There were again excellent numbers of Lapwing on New Downs with at least 3,500 on the northern pool, plus still two Bearded Tits on the southern pool. All the usual suspects were on Worth marshes with the two Bewick’s Swans and the Great White Egret present, plus Hen Harrier, Jack Snipe, and Water Pipit. The White Stork returned to Worth after yesterday’s sojourn and was viewable from Jubilee Rd.
The White Stork was on the Estate today, picking off the worms brought up by the farmer ploughing the asparagus fields near the Observatory. Ten Tree Sparrows showed well at Dickson’s Corner and there were two Pochards on Restharrow Scrape. The two Bewick’s Swans were still at Blue Pigeons and up by the Drove there were 131 White-fronted Geese, 27 Barnacle Geese, and a Brent Goose. In the afternoon 115 Brent Geese, 27 Black-tailed Godwits, and a 2cy Caspian Gull were in Pegwell Bay.
There were now two Bewick’s Swans on Worth marshes, plus the Great White Egret, White Stork, two Pintails, five Pochards, and two Water Pipits.
Over 3,600 Lapwings were recorded in the area today, including 2,055 on New Downs North Pool alone. There were two Bearded Tits on the South Pool on New Downs, plus a ringtail Hen Harrier. In Pegwell there were singles of Yellow-legged and Caspian Gull plus a great count of 1,525 Oystercatchers. Over on Worth marshes the Bewick’s Swan and the Great White Egret remained, with 11 Tree Sparrows, 94 Skylarks, and a Raven on the Estate.
It was all about Worth marshes today as the monthly WeBS count covered the whole area. There were 118 White-fronted Geese, 27 Barnacle Geese, a Brent Goose, and 155 Greylag Geese on Willow Farm. On the other side the Bewick’s Swan was still by Blue Pigeons, the Great White Egret was near the wooden bridge, and the White Stork flew over to Roaring Gutter. A combined total of 832 Wigeons were on the marsh. There were two Pochards on Restharrow Scrape.
The regular flock of Tree Sparrows was still at Dickson’s Corner with Marsh Harrier and Chiffchaff also on the Estate. There were at least 35 Snipes hiding on the islands on Restharrow Scrape, plus a Pochard present.
A reminder to visitors to the Observatory that the £1 entry fee payable at the tollgate (for non-members) gains access to the Field Centre only. It doesn’t allow you to drive on up to Restharrow Scrape or through to Dickson’s Corner. You must walk from the Field Centre carpark. Visitors can access that side of Sandwich Bay with no charge at all by driving in from the Deal direction.
A Great White Egret was new in on Worth marshes and was presumably the same bird seen near Betteshanger CP the previous day. There were still c.100 White-fronted Geese, 30 Barnacle Geese, Bewick’s Swan, White Stork, and two Water Pipits present on the marshes. A 2cy Yellow-legged Gull was the best in Pegwell with 3,000 Lapwings a good count. A Dartford Warbler was still at Dickson’s Corner and two Snow Buntings were on Royal St George’s Golf Course.
Despite waking up to thick fog and ice, by mid-morning it was a rather pleasant day. On Worth marshes the Bewick’s Swan was still in it’s usual spot near Blue Pigeons (TR346566) and at least 27 Barnacle Geese were flying around Willow Farm. Three Green Sandpipers and a Jack Snipe were seen and there were still two drake Pintails and five Pochards among the Wigeon, Teal, Gadwall, Shoveler, and Tufted Duck flock on the deep pool by the Great Wood (TR344562). Five Water Pipits showed well in the flooded field opposite the wooden bridge on the Pinnock Wall (TR349599).
Starting tomorrow evening is our excellent course on Winter Birds with John Buckingham. A look at bird populations present in the UK during winter with special emphasis on those we can see in Kent and Sandwich Bay. See HERE for details.
A flock of 1,000 Lapwings and five Ruffs were on New Downs and there were Dartford Warblers near the Drove, in the sandpit, and two along Prince’s Beach. On Worth marshes there were 60 White-fronted Geese, 28 Barnacle Geese, two Water Pipits, Bearded Tit, the Bewick’s Swan, and the White Stork, which was drifting around quite a bit during the day. It has become far more mobile this week, being spotted near Sandwich and also on Royal St George’s Golf Course. At the moment though it still favours the area near the Round House most often. Please note that the track up to the Round House is a private road so please park up nearby and walk to the bird.
A Shag seen offshore could be one of the handful that have been feeding and roosting in Ramsgate Harbour recently. Despite Ramsgate being so close, this species is not a particularly easy bird to see here. There were good flocks of Lapwing and Skylark near Restharrow Scrape, 630 and 80 respectively, and at Dickson’s Corner the Quail was seen again, the Tree Sparrows numbered 12, and there were now two Dartford Warblers. The Bewick’s Swan was still on Worth marshes.
A Quail at Dickson’s Corner was the biggest surprise of the day (if not the winter). It flew out of the long grass and went down near the Clay Pigeon Shoot. Winter sightings of Quail are extremely unusual, but not completely unheard of. A bird wintered at Sandwich Bay in 1988/89 and there have been reports of birds in Dorset and Norfolk in recent winters. The problem is the possibility of other non-native Quail species. Japanese Quail, for instance, looks very similar and is kept in large numbers in captivity. So winter records have to be taken with a little caution, but either way an interesting sighting.
Over in Pegwell Bay there were some excellent counts of 310 Sanderlings, 1,400 Dunlins, 98 Knots, 120 Grey Plovers, 880 Lapwings, 127 Bar-tailed Godwits, 24 Black-tailed Godwits, 105 Redshanks, three Caspian Gulls, and a lone White-fronted Goose.
A flock of 11 GLOSSY IBISES dropped into Willow Farm at 09:30. They only stayed 20 minutes before flying north over the Estate and were later seen heading high over New Downs towards Pegwell Bay. A quick search suggests this is the second-highest flock size recorded in Kent (beaten only by 18 at Dungeness in Sept 2010). There were lots of other species on offer in the area with a Firecrest on the Green Wall, a Bewick’s Swan, 70 White-fronted Geese, 27 Barnacle Geese, a White Stork, a Merlin, and a Bearded Tit on Worth marshes, 20 Black-tailed Godwits on the Garage Pool in Pegwell, and a Dartford Warbler up at the Drove.
A reminder that a ‘Telegram’ Group has been set up for SBBOT members to share sightings of scarce, rare, or sought-after birds (and other taxa) in or around the SBBOT Recording Area. It works like a communal WhatsApp group and is a great way to get real-time updates from the area. If you wish to participate (or just read updates) you will need to first download the Telegram app onto your mobile phone and then email your name and mobile number to firstname.lastname@example.org. You will then be sent a link to join.
All the usual suspects were in place. There were 87 White-fronted Geese and 25 Barnacle Geese on the Willow Farm side of Worth marshes, the Bewick’s Swan on the Minnis side of Worth marshes, and the Dartford Warbler and 14 Tree Sparrows around Dickson’s Corner.
The Bewick’s Swan was on Worth marshes first thing in the morning but had disappeared a few hours later. There were still around 70 White-fronted Geese and 12 Barnacle Geese in the area, and the White Stork was on the deep pool by the Great Wood rather than nearby at the Round House. There were five Pochards, a Pintail, and five Water Pipits on the pools and flooded fields too. Two Coal Tits were on the Green Wall again.
It was a little quieter than usual but a Woodcock was seen on the Estate and a Black-throated Diver was offshore. The Bewick’s Swan was back on Worth, on the farm fields near Blue Pigeons, as well as 19 White-fronted Geese.
Our first visit this year from InFocus is this weekend on Sunday 16th. They will be set up at the Observatory from around 10am until 3pm. Feel free to drop by and see what optics and accessories are available.
A Yellowhammer in the Jubilee Field was unusual and two pairs of Coal Tits were seen on the Green Wall. There were nice flocks of 385 Golden Plovers and 500 Lapwings around the Estate, with around 100 White-fronted and 32 Barnacle Geese still on Willow Farm.
The Bewick’s Swan returned to Willow Farm briefly in the morning. The 14 Tree Sparrows and the Dartford Warbler remained faithful to RCPGC’s sandpit area at Dickson’s Corner and the usual goose flock numbered 130 White-fronted and 35 Barnacle. An adult Yellow-legged Gull was in the evening roost in Pegwell Bay and 1,710 Cormorants flew past offshore.
A Great Skua and 819 Cormorants were offshore, with two Ruffs on Worth marshes.
The Snow Buntings numbered six today. They have been a little unpredictable recently but still seem to be favouring the area south of Sandilands. The 14 Tree Sparrows and the Dartford Warbler were at Dickson’s Corner again, with 29 White-fronted and 28 Barnacle Geese on Willow Farm behind the Shooting School. The White Stork was still nearby at the Round House, with Pintail, Goldeneye, and Water Pipit on the pools along the Pinnock Wall.
The Tree Sparrow flock at Dickson’s Corner numbered around 15 birds and an elusive Dartford Warbler was present too. Nearby, the Goose flock on Willow Farm contained at least 81 White-fronted Geese, 27 Barnacle Geese, two Tundra Bean Geese, and 136 Greylag Geese, but there was no sign of yesterday’s Bewick’s Swan. A lone bird was also seen at Grove Ferry yesterday so it could conceivably be moving between the two sites, Bewick’s Swans do have a habit of doing so. There was 2cy Caspian Gull and a male Goldeneye offshore and both Hen Harrier and Brambling flew through Worth marshes.
The goose flock on Willow Farm contained at least 26 Barnacles and 68 White-fronted Geese in the morning, though it was thought more were likely hiding out there on the various pools. Sure enough, in the evening at least 150 White-fronted Geese came in to roost, plus an adult Bewick’s Swan. On the other side of Worth marshes were a drake Pintail and a female Goldeneye on the deep pool by the Great Wood, and the regular ringtail Hen Harrier flew through. It was pleasing to see the return of the Tree Sparrow flock at Dickson’s Corner, with 14 seen around the scrubby sandpit area. A flock of 235 Golden Plover were nearby, the Velvet Scoter was offshore, and three Snow Buntings were on the beach south of Sandilands.
The low cloud made for a gloomy morning and was followed by a downpour at midday. The goose flock on Willow Farm comprised White-fronted, Barnacle, and Tundra Bean and offshore the Velvet Scoter remained. There were five Snow Buntings on the beach and a Brambling flew over the Estate.
For those visiting the area, the following may be of use. The Snow Buntings are usually near the raised tee on the beach south of the Estate, at TR367566. There were five there today but there’s been up to 12 present. Check the shingle and also the greens in the area. The Velvet Scoter has been showing well just offshore more-or-less in line with that area too. There should be plenty of Great Crested Grebes and Red-throated Divers offshore too. The scrubby area (‘the sandpit’) nearby at TR362566 has been good for Dartford Warbler and Tree Sparrows recently. They haven’t been seen there the last few days but are almost certainly still present in the area. There is a public footpath just behind it that runs from the Drove, behind Mary Bax, in front of the Clay Pigeon Shooting School, behind the sandpit, behind RHS, and down to the Obs. Use it to look for Grey Partridges and the Goose flocks. The viewpoint at the Drove (TR365560) is particularly useful to look for the Geese. The whole of that area and Royal Cinque Ports Golf Course are good for Short-eared Owls and often Barn Owl and Hen Harrier too. Try late afternoon for best results. The White Stork is by the Round House near Worth village. It’s normally around TR338568. The pools on the RSPB Lydden Valley reserve have recently held Pintail and Goldeneye. There’s also an elusive Eastern Lesser Whitethroat on the Estate, it has been seen in The Elms (TR361572) on a few occasions so worth a look.
A super days birding. The Velvet Scoter continues to show just offshore (often in line with the raised tee at RCPGC), with two Great Skuas, a Shag, 194 Red-throated Divers, and two Mediterranean Gulls also seen. There were over 400 Lapwings on and around Restharrow Scrape and Woodcock on the Estate and the Green Wall. The Eastern Lesser Whitethroat re-appeared in The Elms and a probable Siberian Chiffchaff was also seen. A Short-eared Owl was nearby. On Willow Farm there were at least 27 Barnacle Geese and 106 White-fronted Geese, though often difficult to see. On the other side of Worth marshes there was White Stork, Pintail, Goldeneye, and two Water Pipits.
It was great to see lots of people out and about enjoying the mild conditions and good selection of birds on offer. The White Stork on Worth marshes proved particularly popular, with Pintail, five Water Pipits, 14 Pink-footed Geese, and a Merlin also present. It was much harder work on New Downs with three Pochards and two Ruffs the highlights. The regular Velvet Scoter was sitting offshore.