Mist on a cold morning, the wind changing from the east as Atlantic weather approaches, columns of white smoke from chimney pots showing the change in direction, the breeze becoming stronger and bringing rain for the afternoon. Walking up to the Ridge there was no sign of passage – yet at the Cemetery I managed a count of 135 Redwings, the thrushes gusting along like grey and brown drifts of falling leaves between the Yews, perching up warily in bare Oaks, watching intently as a male Sparrowhawk clipped between the groves of dark evergreen. Rasping faintly they sped off towards the low woodland of Coghurst leaving behind 18 Blackbirds that were absorbed in their feast of Yew and Holly. Only a couple of Mistle thrushes there. However while walking on to St Helens several of these large thrushes were spotted in one of the few remaining roadside Beeches, noticed as they stooped to and fro to an ornamental garden Holly, using the giant tree as a perch and refuge between their forages. As I went on down to Silverhill the first drops of rain appeared, falling from a blanket of lilac cloud dampening the golden crowns of the old Oaks.
Cold NE and overcast.
Combe Haven Country Park 7-10 SR Brambling 1 N, Fieldfare 340 NE, Redwing 180 on or N, 40 Blackbirds, a Chiffchaff, six Goldcrests, 14 Water rails, 62 Skylarks, 45 Meadow pipits and five Water pipits.
Combe Haven Country Park 7.05-10.05 SR Redwing 230 on, Brambling 1 NE, Chaffinch 5 NE, Siskin 2 NE, Redpoll 3 N, Fieldfare 420 NE, three Chiffchaffs, 60 Meadow pipits and 85 Teal.
Hastings AG at about 7.20 a flock of 59 White-fronted geese appeared from the SW and passed over the town, not very high up, initially in several groups then birds falling into line with the main ‘V’ as they passed heading between E and NE.
In the early afternoon a flock of 65 Fieldfares flew NE over the town and later a flock of 18 Redwings in the same direction.
Fairlight cliff 7.30-8 AP a distinct Easterly passage with Goldfinch 150, Siskin 25, Chaffinch 20, Brambling 1 and Skylark 5. Also Starling 20 W.
Barley-East Hill am AG 250 Woodpigeons in one field. Fifty Fieldfares by Home Farm. 20 Blackbirds. Wintering Skylarks, yellowhammers and Reed buntings noted. An occasional passage during the later morning East of Chaffinch 48, Redwing 10, Skylark 3, Stock dove 7, Meadow pipit 2, Linnet 1, Greenfinch 1, Siskin 5 and Goldfinch 8. Also a Song thrush seen to come in off the sea.
During mid-afternoon and very murky already with low cloud to the west I noted some thrushes passing from my south-facing window, a flock of fifty Fieldfares followed later by one of 35 and then a flock of seven Redwings. All flying rapidly eastwards just above rooftop height over Hastings.
Pottering about in the sunlit kitchen this morning I began to realise that birds were passing low over the town from the direction of the coast. From 8.45 to midday, with gaps, from the window and from West Hill the following were recorded passing NE into a cold strong breeze;- Woodpigeon 390, Stock dove 70, Starling 35, Redpoll 3, Snipe 2, Lapwing 2, Raven 2, Skylark 1, Goldfinch 37, Great black-backed gull 10 and small numbers of unidentified finches.
Sunshine all day after yesterday’s fogs and mists, rather hazy at times with a light gusty east wind. A walk up to the Ridge and back via St Helens. A single Redwing flying over Fearon Road, possibly visiting one of the Hollies that they flocked to during last winter’s colds. However, no further sign along the roads and paths until the Cemetery where thrushes were concealed in Yews – eventually I recorded three Mistle thrushes, twelve Blackbirds, nineteen Redwings (several giving snatches of song) and three Song thrushes and had very good views of male and female Great spotted woodpecker and a large adult female Sparrowhawk that perched up in a Pine close by, giving an excellent view as she peered about with golden eyes at the tree-lined lanes below her.
A party of three Golden plovers crested the high ground as they sped south-eastwards in the direction of the Fire Hills and Levels beyond.
At St Helens I noticed male wasps on the wing, indicating that there are late active nests and perhaps finally coming to the end of their cycles after such a warm season. A muscid fly sunbathing I suspect is a female of Phaonia trimaculata.
Hoverflies, Bluebottles, wasps and others continue to enjoy the sheltered clumps of Ivy and warm hedge bottoms. In the sparse high crowns of mature trees at Speckled Wood a small host of tits and Goldcrests hurried from branch to branch, dashing across the open spaces between trees as they foraged for insects in the hazy light, making the best of it before the short day dwindles. Two Blackcaps were there, likely to be newly arrived winterers. In Holm Oaks near the Museum earlier two Firecrests appeared fitfully as they hunted in the thick evergreen cover.
Combe Haven Country Park 7-10 SR Five Fieldfares, thirteen Song thrushes, 45 Meadow pipits, four Chiffchaffs and a Water pipit. Siskin 32 NE and Redpoll 23 NE.
Galley Hill 7-10 SR Merlin 1 E and Rock pipit 1 W.
Combe Haven Country Park 6-10 SR Five Goldcrests, one Firecrest, twelve Song thrushes, two Fieldfares, eight Stonechats and four Chiffchaffs. Starling 13 W, Redwing 1 N, Brambling 1 N, Redpoll 3 and 5 NE and Siskin 14 NE.
Fairlight Cliff 6.30-7.30 AP A Reed bunting and Goldcrest. Goldfinch 55 W, Linnet 25 W, Redpoll 4 W, Siskin 2 E and Woodpigeon 5 W.
West Hill 6.45-7.25 AG Goldfinch 138 E.
North’s Seat 1305 AG A Firecrest and Chiffchaff, six Goldcrests, 23 Blackbirds, eight Song thrushes and three Redwings.
Barley-Tilekiln 1400 AG Nine Blackbirds and 75 Linnets.
Combe Haven Country Park 7-7.30 SR A Redwing, two Goldcrests and eight Song thrushes. Meadow pipit 6 N, Golden plover 1 N, Siskin 14 NE, Brambling 1 SE and Redpoll 9 NW.
Galley Hill 8-10 SR Goldfinch 21 E and Meadow pipit 5 in.
West Hill 7 AG Four Blackbirds. Meadow pipit 3 in.
Cemetery The Ridge 8.20 AG Three Mistle thrushes, 31 Redwings, ten Song thrushes and 19 Blackbirds. Lapwing 4 NW.
Fairlight cliff 7.20 AP Three Goldcrests. Siskin 30 E and Goldfinch 30 E.