Birds: September 2014
The month concluded with a near-record N movement of 301 alba wagtails, accompanied by 228 Meadow Pipits and 18 Reed Buntings, while 11 Jays appeared to be unable to make up their minds where to go.
Lingering fog eventually cleared at 08.30, precipitating a northward movement of 82 alba wagtails, 19 Reed Buntings, and 88 Meadow Pipits, with plenty of the latter scattered about on the fields and golf courses. There were also at least 4 Sparrowhawks in the area, 24 Goldcrests in the bushes and a Redstart.
Another visit to New Downs turned up a Little Ringed Plover, 13 Black-tailed Godwits and 4 Ruff as the tide came up, with 4 Pintail on the scrape at Backsand. On the Estate, a Firecrest was trapped, along with nearly 100 Chiffchaffs and a few Goldcrests.
Despite coinciding with low tide a trek along the river at New Downs still turned up 2 Avocets, a Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Knot, a Ruff, 4 Green Sandpipers, 130 Wigeon, 5 Grey Wagtails and at least 4 Kingfishers, while the Estate was crammed with at least 200 Chiffchaffs.
Today’s treats centred very largely around pulses of hirundines moving from the south and onwards after spending variable amounts of time feeding over the maize and surrounding fields. By mid day 4,500 Swallows and at least 2,000 House Martins had moved through, while 10 Stonechats and 5 Whinchats were between the sailing club and the Chequers.
A bright morning with a light W breeze predictably brought little movement, though 10 Stonechats and 7 Whinchats were present between the sailing club and the Chequers. Some raptor movement was evident from 1130, amounting to 7 Common Buzzards, a Hen Harrier, 4 Sparrowhawks and 2 Kestrels.
Some light pre-dawn rain deposited around 100 Blackcaps and 80 Chiffchaffs, mainly in the Oasis and Haven, a Merlin tore across the golf course in pursuit of some suitably wary Meadow Pipits and a Short-eared Owl and a Sparrowhawk flew in off the sea.
A calm, warm and mainly overcast morning produced another excellent set of birds moving N, including 1,150 Meadow Pipits, 6 Grey Wagtails, 24 alba wagtails, 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 9 Jays, 251 Linnets, 9 Reed Buntings and, mainly from mid day, 29 Common Buzzards, at least 4 Sparrowhawks and 8 Kestrels. However, the day was dominated by amazing numbers of House Martins, of which there were at least 10,000 over the maize for much of the time, while something like 50,000 flew in off the sea or moved N. At one point there was a swarm of around 20,000 over the sea, stretching from Pegwell to Deal (and apparently beyond). The Garganey was on the scrape again and 11 Whinchats and 3 Stonechats decorated the fences around Dickson’s Corner and the sailing club.
Mostly overcast with a light N breeze, it was an outstanding morning for visible migration. Top of the list was a movement of 7,600 Meadow Pipits, easily beating the previous Observatory record of 3,700 on 20th September 2009, accompanied by an equally notable 39 Grey Wagtails, also a Bay record. The supporting cast included 29 alba wagtails, 11 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 14 Reed Buntings, 144 Linnets, 102 Goldfinches and 4 Jays, while the Great White Egret was seen again on the North Stream near Royal St.George’s Golf Club.
Fresher today, with a NW breeze, the Great White Egret was still on New Downs, while overhead movement included 282 Meadow Pipits, 4 Grey Wagtails and (sort of overhead) 22 Jays. On the Estate, 7 Whinchats and 2 Firecrests were also seen and a Garganey was on the scrape.
Despite continuing poor visibility, the Great White Egret was seen again on New Downs, along with three Little Stints, six Black-tailed Godwits, a Curlew Sandpiper, a Ruff and 120 Meadow Pipits. On the Estate, a Brambling was the first of autumn and 2 Whinchats were seen amid the gloom.
With thick fog remaining all morning (and actually worsening for much of the time, reducing visibility to less than 200 metres) birding owed more to echolocation than visual acuity. However, 2 Whinchats, 3 Siskins, a Redstart, 2 Firecrests and 5 Wheatears were found in the murk and at least 70 Robins were audible around the Estate.
Bright with a barely perceptible E breeze, visible movement was slow to get going, but once it did 380 Meadow Pipits, 5 Grey Wagtails, 4 alba wagtails and 4 Reed Buntings flew N. A Redstart was in the Elms, the first 2 Siskins of autumn flew over and a small arrival of 8 Song Thrushes included one departing to the N first thing. However, bird of the day was a Great White Egret that flew on to the scrape, stayed for 10 minutes or so and then flew out to sea, eventually heading towards Pegwell.
Heavily overcast with a light but freshening ENE breeze this morning produced a N movement of 132 Meadow Pipits and 16 Grey Wagtails, while a Black-tailed Godwit flew N offshore and 12 Jays filtered through the gullies, eventually heading S.
Early fog lifted around 8am to reveal a calm, sunny morning. Although overhead movement was slight, 6 Grey Wagtails flew over and 16 Whinchats, at least 6 Wheatears and 3 Stonechats were present along the shore.
209 Meadow Pipits, 5 Grey Wagtails and our first Tree Sparrow since January 2013 flew into a gentle NE breeze, a Ruff flew on to Restharrow Scrape from the south and Jays were prominent, with a party of 4 flying S and another 7 heading in the opposite direction, while 2 others were trapped in the Whitehouse.
New Downs was much the same as yesterday, though the Great White wasn’t to be seen, but a Merlin was, and 6 Firecrests and 18 Goldcrests were present on the Estate.
With not much more than 4 Arctic Skuas offshore, 250 Meadow Pipits, a Merlin and reduced numbers of everything else on the Estate, New Downs provided most interest this morning, with 7 Avocets, a Little Stint, 2-3 Black-tailed Godwits, 12 Little Egrets and a Great White Egret, with a supporting cast of 170 Linnets, a Kingfisher and 70 Meadow Pipits.
The current run of easterly winds is beginning to take effect, with 3 Firecrests and the first 2 Song Thrushes of autumn on the Estate and a Short-eared Owl on the beach. 11 Wheatears and 6 Whinchats were also scattered about between the Obs and the Chequers.
An obvious overnight clear-out was evident, despite which three Pied Flycatchers were trapped together, perhaps brought in by some brief drizzle, a Firecrest was found at the Chequers and offshore movement included the first 4 Brents of autumn and an Avocet.
6 Redstarts, 4 Whinchats and 2 Spotted Flycatchers were probably the residue from the weekend, augmented by a good arrival of Chiffchaffs and, around mid day, a Sparrowhawk flying N and a hunting Hobby.
A calm start with a speckling of high cloud produced a bit of visible migration, including 9 Reed Buntings and 5 Grey Wagtails and although the bushes were fairly quiet 4 Spotted Flycatchers were still high in the Little Elms and the ringers trapped the first Firecrest of autumn.
A clear night did encourage many of yesterday’s birds to depart, though 4 Redstarts, 3 Pied and 3 Spotted Flycatchers remained and 109 Meadow Pipits, 4 Reed Buntings and 2 Grey Wagtails flew N.
Dense fog lingered well into the morning, making the early foray around the bushes rather challenging, although it was clear that Blackcaps had arrived en masse overnight, though the eventual total of over 250 was surprising. When the fog did clear it was equally surprising that most of yesterday’s birds remained, despite a clear night, eventual totals amounting to 17 Spotted Flycatchers, 7 Redstarts, 5 Pied Flycatchers, a Wood Warbler and 20 Whinchats, while 4 Grey Wagtails and 142 Meadow Pipits flew N followed, just after mid day, by a ringtail Montagu’s Harrier.
Calm and humid with high cloud it proved to be an outstanding morning, with totals of 13 Spotted Flycatchers, 7 Pied Flycatchers, 8 Redstarts, at least 110 Blackcaps, 30 Chiffchaffs, 5 Lesser Whitethroats and 14 Whinchats at ground level. Overhead, 11 Grey Wagtails, 2500 Swallows, 700 House Martins, 107 Meadow Pipits and 2 Reed Buntings flew N. On New Downs there were two Spotted Redshanks, a Curlew Sandpiper, a Little Stint and, in the bushes, another Redstart, two Pied Flycatchers and 2 Spotted Flycatchers.
A humid, overcast start to the day had the feeling of a dawn in Delhi as 18 Ring-necked Parakeets squawked about among a swirling flock of 600 Swallows. Some movement along the shore included 3 Grey Wagtails and a Jack Snipe, flying with a wisp of Snipe over the beach and the bushes held at least 80 Blackcaps, 40 Chiffchaffs, 4 Pied Flycatchers, 4 Spotted Flycatchers and a Redstart.
A bright start with little noise in the bushes suggested that all of yesterday’s birds had cleared out and although this was largely so the party of 6 Whinchats had moved from the golf course to Restharrow Dunes, a Pied Flycatcher was in the Cellars, 3 Grey Wagtails and the first migrant Reed Bunting of autumn flew over and at least 6 Great Spotted Woodpeckers were noisily cavorting about.
An initially overcast morning with a light easterly breeze brought a real taste of autumn. Six Whinchats were bouncing about on the golf course, around 70 Blackcaps, 3 Redstarts, 2 Spotted Flycatchers and a Pied Flycatcher were on the Estate, 2 Grey Wagtails and a Sparrowhawk flew over and, best of all, an Icterine Warbler was trapped in the Haven.
By way of contrast with yesterday, this morning was dull and heavily overcast until late morning. Birding was quiet, except for a Pied Flycatcher, trapped in the Whitehouse, 2 Whinchats and 4 Wheatears.
On a lovely sunny start to the month, with very little wind, a Sparrowhawk flew N along the shore, clearly not stopping, a female Merlin flew across the beach on to the golf course and a Grey Wagtail flew S. There were at least 80 Meadow Pipits along the shore, 2 Spotted Flycatchers were on the Estate and about 24 Blackcaps and 30 Willow Warblers were playing tag with the local Long-tailed Tit flocks.