Monday, April 09, 2007

and then to Eastbourne... Day 1

Having travelled back from France we headed on to Eastbourne to stay with family. As the weather for the Easter weekend looked so promising we all agreed that a long walk on the Friday would be ideal and that an early start would help us avoid the hoardes, so we caught the first bus after 9am to Exceat and the Seven Sisters Country Park. There were only three cars parked in the car park so the plan worked. We walked down into Cuckmere Haven and along the short path near the breeding area. Easter was later last year so there was more about, the area being predominantly filled with Linnets, Blackbirds and the odd Skylark this year. We then headed up the coastal path that takes you to Birling Gap (National Trust) along the Seven Sisters.

There are a number of relics of the second world war including pill boxes and the bases of gun emplacements. This pill box was being used by a couple of Meadow Pipits:













The next pill box was being shared by a pair or recent arrivals, migrant Wheatears. In this snap the male Wheatear is showing well, you can just make out the orange on the neck:















The female Wheatear darted between the pill box and the ground nearby, and showed well here:


















At the top of the first 'sister' there are dramatic views along the river valley and of the haven itself:














and also as you look west along the Sussex coast:














We followed along the path (with me doing my very best to keep as far away from the edge as possible) and encountered a number of Skylarks, there is an almost continuous presence of Skylark song from one end of the walk to the other.
















Wherever there is gorse on this coastal path there are Linnets, this male showed particularly well:

















and then in flight:















Linnets, Meadow Pipits and Skylarks were the dominant birds in terms of numbers along the entire path between Cuckmere Haven and Birling Gap. We did however spot this female Whinchat, another migrant arrival:


















As we headed down into Birling Gap a Green Woodpecker shot past and into a field behind a hedge, I just managed to get a snap through the base of the hedge:


















We stopped for a well deserved cuppa, by now the numbers of people were building up so we didn't hang around for long. This Lesser Black-backed Gull was watching from his post:















Next was the low path around Beachy Head which was the quietest (and avoided any visible steep drops).

This Chiffchaff was either very brave or very hungry as it kept darting from cover in one of the hedgerows to the path in front of us, and back again:














Finally, back into Eastbourne, this pair of Herring Gulls were perched atop a house in the town:
















As predicted it had indeed been a beautiful day, and we ended up walking between 12 and 13 miles in blazing sunshine.

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