A visit to Eastbourne provided a good reason to spend some time on Beachy Head to search for migrants. I chose to try the area near the Belle Tout lighthouse, where a small patch of mainly Sycamore woodland was a likely location for Firecrests, and perhaps even a Yellow-browed Warbler.
The Belle Tout lighthouse - no longer a working lighthouse, but still a land mark.
On arrival a Peregrine gave a close fly past soon after we got out of the car, and a Common Whitethroat gave a brief burst of song from nearby scrub - I have no idea why it chose to sing at this time of year on a rather overcast and breezy day, but migrant birds do occasionally sing during the autumn!
House Martins had gathered to feed in the more sheltered area around the woodland, with more House Martins, large numbers of Swallows, and much smaller numbers of Sand Martins also heading east along the coast. We later found out, after walking towards the cliff edge, that they were also passing by out to sea, again heading east. Meadow Pipits, "alba" wagtails (Pied and/or White Wagtails which could not be identified to subspecies), and Skylarks were also visibly on the move, again mostly heading east, and smaller numbers of Siskin, Lesser Redpoll, and Chaffinch also passed over.
A view towards the newer Beachy Head lighthouse (the black specks towards the right hand side of the photo are Swallows heading east along the cliff edge).
Goldcrests were very easily found in Belle Tout Wood, and it wasn't long at all before we found the first Firecrest among them - a much brighter, stripy headed gem than the accompanying Goldcrests. In total we probably saw about eight different Firecrests and several dozen Goldcrests in, and around, the wood, all feeding actively, hovering to pick at the underside of leaves.
Good numbers of Chiffchaffs, a Willow Warbler and a couple of Blackcaps were also present in the woodland and nearby scrub, as well as large numbers of Robins and Dunnocks