Well, that more or less wraps up a month that has been more varied and interesting than September was. We might have got away with the frost yesterday, but this morning was clear, calm and very frosty, freezing most areas of open water on New Downs, where the Scaup and Common Sandpiper were seen again, along with a Merlin, a Jack Snipe and 2 Green Sandpipers. Of significant interest, there was obviously a large influx of diving ducks into the Bay today, with a mixed flock of around 100 Tufted Ducks and Scaup on the sea.
Our proximity to the sea meant that last night left only a few patches of frost and the morning was crisp and cold with a light ESE breeze. Nervous reaction from the well-reduced Teal flock on the scrape betrayed the presence of a ringtail Hen Harrier, quartering the fields just inland, and a herd of 27 Barnacle Geese flew N, probably having come in from the sea. Up on New Downs, a female Scaup was on Backsand Scrape and a Common Sandpiper and a Bearded Tit were seen along the river.
Bright with a fresh easterly breeze, the morning brought 3 Pink-footed Geese S offshore and a further 6 flying S over Worth. Best of the rest were 2 Peregrines, either food-passing or engaging in a bout of pilfering, while thrushes were well diminished from just a couple of day ago.
Everything seems to have settled into a grey early winter inertia, with the adult male Goldeneye on Backsand Scrape yesterday and 610 Golden Plover on New Downs this morning just about the best on offer.
Some days our unique position on the coast is more unique than on others. This morning’s seawatch, in a continuing feisty north-easterly, was a heady mix of dots on the horizon (divers) and Brent Geese that were so close they were frequently lost behind the roadside grass. However, two hours of misery was alleviated by a Velvet Scoter that flew south in mid distance, making it all worthwhile.
A stroppy NE wind made seawatching the only sensible option once again and from our unique position on the coast we were treated to a Black-throated Diver, presumably the same as yesterday’s individual, and a rather haphazard movement of wildfowl, mainly Brent Geese (129), Common Scoter (38) and Teal (about 30), together with 38 Dunlins and a Red-breasted Merganser.
Calm but heavily overcast, this morning produced a Black-throated Diver on the sea offshore and an increase to 1,550 Teal on the scrape. 2 Blackcaps were trapped but it was otherwise fairly uneventful.
Another gale-driven spell of gazing at the sea proved to be a triumph of quality over quantity, with the best birds being a distant Manx Shearwater, a very close adult drake Velvet Scoter, an adult Med.Gull and 2 Red-breasted Mergansers. On land, the Teal flock on Restharrow had increased dramatically to around 1,400 – remarkable considering that prior to this year the highest number recorded there was less than 800.
Some reorientation was apparent this morning, with around 70 Gannets moving out of Pegwell even faster than England losing wickets, a Bonxie that flew into the bay and back again and 22 Red-throated Divers before rain set in once again around 10 am.
A real humdinger of a storm moved through in around 4 hours either side of dawn and as the rain eased the birding improved, with 15 Mediterranean Gulls, an Iceland Gull and a Great Northern Diver offshore, while around 50 Gannets were milling about over the surf and around 120 flew S, as did 8 Little Gulls and nearly 400 Great Black-backs.
This morning was a bit of a window between yesterday afternoon’s rain and the frogs and locusts that are due for the weekend, but apart from a Snow Bunting along the beach the birding was pretty quiet, with the best sighting of the day a Red Admiral that was basking in warm sunshine.
A walk across Worth on a steadily breezier morning turned up 2 Green Sandpipers, a Kingfisher and a Woodcock, while to the north 10 Bearded Tits were found along the river.
World Series of Teal update – now 1,050 on Restharrow Scrape. Otherwise, the Goldeneye and Long-tailed Duck were still on the scrape at Backsand.
Calm and warm for the time of year (10.5 degrees C at 5.30) the morning was notable mainly for record numbers of Teal on Restharrow Scrape – at least 910 were present.
A soggy morning for the Pegwell WeBS count, which was notable for the taiga Bean Geese and the Long-tailed Duck, a Woodcock and one Dartford Warbler along the beach, while numbers of most other things remain fairly unremarkable.
Two Slavonian Grebes were on the sea off the Estate yesterday, while the 5 taiga Bean Geese were re-discovered on New Downs. Today’s birding was largely a mix of Golden Plover surveying and the monthly Lydden Valley WeBS count, which didn’t prevent the Long-tailed Duck and Bean Geese being seen again. Numbers of GPs were well down on recent weeks, but Teal numbers continue to increase, with well over 800 on the scrape, but otherwise wildfowl seem to be waiting to see what the forthcoming winter will bring.
On New Downs, the Long-tailed Duck, a scruffy first-winter, was still in situ with a very smart drake Goldeneye on Backsand, an adult male Hen Harrier flew downriver and a Black-tailed Godwit flew on to the North Flood. Rather unexpectedly 5 Goosanders flew past offshore and 7 Woodcock were present in the gullies.
The morning was clam but gradually more overcast and notable mainly for large numbers of Blackbirds, of which there were 140 on Worth and 70 on the Estate. There were also 2 Woodcock and late news of a Long-tailed Duck on New Downs.
Last night’s persistent rain lasted throughout the morning, reducing birding to visits to the sea (which was still there) and the scrape, on which 2 Jack Snipe were performing in full view for much of the time and Teal numbers had increased with the water levels to not far short of 400.
Even though the wind was a good deal lighter than yesterday and the sea more or less flat, three hours of offshore movement produced northward-moving totals of 190 Brent Geese, 99 Shelduck, 319 Wigeon, 114 Teal, 11 Gadwall, 2 Eider a Goldeneye and two Red-breasted Mergansers, accompanied by 61 Knot and 281 Dunlin. Five Crossbills flew over Worth, a very pale flammea redpoll was trapped and a return to the sea late in the morning was notable for fly-pasts by a Swallow and a Snow Bunting.
’twas the day of the annual SBBO seawatch, egged on by a strong NE wind with heavy squally showers. The best bits were 5 Little Auks and 6-7 Goldeneye, with a supporting cast of 324 Dunlin, 141 Knot, 42 Sanderling, two Avocets and assorted other bits, mainly of a wadery disposition.
Cloudier this morning after a light overnight shower it was thankfully milder. However, apart from 6 Chiffchaffs, similar numbers of Blackbirds to yesterday and a Woodcock in the gullies the birding was rather quieter.
The first obvious thing this morning was the need to clear ice from the windscreen for the first time this autumn, then that a substantial influx of Blackbirds had taken place, with at least 140 scattered about the Estate. A spell on the shore was notable for a constant northward procession of Brent Geese, probably amounting to around 200, a Merlin that tore past us with an audible rush of wings and, rating high on the weirdometer, a Blackcap on the shingle. A very enjoyable morning was rounded off by a big female Sparrowhawk pursuing a Woodcock out of the golf course bushes.
A bit of a shock to the system, with patches of frost in the Oasis and a light but characterful NW breeze that was a huge contrast to the warmth of two days ago. The birding was typical for the end of autumn, with not much more than a Black Redstart and a couple of flocks of redpolls and Siskins, while the Bean Geese were still on New Downs.
The new month kicked off with a distinct chill in the air from a clear night and almost immediately became misty, with the morning getting steadily gloomier. Five Bean Geese remained on New Downs with a juvenile Whitefront and there were clearly more thrushes about; mostly Blackbirds and Song Thrushes. Golden Plover numbers were also up, to around 540, and a Green Sandpiper tittered away from the north flood.