30th

The morning’s seawatch, in dull a relatively calm conditions, was similar to yesterday, with a Bonxie N and then straight out to sea when it saw Thanet, 6-7 Red-throated Divers and 18 Great Crested Grebes on the sea.

29th

Siskin in the Elms by John Ball
Siskin in the Elms by John Ball

A day to be damned with faint praise. In steadily deteriorating weather a hour or so peering out to sea in a strengthening SW wind produced an Arctic Skua N, a Bonxie S and 3-4 Red-throated Divers and 20-30 Gannets, more precise assessment of their numbers inhibited by their milling about. In truth, you had to be there to appreciate the subtle attraction of it all. Just to brighten things a bit, here’s a photo of one of several Siskins in the Elms on Saturday.

27th

Dull and dank with some light drizzle at times, today was notable for a Swallow over the car park, a Woodcock in the Elms and, sadly notable these days, a flock of 13 Yellowhammers in some unharvested wheat on Worth.

26th

Even in our quiet corner of the world we never know what to expect next from the weather now that humans are having such a big effect on the climate. Today was a beautiful, sunny, day and stimulated activity from wasps and bees but not particularly from birds. There was little reported from the estate apart from a small flock of Lesser Redpoll and a couple of Chiffchaffs. Numbers of Blackbirds continue to build up around Worth Marshes and on the Green Wall where 79 were counted.

25th

The wind did not get up as much as predicted and so, apart from some light rain midday it was a pleasant day. There were no obvious changes on the estate and so the 3 Firecrests remain in the Elms.  A brief watch offshore revealed a few large gulls moving north, plus a Red-breasted Merganser and 18 Gannets. The most intersting records came from Pegwell where a very high tide covered all the saltmarsh upriver from the hide. This pushed out a number of birds which often remain hidden or too distant. This included 84 Skylarks, 86 Snipe, 224 Linnets and 2 Water Rails. There were also 2 Avocets and 2 Black-tailed Godwits.

24th

A damp, drizzly, morning never fully lifted but there were 3 Firecrests and at least 4 Chiffchaffs in the Elms. The Scrape still hold a good variety of birds. An adult Little Gull was the pick of the crop there but an exceptionally small Common Gull raised eyebrows.

2 Common Gulls with a Black-headed Gull by Andrew Lipczynski
2 Common Gulls with a Black-headed Gull by Andrew Lipczynski

 

Common Gull and Black-headed Gull by Andrew Lipczynski
Common Gull and Black-headed Gull by Andrew Lipczynski

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of non-avian interest there are some excellent examples of Earth stars coming up in the raised bed just to the right before the entrance door to the observatory.

23rd

Once again the value of getting out and about was demonstrated by a good variety of birds recorded in the area. On the Estate there were at least 8 Chiffchaffs, 2 Firecrests and a Bullfinch plus at least 50 Blackbirds (plus another 50 on the Green Wall). The best birds were down along Prince’s Beach where there were 2 Dartford Warblers, 5 Snow Buntings, 30+ Reed Buntings and 22 Turnstone. There were still 70+ Brent Geese moving offshore.

22nd

Blue moon on the rebound

Although the wind had dropped to almost zero first thing, resulting in our first frost of the autumn, lots of birds were moving at sea, presumably sorting themselves out after the storm.

There is some debate about some of the numbers but using those on the log sheet the key features were; Brent Goose 1350 n, Shelduck 265n, Common Scoter 125n,Gannet 88n, Red-breasted Merganser 12 n, White-fronted Goose 5n, Barnacle Goose 4 in, Shag 2n, Gooseander 1n, Goldeneye 1n, Whooper Swan 1n, Pomarine Skua 1n and one Little Auk on the sea.

On land there were still 5 Chiffchaffs plus 2 Firecrests and at least 40 Blackbirds.

21st

Once in a blue moon.     

The word Bay gives a clue as to why we are not renowned as a seawatching centre, along with the fact we watch at sea level, there is a big sand bar a mile or so offshore and there are some big headlands nearby. However every now and again things fall right. Three lucky watchers took shifts watching and amongst the goodies they saw were at least 9 Little Auks, a Shag, 2 Long-tailed Ducks, 1 Sooty Shearwater, at least 3 shearwater sp., 1 Pomarine Skua, 10 Red-breasted Merganser, 5 Little Gulls, 600 Dunlin and 2 Eider. Added to this were lots of nearly all the common duck species and plenty of larger gulls. Perhaps the most unexpected sighting was of a Mistle Thrush flying in off the sea.

 

20th

The most notable event of the last 24 hours was the fact the temperature dropped below 10°C yesterday tea time and has not risen back since. Mind you it was only 8.5°C for most of the day. Thrushes continue to feed in the surrounding hedge rows but are not showing on the estate. There were still at least 5 Chiffchaffs none of which showed the slightest nod towards tristis. There was also an unringed Firecrest in the Elms.

Later reports have come in on a Woodcock coming in off the sea and 24 Little Gulls flying past Pegwell.

 

19th

Once again it was worth getting out and about to see a nice variety of late autumn birds. Pick of the bunch was a Black-throated Diver which flew south, presumably sorting itself out after the storms. On the Estate there 5 Chiffchaffs and 28 Blackbirds. Bushes in the surrounding area held at least another 55 Blackbirds and there was a flock of 30 Fieldfare beside Worth track. A noticeable feature over the last week has been the number of Mistle Thrushes with double figures particularly around the Green Wall/St Georges. It is a sad reflection on their demise in this area that this is now noteable.

18th

After last nights blasting it remained mild and breezy until the wind picked up late morning. Some interest was provided by the fields outside the obs where the farmer is ploughing up the grass and a big flock of gulls was following the tractor. By late morning there were around a thousand. Most were Black headed with a few Common and Herring plus one adult Mediterranean Gull. It will certainly be worth checking them regularly to see what else shows up.                                                                                                     In the late afternoon 19 Fieldfare flew over to roost perhaps the forerunners of the cold weather forecast for the weekend.

17th

Barely any reports today but the Short-eared Owl continued to hunt around the Haven most of the morning. There was a Chiffchaff on the Green Wall where 2 Treecreepers won a game of hide and seek with someone who would like them for his Bay year list.

16th

A Swallow over the observatory in the morning ignored the rain and drizzle that had not been forecast anyway. Various troops set out to the outlying areas to complete the WEBS counts. The highlight on New Downs was a brace of Goldeneye on the reservoir. Elsewhere wader numbers were probably better than expected in the mild weather. Counting in Pegwell was made particularly difficult by the continual row from 7 Ring-necked Parakeets which mobbed the Short-eared Owl which was hunting around the hide. It was more fortunate than the dead one found on New Downs however. There was also an adult Yellow-legged Gull, 2 Water Rail and a Chiffchaff in Pegwell.

15th

The wind seemed to pick up rather than lessen but it did not rain. It remains mild as indicated by thge presence of 4 Swallows and at least 4 Common Darters in the lee of the Elms.                        The Spotted Redshank reappeared on the Scrape where there was also a 2nd winter Mediterranean Gull. A trek around Worth marshes for the WEBS count yielded the male Marsh Harrier, 2 Water Pipits and 2 Peregrines.

14th

Once again coverage of the surrounding areas provided the main sightings despite the rain and wind building up. Sadly one has to wonder about the fate of a Swallow which was frantically feeding along the Green Wall. There was also an increase in Song Thrushes and Blackbirds here. A damp group of students and Bay birders huddled in the hide at Pegwell where a pair of Peregrines made sure all the Lapwing and Golden Plover headed to the fields inland for high tide roost. Grey Plover were up to 140 and there were 128 Knot. A Common Seal leaping clear of the water several times was clearly enjoying the conditions.

13th

Despite the hammering some parts of the country are getting it started off calm and mild here. Heavy squalls midday gave a hint of what other places are getting. As usual it was worth venturing into our outer areas and a walk to the Point was rewarded with a Short-eared Owl, 2 Wheatears and a ringtail Hen Harrier.

No-one reported any Swallows so maybe they have finally decided to head off to join the two Bay teams touring Namibia at present.

12th

If anyone is still not convinced that we are messing up the climate then they should just look at some of the current weather around the world. Here it was yet another mild day as indicated by at least 4 Swallows feeding around the Estate. There were also 2 Short-eared Owls and a couple of Brambling. One keen regular’s visit to New Downs was rewarded with good numbers of common winter birds including 27 Tufted Duck, a Buzzard, 550 Golden Plover and 2300 Lapwing. The latter are part of the large flock that gathers in the estuary.

11th

Blackbirds and Song Thrushes continue to become more apparent in the hedges away from the estate. A male Marsh Harrier flew south over the Green Wall and 2 Bullfinches flew over the observatory.

10th

Although there appeared to be increased numbers of Thrushes on adjacent areas they were not evident on the Estate. Sea-watching was so exciting two observers had to do it in turns, amassing 3 Common Scoter south and a Great Crested Grebe and 2 Gannets milling around. 2 Turnstone on the beach watched all this in amazement. The scrape is still worth checking out with 430 Teal the highlight. 1 Swallow flew south.

9th

A walk to the Point did not reveal the hoped for Snow Bunting or Dartford Warbler but there was still an interesting mixture. Two Swallows flew past St George’s clubhouse, 4 adult Mediterranean Gulls flew north along with a flock of 30 Turnsone. There were 2 Water Pipits in the gullies behind the Point.

8th

A nice calm start resulted in 20 Redwing dropping in and a Brambling flying south. As the wind increased, again, coverage of the Estate revealed 2 Swallows, a Coal Tit and moving south 19 Siskin and 14 Lesser Redpolls. There was a Blackcap and a Chiffchaff in the Whitehouse and 2 Short-eared Owls patrolled the fields.

7th

Suprisingly the log sheet would suggest there were no birds on the Estate. However two brave souls ventured out to that theatre of dreams the seafront. Despite the wind being from the south-west and increasing all day they were rewarded with 30 Ringed Plover and a Spotted Redshank flying south, 42 Gannets milling around and 4 Guillemots sat on the sea plus another south. Elsewhere there was a Buzzard on the Green Wall and a Swallow flew south along there.

6th

Despite half a dozen Redwing and a Fieldfare dropping in first light there was very little other movement apart from a trickle of Chaffinches south. 3 Swallows appeared to continue yesterdays warm theme. Once again the Scrape repaid the effort and Teal had increased to 475 and extra patience revealed a skulking Water Rail.

 

 

5th

Who needs to go south this autumn? You can enjoy the mild weather (just ignore the damp) and the summer birds. Today there were 24 Swallows feeding around the Haven for half an hour and a Mediterranean Gull on the Scrape. More typical of this time of year were 3 Brambling flying south.

4th

A wet start slowly cleared for more mild sunny intervals. However the continuing SSW airflow meant very little moved.

2 Bullfinch dropped into the Cellars from on high and a Raven cronked its way south along the shore. The Scrape remains worth a visit with 460 Teal, 17 Shoveler and a Water Rail amongst the highlights. There was no sign of yesterdays rarities.

3rd

Although there was clarity of vision this morning it was overcast and little more than 24 Chaffinches and a handful of Siskins and Redpolls appeared to be in the mood to move. There was also little in the bushes, but a drake Green-winged Teal at Roaring Gutter lifted the gloom. A search for the Dartford Warbler along the shore at Prince’s provided brief glimpses but was soon left behind when a Richard’s Pipit was found associating with a mixed flock of Meadow Pipits and Skylarks.

 

2nd

To celebrate the sudden lifting of 36 hours of dense fog in late morning 2 Woodlarks flew S over Restharrow Dunes on what by then was a lovely warm and still autumn day. Otherwise, about 30 Blackbirds and a handful of Goldcrests were audible in the earlier gloom, with singles of Chiffchaff and Blackcap.

1st

Presumably the new month was out there somewhere, but persistent fog, dense at times, made it difficult to establish quite where. The main highlights were a Sparrowhawk, sneaking through the gullies like Ma’a Nonu through the opposition defence, and a few parties of lingering Goldcrests.