The drizzle and low cloud brought with them a nice lot of Swifts. There were 170 over the Estate and at least 100 on Worth marshes first thing with another 490 coming in off the sea in front of passing squalls. A Black Redstart was an unusual sighting on the Observatory building and a Great White Egret flew north over the Green Wall.
Though still sunny and bright the breeze has picked up significantly. A spell sea-watching logged a few Terns and a Fulmar, and then an unexpected Black-necked Grebe which pitched down on the sea.
At least 120 Swifts descended on the Estate in the evening.
An evening trip up to the Drove proved the Grasshopper Warbler was still singing away. It seems to have set up a territory there. It’s not a common species here in spring with only a few singing males each year. This bird has probably bred (or perhaps failed) somewhere else and decided to try it’s luck here. Good luck chap. Also of note was a Tawny Owl that put in a brief appearance nearby.
Despite checking the couple of hundred Starlings outside the Observatory there were no signs of anything pink. The singing Grasshopper Warbler was still up at the Drove and after dark a Golden Plover flew over calling.
Not a lot to report birdwise today but in the next few weeks we’ll start seeing autumn migration pick up. Expect high numbers of Swifts to pass through overhead and an increase in waders, in particular we often see a build-up of Curlews in Pegwell Bay. It’s a good time for rarer Terns too with Caspian a good shout. There are some unusually high and unseasonal movements of Siskins and Crossbills occurring further north of us and we should see some of this too so brush up on their distinctive flight calls.
Despite no sign of yesterday’s Grasshopper Warbler in the morning it was back singing again in the evening. A fledged brood of Treecreepers on the Green Wall was nice to see and a rare confirmation of breeding for the Recording Area. A few migrant Green Sandpipers continue to trickle through too.
In other news, though Restharrow Scrape and the Field Centre buildings remain closed, the carpark and all our other reserves are now open (providing you socially distance from each other still).
It was quite calm at dawn but the wind picked up throughout the day. A Grasshopper Warbler singing at the Drove was unusual for the time of year and along the same lines there were singles of Siskin and Coal Tit on the Estate. Early afternoon a Honey-buzzard flew inland over Worth marshes.
The first Sand Martin of autumn was on Worth marshes.
The first Turtle Dove fledglings of the year were on Worth marshes. With such a drastic decline witnessed in this species it’s always great to confirm a successful breeding attempt. Next year the KOS will be organising a Kent Turtle Dove survey so stay tuned for more information on that later in the year. Offshore there were a few Fulamrs and Gannets whilst strangest sighting was a small group of Sandwich Terns which were seen heading towards the coast from inland at dawn. I wonder if they roosted on Worth or Restharrow Scrape overnight?
A distinctly autumn feel with 100 Lapwings and a Greenshank on New Downs, a Grey Wagtail at the Observatory, and a few Mediterranean Gulls drifting over.
Three Green Sandpipers flew off of New Downs, a family party of Ravens flew over Worth marshes, and a 2cy Mediterranean Gull flew over the Green Wall.
Scorching out there today. Singles of Red Kite and Crossbill flew over Worth marshes with two-three Green Sandpipers present too.
Rose-coloured Starlings are turning up all over the place with records to the north at Richborough Castle and to the south at Royal Cinque Ports Golf Course today. Surely one will turn up here at some point? The best i can give you today were eight Mediterranean Gulls in Pegwell Bay.
Another day, another Red-footed Falcon. Today’s was a 2cy male which flew over Worth marshes towards the Chequers. A few autumn Curlews dropped into the marsh and seven Turtle Doves were purring. In the evening a Bee-eater flew south over Restharrow Dunes.
Much sunnier weather today and the first two Green Sandpipers of autumn were found on Worth marshes.
Gloomy and with a bit of drizzle but a superb female Red-footed Falcon sitting on a fence post along the Prince’s Beach certainly brightened up the day for one person.
In unrelated news it’s unfortunately come to my attention that recently there’s been quite a bit of disturbance on the mudflats and saltmarsh at Pegwell Bay, particularly by dog-walkers, fishermen, foragers, jet-skis, and wind-surfers. As i’m sure many people know the area is a designated National Nature Reserve (NNR), Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Special Protected Area (SPA), Special Area of Conservation (SAC), and RAMSAR site, which shows just how important this site is for wildlife. Below is a map of the restricted area (in red) that is protected by law. I doubt many people are intentionally disturbing the birds but rather do not realise the consequences of their actions. Any help to raise awareness of the situation by speaking to people and local groups in Thanet, or on social media, would be greatly appreciated. North East Kent Marine Protected Area (NEKMPA) also collects information about incidents along the coastline between Seasalter and Deal Pier. Any such incidents as you refer can be recorded on line at tinyurl.com/incident19, preferably with photos.
An afternoon wander produced the first Wigeon and Grey Wagtail of autumn on New Downs and a build-up of 35 Lapwings. There were hundreds of Starlings but none with pink on them.
A lovely walk across Worth marshes in the early morning sun produced a hunting Barn Owl, 95 Swifts, and two Crossbills heading north. The ditches were busy with warbler song as many acros go for second broods. Later, three Mediterranean Gulls flew over the Estate.
Spring is gradually coming to an end. Two Mediterranean Gulls drifted over the Estate, a small group of Ringed Plovers were in Pegwell Bay, and 215 Swifts were recorded overhead.
I’d like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that if you are shopping online you can fundraise for Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory at the same time, with no extra cost to yourself! AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support SBBOT. It is a website operated by Amazon with the same products, prices and shopping features as Amazon.co.uk. To shop at AmazonSmile simply go to smile.amazon.co.uk from the web browser on your computer or mobile device and select Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory, or go to https://smile.amazon.co.uk/ch/289343-0 to be taken directly to SBBOT’s fundraising portal. I’m sure many people are shopping online these days and by selecting us you will be directly helping whilst we are shut during the Coronavirus pandemic. A big thank you to everyone who has helped so far.
A male Red-footed Falcon flew over the Estate with Coal Tit and Goldcrest on the Green Wall.
Hundreds of Swifts descended across the Estate and Worth during this morning’s low cloud and rail showers. Most had moved on by the afternoon though. A flock of 90 Great Black-backed Gulls sitting in the asparagus fields was a high count and more good news came from Worth marshes where three Little Ringed Plover chicks were seen.
There were just a few Red Kites to report today. It’s interesting to note an increase in Lapwings with small flocks moving around the area. I wonder if we’re already seeing the start of ‘autumn’ as failed breeders band together. Could the dry conditions these last few weeks be detrimental to finding food for chicks? There’s also lots of Starlings around too. You might already know but there’s been a large movement of Rose-coloured Starlings across continental Europe this week and they are just starting to reach our shores. Keep an eye on your Starling flocks for anything bright pink, there’s never been a better time to find one.
An early start produced a bit of overhead passage in the form of a Golden Plover over Willow Farm and 14 Crossbills heading over the Great Wood in two parties. As temperatures began to rise the Red Kite fest began. Small groups began drifting through and by mid-morning it was clear we heading towards a record count. But the flocks were not stopping. At any given time you pan around and see 15 or so Red Kites going north. It was incredible to see. Just after midday things seemed to finally stop and by close of play 140 different birds had been recorded. This extraordinary movement is by far the highest ever recorded here and possibly a Kent record.
A brilliant start to the month with a Purple Heron and three Red-footed Falcons (adult male, immature male, female) on Worth marshes plus a flyover Wood Sandpiper.