Archive | September 2016

Passage today

A Chiffchaff on the prom early on suggested another arrival and so it was;-

North’s Seat 8.10

7/8ths with a mild westerly breeze becoming showery later with spells of hot sun.

9 Chiffchaffs, 6 Blackcaps and 5 Dunnocks.

Barley Lane-Covehurst-East Hill 8.30

Overhead passage feeble, perhaps due to lowering air pressure and the presence of rain clouds over the SW Channel.

Grey wagtail 1 W, Pied wagtail 1 in, Meadow pipit 120 in fields and 67 over, Yellow wagtail 9 in fields, 4 W and 1 in. Chaffinch 4 over.

130 Swallows, 2 Wheatears, 45 Chiffchaffs and 8 Blackcaps.



A mild WSW wind strengthening. 4/8ths.

St Leonards 7am.

100 or more Meadow pipits, 4 Grey wagtails, 3 Pied wagtails and 3 Swallows passed westwards and 2 Chiffchaffs flew in over the prom.

North’s Seat 8.20

Quite windblown by now. 3 Mistle thrushes, 17 Chiffchaffs and 4 Blackcaps.

Barley Lane to East Hill 9.10

A juvenile Honey buzzard at 10.25 watched sailing and flapping steadily SW over Clive Vale and Old Town, having attracted alarm calls from gulls. The bird was quite dark but with a noticeable warm-coloured underbody. At 10.45 another sighting of a Honey buzzard, flying from the north and circling over East Hill before flapping southwards and going out to sea.

16 Yellow wagtails, mainly with cattle. 1 Redstart, 6 Chiffchaffs and also Swallow 20 W.

Sea passage today

Remaining warm, although there were distinct signs of autumn setting in amongst the birds passing offshore St Leonards today. After a calm night a SSW wind sprang up early on and I watched on and off from 8.45.

Gannet 19 E and 30 W. One juvenile seen, the majority being adults with some sub-adult birds. Young birds winter further south than those more mature. Birds were actively fishing.

Black-headed gull 18 W 4 E.

Common gull 8 W, all juveniles.

Little gull 2 W including a bird in adult winter plumage which landed on the sea.

Mediterranean gull 1 adult W.

Kittiwake 1 adult W.

Great skua 1 passing W at 13.45.

Common scoter small parties passing W totalled 33 birds plus 1 E.

Teal 2 W with Scoters.

Brent goose 7 W,

Auk sp. 5 W thought to be Guillemots.

Recent notes



September 25th 6/8ths. SW wind and remaining very mild or warm.

Marina 7.05 Gannet 22 W 5 E, Sandwich tern 4 W, Great black-backed gull 4 W.

A walk from Galley hill to St Leonards at midday. One Wheatear and 7 Swallows along the shore and a Common sandpiper with a Grey wagtail both feeding in the Bulverhythe sluice.

September 26th

Marina. A Hobby tried to take a Grey wagtail above the rooftops, failed and then circled upwards. Later there was some evidence of passage over the sea with 8 Gannets feeding and an adult Mediterranean gull with the larger gulls offshore. An adult Kittiwake flew West as did 2 juvenile Common gulls and a pair of Little egrets.

Yellow-legged gull

Juveniles of the  Yellow-legged gull Larus michahellis appear in Sussex during the summer. There was an individual of this close relative of the Herring gull perched on the shingle beach at the Marina this afternoon. It was among the Herring gulls but attracted attention as it was very nervous and obviously was not accustomed to close approach. Taking wing eventually it flew eastwards leaving the loafing Herring gulls behind, many of which had not bothered to move as I walked among them. This bird has begun to moult towards first-winter plumage.

Resting places


North’s Seat 7.45. Clear and calm, becoming warm.

11 Chiffchaffs, 60 House martins and 23 Meadow pipits.

Barley Lane-Covehurst-East Hill

1 Reed warbler, 26 Chiffchaffs, 1 Willow warbler, 9 Blackcaps, 5 Whitethroats, 5 Yellow wagtails, 150 Meadow pipits, 4 Stonechats and a Reed bunting. One of the Stonechats was resting in Hawthorn and Brambles below the Shearbarn playing field, and it was alongside the only Willow warbler seen today. This is part of a surviving wild area above Clive Vale which contributes to the remaining refuges of the migrating birds locally.

Some overhead passage Westwards of Skylark 3, Swallow 275, House martin 310, Chaffinch 2 and Pied wagtail 2.


A quieter spell for small bird passage with many summer-visiting insectivorous songbirds having departed. However, Chiffchaffs have continued to pass through with smaller numbers of Blackcaps, two species which winter in numbers in the Olive-tree zones of the Mediterranean. Blackcaps do not seem to have arrived in large numbers. There is no shortage of food and last week I watched as several birds devoured Rowan berries, seeming to have harvested much of the crop from the small tree. Rowans are widespread as single trees here and provide a good crop of berries in the earlier autumn.

September 20th

North’s Seat 8.25 9/8ths cloud and a light N breeze.

9 Chiffchaffs.

Barley Lane

7 Chiffchaffs. Meadow pipit 8 N.

September 21st

Combe Haven to Pebsham 3.30

9 Chiffchaffs and 3 Blackcaps.

September 22nd

North’s Seat 7.30 8/8ths. Mild light breeze or calm.

52 Chiffchaffs, 1 Willow warbler, 4 Blackcaps, 6 Robins and 9 Dunnocks.

Barley Lane to Coastguard Lane

14 Chiffchaffs and 7 Blackcaps. Also 65 Meadow pipits on pasture/stubble along with 14 Linnets and 70 Goldfinches while 30 Meadow pipits and fifteen Linnets passed over.





East Hill Looking towards West Hill with Beachy Head beyond.



An overcast day but often still and remaining warm, the Ivy flowers loud with the buzzing of Bees, Flies and Wasps.

St Leonards 7.30

Grey wagtail 2 high above calling, also Meadow pipit 8 and Swallow 5 over and 3 Chiffchaffs outside the window.

North’s Seat 8.30

Quiet in places but an obvious arrival of Chiffchaffs on high ground.

32 Chiffchaffs, 7 Blackcaps, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Redstart and 4 Dunnocks.

Yellow wagtail 2 S and Meadow pipit 119 N or NE.

Barley Lane to East Hill 9.45

2 Stonechats, 3 Redstarts, 1 Spotted flycatcher, 48 Chiffchaffs, 15 Blackcaps, 1 Whitethroat, 3 Goldcrests and 3 Dunnocks. Also the newly harvested Oats attracting 14 Rooks to the stubble.

Meadow pipit 51 N or E and Grey wagtail 1 W.


A better day, with the North wind easing away and some warm sunshine later.

West Hill 6.15 – 6.45 Mike

House martin 1500 present. Meadow pipit 120 East and Grey wagtail 7 East.


St Leonards to Pebsham 10.45

9 Chiffchaffs, 1 Blackcap and 1 Whitethroat. 200 or more House martins present early on.

Meadow pipit 40 N, 4 W and 9 on field.

Marina 4.20 pm.

Passage of Swallow 50 NE


Aeshna cyanea Southern Hawker. Female. Combe Haven, East Sussex. September 18th 2016.

When the north wind blows

The passage of a Cold Front yesterday introducing a northerly airflow, lower temperatures and rain has brought many House martins to the coast here. They spent the day feeding in the shelter of coastal trees and cliffs as well as buildings. Hundreds were present from Rockanore and West Hill through to Galley Hill. Perhaps 800 to a 1000 passed westwards through the day.

Meadow pipits are also affected, the advance guards of the autumn passage caught unawares by rain, mist  and cold wind over the Channel. At least 80 seen, mainly flying in off the sea as singles or in small parties.

Ten Chiffchaffs, 1 Whitethroat and 1 Lesser whitethroat in cover and a total of four single Little egrets also recorded along the coast today.