There was a high count of 100 Dunlins on RSPB Worth marshes with Great White Egret, 18 Pintails, and Water Pipit all present. A Woodcock was along the Green Wall.
A Woodcock was on the Estate and a Great White Egret on RSPB Worth marshes.
The drake Goosander relocated to Pegwell Bay but the usual three Cattle Egrets were still present around the Observatory. The first two returning Oystercatchers were on RSPB Worth marshes along with six Mediterranean Gulls, two Water Pipits, and 67 Fieldfares.
A last chance reminder of the upcoming trip to Minsmere this spring. This exciting late April trip will explore this premier RSPB reserve and hopefully see lots of great species in the area, such as Nightingales, Bitterns, Grasshopper Warblers, and more. Deposits have to been in by 31st January so you've got to be quick to grab a place!
The three Cattle Egrets outside the Observatory windows made it onto our RSPB Garden BirdWatch. A flock of 12 Yellowhammers were not that far away in among the haybales behind the Observatory and farm buildings. Offshore there was a movement of 240 Red-throated Divers and 50 Great Crested Grebes whilst ten Pintails and a Merlin were on RSPB Worth marshes and four White-fronted Geese on New Downs.
New Downs was again productive with the Goosander still present along with eight Pochards, a Common Sandpiper, four Rock Pipits, and four Bearded Tits. The three Cattle Egrets were still posturing around the Observatory and the two Twite also at the Hoverport/Western Undercliff at Pegwell.
A male Goosander, two Pintails, two Avocets, and a Yellow-legged Gull were the highlights on New Downs with 160 Brent Geese and 2,500 Lapwings in Pegwell Bay. A ringtail Hen Harrier was also seen to come in off the sea.
There were now three Cattle Egrets in the fields around the Observatory and a/the Shag was seen offshore again. Thousands of gulls were on RSPB Worth marshes along with 20 Pintails, 150 Fieldfares, and three Water Pipits, whilst in Pegwell Bay the highlights were a Woodcock and two Yellow-legged Gulls.
There was a surprising movement offshore with 887 Red-throated Divers, two Black-throated Divers, and 83 Great Crested Grebes recorded from mid-morning. The ten Tree Sparrows were seen at the back of the Jubilee Field, three Yellowhammers were at the hay bales behind the Observatory, and the two Cattle Egrets were even closer; at times outside the windows of the building. RSPB Worth marshes felt relatively spring-like and there were 15 Pintails and six Ruffs on offer.
A Shag north offshore was our first record of the year of this scarce seabird. The two Cattle Egrets remained at the Observatory.
Small numbers of waders returned to the RSPB Worth marshes after the thaw with seven Dunlins, seven Black-tailed Godwits, a Green Sandpiper, and a Redshank, as well as the regular 200 each of Lapwing and Golden Plover. Eight Pintails and a Water Pipit were also present. In the afternoon two Cattle Egrets appeared in the field behind the ringing room.
There's still time to book yourself onto this week's guided walk to RSPB Worth marshes. Hear all about the work on the site from Warden Vicki Peaple. See HERE for tickets.
Singles of Black-throated Diver and Arctic Skua were seen offshore moving ahead of Storm Isha. Raven and Woodcock were the best on the Estate and Great White Egret and three Water Pipits were on RSPB Worth marshes.
There were singles of Jack Snipe, Woodcock, and Blackcap on the Estate and the 12 Tree Sparrows still continued, whilst inland there was a sizeable flock of approximately 3,000 Wigeons on RSPB Worth marshes.
The Estate was busy with Robins today with at least 40 ticking away, plus six Stonechats. The Teal have begun using the fields around Restharrow Scrape whilst the water is iced over and of note was a flock of Ruff south beyond the Chequers just outside Recording Area.
The morning brought sightings of 27 Dunlins, a Merlin, and three Water Pipits on RSPB Worth marshes and also ten Tree Sparrows and 90 Skylarks on/around the asparagus fields on the Estate. In the evening, a co-ordinated stakeout of the gull roost at Pegwell Bay produced over 6,000 Black-headed Gulls and 10,500 Herring Gulls, with smaller numbers of other species including singles of 2cy Caspian Gull and 2cy Yellow-legged Gull, a Marsh Harrier in off the sea, and an Avocet south along shore.
The sub-zero temperatures continued to make it hard for the resident waders and wildfowl, with a small flock of Lapwings taken to feeding just outside the Observatory. A mostly frozen Restharrow Scrape contained over 360 Teal sitting on the ice. There were still at least six Woodcocks on the Estate and Tree Sparrow flock now numbered 16 individuals, whilst there was a convincing report of possible Serin in the same area. Whilst this would be strange, overwintering Serins do occasionally occur in the UK and are not nearly as unusual as the the current Golden Oriole in Cornwall. Elsewhere, there were eight White-fronted Geese and five Pintails among a good selection of wildfowl on New Downs.
There was a rare winter record of a Little Stint on RSPB Worth marshes and five Tree Sparrows and a Yellowhammer were seen on the footpath behind the asparagus fields.
A thorough survey of RSPB Worth marshes produced nine White-fronted Geese, seven Pintails, a Great White Egret, a Great Crested Grebe (rare on the marshes), almost 200 Coot, 25 Dunlins, two Black-tailed Godwits, a Jack Snipe, and a Water Pipit.
A Long-tailed Duck in the Pegwell Bay rivermouth was presumably the nearby Ebbsfleet bird relocating. The two Twite were still at the Hoverport too. There were singles of Caspian Gull, Jack Snipe, and Short-eared Owl at the Point and three White-fronted Geese on New Downs.
Nine Woodcocks on the Estate was clearly an influx and the two Twite were seen in Pegwell.
Wildfowl numbers were somewhat down on the last few days on RSPB Worth marshes but there was still a Great White Egret, three Ruffs, and a Chiffchaff of interest, and six White-fronted Geese appeared in the afternoon. The falling tide at Pegwell Bay held two Kittiwakes, an adult Caspian Gull, and a Sandwich Tern in the roost and the two Twite were still present in the Western Undercliff/Hoverport area.
If you haven't already noticed I'd like to draw your attention to all the events that have just been announced. We have the Thursday lecture programme kicking off next week with Brain Nobbs presenting RSPB Reserves around the UK. Our online course on Where to Watch Birds by John Buckingham also begins next week on Wednesday evening. The mid-week walks have already begun with an excellent trip to Broadstairs Harbour and the Thanet Coast yesterday but our next trip is to Dungeness on the 17th. This is quickly followed by the Quiz Night on the 19th. You can book for many of these events HERE. And as if that wasn't enough we are also running two special trips this spring to RSPB Minsmere and to Marquenterre (France). To reserve your place(s) please request a booking form by emailing Rob Rackliffe at email@example.com OR add your name to the list at the Observatory reception.
The freezing weather continued to move wildfowl around. There were now 47 White-fronted Geese on Willow Farm but no sign of the Barnacles. The Shoveler flock rose to 407 with at least 3,750 Wigeons, 1,650 Teals, 275 Coots, and 15 Pintails spread across the site, as well as two Ruffs, Merlin, Great White Egret, and a Raven. New Downs was not quite as busy but still plenty on offer with Pintail, Avocet, Ruff, Common Sandpiper, 45 Pied Wagtails, three Rock Pipits, Bearded Tit, and 11 Corn Buntings. The 84 Shovelers further increased the day's record tally.
Bright and sunny but another day of perishing wind. A Caspian Gull was riding the surf offshore among 800+ other Gulls but overall sea passage was a little disappointing. This was made up by an increase in wildfowl with a flock of Geese on Willow Farm comprising 41 White-fronted, ten Brent, five Canada, 40 Greylag, and six Barnacle. A big flock of 384 Shovelers was on the Minnis side of RSPB Worth marshes, a record count for the area. There were also singles of Great White Egret and Jack Snipe, 200 Fieldfares, and two Water Pipits present on site. In Pegwell, a smart male Goosander dropped in with Shelducks and there was one Yellow-legged Gull and two Caspian Gulls on the mud.
Despite the freezing temperatures and near-constant snow flurries, it never looked likely to settle, and the area still remains very much underwater. There were small numbers of Brent Geese and Shelducks moving offshore in the penetrating north-easterly gale. Two Eiders were the first of the year and a lone Little Gull was seen briefly in among the melee of gulls along shore. Inland and six Pink-footed Geese flew south over RSPB Worth marshes with nine White-fronted Geese dropping in on Willow Farm. The best of the rest were two Sandwich Terns and three Avocets in Pegwell Bay.
The highlights today were mostly offshore with two Little Gulls, 17 Pintails, and around 50 Wigeons moving north.
RSPB Worth marshes produced a Great White Egret, ten Pintails, eight Pochards, and a Kingfisher in strong winds.
After the rain moved through there were birds passing by offshore. Four Pintails were the highlight with small numbers of Brent Geese, Wigeons, Red-throated Divers, Great Crested Grebes, Auks, and Kittiwakes. The weather for the next week seems to be a strengthening northerly so we should see more displaced wildfowl and waders, and perhaps some more winter thrushes and Waxwings.
For those who have not heard, our Treasurer is moving away from the area and so will be stepping down. We are interested in hearing from anyone who can take over the role. We have prepared a small manual to describe what is done and how it is done. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you think you might be able to help.
The Green Wall saw a Coal Tit and two Siskins of note and there were still at least 12 Pintails on RSPB Worth marshes, plus eight Cattle Egrets and a Firecrest. High numbers of Pochard (for us) continue in the area with 16 on New Downs reservoir, four on the Green Wall, and another four on RSPB Worth marshes.
Pegwell Bay was busy with 445 Wigeons, 1,550 Oystercatchers, 1,500 Lapwings, 580 Golden Plovers, 1,190 Dunlins, 430 Sanderlings, and 300 Curlews, with a male Pintail, a Spotted Redshank, and two Twite present. A Shorelark was also reported online.
There were singles of Yellow-legged and Mediterranean Gull in the flock on the Green Wall (by the entrance to Royal St George's Golf Course), two Twite still at Pegwell Bay, and a male Red-breasted Merganser offshore.
Happy New Year! 2023 proved to be an excellent year for birds in the Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory Recording Area with at least 246 species recorded, a new record year total. Thank you to everyone who contributed to making it such a great year and let's hope 2024 is just as good.
The year started off well with a relatively calm and dry day compared to the last few weeks. Highlights were plenty with three White-fronted Geese on Willow Farm (viewable at the Drove) and 15 Pintails, a Peregrine, three Cattle Egrets, and a Great White Egret on the other side of RSPB Worth marshes. On the Estate a Siskin moved between the Observatory and the Haven, four Tree Sparrows were seen from the footpath behind the asparagus fields, and a few Razorbills were offshore. A male Merlin was on New Downs and in the Pegwell Bay area at least one Waxwing and two Twite remained into the New Year.