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From Brown Hairstreaks to a Yellow-legged Gull

I started this morning relatively late for me — about 6.30am — with a deliberately unhurried coffee and toast, then cereal and OJ, while I mulled over where to head first. I was looking forward to leading some bird walks with Nick at Brooklands Park later on, but couldn't just lounge around the garden till then. A Tree Pipit called high overhead. This was just the inspiration I needed to get up to Cissbury Ring, the perfect place to fill a couple of hours. Now that it's birding autumn, I'm can't help feeling drawn to what I consider our local 'vertical headland'. The idea is that birds moving south drop in to this last knobble of high ground before the daunting sight of the sea ahead, concentrating quite high numbers of southbound birds at Cissbury.

This was my third visit to Cissbury this season and also the third time I've found Redstart there with ease. Today there were three. Just after the first had shaken its tail at me, another Tree Pipit buzzed above me. This time I was on high enough ground to spot it in the sky, and it was followed by one more then a group of three. Willow Warblers were, as expected, dotted here and there, as were Whitethroats. The butterflies were on good form too, with two male Brown Hairstreaks being the clear highlight, along with a stunning Clouded Yellow, a Painted Lady and a confetti of Chalkhill Blues.

Brooklands Park in Worthing beckoned, where Nick and I led three guided walks for a small numbers of very enthusiastic visitors. There were some interesting birds on offer, including Sedge, Reed and Willow Warblers. The temperature was just right for dragonflies. It was warm enough for Emperor, Southern Hawker, Migrant Hawker and Common Darter to take to the wing, but just mild enough that they readily settled to be viewed at leisure. After the last of the walks, we scanned through the gulls on the lake for the umpteenth time, proving the worth in doing so with a striking juvenile Yellow-legged Gull. I've been trying for one of these since early July, finding an adult a little while ago but this was my first juvvy of the year — a thoroughly good note on which to end a productive day! (If you like gulls!)



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