Saturday, 16 October 2021

Gloomy day at Seaford

For once I made it to Seaford Head for the Sunrise Hurrah!! Good start!

The downside of this was it was near dark as I walked down Hope Gap, not just the time but really overcast as well, a few Blackbirds, a Song Thrush and a small flock of Goldcrests with a couple of Chiffchaffs in it, but too gloomy for pics, they are hard enough in good light what with their constant flitting about! ๐Ÿ˜ข๐Ÿ˜‚ I was also hearing a lot of noise from the sea at Hope Bottom, intrigued I headed to the top of the steps, the sea was covered in birds in a feeding frenzy, mostly Gulls, but also a lot of Cormorants, presumably a very large shoal of bait fish up against the shore, the process seemed to be the Cormorants catch the fish, then the Gulls steal the fish!! Although some of the Black-headed Gulls were plunge feeding as well, there were also several Little Egrets along the shore trying their luck. I hung around enjoying the spectacle, hoping for a passing Skua to get involved or a Diver to appear but neither did several Gannets in the vicinity but the only  a 2CY bird that came nice and close, pics are bit noisy as it was very gloomy.

2nd Calendar year Gannet

Hard Core Rowers

Black-headed Gull

Little Egret


I dragged myself away, wasn't expecting a Seabirdfest today but always a pleasure, Hundreds, probably thousands of Gulls. 
I decided to head back up Hope Gap, with Thousands of Thrushes being reported around the country I had hopes of a Ring Ouzel or at least a Redwing or two, was possibly less birds than the way down, although I did have a flock of about 20 Redwings high over at the top,I decided to walk the high path to the west off but  parallel to Hope Gap this would give me an overview of the bushes, a good plan but required birds to be successful, a few Blackbirds and Woodpigeons in the valley and several Meadow Pipits in the field to the right but not a lot๐Ÿ˜ข I hit the coast path again and followed it down to Hope Bottom the large grassed slope to the west of Hope Gap had several Meadow Pipits on it, they are usually quite flighty, but these were engrossed feeding so was able to get reasonably close!
Funky Blackbird

Great Black-backed Gull

Meadow Pipit

Good Grub
At this point a Wheatear appeared, it seemed very pale and had an upright stance, now my experience with exotic Wheatears is fairly limited, I've seen a couple of Desert Wheatears, both Males and a couple of Isabeline Wheatears, although my bird wasn't really as pale as those but I wasn't sure of juvenile/female plumage and mindful, of my faux pas of putting my Pallid Harrier out as HarrierSP so I decided to put a couple of pics on twitter, although I was pretty confident having consulted my Collins app that it was a Northern, better safe than sorry!! I think the gloomy conditions probably made it look paler than it would have done in better light!


A few more pics, I was advised by the twitter to try and get a flight shot, but the blooming thing just ran about feeding the whole time!! Was very tame!

Meadow Pipit to break the monotony

At this point it started to rain ๐Ÿ˜ข. Now I do my research, the BBC weather app, had cloudy all morning with 12% chance of rain, well the 12% turned into 100% pissing down๐Ÿ˜ก๐Ÿ˜ก I learnt a couple of things my fancy-dan summer trouser are not waterproof, although in their defence they dried very quickly once the rain stopped, maybe  time to go into winter plumage!! I also learnt that the waterproof  cover for the camera doesn't work from the boot of the car๐Ÿ˜ข๐Ÿ˜‚
I decided to improve my hardcore birder credentials by carrying on, I headed towards the Cuckmere, for the simple reason that my back would be to the wind and driving rain, I took shelter by the coastguards cottages, birds seem to have sensibly decided to keep their heads down except for the Gulls obvs. As the rain eased off I spotted a small bird flying along the beach towards me, got it in the bins the unmistakable, even for me, red tail of an adult male Black Redstart, cracker, at the last minute it dropped out of sight, the beach shelves steeply here. I crept to the edge, looked over, nothing!! It had completely disappeared, a bird flew up Rock Pipit!! I waited and  scanned, rain started again suddenly the bird re-appeared on the piles and broken fences on collapsed beach below the cottages, I snapped a couple of pics but the bird dropped down again and didn't re-appear, this area is cordoned off, presumably because of the risk of land slip, so I decided to walk away not sure I would have been so good if it had been something rarer!!๐Ÿ˜ฒ Unfortunately the camera decided that it would rather focus on a broken fence rather than the bird๐Ÿ˜ข

Pipit in the Rain

Stonking male Black Redstart, honest guv!!
With the rain stopped, although the skies still looked threatening, I decided to give the wide open, exposed expanse of the Cuckmere a miss and headed back to Hope Bottom on a mission to get that flight shot of the Wheatear!! The feeding frenzy had largely abated although a large seal had joined the remaining Gulls!

Unfortunately I couldn't refind the Wheatear ๐Ÿ˜ข It had been replaced by a nice charm of Goldfinches, a few Pipits and a Raven flew over which is always good!
Juvenile Goldfinch in the rain

The Charm


Meadow Pipit
I decided to search for the Wheatear along the Cliff Path, then go up past the Golf Course and search the scrub around the Aircraft Beacon for Rouzels, had em there before! No luck, couple of Skylarks along the Cliff and seemingly endless supply of Great Black-backed Gulls rising up from the cliff, a few Blackbirds and Song Thrushes at the Beacon but no Rousels. I tracked back towards the carpark, a flock of Linnets by the Dungheap and several more Meadow Pipits along the fence rounded of a challenging but quite fun walk!!
Great Black-backed Gull

Meadow Pipit

Any thoughts on the Wheatear welcome!!