July 2020

Friday 31st

Warm and sunny from the word go, with a light E breeze, there was again plenty to look at with totals of 51 Whitethroats, 12 Lesser Whitethroats and 12 Willow Warblers. A Nightingale and a Yellow Wagtail were on the farm, with a noisy Greenshank flying over, and 51 Goldfinches represented the largest post-breeding numbers so far.

Thursday 30th

In the spirit of two days never being the same, this morning was a good deal quieter than yesterday, with totals of 28 Whitethroats, 14 Willow Warblers and very small numbers otherwise. In fact, the bird of the day was a Treecreeper, sunning itself happily on an open branch at the top of the valley. Well, it looked happy anyway.

Wednesday 29th

For late July this was a really good morning. With not a breath of wind to start with, the bushes were busy with warblers, including a Grasshopper Warbler by the lighthouse, a Garden Warbler and totals of 53 Whitethroats, 13 Willow Warblers, 3 Reed Warblers and 6 Sedge Warblers, mostly in the weedy stuff around Fan Bay. 3 Whinchats were on the farm, 2 very young Black Redstarts were at Fan Bay and waders got in on the act with 2 Whimbrel calling offshore somewhere and a Dunlin flying N over the farm. As for butterflies, the Clouded Yellow was still on the farm and a Painted Lady was basking on the clifftop.

Tuesday 28th

Bright with a SW breeze this morning featured a SW movement of 452 Swifts, accompanied by 16 Sand Martins and a few House Martins and Swallows. 2 Yellow Wagtails flew over and the bushes held 21 Willow Warblers, 6 Lesser Whitethroats, a Garden Warbler and around 30 Whitethroats, while the first Whinchat of autumn was on the farm. The Clouded Yellow was seen on the farm again and at least 11 Walls were scattered about.

Monday 27th

With light rain becoming persistent it seemed like a good idea to see what was moving offshore and 45 minutes of blind optimism was rewarded, if that’s the right word, by 3 Gannets, 5 BH Gulls, 2 Curlews and a Harbour Porpoise.

Sunday 26th

The first ringing session of the autumn contributed to migrant totals of 3 Reed Warblers, 3 Willow Warblers and 24 Whitethroats while a Sedge Warbler and 6 Lesser Whitethroats were scattered about. A party of 29 Swifts flew out to sea, 13 Sand Martins flew SW along the cliffs and a nice surprise was a Clouded Yellow on the farm. Here’s a shot of one of today’s Willow Warblers, taken by Steve Ray ……..

Thursday 23rd

Numbers of warblers in the bushes seem slowly to be increasing, with this morning’s totals including 40 Whitethroats, 7 Lesser Whitethroats, 3 Willow Warblers, a Reed Warbler and 4 presumably local Chiffchaffs. Otherwise, a few Swallows flew along the cliffs, at least 21 Corn Buntings remained at Fan Bay and the almost obligatory Siskin flew over, alighting in conifers on the farm.

Wednesday 22nd

A visit on another sunny day with a gentle E breeze was primarily to carry out the weekly butterfly transect, though the bushes seemed busy with Whitethroats and 2 Yellow Wagtails and a Siskin flew over. As for butterflies, it was better than last week, thanks to 30 Chalkhill Blues, mainly on Lighthouse Down, but this year is still nearly 30% down on the same time last year. It is always risky to attribute possible reasons to short-term declines, but two consecutive dry springs can’t have helped.

Tuesday 21st

On another clear and calm morning autumn continued steadily to take shape, with Golden Plover, Whimbrel and Yellow Wagtail flying over, while 31 Whitethroats and a Reed Warbler were in the bushes and a Harbour Porpoise was a nice bonus.

Monday 20th

Cloud-free and calm, though a bit chilly to start with things continue to pick up, albeit rather tentatively. 2 Willow Warblers were our first of autumn, with 21 Whitethroats, 4 Lesser Whitethroats and 11 Blackcaps scattered about. 26 Corn Buntings at Fan Bay were mostly juveniles, presumably locally-bred, and a Reed Bunting was flitting about nearby. A Migrant Hawker was the first of the summer.

Thursday 16th

Heavily overcast with a NW breeze and occasional drizzle that became persistent around 9 the major surprise of the morning was a family of 3 Stonechats at Fan Bay, presumably having bred sneakily somewhere nearby. Otherwise, 26 Swifts, 6 Swallows and 4 House Martins flew W and a Grey Heron flew over the farm again.

Wednesday 15th

The morning was a good deal sunnier than forecast and activity still subdued, although a Siskin flew over and Swallows were a little more numerous, a few handfuls of which included 9 flying SW.

Tuesday 14th

Overnight showers ceased around dawn and the morning began overcast, calm and quite sultry. An increase in Whitethroat numbers to 30 and a Lesser Whitethroat in standing crops near the lighthouse were probably local in origin, but a Sedge Warbler was certainly a migrant. A Grey Heron flew N over the farm and several Swifts appeared high overhead as drizzle arrived, eventually turning to rain and bringing the covers on.

Saturday 11th

On a visit largely to do the weekly butterfly transect now that the weather has settled down a bit, the first Chalkhill Blue of the season was rather overshadowed by 2 Honey-buzzards that flew NE, with five or six presumably local Buzzards seeing them off. A Sand Martin and 3 Swifts were also seen heading inland.

Thursday 9th

161 Swifts flew SW along the cliffs as the residue of yesterday’s rain cleared away and a juvenile Cuckoo was lumbering about in the valley. Pretty scarce here these days.

Wednesday 8th

A string of 43 Common Scoter flew upchannel past the bay in rain and murk, but apart from the usual suspects that was more or less it.

Tuesday 7th

The gales of the last few days had retreated and the morning was calm and increasingly sunny and warm. A Reed Warbler on the farm ticked the ‘start of autumn’ box quite nicely, but butterflies stole the show, with Large Whites in abundance, the first Gatekeepers of the season and, best of all, this Large Tortoiseshell, photographed by Colin on Lighthouse Down.

Saturday 4th

An hour staring out to sea in a near-gale force SW wind was testing in visibility that was no better than moderate. Apart from a second summer Med. Gull the only real bright spot was a Harbour Porpoise mooching about close inshore.

Friday 3rd

Bright with a brisk W/SW breeze there was a bit of midsummer shuffling about, including a Great Spotted Woodpecker that flew SW along the cliffs and a trickle of 18 Swifts. A fox family was nice to see and, believe it or not, a Green-veined White on the farm was the first of the year.

Thursday 2nd

The SW wind was a tad exuberant but not enough to make the weekly transect unwalkable, but numbers were rather disappointing, the total of 79 butterflies leaving 2020 behind last year at the same point in the season. Most (28) were Marbled Whites, augmented by a significant increase in Small Whites (23), with everything else in only moderate numbers, though they did include the first of the summer generation of Common Blues.

Wednesday 1st

It remains changeable and with showers running along the Channel on a SW breeze it seemed vaguely sensible to do a seawatch. For early July it was actually quite enjoyable, even if almost everything was of local interest. 5 auks were the highlight, including one Razorbill close in, 2 adult Med. Gulls and 21 Gannets flew by, a Little Egret was in the bay and singles of Common Tern and Dunlin added a bit of variety.

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