Rock-a-Nore seabirds

A one hour watch from dawn this morning produced a modest movement of Red Throated Divers: a dozen heading west and 4 east.

A group of grebes which appeared suddenly and then swam far out to see proved to be 3 Great Crested and a Slavonian Grebe; a Gannet and a couple of LBB Gulls  moved west.

Turnstones

A nice walk along the seafront from the Stade to Bexhill in bright sunshine yesterday produced a total of 134 Turnstones, again well down on the 200 or so wintering 2 years ago. Nice to see the small group on the grass verge at the W end of St leonards, ignoring the traffic and passers by, I haven’t seen them for some time.

Other birds were a lone Dunlin at Glyne Gap-but no sign of any Purple Sandpipers; a Black Redstart popped up on one of the beach huts near the cafe.

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Rock-a-Nore seabirds

Today I paid my first early morning visit to the harbour, in the hope of seeing a few passing seabirds. However, in half an hour after a gloomy dawn, I had seen just 6 Common Scoters get up off the sea, and a few local Fulmars gliding about.

No Grebes, Divers or Auks; it should be better in a couple of weeks !

Where have all the Turnstones gone ?

A nice group of Turnstones at Bulverhythe-but not today…

Over the 2010/11 winter I made regular counts of Turnstones between Hastings harbour and Bexhill, by walking along the seafront. I didn’t do this last winter, but recently suspected there were less around, so I did a count today.

Last time, the counts were around 200, in fact 208 on Nov 10 2010 and 235 on Nov 24. Today there were just 60, of which half were in the Glyne Gap area; there were 10 around the fishing boats at Hastings, and just 11 off Bexhill. This seems a worrying reduction and I will repeat the count later on to see if it’s consistent.

Moth trapping-just !

A combination of awful weather and electrical problems have prevented me from doing any moth trapping for several weeks, but I have recently resurrected an old Robinson type trap and am running this in our Fairlight garden with a black bulb [this emits wavelengths that attract moths, but not those visible to humans -neighbour friendly, but said not to be as effective as the normal bright bulbs].

Three sessions with this setup have resulted in 4 moths- a Common Marbled Carpet, a tiny Diamond-back moth and two Dark Chestnuts. The latter is common and can be found between October and March; the one shown was a fresh, well marked example and the first I’ve caught in autumn, my few other records were all in February.

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Autumn migration below the cliffs.

Yesterday Oct 23 I joined Cliff Dean and Mike Mullis for a low tide walk below the cliffs of Hastings Country Park from Cliff End to Hastings- a change from my normal walk above.

This is a challenging walk, with slippery rocks to be negotiated and shingle to slog through,  making it difficult to look up and to hear calls, but at least it’s level…

Arriving at Cliff End promenade at around 10.30, we immediately saw 2 Black Redstarts, which proved to be the best birds of the day, but as we slowly progressed westwards we constantly witnessed migration in action, with Starlings Thrushes and Skylarks coming in off the sea, as well as a few Robins and Chiffchaffs which landed on the rocks on the beach. Rock Pipits could be heard calling overhead-more than I’ve recorded before,  Robins were everywhere and presumably mostly migrants.

We stopped to examine the small waterfall where the Warren Glen stream discharges onto the beach, in the strip of green willows beside this were a Goldcrest, a Chiffchaff and a Robin, doubtless newly arrived

Where Warren Glen meets the sea

Totals for the day-no doubt underestimated- were: Redwing 36 in, Blackbird 4 in, Song Thrush 5 in, Skylark 20 in/E, Starling 30 in,  Chiffchaff 3, Goldcrest 1, Swallow 3E, Rock Pipit 8 in, Redpoll few heard, Siskin 10 E 12W, Robin 50.

At sea, 40 Brent Goose W, 24 E, unusually 15 Gadwall landed off Fairlight Cove; a Lesser Black-backed Gull on the beach and a Knot on the rocks.

Probably 3 Peregrines on the cliffs-waiting for migrants ?; and 2 Ravens at Rock-a-Nore.

And of course the stunning landscape of towering cliffs, mudslides and rockfalls.