Monday 31st

Suspicions of more than a tidy few Dartford Warblers were confirmed by sightings of three along the beach and another two between Restharrow and the Chequers.

Sunday 30th

Calm and misty to begin with, the early lack of promise was elevated by 3 Dartford Warblers along the beach, with the adult Hen Harrier nearby and 2 Spoonbills at the Point. Elsewhere was a bit like Death Valley, but flatter and not quite so warm, until a Robin was plucked from the nets bearing a Russian ring and a ringed Yellow-browed Warbler was found in the car park.

Friday 28th

What action there was this morning included 2 Dartford Warblers in the sea buckthorn opposite Prince’s clubhouse and an adult male Hen Harrier that flew in from the Point and spent some time quartering the same area before flying out to sea. 14 Bean Geese were seen over Worth but the Estate was very quiet.

Thursday 27th

Another lovely, misty morning with not a breath of wind – perfect for hearing traffic, assorted garden implements and overhead traffic that even included some birds, the best of which were the first Snow Bunting of the autumn, flying along the beach by Royal Cinque Ports golf course and a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker on Worth; the first record of this local rarity for several years.

Wednesday 26th

A real autumnal day, calm and misty to start with, then hazily sunny. Although the bushes were very quiet, Reed Buntings seemed to be all over the place, with at least 30 on the Estate, 3 Little Egrets dropped on to the scrape and as we were admiring a Corn Bunting on top of one of the hawthorns in Restharrow Dunes a Dartford Warbler fidgeted into view before dropping into the grass below and melting away almost immediately. There was also at least one Jack Snipe on the scrape and a Yellow-browed Warbler was re-trapped, having been lurking somewhere since it was first ringed on the 9th.

Monday 24th

The weekend’s highlights included 6 Bean Geese on Saturday that had become 5 by Sunday, A Dartford Warbler in sea buckthorn along Prince’s beach on both days, a Jack Snipe on the scrape and 6 Lapland Buntings along the beach on Sunday. As for today, apart from the 5 Bean Geese (do you ever get 57?), the less said, the better.

Friday 21st

Very quiet again, despite a lighter NW breeze that produced a trickle of Goldfinches, Siskins and Meadow Pipits and a bit of excitement over the scrape where the residents were being entertained by a female Marsh Harrier. Hopefully next week’s easterlies will produce something a bit more agreeable.

Thursday 20th

While the hoped-for bit of overhead movement in the NW breeze failed to materialise there was a reasonable bit of interest offshore, with a decent variety of wildfowl and a few waders, though none in more than moderate numbers. However, the Shorelark’s back on the beach, 4 Crossbills were seen over Worth and a Black-tailed Godwit brought a bit of variety to the usual suspects on the scrape.

Wednesday 19th

An increasingly brisk W breeze made for another rather uneventful morning, though a Barn Owl was flushed from the Elms and a Jack Snipe got up from the unlikely location of the rough on the golf course.

Tuesday 18th

Grey with occasional light showers and a gathering SW breeze it was a morning of little action, apart from an overflying Brambling and an un-ringed Yellow-browed Warbler in the nets.

Monday 17th

Enjoyment of an almost bird-free WeBS count on Lydden Valley yesterday was made even less so by having to hack through a summer’s growth of bramble and similarly observer-sympathetic vegetation armed only with a pair of secateurs and some hair curlers. However, it was the turn of New Downs and Pegwell this morning and, joy upon joy, EA were there with their strimmers and all the birds were all over the place. Still, it was not without its compensations, mainly by way of a party of 4 Bearded Tits in a ditch at Backsand, 176 Golden Plovers on one of the nearby fields and a world record count of 19 Little Grebes on Backsand Scrape.

Friday 14th

The breeze, still easterly, was less frisky than yesterday and visible movement responded accordingly, with 1,135 Goldfinches and 151 Siskins N and a supporting cast of 8 Redpolls (another Danish-ringed individual was trapped), and a Ring Ouzel. The Shorelark was seen early on, a Dartford Warbler was found at the Drove and at least 2 Yellow-browed Warblers were present, making it at least 16 for the autumn so far, while a lingering Hobby was seen over Worth and 26 White-fronted Geese flew S towards Fowlmead, or whatever it’s called this week.

Thursday 13th

A dull start soon gave way to clearing skies and an increasingly enthusiastic easterly breeze. This certainly stimulated some movement, with 28 White-fronted Geese in from the north, 6 Bramblings and around a hundred Fieldfares, while a Yellow-browed Warbler dropped in to the Observatory car park then moved swiftly on. Otherwise, the Shorelark was still on the beach, an early flammea redpoll was trapped and around 40 Siskins were flying in assorted directions.

Wednesday 12th

A resumption of strengthening easterlies did nothing for visibly moving birds, but a few bits and pieces were worthy of mention. The Shorelark was still on its favoured square metre of grass on the shore, a new Yellow-browed Warbler was trapped, probably making 13 for the autumn thus far, and a Richard’s Pipit was found on the golf course, though with Wednesdays being a busy day on the course it proved difficult to pin down.

Tuesday 11th

A mostly overcast start gradually gave way to one of those cloudless, warm days that characterised September. Nevertheless, there were a few good birds about, including the Shorelark, still favouring its grassy knoll on the shore, one Jack Snipe on the scrape, a Firecrest in the Elms, a ringtail Hen Harrier, 3 Bewick’s Swans that flew S out at sea and the autumn’s first Black Redstart at the sailing club. Visible movement included 450 Goldfinches and 6 Bramblings, mostly in the first hour before open skies took over.

Monday 10th

Although this morning exhibited a fairly substantial clear-out after the weekend, the NW breeze did precipitate a decent bit of visible migration. 1,086 Goldfinches and 396 Meadow Pipits made up the bulk, with 34 Siskins and 9 Redpolls for a supporting cast. Down to earth, a Siberian Lesser Whitethroat was trapped, the Shorelark was seen early on and one Jack Snipe was still showing well on the scrape but the morning ended frustratingly with a calling Penduline Tit at the Drove that couldn’t be relocated after it probably flew off.

Saturday 8th

Overcast with occasional spots of rain and with the wind having dropped away completely it was a perfect morning for assessing numbers of Robins, which were simply everywhere – an estimate of 150 seems rather conservative. Otherwise, there was a Siberian-type Lesser Whitethroat on the Estate, 3 Yellow-browed Warblers and 7 Ring Ouzels were on Worth and there was a bit of visible movement into a barely perceptible NE breeze, though nothing to get the pulse really racing, though 70 alba wagtails was noteworthy. Otherwise, 5 Sparrowhawks suggested some movement, the Shorelark was still present on the beach and several Jack Snipe were still on the scrape.

Friday 7th

A surfeit of eyeballs ensured excellent coverage of Restharrow Scrape where at least 6 Jack Snipe were present. Otherwise, numbers of warblers and chats were slightly reduced but Song Thrushes and Blackbirds more apparent. An adult Yellow-legged Gull was on New Downs, 4 Brambling were in the Obs pond early on, at least 4 Firecrests were seen along with at least 30 Goldcrests, the Shorelark was still on the beach, a Great White Egret flew N along the beach and 5 Barnacle Geese flew N offshore.

Thursday 6th

Jack Snipe by Paul Coltman
Jack Snipe by Paul Coltman

The Shorelark was tiddling about quite contentedly along the shore road again and a bit of offshore movement in the continuing fresh easterly wind included 2 Bonxies and a Pomarine Skua. At least 4 Firecrests were present and Robins were again all over the place. Late news came through of 3 Jack Snipe on the scrape – a world record for the site, probably.

Wednesday 5th

Well, it’s out there somewhere. Unfortunately the easterly wind reached force 4-5 this morning, making observation very difficult, though it was clear that substantial numbers of Robins remain. One Yellow-browed was calling in the gullies, a Jack Snipe flew from inland with a party of Common Snipe, at least 2 Firecrests were present, around 20 Song Thrushes arrived during the morning and a Tree Pipit was flushed from the Oasis again. There were also 10 Jays on the Estate, which might or might not prove to be significant, and along the beach a Great White Egret flew S offshore, a Grey Phalarope was seen close inshore and a Shorelark was found at the edge of the road, while 9 White-fronted Geese appeared on Worth.

Tuesday 4th

The onset of easterlies fairly predictably precipitated an arrival of at least 100 Robins (one of which had been ringed in the Netherlands), a Redstart, two Firecrests along with at least 14 Goldcrests and three Yellow-browed Warblers, while a Brambling flew overhead.

Monday 3rd

Well, it was calm with not a cloud in the sky and therefore unsuitable for visible migration, so it turned out to be the best day for around 3 weeks. Northward-moving migrants included 44 Siskins, 104 Linnets, 173 Goldfinches and at least 14 Reed Buntings in a total of 54 that were scattered about the area, along with at least 15 Stonechats. Whilst the bushes were predictably Chiffchaffy, our third Yellow-browed Warbler of the autumn turned up in the nets, with two others in the Great Wood on Worth and in Sandown Road, a Tree Pipit was flushed from the Oasis early on, a Brambling was seen along the Green Wall and 5 Redwings were kicking about. By the way, it was Walter Brennan, not Slim Pickens.

Sunday 2nd

Well, as Mr S.Pickens once observed, I’ll be a suck-egg mule. After yesterday’s low went through, conditions this morning looked perfect for a long-awaited bit of visible migration, but it turned out to be a complete disappointment, with only a handful of Meadow Pipits and finches. A Ring Ouzel was seen on Worth and Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps continue to move through in numbers, but otherwise it was very quiet save for a Hobby and a few Stonechats.