Saturday 31st

The forecast implied there would be a lull before the next storm swept in. It was windier than forecast but very mild and we were able to use a few nets. Eight birds were caught of which four were new- a Blackbird and three Lesser Redpolls.

On a more positive note, despite the weather towards the end, October was a successful month with 2753 birds of 30 species ringed. Lesser Redpoll was by far the most frequent, with 1269 individuals, followed by 408 Chiffchaffs and 348 Blackcaps.

Friday 30th

The windy and at times wet weather continues and we are only able to grab short opportunities when they arise. Dangerous to look so far in advance but the forecast for later next week looks hopeful.

Today 34 birds were ringed. This included 28 Lesser Redpoll and a Little Owl. The latter was a big bonus for its ringer as he has always missed the others we have done. For the first time in a couple of months there were no Blackcaps or Chiffchaffs.

Wednesday 28th

Although there was a brief calm window the threat of more wind and rain prevented any ringing.

There has been a steady trickle of Lesser Redpoll information from the controls we are getting. Most birds are heading SE but I will start with a couple not following this pattern. The first was ringed here on October 12th and was controlled at Landguard Bird Observatory in Suffolk on the 22nd. The second was ringed at Kingsdown, between here and Dover, on October 12th at 1020 and controlled here four hours later!

Tuesday 27th

There was a calm window before ringing had to finish at 8am due to wind and rain arriving.

This was enough to yield 50 birds, 49 of which were new. Lesser Redpoll made up more than half with 28. This takes this autumns total up to exactly 1,400 plus 23 controls and three Common Redpolls.

A sad reflection on their population at present was the fact that two Greenfinches were of note.

Monday 26th

A calm and clear start lasted half the morning before the wind set in again. Movement has slowed a lot and 38 new birds were ringed. Goldfinches were most frequent with seven followed by six each of Blackcap (are they ours heading south or continental birds arriving for the winter?) and Chiffchaff.

The most interesting record by far was of a Firecrest retrap. It was ringed here on October 12th 2019 and not recorded again until today. It is even more interesting considering how few and far between they have been this year.

Sunday 25th

After last nights storm it was amazing any birds were around. A very brief window allowed six birds to be ringed (two Goldcrests and single Blackbird, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Lesser Redpoll).

In early September I mentioned that there were still two House Martin nests on the go and I finally got around to checking the last one today. Out of four chicks only one had fledged, the other three were well advanced and must have just been hammered by the weather when due to fledge. It is the gamble these birds take with late broods.

Saturday 24th

The forecast said there would be a brief lull before the wind really picked up around 10am and despite a bit more breeze it was fairly correct.

We made use of the brief respite to catch 55 birds of 12 species. Lesser Redpolls put in a better show with 26 plus another UK control. The highlight was six Swallows and we might have caught a few more if the wind had not picked up.

Friday 23rd

It is beginning to seem as if the autumn rush is over, This does not mean there are no birds ,just less. However it was a good variety with 16 species caught and 30 birds were ringed. Blackbird was most common with five followed by four of Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Lesser Redpoll. A Mistle Thrush was the first to be ringed this year which is a bit of a surprise as there were regular sightings in the spring.

Two more controls to mention, this time of Chiffchaffs. One moved north-east to here from Icklesham in east Sussex and the other moved east to here from Wiltshire. The latter had actually been ringed by a ringer who went to school a mile down the road from here.

Thursday 22nd

We have been relatively spoilt until now in that ringing has been possible regularly but the weather is now getting more unsettled. After yesterdays washout it was good to be able to do a bit today. Twenty nine birds were ringed, the most numerous was Blackbird, with eight, followed by six Lesser Redpoll (plus another control) and four Redwing. A ringed Blue Tit had been ringed just along the coast the other side of Deal.

We have received lots of information on this autumn’s controls and I will add bits about this to later reports. I will start with the one bird which bucked the trend; it was a Blackcap which headed WSW from us to Knepp in West Sussex. All the others, unsurprisingly, were heading SE out of the country including two Blackcaps, one ringed at Filey, Yorkshire, in June and another ringed in September in Northants.

Tuesday 20th

The start was delayed due to the forecast of early rain (which in the end did not amount to much) but the breeze continued to pick up and limit which sites could be used. It was interesting to be setting up with groups of Swallows heading rapidly south and Redwing calling from most hawthorn bushes.

In the end we ringed 84 birds. Finches continue to lead the way with 38 Lesser Redpoll and 19 Goldfinches. We did manage to catch one Swallow plus three Redwing. After yesterdays little burst there were no new Chiffchaffs today.

We are now into our highest annual total for Lesser Redpolls. There were also three more UK controls today taking the total up to 20 so far this autumn. This a very good number for any migrating small passerine.

Monday 19th

A calm overcast start sounded promising and there were a number of thrushes calling. Two hundred and thirty five birds were ringed before the breeze picked up and stopped ringing by mid-morning. The bulk were Lesser Redpolls which all arrived in one round totalling 155. There was one control and a Common Redpoll with these. There was clearly an arrival of Chiffchaffs, the total of 21 was the most since October 10th. Accompanying them were six Blackcaps and a new Yellow-browed Warbler.

Sunday 18th

Despite an overcast night it would seem that many birds have moved on. Ringing was quiet to start with until Lesser Redpoll burst back onto the scene. One hundred and sixty eight birds were ringed of which 133 were Lesser Redpolls ( plus two more UK controls). Five Chiffchaffs actually outnumbered three Goldcrests.

All may not be over as a Yellow-browed Warbler appeared in the car park hedge, along with some unringed Chiffchaffs in the evening.

Saturday 17th

It actually started pretty clear this morning and so was cooler but it quickly clouded over, only one site predicted the drizzle that drifted over-Meteoradar.

It would appear plenty of birds took the opportunity of the clear spell at night to move on but there were still new arrivals and birds moving over. We ringed 129 birds of 14 species. Lesser Redpoll was most numerous with 52 (plus another UK control). Goldcrest again came second with 24 plus a Belgian-ringed bird. There were 17 Blackbirds most of which were the continental origin birds, males with dark bills and with long wings up to 138mm.

The bonus came at the end of the session when a Pallas’s Warbler was caught. This little hedge sprite never fails to charm.

Pallas’s Warbler. October 17th 2020. I Hunter

Friday 16th

At last it was okay to ring and 259 birds were caught of which 253 of 16 species were new. This included a good catch of thrushes consisting of the first Fieldfare of the autumn, 33 Blackbirds, 21 Redwing and seven Song Thrushes. Eighty eight Lesser Redpolls (plus one control) were closely followed by 73 Goldcrests. Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs have reduced to three and five respectively. One Firecrest will not help get their total back to normal but lets hope more will appear.

Thursday 15th

Wet and windy conditions almost completely prevented ringing. In a slight lull mid-morning six Goldcrests, three Robins and a Blackbird were ringed.

Wednesday 14th

Although there had clearly been an arrival of autumn migrants the strength of the wind limited ringing activity to 43 birds. This included 14 Robins, 12 Blackbirds, nine Goldcrests and three Redwings. Lots of these birds were still around in the afternoon and so maybe we will get another chance to ring some of them soon.

Tuesday 13th

No ringing possible today in a horrible wet, breezy, day.

There was an interesting mystery thrown up by a recovery though. It involves a Starling ringed here on January 12th 1983 and found in Essex on October 11th this year. Unfortunately the record came from a ring found by a metal detectorist and we will never know when it actually died.

Monday 12th

A favourite bit of autumn for me is hearing thrushes flying over first thing. Most kept on heading inland but 13 Blackbirds, eight Redwing and six Song Thrushes stopped for rings first. They were part of a total of 302 new birds. Two hundred and thirty seven Lesser Redpolls (plus two UK controls) made up the bulk of this total. This time there were two Common Redpolls as well. There were 20 Chiffchaffs but only three Blackcaps as well.

Common Redpoll by A.Lipczynski

Sunday 11th

The weather never really settled and by mid-morning the wind brought an end to proceedings. Fifty one birds were ringed the highlight being a second Yellow-browed Warbler. The rest were definitely autumn fayre with 17 Chiffchaffs, 10 Blackcaps, four Goldcrests and three Redwing emphasising this.

Saturday 10th

Team size and experience necessitated a much reduced approach but 77 birds were still caught of which 71 were new. There are still lots of Chiffchaffs present and Lesser Redpolls flying over. Thirty one Chiffchaffs were ringed along with five Goldcrests and a Firecrest. The tit movement gained a bit of momentum with six new Blue Tits and four Great Tits.

Friday 9th

A lovely, calm, clear start to the day meant migrants were pouring through. It was so busy that nets were being closed by nine so as to avoid any problems. Two hundred and eighty one birds were ringed. This included 120 Lesser Redpoll (plus 2 UK controls), 91 Chiffchaffs and 57 Blackcaps.

Meanwhile this Black-headed Gull was photographed at Herne Bay by one of our members The photo was clear enough to be able to read the ring and it had been ringed by our team on February 16th 2001. It is clearly still doing well and shows you do not have to be a ringer to contribute.

Black-headed Gull ringed in 2001. Herne Bay. October 6th 2020. Nick Smith.

Thursday 8th

No ringing possible this morning due to the weather. We have heard of two interesting movements. The first was a Lesser Redpoll ringed here on 10th October 2018 and retrapped at Marston in Lincolnshire on October 6th this year. Presumably it was heading south as part of the large movement we are recording at present.

The second involved technology. It relates to a Sandwich Tern caught on Texel, Netherlands on May 19th this year where it was fitted with a GPS tracker. Our Warden noticed that the map of its journey passed through Pegwell Bay on June 15th. It is a regular feature to note birds well out on the mudflats with metal rings on and so it is good to get a bit of information about one of them.

Wednesday 7th

Contrary to the forecast the day dawned with only a light breeze. For the first time for a while it was also clear. Birds were slower to get going but once again plenty did move through. Two hundred and twenty two birds were ringed. One hundred and twenty two were Lesser Redpolls and there were two others which already had a ring on from elsewhere in the UK. There were also 53 Chiffchaffs and 37 Blackcaps. Last autumn there was a steady trickle of Blue and Great Tits through the area (none of which have been retrapped since – a bit of a surprise for a commonly ringed species) and Blue Tits seem to be just starting again with four more new birds today.

Tuesday 6th

More unsettled weather with the wind limiting which nets could be used until 0900 when all had to be closed. This was frustrating as there were loads of birds moving again. In that short time 211 birds were ringed. Lesser Redpolls are moving through in numbers and although there is plenty of variation in colour and size none yet have reached Common Redpoll features but that is not too surprising as they tend to appear here later in the month. Seventy one Lesser Redpolls, 60 Chiffchaffs and 57 Blackcaps made the bulk of the numbers. Four Goldcrests were hopefully the herald of a decent movement of these but where are the Firecrests? So far we have only ringed two this year and would have expected to have ringed ten times this by now. A Lesser Whitethroat raised the pulse but it fitted perfectly into standard British type. The unusual feature was that it was an adult.

Monday 5th

I am going to have to give my crystal ball a polish. With heavy rain and strong winds overnight a fairly quiet morning was expected even though the wind dropped enough and the rain cleared. Even though we had to close down at 10 due to more rain arriving 327 birds were caught of which 319 were new. This is the highest day total of the year so far. One hundred and thirty six Blackcaps led the way followed by 82 Lesser Redpoll, 60 Chiffchaffs and 17 Robins. Variety was added by the first Yellow-browed Warbler to be caught this autumn and a Blackcap with a Brussels ring. The latter was an adult and it will be interesting to hear when it was ringed, spring or autumn- on its way here or heading south.

Sunday 4th

Another unsuitable day for ringing with increasing wind and rain.

Although there have been no reports of our colour ringed House Sparrows and Collared Doves away from the Observatory (barring some noted at Worth when our Warden visits) we are still getting some interesting histories around here. Although the majority of Collared Doves seem to disappear without trace good old HL has been noted 25 times since been ringed in January 2017.

Saturday 3rd

After a couple of days of totally unsuitable weather it was frustrating to start today with rain and drizzle forecast and actually happening. We clung to the Met Office forecast that said it would clear and by midday it was suitable to start ringing. Although some birds, such as the Yellow-browed Warbler, had moved on there were still plenty of other birds around. We caught 153 birds of which 135 were new. This was made up of a good variety led by 52 Lesser Redpolls (plus 3 controls) and 25 Robins. This was more Robins than we ringed in the whole of September. Four Swallows were a late bonus.