Birds: August 2017
Yesterday’s rain finally gave up the ghost around midnight and the bushes were consequently a bit more lively, with a Grasshopper Warbler and a Spotted Flycatcher the best on view. A flock of 29 Black-tailed Godwits flew N and as the day warmed up around midday five Buzzards, 2 Hobbies and 2 Sparrowhawks were soaring overhead, though their behaviour suggested that they were more or less local birds. The Stone-curlew and 2Spoonbills remained in Pegwell.
The forecast biblical precipitation overnight and throughout today amounted to one heavy downpour around midnight and no more than occasional light drizzle this morning. The Estate was very quiet except for one Hobby and a very early Merlin but the enforced seawatch was notable for 4 Shags, which is actually a good record for these parts, 2 Bonxies and a few ducks that included 2 Pochard and a few Teal and Wigeon.
Blackcaps continued in large numbers, with at least 120 on the Estate, accompanied by 3 Spotted Flycatchers, a Redstart and small to moderate numbers of other warblers, 2 Hobbies flew through, a Shag was offshore again and the Stone-curlew was still in Pegwell.
Open Day! We were blessed with fabulous weather for visitors, though not quite so welcome for the helpers, particularly those in the kitchen, and the birding was reasonable, if not amazing. The day began with a puzzling Bonelli’s-type warbler in the Elms which turned out probably to be a very pale Willow Warbler, but still with question marks over whichever species was favourite in the eyes of most. The Stone-curlew was still in Pegwell, as were 3 Spoonbills, Wood Sandpipers were seen on Worth and Pegwell and Grasshopper Warblers were found on the Estate and on Worth.
Another warm and sunny day with a few avian talking points. A strong showing of least 50 Blackcaps were on the Estate continuing this species’ pronounced early autumn movement. Three Spotted Flycatchers and a Whinchat lurked around the Oasis and a good increase in hirundines saw 700+ House Martins and 50 Swallows. At least three Tree Pipits and two Yellow Wagtails flew over, and strangely a Grey Wagtail was seen on the Obs pond in the morning. Two Ruffs and a White Wagtail were on Worth and the juvenile Ruff on New Downs lingered for another day.
In the spirit of mentioning species that don’t normally get a nod in these updates, today was the Day of the Blue Tit, with a very high count of 30 on New Downs and similar numbers along the Delf Stream on Worth. Otherwise, Marsh Harrier and Hobby on Worth and Ruff on New Downs were the highlights.
A bit more interesting than yesterday, despite the ominous sight of 27 Mallards flying over the Observatory first thing, with highlights being 10 Yellow Wagtails on the beach with 4 Common Sandpipers on the sailing club jetty and 6 Wheatears and 2 Whinchats nearby. 3 Green Sandpipers and a Greenshank were fiddling about on what remains of the scrape and 2 Black-headed Gulls were indulged in some fascinating hunting of whitebait (?) in the shallows, with heads down and bills brushing the surface. On the face of it, they had more chance than Baldrick catching mice with a bit of cheese hanging from his nose, but they couldn’t be faulted for optimism. In the last few days there has also been a subtle shift in the make-up of the warblers that are moving through, with Blackcaps now predominating – there were 40 on the Estate and 25 on Worth this morning – while 15 Lesser Whitethroats and 9 Whinchats were also on Worth.
With Willow Warblers having shown signs of having moved through already, or perhaps going straight over in clear overnight conditions, the Estate continues to be quiet, with just one Redstart of note. However, a Spotted Redshank flew in off the sea and on to Worth and on New Downs were 4 Black-tailed Godwits, a Ruff, 16 Greenshanks and small numbers of the usual suspects.
Calm, overcast and humid overnight conditions suggested a better day than it turned out to be. The early highlights were 2 Spotted Flycatchers, a Whinchat and 2 Little Owls, yapping furiously to each other from the golf course bushes, being answered by another in the farmyard. It went downhill from there onwards.
Overnight rain cleared fairly soon after dawn but it remained dull and a tad miserable. Offshore was very quiet and although there was very little in the bushes except for a Redstart and our first Pied Flycatcher of the year, there was a record flock of 17 Green Sandpipers on Restharrow Scrape.
A stroll across Worth marshes was surprisingly good for waders with three Whimbrels, one Green Sandpiper, seven Snipes, and 201 Lapwings. Two male Marsh Harriers patrolled the ditches where singles of Whinchat and Tree Pipit lurked. There wasn’t much on the warbler front but ten Lesser Whitethroats was a decent count. On the Estate a Bar-tailed Godwit sailed over the Elms and four Yellow Wagtails flew over St George’s bushes, where four Whinchats behaved well. There were at least five Wheatears on the beach whilst the two Spoonbills continue to find Pegwell very comfortable.
A breezy and bright morning was fairly productive with two Golden Plovers, a Whimbrel, two Mediterranean Gulls, and two Tree Pipits flying over the Estate. A Whinchat was in St George’s bushes, four Wheatears were on the beach, and a Spotted Flycatcher flitted around the Haven. Six Green Sandpipers, one Common Sandpiper, and a Greenshank were on Restharrow Scrape whilst a Shag showed well just offshore. The lingering Stone Curlew was seen again at Pegwell in the morning feeding along the edge of the saltmarsh (best viewed from the Hoverport). New Downs held a decent scattering of waders comprising eight Avocet, one Little Ringed Plover, two Ringed Plovers, 321 Lapwings, 25 Dunlins, two Ruffs, three Black-tailed Godwits, one Whimbrel, one Spotted Redshank, 231 Redshanks, 18 Greenshanks, two Green Sandpipers, and nine Common Sandpipers.
A second walk over New Downs this week was similar to Monday in many ways, though this time at high tide, which made the waders a bit more interesting. Totals included 3 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Ruff, singles of Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint and Wood Sandpiper, 8 Avocets, 130 Redshank, 33 Common Sandpipers, 3 Green Sandpipers and 6 Greenshanks. A Kingfisher zipped over the south lake and a Hobby proved to be the cherry on a most enjoyable cake.
Pre-dawn rain, forecast to peter out after an hour or two, lasted in fits and starts for much of the morning. Nevertheless, there was a fair bit of interest, with 4 Tree Pipits in the Oasis, single Redstart and Spotted Flycatcher nearby, 2 Firecrests in the bushes and at least 17 Mediterranean Gulls, 14 of which were roosting on the beach with a collection of Sandwich Terns and other gulls. Best of all, though, was a Stone-curlew on the saltings in Pegwell.
5 overflying Tree Pipits and a Nightingale in the nets promised a good morning, but in the event it was a bit soporific, with 10 Lesser Whitethroats, at least one Redstart and a Spotted Flycatcher the highlights.
Pre-dawn rain took a while to clear and a soggy repeat visit to New Downs found it very much quieter than yesterday, with the exception of 2 Kingfishers and an increase to 11 Golden Plover.
New Downs was reasonably productive, with 3 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Wood Sandpipers, a Little Stint, 7 Avocets, 6 Golden Plover and 2 Ruff, though the bird of the day was a Quail that was heard calling on Worth, where another Wood Sandpiper was found in the afternoon. Effective coverage of Pegwell on the afternoon tide was not helped by the all too familiar disturbance from canoeists landing right by the ‘NO LANDING’ sign at the Point, but waders included 2 Curlew Sandpipers and 2 Little Ringed Plovers along with 43 Little Egrets, 2 Spoonbills and the usual suspects.
A good all-round day with a bit of interest just about everywhere. A flock of 33 Whimbrel flew N offshore, 6 Wheatears and a Whinchat were on the beach and in the bushes were 3 Spotted Flycatchers and a Redstart, while by no means the least of it all was a Melodious Warbler on Worth.
Praise be! A warm, sunny day for Day 1 of our Ringing Course was welcomed by all and the expanded effort was rewarded with plenty of birds around the nets. Most notable were Garden Warbler (a remarkable 19 were trapped), Reed Warbler (about 60), Willow Warbler (75), Sedge Warbler (30), Grasshopper Warbler in the Heligoland trap, Nightingale on the first round of the morning and, away from the nets, 2 Whinchats and 3 Wheatears and at least one flyover Tree Pipit.
Well, we seem to be paying for the good spring and summer and this morning featured some hefty showers, driven on by a frisky NE breeze that made looking seawards the only sensible option. However, apart from around 400 Gannets and 80 Common Scoter it was pretty underwhelming, with just an Arctic Skua and a few waders and terns of note. A tour around the Oasis and Whitehouse confirmed the impression that little had arrived overnight.
A good deal brighter than yesterday but still with decent numbers of Willow Warblers and Whitethroats kicking about, plus a Red-backed Shrike on Worth.
Overcast and calm with an approaching band of slow-moving rain, this morning was really atmospheric, with passerines seemingly everywhere. 2 Common Redstarts were present, plus 90 Willow Warblers, a Spotted Flycatcher, a flyover Tree Pipit and several sightings of Hobby. Rather unexpectedly, given the calm conditions, a Balearic Shearwater fluttered by as the rain began around 10.
Whilst it was clear that yesterday’s arrival of warblers had not been repeated, it was nevertheless an interesting morning with a juvenile Cuckoo on New Downs, plus 4 Whinchats and 3 Wheatears on Worth.
Despite a chilly start to proceedings it soon warmed up and it was clear early on that despite the clear overnight conditions there had been a significant arrival of Willow Warblers, not to mention our third Wood Warbler of the autumn that appeared in the nets on one of the early rounds. Approximate totals included 160 Willow Warblers, 30 Whitethroats, 15 Lesser Whitethroats and 12 Reed Warblers, while the first Wheatear of autumn was perched on the shingle. 2 Hobbies flew over and a Black-tailed Godwit colour-ringed in Portugal (and probably from the Dutch breeding population) was on the scrape.
With the wind still a significant force most interest was offshore, where among around 400 Common and 250 Sandwich Terns at least 17 Black Terns were recorded and a Roseate Tern flew by close inshore, while 2 Hobbies were seen over the Estate.
Overnight rain cleared before dawn to leave a calm start to the day, but the wind soon began to increase to a strong south-westerly and by mid morning the sea was fizzing with terns, mostly heading into the bay to feed or shelter. With all the comings and goings totals were rather approximate but around 400 Common Terns, 250 Sandwich Terns, 80 Gannets, 7 Med. Gulls and an Arctic Skua were involved. The strong wind ensured that making sense of what was in the bushes was all but impossible, but before the worst of it a Wood Warbler was found with around 60 phylloscs on the sheltered side of the Great Wood on Worth.
An overcast, humid start to the morning soon gave way to fresher conditions as the wind got up and a few spots of rain began to fall, which seemed to encourage the early gathering of around 120 House Martins and 120 Swallows to move away to the south along with small numbers of Sand Martins. Otherwise, about 30 Willow Warblers were in the bushes, but not much else.
The month started off in fairly deliberate fashion, with a few bits and bobs that included 4 Whimbrel along the shore, a Yellow Wagtail N, a Sparrowhawk flying off with a Green Woodpecker in its mitts (until the woodpecker struggled free) and small numbers of warblers in the bushes. However, the evening tide at Pegwell was notable for a Roseate Tern, 4 Little Stints, 3 Arctic Terns and 2 Curlew Sandpipers.