Birds: June 2019
After yesterday’s scorcher it was (relatively) cooler. New Downs was similar to Friday though there were now two Spoonbills, two Greenshanks, and six Green Sandpipers. A Little Egret flew past offshore and a Mediterranean Gull dropped into Restharrow Scrape.
Most people stayed out of the sun though a Little Ringed Plover was on Restharrow Scrape and four Turtle Doves were on Worth.
A decent wander around New Downs held a Spoonbill plus singles of Whimbrel, Green and Common Sandpipers, and a Greenshank. The new brood of Black-headed Gull chicks were showing well on Restharrow Scrape (see below). And don’t forget that our annual photo competition is up and running. So if you’ve been taking photos on Restharrow Scrape, for example, or elsewhere then click HERE for details.
July fast approaches which to me always means wader passage! A Wood Sandpiper and five Green Sandpipers on Worth today are the appetisers, whilst a few more Swifts went north and another Mediterranean Gull drifted along the shore.
There was a big change in the weather overnight. Gone was the muggy humidity and replaced by a strengthening north-easterly wind. A Mediterranean Gull and two Curlews north offshore were probably the first birds of autumn. Biggest movers were Swifts with 95 north.
A Ringed Plover on Restharrow Scrape was clearly a migrant however wandering along Prince’s Beach in the afternoon and i almost walked right into this Ringed Plover nest (below). I can only imagine the number of nests that get unknowingly trampled. The fact these birds are still on eggs this late in the summer implies they probably failed their first brood. Finger’s crossed they succeed this time.
Muggy all day with not a great deal to shout about. Certainly not a Blue-cheeked Bee-eater or Little Bustard as seen elsewhere in the UK today. A few Swifts were heading back home along the shore (being one of our earliest returning migrants), nine Mistle Thrushes were on the Estate, and a Kingfisher was on Worth.
A nice day. The highlights were a Red Kite drifting over the Toll gate, an Egyptian Goose on Restharrow Scrape, and the return of the hybrid Swallow x House Martin around the Oasis.
A Wood Sandpiper on Restharrow Scrape was a nice find in the morning. Our first this spring and hopefully the start of many after a quiet spring. A Peregrine headed over the Haven and the lingering Coal Tit was heard at the Observatory.
All the activity was focused on Restharrow Scrape with oodles of baby birds for the kids (and adults) to enjoy. The first Lapwing chicks were the highlight as they’re very late this year compared to nearby on Worth marshes. Also running around were baby Oystercatchers, Moorhens, Mallards, and Tufted Ducks, with presumably some Black-headed Gulls ready to hatch any time now too.
Humid and groggy walking around the Estate produced a mobile Coal Tit and a Grey Wagtail north, both presumably our first passerine migrants of autumn. A Tufted Duck brood was new on Restharrow Scrape.
A warm day for WeBS counting. A Great White Egret flew upriver from Pegwell and four very unseasonal Eiders were lingering on the sea off the Point. Four Mediterranean Gulls on the Point could be the start of the annual late summer arrival.
Out on New Downs early provided a drake Pochard on Prince’s Reservoir, a Common Tern carrying food, and more signs of autumn with two Ringed Plovers, a Green Sandpiper, 32 Lapwings, and the first Kingfisher for a few months. Most startling though was an adult Magpie with all of the white feathers replaced by bright blue!! An amazing looking bird. Four Turtle Doves, two Marsh Harriers, and two Green Sandpipers were also on Worth.
The cool, cloudy, and grey conditions continue to give the British summer a bad name. Bird-wise it’s always difficult at this time of year as spring has all but finished, breeding birds are keeping quiet, and autumn has yet to begin. However there’s still time for Marsh Warbler and Bee-eater to appear and thinking even more optimistically mid summer is the peak time for Caspian Tern. So keep an eye on Pegwell! The first signs of autumn are beginning to appear though with a Green Sandpiper on Worth today and a Ringed Plover on Restharrow Scrape yesterday. The first autumn migrants are always adult waders that have probably failed with their breeding attempts further north. We should see things pick up over the next few weeks.
A day as mixed as the weather. A pair of Teals on Restharrow Scrape were odd, with the two Egyptian Geese present again, however the strangest record was a juvenile Siskin caught by the ringers in the Whitehouse. Quite where that has come from is unknown as there are very few breeding pairs in this corner of East Kent. Five Mediterranean Gulls came in off the sea and over 100 Swifts descended in the grey clouds. The Green Wall was enjoyable with Coal Tit the highlight and a glimpse of a probable hybrid Swallow x House Martin (perhaps the one caught on the Estate a few weeks ago).
Sneaking out early before the heavens opened was smart work. Though there was little new on offer it was interesting to see a Common Tern head high inland over Restharrow Scrape and 60 Swifts move north, presumably all affected by the low ominous clouds and rain showers.
The weather got gradually worse throughout the day. A flock of 120 Swifts was of note. Meanwhile the first young Tufted Ducks of year appeared on Worth, a late Great Crested Grebe was offshore, and a few Buzzards and Hobbies flying around could just be local breeders or perhaps some light movement through the area.
Stormy again but despite a few hours sea-watching little other than 50 Gannets was of note. On Worth the lingering Wigeon re-appeared. There doesn’t seem to be any signs of breeding but it would be interesting if it over-summered in the area.
It was hoped that the stormy weather may have churned up some seabirds our way and so a few hours were spent on the seafront gazing in hope. And sure enough a nice dark phase Arctic Skua motored past, stopping only to chase a few of the resident Herring Gulls. A few Sandwich Terns, Kittiwakes, 48 Gannets and eight Fulmars were the best of the rest whilst the Snipe was on Restharrow Scrape again.
A Red Kite and a Hobby drifted north over Restharrow Dunes in the morning. Worth was also good for raptors with a male Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk, eight Buzzards, two Kestrels, and two Hobbies a sign of the excellent habitat provided by the RSPB.
A late Teal, two Hobbies chasing each other, and a Ringed Plover were on New Downs, 33 Swifts were over the Estate, with good numbers of Warblers on both sites.
No sign of yesterday’s Hoopoe. A nice male Marsh Harrier flew north though, the two Egyptian Geese floated around, and the Snipe was still on Restharrow Scrape. Late June records of Snipe are frequent as return wader passage picks up but our last early June sighting was 1st June 2009. This bird is probably one of our latest ever spring records.
The day started extremely well with a singing Hoopoe in the Observatory carpark at 6am. A pleasant surprise whilst bringing in the moth trap. The bird was singing continuously from the tall Poplar near the entrance before circling the carpark and dropping down over the other side of the Observatory. To our surprise though the bird was never seen or heard again. Meanwhile a Snipe on Restharrow Scrape was a late record.
Hot and sticky at first before the breeze picked up during the day. More time was probably spent watching the butterflies and dragonflies of the area. But the two regular Egyptian Geese popped into Restharrow Scrape. I think i’m safe in saying this will end up being a record year for this species (by some distance).
Bright and sunny. Yesterday’s Quail continued to sing on and off throughout the morning along the Worth track. Now’s the time to be out in the evenings listening out to see if any others have arrived.