Cissbury Ring never disappoints at this time of year, being a fantastic place to enjoy early autumn migration as birds begin to trickle back to Africa. At the moment, though, it's a matter of getting in the field before the heat of the day kicks in, which is about when most people would be having breakfast!
The target species today was Pied Flycatcher and George and I were delighted to find two. They were in the most logical place, in a sunny clearing with a mixture of bare and leafy branches surrounding a precious resource: a water trough brimming with insect life. They were keeping company with three of the morning's half-dozen Spotted Flycatchers.
We had all kinds of other highlights, one of which was a Nightingale which whistled and croaked away before revealing its curious eye in the corner of a bush! We encountered four different Redstarts on our circuit, along with a Reed Warbler, about 20 Willow Warblers and five Wheatears. A handful of Yellow Wagtails made their way over, one stopping in the top of a bush, followed towards the end of our walk by a couple of Tree Pipits.
In the distance, an interesting raptor flew high east over Worthing, which revealed itself to be a dispersing Marsh Harrier when we checked our very distant record shots! Other raptors included a Peregrine, two Red Kites, a Sparrowhawk and a couple of young Kestrels.
One of the oddest sightings came when we heard a familiar chirping near the yew trees... House Sparrow! There was no doubt, but we waited for glimpse of this out-of-place bird up on the hill — and there it was, a juvenile. At this time of year, flocks make their way to farmland fields to feed, but this lone youngster wasn't going to find any such bounty on the hilltop...
The insects didn't disappoint either, with a Clouded Yellow, two Hummingbird Hawkmoths and an amazing encounter with a rare Hornet Robberfly!