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.

Autumn migration watch

The annual Friends of Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve  Autumn Migration walk, expertly lead as always by Andrew Grace, started at 8 am after another wet night.  Those who braved the weather-12 in all-were treated to one of our best autumn watches, as the weather speedily inproved. It was clear that birds were arriving just where we were, at low level, then heading along the coast in either direction, giving everyone a chance to see and hear groups of Siskins, Goldfinches and Linnets at close range, and experience a heavy passage of Swallows. The Jay movement was the best so far:

Firehills 0800-1015:

Jay 65 W in groups of up to 20, Meadow Pipit 40 W, Goldfinch 140 W 340 E, Siskin 150 E, Redpoll 13 W, Chaffinch 60, Brambling 1, Linnet 50 E, Swallow 1700 W, House Martin 300 W, Sand Martin 1W, Pied Wagtail 25 W, Greenfinch 4, Reed Bunting 3, Starling 15 W, Goldcrest 9, Chiffchaff 6, Blackcap 3,

Rook 1, Yellowhammer pair.

[A late addition for Oct 5-a wet and windy early morning again:West St Leonards 8.50-9.50  AG
Some passage West noted of Pied wagtail 2, Meadow pipit 42, Swallow 8 and Chaffinch 20.
4 Chiffchaffs




Country Park Moths

Last night was unusually calm, and dawn was overcast and milder than of late-promising conditions for moth trapping in Hastings Country Park NR.

Despite this, on first glance the trap seemed to contain just a few Craneflies and  a Caddis Fly. However on lifting off the top, the moths were all hiding in amongst the boxes, a modest total of 14 species. These were mostly “brown jobs”-common ones like Setaceous Hebrew Character and Large Yellow Underwing, but there were three characteristic autumn species too. These were a Lunar Underwing, which I catch quite a lot of in Fairlight, though not as yet this year, and singles of Autumnal Rustic and Brindled Green.

I’ve not caught either of these in my garden trap, and the Brindled Green, a little beauty, was new to the Country Park list. The picture of the Rustic shows the effects of wear- it’s easy to identify using the right wing, but would be less so if both were worn like the left one.

Country Park Moths

Another clear night, but not too chilly-there were 21 species in the Hastings Country Park NR trap this morning. There included three of the tortrix Cochylis molliculana, a south coast species  first recorded in the UK in 1993, this is new to the Country Park.  Almost the last moth I looked at was a smart Sharp-angled Carpet, which I have yet to catch in Fairlight, this is similar to the aptly named Common Carpet which was also in the trap, but immediately strikes one as being paler on the lower half.

The last thing to check is the small recessed space on the bottom of the trap, which moths often manage to crawl into. None today, but a surprise was a fine large male Dark Bush Cricket. These are very common, their calls can be heard everywhere, but they aren’t too easy to photograph.

Helophilus trivittatus

The large, attractively marked hoverfly Helophilus trivittatus is quite conspicuous at present, especially around Hemp Agrimony. There are several in our Fairlight garden most days , usually on this plant or basking on sunflowers [which obligingly turn towards the sun]. Today I saw quite a lot in Hastings Country Park NR,, on Hemp Agrimony by Ecclesbourne Glen steps. As I looked at these, one flew into a spiders web and was immediately trussed up and dealt with. Being something of an arachnaphobe I’ve never “got into ” spiders, but I imagine this one is common.