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Turnstone Count

Inspired by the thirteen counted by the fishing boats the previous day, I carried out one of my occasional seafront Turnstone counts yesterday, reversing my normal route and walking from Bexhill to Hastings in order to arrive at the start of the Herring Fair. This walk takes about 2.5 hours.

Over the last couple of years I've recorded some very low counts, including a record low of 49 this February, so 104 this time was an improvement, though still fewer than there used to be. Most of them were between St Leonards and Rock-a-Nore [still 13], including a roost of 29 right by the pier which held a Purple Sandpiper-the first I know of in the area since April 2015. With typical Turnstone tameness thse birds ignored my fumbling camera battery change just above them, and bursts of loud applause greeting runners on the promenade.

Also of note on the walk was a flock of at least 150 Common Scoters put up by a speeding boat a long way off Bexhill.


From the Clifftop to Hastings

With the moth trap back in the shed [though on the warmer Thursday night I trapped 13 species, including a long overdue Feathered Thorn], and not much at sea, I walked through the Country Park to Hastings yesterday.

As usual in winter it was pretty quiet, no Goldcrests, no Stonechats, but plenty of birds in the Barley Lane fields, notably 80 Chaffinches on sunflowers, and 15 Rooks with c100 Carrion Crows and a similar number of Jackdaws.

Lots of gulls around the fishing boats included a high count of 270 Great Black-backs, with these on the harbour arm were 12 Cormorants that have taken to roosting there. Almost all the other gulls were Herring Gulls, which I checked for Caspians, but still no luck, otherwse 1 LBB Gull and 1 Kittiwake. 13 Turnstones were pottering amongst the boats.


From the Clifftop

Some milder weather at present, so out with the moth trap again. Seven species yesterday, not bad for mid-November, included another Merveille du Jour.

At sea, a Fulmar two days ago signalled their return from their usual autumn break, otherwise the usual Gannets -20-30 can be seen each morning, a few Red Throated Divers, unidentifiable auks , a few Brents going west  and yesterday my first Porpoise for a couple of months.


Rye Harbour

There's quite a wintery feel to reserve at the moment, with masses of wigeon, quite a few shoveler, big flocks of starling and, in the last few days, several hundred golden plover wheeling over Flat Beach. Highlights from a quick scoot around the reserve this morning included three great white egret on Long Pit (there have apparently been up to five at Castle Water this week), the black-necked grebe on Ternery Pool (between Crittall and Parkes Hide) and surprisingly calling bearded tit on the reedy pool to the west of the path from the gabions inland. 


From the Clifftop

With autumn migration having come to a halt, and the moth trap largely in hibernation [though one mild night recently produced six common species including  Brick and Pine Carpet ], the best thing to do at the moment is stare out to sea.

Nothing startling, but a bit of variety yesterday : the ever present Gannets, a few auks, a couple of Red-throated Divers, a few Brents and Shelducks and a Mediterranean Gull. The previous few days added Great Skua and up to 15 Kittiwakes.