Thursday 30th

Conditions were mostly windy and punctuated by heavy rain showers. It seemed promising for a seawatch but it proved to be unproductive with just a few Sandwich Terns and Fulmars past. The morning was rescued though by a super summer-plumaged Spotted Redshank which flew north unexpectedly over Royal St George’s Golf Course. Also worthy of a mention was another sighting of the Alexandrine Parakeet which has put in sporadic appearances in the area over the last two years.

As many of you will know the Observatory has avian records dating back to the early 1950’s and it has been our quest for some time to digitise them. These lockdown conditions have given people the opportunity to do so and steadily we are getting through them. We still have a lot to do though and we would love if you can help us (even if it’s just ten minutes a day). If you want to know more message me at info@sbbot.org.uk. Thanks.

Wednesday 29th

It felt very ‘birdy’ out there today. The Estate was decent enough with a Tree Pipit showing well by Big Gully and four singing Willow Warblers (which is practically a fall for this spring). Out on Worth marshes a Hobby, four Little Ringed Plovers, one Ringed Plover, three Greenshanks, two Common Sandpipers, and 11 Swifts were recorded.

Monday 27th

The main talking point of the day was the Eagle Sp. seen at 10:00 high over Worth marshes. The bird was watched with Buzzards for only a short while before it disappeared north. At 10:20 it then seen again by a different observer looking inland from Pegwell. The bird was hassled by two Buzzards for a few minutes but again at a distance and it flew off north west. Raptors that head north from here often get bottle-necked into Thanet (as seen recently by Red Kites and White-tailed Eagles in the last few weeks). News was put out on Twitter quickly in the hope that someone in Thanet would pick it up from their house and hopefully have better views than us.

Elsewhere, a Garden Warbler was singing at Mary Bax, a drake Garganey and Pintail were on the Sampher, another drake Garganey was on the Green Wall, and a few Ruffs, Greenshanks, and Whimbrels were on New Downs.

Sunday 26th

Mediterranean Gulls continue to be seen (and heard) almost daily at the moment. Rarely is there a moment where i step out of the office and don’t hear their distinctive cat-calls. Sometimes i can even hear them in the office. This species moves through the country during April and May on route to their breeding grounds. It’s a good lockdown species to listen out for as they pass over your house. You can listen to their flight call HERE. Meanwhile a Turtle Dove was purring from Waldershare Gully, a Ring Ouzel was on Worth, and there was a small arrival of Swifts.

Saturday 25th

A Hawfinch flying over Pegwell was another excellent record from the site. Meanwhile on Worth marshes the Little Ringed Plovers had increased to four, as did the Cuckoos, and a Turtle Dove was purring away. A Lesser Redpoll on the Green Wall was odd.

Friday 24th

It was a good morning beginning with a female Redstart in the Oasis; always a scarce bird in spring here. Along the shore there was a small passage of Goldfinches, Corvids, and Swallows going north with Sparrowhawk Grey Heron, and Swift also noted moving overhead. On Worth Spotted Redshank and Wood Sandpiper were also good but was trumped mid-morning by news of an adult Night-heron which flew over Stonelees and carried on inland towards Richborough/Wetherlees, being chased by gulls as it went. It is only our fourth ever record but hot-on-the-heels of one recorded flying over at night at the end of March last year.

Thursday 23rd

Today was an early start and out across Worth marshes in fine weather. The ditches and bushes were alive with warblers with final counts totalling 12 Cetti’s Warblers, 26 Sedge Warblers, nine Reed Warblers, seven Lesser Whitethroats, 19 Whitethroats, nine Blackcaps, and four Chiffchaffs. Three Cuckoos were chasing each other and two Wheatears were hopping around. On the pools three Avocets joined two Greenshanks, three Green Sandpipers and a Common Sandpiper. Weirdest sighting was a Barnacle Goose flying north, circling the pools around the Great Wood, before disappearing off.

Wednesday 22nd

A quiet day with little to report other than a Red Kite north. This gives me the opportunity to flash back to this day six years ago when a female Blue-winged Teal was found on Restharrow Scrape. It stayed for a few days in area, moving between the Scrape and small pools at St George’s Bushes, and was often in the company of Shovelers (and was even seen mating with one). It was only our second Observatory record following a male on the Sampher on 14th April 1970.

Blue winged teal SRay Apr14
Blue winged Teal by S.Ray, 2014

Tuesday 21st

It’s hard work in these windy conditions so singles of Tree Pipit and Garden Warbler on Worth were good finds. There were increases in Lesser and Common Whitethroats plus a Swift over the Observatory.

Monday 20th

A Swift over the Green Wall was our first this year. Meanwhile on Worth marshes a Garden Warbler was singing and there were two Greenshanks on the pools.

Most of our time is spent indoors at the moment. Reading through our daily reports it may not seem like it but we happen to be very fortunate that the handful of people who live in the area submit their sightings to our database. We at SBBOT are very grateful for everyone’s help during these tough times. Our work at the Observatory continues on quietly and i’ve spent many hours recently digitising records, answering emails, writing the annual report, and much more. Our Assistant Warden Becky Downey has been very busy creating lesson plans and tutorials for schools, interpretation for Restharrow Scrape, and more recently online videos and puzzles. Head over to our Facebook page to see her latest creations. You can also check out her new Amazon Wishlist to see what items she needs for her future work.

Sunday 19th

Two different male Pintails, on Worth and New Downs, and two different Nightingales, at Stonar and Pegwell, were unusual. There was an arrival of Cuckoos too with at least three recorded and five Wheatears too.

Saturday 18th

A Great White Egret flew over Worth marshes this morning whilst on the deck were Egyptian Goose, two Avocets, four Greenshanks, and eight Green Sandpipers. There were nine Redshanks too with most showing signs of breeding. It could be a productive year for them this year. An Osprey also flew over Pegwell.

Friday 17th

Today felt a lot colder as the breeze picked up. Our first Turtle Dove was purring away in Pegwell with Merlin, 19 Whimbrels, Spotted Redshank, 100 Sandwich Terns, two Common Terns, and two Ring Ouzels also present.

Thursday 16th

There were over 80 species on New Downs this morning in possibly one of the most productive walks the Warden has ever had. The female Red-breasted Merganser re-appeared on the north pool before flying off towards Pegwell. That’s the third time it’s been seen in this general area. Where is it spending most of it’s time? A drake Garganey was on the edge of 100 Acre (possibly the bird seen earlier on the 9th), with Black-tailed Godwit, four Whimbrels, three Greenshanks, two Green Sandpipers, three Common Sandpipers, three Mediterranean Gulls, Rock Pipit, two Yellow Wagtails, Wheatear, two Willow Warblers, and nine Corn Buntings adding to the mix. There were also three Whimbrels on the Estate with Great White Egret, Red Kite, Pintail, three Greenshanks, Whimbrel, Wheatear, and Lesser Whitethroat also recorded on Worth marshes.

Wednesday 15th

An early start on the Green Wall saw an Egyptian Goose and three Red Kites. It was promising conditions for raptor movement and sure enough late morning a WHITE-TAILED EAGLE came storming through Pegwell Bay, up high around the west side of Ramsgate, and off towards North Foreland. Bringing us back down to earth was a Red-legged Partridge on the Estate. It is only our second sighting this year though.

Tuesday 14th

It was still very fresh out there this morning. There was a little bit of northbound movement along the shore with 60 Linnets, a Yellow Wagtail and six Mediterranean Gulls recorded. Meanwhile on Worth marshes there was a minimum of 38 Sedge Warblers singing away plus four Water Pipits on the pools and a Tree Pipit over.

Monday 13th

A marked change in the weather with grey skies and strong north easterly winds. Five Fulmars, two Whimbrels, and a Mediterranean Gull were the best of limited movement offshore, a Grey Plover also flew over the Estate.

Sunday 12th

Today’s highlights came again from Pegwell with singing Grasshopper Warbler and Cuckoo, both new for the year, plus 42 Sandwich Terns. There were two Water Pipits on Worth and two Red Kites flew over. A Black Redstart was in the Whitehouse paddock in the afternoon.

Saturday 11th

It was a busy morning at Pegwell with Nightingale, Ring Ouzel, and Redstart on the Country Park and nine Whimbrels and three Greenshanks on the mud. Five Water Pipits were still on Worth marshes.

Friday 10th

Another hazy but sunny day in lockdown paradise. Worth marshes was alive with Sedge Warbler song and a dapper drake Garganey was on the deep pool. A flock of 17 (yes, seventeen!) Green Sandpipers were on the new excavations by the Great Wood; a very high spring count for the area. Despite the summer arrivals there were still a few Redwings and Fieldfares about too. Later on a Great White Egret flew over Pegwell and a Red Kite over the Green Wall.

Recently i’ve had a few people contact me about ways they can continue to be involved and help the Observatory during these lockdown conditions. One way that would make a big difference to our ongoing work is if people used their spare time to help digitise our past records. It’s a very simple task and you don’t need to know much about birds to do it. If you want to know more message me at info@sbbot.org.uk. Thanks.

Thursday 9th

A nice drake Garganey, a Greenshank, and 97 Sanderlings were at the Point. Sand Martins have been very scarce this spring so three over Worth marshes was noteworthy.

Wednesday 8th

A couple of Red Kites flew north today and there were singles of Swallow and House Martin, plus a Hobby over Pegwell Bay. Two Ruff were on Willow Farm and at least 19 Mediterranean Gulls flew over calling. No Willow Warblers though, where are they? We’ve recorded more White-tailed Eagles than Willow Warblers in the last two weeks.

And speaking of White-tailed Eagles, the Roy Dennis Foundation and Forestry England have updated their website with the latest movements of their Eagles (released on the Isle of Wight in 2019). From what i understand, there are currently four tagged Isle of Wight White-tailed Eagles with satellite tracks (see http://www.roydennis.org/2020/04/06/eagle-wanderings/). The only individual that passed through Kent was G274 over the period from 1st to 3rd April – and recorded over Worth/Sandwich/Pegwell Bay on the 2nd April. This means our sightings at Sandwich Bay on 25th and 31st March are not from the Isle of Wight scheme and correspond to bird(s) of presumably Continental origin.

Tuesday 7th

Gloriously sunny again. There was a small increase in Whitethroats, Sedge Warblers, and Swallows whilst a Tree Pipit and three Yellow Wagtails flew north. A Merlin was sitting out on Willow Farm plucking it’s prey whilst late morning two large white birds went south over the Green Wall and Worth. Based on flight style they looked like Spoonbills (but could be Great White Egrets). Unfortunately, they soon disappeared in the heat haze towards Deal.

Monday 6th

Headline bird was a Stone-curlew recorded over Stonar at 01:45 this morning. This is the fifth Stone-curlew to be recorded on ‘nocmig’ in the last two and a half years. If you are new to the concept of ‘nocmig’ you can read more about it HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Out on Worth marshes and the Water Pipit flock continues to increase with at least ten (10!) birds in a single flock. The first Whitethroat of the year was also present. Two Whimbrels went over the Estate in the evening and a Tree Pipit flew over Pegwell, where the groggy weather mid-morning also grounded 54 Sandwich and three Common Terns. Two Collared Doves in off the sea and a Great Spotted Woodpecker south were oddities amongst small numbers of finches and Meadow Pipits moving along the shoreline too.

Sunday 5th

A sunny wander on New Downs discovered our first Greylag Geese goslings of the year and three Common Sandpipers. There was a large clear-out of wildfowl on Worth marshes but three Whimbrels were new in Pegwell Bay.

Saturday 4th

Water Pipits increased on Worth marshes to six birds with singles of Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwits allowing good comparison on the pools. An Osprey and a Red Kite went south over Pegwell with a Ring Ouzel seen on the Country Park. Our man over at Stonar continues to record interesting migrants overnight. Last night there were big numbers of Common Scoters flying over, a feature noted by many recorders across the country.

Friday 3rd

Overcast and calm this morning. A Great White Egret went north over the Observatory just after the crack of dawn. Two Black-tailed Godwits circled the Estate and 61 Fieldfares went through. There was an increase in Blackcaps on the Green Wall and a showy Water Rail. Another early Hobby was over Pegwell Bay.

Thursday 2nd

A WHITE-TAILED EAGLE north over Worth was today’s star bird. It follows sightings on 25th and 31st March. Later in the afternoon it was seen over Pegwell and subsequently toured around Thanet. At least six Red Kites also went north and there were at least 27 Buzzards through over Worth. Meanwhile on the seafront a Canada Goose was offshore and two Avocets went south, but more interesting (for me at least) was the corvids moving overhead with eight Magpies, 11 Jackdaws, five Rooks, and 35 Crows north. Later a Hen Harrier and a Yellowhammer went north. A Sand Martin in Pegwell was a belated first of the year.

Wednesday 1st

A Hawfinch and 11 Crossbills went north over Pegwell this morning with Hen Harrier and Water Pipit also recorded on site and our first Greenshank of the year. Two Water and two Rock Pipits were on New Downs as well as a female Merlin. The three Little Ringed Plovers remained on Worth and another Crossbill went over,  whilst also noted today was 110 Woodpigeons north and a small increase in Redwings.