Birds: November 2018
Brrrr, it’s cold out there. A fierce Easterly dominated the morning’s wanderings bringing with it a few wildfowl on the move. Seawatching gave us 51 Wigeons, five Red-breasted Mergansers, two Pintails, and two Goldeneyes mostly going south whilst two White-fronted Geese commuted between Restharrow Scrape and Worth. A new Jack Snipe and an adult Mediterranean Gull were also on Restharrow Scrape.
The Cattle Egret popped into Restharrow Scrape briefly this morning with two Little Egrets for company. And i do mean briefly, approximately 29 seconds in total between arriving and leaving. However seven Pintails on Restharrow Scrape were decent enough. An excellent total of 19 Eider flew south offshore. On the Estate a late Swallow was about and a Black Redstart appeared at the Sailing Club. It’s been an appalling autumn for the latter species so hopefully it’s a sign of a few more on their way.
A change in weather again and as the saying goes a change in birds too. Almost certainly the bird of the day would’ve been the ‘Swift sp’ which flew north along the beach front just after 8am. Unfortunately the observer got little on it and it didn’t stick around and so we continue to wait for a proper Pallid Swift to grace us. A few bits of wildfowl were moving including four Pink-footed Geese south over the Observatory, 17 Shovelers and seven Red-breasted Mergansers offshore, and two ‘small’ Swans which gave us the runaround but were probably Bewick’s. Two Firecrests and two Chiffchaffs were amongst the Goldcrests on the Estate whilst Worth supplied two Peregrines, Merlin, Water Pipit, and Jack Snipe, and three Snow Buntings were along Prince’s Beach.
Well today was a stark contrast from yesterday’s bliss. The fog and drizzle rolled in during the night leaving everything in a fine film of dampness (including me). Singles of Water Pipit and Green Sandpiper were moving around the pools of floodwater on Worth and the Hacklinge Cattle Egret popped in again by Roaring Gutter. Otherwise a Merlin and a Grey Heron on the beach, plus a Lapwing in the carpark, all seemed to suggest that birds were being grounded by the conditions.
What a stunning day to be outside. It may have lacked any star species but to be honest i don’t think anyone minded. A Firecrest was in the Elms and the two Snow Buntings were again on Prince’s Beach.
A day of sunshine meant it was at least a nice day to be out and about. There was a clear-out of thrushes on the Estate but conversely an increase in Lesser Redpolls with at least 35 around, plus a Firecrest trapped and ringed. Four Crossbills and two Water Pipits were the highlights on Worth and the two showy Snow Buntings continue on Prince’s Beach. A little bit of detective work also revealed that the Cattle Egret seen on Worth on Sunday has actually been present in and around Hacklinge for a few days. We took a little diversion just out of the recording area this morning and sure enough the bird was still present commuting to and from Ham Fen.
A particular mention as well to the Short-eared Owls in the area. It’s looking like a good winter for this species with birds present on all three of the golf courses and performing well each evening. These are proving popular with the photographers and for the most part everyone is behaving well. For that i thank you all. Please do make sure though that you don’t trespass on any land and stick especially to public footpaths around the golf courses, ensure your cars are parked well off the road preferably at Restharrow Scrape or the Observatory, and most of all, remember the bird’s welfare comes first so keep your distance.
Today marked the third day in succession of strong winds and heavy showers. A damp walk around the Estate produced singles of Brambling and Woodcock and in the afternoon a Swift species was seen hawking over Pegwell. Considering the late date and the big numbers of Pallid Swifts currently elsewhere in the UK (and in the Netherlands), it seems likely it was also a Pallid. Unfortunately without definitive views or photographs it is destined to join all the other claims of Pallid Swifts in the bin. One day . . .
Another wet and windy day WeBS counting. A flock of two Lapland Buntings and two Snow Buntings along Prince’s Beach were well worth the trek this afternoon whilst an Egyptian Goose was commuting between New Downs and Restharrow Scrape. Late afternoon a Cattle Egret flew across Worth marshes, landed near Roaring Gutter, and then back off towards Betteshanger CP.
Grim conditions for a wander across the Worth marshes as part of WeBS counting produced little in the way of wildfowl. However the torrential rain of the last 12 hours has provided a decent amount of standing water and hopes are high for next month’s survey. Without doubt the highlight was a fine Tree Sparrow cavorting with Linnets, Chaffinches, and Reed Buntings in a crop field along the Worth track. Three Jack Snipes were flushed during the survey on the marsh and the Hen Harrier was seen again by Restharrow Scrape. You can hear all about the work the RSPB has done on Worth marshes this past year on Thursday evening (15th) with wardens Gareth Brookfield and Charlotte Pestell talking to us and answering questions. We hope to see you all there.
A real cold chill in the air today despite the southerly wind direction. The Hen Harrier was quartering the asparagus fields between Restharrow Scrape and the Observatory again, seemingly it’s favoured area, and a Merlin was on Worth. There was a small increase in Goldcrests and Chaffinches on the Estate plus a few Firecrests and Brambling with them as well.
The Hen Harrier was hunting on the Estate again with four Firecrests dotted about and a few Lesser Redpolls. A Short-eared Owl was seen at dawn whilst over 900 Lapwings were on New Downs.
A real gale out there produced some movement out to sea with both Black-throated and Great Northern Divers flying past (none with an ivory-white bill though) and a Merlin hunting along the shore.
Another nice day to be out and about (tomorrow’s weather looks particularly nasty in comparison). The Hen Harrier was seen again on New Downs along with 570 Golden Plovers and 850 Lapwings. A Green Sandpiper looks set to winter on the reservoirs there too. The Point was quiet apart from a 2cy Mediterranean Gull at roost whilst a Rock Pipit popped into on Restharrow Scrape late morning. Over 200 Fieldfares were on Worth and at least nine Firecrests were spread across the Estate and up to the Chequers.
Pleasant conditions again to explore the area, this time out on New Downs for a good wander. Two Water Pipits were flitting around the south pool and giving good comparisons were three Rock Pipits by Backsand Point. At least two Bearded Tits were heard coming from the direction of the north pool though more could be present. A/the Hen Harrier was seen passing through and two Peregrines gave fantastic views sat on fence posts; angering the 300+ each of Golden Plovers and Lapwings looking on. The Estate had three Firecrests, with one at the Chequers, and the Yellow-browed Warbler was still in the Haven.
A little quiet on the Estate but three Snow Buntings and five Corn Buntings were along Prince’s Beach, with the touring Hen Harrier still present too. In the evening a Great White Egret headed south over Sandilands towards Worth marshes.
With most people away at the KOS conference (including the Warden as one of the main speakers) the area didn’t get quite the coverage as usual. However news came in of a Long-eared Owl at Mary Bax, Barn Owl on the Estate, four Crossbills north overhead, and a Spotted Redshank on Restharrow Scrape.
What a gorgeous day at Sandwich Bay today. Birds performed as well as the weather with 90 Crossbills, 140 Siskins, and two Tree Sparrows north. A good scour of the Estate produced Barn Owl, Woodcock, two Yellow-browed Warblers, and the Hen Harrier again, plus three Jack Snipes on Restharrow Scrape and another two on Worth, and in the evening five Short-eared Owls.
However in the evening things took a even rarer turn when photographs were put online of a summer-plumaged White-billed Diver off of Ramsgate West cliff. If it made it into Pegwell Bay this would be a new species for Sandwich Bay recording area . . .
A very wet start to the month with wall-to-wall rain. Not that the Jack Snipe on Restharrow Scrape mind with two performing well once again right in front of the hide. The Hen Harrier put in a brief appearance whilst at least six Firecrests were spread around the Estate. A Water Pipit and a single Swallow were on Worth.