Birds: March 2015
The only highlight of a bright but very windy day was a Red-legged Partridge on the shore, though it had probably not recently arrived from off an ill-tempered looking sea.
Mostly bright and blustery, a couple of hours on the shore was notable for a Sandwich Tern and a trickle of 38 Meadow Pipits, almost all skipping N over the waves offshore. 2 Chiffchaffs remained in the Elms.
Saturday produced an adult Mediterranean Gull that flew in off, the Red-crested Pochard, still on New Downs reservoir, a Great White Egret in Pegwell and a Red Kite (very scarce since late last spring) along the railway on Worth, where a ringtail Hen Harrier was also recorded. Sunday was pretty vile, though the Hen Harrier was seen again in Pegwell, where the first Sandwich Tern of the year was sitting on the mud.
The wind had died back to a light WNW and although a cloudless start was soon overtaken by cloud, albeit with some hazy sunshine, it was almost pleasant. Most interest was on the shore, where an adult drake Goosander and a (the?) Black-throated Diver flew N and a Bullfinch flew over and into the gullies; the best of a feeble bit of visible migration. However, late news involved 5 Sand Martins at Pegwell; the first of the year here.
A morning that was as miserable and cheerless as any of Joseph Conrad’s darker efforts, with a stiff SW wind driving showers that contained flecks of sleet at times. One of the Goosanders was back on the scrape early on, but little else was going on offshore or on land. To think that the start of the butterfly transect season is less than a week away!
Mostly bright with a light N wind, the morning produced a Black-throated Diver on the sea with the local grebe flock, 2 white wagtails N and a Wheatear on the shore and, in late morning, at least 6 Buzzards, 2 Sparrowhawks and a Peregrine, mostly heading N overhead.
After yesterday’s warm-ish sunshine this morning started gloomy and cold and deteriorated with the arrival of light rain at about 9.30. There was a light trickle of 39 Meadow Pipits flying in off the sea, 3 Goosanders were on the scrape again, the Black Redstart was at the sailing club and the first Little Ringed Plover of the spring flew over the Elms.
By recent standards it was a relatively benign morning, with plenty of sunshine and a light W breeze. A Marsh Harrier drifted over from the NE early on and an obvious influx of Blackbirds amounted to 45 on the Estate; mostly males. 5 Chiffchaffs represented the largest arrival of spring thus far, the Black Redstart was still at the sailing club, with a Wheatear nearby, and overhead movement included 36 Meadow Pipits, a Buzzard and a Little Egret. As mid day approached, the passage of Buzzards began to intensify and at least 18 more moved N or inland in around an hour from 1125, with at least one Marsh Harrier and singles of Peregrine and Merlin that were terrorising a flock of around 1400 Starlings that had built up during the morning.
Another grey and miserably cold day with a ENE breeze was notable for an extremely low tide, exposing sandbanks and weed-covered promontories along the shore not normally visible. Unsurprisingly, little was moving at sea, but the Estate round was notable for the Wheatear, still on Cinque Ports’ turf nursery, the Black Redstart, still at the sailing club, a Stonechat, singing near Restharrow Dunes and a Woodcock in the Elms: the first for a couple of weeks.
A couple of yapping Peregrines, jousting as they flew along the shore, set the scene for another grey, glum-feeling day, which obliterated any hope of sharing in this morning’s solar eclipse, though it did become even darker during the event. The only thing of note was the increasing strength of the early spring passage of intermedius Lesser Black-backs, 36 of which flew N, that is until a disconsolate-looking lump on the golf course turf nursery turned out to be our first Wheatear of the year.
A dull morning with drizzle and a stiff, cold N wind made seawatching the only reasonable option, though a group of wave-tossed fisher folk in a pea green boat offshore clearly had other ideas. It was hardly record-breaking stuff, though one Black-throated Diver flew N, along with 11 Red-throated Divers, 90 Brent Geese, a Red-breasted Merganser, an adult Yellow-legged Gull and an Eider, tagging along with an early group of Brents. The conditions suggested that Chaffinches might move in good numbers, but only one flock of 90 flew over and after three hours, seasick from watching the fishermen, we did the sensible thing.
With a perishing N wind making life on land unpleasant for man and beast, most interest was offshore where a notable 3 Black-throated Divers were seen, along with 3 Avocets, 3 Med.Gulls and a Harbour Porpoise. Although very few finches were on the move, at least 1,100 Starlings flew N.
With no wind to speak of, early mist was slow to lift, but watery sun began to appear around 8.15. Activity was subdued, to say the least, though one Firecrest was still in the Elms and a Raven cronked across the gullies, tumbling about as it headed towards Worth.
Although the E wind continued the thoroughly unpleasant chill of the last few days was reduced by increasingly frequent spells of sunshine. 126 Chaffinches and 51 Siskins flew S along the shore early on, attracting the attention of the female Merlin that has been kicking about recently, while 3 Firecrests and a Chiffchaff were in the Elms and the Pink-foot was with the Greylags on the scrape. A walk along Worth track in a rather optimistic search for some butterflies was rewarded by a Blackcap in sub-song and a singing Bullfinch; by no means a sound that is common, even in its usual haunts.
Friday 13th – Sunday 15th
Small numbers of Chaffinches continued to move, a Firecrest was in the Elms on the 13th, 3 Chiffchaffs were scattered about the recording area on the 14th and 3 Firecrests and 3 Goldcrests were in the Elms on the 15th.
A bit of vis.mig. before undergoing a temporary south-westward dispersal for the weekend produced 47 Chaffinches and 3 Siskins, all heading S along the shore.
The Pink-footed Goose and 4 Goosanders were on the scrape and the Black Redstart was on the roof of the sailing club again, but most interest involved a movement of 146 Chaffinches that headed S along the shore into a rather chilly onshore breeze. Starling numbers appear to be increasing, with 600 on the fields as well as 260 that flew S and 170 Fieldfares flew in from the NE in mid morning.
The female Merlin put in an appearance again, trying to capture a Meadow Pipit on the golf course, then flying out to sea in disgust when it failed. Otherwise, 3 alba wagtails flew N and 110 Fieldfares were chattering around the Oasis and Haven, but there was little else of note.
There was very little to report this morning, though the Goosanders were on the scrape again and a female Merlin flew along the shore.
Saturday 7th/Sunday 8th
WeBS count weekend again, accompanied by some lovely spring weather. The Pink-footed Goose was on New Downs and the scrape, being carted around by the local Greylags, the 4 Goosanders remained on the scrape and a Great White Egret flew over Pegwell on Sunday.
The whiff of spring became slightly less imaginary this morning with a Blackcap, singing on the Green Wall, and a Chiffchaff fidgeting about in Elms at the Chequers. Otherwise, a couple of Meadow Pipits flew N and 2 Skylarks flew in off the sea, while the Pink-footed Goose reappeared on the scrape.
With the wind having died away and a clear sky warming an early frost it was a promising morning, though some seasonal straw-clutching resulted merely in an alba wagtail that flew obliquely in from the sea and N and a party of 4 Linnets that followed suit. Still, the Egyptian Goose was still about, alternating between the scrape and the field full of Mute Swans, a Peregrine tore about over Worth for a while and five Buzzards drifted N around 11am.
Bright and breezy again it was another day of waiting for some early movement, as is often the case at this time of year. Although there was no sign of the Pink-foot, the Egyptian Goose and Black Redstart were still present and a big female Sparrowhawk provided some entertainment at the scrape, where at least 3 of the Goosanders were asleep behind the bankside vegetation.
Pre-dawn rain lasted for a couple of hours as some heavy showers moved along the Channel, which was particularly sullen out at sea. Still, 220Brent Geese flew N and a handful of Red-throated Divers were put up by passing boats. A Pink-footed Goose on the scrape with the Greylags was comfortably the high point of events on land.
Bright and breezy again, a walk across Worth was fairly unremarkable, save for a Peregrine and the Egyptian Goose, which remains patiently with the Mute Swan flock on the same blade of grass that it occupied a few days ago.
The start to the new month was bright and breezy and a walk over New Downs produced the Red-crested Pochard on New Downs reservoir and a notable 41 Pintail, while a ringtail Hen Harrier was battling with the wind on Worth and 300 Great Crested Grebes were floating on the sea at high tide.