Thursday, 3 September 2020


I haven't been spending much time birding lately, but Tuesday's news of three Dotterel, on the downs just south of Ditchling Beacon, soon had my attention. I have seen them before but never in Sussex and my only picture is a distant, barely recognisable shot.

There are a number of traditional stopping off points along the South Downs, that are regularly used by the Dotterel on their spring and autumn migrations. Reports are less and less frequent as the years go by but opportunities to see them still exist.  


I have searched the Ditchling Beacon and Balsdean areas in previous years but with no luck. Unless you spot the bird flying in, they can be very difficult to locate. They have good camouflage and tend to hunker down in dips and gullies and stay still for long periods. It can seem a thankless task, searching for something that is difficult to see, when you know that there is a near certainty that it is not even there. However, someone found these three and they deserve my thanks for putting the report out.

It was a bit different when I went off in search of my first Sussex sighting on the Wednesday. Good directions made the area easy to find and a small group of observers already onto the birds made the exact location clear. In many ways it was a little disappointing to find such a difficult bird with no real effort on my part.

However, I wanted a picture and I wasn't going to miss the opportunity. I spent about an hour just getting brief glimpses of a couple of the birds roosting in amongst the chalk and stubble. Eventually they did move and I got my picture opportunities. Distant but much better than anything I have had in the past.



There were good numbers of Wheatears foraging along the fence lines as I walked back to the car but unfortunately there were no Whinchats visible.


And a few pictures from earlier in the summer, Corn Bunting, House Martin, and Spotted Flycatchers. 

Corn Bunting

House Martin

Spotted Flycatcher

Spotted Flycatcher


Nice to see the Dotterel and as I said above, the pictures are better than anything I had before, but looking at them again they are not really good enough. The challenge of getting a good picture is still there.

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