Birds: May 2014
The month concluded with a Spoonbill on the scrape, 2 adult Mediterranean Gulls flying S and a Hobby over Worth.
Despite a rather chilly NE breeze and a grey countenance to the sky, a singing Marsh Warbler improved the mood considerably, though it appeared to have moved on by mid day, and a Turtle Dove flew over; one of very few records on the Estate so far this spring.
There was again very little new this morning, apart from a couple of new Reed Warblers in odd places and a couple of family parties of Long-tailed Tits marauding across the Estate. It might not be June yet, but it feels like it!
On another heavily overcast morning with occasional and very reluctant bright gaps with advancing spells of drizzle around 160 Swifts were coming and going over the Estate and golf courses and a few parties of Swallows were moving through, but it was otherwise unremarkable.
It was back to dull, drizzly reality this morning with very little of interest outside the moth trap.
Bright with a light southerly breeze, it was a very slow morning and most observers had packed up and retired to watch the cricket when a call came through that a pale phase BOOTED EAGLE had been seen over Worth. Verbally well described, it was seen when 2 Honey Buzzards thermalled above the Great Wood and joined this bird at some height, together with a Buzzard. After some jostling the eagle and Honey Buzzards drifted off to the north and were not seen again. Amazing.
A bright and breezy morning kept everything subdued, although the rubicola-flavoured Stonechat was still present near the sailing club. The Restharrow Oystercatchers were performing enthusiastically – here’s a shot of one taking no nonsense from Coots or other male Oystercatchers.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water ……. Some torrential overnight rain illustrated that the water table still remains very high, with many previously-flooded parts of the Estate holding extensive puddles once again. With the rain having arrived well before nightfall there was very little that was new, the highlight of the morning being one of the local Buzzards drifting over the golf courses looking for breakfast and a Red Kite over Worth, where 4 Quail were still to be heard.
4 Quail were audible on Worth on a still, overcast day that threatened rain but never delivered, but apart from the resident birds it was very quiet.
3 Quail were calling on Worth this morning and a wing-tagged Red Kite and a Hobby flew over the Observatory just before mid day. Otherwise, a few Chiffchaffs continue to move through and a male Stonechat showing characters of the European subspecies rubicola was flitting about around the sailing club.
There was late news of a Great White Egret flying across Worth on Saturday (17/5) and as the warm, cloudless weather continued for another day a probable total of 4 Golden Orioles descended upon us this morning. One was singing in the Elms at 0755 but went quiet and presumably moved on after ten minutes, a pair was heard and seen about an hour later on Worth and another male (or the same one that was in the Elms) was heard on New Downs about half an hour later still. A Quail was also calling on Worth.
Yesterday was very quiet but in very warm and sunny conditions today there were 5 Common Sandpipers and a 2nd summer Yellow-legged Gull on the scrape and 2 Montagu’s Harriers; a ringtail NE over the Elms and an adult male over the Oasis.
It was cloudier than yesterday and consequently things took a while to get going, with very little new apart from overflying Grey Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit and Greenshank. Around 1130, though, at least 8 Buzzards appeared inland, many of which drifted towards a field near the scrape where ploughing was taking place, while 2 or 3 eventually flew N. There were also 4 Turtle Doves on Worth, which is notable for the spring thus far.
Wall to wall sunshine, no wind until mid morning and loads of raptors made this a glorious spring day. By early afternoon 6 Red Kites, 18 Buzzards and a Spoonbill had flown over, mostly heading N, while another Spoonbill was snoozing on the scrape. Ground level stuff was fairly predictable, though a Cuckoo flew along the shore and a new migrant Chiffchaff was messing about in some shoreside alexanders.
On a bright morning with a light-ish NW breeze, in the absence of much to look at at ground level, attention turned to the heavens where a few raptors flew over during the morning. A Sparrowhawk and a Marsh Harrier flew N early on, 2 Peregrines, a Hobby and a Kestrel were tussling over Worth and as mid day approached a Buzzard and a Red Kite drifted N.
Some brief but intense overnight showers brought down a few migrants, including 4-5 Willow Warblers (plus 2 on Worth) and a few new Blackcaps, Reed Warblers and a Sedge Warbler, mumbling to itself from some brambles by one of the toll gates. There was also a female Redstart in a garden outside the Estate and a steady trickle of Swallows along the shore, where 6 Wheatears were bouncing about.
An overcast and chilly start produced little apart from a Turtle Dove along the Delf Stream, but as it began to clear from inland around 8am a ROLLER flew over the bridge at Roaring Gutter and, as is the way with these things when they are in the mood, just kept on going, disappearing over the railway and still heading north. The rest of the morning was exasperating as we searched for it (the second new species for the Obs in the last ten days) without success, the only other sightings of note being a Hobby, a Little Egret and 4 Little Terns offshore.
Yesterday was very windy with little to recommend it apart from around 50 Gannets over the Goodwins and this morning was little better, with only a Common Sandpiper on the sailing club jetty to remark upon. At least it didn’t rain.
A bright but increasingly blustery morning made birding fairly hard work. Best bits were 10 Whimbrel on the beach and golf course, 3 Wheatears and reasonable numbers of Swallows, several small parties of which arrived from off the sea, all of which were topped by a Spoonbill that appeared on the scrape in the evening.
On a morning that became increasingly unpleasant there was nothing of note offshore and the only obvious new arrival was a Lesser Whitethroat in the gullies. Just to rub it in, a Red-rumped Swallow was seen at Pegwell with a Wood Warbler nearby in Stonelees.
Apart from a Black-tailed Godwit on the scrape and a steady trickle of Swallows from off the sea it was pretty quiet.
Although it was not quite the event it once would have been, the arrival of 6 Little Egrets from out at sea was still nice to see, a Redstart was still calling in the Whitehouse and a Common Sandpiper was flickering around the scrape,in between bouts of being beaten up by the local Lapwings.
A Redstart and a Pied Flycatcher were reported from the Oasis/Whitehouse.
The morning became calm and warm after a light frost, but apart from 5 Wheatears, a Willow Warbler, 16 Swifts, a Greenshank and a Bar-tailed Godwit on the scrape and a couple of migrant Blackcaps it was pretty quiet.
There was no signof the stilt this morning, which was chilly and blustery. As it steadily improved, however, 4 Ravens flew high S, a Common Sandpiper was on the scrape, 3 Whimbrel flew N over Worth and 9 Buzzards and a Marsh Harrier flew N.
Life’s like that, isn’t it? Nearly 3 hours peering out to sea in a chilly NE wind produced not much more than about 20 Gannets, mostly mooching about over the distant Goodwins until the sun dispersed the early gloom, and 2 Arctic Terns flying towards Pegwell. Decamping to the scrape, we’d been there for over an hour when the Duckfinder General noticed a wader in the tangles behind the emergent vegetation on the far side and after an anxious few seconds there was the bobbing white head of a BLACK-WINGED STILT – the first Observatory record! It skulked about, surprisingly hard to see, for ten minutes or so, then flew to the near side of the scrape, allowing some close-range views before taking flight and disappearing on to the marshes. On a slightly more mundane note, 4 Swifts flew N and a Red Kite drifted over the Observatory around mid day.
It was a grey, rather inauspicious start to the new month, with rain from soon after dawn. Still, 2 Spotted Redshanks and a Little Ringed Plover appeared briefly on the scrape and a Swift flew N ahead of one of the darker bands of rain.