Archive | November 2016

Eastbourne and Pevensey today

A bus trip out to West Rise marsh. A highlight was the Forest School and seeing children had been pond-dipping. One of the teachers told me that there are large populations of Water Boatmen at the moment.

Wintering birds known to be present included Slavonian grebe and Long-tailed duck which I had good views of, both birds diving for food.

I got the bus to Pevensey Bay and walked along the beach towards Norman’s Bay where Chris Ball had discovered a male Desert wheatear yesterday during the cold easterly gale.. Towards the eastern end of the beach houses the wheatear appeared, flying out from a shingle garden and flycatching about the beach. Later on the bird appeared again, flying before me as I walked towards the Martello Tower. It often performed right-angled turns when flying very low over shingle and sand, rather like a sandy and brown-grey Spotted flycatcher, then scrambling over ground before flying up to perch on low deadheads of Sea beet and others, where it looked Whinchat-like with the light supercillia. A pristine male in fresh plumage, the rump was quite sandy-buff except a paler area towards the mantle. Well camouflaged in the habitat there.

I had already had some excitement as a Black redstart had appeared in one of the gardens. Also, offshore, a range of wildfowl included 3 Eiders not too far out, over fifty Scoter, a flock of four Velvet scoters flying east, six Brent geese and three Red-throated divers too.




In on a cold wind

November 24th

A scattered band of birds far out over the sea and struggling towards land against a NE wind proved to be eighteen or more Lapwings.

November 27th

A solitary Curlew flying west offshore this afternoon.

November 28th

Bergmann’s rule ‘States that in geographically variable species of ENDOTHERMIC animals, body size tends to be larger in cooler regions of a species range, selection at low temperatures allegedly favouring individuals with small surface area/body mass ratios on account of their reduced heat loss…’ Dictionary of Biology. Penguin reference’ p.74.

This morning a very large adult Herring gull on the beach at Marina, with other gulls. It showed many features of Larus argentatus argentatus. The mantle a darker shade than other adults nearby. The tertials with a very broad white band, the scapulars not strongly tipped, the tail short, the body enormous. Head with a strongly produced face and bill. Wing mirrors noticeable. An exaggerated length between the scapular and tertial tips with a flattened and messy look to the wing. The bird appeared quite nervous but rested along with most gulls today as a strong cold easterly blew.

I decided to try and load all my mini lumix photos of this one.


After Angus

The Meteorological Office have started giving names to our Atlantic storms in the style of the naming of tropical hurricanes. So we have had ‘storm Angus’ pass through, typically with SE gale going S then W before clearing with a cold NW wind behind. Then a southerly gale came through, covering roads and paths with fallen leaves, twigs and branches.

The shingle was swept from some sections of beach at Marina. Groyne panels broken away here and there and at Bexhill.

Gulls were feasting on carpets of shattered Mussels after the storm. Calmer today at Bexhill with a NE flattening the sea and many Herring gulls with  few Great black-backed gulls on low tide rock ledges feeding on Common Starfish Asterias rubens.

A gathering of at least 265 Common scoters was offshore from Bexhill.


Over a hundred Kittiwakes circling in a sunlit swarm above the sea far beyond the pier today, a fabulous sight against dark purple rainclouds over the Channel. These must be birds reported by Alan some days ago. I expect that many of the gulls I saw off St Leonards during the large influx were Kittiwakes as well as the large number of Mediterranean gulls. There were eight Mediterranean gulls together by Goat Ledge a few days ago, but now these seem all to have departed.

Already lots of shingle on the lower prom. A very fast swell with waves coming up without cresting onto the top of the beach, catching gulls unawares as they forage for Mussels.

A sheltered coast


Erigeron glaucus Seaside Daisy. St Leonards November 2016. One of the Fleabanes and naturalised on some walls.


Senecio viscosus Sticky Groundsel. Bulverhythe Beach November 2016.



Cyperus eragrostis. A naturalised Sedge, Cyperaceae. St Leonards roadside. November 2016.

Thank you to Jacqueline Rose for the plant identifications.

Sea passage today

Continuous rain overnight into the morning when a strong and gusty ENE went NW. There was a passage of Gannets as the wind changed;-

Auk sp 24 E, Gannet 370 E 12 W, Pochard 7 E, Scoter 9 E, Teal 2 E, duck sp. 8 E, Red-throated diver 1 E, Great black-backed gull 6 E and 25 Starlings came in.

Less busy in the afternoon with a diver sp. E and an adult Kittiwake W.

Take ten

Not advice from my GP, but a memo to self on how many photos to take of a gull in order to get a half-decent picture.

Wind dropped after yesterday’s gale, NNW going NW later and variable cloud. Wildfowl noticeable offshore from the harbour

St Leonards – Hastings Hbr 8.30 Duck sp 110 W, Mallard 1 W, Goldeneye 2 E, Wigeon 12 E, Shelduck 3 ,. Red-throated diver 1 W,  Great crested grebe 2 on sea.

225 Starlings came in.

Galley Hill (including Steve) morning. 1 Knot, 2 Curlews, 1 Redshank, 1 Dunlin, 1 Purple sandpiper. 1 Shelduck E, 3 Goldeneyes, 120 Common scoters, 25 Wigeon and 3 Red-breasted mergansers.

200+ Starlings came in.

Due North


A ferocious northerly, although sheltered and warm, often sunny, along the prom. Mainly dry despite prolonged rains to the east.

Large numbers of gulls sheltering along the beach in mixed flocks with an unusual combination here of Mediterranean gulls and Common gulls alongside Black-headed and Herring gulls. I took a series of photos with my mini lumix. There was an adult northern Herring gull Larus argentatus argentatus resting with one of the flocks (top left of top left picture).

The northern Herring gulls do not arrive in Britain until late in the autumn, unlike Great black-backed gulls from Scandinavia which arrive here much earlier in the season.

All the birds were tired and some preening, many roosting.

Little passage seen during the day. Goldeneye 1 W, Brent goose 24 W 1 E, Scoter 2 E 1 W, Diver sp. 2 singles W and Gannet 20 E. 22 Starlings came in.


Winter in the wings

p1050584Cold northerlies set in and there has been an abrupt decline in the autumn landbird passage. On November 2nd a visit to East Hill at 6.55 was surprising in that so few birds were passing;- Reed bunting 1 W, Woodpigeon 102 over, Linnet 21 W, Goldfinch 20 E.

Early morning walks since then have not recorded any passage. However, there has been an ecological event reported in The Channel offshore with a large stranding and influx of small fish. Gannets, Kittiwakes and other gulls were seen feeding on the small fish. The shoaling seems to have come to an end with the colder Northerly of the last two days. This afternoon after having been out twice I had a look from the window and noticed a line of small gulls riding on the sea some way out. There were at least 200 gulls and at least half of them appeared to be Mediterranean gulls. The flock drifted eastwards towards the Pier. Otherwise a highlight was a diver sp. West, 34 Common gulls W, 3 Kittiwakes W and 23 auks east.

Stomorhina lunata


Stomorhina lunata Calliphoridae.

The egg parasite of the Desert Locust. I photographed this fly at Ivy on East Hill today. There have been numbers of records in Britain.