Archive | April 2016

South Saxons and the Pier


The South Saxons Local Nature Reserve and adjoining green spaces is full of wildlife as well as an essential outdoors asset for local people. I had a quick walk through this morning to see what birds I could record. Cetti’s warblers were singing from the willow carr marsh (above) as well as near the pond. There were Lesser whitethroats singing in three places and I thought I heard a Sedge warbler briefly. Song thrush was singing loudly from nearby Poplars.


Later in the day a quick look around the Pier, just opened. The carpentry is excellent and the sense of space on the end gives an exhilarating vista of the sea and townscape.

Remaining cold and not too much recorded along the coast in recent days. An occasional Swallow or Wheatear passing inland.


Sea passage

High atmospheric pressure recently with a cold NE circulation on the coast. The spring migrants not keen on tracking close in here in these conditions and there has not been much to record lately. However, today was interesting. Overcast, the sea white-flecked and the colour of charcoal. After very little seen at all early on there were some birds passing eastwards from late morning;-

Great skua 2, Arctic skua 1, nine each of Whimbrel and Bar-tailed godwit, one drake Red-breasted merganser, 62 Scoters, 5 Gannets and 5 Great black-backed gulls. Towards evening terns started to appear in moderate numbers, feeding rather than migrating through.

Recent notes

Linnets passing west over the coast this morning. Little noted offshore recently although there have been Brent geese and Mediterranean gulls passing recently. Swallows continue to be seen coming in and I have noted a small number only of Common and Lesser whitethroats. However, a male Common redstart was at Galley Hill today, flitting among Elder branches and dropping to the ground after prey.

The cleptoparasitic bee Melecta albifrons in numbers on a sunlit stretch of the sandstone sea cliff there, where they were attempting to find and access the nest chambers of their host, the Hairy-footed Flower Bee Anthophora plumipes.


Melecta albifrons


Melecta albifrons

Warming up


Andrena flavipes


Common whitethroat and Lesser whitethroat appeared the last two days  just one of each species – Swallows are arriving every day along with Goldfinches and Linnets. Offshore Sandwich terns have been passing in numbers and today a Curlew and Bar-tailed godwit recorded as well as some Whimbrels.

Nights continue to be cool or even cold and trees here generally appear bare with not much leafing out.

Marina today

The tide well out at 8 this morning. Slight haze, 4/8ths cloud (and a halo around the Sun as yesterday though less strong) with a fitful light easterly breeze. Becoming calm and overcast by midday.

Watched for passage from 8.10 to 11.30 with a 40 minute break from 9.30.

Passage up-Channel of Black-throated diver 1, Red-throated diver 2, Greylag goose, 3 from east flew inland, Brent goose 86, Pintail 6, Teal 2, Shoveler 2, Red-breasted merganser 9, Common scoter 366, Black-headed gull 26, Common gull 10, Mediterranean gull 3, Sandwich tern 92, ‘Commic’ tern 1, Cormorant 6, Oystercatcher 1, Pied wagtail 1 and Linnet 8.


Recent notes

April 9th

Full cloud cover and a SSW breeze. From the Marina early on two Swallows arrived and a Wheatear appeared on the prom. Otherwise 90 Brent geese recorded during the day, 39 Common scoters and two or more Shovelers seen briefly as they passed with Scoters.

April 10th

ESE light breeze increasing during the morning and going more east in the day, often sunny or high cloud and cold in the wind. From Marina at 8.10 and until 13.55 with an hour out mid morning. Passage east of;-

Linnet 2, Great crested grebe 2, Black-throated diver 1, Common gull 21, Mediterranean gull 6, Black-headed gull 13, Sandwich tern 78, Common tern 1, Common scoter 142, Eider 2, Shoveler 8, Brent goose 176, Whimbrel 4 and Dunlin 3.

A Common tern flew east over St Leonards Gardens in the afternoon.


Along the coast

Spring advances steadily, although heavy cold rain yesterday evening felt like a return to winter. The warming sun becoming hot but the air remains cold in shade and breeze. A few recent notes include a dazzling Comma butterfly feeding on Sloe blossom at Tilekiln recently and a Willow warbler singing from scrub at the Hastings cliffs where a migrant Goldcrest foraged for food in a solitary Oak.

This morning the calls of Mediterranean gulls above Bulverhythe alerted me to a swift-moving vee formation of thirteen adults that passed eastwards above the coast, travelling intently towards unknown nesting grounds. A shimmering, rippling arrowhead of white, black and coral-red against the hazy blue beyond.


A few Woodpigeons also passed and there were four crows and a Jackdaw passing east and three Rooks flew south.


An article in the Brighton ‘Evening Argus’ about the cost of shingle removal along the Brighton prom. The shingle is increasingly coming up onto the prom there just as it is along the Hastings and Bexhill coast.

The article made me want to write that paradoxically, the shingle is also a protection for the built coast as well as an obstruction after stormy weather. The shingle acts as a valuable covering for the sediment beach. Long shore drift constantly moves shingle eastwards along the coast and as we get to Rye Bay we can see the constant efforts made to replace drifted shingle .

At the same time, without constant engineering and maintenance of the coastline the natural processes of coastal erosion and deposition, to say nothing about the river drainage systems, would make for a much altered and dynamic series of coastal habitats.

On the bird front today some further passage of Common gulls and Brent geese recorded. While walking at Glyne Gap marsh I noticed two male Blackbirds flying together, then a third bird flew up from the sedge marsh towards the ivy covered hedges where it perched and revealed itself to be a Ring ousel.

A Little egret flew eastwards over Galley Hill and I had seen one there recently.


Recent note

A light southerly becoming SSE and although warm and sunny the afternoon became overcast with drizzle. Before the rain I watched from Marina where there was a steady passage of gulls for a time.

11.40 – 13.05

Linnet 1, Cormorant 5, Brent goose 14, Common gull 54, Black-headed gull 68. Sandwich tern 6 and Scoter 2 passed eastwards and three Shelducks flew west.

Passage petered out later although an adult Kittiwake was a welcome record.

Below;- this Green Tiger Beetle was out on the Galley Hill cliff top yesterday, an insect I associate with hot summer days.



Green Tiger Beetle Cicindela campestris