August 2019

Saturday 31st

The opening few minutes of an otherwise calm morning would have done justice to a trailer for the next episode of Eastenders, with crows trying to beat up a Sparrowhawk, a Peregrine having a noisy go at a couple of passing Ravens and more crows harassing a Kestrel. Once things had settled down a Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Whinchats and a Redstart were on the farm and subdued warbler numbers included 19 Blackcaps and 12 Lesser Whitethroats.

Friday 30th

Visible movement first thing on a bright morning included 71 Swallows and 5 Yellow Wagtails and although the bushes initially seemed very quiet a couple of parties of warblers on the farm and at the top of the valley brought totals up to 40 Blackcaps, 20 each of Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler and 6 Lesser Whitethroats.

Thursday 29th

A much fresher morning than recently brought a few parties of hirundines and the first hint of Meadow Pipit movement, though numbers hardly amounted to a hill of beans. A Whinchat was on the farm, a Hobby flew up the valley and although warblers were hard to come by a brief spell of very light drizzle seemed to deposit a party of about 25 on the farm, mainly involving Willow Warblers.

Wednesday 28th

A bit of a late start courtesy of a heaving moth trap at home, but with a clear sky at dawn it was still pretty quiet. However, a Redstart and a Spotted Flycatcher were trapped in the valley, 16 Lesser Whitethroats were fiddling about in small groups and 5 Yellow Wagtails flew over.

Tuesday 27th

The ongoing run of cloudless nights conspired to bring a very quiet morning, with the bushes eerily silent for the most part, though 6 Whinchats appeared on the farm, where single Pied and Spotted Flycatchers and a Redstart were found and an overflying Grey Plover added itself to the list.

Monday 26th

Scorchio. In gathering heat the morning initially seemed subdued, but a female or immature Red-backed Shrike was found at Fox Hill Down and in addition to 4 Whinchats and 5 Wheatears there was a decent arrival of 9 Pied Flycatchers. A Clouded Yellow was also found on the farm, bringing the total number of butterfly species recorded this year to a creditable 31.

Red-backed Shrike by Steve Ray

Sunday 25th

2 Dotterel were flushed from the fields with 2 Golden Plovers first thing on another day of wall-to-wall sunshine and soaring temperatures, garnished with 4 Yellow Wagtails and a Tree Pipit.

Saturday 24th

Another increasingly warm and calm morning had a distinctly neotropical feel, with parties of warblers flycatching from treetops in the gathering heat. Numbers were well down on yesterday, but a Pied Flycatcher was on the farm among 12 Lesser Whitethroats and the most interesting bird was a nearly white-headed Long-tailed Tit, presumably locally bred.

Friday 23rd

A bright, warm and calm morning brought an arrival of 41 Lesser Whitethroats, while 3 Yellow Wagtails flew over, the Linnet flock at Fan Bay had increased to 340 and a Pied Flycatcher was at the top of the valley. However, the bird of the morning was a female/immature Montagu’s Harrier that flew inland over the valley from the direction of the sea at 0850. An Osprey was also seen at Martin Mill station around 0930.

Thursday 22nd

The bushes were pretty quiet following another clear night, though the Fan Bay flock of Linnets has built up to 220 and a summer-plumaged Golden Plover was circling overhead. looking and sounding mournfully lost.

Wednesday 21st

Bright and increasingly warm the morning felt quieter than yesterday, but ringing on the farm highlighted a significant arrival (for here anyway) of Acrocephalus warblers, with 18 Reed and 5 Sedge Warblers in the nets. Otherwise, 3 Spotted Flycatchers and a Pied Flycatcher were found. There was a good variety on the weekly butterfly transect, with 18 species including 29 Chalkhill and 2 Adonis Blues and 36 Painted Ladies, as well as over 50 Small Whites.

Tuesday 20th

At last, a decent arrival of birds, despite a clear overnight sky. Almost all interest was in the bushes, where there were at least 43 Whitethroats, 26 Willow Warblers, 13 Lesser Whitethroats, 2 Spotted Flycatchers and a Redstart. A Whinchat and 3 Wheatears were on the fields, a Coal Tit was calling on the farm (unusual for August) and another Common Treecreeper was trapped in the valley.

Monday 19th

Despite a noticeable chill first thing there was a bit more going on this morning, with the highlights being 2 Grasshopper Warblers, trapped on the farm, 2 Yellow Wagtails, a Tree Pipit and 9 Swifts flying SW and a Wheatear near the lighthouse.

Saturday 17th

With only a couple of hours to play with, it didn’t help that it took that long for the weather to forsake a passable impersonation of a cloud forest. The only bright spot was a Pied Flycatcher calling on the farm.

Friday 16th

It was again fairly quiet for birds, but this morning’s contribution to the fruitful progress of autumn included a Spotted Flycatcher and a Whinchat.

Steve Ray
Whinchat by Steve Ray

Thursday 15th

Despite overnight rain there was very little in the way of avian interest but butterflies took advantage of a brief interlude in the wet weather with at least 120 Painted Ladies, an Adonis Blue and the first 3 Silver-spotted Skippers of the autumn.

Tuesday 13th

A bright start, in stark contrast to yesterday’s torrential afternoon downpours, was soon consumed by cloud, and although nothing was moving overhead the bushes were reasonably lively with the usual suspects. Among them were a Pied Flycatcher, trapped on the farm, and a Common Treecreeper, found in a net in the valley.

Monday 12th

An interesting morning was at least dry and a good deal less windy than the weekend. The highlight by some distance was a Nightingale, trapped on the farm.

Thursday 8th

With the wind having fallen away it was a much better day than the last two. A reasonable arrival of warblers included 35 Whitethroats, 9 Lesser Whitethroats, a Garden Warbler and 21 Willow Warblers, 5 Wheatears were on the farm, a Black Redstart was at Fan Bay again (there were 2 Lighthouse Down yesterday), 211 Swifts drifted downchannel and a party of 9 Little Egrets flew SW out at sea. Butterflies included 36 Painted Ladies and an excellent 84 Chalkhill Blues on the weekly transect walk. Remarkably, the Queen of Spain Fritillary was found in the valley again yesterday, but couldn’t be relocated this morning.

Monday 5th

An overcast morning that became increasingly breezy had little to recommend it, save for a few brief flurries of Swifts, 207 of which moved SW into the wind, while along at the Langdon end the first Wheatear of the autumn was found, along with another Black Redstart.

Sunday 4th

A typical early August weekend, with increasing numbers of Whitethroats (32 this morning) and Willow Warblers, as well as 17 Bullfinches, suggesting that they have had a very good breeding season. There was also a Black Redstart at Fan Bay yesterday, which is fairly unusual for the time of year and a further suggestion that they may have bred nearby.

Friday 2nd

There were a few more migrant warblers about than yesterday, particularly Blackcaps and Willow Warblers, though the former will have almost certainly have been from the local breeding population than originating from elsewhere. Pick of the bunch, though, was a young Pied Flycatcher, mist-netted at the top of the valley.

Pied Flycatcher August 19

Thursday 1st

A sunny start to the new month brought a procession of 800 Swifts drifting along the cliff, a Yellow Wagtail overhead and 60 Swallows over the fields, helpfully drawing attention to a Hobby that zipped past. 9 Willow Warblers were also present along with at least 8 Green Woodpeckers, suggesting a good breeding season. While butterflies weren’t quite as exciting as two days ago, there can be few more subtly delightful than the Chalkhill Blue ………..

Chalkhill Blue August 19 (3)

2 thoughts on “August 2019

  1. Hi Ian I was up this morning saw your car but not your good self,have you recorded any kittiwakes this summer as I was surprised to hear one and see the culprit under the old lighthouse?A couple of small blues by the lighthouse wall near the kissing gate. Hope to get up a bit more now that autumn is here. Cheers Phil

    Sent from my iPhone



    1. Hi Phil
      No, I haven’t seen or heard a single Kittiwake since the winter and a couple of stormy days in March/April. I’m sure Mark hasn’t either. I seem to have missed everyone this morning – we’re having our kitchen replaced (with another one) and my life seems to be strewn amongst the carnage, hence I came up without my mobile phone. Should be all over by the weekend!
      see you soon



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