Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Supermarket Sweep

Now is the time to visit the avian equivalent of the supermarket because at the moment the shelves are still fully stacked, but in a month’s time there will be gaping gaps on many of them.  Just outside the car park we had both House Martins & House Sparrows some mainly monochrome jackdaws, and a few very colourful Linnets.  The tide seemed to be going out & looking down on the first ravine of chalk we were able to see Puffins on either side of the cliff.  Looking over the grassy edge there were plenty of short, stubby Marsh Orchids.  Later there were several feral pigeons here, and a couple of apparently pure Rock Doves.  It was here that we were first assaulted by the sound of distant Kittiwakes.  From the top of the cliffs we could see a few of the stiff-winged Fulmars riding the breeze, and a single Lesser Black Backed Gull flying just above the waves.
 House Sparrow
 Kittiwake & Chicks [above]
 Herring Gull
We carried along the cliffs, and here we could see some brilliantly-white Gannets against the blue of the sea and sky.  Meanwhile we were serenaded by plenty of Skylarks and just a few Meadow Pipits.  There were a couple of Swallows and a single white butterfly, and more Marsh Orchids.  All the usual suspects were in their accustomed niches on the cliffs: Puffins, Guillemots, Razorbills, Kittiwakes, Fulmars and herring Gulls, and a single Stock Dove.  Far below there were some Shags on the rocks at the water’s edge, and Steve spotted a sunbathing Grey Seal nearby.  This was the 1st seal I’d seen here hauled out on the rocks, they are usually just seen round here as bobbing heads with their bodies hidden by the water.    
Grey Seal
 Marsh Orchid
 Stock Dove

We carried on to a small conservation area devoted to different species, but it was overgrown with grasses and the ground was very wet & slippery.  Some of the usual suspects were absent from here with no sign of Yellowhammers, Reed Buntings or Linnets.  However, there were great views of Meadow Pipits and Skylarks as some compensation and a couple of Herons.  One Skylark in particular came down very close to us, singing beautifully the whole time, it was so good I’m surprised the group didn’t break into a spontaneous round of applause!  Towards the end of our visit to this area, a Whitethroat put in an appearance, but it wasn’t as easy to get good views of as it had been a few weeks ago.  However, later when we were almost back at the car park, Len did see one out in the open at the top of a bramble spray.  
On the return journey a Sand Martin was spotted heading south, which were added to the couple of Swifts we’d already seen.  A male Peregrine was observed, and this was seen even better in the afternoon when I left my camera behind and carried the telescope instead.  
Meadow Pipit (c) 2012 Phil Hargreaves
 Scarlet Pimpernel (c) 2012 Phil Hargreaves

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