Birds: October 2014
2 Fieldfares and an overflying Redpoll were the first for the autumn, though as the morning became steadily warmer and sunnier it was otherwise pretty quiet, though 9 Stonechats were scattered around the Estate, with another 4 along the beach to the north where there were also 4 Snow Buntings and the Dartford Warbler.
Overnight rain kept the Yellow-browed until this morning, where it showed very well in the Haven before becoming typically grumpy and uncooperative. Otherwise, a Brambling flew S from the Cellars, a ringtail Hen Harrier flew across the Oasis and 505 Brents passed by offshore in the early murk.
Overcast and soggy, the morning was elevated to approximately acceptable by the presence of 2 Black Redstarts on rooftops along the shore, though it was otherwise dire, even with a confiding Snow Bunting along the beach to the north. However, despite the rain, a Yellow-browed Warbler was found in the Haven late in the afternoon.
Another day with a SW wind brought little of note, though a Little Egret flew over HQ early on and a Cetti’s Warbler was calling in Waldershare Gully. Actually, this persistent SW/W airflow has created a truly odd October, with very few Siskins and, unbelievably for East Kent in autumn, no redpolls as yet! Under the circumstances last week’s shrike was very much against the run of play. However, just to confound the pessimists, 5 Lapland Buntings, a Snow Bunting and a Dartford Warbler were seen at the Point in the afternoon.
The weekend passed more or less without incident or excitement, save perhaps for a few Song Thrushes and 9 Siskins on the 25th and a Hen Harrier on New Downs on the 26th. As for this morning, one of 3 Grey Wagtails flew out to sea, clearly not coming back and 9 Swallows were still to be seen.
The forecast deluge failed to materialise, but it remained overcast and calm with occasional light rain. A small arrival of 32 Blackbirds was apparent, 2 Little Egrets flew S and around 300 Brent Geese were offshore, variously sitting on the sea or moving to and fro in the distance.
It was very much more pleasant this morning, which was overcast with a light SW breeze. It continued to be quiet in the continuing unhelpful conditions, though a Brambling flew over, 4 Bullfinches and a Firecrest were seen on the Estate and 82 Chaffinches flew N in flocks that started to move in mid morning.
The weather had quietened following gusts of up to 53 mph yesterday afternoon but it remained breezy, bright and quite cold, with the wind in the NW. Although a few Skylarks flew N it was mostly quiet, though an adult male Marsh Harrier flew in off the sea and 3 separate Little Egrets flew N offshore. There was also a Firecrest in the Elms.
Initially at least, the remains of Hurrican Gonzalo sashayed in rather limply, with a strong SW wind and some brief squally showers producing little more on the sea than an adult Med.Gull and a Little Egret.
A bright and increasingly breezy morning produced 7 Siskins N, but little else, though a rather smart drake Pintail and a Bearded Tit were on the scrape.
After 4 Whooper Swans were seen yesterday 3 more flew S this morning. Apart from that, it was pretty quiet.
Somewhat after the Lord Mayor’s Show, todays’s highlights were restricted to 11 Stonechats and 3 Wheatears along the shore.
Following a bit of light rain just after dawn coverage of the Estate was interrupted (thankfully) by news of an ISABELLINE SHRIKE near the Cornfield Wood on Worth. Initially silhouetted in appalling light it eventually flew to some brambles with the sun in the right spot and performed superbly for the small band of birders who had come to see it, sallying after insects, regurgitating pellets and so on. 2 Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk added to the atmosphere.15th
A calm, increasingly warm morning brought more thrushes, including 40 Blackbirds, 34 Song Thrushes and 11 Redwings, 31 Skylarks flew N and 2 Wheatears were on the shore near the sailing club, where a Dartford Warbler put in a brief appearance.
Overcast with a light SW wind, the morning saw the first 14 Redwings of autumn, together with 19 Song Thrushes, a Firecrest and a Yellow-briowed Warbler, found in the Elms at mid day.
With rain still falling persistently four hours peering out to sea in mostly atrocious visibility brought totals of six Little Gulls, six Arctic Skuas, three Bonxies and 173 Common Scoter.
Torrential rain heading north from France obliterated yesterday morning, with further heavy downpours forecast for later today. In between, the WeBS count of Lydden Valley produced predictably low numbers in the mild weather, though nine Little Grebes were at Roaring Gutter and no fewer than 12 Cetti’s Warblers were recorded, with another in Waldershare Gully. There were also at least 50 Chiffchaffs, augmenting an arrival of around 80 on the Estate, while 3 Grey Wagtails flew over.
It was something of a relief to wake to a calm, sunny morning, particularly as some hefty showers drifted by, mostly out to sea. Three very early juvenile Bewick’s Swans flew low over the golf course, eventually ending up on Willow Farm, Great Tits were prominent, with at least 16 flying S along the shore, about 18 Jays were flopping about aimlessly and 46 Meadow Pipits and eight Reed Buntings flew over.
For a site where seawatching is only marginally better than Deal high street, this morning was actually pretty good. In a strengthening SW wind, more than thirty skuas flew by, frequently harassing the gulls that were passing or feeding over the distant sandbanks. Light was generally unhelpful, but the total included 20 Arctic Skuas, 9 Bonxies and 4 Pomarine Skuas, together with 82 Kittiwakes and an adult Med Gull.
The weather continues to be in a right old stink, with light overnight rain turning into some heavy stuff around 9. It was also extremely gloomy, but a sojourn in the hide at Restharrow was brightened by the presence of 5 Mediterranean Gulls (3 adults and 2 first winter), while the Garganey and Pintail were still present. 2 Arctic Skuas and a Bonxie flew S offshore as conditions worsened just after mid day.
The rain that set in at lunchtime yesterday finally gave up the ghost around 8 am to leave a bright morning with a freshening SW breeze. A Buzzard was being mugged by the local corvids near HQ and the Garganey was on the scrape again, but the bushes were almost devoid of migrants, at least until afternoon when a Yellow-browed Warbler was heard near Royal St.George’s golf club.
A clear night brought the first frost of autumn and a very quiet morning that yielded little more than about 20 Chiffchaffs and a dozen or so Goldcrests.
Although a livid red dawn looked ominous, the rain had the good grace to hold off for the morning and with a brisk S breeze it remained unusually warm. A trek across New Downs turned up 11 Greenshanks, a Spotted Redshank, 4 Black-tailed Godwits and 4 Grey Wagtails, though just one Avocet was present.
On what looks like being the last day of our Indian Summer 6 Great Spotted Woodpeckers and 4 Grey Wagtails flew S and, registering high on the weirdometer, a Kingfisher flew across the golf course, responsibly keeping to the public footpath. The Short-eared Owl was seen again over the golf course in the evening.
On an overcast, warm and still morning 41 alba wagtails, 25 Reed Buntings and 21 Skylarks flew N, the bushes held around 70 Chiffchaffs and 50 Robins, a Merlin flew along the beach towards Deal and the Short-eared Owl was flopping about over the golf course again.
Perhaps a slight southerly breeze changed things from yesterday, but this morning was very different, with a similar range of species involved but in much lower numbers. However, 4-5 Sparrowhawks were recorded, including one that flew out to sea then headed north and a Short-eared Owl spent some time trying vainly to escape the attentions of crows that harried it higher and higher until it disappeared inland.