November 2018

Friday 30th

There was an almost palpable sense of relief in the air after two days of stormy weather with heavy rain and the first to take advantage of the break in hostilities were 130 Redwings that flew SW from dawn. Movement was otherwise pretty much as expected for late November, but included 4 Bramblings and 3 Siskins. Frogs and locusts tomorrow, by the look of it.

Tuesday 27th

An atmospheric start, with mist turning to fog then evaporating as the sun came up, was notable for 23 Redwings and 3 Fieldfares flying from the valley, 3 Bramblings calling in the mist and, in warm sunshine, a Little Egret on the rocks below Lighthouse Down.

A foggy late November dawn

Monday 26th

2 Firecrests were in a clifftop garden over the weekend and this morning dawned heavily overcast with a light NE breeze and a Song Thrush singing in the top wood. Appropriately enough, as it happened, as the morning featured a steady arrival of thrushes, including 51 Redwings and 14 Fieldfares, while 2 Bramblings, 6 Redpolls and 31 Goldfinches flew over. Skylarks were also numerous, with at least 60 on the fields and 34 flying NE and 2 female Blackcaps were at the lower edge of the Hollow Wood.

Friday 23rd

Well, despite the whiff of mothballs this morning proved to be a good deal more interesting than the last two. An overcast start soon became sunny and after the local Buzzard, 2 Redpolls and 2 Bramblings flew over early on the first returning Fulmar of the winter glided along Lighthouse Down and 2 Great White Egrets drifted out over the bay and out to sea.

Thursday 22nd

Overcast with a light E breeze, the morning had the feel of early winter rather than late autumn. 3 Stonechats, a Fieldfare and 4 Redwings were about the best on offer and whilst it might be too early to get the mothballs out it is beginning to look like they are imminent.

Wednesday 21st

Although the cold easterly gales of the last two days had moderated a fresh to strong SSE was still blowing enthusiastically and the only birds moving in the first hour after dawn were 16 Goldfinches. The wind had dropped away by mid morning but even so the only additions were a lone Redpoll and a Chiffchaff at the top of the valley.

Saturday 17th

You mark my words, young man, my old gran used to say – if there’s east in the wind there’ll be Firecrests. Well, in truth there was only one, but it turned out to be the main highlight on a pretty quiet though bright and crisp morning that also included a Crossbill, 11 Fieldfares, 7 Redwings and not a great deal else.

Friday 16th

Overnight drizzle lasted just beyond daybreak, if that is the right word for a morning where it was impossible to see your glass in front of your face. Optimism that the fog might clear lasted until 9 at which point the lighthouse was still invisible in the murk.

Thursday 15th

It didn’t take long for an overcast start to morph into a beautiful autumn day, with the thermometer well above where it should be in mid November. The morning was more subdued than the last few days, with 260 Woodpigeons, 74 Chaffinches and a Brambling, plus the Merlin, 11 Redwings and 8 Song Thrushes.

Wednesday 14th

This morning brought 1,740 Woodpigeons and 223 Chaffinches flying into the SSW breeze, along with 55 Stock Doves, 14 Crossbills, 9 Redpolls, 12 Siskins and 4 Bramblings, while a Merlin shot up the valley early on.

Tuesday 13th

Having been virtually absent for a week, Woodpigeons dominated the morning as 1,440 flew SW, accompanied by 180 Chaffinches, 5 Bramblings, 30 Redpolls, 3 Fieldfares and small numbers of Siskins and Skylarks.

Monday 12th

The first surprise of the morning was the lighthouse, temporarily restored to full working order to commemorate Remembrance Day. The birds were possibly less impressed with the light show than the fact that although it remained quite windy the rain and gales of the weekend had relented, allowing for a couple of hours of pretty good vis. mig., particularly for the second week of November. Totals included 343 Goldfinches, 133 Siskins, 14 Crossbills, 18 Bramblings, 44 Redpolls and 83 Chaffinches. At least 28 Goldcrests were fiddling about at the top of the valley, but the highlight was a Shorelark that flew over the valley towards Lighthouse Down, though it subsequently defied attempts to be relocated.

SF Lighthouse 12 November 2018

Friday 9th

A similar day to yesterday, though rather less windy, brought something of an early surprise as a party of 30 Goldcrests moved through the top of the valley, tagging along with the local tit flock. 9 Redpolls, 38 Goldfinches, 2 Bramblings and a Bullfinch moved over, but to be honest the morning had a real feel of autumn winding down.

Thursday 8th

Bright but with a freshening SW/S wind, most activity had ceased after 90 minutes and without the excitement of penalties. Highlights, if that’s the right word, included 4 Fieldfares, 30 Redpolls, 18 Siskins and 86 Goldfinches.

Tuesday 6th

Survivors of last night’s pyrotechnic excesses included 380 Woodpigeons, 13 Redpolls, a Brambling, 3 Bullfinches and 38 Chaffinches, all flying downchannel in the first hour or so after dawn. However, the bird of the morning was a Marsh Harrier that drifted in the opposite direction at 0705, less than ten minutes after dawn and testimony to how warm it is at the moment, finding lift so early at this time of year. A Merlin was also kicking about shortly after.

Monday 5th

…….. gunpowder, treason and Woodpigeons! 637 of them flew SW or in some cases out to sea into a light SE wind, while other species moving early on included 98 Chaffinches, 6 Bramblings, 42 Goldfinches and small numbers of Siskins and Redpolls. The valley and farm held 11 Goldcrests, 8 Redwings, 3 Chiffchaffs and a Blackcap.

Saturday 3rd

Most interest this morning took place in the first hour and a half after dawn, during which birds flying into the SSW3 wind included 70 Chaffinches, 5 Bramblings, 141 Goldfinches, 59 Redpolls, 73 Siskins, 82 Linnets, 5 Swallows and a Bullfinch: quite decent numbers for early November. The rest of the short while prior to departure for my annual flu jab was fairly pedestrian, though a Snipe flew over the valley, a Crossbill flew S and a Woodcock was flushed on the farm.

Friday 2nd

With not a cloud in the sky and a light NW breeze it was a morning for cross-Channel movement, which included 52 Chaffinches, a few Skylarks and a Sparrowhawk. Just to be perverse, however, 3 Buzzards drifted SW and a Rough-legged Buzzard flew over the bay and out to sea. 3 Bullfinches flew SW, late summer migrants included 4 Swallows and a House Martin, 323 Woodpigeons flew up the valley first thing and 50 Blackbirds, 19 Song Thrushes, 11 Goldcrests and 6 Stonechats completed an absorbing morning.

Steve Ray
Stonechat by Steve Ray

Thursday 1st

The S wind gusted to force 6 but at least the forecast rain held off until 0930, giving a couple of hours to watch the valley. In the event, the only bits of interest were a Merlin, a late Swallow and 570 Starlings flying in off the sea.

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