Trip reports

Weekend outing to Beachy Head on Saturday, 20 September, 2014

Friday, 28 November 2014

Low cloud provided exactly the kind of weather that can cause migrating birds to pause before attempting a Channel crossing! As we began walking a circuit around the base of Whitbread Hollow, we soon became aware that many birds were indeed grounded - resting or feeding among the bushes - while others were flying back and forth low overhead, seeking better visibility before venturing out over the sea. Rather disappointingly, however, the vast majority of these lingerers were found to belong to just three species, namely Blackcap and Chiffchaff (in the bushes) and Meadow Pipit (overhead), although at least a hundred of each were seen. As the morning progressed, a little more variety was added, with ones or twos of Common Whitethroat, Common Redstart, Whinchat and Stonechat, a dozen or so Swallows, then two Little Egrets, a dozen Oystercatchers and two Rock Pipits (on the beach) and Brent Geese (in flocks of up to 20 or so moving west over the sea). One or two Kestrels and Sparrowhawks, local raptors, were doing their best to capitalise on this temporary bounty.

Moving a mile west after lunch, to Shooter's Bottom, we found that Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Meadow Pipits were again plentiful and that Stonechats (c20) and Whinchats (c5) were more numerous, too. We also added Wheatear (12-plus, mostly in a single loose flock) and single Tree Pipit, Garden Warbler and Spotted Flycatcher to our lists. A final halt at Horseshoe Plantation was most notable for a mobile flock of 100+ Linnets in and over a stubble field beyond the road. Our party of eight ended an interesting if not outstanding day there with a bird list of 43 species. Some butterflies had been noted on the wing still, seven species being recorded during the day, including Small Copper, Small Heath and Small Tortoiseshell.

John Parish