Birds: November 2020
Three Cattle Egrets are still present on New Downs, and a Short-eared Owl was also seen here.
A female hen harrier was feeding again today in the asparagus fields on the Estate, possibly eyeing up a Red-legged Partridge that was heard calling, while an Egyptian Goose flew by. Sea watching was great today with both a Great Northern Diver and a Great Skua seen. Otherwise good numbers of Grey Partridge and Fieldfares were on the Estate.
The EASTERN YELLOW WAGTAIL zipped by Worth again in the morning, but those trying in the afternoon struggled to catch sight of it. A Grey Wagtail present among the group of Pied’s set pulses racing briefly. Singles of Firecrest and a late Swallow were around the Estate, and a juvenile drake Eider was seen offshore.
37 Tree Sparrows were still present on the Estate, with large numbers of Lapwing and Golden Plover. The breeze meant some things were moving offshore, including a Black-necked or Slavonian Grebe, 12 Red-throated Divers, 18 Common Scoters and 41 Gannets. A Firecrest was on Worth, but still no sign of the Eastern Yellow Wagtail.
There was no sign of the Eastern Yellow Wagtail or the Lapland Buntings on Worth despite a lot of searching. A Water Pipit showed well near Roaring Gutter though. Over at the Drove four Tree Sparrows flitted by and a flock of six White-fronted Geese flew over the Estate. Two Common Redpolls and a Siberian Chiffchaff were ringed and a Swallow flew over the Observatory. At least six Bearded Tits remain on the Green Wall.
The biggest news of the day was a flock of 51 Tree Sparrows at Dickson’s Corner/Mary Bax. An astonishing number for recent years. A Great Skua was offshore and 340 Golden Plovers were on New Downs.
The EASTERN YELLOW WAGTAIL showed sporadically on Worth marshes with five Lapland Buntings, a Hen Harrier, and a Merlin.
A nice day despite the cold and frosty start. On the Estate there were two Firecrests, a Woodcock, an increase in Fieldfares, and two late Swallows. Offshore there were four Goldeneyes, seven Common Scoters, and a Bar-tailed Godwit. The four Cattle Egrets were still on New Downs and at least six Bearded Tits were along the Green Wall river but the best discovery was an EASTERN YELLOW WAGTAIL on Worth marshes. The bird was frequenting the horse paddocks at Blue Pigeons in the company of a handful of Pied Wagtails. There are currently no previous records for Kent. Singles of Brambling and Goosander were also noted.
The ringtail Hen Harrier remains mobile with sightings on Worth marshes and the Estate presumably relating to the same bird. Goosander and Water Pipit were also seen along the Green Wall. A brief spell of north-westerly wind tomorrow afternoon will hopefully shake things up.
Apart from the odd Red-throated Diver, Gannet, and Common Scoter it was quiet offshore. A Dartford Warbler was in the Sea Buckthorn on Prince’s Beach and a few Green Sandpipers were seen on Worth marshes.
Over the next few weeks I would expect the last vestiges of autumn migration to come to an end. We may see Siskins and Lesser Redpolls continue on a little longer before an increase in Woodcocks and Water Pipits. We may get a Bewick’s Swan or two appear and if we’re lucky a Lapland Bunting or Shorelark along the beach.
A Firecrest was in The Elms, a ring-tail Hen Harrier and a Water Pipit were on Worth marshes, and a Goosander was seen on the Green Wall. Also, an interesting eastern-type Jackdaw was seen along the Guilford between the Toll Gate and the Observatory.
A really horrible day weather-wise. A few Great Skuas and a late Sandwich Tern were offshore. The Collared Dove roost has begun to build at the Observatory and at least 38 were on the wires in the afternoon.
A systematic survey of the two sides of Worth marshes produced two female-type Goosanders (which flew off towards the Green Wall), a juvenile Peregrine, a few hundred Lapwings, and two 2cy Yellow-legged Gulls.
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Today was spent censusing the northern sectors of the Recording Area for the monthly WeBS counts. Despite the early squalls it soon cleared up and a reasonable day was had. At the Point/Prince’s Beach there were 165 Sanderlings in the high tide roost, a particularly high count, and also of note were singles of Lapwing and Golden Plover in among the Knots, Dunlins, Grey Plovers, and Bar-tailed Godwits. A Water Rail, three Jack Snipes, eight Rock Pipits, and four Corn Buntings were also recorded. Across the river in Pegwell Bay there were two Water Rails, 875 Oystercatchers, 12 Black-tailed Godwits, 98 Redshanks, and a high count of 730 Great Black-backed Gulls. Six Corn Buntings, a Great Crested Grebe, and a Merlin were on New Downs whilst 80 Shovelers, 52 Wigeons, and 125 Teals were all good counts for the site.
A day with little news though the four Cattle Egrets were still present around the south pool on New Downs.
A calm and occasionally gloomy trudge across Worth marshes was livened up by a good diversity of species. A Treecreeper called from the Great Wood and a Yellowhammer appeared again near the Worth track. Two Peregrines, two Bramblings, 80 Fieldfares, one Green Sandpiper, and four Corn Buntings were of note and the Wigeon flock increased to 321.
At least one Tree Sparrow was on the Estate plus singles of Brambling and Firecrest. A Goosander flew south offshore and two Yellowhammers were along the Worth track (a scarce species this year).
Really mild conditions out there for November. A flock of seven Tree Sparrows alighted in the Oasis, a Woodcock flushed from The Elms, and a Firecrest called in the Gullies. Overall there was a general increase in thrushes, Goldcrests, and Meadow Pipits on the Estate. Meanwhile offshore a Great Northern Diver dwarfed the usual Red-throated Divers and a bit of wildfowl movement included three Eiders and 50 Brent Geese, plus a Merlin south.
A 2cy Yellow-legged Gull and two Caspian Gulls were viewable on Willow Farm and three Tree Sparrows appeared near the Worth track (how many are around at the moment?). The Cattle Egret flock increased to four on New Downs and 11 Pintails flew south offshore.
A Dusky Warbler new in at Dickon’s Corner (before later moving over to Mary Bax) continued our fantastic autumn so far. A Water Rail called from the Haven, a Firecrest was in The Elms, and up to nine Tree Sparrows were flying around. Over on New Downs there were at least seven Bearded Tits, two Cattle Egrets, a Water Pipit, a Merlin, and over 1,200 Lapwings.
The Green Wall was equally productive with at least four Bearded Tits, a Water Pipit, and two female-type Goosanders, Singles of Dartford Warbler and Snow Bunting were on Prince’s Beach, another Water Pipit was on Worth marshes, and a few late Sandwich Terns fished offshore.
A very pleasant morning on the Estate with bright sunshine and a cool easterly breeze. There was no sign of yesterday’s Pallas’s Warbler but a scattering of Goldcrests and a Grey Wagtails. A few Kittiwakes, Brents, and an adult Little Gull were offshore whilst a Bittern was sound-recorded flying over Stonar at 21:15.
Another good morning highlighted by a Pallas’s Warbler on the Estate, our third this autumn. A Snow Bunting flew south and three Tree Sparrows were around Dickson’s Corner again. Over on New Downs two Cattle Egrets were near the south pool, a Water Pipit was in with five Rock Pipits and a bunch of Meadow Pipits at Backsand Point, and at least seven Bearded Tits (in two groups) were encountered.
Unfortunately, due to the re-introduction of ‘lockdown’ regulations we regret the Restharrow Scrape area is closed again until further notice. Outdoor recreation is encouraged so the carpark and the rest of our reserves will be open as usual but of course limit your activities to one other person from your household and socially distance at all times. Stay safe.
It was great to have a bit of northerly wind for the last day before lockdown. A fair few birds were moving through, mostly Crossbills, Siskins, and Lesser Redpolls, whilst two Tree Sparrows were seen behind the Observatory and another two at the usual spot by the sandpit at Dickson’s Corner. A Common Redpoll was ringed, a flock of six Goosanders flew north offshore, and the Great Grey Shrike showed a little on Worth marshes.
A few Sandwich Terns offshore and Swallows around the Observatory reminded us of the summer gone. It won’t be long before these disappear though. Thinking back at this year and we’ve recorded a lot of different species, by my counts 234 species have been seen in the Sandwich Bay Recording Area in 2020. This is one of the highest annual totals recorded here with only 241 in 2008 and 237 in 2015 higher. We still haven’t recorded species such as Whooper Swan, Velvet Scoter, Glaucous Gull, Woodlark, Shorelark, Waxwing, and Lapland Bunting which could bolster the total. And who knows what else might appear; it’s almost two years to the day that the summer-plumaged White-billed Diver turned up in Pegwell Bay (and then subsequently Margate). It would be nice to add Hume’s Warbler to the Sandwich Bay list too.
Singles of Great Northern Diver and Yellow-legged Gull flew south offshore and an Egyptian Goose was on Restharrow Scrape. A few Siskins, Lesser Redpolls and a Short-eared Owl were around the Estate in the evening and the Great Grey Shrike showed well on Worth marshes.
Persistence pays off when seawatching. Despite only a little activity offshore it did include female-type Goosander and a Black-throated Diver going south offshore, plus a handful of Starlings and hirundines in off.