Please be aware Sandown Road is due to be closed between the junctions of St Georges Road to Little Sandown Farm on the 26th and 27th March for road maintenance. In the past vehicular access has been granted though, and it may be the case on this occasion too, but delays are possible.

Tuesday 19th

Lovely weather all day. After a week of gale force winds it was good to be able to hear the birds singing again. Walking along the Green Wall produced a flyover Crossbill, and singing Treecreeper, six Chiffchaffs, and a Siskin, whilst back at HQ at least seven Buzzards drifted north.

Monday 18th

A trickle of overhead passage throughout the morning produced 31 Meadow Pipits, one Grey Wagtail, one Coal Tit, one Brambling, and six Siskins north. A Firecrest was in the Elms, the Little Gull was seen again in Pegwell, and a Rock Pipit popped into Restharrow Scrape.

Rock Pipit SLewis Mar19 (2)

Rock Pipit by S.Lewis

Sunday 17th

There was no sign of a repeat of yesterday’s Chaffinch passage but a few bits and pieces were moving. Two Swallows were our first of the year, whilst a Crossbill was on the Green Wall. In Pegwell the Little Gull re-appeared in addition to a supporting cast of ten Mediterranean Gulls, three Ruffs, and one each of Slavonian Grebe, Goosander, and Red-breasted Merganser. At least six Chiffchaffs and a Firecrest were on the Estate.

Saturday 16th

You can never predict these things. There was nothing special about the weather today compared to the rest of the week, with strong winds and low cloud. And yet over 5,000 Chaffinches flew south in the first few hours after dawn. It was all over by 10am. A Wheatear was only other migrant on the Estate whilst the Egyptian Goose was seen again on Worth.

Friday 15th

Visibility was worse offshore today and hindered our attempts at a seawatch. However a Shag (possibly two) was sat on the sea not far out, a few Kittiwakes and Gannets were going to and fro, and there were still at least 168 Great Crested Grebes rafting. The low cloud made the morning’s vismig more noticeable and at least 126 Chaffinches were logged. The clear highlight of the morning came in the form a Hawfinch going south amongst the Chaffinch flocks.

Thursday 14th

Guess what, more wind. A Great Skua was the best on offer out to sea whilst 40 Chaffinches, 13 Siskins, and 320 Starlings moved south overhead. There was no sign of the Bewick’s Swans on Worth and they may have finally moved on.

Wednesday 13th

The wind shows no sign of stopping. An unproductive spell on the sea-front saw Fulmars coming past offshore plus small numbers of Linnets and Meadow Pipits ‘vismigging’. We were then tempted to stray out of the recording area slightly and take a look at the new wetland created on Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club at the north end of Deal. Five House Martins, two White Wagtails, and nice male Wheatear were just rewards. In the evening at least four White Wagtails were in the flock of Pieds in the asparagus fields outside the Observatory.

Monday 11th

Another full on gale but despite it coming from more of a northerly direction there was very little in the way of movement. A few Brents, Scoters, Kittiwakes, and Sandwich Terns offshore in two hours was hardly worth it, with four Chiffchaffs the best on Worth too.

Sunday 10th

Seriously windy. The howling gale raised the difficulty level somewhat but a bit of light vizmig was still detected, 97 Chaffinches and 51 Fieldfares flew south overhead. Our first White Wagtail of the year was on Worth and good numbers of Fulmars were moving offshore.

Saturday 9th

Another brief spell on Worth produced just the one Ruff today, with Marsh Harrier and the five Bewick’s Swans too, whilst the Egyptian Goose popped over to test the waters on Restharrow Scrape.

Friday 8th

It was a lovely morning to be walking across the marshes on Worth. The five Bewick’s Swans still show no sign of leaving (famous last words) as they hide out with the Mutes between the asparagus fields and the railway line. The Egyptian Goose re-appeared in a field nearby but best of all was an impressive flock of nine Ruff’s on the pools, our highest spring count since 2009.

Thursday 7th

The first signs of spring vis mig this morning with a few finches and wagtails heading over. However the wind continued to pick up and by mid-morning it was really strong with only a Mediterranean Gull north offshore as compensation.

Wednesday 6th

A changeable forecast didn’t help proceedings but a few of us managed to get out early before the rain hit. It was still very very windy out there and a spell staring out to sea produced seven Sandwich Terns, eight Kittiwakes, and a Great Skua. A walk out on New Downs saw the White-fronted Goose still amongst the Greylag flock and three Mediterranean Gulls on the pools.

Tuesday 5th

Bright sunshine first thing saw at least six Chiffchaffs arrive on Worth with the wintering Bewick’s Swan family still feeding in the fields. As the temperature increased so the birds started moving and 12 Buzzards were noted heading north over the Observatory. On the Green Wall the Egyptian Goose flew over and then to top it all off a Woodlark went north. Meanwhile on New Downs the White-fronted Goose was re-found and a nice male Merlin was sighted. In the afternoon eight Sandwich Terns and two Mediterranean Gulls were in Pegwell at high tide.

Monday 4th

Despite the south westerly direction the wind had a real cold bite to it today. Typical winter fare such as Hen Harrier and Bewick’s Swans were on Worth and added to the feel, however some spring migrants did show themselves with three Sandwich Terns offshore and six Siskins zipping over. Best of all was a Great White Egret which dropped into Worth. Also of note though was a marked influx in Common Gulls with at least 750 stretching from Worth to the Green Wall.

Sunday 3rd

Considering the conditions outside it was a decent day. Strong winds encouraged over 750 Gannets north offshore along with six Red-breasted Mergansers, two Sandwich Terns, and a Great Skua. Inland a new ringtail Hen Harrier appeared over Restharrow Scrape before moving over the asparagus fields and off towards Worth marshes.

Saturday 2nd

A murky start to the day before things gradually cleared. Two Sandwich Terns were seen offshore again but most of the action came from Worth where the Egyptian Goose and five Bewick’s Swans remained. New in were Ruff, five Dunlins and three Ringed Plovers on the scrapes and pools. Hopefully a good sign of the spring wader passage ahead.

Friday 1st 

There was only a sniff of northerly in the air but the birds could feel it. In a brief spell looking offshore 206 Brent Geese went north and best of all our first two Sandwich Terns of the year. The two Canada Geese re-appeared behind Restharrow Scrape whilst in the evening a Slavonian Grebe was picked out amongst the Great Crested flock again. Also of note was a flock of 17 Pied Wagtails in the field outside the Observatory in the evening, perhaps forming a local roost? Either way, it’s worth keeping an eye on them in these next few weeks for passage White Wagtails.