Monday, 27 September 2010

Back to reality

A fine morning, with virtually no wind found me at the monument full of anticipation. After all the 27th September is a good date. Arctic Warbler 1984, Olivaceous Warbler 1967, Alpine Swift 1980 all at Sandwich Bay, Short-toed Treecreeper at Dungeness 1969. Bockhill 2010 still to be found?

As i got to the top of the cliff I noticed a small bird on the path some way in front of me, but before I could take a proper look two cyclists flushed if off of the path towards the cliff edge. It certainly looked like a bunting, and not one of the Lapland Buntings from last week. Of course I knew what it was most likely going to be, but still various attractive alternatives flashed through my imagination.

When I finally got a clear view of the bird it was of course a Reed Bunting. It returned to the path where it had been feeding. It was comparatively confiding and gave the impression that it was recently arrived and in need of some R & R.

At this point I was joined by Jack and we decided to walk down to Hope Point, still with a lot anticipation that there were goodies to be found. The Reed Bunting flitted off the path, on to the ploughed field and it now looked a lot less dishevelled and was actively feeding. I think it was a first winter female, and although I might have wished for something more exciting, I must admit it was an attractive subject for the camera.

As we walked towards the Kingsdown Leas, just beyond Hope Point, three Peregrines were performing acrobatically above the cliffs, and later, looking back, one was perched on a favourite perch. It was very apparent that there had be a large clear out of many of the warblers that had been around at the weekend. No longer did very tree have a Chiffchaff calling and we saw just one each of Common and Lesser Whitethroat in this area. There were good numbers of finches on the move, with small parties of Linnet, Siskin and Goldinch frequently calling overhead.

When we got to Farm Wood we were still surprised by the lack of Chiffchaff activity, but as we walked along the Droveway we did catch up with a few, moving along the hedge. Looking into the field towards the monument Jack caught sight of a Redstart, dropping down to feed in the field from the shelter of the hedge, and then, as I was watching a Blackbird, Jack was on a Ring Ouzel. I was puzzled for a moment until I scanned right and there was a stunning male Ring Ouzel.

I decided to try and stalk it along the hedge, and although I failed to get very close it did sit out for a few seconds giving a fairly distant view. As I moved along the hedge I refound the Common Redstart and then soon after I was surprised when a female or juvenile Black Redstart popped out and followed it along the hedge. It was a real thrush and chat highway, with two Song Thrushes, five Blackbird, two Mistle Thrushes, several Robins and a second Ring Ouzel, this time a female, in addition to the bird described above.

At the Gun Site a group of Siskins were calling, but didn't stay for long. A Lesser Whitethroat and a couple of Chiffchaffs called in the scrub, but I failed to find the Long-eared Owl that I'd seen on Friday and Saturday.

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