With all the rare birds that have been in the country, and several of them "chats and robins" of various species, I went out this morning hopeful that something might be waiting to be found.
There seemed to be fewer birds around than on Saturday, although Goldfinches were moving through all the time. In the Freedown I did see a bird feeding from the top of one of the small bushes and, not unexpectedly, it turned out to be a Stonechat.
Stonechats are worth a second look in their own right, crackling little chaps that they are, and of course there's always the hope that on closer inspection it might turn out to be a Siberian Stonechat. Not this time though!
At Hope Point, as well as Red Admiral, Peacock and I think, both Large and Small Whites, the Small Coppers are still looking quite fresh and very active. The eggs are laid on Sorrel and once they have hatched the caterpillars from this second brood will over winter as caterpillars. They will become chrysalises in April and provide the first flyers of next spring in May.
Everyone birding in Kent in the last week or so will almost certainly have been aware of noisy flocks of Crossbills passing overhead. There have been a good few here but until today I hadn't seen one land this autumn.
Today, as I got to the Leas at Kingsdown I could hear the chip, chip call of Crossbills, but for once it was coming from the top of a tree, in Hope Bay Studios garden. A small flock of about eight birds had landed and then almost immediately they took off again. Fortunately they didn't fly off straight away, but circled and came back to the tree.
A bright coloured male actually sat on top for me, just long enough for a picture to be taken. I'm not sue of the facts behind this big invasion of Crossbills, but I assume that it must be cause by a failure of the pine cone crop in Scandinavia and point east of there. Crossbills use their strange looking bill to extract the seeds from pine cones and they do have periodic eruptions, after good breeding seasons, when the pine crop fails then. Sometimes after an invasion some will breed in late winter or early spring, in suitably habitat in Kent. I could be a bumper season for them at Bedgebury or Pembury Walks next year.
A scan of the sea yielded not Skuas or Porpoises but I did see the Border Agency vessel, Seacher passing quite quickly. Wheter she was on official duty or not I don't know. The invasion of Crossbills will continue overhead!