Stoked to hit the Cape with old mate Dunc Poyser. It's been a long old while since we worked these hedgerows together and boy, did we have a good day! Started with the Old Fall loop, which revealed a sprinkle of common stuff, with the best being a few Siskin over and a Blackcap. On to the clifftop, a streaky-backed bird shot low round the corner along the path, and for a brief moment, I thought this could be the big one. Sadly not, but I was quite pleased to find a solitary Twite, which flicked up on to the wire fence, posing nicely for a photo had I been a bit quicker with the camera, before it did one. As we headed up towards the Gorse Field, I could have sworn I heard a Lapland Bunting, and ten minutes later we picked up a little gang of these big Arctic buntings flying low over the stubble at Cattlemere towards the Sheep Field. Nice.
The east side of the Motorway Hedge was nicely sheltered and the birding was fizzing. A Chiffchaff behaved rare, whilst Goldcrests flitted among the Fleabane. Robins flicked out on to the path among the Blackbird. Nothing rare, but top east coast autumnal delights. Dunc needed a calorie boost and we both needed caffeine so we partook before doing the Bay Brambles. Impressive performance by Dunc with a double espresso and five (5!) sugars. I think he was trying to impress the rather attractive waitress....
Welkie Wynds next where I have been convinced I would find something this autumn....
Things seemed fairly quiet. We reached the wild bird crop just to the south of Millennium Wood. I caught a flash of something with white outer tail feathers as it dived into the top of the hedge on the west side, but my mind didn't really register until we heard a distinctive ticking. Binning the hedge revealed a little gingery dude about fifteen metres away "*&^% it's a Little Bunt, Dunc" I exclaimed (it wasn't Ed Sheeran at least). Dunc could hear it ok, but I struggled to explain which bit of the featureless hedge it was sitting on. It sat there for half a minute, calling occasionally, showing off it's lovely gingernut face off set with a black rear border and grey collar. It then took off and gave us a ticking fly past, dropping into the field. Taking off again, it flew north and alighted again on the hedge on the edge of the wood, and this time Dunc nailed it in his scope! I had a quick look and then it took off again and it did a little loop of the field before dropping back into the field. We never saw it again. It simply vanished. No photos, but big grins!
On to South Landing, we tried hard but little of note, save for a Redstart calling and then showing briefly on the edge of the sheep field. Then, a moment of magic when Dunc pulled out a close Firecrest from a gang of Long-tails and Goldcrests, almost immediately followed by conjuring up a breathtakingly close Pallas's. The birds moved towards Highcliffe and we intercepted the stripy sprites as they moved through the hedge. Corking. We tried down at the beach for a Siberian Pipit, but the half dozen Rock Pipits were immediately flushed by Kes - but we were pretty sure there was nothing unusual among them.
Up the ravine we went. Redwings posed, but little else stirred.
We did a loop of the north side of the head, but failed to find much. In fact, there was much less bird action on the north side of the head, possibly a reflection on the southwesterly wind direction?
We headed to the Co-op on the way into Brid, which has a really good selection of local bottled beer. Then home for ale and medals! Top day.