September 2019

Monday 30th

Clear and still quite breezy after yesterday’s gales, the morning quickly calmed down and an hour and a half of movement included 18 Reed Buntings, 68 Chaffinches, 69 Linnets (with another 210 on the fields) and 49 Meadow Pipits, plus around 600 Swallows and 400 House Martins. The bushes initially seemed quiet but ringing on the farm and in the valley indicated otherwise and totals of 130 Chiffchaffs and 100 Blackcaps owed much to John and Mark’s efforts. Otherwise, singles of Whinchat, Wheatear and Black Redstart were present, a Swift and 2 Yellow Wagtails flew over, a late-ish Spotted Flycatcher was trapped on the farm and a couple of restless parties of Great Tits flew over.

Saturday 28th

A bright and breezy morning, ahead of some more disturbed weather, was similar to yesterday, but with reduced numbers. 194 Meadow Pipits. 430 Swallows, 370 House Martins, 2 Grey Wagtails, 97 Linnets, 40 Chaffinches and 34 Goldfinches flew SW and in the bushes were 26 Blackcaps and 32 Chiffchaffs.

Friday 27th

With three days of strong winds and rain out of the way, this morning was a heady mix of clear bits and sharp showers, scudding along on a frisky SW wind. It did produce some decent vis. mig., during which 645 Meadow Pipits, 1,240 Swallows, 120 House Martins, 4 Grey Wagtails, 3 Reed Buntings and 241 Linnets flew downchannel. 27 Chiffchaffs, 20 Blackcaps and 9 Goldcrests were in the bushes and a Yellow-browed Warbler called briefly at the top of the valley.

Monday 23rd

A change in the wind to a SW direction had the effect of stirring things up a bit, with an hour and a quarter of vis. mig. producing 176 Meadow Pipits, 2 Grey Wagtails and 4 Reed Buntings flying SW, while small parties of hirundines could be seen flying out to sea in hyperspace. 6 Stonechats and 3 Wheatears were scattered about and 2 Black Redstarts were in Langdon Hole, where the first Redwing of autumn appeared. There were also 45 Chiffchaffs, 35 Blackcaps, 19 Goldcrests and 2 Firecrests.

Sunday 22nd

Autumn continues to be a rather scrappy affair (OK, I admit it, I’ve just been watching England play rugby), with a feel that it has still to get going. 4 Stonechats were on the farm and by mid morning around 150 Swallows were milling about, but warbler numbers continued to be well down.

Saturday 21st

Very similar to yesterday, the Lapland Bunting was heard distantly first thing, a Merlin was seen fling in off the sea and 4 Firecrests were found in the valley. Probably best of all were 2 Harbour Porpoises offshore. 

Friday 20th

Clear by night and by day, this time with an increasingly frisky E breeze. Such conditions tend to make birding hard work and numbers were well down on yesterday, with 40 Blackcaps, 30 Chiffchaffs, a Black Redstart in Langdon Hole and 7 Stonechats.

Thursday 19th

Another crystal clear night led to a chill start to the day, to a soundtrack of the ticking of Robins and calling Chiffchaffs, eventually amounting to around 70 of each. The Lapland Bunting was putting itself about enthusiastically, 2 Golden Plovers were on the fields, 3 Stonechats decorated the lighthouse fence and 2 Coal Tits moved up the valley with one of the Chiffchaff flocks.

Wednesday 18th

Pretty much a repeat of yesterday, with the Lapland Bunting associating with Meadow Pipits this time, 2 Stonechats, 2 Little Egrets in the bay, 5 Lesser Whitethroats and around 50 Chiffchaffs, although Blackcaps appeared largely to have cleared out. 5 Golden Plovers were also on the fields.

Steve Ray
Lapland Bunting by Steve Ray

Tuesday 17th

An overcast start quickly morphed into another clear morning that saw numbers much reduced on yesterday, with totals of 60 Chiffchaffs and 30 Blackcaps, and the only bit of visible movement was a Great Spotted Woodpecker SW along Lighthouse Down. Otherwise, a Little Owl was calling on the farm, 5 Stonechats were present and the Lapland Bunting was found with the Linnet flock near the lighthouse.

Monday 16th

An overcast, calm and humid morning brought a large arrival of warblers, principally involving 130 Chiffchaffs and 90 Blackcaps. 6 Goldcrests were also flitting about, 2 Stonechats were present on the farm, where a Coal Tit was seen again, and although overhead movement was almost non-existent it did include a Yellow Wagtail and a Lapland Bunting, which was later relocated in barley stubble on Wanstone. 3 Reed Buntings also dropped in from high above and a small arrival of Blackbirds was evident in the valley.

Sunday 15th

A crystal-clear morning brought another substantial arrival of warblers, this time including 90 Chiffchaffs, 70 Blackcaps and 2 Lesser Whitethroats, but only 2 Reed Warblers. Otherwise, a Stonechat was the first of autumn, a Whinchat was on the farm where 3 Lapwings were messing about. 65 Meadow Pipits were on the fields but overhead movement was again negligible.

Saturday 14th

Clear with a light NE breeze there was very little moving, but the farm was heaving with warblers, including 100 Blackcaps, 70 Chiffchaffs, 6 Whitethroats and 13 Reed Warblers, with singles of Lesser Whitethroat and Willow Warbler. 2 Wheatears and a Yellow Wagtail were seen on the clifftop.

Friday 13th

Instead of the forecast zephyrs the morning dawned with a brisk NW breeze that put pay to any repeat of yesterday’s movements. About 50 Chiffchaffs were scattered about, however, and a flock of 21 Corn Buntings was cavorting in the unharvested barley.

Thursday 12th

In bright and, for a change so far this month, warm conditions there was a significant upsurge in visible movement with totals of 380 House Martins, 1,410 Swallows, 185 Meadow Pipits, 6 Yellow Wagtails and a Grey Wagtail flying downchannel. 19 Chiffchaffs, 9 Blackcaps, 4 Lesser Whitethroats and 4 Whitethroats were representative of subdued warbler numbers. Our third Clouded Yellow of the autumn was flitting about on Lighthouse Down.

Wednesday 11th

In an hour and a half taking shelter from a brisk SW wind 230 Swallows, 34 House Martins and 2 Swifts flew downchannel.

Tuesday 10th

In contrast to yesterday, the morning began calm and cold beneath a cloudless sky. While overhead movement continues at a trickle, the highlights being a Yellow Wagtail, 110 Swallows and 29 Meadow Pipits in a total of 65 including those on the fields, the bushes were reasonably interesting. A Redstart was in Fan Bay, 3 Black Redstarts and a Whinchat were in Langdon Hole, warbler totals included 63 Blackcaps and 24 Chiffchaffs and a Pied Flycatcher was trapped in the valley.

Monday 9th

Just over an hour of birding was possible before the onset of persistent rain, during which 44 Swallows, 8 Sand Martins and 24 Meadow Pipits flew SW, a Black Redstart was found in Langdon Hole and 3 Ravens chirped their way NE over the valley. At least 32 Blackcaps and 26 Chiffchaffs were zipping about at the top of the valley and 5 Dunnocks were the first to be messing about on the clifftop so far this autumn.

Sunday 8th

Bright and chilly, the birding reflected the conditions, with little on offer save for a gentle movement of 33 Meadow Pipits, 2 Reed Buntings and a Yellow Wagtail. Hirundines continue to be scarce, although around 45 House Martins were milling about the cliff when the morning grudgingly warmed a bit.

September sunrise

Saturday 7th

A similar morning in character to yesterday, but subtly different, with warbler totals of 52 Blackcaps and 24 Chiffchaffs and virtually nothing moving overhead, although the Sandwich Tern flock was still milling about the harbour entrance, which if you are a sprat amounts to much the same thing.

Friday 6th

Although the wind had dropped away an autumnal chill persisted for the first hour or so, during which 21 Meadow Pipits, a Yellow Wagtail and a couple of small flurries of hirundines flew SW and a Wryneck was found at Fan Bay. A Hobby drifted over the cliff and a raucous flock of at least 200 Sandwich Terns was milling about between Fan Bay and the harbour, presumably attracted by a shoal of sprats. Otherwise, a Firecrest was found in a clifftop garden and warbler totals amounted to 25 Blackcaps and 17 Chiffchaffs.

Thursday 5th

With an increasing and rather chilly wind from the NW and a cloudless sky it felt very autumnal, though birding was predictably slow, with little more than a Whinchat on the farm and totals of 18 Chiffchaffs, 11 Whitethroats, around 20 Blackcaps and 5 Lesser Whitethroats.

Monday 2nd

Apart from 2 Spotted Flycatchers, 21 Chiffchaffs, a Wheatear and a scattering of other bits and pieces it was quiet for birds, with very little overhead movement. Nevertheless, butterflies were good, 16 species including the still-present Queen of Spain Fritillary and a Clouded Yellow.

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