Birds: July 17
July 31st. Find some bushes and stand by them and you will be rewarded with a Wood Warbler (well, quite often, anyway). This year’s did turn up in one of the nets, it has to be said, with it or another later in the morning in the Oasis, while two Black Terns flew N offshore and the Spoonbill and Great White Egret were still on New Downs.
Yesterday’s deluge made Restharrow Scrape look a lot healthier though it’s still in need of a lot more. Five Green Sandpipers and two Common Sandpipers were strutting around on the new pools. The bushes held a few more warblers with at least 15 Willow and one Garden certainly new in. A Coal Tit in the Cellars was unseasonable.
Amongst the usual selection of waders at New Downs were a few Whimbrels and a Spoonbill (presumably the bird also seen in Pegwell), though there was no sign of the Wood Sandpipers or the Great White Egret. Worth had six Mediterranean Gulls feeding in a stubble field near the Obs, 125 Swifts over, one Willow Warbler, and six Corn Buntings. On the Estate at least seven Willow Warblers were feeding in the Whitehouse/Oasis area.
The Estate was difficult in the breezy conditions again however six Willow Warblers and 103 Goldfinches were new in. Gazing offshore produced the day’s highlight in the form of two Arctic Skuas harassing 19 Sandwich Terns. At least 84 Gannets were on the horizon whilst one Common Scoter, four Ringed Plovers, one Bar-tailed Godwit, and one Whimbrel flew by. Restharrow Scrape brought in four Green Sandpipers, two Common Sandpipers, and one Mediterranean Gull. More Swift passage overhead amounted to 158 heading south. New Downs held onto the Great White Egret whilst Wood Sandpipers had increased to three.
More unsettled weather brought little to speak of on the Estate except two Willow Warblers but New Downs continues to be productive with the lingering Great White Egret, two Wood Sandpipers, six Little Ringed Plovers, two Ringed Plovers, eight Dunlins, 75 Redshanks, five Greenshanks, four Green Sandpipers, and 14 Common Sandpipers.
An increasingly rainy and windy day produced nine Willow Warblers on the Estate and a vocal flyover Greenshank. The water level on Restharrow Scrape is rising slowly and lured in a Green Sandpiper, two Common Sandpipers, and a Little Ringed Plover. A Grey Wagtail on Worth was a further sign of the approaching autumn as were two Little Stints in Pegwell.
A switch to north-westerlies coupled with sporadic showers made things a whole lot colder for our co-ordinated WeBS count at New Downs, the Point, and Pegwell. High tide produced some good counts of returning waders including 524 Oystercatchers, 110 Dunlins, and 350 Curlews. New Downs harboured five Little Ringed Plovers, 15 Avocets, 77 Lapwings, four Whimbrels, 97 Redshanks, 31 Greenshanks, nine Green Sandpipers, and 31 Common Sandpipers, the Point scored seven Ringed Plovers and 17 Sanderlings, whilst Pegwell also had singles of Knot, Black-tailed Godwit, Turnstone, and five Bar-tailed Godwits. Quite a haul really when you read it all out! The ringed Great White Egret was still on New Downs South Pool, the leg-flagged Spoonbill still at Pegwell, with other interesting sightings including 19 Mediterranean Gulls, 204 Sandwich Terns, 491 Swifts, and the first Willow Warbler and Whinchat of the autumn.
A walk around the New Downs complex produced some of the highest numbers of waders so far this autumn. At least 125 Redshanks roosted on the North Flood, the river, and Backsand Scrape at high tide with one Spotted Redshank and 25 Greenshanks. The ringed Great White Egret was performing well on the South Pool whilst other wader tallies numbered 23 Common Sandpipers, nine Green Sandpipers, and one Whimbrel. The Green Wall was less productive but still enjoyable with 21 Chiffchaffs a sign of a good breeding season, as were two juvenile Goldcrests. A few interesting fly-overs included two 2nd summer Mediterranean Gulls, three Sand Martins, and a juvenile Turtle Dove.
The Pectoral Sandpiper was re-found at Pegwell on the edge of the saltmarsh, but the best we could muster on the Estate was 41 Sand Martins heading south, 32 Sandwich Terns and 140 Gannets offshore, and ten Lesser Whitethroats around the Oasis/Whitehouse area.
A sunny day throughout but with temperatures a lot lower than recently. A/the Great White Egret dropped into Worth near the Great Wood with at least six Turtle Doves across the marsh including one fledged young. New Downs had good numbers of Greenshank and Little Ringed Plover, 26 and eight respectively, along with a clear increase in Common Gulls with 17 present.
The south-westerly wind wasn’t quite as strong as yesterday but still enough to make census in the open areas a little difficult. Even more so when a series of successive showers come through too. Though it has it’s upside, a movement of 872 Swifts and 27 Sandwich Terns scarpered offshore ahead of the incoming storm. There was no sign of yesterday’s Pectoral Sandpiper at Pegwell, instead replaced by a Temminck’s Stint!
Though calm at dawn, it didn’t take long for the wind to pick up and by late morning a gale whipped across the area. Restharrow Scrape held one each of Common Sandpiper and Little Ringed Plover with a Redshank calling from nearby. Three Yellow Wagtails was the highest count for some time and as if we needed further proof of migrant activity a Garden Warbler was found lurking in Waldershare Gully. New Downs held onto the ringed Great White Egret (photos by Steve Ray below) but top billing went to a Pectoral Sandpiper seen in the evening tide at Pegwell.
A strange day that swayed to and from scorching heat and blustery gales. As the autumn progresses New Downs is really coming into it’s stride with today’s highlight a showy Great White Egret on the south pool. Under close scrutiny a red darvic ring could be read on it’s left leg and a little research online revealed it to be from a nest on the Somerset Levels! Migrant waders are increasing in number with 14 Common Sandpipers, 11 Greenshanks, and eight Little Ringed Plovers all the highest counts so far this autumn. A Turtle Dove flew around Backsand, an adult Med Gull loafed in the crop fields, and four Common Terns fished near the river.
A humid and overcast morning saw two Coal Tits, two Goldcrests, and a Yellow Wagtail on the Green Wall but little to offer on the Estate.
More signs of passage waders today with a Greenshank over the Estate and two Whimbrel, one Ringed Plover, and one Curlew offshore along with just under 40 Gannets. An early Tree Pipit was moving around on Worth before a few spells of rain stopped proceedings.
The three regular Spoonbills continue to lap up the sunny weather at New Downs along with a small scattering of passage waders. A Whimbrel on RCP golf course was the highlight closer to base, whilst Worth was teeming with newly-fledged young including good counts of 33 Reed Warblers and 22 Sedge Warblers.
Persistent overnight rain lasted into the morning and wetted the scrape just enough to encourage in 2 Green Sandpipers but it was a sombre contrast to the recent hot spell and a reminder of what much of last spring was like. However, as the sun appeared in the afternoon a Whimbrel and a Black-tailed Godwit showed up on the scrape.
The Estate will have to be renamed Gatekeeper City after nearly 600 were recorded on the usual circuit, but with the scrape having more or less dried out avian interest was fairly limited, though a family party of Lesser Whitethroats was good to see. New Downs was pretty much as yesterday with the addition of a Whimbrel.
A walk over New Downs this morning was quite rewarding, with 3 Spoonbills on the flood, 4 Med.Gulls, including a splendid juvenile, 8 Greenshanks, 6 Little Ringed Plovers, 7 Common Sandpipers and 45 Little Egrets.
Highlights from a trickle of passage on a muggy day include 30 Swifts, one Common Scoter, and an adult summer Mediterranean Gull offshore. A Whimbrel dropped in briefly on Restharrow Scrape where water levels continue to drop at an alarming rate.
Wader passage continues to pick up, albeit slowly, with 10 Common Sandpipers and 2 Greenshanks on the river at New Downs, where the Spoonbill was still present.
Those who chose to stick to the shore were rewarded by a fly-by Bee-eater, while Worth was notable for hordes of Chrysops relictus, those deliciously fanged horse flies that you only know about when they sink their jaws into your skin. Otherwise it was pretty quiet.
3 Little Ringed Plovers were on the scrape this morning, attracting the ire of the local Lapwings, at least 3 Sand Martins were circling about with the House Martin flock and a Whimbrel was on Willow Farm.
Wandering waders continue to steal the show, though it is currently more of an afternoon matinee, with both Wood and Green Sandpipers on the scrape.