We’re up in Yorkshire for the weekend, and today was our rather delayed visit to the East Coast. Starting at Flamborough, we added Puffin, Manx Shearwater and Shag to the year list, although it was a bit slow. Moving on to Bempton we were turned away: the car park was full and they had sensibly not opened the overflow car park. Rather than miss out, we decided to go on to Speeton and then walk back towards the reserve along the cliff top. This was a good decision as there were plenty of birds, particularly Puffins, at this end of the cliffs, and hardly any people. In the absence of people in lockdown, the birds have been nesting higher up the cliffs, so we had very good view of Gannet – we even had to shoo one off the path in front of us.
It has become traditional at this time of year to have a family photo of a large collection of hawk moths, and this year is no exception. Privets are putting a strong show in this year, with three being our best ever count.
Elsewhere, there’s a fantastic crop of Pyramidal Orchids just over the down from us, and our first visit to Pagham Harbour of the year gave us our first Little Terns fro the year and very little else.
We had a bit of a lazy week, without that much walking, but the wildlife came to us with a decent moth trap at last, starring Eyed and Privet Hawk Moths. Yesterday we made up for things with a walk over to Arundel, 25 miles. It was a cracking day, and we had Ringlet, White Admiral and Silver-washed Fritillary in the Dover and at Arundel we finally had distant but clear views of Cattle Egret. This is probably my fifth attempt to get it on the on-foot list, all involving long walks, so it’s a relief to finally connect. On the way back we also had a female Stag Beetle in Worthing – we have missed them at home so far.
The long walk meant the small camera, so there’s not that many photos.
A good walk took in a trip to Beeding Hill to see the Red-footed Falcon that turned up there yesterday. While I was there, it simply sat on the ground. Later on this evening we went back in the car with a better camera. This time it was very active, hunting constantly, unfortunately much more distant. A smart bird.
Being up in Yorkshire for Dad’s funeral at least gave us a chance to do a bit of birding on the way back. Strid Woods was as splendid as ever, although we were too late for singing Wood Warbler. Redstarts were very showy and a first for me: a fledgling Pied Flycatcher being fed, was fantastic. We also got two new moths: Chimney Sweeper and Floxglove Pug.
On our way down south we stopped off at Collingham and waited for five whole minutes before the Rose-coloured Starling showed up, and later in Lincolnshire we had a lifer in the form of a Blyth’s Reed Warbler, that eventually showed well and sung beautifully – an amazing song, far better than the short snatch I recorded suggests.
We had an unexpectedly close view of some wildlife yesterday, when a Greenfinch absolutely brained itself against the patio doors. Karen pronounced it dead, but it still had a faint twitch, so I went out and picked it up, whereupon it stirred a bit.
Clearly stunned, it sat on my hand without much fear and after I put it down in a sheltered spot it sat around without moving for a full 90 minutes before flying off.
They’re not my favourite birds, but it was a stunning bird to see so close.
A few pictures from our recent walks around Sussex, and our moth trap, which is finally beginning to have some moths.
The Hairy Dragonfly was at Kithurst Hill, the Spoonbill at a well-known site so closed that it is apparently “irresponsible” to even look towards it from a public footpath, or admit its existence. The Shelduck chicks are from my favourite dewpond over the down from us. Prior to finding the pair with 9 chicks there on 20th May, the only time I had seen them there before was on April 4th, despite checking the pond for waders multiple times a week. Tricky coves, Shelduck…
Crushing news this week, with the sudden death of my father on Thursday, a few days after his 89th birthday. My usual eloquence has rather deserted me. I owe him so much and we’ll miss him so much.
(He was also responsible for about half of the hits on this website.)
Here’s a picture from this time last year of Dad in his favourite place: surrounded by his family.
With migration beginning to tail off, and most of the available birds seen, the focus is a bit more on walking than birds, underlined by my early morning seawatch on Friday, that was practically dead. On Saturday we had a walk with a bird targeted: the Turtle Doves at Woods Mill. It was a lovely pre-dawn walk, but a bit cool and cloudy. We got to Woods Mill at 0600, having walked through Beeding Brooks, continuously accompanied by Cuckoos. Unfortunately the Turtle Doves didn’t get the memo, and never turned up. Nevertheless, it was a very pleasant 25 mile walk. A shorter walk today had more butterflies than birds.
Karen had an outbreak of sanity, deciding a start at 2:00 am was too silly and decided to leave me to it. Obviously she was right, so the plan changed and I left at quarter past midnight instead. A brisk walk got me to my fist stop at half past three (with a Nightingale belting out its song at 2:30) and the Nightjars were already churring and the Woodcocks roding. The views were shocking, but it was great to hear them back. Next stop for another early morning specialist, Grasshopper Warbler and found three in one location and at least three in another. Job done, and a good supporting cast to boot, it was back home, still quite early. It was a long walk, but for the majority of it I didn’t see a soul.