In this wet summer a rare dry, hot day allowed me an excursion to East Sussex. Arlington Reservoir was first in the hope of osprey or black terns. No result, so I tackled the narrow lanes down the Cuckmere Valley and the wider A259 along to the western spur of Beachy Head.
Here, Birling Gap itself is a National Trust honeypot but one minute away lies a less disturbed treasure – the Lookout. Even a baking afternoon couldn’t deter migrants from using this hillside of scrub and wildflowers as a refuelling stop before their overnight flight across the Channel (English not Bristol this time!)
My initial yomp up to the Belle Tout Lighthouse hadn’t been promising with a few fly-past sand martins and two or three wheatears at the top. My return, on a more inland route, brought me
- the first whinchat of the year
- a probable lesser whitethroat
- a common whitethroat
- another wheatear
- and a rather splendid female kestrel
Chalkhill blue butterflies adorned the whole walk and I rounded off with a pint of Beachy Head Original at the Tiger Inn, East Dean. It’s what summer should be made of.