There is a bit more wind than I had expected from the forecast but at least there is some warmth in the sun’s rays this morning. It is good to be on the east coast, with sand beneath my feet and some coastal bushes and scrubby cover to search for migrant birds. Over recent days there have been a good few migrants here, including a number that no longer breed in the county but merely pass through on passage. There’s a chance of a vagrant warbler or perhaps a passing shrike. Out on the short-turf of the now vegetated dunes there is even an outside chance of a wryneck.
Today, however, fails to turn up anything rare – not that it really matters. I am not here to tick off something new or to add some rarity to a list. I am here, in this beautiful place, to watch birds and immerse myself within the landscape. What I like about this particular stretch of coast is that there is plenty of scrubby elder cover and a great scramble of bramble and bindweed, all of which provide feeding opportunities for birds and insects alike. Such patches require patient watching because those birds that are present can remain out of sight for long periods. The gentle pebble-tapping alarm call of blackcap reveals the bird’s presence long before it emerges from the bramble in which it has been sat, agitated by the passing dog-walkers.
Over the course of a couple of hours working a few dozen metres of low and crumbling cliff, I am treated to whitethroat, chiffchaff, willow warbler and pied flycatcher; migrants one and all, journeying south. Overhead, the chattering calls of swallow and martin signal other birds on the move, while a few dragonflies patrol lower down, the buzz of their wings catching my attention as the occasional individual steers close to my head and away. Large white butterflies dance around the bramble alongside smaller numbers of comma and red admiral, the latter so beautifully marked that they cannot have been on the wing that long. There is a real sense of movement and it is truly energising to see the ways in which this little stretch of coast is being used.