October 2020

Friday 30th

It was a fractious start to the morning, with the SW wind a good deal stronger than forecast. It did moderate after a while, however, and some movement began, with 457 Goldfinches the main players, while 2 Bramblings, 40 Linnets, 16 Siskins and 24 Redpolls did their best to keep up.

Thursday 29th

A bit busier this morning before more rain arrived, though it mostly involved Goldfinches, 586 of which flew SW, with a supporting cast of a Brambling, 17 Siskins, 12 Chaffinches, 5 alba wagtails and 11 Redpolls.

Tuesday 27th

Just under two hours were possible before rain set in, but it was pretty much a carbon copy of yesterday, the main difference being 177 Linnets and a party of 22 Woodpigeons, which usually start moving at this time of year.

Monday 26th

This morning was something of a respite from the wet and windy that looks set to dog the end of October, with plenty of sunshine and a light SW breeze. The obligatory pre-dawn Sparrowhawk was followed by a SW movement of 252 Goldfinches, 70 Linnets, 62 Chaffinches, 7 Bramblings, 14 Siskins, 26 Redpolls and 7 Crossbills. A probable 2 Yellow-browed Warblers, a Ring Ouzel, 40 Goldcrests and 8 Chiffchaffs were in the valley and the Nuthatch was seen again, below the Lower Wood.

Saturday 24th

Despite the locals being put off by a fairly ominous weather forecast, a couple of the Bockhill crew found a Nuthatch and 3 Firecrests in the valley, the former getting a bit like London buses this year!

Friday 23rd

It looks like the weather is stuck in the south-west once again and birds seem to have got themselves into much the same state. This morning’s vis. mig. was a mostly diluted version of yesterday, with totals of 315 Goldfinches, 157 Redpolls, 4 Bramblings, 53 Siskins and 23 Crossbills flying SW, while Linnets numbers remain very high, with 177 SW and 420 on the farm fields.

Thursday 22nd

After yesterday’s rain and gales and with a brisk SW wind still blowing on arrival, it proved to be surprisingly busy, with 509 Redpolls, 305 Goldfinches, 10 Crossbills, 3 Bramblings, 155 Linnets, 46 Chaffinches and 32 Siskins flying SW, the redpoll count being the second largest on record here. A Tawny Owl and a Sparrowhawk were seen before dawn and 6 Redwings were kicking about.

Tuesday 20th

With rain and a blustery S wind blowing an anti-climactic morning was rescued by the sight of a ringtail Hen Harrier flying up the valley at 0735. Otherwise, 160 House Martins, 63 Swallows, 12 Crossbills, 91 Goldfinches, 40 Redpolls, 28 Siskins and 27 Redwings flew SW.

Monday 19th

This morning brought a sudden change in the weather, with a brisk S breeze blowing from the off. Early movement into the wind amounted to 252 Redpolls, 220 Goldfinches, 230 Swallows, 97 Siskins and 11 Crossbills. A Yellow-browed Warbler was calling at the top of the valley, from which 17 Redwings departed and 3 Sparrowhawks were soaring together before moving away inland.

Sunday 18th

A better morning in that it remained dry and overcast with a light NW breeze. NE movement consisted of 575 Goldfinches, 19 Crossbills, 117 Redpolls, 5 Bramblings, 208 Swallows and 28 House Martins. 5 Ring Ouzels and 7 Stonechats were along the cliffs, 13 Skylarks flew in off the sea, 16 Tree Sparrows were roosting on the farm and 44 Cormorants were on the sea below the lighthouse, perhaps the advance guard of the now-familiar winter hordes.

Saturday 17th

In a gentle NW breeze the French coast was picked out in crisp detail for an hour and a half before low cloud and drizzle descended. Before it did so 1,680 Goldfinches, 34 Redpolls and 4 Bramblings flew N and a Ring Ouzel flew noisily from the clifftop bushes.

Friday 16th

Following overnight rain and a calm but heavily overcast start, it was obvious that a lot of Blackbirds had been grounded and around 130 were recorded during the course of the morning, along with 93 Redwings and 30 Song Thrushes. Overhead movement was a tad aimless but at least 138 Redpolls, 17 Crossbills and 7 Bramblings flew over, 16 Tree Sparrows were on the farm, a Woodcock flew across the stubble, 30 Goldcrests were mostly on Wanstone and the icing on the cake came with the discovery of a Dusky Warbler in the valley – our third in 43 years!

Thursday 15th

With the NE wind still ongoing and rain falling at dawn, becoming showery after half an hour or so, it was an excellent morning for thrushes, many of which dropped from the gloom above. Totals included 110 Song Thrushes, 184 Redwings, 61 Fieldfares, 70 Blackbirds and 8 Ring Ouzels; 5 in Fan Bay and 3 in the valley. Finches moving NE included 770 Goldfinches, 402 Siskins, 110 Redpolls and 41 Crossbills, while 350 Starlings flew in off the sea and about 100 Skylarks included 58 dropping in from above or flying inland. A Merlin put in a brief appearance, a Snipe was calling over the stubble and 40 Goldcrests were still fizzing about at the top of the valley.

Wednesday 14th

After yesterday’s washout this morning was bright with a frisky NE breeze. NE movement was dominated by 1,960 Goldfinches, with a supporting cast of 9 Bramblings, 84 Siskins, 22 Redpolls, 19 Crossbills and a party of 10 grey geese that were probably Pink-feet. 71 Redwings, 27 Fieldfares, 26 Blackbirds and 21 Song Thrushes were mostly grounded and 9 Ring Ouzels were in Langdon Hole. At least 40 Goldcrests were present and rarities were represented by a Yellow-browed Warbler, calling at the top of the valley, and a Pallas’s Warbler, found by visitors at the National Trust car park at Langdon.

Monday 12th

A very different day, with rather subdued movement in a light NW/W wind. 157 Linnets, 16 Skylarks, 5 Bramblings, a Crossbill, 8 Reed Buntings, 4 alba wagtails and 11 Siskins flew SW and 172 Goldfinches and 30 Redpolls flew NE, while 570 Starlings flew in off the sea. 14 Tree Sparrows were on the farm, where a noisy Snipe was flying about and occasional groups of thrushes flew W, amounting to 62 Redwings and 12 Fieldfares.

Sunday 11th

A NW wind at this time of year is almost invariably good, so it was surprising that movement over the valley for the first hour and a half was negligible. However, on walking inland a bit on to the farm, from around 0900 at least 3,220 Redwings dropped in from high in the sky before heading W, together with 27 Tree Sparrows and 6 Bramblings, though Chaffinch numbers were remarkably low. Also of note were 2 Ring Ouzels in Langdon Hole, a Short-eared Owl over the farm, 9 Reed Buntings, 14 Stonechats, late-ish records of Hobby, Whitethroat and Turtle Dove and 63 Redpolls. Back in the valley, 15 Blackbirds dropped in pretty much vertically and 3 Fieldfares did their best to keep up with the Redwing-fest.

Saturday 10th

A Dartford Warbler was found above Langdon Hole yesterday and an adult male at Fan Bay this morning may well have been the same individual. Otherwise, 40 Chiffchaffs were in the bushes, 18 Stonechats were scattered about, 23 Tree Sparrows was a fabulous number by the standards of the last few years and overhead movement, subdued in the bright conditions, included 12 Redpolls, 2 Grey Wagtails, 4 Bramblings, a Crossbill and 280 Chaffinches that flew in off the sea. A ringtail Hen Harrier flew over the fields in the afternoon.

Friday 9th

A Redstart was trapped on the farm just before first light and an overcast start during which 111 Redpolls and 9 Reed Buntings flew over soon morphed into a bright and warm autumn morning. Although overhead passage pretty much fizzled out with the sunshine 14 Stonechats were scattered about, at least 5 Sparrowhawks were evident, a Red Kite flew SW and 4 Tree Sparrows were at the gun emplacements. Activity in the bushes was dominated by 60 Chiffchaffs.

Thursday 8th

Offshore activity in a strong SW wind with occasional squalls lasted for about an hour before dying away, amounting to 2 Arctic Skuas, 22 Gannets, 2 Pintail and 2 Common Scoter.

Wednesday 7th

Early movement into a freshening WNW breeze amounted to 63 Redpolls, 34 Siskins, 104 Linnets (with 400 still on the farm fields), 3 Bramblings, 17 alba wagtails, a Merlin and 73 Chaffinches. However, given the bit of north in the wind direction it was not surprising that Chaffinches began to arrive and 765 flew in off the sea in an hour from 0900. Otherwise, 11 Stonechats, 2 Whinchats and 6 Reed Buntings were mostly along the clifftop, 2 Ring Ouzels and 22 Tree Sparrows were mostly around Langdon Hole and at least 7 Sparrowhawks were recorded.

Tuesday 6th

Brief rain had cleared by dawn and three hours of movement into a brisk SW wind brought totals of 11 Crossbills, 220 Siskins, 177 Linnets. 169 Redpolls, 101 Goldfinches, a Grey Wagtail and five Great Spotted Woodpeckers. About 600 hirundines moved in the same direction, a Snipe dropped into the back of the valley and at least 40 Blackcaps and 50 Chiffchaffs were fizzing about.

Monday 5th

It remained overcast with occasional showers, brightening in late morning. Downchannel movement amounted to 111 Siskins, 182 Linnets (with a massive 600 on the farm fields), 34 Redpolls, 9 Crossbills, 7 alba wagtails, 82 Chaffinches, including two flocks arriving from across The Channel, a Brambling and a Pink-footed Goose. Robins were everywhere, with 40-50 each of Chiffchaff and Blackcap, a Yellow-browed Warbler in the top wood and a Redstart at the bottom of the valley, but the bird of the day was arguably a Turtle Dove that was trapped on the farm.

Friday 2nd

Early October is typically a fractious affair and the 2020 version looks like being no exception. In a gale force (and more) easterly with driving rain an hour and a half peering out to sea saw 52 Gannets and 2 Common Terns fly NE and 47 Teal and 14 Brent Geese fly in the opposite direction.

Thursday 1st

Overnight rain continued until 08.30 then moved eastward, leaving a calm, overcast morning to its own devices. With rain still threatening, movement was very subdued, the best on offer being 38 Siskins and 25 Redpolls, but 60 Chiffchaffs were busy at the top of the valley and 8 Mistle Thrushes appeared from the clifftop before moving off inland.

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