Unfortunately no sign of the main prize by dark but Matt's juvenile Wood Sandpiper was a very nice consolation. Adult Wood Sandpipers begin to move south in late June making rapid movements to stopover sites to the north of the Mediterranean that explains their relative paucity in the UK e.g. an adult ringed in Sweden was recovered the following day in Italy. Juveniles delay their departure from the breeding grounds so arrive at the Mediterranean stopover sites several weeks later.
Icelandic Black-tailed Godwits in the Cuckmere
Icelandic Black-tailed Godwits arrive in the UK in July and August. By far the commoner of the two forms occurring in Sussex the left hand bird in the lower image is readily identified by the intensity of its extensive summer plumage. The right hand individual appears more limosa-like being larger and sporting less summer plumage but females of both forms are larger and duller than males. Furthermore, first-summer islandica proves a pitfall being very variable in appearance. Whilst ageing is complicated, especially with adults commencing their post-breeding moult, it is interesting to note that some of its scapulars and lesser coverts clearly have white fringes being similar to the illustration of a first-summer islandica portrayed in Vinicombe, Harris & Tucker (2014). Hence, an adult male and first-summer female islandica would be my best guess.
Red-legged Partridge 3 Yellow-legged Gull 3 juveniles Swift 400 S
Sand Martin 1 Nightingale h croaking
Reed Warbler 1
Sedge Warbler 1
Willow Warbler 25
Yellowhammer 1 male
Swifts over Beachy
Swifts are one of the first species to leave on their southward migration and as they depart very soon after the young leave the nest and it has been pointed out that they are the only species to have their departure date fixed by the date they start breeding. In Britain departures start as early as mid-July with the main departure period in Sussex considered to be July albeit the County day record of 10,000 seen heading south at Beachy was on the 10th August 1985.
Sand Martin over the Old Trapping Area
In Britain, by the end of July, there is orientated movement of juveniles recorded just to the east of south. However, in most years, passage is concentrated during August diminishing in early September with a higher proportion of adults being involved at that time.
Starlings at Birling
Ringing recovery data has shown that Britain effectively plays host to populations of two origins; a virtually sedentary resident population and a large number of birds that migrate to spend the winter here that arrive in October-November.
Swift 8 Great Spotted Woodpecker h
Sand Martin c.8
Sedge Warbler 2
Lesser Whitethroat 1
Common Whitethroat c.20 Garden Warbler 1
Willow Warbler c.15
Willow Warblers in the Old Trapping Area
Considered to be the most numerous passerine migrant to the Western Palearctic, in southern Britain, the species unfortunately suffered a major decline during the early 1990's. Juvenile P.t. trochilus commence migration in the second half of July with both adults and the more north-easterly breeding P.t. acredula following suit in early August. Initial migration flights of juveniles are in the range of 25-250km as they cannot deposit sufficient fat to sustain longer flights.
Silver-spotted Skipper at Belle Tout
This butterfly is restricted to closely-grazed chalk downland sites in southern England. Its range contracted in the 20th century due to a reduction in grazing stock as well as the onset of myxomatosis which severely affected rabbit populations. Recent years have been more promising and this is one of the few species that is increasing its range. Indeed, at Beachy, it went unrecorded until relatively recently.
Male Red-veined Darter at West Rise
Kris Gillam very kindly let us know that he had found a number of obliging individuals of this highly migratory species that is resident in the Mediterranean countries of Europe but since the 1990's has arrived in Britain pretty much annually as an immigrant but only in very small numbers. Whilst evidence of breeding has regularly been confirmed the British winters are thought to be too harsh for resident populations to be sustained.
The first Autumn arrivals of adult Ruff occur in Britain in July and most of these birds are males. This early return is probably a result of males playing no part in parental care. (Migration Atlas).
The above image shows the distinctive broad contrasting dark leading edge to the underwing-coverts of the species. The Migration Atlas reveals that Autumn passage begins in July and that during late Summer and Autumn there tends to be a general influx of the species into areas where they have not bred including evidence of immigration into Britain.
Snipe over Rodmell
Whilst not strictly gregarious this species is well known as congregating as 'wisps'. BWP states Autumn passage commences in July although I could not see whether they are known to move in discrete flocks as this one appeared as they overflew the area.
Juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull at Newhaven
The first fledged juveniles I've seen this year have now joined the swarm of juvenile Herring Gulls present in the harbour. I suspect they've originated from the nearby rooftops of the industrial estate where in recent weeks a good number of adults were seen amongst the Herring Gulls also nesting there.
Juvenile Yellow-legged Gull at Birling As yet there have been no ringing recoveries of Yellow-legged Gull in Sussex. The Migration Atlas reveals six ringed as pulli in the Mediterranean basin have been recovered in the southeast UK with one from Spain, three from France and two from Italy. Recent Julys have proved a productive time for finding juveniles locally and this year is proving no exception with regular double-figure tallies also currently being recorded at Dungeness.
Lesser Whitethroat at Birling
The lower image reveals the extent of the visible body moult. This ties in nicely with the migration strategy of this species. As unfortunately no Lesser Whitethroats held territory at Beachy this year we knew it had come from somewhere else, although with JFC seeing what was almost certainly the same individual a few days ago, it seems in no particular hurry as well as being on the early side to be a departing migrant. However, the Migration Atlas offers an explanation as it states that dispersal from the breeding grounds appears to coincide with the near completion of moult, in both juvenile and adult birds, and that these movements usually commence in mid-July in Britain.
Yellow-legged Gull 1 juv.
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1
Sand Martin 1 Nightingale 2h croaking
Sedge Warbler 1
Juvenile Yellow-legged Gull at Birling
Pale head with dark mask, neat black tail-band strongly contrasting with white tail, pale underparts, faint pale window on inner primaries, dark outer greater coverts, dark underwing-coverts and long-winged.
Their long all-grey bills, prominent supercilium contrasting with a dark crown and dark eye-stripe, pale loral spots bordered below by a dark cheek line joining the bill and pale creamy throats all help identify them. Whilst we never saw the open wing it is tempting to think their overall orangey-brown appearance and narrow white fringes to their blackish tertials point to them being juveniles.
Yellow-legged Gull 1E juv. at c6.45am Greenshank h Cuckoo 1 juv. Whinchat 2
Male Whinchat in Cow Gap
Juvenile Whinchat in Cow Gap
Whilst clearly wet, I don't recall seeing a Whinchat in such juvenile plumage before so presumably they usually undergo their post-juvenile moult very quickly prior to their autumn departure. Whilst juvenile Stonechat-like, it sported a broad pale supercilium, and more fortunately, they share the same diagnostic tail pattern as adult Whinchats.
Juvenile Whinchat at Kvismare, Sweden (Z. Hinchcliffe)