Birds: October 2018
A warm southerly breeze brought all kinds of interesting moths but isn’t necessary conducive for avian migration. A Yellow-browed Warbler was at the Chequers but there was no sign of yesterday’s highlight in Waldershare Gully. Elsewhere a Ring Ouzel was in Middle Field and two Firecrests were about.
A Yellow-browed Warbler almost evaded detection all day before revealing itself in the carpark in the evening. However the day was mostly dominated by a frustrating pale warbler in Waldershare Gully. It’s plain plumage, phylloscopus-like structure, but hippolais-like movements led us to the identification of Booted Warbler. It’s ability to melt into it’s surroundings and go missing for hours at a time infuriated most present though a few photographs were taken, and hopefully these will confirm the record.
A good venture around the northern reaches of our recording area in the name of WeBS. Prince’s Beach and 100 Acre produced a Jack Snipe and a good count of 70 Reed Buntings, whilst five House Sparrows in the Sea Buckthorn was unusual. A flock of 11 Bearded Tits on New Downs was the highlight there though amongst the wildfowl present a lowly Brent Goose stood out. Elsewhere three Yellow-browed Warblers and four Firecrests were on the Estate, the Cetti’s Warbler was again at Restharrow Scrape, and a lingering Whinchat and Hobby were around Mary Bax.
It’s been a few days of strong southerly winds and a lot of hard work. Today at least two Yellow-browed Warblers were calling in the Oasis area again but a trek around the marshes of Worth for Lydden WeBS produced not more than a Whinchat and a small increase in thrushes.
Despite the windy conditions a juvenile Red-footed Falcon showed well on Worth for a short while, a Great White Egret flew south over Sandwich and then Worth continuing on towards Ham Fen, and a Yellow-browed Warbler was in the Oasis.
It took a while for the early morning mist to burn away but once it did it was another lovely day on the Kent coast. A wander inland around the paths on the Green Wall produced Brambling and handfuls of Siskins and the reed bed bordering the river contained a flock of at least three Bearded Tits. Their calls seemed to follow me along the river, whether it was one mobile group or multiple groups in the area i’m not sure, but i know a few flocks have dropped into Pegwell in the last few days too so they’re certainly on the move. On the way back from Black Sluice (near the Polytunnels) towards the entrance to Royal St George’s Golf Course a nice male Ring Ouzel burst into song from the hawthorns on the left before heading off towards New Downs. The Estate once again monopolised Yellow-browed Warblers with perhaps up to eight in the area, most of which around the Oasis/Haven/Whitehouse.
It felt more like mid-summer out there today with the bright sun staring down at us. The lovely conditions seemed to hamper passage though and it was all quiet on the vis mig front. However there were still six of yesterday’s Yellow-browed Warblers hiding around the Estate, often their presence only revealed by their piercing calls. A small arrival of 38 Chiffchaffs were joined by a late Willow Warbler too but there’s still no sign of Crest passage. At least 20 Snipes were on Restharrow Scrape but yesterday’s Jack Snipe couldn’t be found.
An excellent day to liven us weary folk up after yesterday’s racing antics. No fewer than 11 Yellow-browed Warblers were spread through the recording area including a minimum of seven on the Estate. However the rarest bird of the day was a Nuthatch discovered in Stonelees, only our eight ever record. A Jack Snipe on Restharrow Scrape was our first of the autumn period, as were two Ring Ouzels in Pegwell, whilst a Water Pipit was in the Downsbridge area. A late Tree Pipit flew over and a Sedge Warbler continued on Worth, a few Fieldfares and Redwings were knocking about, and weirdly 13 Jays flew north. Siskins were most notable though as flocks streamed northwards over the Estate, with a final total of 970.
Today we took part in a Bird Race pitting all UK Bird Observatories against each other. The objective is to record as many species as possible in your recording area in one day. Sea passage in the morning was a good start rewarding us with an extremely close Manx Shearwater, northward bound Brent Geese, 608 in total, plus a myriad of other waders and wildfowl and a late Arctic Tern. New Downs contributed two Pintails, Greenshanks, Green Sandpiper, and our first Fieldfare of the autumn. The Pochard flock continued on the Green Wall as well as providing us woodland birds such as Coal Tit and Treecreeper, and our first Water Pipit of the autumn. Five Pink-footed Geese were the stars on Worth and at least 16 Bramblings were logged over the Estate. As is always the case in bird races you miss some key species, in this instance no matter how hard we tried we could not find Bullfinch, Marsh Harrier, Great Crested Grebe, Turnstone, Water Rail, House Martin, or Raven. Thanks to everyone who took part. We shall organise another next year.
A really interesting day up until the fog swept in mid morning and seemingly ended everything. Movement started just after dawn as the sounds of migrating Siskins dominated the air. Between 0700 and 0900 at least 440 flew north along with 34 Skylarks, one Rock Pipit, 21 Pied Wagtails and two White Wagtails, whilst ten Blue Tits were clearly ‘coasting’ along the shore and a Buzzard came ‘in-off’. Two Yellow-browed Warblers were the highlight, with one trapped and ringed on the Estate and another in the Great Wood on Worth, where a late Sedge Warbler was hiding too. Additionally two Wheatears, 42 Song Thrushes and eight Redwings were new in and 19 Snipes was an obvious increase on Restharrow Scrape.
I thought this morning that it’s about time a Yellow-browed Warbler appeared and sure enough Pegwell drew first blood with this delightful sprite darting around the Country Park. Ramblings over New Downs produced a Whinchat, five Greenshanks and a Green Sandpiper whilst a Raven flew over the Observatory, the Mediterranean Gull was on Restharrow Scrape again, and a Brambling was on Worth. The gradual build up of winter fare continues with at least 250 Teals, 130 Golden Plovers and 450 Lapwings spread across the recording areas.
Conditions would have been similar to yesterday were it not hidden under a blanket of morning fog. By mid-morning all was revealed however and a stunning day it was too. Visible migration seemed a little subdued with just 180 Meadow Pipits north of note. It’s been an underwhelming autumn for Meadow Pipit so far and i’m getting the feeling that if a big movement doesn’t occur soon then it probably won’t happen at all. A walk along the beach from the Sailing Club to the Chequers produced a lone Rock Pipit and an excellent tally of 38 Reed Buntings. Other than one each of Redwing, Coal Tit, and Goldcrest, and 15 Siskins, there wasn’t much on the Estate to elaborate on. I’ll console myself safe in the knowledge that tonight’s talk at the Observatory is on Wetland Birds of Northern Bangladesh. If i squint hard enough i reckon i can envisage them on Restharrow Scrape.
A perfect autumn morning with golden sunshine and not a breath of wind. A Merlin was the highlight in a walk across the marshes on Worth whilst more finch passage supplied 220 Siskins and our first Lesser Redpoll of the autumn. Three Redwings were new in and a 1st winter Mediterranean Gull popped into Restharrow Scrape.
Another bout of House Martin migration with 3,800 heading north into a strengthening wind. Goldfinches and Siskins were moving again with 151 and 216 north respectively, whilst 131 Blackcaps and 47 Chiffchaffs were flitting around the Estate. There were bits and pieces offshore too including another Arctic Skua plus two Peregrines and a Kestrel in-off.