Friday 16th September 2011
Light S/E winds (F2-3), mild, overcast, dry.
I arrived at Chambers Wall car park at 7am this morning to the sound of Chiffchaffs calling all around. I tried to make a stab at counting them, but to be honest it was a real guess, they were flitting in and out the bushes. I walked slowly up to the crossing, then took the embankment east to the riding stables, checked all the hedges befor eturning back west along the seafront. The whole walk up to the seafront was accompanied by the calls of Chiffs, but little else. The walk west was quiet, though there was a single Wheatear on the beach, and an Arctic Skua flew slowly east close in.
At Coldharbour I turned south, then walked the embankment west, before returning to the car for a bite to eat. I had several sightings of Sparrowhawks during the walk, and a Hobby came flying low over the bushes while I was at the car.
Approximate totals for the walk were: 95 Chiffs, 11 Blackcaps, 5 Whitethroats, 2 Reed Warblers, 1 Cetti's, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 1 Arctic Skua, 2 Gannets, 25 Scotor, 1 Wheatear, 4 Lapwing west, 8 Brent, 5 Sparrowhawks, 4 Kestrels, 1 Hobby and 4 Grey Herons.
Around 11:30am I drove over to Reculver towers, where Matt Hindle was already on a seawatch. I was walking up to join him when he rang to say there was a Long-tailed Skua flying east. I ran up to the watchpoint and saw the bird, but it was distant and flying further away. All I can say is that it was a small, pale skua. I joined Matt for a really pleasant few hours, sitting on the cliff in the sun with a moderate south east wind. A little later Chris and Anne and Mickey Baldock joined us, and we stayed until about 3pm.
Plenty of interest, as a trickle of Bonxies (50+) and Arctic Skuas (20) flew past, mostly east, as well as 6 Black Terns, 30 Sandwich Terns, 5 Little Gulls, a Razorbill, 70 Gannets, a Red-throated Diver and probably the highlight a juv Montagu's Harrier in off the sea.
Although the information about birds seen further up the coast in Essex and Suffolk had us wishing for a slight northerly breeze, it was a lovely day and a great way to end my 2 weeks off work.