Once again most interest came from the sea. The Great Skua was still beating up everything offshore whilst 130 Auks moving south was a decent count (which included the first confirmed Razorbill of the year). Elsewhere a sizeable flock of Stock Doves outside the Observatory numbered 310, and a mass of 700+ Lapwings and 255 Golden Plovers were around Restharrow Scrape.
Strong winds again so scopes were pointed offshore for a spell of sea-watching. There was a bit more moving than of late with totals of 33 Red-throated Divers, ten Fulmars, 166 Gannets, 3,000+ Cormorants, 19 Kittiwakes, 18 Auks, and a Great Skua. A count of 18 Mistle Thrushes on the Green Wall was also noteworthy.
Meandering along the Green Wall this morning provided rare views and sounds of a pair of territorial Treecreepers chasing, singing, and ‘doing their thing’ up the tree trunks. A venture to Stonelees in the vague hope of discovering a Waxwing flock came back fruitless, but the Black-tailed Godwit flock was still on the Garage Pool at Pegwell.
Today was calmer than forecasted but there was still a small movement of birds offshore. A Great Northern Diver heading south was the pick of the bunch but backed up by almost 60 Auks and over 1,000 Cormorants. The eight Pink-footed Geese continued their winter holidays on Willow Farm.
A strong westerly presented itself at dawn leaving the Estate census not much more than a fool’s errand. Nevertheless a Snipe flushed from Middle Field was highly unusual as were five Mute Swans sitting on the sea. A Water Pipit was on Worth along with the eight Pink-footed Geese still, and the four Snow Buntings were on the 10th green of RCPGC. Best birds of the day appeared in the afternoon with a flock of 60+ Barnacle Geese photographed by a visitor as they headed north offshore.
Another Woodcock on New Downs this morning means we know there’s at least four overwintering in the area. There wasn’t much else though except our first Corn Bunting record of the year. In the afternoon a trip to Pegwell saw the spectacle of a few thousand birds terrorised by a Peregrine (and trespassers at the Point again). The Black-tailed Godwit flock was showing well again on the Garage Pool.
Calmer and brighter today revealing a few things moving around the Estate including a small influx of Chaffinches and Blackbirds. The Short-eared Owls were performing spectacularly around the Oasis and Restharrow Scrape and four Yellowhammers were in the Whitehouse. Two Woodcocks, the Hen Harrier, and the eight Pink-footed Geese were on Worth and the Slavonian Grebe was still on Stonar Lake.
A cold wind blows indeed. A wander around New Downs in about 2 °C was worth the effort though. Highlights included 83 Shelducks, four Pochards, two Peregrines, Water Rail, Kingfisher, Water Pipit, seven Rock Pipits, 63 Pied Wagtails, and two Ravens. Meanwhile the four Snow Buntings on RCPGC showed well to visitors, the Short-eared Owls re-appeared after a few quiet days, and Stonar Lake also produced the goods with Slavonian Grebe and Goldeneye.
Hard going again. There was little moving offshore leaving the headline birds the four Snow Buntings on RCPGC plus two Firecrests and a Merlin on Worth.
It was windy enough out there to make birding the bushes difficult but simultaneously not windy enough to make sea-watching very productive. An attempt at the latter produced the first Kittiwake and Fulmars of the year but most things were just specks on the horizon to be honest. At least nine Snow Buntings were at their usual haunts with five at Prince’s Beach and four on RCPGC, plus a Firecrest in the Elms.
A stroll across Worth marshes saw a few welcome additions to the Warden’s year list. Two Tawny Owls in the Great Wood were the pick of the bunch by far. Tawny Owls are rare here at the best of times so when the last record of multiple birds was i don’t know. Some sleuthing through the archives should reveal the answer. Stay tuned on that one. Otherwise the eight Pink-footed Geese were still enjoying Willow Farm, as was the ringtail Hen Harrier, and almost 600 Wigeons were on the deep pool near the Great Wood.
Today saw the Bewick’s Swan family return to Worth from their soirée over to Stodmarsh. On the Estate the first Woodcock of the year appeared, a Firecrest was along Guilford Rd, and two Short-eared Owls were performing spectacularly near Restharrow Scrape. The Green Wall held another Firecrest and an over-wintering Chiffchaff whilst four Snow Buntings were still on RCPGC.
Water Pipit and Grey Wagtail were along the river on the Green Wall this morning with Treecreeper and three Coal Tits nearby along the stretch towards Manwoods School. The Wigeon flock on Worth increased to 500 and the flock of four Snow Buntings were on RCPGC.
A drop in temperature overnight meant this morning held the first frost of the new year. Despite the cold conditions the sunny, calmness of it all made for a nice winters walk. The flock of eight Pink-footed Geese were picked out on Worth again. It’s best to scan for them from the five-bar gate at the Drove but be patient as they hide surprisingly well in the ditches and slacks of the marsh. Four Snow Buntings nearby on the 11th green of Royal Cinque Ports Golf Course were a new discovery, but there was no sign of yesterday’s Bewick’s.
A good day for those looking to kickstart their yearlist. A family party of five Bewick’s Swans were discovered in a field between the Observatory and the Worth track, six Pink-footed Geese were on the marsh near the Drove, five Snow Buntings were showing nicely along Prince’s Beach, two Short-eared Owls were hunting the rough grass near Restharrow Scrape, and at least six Bearded Tits were along the river on the Green Wall.
A movement of 1,500 Cormorants offshore also saw a fair few divers, gulls and wildfowl passing by. A Black-throated Diver was probably the best. On Worth the seven Pink-footed Geese were lurking and a Merlin appeared.
And so it begins. After an impressive 2018 we can only hope that this year is just as good. Last year we put in a new Kitchen, appointed a new Warden, had a tremendous Open Day, put on various courses, made such progress with our Restharrow Scrape Appeal, and seen a fair few birds too. As SBBOT continues to grow we can only thank all of you who make our community so special. Here’s to 2019!
It was hardly all guns blazing out there on our first wanderings of the year. However two Water Pipits were on Worth, the Bar-tailed Godwit continues to enjoy Restharrow Scrape, and wintering Chiffchaff was on the Green Wall.