Birds: June 2017
A repeat visit to New Downs was rewarded by the Spoonbill, 5 Common Sandpipers and 3 Green Sandpipers, along with family parties of Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers. A Common Treecreeper was trapped – an event that is just about annual here but never involving more than one or two.
Overcast with some light rain late on, the morning was pretty quiet, though 2 Marsh Harriers were floating about over Worth where 60 or so Swifts were constantly hurtling across the fields.
Well, the rain arrived later than predicted but continued for most of the night and this morning was overcast and rather humid. A trek around New Downs was productive, with a Barn Owl near Prince’s and a Spoonbill on the north flood, while early waders included 2 Common Sandpipers on the river and 5 Green Sandpipers on the south flood, where a Common Tern was flying about.
With the scrape drying out rapidly, the dunes looking yellow and many plants withering in the dry conditions we are desperately in need of some rain, however nice the recent weather has been. Some is due this afternoon – just hope the weather agrees. Anyway, this morning was as expected for late June, with a couple of noisy family parties of Kestrels and a Hobby hunting near the scrape the most memorable bits.
Make the most of today seemed to be the tone of the weather forecast and a warm, sunny morning with a gentle easterly breeze produced 2 Spoonbills flying towards Pegwell and 2-3 Red Kites, also heading north, though with less obvious purpose.
What was presumably yesterday’s Honey-buzzard was seen again, this time flying from New Downs towards Ramsgate.
A Honey-buzzard flew over the Elms this morning.
Some slightly frantic birding ahead of some sinister-looking (and sounding) thunder clouds was notable for 2 Spoonbills and a Greenshank on New Downs, but see the dragonfly page for the best bit!
A fruitless search of Worth marshes for yesterday’s Red-foot on another hot and sunny day was compensated in very small measure by the usual Buzzards, Grey Herons and an overflying Curlew.
With some thin cloud and a gentle onshore breeze it was a slightly fresher day and not without its rewards, as an adult male Red-footed Falcon was found on Worth, sadly disappearing before anyone other than the finder could see it, and a Little Ringed Plover was seen to the north.
Another scorcher of a day (when was the last cloud?) which featured a few passage waders, principally 2 Green Sandpipers and a Greenshank on Worth.
A sweltering day with wall-to-wall sunshine made for a long tiresome trek to the Point. Migrants were thin on the ground (as expected) but a lone moulting adult Golden Plover was strutting around on Prince’s Golf Course and a Greenshank called on the saltmarsh. The biggest surprise of the day was a recently fledged Wheatear juvenile on the 100 Acre field. An increasingly rare confirmed breeding record in these neck of the woods. A party of 12 Mediterranean Gulls hawking over the marsh was also notable.
There was evidence of a good breeding season on Worth, where there were at least 11 Lesser Whitethroats, including six males singing to advertise their intention of starting a second brood, and 36 Common Whitethroats, not to mention very good numbers of Sedge and Reed Warblers. Darn, I mentioned it. There was also a wandering Coal Tit by the North Stream and 2 Sand Martins flew N.
The last few days have been very quiet, with most of us having our heads down looking for invertebrates. However, 2 Sand Martins flew S yesterday and 2 Med. Gulls were recorded today, as was a wandering Treecreeper on Worth.
Asides from a brief shower after dawn it was pretty much blue skies and sun all day. Yesterday’s Green Sandpiper was noted again on Restharrow Scrape and a mooch around New Downs produced an unseasonable female/eclipse male Pochard on Prince’s Reservoir.
Though still breezy at times it was clear the strong winds of the last few days had abated. Accordingly, there was a distinct lack of Storm Petrels and other seabirds offshore. The winds did deliver one surprise though in the form of a delightful 1st summer Little Gull that bounced northwards over St George’s Golf Course. A Green Sandpiper was new in on Restharrow Scrape, another sign of autumn fast approaching.
The wind had dropped significantly from yesterday but there was still a good deal of interest offshore, even if most of the activity was mostly further out at sea. At least 4 Storm Petrels continued to pass to and fro, though with less frequency than yesterday, 2 Balearic Shearwaters flew S and 2 Black Terns followed shortly after. Distant tight parties of Gannets moved by on the horizon and 2 adult Mediterranean Gulls put the cherry on top of two days of very palatable cake.
In a repeat of the storm-driven events of 2006, there was an unprecedented (in terms of size) influx of Storm Petrels into the bay, with twos and threes coming and going all morning. Some would fly briskly towards Deal then double back, at times no more than 2-300 m offshore, then patter along the calmer inshore surface of the sea before heading off again, so it was all but impossible to gauge numbers. However, at one point there were five off Deal Pier and four in the bay, so at least nine were involved this morning, comfortably more than the previous SBBO record of three in the 2006 influx. 2 first-summer Mediterranean Gulls were almost mundane by comparison.
Yesterday’s sunshine and gathering breeze produced little until rain spread in during the early afternoon, producing a thoroughly disagreeable morning on which the only vaguely sensible thing was a seawatch. Two hours peering into the murk was not entirely without reward, however, as a Harbour Porpoise surfaced a few times, a Grey Seal was trashing a fish in the shallows and 384 Swifts flew in off the sea from the north. A visit to the scrape was rewarded by a first summer Little Gull and a second summer Yellow-legged Gull.
More raptors today, including 15 Red Kites, an Osprey and 8 Common Buzzards, in addition to the locals, while a Hobby, 4-5 Cuckoos and 2 Turtle Doves were kicking about on Worth.
Four Red Kites drifted north over Worth as did a vocal Mediterranean Gull, both continuing the trend of late. Two Red-legged Partridges were a scarce record for these parts whilst six Hobbies were feeding over Worth. Warbler activity has increased markedly as first broods demand ever more attention, with counts from Worth today totalling 12 Cetti’s, 22 Sedge, 24 Reed, seven Lesser Whitethroat, 32 Whitethroat, two Garden, one Blackcap and four Chiffchaff.
The obligatory Red Kite flew N this morning, but it was otherwise a day for chasing invertebrates (see butterfly and dragonfly pages).
2 adult Mediterranean Gulls flew over the scrape, where 2 Common Sandpipers and a Grey Wagtail dropped in. Autumn already?