10/09/22

Gerald S has been having great success with first calander year Caspian Gulls on Deal beach recently, and with massive numbers of Lesser Blackbacks moving west along the coast this morning I thought it worth a try after the normal circuit up the cliffs.

This large and loud 1cy Caspian Gull came in to check us out, along with 3 or 4 1cy YLGs and some nice looking LBBs.

06/09/22 Another Wryneck + Hen Harrier

A blustery morning with 28 mph SSW gusts – abit too strong for the bushes but a steady stream of Gulls passing the cliffs although most too high for proper inspection, at least 3 Yellow Legged Gulls were counted. Very little passerine migration was noted until I got just west of the memorial at Reach road where I flushed a Wryneck from the ground, near the fence line. It flew into isolated cover and showed briefly before moving deeper within. Perhaps a different bird to the 2 that are being seen around Foxhill down? and perhaps different still to a bird reported by photographers near the radar station first thing? who knows.

I was up that way looking for a ring tailed Harrier I’d seen briefly over the farm and eventually saw again. It appeared to show quite a broad wing but a seemingly pointed ‘hand’ in flight. Inspection of the photos revealed 4 long primaries at the wing tip, and my brain leapfrogged into older female Pallid harrier plumages despite overall tonal/structural/flight impression not too differing from more familiar Hen Harrier.

After some back and forth with LP, DS and JAB and closer inspection of the images it seems clear that its an older (2cy+) female Hen Harrier, in active wing moult and therefore an outer primary down on each wing, In Fact you can see p8 growing – giving the ‘slim handed’ impression, an artefact not visible in the field.

05/09/22 7 Dotterel, Wryneck + Casps

My first morning back after Falsterbo and the shadow of what sounded like a decent weekend lingered in the way of 2 Pied Flys, 2 Whinchats, 2 Redstarts and eventually one of the Wryneck that Steve C & Julian R found y’day showed briefly on my walk home over Fox Hill Down.

up to 5 first calendar year Yellow legged gulls were counted among the stream of mostly Lesser black backed gulls moving West along the cliff tops but a female 1CY Caspian Gull trumped them.

The Eastern end of the patch was quiet bar a Firecrest but as i walked back over Wanstone farm I heard the sound of several Dotterel calling at once and looked up to see a small flock of birds heading south.

A mix of adults and Juvs. I Probably would have better photos if I hadn’t stayed on them in the bins as long but a nice moment all the same and bringing my total to 11 individuals on the patch this year! (1 of which heard only)

With the news that Gerald S had seen 2 Caspian Gulls on Deal beach I tried the Marina and had 2 YLG and a nice 2CY Caspian Gull.

25-29/08/22

A Hasty post as I pack my bags for 5 days at Falsterbo, Sweden from tomorrow. Despite coverage every morning recently the patch has been a little slim on numbers of migrants however another Dotterel flew over Ian S and I at Langdon Hole on the 25th, Ian went on to find a Wryneck moments later which I failed to see.

A smattering of migrants in the days after and things like Whinchat and Spotted Fly being seen daily. A pied flycatcher on the 28th was a highlight along with 3 Green sandpipers and today’s surprise a Redwing calling and perched in the valley! along with 2 Firecrest and a Hobby.

24/08/22 Osprey & Dotterel

An overcast start to the day and light SSE winds delivered some new birds for Rich B and I as we made our way East from Foxhill down first thing.

A tree pipit and good numbers of Willows (my best day for the latter species so far this year ending on 30 birds) Some yellow wagtails over and still great numbers of common Sylvias but the morning really kicked off with a Juv Osprey heading NW along the cliffs at light house down.

The bird continued over Bockhill and out of sight, only my second here and first ive seen in autumn. Still counting decent numbers of common migrants in the valley plus brief views of a Spotted Flycatcher, we headed to the farm where we caught up with at least 5 Whinchat, the highest count so far this year.

As we stood watching, our ears pricked at the sound of a much anticipated call, a Dotterel! which seemed to appear from towards the cliffs and came our way. The bird flew around calling pretty much constantly, briefly putting down in a stubble field before another lap of the area we stood in and continuing west.

A very nice encounter with a bird that shares a special history with the area.

Once back up on Fox hill down we added our autumn’s first Common Redstart and a few swift to the day count plus ended up at almost 100 Swallow west.

A late evening visit back up Foxhill down and another look at the Redstart which was in the same place as earlier whilst c100 Med Gulls fed on Flying Ants above.

18/08/22 Another Honey Buzzard

This female Honey Buzzard came in from the west and right over head just inland from the South foreland valley, It may have even been roosting in Top wood as it was only tree height when first seen.

It circled and flew north, perhaps will try and leave again later today. The 7th bird I have seen here along the headland since late May.

HBs are the best – they get me going every time!

Also Myself and visiting birder David C saw a Pied fly, 3 Whinchat, a few willows here and there and a Golden Plover, I also heard Ringed plover and a few yellow wags earlier and half heard what sounded very much like Dotterel but distantly and only once.

14-16/08/22

Much the same weather on the 14th (moderate NE winds and high pressure) and up to 5 Pied Flycatchers and 2 Spotted Flycatchers around the Corrale at Langdon.

The Hen Harrier was still over fields on Wanstone farm on the 14th but not seen since.

A clear out on the 15th but a few Willow warblers here and there plus numbers of Lesser and Common Whitethroats still, a Golden Plover flew over the farm and a Hobby flew over the western end of the patch.

The 16th was fairly quiet with similarly small numbers of common migrants but my first Grasshopper warbler of the autumn plus 5 Sedge Warblers were in suitable cover between the lighthouse and the two copses.

up to 10 Wheatear and a Tree pipit also noted, plus a few Jersey Tiger moths and this nice Hummingbird Hawkmoth.

13/08/22 Autumn HB season begins

A light South Easterly and 26 degrees by 7am made for some decent birding today. Langdon hole held a Pied Flycatcher, feeding on the path in the second valley, a Tree pipit over and a Whinchat was along the fence at the memorial pull-in.

Another 2/3 Whinchat between fanbay and southforeland where a pied fly was still in the NW end of the wood and a Ring tailed harrier briefly quartered the stubble field between the coppices. Distance, dreadful heathaze and brief views delayed me in figuring out it was as suspected a Hen Harrier. It Showed again and flew into cover near Wanstone farm and wasn’t seen to fly out. Id imagine a bird from Calais, where they are easy to see and breed in the giant farmland landscapes over there.

The star of the show came just after midday as I walked back home via upper/reach road: a Female Honey Buzzard, picked up low coming straight for me from the direction of Langdon cliffs.

It flew low over the top fields and circled right over head before continuing on due North. Very much what they do in spring and even on the exact kind of weather. Isnt it time some of them were leaving!

Turnstone, Greenshank and Golden Plover were all heard over the patch today aswell.

12/08/22 First Pied Fly’s of Autumn

Another moderate NE wind and warm conditions first thing. Rich B and I birded from Foxhill Down to South Foreland and back and tallied up: 2 Pied Flycatchers (one atop the cliffs just west of Fan bay and the other along the edge of Top wood) 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Whinchat, 1 Tree Pipit (my first for Autumn) 2 Yellow Wagtails, Reed + Sedge warblers and 12 Willow Warblers, 5 Wheatear, 2 Black Redstart also small numbers of hirundines were noted and a single juv Yellow Legged Gull. A common Sandpiper flew across the harbour as I was having a swim at lunchtime.

The first Pied Fly, originally picked up perched on a cliff top bench, then worked its way along the fence line and fed on the ground at the very highest peak of the cliffs before hopping over the edge and heading towards Langdon. Very enjoyable!

There are still a few obvious omissions including Common Redstart to the autumn’s bird list but today certainly provided a little boost.

11/08/22

A light sea mist hung over the cliff tops this morning and the light NE winds and sunshine took a couple hours to burn it off but it had dropped in a small selection of autumns migrants. Namely a Whinchat, a Spotted Flycatcher, a Nightingale, Reed and Sedge warblers all in Langdon Hole, where many lesser and common whitethroats and still 2 Black Redstarts were also found. A Golden plover flew over calling and unseen plus c20 Sand martins and a handful of Swallows. An afternoon Skywatch resulted in 8 Common Buzzards, 2 Red Kites and c10 Swift all East.

The past couple of days have been mostly quiet with small numbers of Willows being counted and very little else.

Juvenile Yellowlegged gulls have been seen flying along the cliff tops and in the harbour but it wasnt untill today that i was able to photograph one nicely amoung the local gulls on the harbour beach, some second generation scapulars moulting through on this bird.

Silver Spotted Skippers are on the wing on light house down.