Autumn migrant raptors

All the counts from the Hastings autumn migration watch have now been entered into an XL spreadsheet, enabling instant calculation of day and species totals- what a chore that would have been in the old days !

As there isn’t a great deal to report at present, it seems timely to reveal some of the results of several hundred hours of fieldwork: today the raptors or birds of prey.

9 species of raptors were recorded this autumn. of which Peregrine and Kestrelare resident, and no migration activity was suspected [Although Peregrines are a conspicuous


predator of migrant Wood Pigeons]. Sparrowhawks are also resident and can be seen daily,  only 4 birds were considered migrants. Buzzards are a frequent sight inland , but much less so on the coast and with a total of 13 were the commonest migrant raptor recorded.  Other large migrant raptors were : a total of 5 Marsh Harriers, a  Hen Harrier and an unidentified ringtail Harrier , and 2 Honey Buzzards, probably the best birds recorded this autumn.

Two migrant falcon species were also noted: a total of 7 Hobbies and a single Merlin.


So the conclusion is that although an outstanding place for observing small birds migrating, our area is not wonderful for seeing migrating raptors, though few places in the UK are !

Looking through my photo archive I see it’s even worse for photographing migrant raptors , possibly because my camera struggles with flying birds, so the picture is of a non migrant but almost stationary individual…



2 responses to “Autumn migrant raptors

  1. Or last year wasn’t that good for migrating raptors. Hastings can be fantastic for watching migrating raptors, some experienced birders even rate it better than Beachy Head or Dungeness. I’ve had some amazing experiences watching raptors from East Hill, Warren Glen and while seawatching. Black kite, rough-legged buzzard, red-footed falcon, even white-tailed sea eagle are on my Hastings list. I’ve also had double figure day counts of honey buzzard, hobby and sparrowhawk from Hastings. The last few years have not been particularly good years for both spring and autumn migration, hopefully 2012 will be a good year.

  2. Andy, I’ve had a look at the spreadsheets for the two previous years when we recorded as a group: in 2011 we recorded a total of 34 migrant raptors as listed here, in 2010 36, and in 2009 23.

    In 2008 1 watched HCPNR extensively alone in the autumn and recorded just 1 Marsh Harrier

    These are not impressive totals, recorded during many hundreds of hours of watching , and suggest that in recent years raptor passage has been very modest. Based on this recent info. it would be wrong to suggest that a visitor to Hastings might expect to see any raptor passage ,[and the purpose of most of my posts is to encourage people to go out and see something]

    though as all the other figures show its wonderful for small birds. As you say, perhaps 2012 will be better !

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