Birds: February 2015
Contrary to yesterday’s impressions, at least 230 Fieldfares were still present, but generally closer to the tollgate and with at least 27 Redwings, which was more than have been recorded so far this year. Otherwise, an adult Mediterranean Gull flopped over the sheep near the Little Elms and in cloudless, reasonably calm conditions, it was a lovely morning.
There was not a Fieldfare to be seen this morning, suggesting that they have moved on, 4 Goosanders flew N offshore, having departed from the scrape just after 8 and a party of 6 Snipe flew up from a burned patch on the golf course and away to the north.
Early rain lingered until about 9.30 and the rest of the morning was overcast but calm and quite mild. The birding was a bit of a roll-call of the recent past, with 4 Goosanders on the scrape, the Egyptian Goose with the Mutes on Worth and a Buzzard atop a hawthorn nearby.
Bright and breezy again, the morning began with a Little Owl that tumbled from the Observatory roof as the first glimmer of light poked through gaps in the early cloud. On the Estate, 160 Fieldfares were bouncing among the molehills, a Little Egret flew S over the golf course, a Chiffchaff moved noisily through gardens along the shore and 5 Pied Wagtails were present, possibly indicating some early movement.
The Egyptian Goose remained near the pumping station and a Kingfisher provided a flash of brightness at the scrape.
Saturday 21st/Sunday 22nd
The weekend’s star birds turned out to be the Short-eared Owl at Dickson’s Corner and a Raven along the Green Wall on Saturday and the Red-crested Pochard, now on New Downs reservoir, and an Egyptian Goose with the Mute Swans near Restharrow on Sunday. That’s if you don’t count the splendid drake Mandarin that continues to float on the river at the quay, looking very pleased with itself, as it should. There were also 4 Buzzards over Worth.
Yesterday afternoon’s rain continued overnight and into this afternoon, rendering it a good day for report-writing! 4 Goosanders were on the scrape again, not leaving before first light as is their usual habit, the Water Rail put in an appearance and a Buzzard was perched near the pumphouse again.
Highlights on a bright and increasingly breezy morning were a ringtail Hen Harrier that circled Restharrow Scrape, where the Goosanders were lurking early on, a Common Buzzard, flushed from a hawthorn near the pumphouse, and the Bewick’s Swans, which were with the Mute Swan flock in much the same area.
A hard frost fairly quickly softened beneath a sunny and eventually reasonably warm morning. 250 Fieldfares remained behind the scrape, a Sparrowhawk soared high to the N and although it was otherwise pretty quiet, the ringers trapped 7 new Chaffinches, adding to the impression that some very early movement might be happening.
On a bright sunny morning with a chilly NW breeze there were at least 480 Fieldfares on the fields and the 4 Goosanders were on the scrape again, departing very soon after 7am. The Short-eared Owl was seen again in the evening.
Although most of yesterday’s 800 Fieldfares had moved on, at least 120 were still flitting about in the early mist, which lingered for much of the morning, and 2 Firecrests were fiddling about in ivy at the end of the Haven.
A bit like a rusty old Leonard Cohen number, the weather is well and truly stuck in the same calm but gloomy groove, but Fieldfare numbers continue to increase, with at least 400 between the Haven and Sandown Road, and maybe a small party of Chaffinches heading N overhead were a sign of early movement. Otherwise, a Cetti’s Warbler was in a ditch near the pumphouse.
160 Fieldfares flew to roost in the Haven yesterday evening and they were on the fields this morning, which was another gloomy but calm affair. 12 Song Thrushes were scattered about and 51 Gadwall were on the scrape, but it was otherwise rather pedestrian until a superb adult male Goldeneye turned up on the scrape around mid day.
A gloomy but calm morning was largely unproductive, so here’s a photo of the Short-eared Owl that has been presenting itself to the deserving around Dickson’s Corner recently.
A gloomy morning gradually improved as the sun thought about poking its nose out. An adult Yellow-legged Gull flew N along the shore and out at sea a steady procession of 72 Great Black-backed Gulls hinted at some early movement. Otherwise, the highlights were a Peregrine, 70 Fieldfares and, at last, the Little Owl at the Chequers.
It was the turn of Worth Marshes to received WeBS count attention and although numbers of wildfowl were largely down on the previous month’s effort the 2 Bewick’s Swans remained and totals of 2,280 Lapwings and 406 Golden Plover were the best away from Pegwell for some time.
Although it was quite chilly with the wind still in the N it was nowhere near as persishing as yesterday and a walk across the muddy expanses of New Downs for the monthly WeBS count was quite enjoyable. Wildfowl included 101 Shelduck, 80 Teal, 140 Brent Geese, lurking on the Sampher, where Curlews call from strangely stunted trees, 32 Gadwall and, best of all, a redhead Smew on Backsand Scrape. There was also a Twite, consorting with a couple of Linnets on the riverbank saltings and earlier, back near HQ at dog-walking hour, a Barn Owl and a ringtail Hen Harrier over the golf course.
A pernicious NE wind made it very cold, though four of the Goosanders were on the scrape first thing, departing just after first light. Otherwise, it was a case of catching up on late news from yesterday, which included a Slavonian Grebe on Stonar, where the Red-crested Pochard was back again this morning, the Bewick’s Swans that were hanging about with the Mute Swans inland of Restharrow and a drake Mandarin on the river at the quay.
It was a slow journey in this morning, with the roads more suitable for Torvill and Dean than vehicles. The birding seems to have slipped into similar mode and a round of the Estate revealed nothing unexpected, though a Grey Wagtail was fiddling about with 6 Corn Buntings by the barn near the Chequers and an intermedius type Lesser Black-back flew N.
The morning waned from drizzly and overcast to gloomier with sleet showers and there was again little to shout about, though the Black Redstart was on the lawn of the sailing club again. A pint of Vitamin D, please.
What a difference! Although it was cold all day it was bright and the NW wind had the good grace to have dropped away to a whisper. Sadly, although the walk around the Estate along to the Chequers amounted to a good walk there was very little to report.
With a near gale force NW blowing the only (relatively) sensible thingto do was a seawatch and it actually proved productive, with a Pomarine Skua and an adult Little Gull S and a Red-necked Grebe sitting on the sea off the sailing club.