The season for notable overshooting migrants came more or less on cue on Saturday (30th) with the presence of 2 Black-winged Stilts, 2 Black-necked Grebes and 10 Black-tailed Godwits, none of which could be found this morning, which was wet, windy and miserable.
This two-steps-forward and one-step-back spring took a step backward with a largely overcast and increasingly breezy morning on which 3 1st summer Mediterranean Gulls flying S just offshore early on was the high point of the day. Rumour has it that next week is set to be a little better, but we are not to hold our breath ……….
Mostly bright, today encouraged a walk along the Pinnock Wall on Worth, where a few Swifts moved through, encouraging numbers of Turtle Doves were apparent and a Red Kite spent more than half an hour patrolling the railway and adjacent vegetation before moving off to the NE.
The need to concentrate on things like butterflies and dragonflies was unhindered by events in the local avian world, which already has the feel of early June.
Highlights of a rather changeable and fairly chilly weekend were a Honey Buzzard that flew N over the Observatory on the 24th, with 2 Buzzards not long after, and a Woodlark that flew over the car park yesterday morning. As for this morning, the less said the better, although there was a flurry of raptor activity around 11 as 2 Red Kites and 2 Buzzards flew N and 2 Little Egrets circled over HQ.
A fine, warm morning gradually became more cloudy, but with virtually no wind it was very pleasant. Unfortunately, the seismic events overnight did not translate into a wildly exciting day, but 2 adult Med. Gulls flew over and at least 4 Turtle Doves were purring and displaying on Worth.
Well, it was indeed significantly nicer this morning, with little wind and a mostly cloud-free sky. Med. Gulls continued to be the main event, with at least 8 heading inland from the NE, including a party of five adults, presumably having been disturbed from a breeding attempt somewhere.
Slightly brighter and a tad less chilly, this morning did at least herald the better weather that we are promised to receive (and for which we are to be truly grateful) in the next couple of days. A few more Whitethroats were evident on the Estate, bringing the population up to more or less normal levels, but the highlight was 3 Mediterranean Gulls – a 2nd summer and a 1st summer that flew S with a bunch of Black-heads and one calling offshore. Bad news, for those tired of reading endless tales of joy from the daily round, is that inspection of nest boxes on the Estate has revealed a truly depressing picture, with few tits even bothering to use them and those that have more or less failing entirely. Sadly, it’s hardly surprising, given the poor numbers of butterflies and moths and, therefore, larvae available to feed chicks on.
The weekend’s highlights included a Black Kite that was seen heading N over Worth and later at Pegwell and Reculver, and a Stone Curlew that flew N from the turf field at Dickson’s Corner; both were seen yesterday. This morning the weekend’s sunshine was displaced by cloud and gathering unpleasantness as rain approached from the west on an increasing SW wind. The only thing of note was a 1st summer Mediterranean Gull that flew S over the scrape.
Another bleak start with a cold NE wind brought a Pomarine Skua and 3 Red-breasted Mergansers N offshore and a sizeable arrival of waders in Pegwell, though conditions did improve to merely unwelcoming as the sun poked its nose out in mid morning. Of particular note was a gathering of 54 mostly graellsii Lesser Black-backs on the scrape, the most interesting of which was a 3rd summer intermedius that bore a Dutch ring.
Registering high on the weird-ometer, 2 White-fronted Geese flew S over the Obs as rain moved in from the west, turning a dull, unproductive day thoroughly miserable. To cheer things up a bit, here’s a rather splendid
image of a Ring-necked Parakeet, feeding on elm seeds in (yes, you guessed it) the Elms a couple of days ago.
A few new Reed Warblers were chuntering away in odd places this morning and 2 Hobbies were cruising about over Worth, where the Nightingale was singing fitfully, and a couple of visitors who had arrived in Sandwich by boat had seen 10 Common Sandpipers along the river.
A walk across Worth marsh in watery sunshine and a light breeze was productive in getting to grips with the local breeding population, which appears to include a Nightingale, a probable 3 pairs of Turtle Doves, a record total of 17 singing Cetti’s Warblers, 4 Lesser Whitethroat territories, 44 singing Whitethroats, a Garden Warbler and 5 singing Blackcaps, which makes a total of at least 26 territories across the whole recording area – an increase of 40% in the last two years. Otherwise, there was a family party of Gadwall on the North Stream, 3 Greenshanks on Willow Farm and 3 Spotted Flycatchers on the Estate.
The weekend was pleasant enough, but without many birds of note, though 7 Common Sandpipers appeared this morning – 5 on the beach and 2 on the scrape. A Garden Warbler was also mumbling to itself in Little Gully, but little else was new.
A beautiful, calm morning brought a trickle of Swallows over a glass-calm sea, where 4 Great Crested Grebes were displaying against a knife-sharp divide between sun to the south and cloud to the north that was perfect Turner. Several more Whitethroats were evident, the Nightingale was still singing on Worth where 4 Hobbies were taking advantage of a fresh supply of aerial food and this morning’s tally of Wheatears had increased to 12, mostly along the shore. By no means least of all, the spring first Spotted Flycatcher turned up in the Whitehouse.
By comparison with the last two days, this one was sheer bliss, with lots of sunshine and a SW breeze that was frisky at worst. The oddest thing of note was the sight of 2 Sandwich Terns heading inland from along the shore with a small group of Black-headed Gulls and the best bit was a party of 3 Black-tailed Godwits that thought about dropping on to the scrape but realised the error of their ways and continued on. Otherwise, a few migrants had taken advantage of the lull in the weather, with 6 Reed Warblers on the Estate (away from the scrape), 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 14 Whitethroats, which so far have been very slow to take up residence here, despite good numbers elsewhere and 9 Wheatears, which amounts to the largest arrival so far this spring. A singing Nightingale and 2 Turtle Doves were audible on Worth.
Well, to use the word notable for 2 hours looking at the sea in a strong to gale force wind and glaring sun would be exaggerating somewhat, though the saga did result in an Arctic Tern, about 16 Fulmars, a Gannet and 2 balloons, further details of which are available on request.
Well, it couldn’t last and it didn’t. An hour’s seawatch in bright bits before the wind got up with the promise of SW gales this afternoon was more interesting for the few hirundines and swifts that were coming in off the sea, rather than the handful of seabirds that were moving. Just to lighten things a bit, here’s a photo of a female Blackcap, taken in the Elms yesterday. The ring suggests it is a returning bird from a previous year.
A sunny Bank Holiday Monday, for a change! Highlights of the morning included Ospreys at Pegwell at 0735 and over Worth and the Estate at about 0830, 19 Swifts in off the sea, a 1st summer Mediterranean Gull offshore, with large numbers in Pegwell, and slightly improved numbers of summer migrants, including a party of House Martins over the Estate for the first time this spring.
A perishing ENE wind did nothing to improve the birding or the mood, although a Spoonbill appeared on the scrape in the early afternoon.