Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Seaford Head- 22 October 2012

I'm afraid I reneged on yesterday's promise of Rouzel-hunting on Malling Down- the option of finding my own on Seaford Head seeming far more appealing! When I left the house it was still pitch black outside, and very, very misty. With NE winds overnight combined with this, I imagined it wasn't going to be a terrible day!

It was marginally lighter by the time I arrived at the south-west corner of Seaford Head Golf Course, from where I began my count of the day's migrants all across the headland. Walking through Seaford in the darkness, Robins and Blackbirds were both calling in gigantic numbers, obvious signs of an overnight arrival! Once on the Golf Course I could see this to be the case, with both species present in every bush and tree! Redwings were also torpedoing overhead, out of sight in the mist. A few were also in the bushes, alongside a handful of Song Thrush, Chiffchaff and Goldcrest. A single Fieldfare was picked up by it's 'chacking' call, which I tried without success to string into a Ring Ouzel. However, this was my first returning Fieldfare of the autumn. A Firecrest was also calling unseen from within these bushes. The calls of Redwing, Robin and Blackbird were with me all the time, accompanying me through a mist so thick I was struggling to see a large proportion of the birds I was hearing!

around the Radio Mast, there were a minimum of 30 Chaffinch, with about this number again scattered around the other areas of the patch. Also present were Redwing, Blackbird, Song Thrush and Robin in decent numbers, though still nothing rarer!

Moving on into Hope Gap, The numbers were really picking up. a little flock of Goldcrest in the north of the gap held at least one showy Firecrest, my finest views of the species for perhaps two years and a real treat! The numbers of all the common thrush species were enormous, Robin, Blackbird, Redwing and Song Thrush once again arriving en force, and two Fieldfares among them. A few Chiffchaff called and showed, while one singing Blackcap was heard halfway down, and a female was present in the bushes near the sea. here the resident pair of Stonechats announced their territory, while I got good enough views to racially identify a Song thrush for the only time today. The yellowish breast and rufousy-brown back identified it as race Clarkei, the british race. I was hoping to identify some continental birds today, but all the other thrushes I saw were too flighty for this! One showy Chiffchaff was hoping around in the low bushes right by the sea, accompanying the pair of Stonechats on their circuit.

I didn't check Harry's Bush, as there were some angry looking heffers with their calves around here; but in the trees opposite the style into that field I found another little crest flock, containing another showy and impossibly gorgeous Firecrest! By now it was time to leave and hastily march to the train station, leaving the birds behind for the sake of this silly thing called an education.

Overall it was a great day for quantity, though the quality bird or two I'd hoped for didn't really materialise! It was the kind of day where binoculars tend to be used just to give you good views of some familiar faces, rather than to pin an elusive ID; but overall it felt good to be out in the morning, and when you see that many Redwings, and get views that good of Firecrests, it would be a bit selfish to complain! However, I was slightly gripped by Seaford Head's third YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER of the year being found later this afternoon! Apparently present in the bushes car park, finder uknown, but Jon Curson visited at about 4.30 and could hear the distinctive calls once or twice, from the line of bushes running north on the eastern side of the car park. I have literally never seen a worthwhile bird here before! What makes it equally galling is that this is only the second time I've made it up in October. both days had perfect conditions for Yellow-brows, and on both days they've been found, but on both occasions, it's been after I left. c'est la vie and all that I suppose, would be nice to see one though! maybe if it sticks around til tomorrow...

my estimates totals for today were;

Meadow Pipit         30
Skylark                   15
Blackcap                  2
Chiffchaff                10
Goldcrest                30
Firecrest                   3-4 (first for Seaford Head this autumn, 2 very showy birds)
Robin                   150 (high count)
Blackbird             120 (high count)
Redwing               130 (high count)
Song Thrush           40
Fieldfare                3 (first of the autumn)
Chaffinch               60
Linnet                    50
Goldfinch              30

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