December 2018

Monday 31st

A late start was unproductive in terms of avian interest, but Mark ran his moth trap last night, capturing a Mottled Umber and a Chestnut, which more or less wraps it up for 2018. Happy New Year!

Friday 28th

Another overcast but windless day was much the same in avian terms as yesterday, with the notable addition of a Brambling; a fairly scarce bird here in winter.

Thursday 27th

Back from a family Christmas break in Dorset, away from the ghastly strains (an appropriate word if ever I heard one) of Dominick the Donkey, it was a relief to be back on a cloudy but pleasant day with not a breath of wind, meteorologically at least. As end of term reports go, it was pretty encouraging with some very good totals of birds in the area: notably 370 Linnets, 55 Yellowhammers, 16 Redwings, 44 Skylarks and at least 3 Stonechats, while a Coal Tit was calling in the valley.

Wednesday 19th

Driving in through some intense rain suggested that a visit this morning could be verging on insanity and indeed much of the early morning was a mix of showers driven on by a feisty SW wind. However, around 1030 the sun emerged and the wind dropped away to reveal a rather pleasant winter day. Oh yes, birds. 3 Fieldfares and 4 Redwings were on the farm, where around 30 Yellowhammers were hiding in the bushes.

Monday 17th

The recent bitterly cold spell had thankfully withdrawn and today was bright with a light breeze. Nevertheless, the effects of the cold could be seen in the presence of 50 Blackbirds and 12 Redwings, though the supporting cast was much as expected.

Friday 14th

Apart from 4 Redwings and a dozen or so Blackbirds there was very little to report on a morning that felt distinctly like winter, with an E breeze and light flurries of frozen stuff. The valley tends to shut down during winter and, I suspect, most residents head for local gardens. This morning felt very much as if that point has arrived, though it remains an atmospheric place for a walk, even at this time of year.

December dawn

Thursday 13th

Good grief. It may have been bright but a savage, cold SE wind made progress along the clifftop almost impossible at times and it was a relief to get back into the relative shelter of the valley where there was an apparent influx of 40 Blackbirds along with at least 7 Redwings.

Wednesday 12th

Another bright morning, on this occasion with a light SE breeze, was pleasant for a walk along the cliffs, if not for much avian interest. However, 3 Fulmars were circling around Fan Bay and 4 Redwings were in the valley where a Water Rail was calling from the willowherb. 12 Dexter cattle were introduced to the valley about a month ago and here they are, munching for the benefit of Chalkhill Blues on Lighthouse Down, not that they would admit it.

Dexter cattle on Lighthouse Down

Tuesday 11th

A lovely bright and calm winter morning was ideal for tackling some of the larger sycamores at the top of the valley, this time with the indispensable help of Matt from White Cliffs Countryside Partnership, armed with chainsaw; something of an improvement on the nail scissors and tweezers that have been available so far. The result was a good deal more impressive than the birding, which amounted to 3 Redwings and one of the local Peregrines in the first hour and a bit after dawn.

Monday 10th

A rather more pleasant morning with a light NW breeze, rather than the gales and rain that dominated most of the last four. A Brambling and a Siskin flew SW and the fields held at least 70 Skylarks and 160 Linnets, while 9 Redwings and 2 Fieldfares flew from the valley early on. A Little Egret and a Grey Wagtail were also seen in the bay.

Thursday 6th

It didn’t take long for a rather attractively dappled pre-dawn sky to turn into an old grey mare of a morning, though it stayed dry with a light SW breeze. 88 Redwings flew out of the valley and a party of Long-tailed Tits at the top of the valley contained at least one white-headed individual, though some dark blurring on the ear coverts probably rules out a genuine northern bird.

Tuesday 4th

A frosty start soon turned into a lovely bright winter day, with the merest breath from the NW. This stimulated some unexpected activity, mainly involving 463 Woodpigeons and 56 Stock Doves, with a supporting cast of 29 Redwings, 24 Skylarks and 3 Bullfinches, also flying SW or off the sea. A Siskin called above Lighthouse Down where a Short-eared Owl got up from the edge of the scrub to do a bit of barking at the local Buzzard.

Monday 3rd

Well, the valley still hasn’t gone entirely into winter mode, with 43 Redwings, 3 Fieldfares, 23 Goldfinches and a Brambling flying into some early showers.

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