing high over Langdon hole flying west.
6 Chiffchaff, 12 Blackcap (also my first heard singing this year) and numbers of other breeders like Linnet, CornBunting and Yellowhammer seem up to last years numbers.
A BlackRedstart was heard singing and a female was noted elsewhere whilst a male Brambling and 6 Siskin flew over the valley. I Look forward to striking other common migrants off the year list this week hopefully.
The past couple of days have seen good numbers of BlackRedstart coming through with a high count on friday of 11 for me (13 for others out on the headland) Thursday was also good for the species with 8/9 Birds seen including 4 males, 2 of which were locked in combat at one point.
Still no trans Saharan migrants for me! and all too late to see one in march as I make my way up to the highlands of Scotland on Sunday for 10 or so days surveying.
A light SSE breeze met me as I climbed the cliff path first thing and my walk Eastwards was punctuated by 3 BlackRedstart and a Woodcock in Langdon Hole.
2 WhiteWagtails flew along the cliffs east of Fan bay but the highlight of the day was a singing Serin in the old light house garden just after 9am.
Unfortunately it was into the light and hard to pin down but it was a joy to hear fully singing initially alongside Goldfinches and then solo. A few of its distinctive calls were heard as it moved further away to the limit of my hearing, where it gave a final few bursts of its high pitched squeezed-out song, I didnt hear it again after that. Bizarrely it was 150 metres from where the other 2 Serin I have seen on the headland have been.
Further searching for the Serin led me along lighthouse down where a Woodlark flew over Colin J and I calling at Height and to the North East , my second of the spring. Up to 4 Brambling including a nice male calling from a cornbunting style perch (one of last yea’s umbellifers) in the middle of a field. Also 4 RedKites came south over the valley, these were seen again over the farm half an hour later, then another 2 came in low above the cliffs as I traipsed back home.
I keep forgetting to mention I had 2 Bottle–noseddolphins from the headland last week, the only other Cetaceans Ive seen here being harbourporpoise.