My wife, Sue, and I visited the Cuckmere Valley and Hope Gap in East Sussex today.
Parking at the Golden Galleon pub car park by Exceat Bridge, we walked the path along the west side of the valley to the cliffs and then along the cliff top to Hope Gap and back.
The first thing we noticed was the large number of Swallows present, with at least 80 birds seen, and around 20 House Martins.
Halfway along the path a Lesser Whitethroat was perched in bushes by the path and allowed close views. A Wheatear was in a field near the path and at least ten Common Whitethroats were in the bushes. Surprisingly, only three Chiffchaffs and two Willow Warblers were noted.
One bird appeared briefly in the bushes and looked very like a Nightingale, but the view was so brief that I wouldn’t dare to tick it.
Being the gentleman that I am, I allowed Sue to carry the back-pack.
On reaching the cliffs, we sat on a bench to pour a coffee and Sue noticed a distant Gannet low over the sea and around 20 Oystercatchers flew by in one flock. A Hummingbird Hawk-moth flew close past us.
Probably one of the most photgraphed views in the south-east.
Heading on along the cliff top to Hope Gap, we saw two Sandwich Terns and at the Gap a male Stonechat was perched on top of a bush with another juvenile bird nearby that I was unsure about. Either another Stonechat or a young Whinchat. The heat-haze preventing a good view (or photo).
Juvenile STONECHAT or WHINCHAT?
We walked up through Hope Gap, but not much was showing, and then headed across a field, where three Green Woodpeckers were present, and back to the path west of the Cuckmere Valley.
Out on the grazing marsh there were 14 Curlews, a Whimbrel, 6 Little Egrets, and, amongst roosting gulls, 12 Sandwich Terns.
The bushes at Hope Gap.
Looking east across the Cuckmere Valley.
(VIDEO) The view from the west of the valley.
LITTLE EGRET and GREY HERON
The final bird of note was a Hobby that put on an amazing aerial display, stooping like a Peregrine from great height and sending all the Starlings in the area into a frenzy.
Graham & Sue