Down­land spe­cial­ists, plus very ex­ten­sive views

Bird Watching (UK) - - Go Birding - ALAS­TAIR RILEY

CHALK DOWN­LAND ISN’T too com­mon is it? Over on the Isle of Wight there ex­ist some rel­a­tively un­spoilt sec­tions, with Cul­ver Cliff on the east and the Nee­dles in the west be­ing as iconic as those cliffs at Dover! An early morn­ing stroll here is best all year and there’s an ex­cel­lent chance of see­ing Dart­ford War­blers here – it’s also an ex­cel­lent rap­tor watch­point. From the car park, the vista north and north-east picks up Cul­ver Cliff, a dra­matic white promon­tory, the Solent, Hayling Is­land and many a point in be­tween. In­deed, as you scan this, you’ll un­doubt­edly add a soar­ing Buz­zard or a Kestrel (right) to your list for the day. Switch your po­si­tion 90° to the left and the view changes to en­com­pass St Cather­ine’s Down with its an­cient light­house, and be­yond more chalk cliffs. Be­hind you, of course, flows the English Chan­nel and Gan­nets and Great Black-backed Gulls can be picked up as you ad­mire the view. Once, do­ing just this in spring, I found a Honey Buz­zard. Tree Pip­its are reg­u­lar in spring, while Hobby oc­curs in both pas­sage sea­sons. Wheatears love the paths and Wry­neck and Hoopoe have oc­curred, too, so there should be plenty to en­joy here.

Dart­ford War­bler

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