Birds: July 2018
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In-hand views of Wood Warbler and Grasshopper Warbler started the day off in optimistic fashion and despite 37 spots of rain around 0730 it turned out to be a mostly bright and sunny morning. A trek across Worth was notable for a Hobby, 2 Green Sandpipers and a Common Sandpiper, while 70 House Sparrows continued the impression that they are making something of a comeback, locally at least. More bits and pieces on the Estate included 8 Willow Warblers, a Garden Warbler and a rather furtive Garganey on Restharrow Scrape.
Today was very much a grey, drizzly and windy affair. Great and Cory’s Shearwaters failed to appear during a vigil staring at the sea (unsurprisingly) but over 100 Gannets were going through. Swifts were the most notable movers with 260+ heading south in a few hours. A brood of Grey Partridges on RSGGC was a nice sighting whilst five Green Sandpipers and double figures of Willow Warbler welcome filler.
It didn’t take long for yesterday’s soaking to dry up with the place as parched as usual by mid-morning. An eclipse male Mandarin on Restharrow was some surprise, presumably the touring drake that spends most of his time on Sandwich Quay. Otherwise it was left to the Pectoral Sandpiper to pick up the pieces by continuing it’s residency in Pegwell.
Another golden day of British sunshine (at least until the evening). Those who managed to get out before the heat became unbearable were rewarded with an early returning Pied Flycatcher, a fly over Golden Plover, plus three Little Ringed Plovers and two Green Sandpipers on Restharrow Scrape. The Green Wall supplied some welcome shade along with a Grey Wagtail, one Green and two Common Sandpipers on the river, a few Goldcrests, and a decent local count of 67 House Sparrows. However the most notable event wasn’t until the end of the day. After almost two months without rainfall the heavens finally opened in the evening with an absolute drenching. I think we’ll need a few more of those of the course of the next week to top up the levels on the scrape though.
This morning brought the first significant movement of passerine migrants this autumn, with totals of three Garden Warblers, seven Willow Warblers, four Lesser Whitethroats and 33 Whitethroats on the Estate and two Little Ringed Plovers, four Green Sandpipers and a Common Sandpiper on the scrape. The Pectoral Sandpiper still resided in Pegwell.
In addition to the Pectoral Sandpiper at Pegwell, the focus was mainly on waders, with 11 Greenshanks on New Downs and a Ruff and a Little Ringed Plover at Restharrow. The bushes held the merest trickle of warblers, hardly surprisingly in the conditions, but it is nice to report that four Avocet chicks on the scrape have reached the flying stage, albeit with the occasional bout of unintentional acrobatics.
With everyone doing a passable impression of a Kentucky fried chicken in the oppressive heat, much of the focus in the last couple of days has been on invertebrates, though it is clear that Willow Warblers have started to move, with two in the nets yesterday, and the first Golden Plover of summer was heard across on Worth. This morning the best bits on offer were 2 juvenile Little Ringed Plovers on the scrape.
Apart from an adult Med. Gull flying past offshore the Estate was quiet enough to encourage a visit to the Pectoral Sandpiper at Pegwell, so we did. Otherwise, New Downs was notable for a Wood Sandpiper and huge numbers of gulls, including 68 Med. Gulls and around 1,200 Black-headed Gulls. There were also 21 Common Sandpipers, 10 Green Sandpipers, 3 Greenshanks, 2 Little Ringed Plovers, 68 Redshanks and 2 Whimbrel.
Autumn is certainly upon us even if the weather Gods are determined to prolong the summer sun. Two Whinchats were on Worth as well as two Little Ringed Plovers with another two on Restharrow Scrape, where a Greenshank also popped in. The Pectoral Sandpiper continued on the garage pool at Pegwell and double figures of Sand Martins were heading north over the Estate.
The Pectoral Sandpiper remained on the garage pool at Pegwell and on the Estate a Cuckoo flew across the scrape, a Yellow Wagtail was strutting about on the beach, 3 Med. Gulls were seen offshore and a juvenile Coal Tit was seen in conifers outside Middle Field.
A Pectoral Sandpiper, found on the garage pool at Pegwell yesterday, was still present as well as a Wood Sandpiper, a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull, and 265 Sandwich Terns.
For a change it was rather cloudy, taking the edge off the heat, with little more to offer than a Coal Tit and a Yellow Wagtail, though around 250 Swifts came through at midday, with a Hobby looking interested in the procession.
Hot stuff walking along the Point looking at invertebrates but did manage to spy 29 Mediterranean Gulls and 44 Sandwich Terns roosting on the mud. Most other birds were hiding from the sun though there was a small passage of returning Sand Martins and Swallows overhead.
Another sunny and increasingly hot morning brought a big surprise in the shape of a Wood Warbler, trapped in the Whitehouse around two weeks earlier than usual. Those more in favour of the desert experience took a stroll across New Downs, where returning waders included 2 Little Ringed Plovers, 7 Whimbrel, 4 Greenshanks, 15 Green Sandpipers and 21 Common Sandpipers, while a Peregrine flew by, mobbed furiously by a couple of Common Terns.
There wasn’t much to report except for a sudden increase to around 60-70 of each in numbers of House Martins and Swallows around the Estate, presumably the offspring of the locals.
A bit more on the sunny side this morning, a Little Egret had added itself to the multifarious attractions on the scrape and a Yellow Wagtail flew over, but it was otherwise very mid-July-ish.
We are promised some good weather for the weekend, apparently, but for the present it remains overcast and cool by morning with sunshine at some point in the afternoon. 9 Cormorants flew over the Estate early on, recalling the events of last winter and an adult Little Ringed Plover was on the scrape, where a Sandwich Tern appeared briefly for the second time in a week or so.
In a re-run of yesterday, overcast and chilly, a Spotted Redshank flew over the Elms and scrape and, in a real sign of autumn, a party of at least 50 mixed tits and warblers flowed across the path between Little and Big Gullies.
Overcast and fairly unpleasant in a N breeze, there were a few bits and bobs about, including a Green Sandpiper and a Little Ringed Plover on the scrape, where a fresh brood of 9 Tufted Duck chicks was nice to see, and a Hobby over the Estate.
Following another scorcher of a weekend, made tolerable only by lashings of Folk and Ale in the town, this morning was a bit fresher and actually clouded over around mid day. A walk across to the Delf Stream was pretty quiet, though at one point two of the local Buzzards were sparring with a Hobby, giving a few minutes of high quality entertainment. In the end it went to penalties, of course.
Calm with wispy high cloud and increasingly warm, there was not much going on except for the presence of 2 juvenile Little Ringed Plovers at the scrape.
A trek across New Downs in an increasingly oven-like morning brought some early signs of return wader movement, with 12 Common Sandpipers, 2 Green Sandpipers and a Greenshank, plus 3 Black-tailed Godwits, poking about in brick-red splendour at the edge of the river.
A frisky NE wind continued from overnight through the morning and the birding was much the same as yesterday, with the Little Ringed Plover still on the scrape until it got fed up with being set upon by all and sundry and disappeared.
Yes, Sunday was as interesting as that. However, this morning brought continuing hints that early autumn might be taking shape, with a Green Sandpiper and a Little Ringed Plover on the scrape, plus a trickle of Swifts overhead and occasional lost-looking parties of Lapwings flopping about looking for somewhere to take their fancy.