It was a nice and sunny end to the month. Two Pink-footed Geese on Worth marshes were the first of autumn and on the Estate 20 Lesser Redpolls and a handful of Siskins were the highlights.
There was some Chaffinch movement at first light with at least 230 birds north and a Brambling. Almost 40 Snipe were on Restharrow Scrape, plus a Green Sandpiper. Three Tree Sparrows and 21 Corn Buntings were in the Dickson's Corner area.
Four Cattle Egrets flew over Worth marshes early on and headed towards the Observatory. Nine Black-tailed Godwits were now present, plus 81 Fieldfares and a late Hobby, and in the evening a ringtail Harrier species was seen. A Ruff was also on Restharrow Scrape.
There was a scattering of Grey Wagtails, Stonechats, Goldcrests, Siskins, and Lesser Redpolls around the Estate area in the morning. Most of yesterday's Swallows had moved on but at least 60 birds were around Sandilands. A late Wheatear was also along the shore. Later in the afternoon a Swift species drifted over The Elms (see photos below). Identification of Common and Pallid Swift is quite difficult but the large pale throat patch extending around the eye and the darker primaries contrasting with the paler inner secondaries are pro-Pallid features. However, with these photos you would also expect the slightly thicker body, obvious dark eye, body scaling, browner colouration, and pale tips to the underwing median coverts to all be more obvious. For these reasons it seems more likely to be a Common Swift. On Worth marshes there were three Black-tailed Godwits, three Mediterranean Gulls, and a Firecrest.
It was quite windy today and relatively quiet in the bushes. Still, a Firecrest was in The Elms and elsewhere around the Estate there were 16 Lesser Redpolls, 600 Swallows, three House Martins, and five Siskins. The Swallow count is exceptionally high for the time of the year.
A brief movement in the morning saw 375 Chaffinches and 160 Fieldfares fly over Worth marshes. There were ten Mediterranean Gulls on the Estate and a minimum of 130 Swallows. Counts of 25 Pied Wagtails and 17 Grey Partridges were high.
A Great White Egret flew over the Whitehouse, and around 100 Swallows and 40 Lesser Redpolls were on the Estate.
The southerly winds forecast for the rest of this week will likely limit the numbers of Goldcrests and Thrushes making landfall, but we stand a good chance of another go with Pallid Swift. There are lots around the UK at the moment. Considering the number of eastern scarcities further north we may also see these filter down to us, such as Pallas' Warbler and Red-flanked Bluetail, whilst the first Waxwings have also started arriving. It looks like it might be a good winter for them.
Today's Little Gull count offshore was 17 and there were two Water Pipits on Worth.
The main bird of note was mobile Swift species that toured around between Restharrow Scrape and Worth marshes. It gave mostly frustrating views and identification from Pallid Swift was not possible. A Pintail was also on Worth and offshore four close Razorbills were along the shore and 22 Little Gulls flew south.
There were now two Spotted Flycatchers in the Little Elms area, quite unusual for this late in the year. A late Hobby was also still on Worth marshes and small numbers of Chaffinches flew through.
The wind picked up as the morning went on. Offshore, the Little Gull movement was much reduced with eight flying south during the morning and a Yellow-legged Gull was on the beachfront. On the Estate, 35 Goldcrests and two Firecrests were present and the Spotted Flycatcher remained feeding around the Little Elms and Jubilee field. Thrushes were still present in number with 67 Redwings, four Mistle Thrushes, 16 Song Thrushes, and 28 Blackbirds. On Worth, a flock of 38 Fieldfare dropped in, four Bramblings were around the Chequers, an Avocet and a Black-tailed Godwit were on Muddy Pool, and a Hobby was flying around. Five Bearded Tits were along the Green Wall.
A productive morning for those willing to risk the intermittent heavy downpours. The sea was certainly the place to watch as it became evident that there was a large movement of Little Gulls. A minimum of 256 were recorded flying south between periods of varied visibility. Amongst them, a Pomarine Skua flew south as well as two Goldeneye, 150 Common Scoter, and a selection of wildfowl including Wigeon, Teal, Gadwall and Shelduck. On the land, a Hawfinch flew south over the Estate where a Dartford Warbler and two Firecrests were present, a late Swift species was unusual, and a small burst of hirundines with 34 Swallows and 15 House Martins were joined by a single Sand Martin. At Pegwell, a Yellow-browed Warbler was present with 100 Redwings. At least 52 Redwings, 17 Song Thrushes, nine Fieldfares, and 63 Blackbirds were on the Estate and reflected the recent thrush movement.
The breeze strengthened considerably overnight and the bushes were wild in the morning. Still, there was an arrival of 51 Redwings and good numbers of Goldcrests. Yesterday's Spotted Flycatcher was still in the Little Elms, there was a Fieldfare in the Haven, three Firecrests and five Bramblings were dotted around, and there was a late Garden Warbler. The first Water Pipit of autumn was on Worth marshes. The main activity was offshore where 375 Brent Geese and immature male Eider flew south, the latter the first for the year. A surprise Jack Snipe also came 'in off'.
A lovely bright and sunny day to be out and about in the Recording Area. Three different groups of Bearded Tits totalling at least nine birds were on New Downs. There were also seven calling Water Rails, indicative of an arrival, two Rock Pipits, and lots of vocal Cetti's Warblers. On the North Pool there were two Ruffs, a Curlew Sandpiper, a Dunlin, 387 Golden Plovers, and 350 Lapwings. On the Estate there was a light overhead movement of Lesser Redpolls and Siskins, plus a Brambling. The bushes were busy once again with Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests, plus a late Spotted Flycatcher, a Dartford Warbler, a Yellow-browed Warbler, and two Firecrests, plus a Snow Bunting south of Sandilands. Worth marshes provided a Great White Egret, our first Fieldfare of autumn, a late Tree Pipit, and 18 Stonechats.
A Lapland Bunting was on the beach south of Sandilands, though elusive. There are lots of Skylarks and Meadow Pipits in the area so hopefully it will hang around. There were at least 18 Stonechats in the vicinity too. Four Ruffs were around the Restharrow Scrape area and two Hobbies on Worth marshes.
The main highlights were a Firecrest on the Estate and a burst of hirundines; 85 Swallows and 300 House Martins pushing through. There was an increase in Pied Wagtails with 17 on the Estate, ten on the Green Wall, and five on Worth, and at least 20 Stonechats dotted around. Wildfowl numbers continue to build on Worth with at least 80 Wigeons there now. Up to 200 have also been seen in Pegwell Bay.
A flock of 30 Mediterranean Gulls dropped into Worth marshes whilst 900 House Martins and 100 Swallows were in the area.
The bushes were bustling on the Estate with 99 Chiffchaffs, 31 Blackcaps, 19 Goldcrests, and two Firecrests. Singles of Rock Pipit and Yellowhammer flew over and a small passage of Goldfinches and Chaffinches were joined by 11 Siskins and a Lesser Redpoll. There were higher counts of other species, such as 33 Skylarks, 19 Dunnocks, and 35 Robins, making for an enjoyable walk.
There were small numbers of hirundines on the Estate and the Green Wall (after a blank period) and lots of Goldfinches and Linnets feeding on the seed heads in the fields. Our first Snow Bunting of autumn was on Royal Cinque Ports Golf Course and a Tawny Owl called overnight on the Green Wall. Little Owls were very vocal on the Estate, as they have been for the last few weeks. Now is a very good time to look and listen for them.
Perhaps Thursday nights are a good time for listening? I know many people are looking forward to our upcoming talks. You can check them out HERE.
A Pintail, a dark phase Arctic Skua, and a Black-throated Diver were offshore and the Estate held at least 66 Chiffchaffs. Worth marshes was quite pleasant in the sun and calm conditions but there wasn't too much different other than two Yellowhammers, one-two Rock Pipits, and 149 Goldfinches. Two Tawny Owls called after dark on the Green Wall and at least two Bearded Tits were in the reedbed.
The first frost of autumn. Despite trying hard there was no further sign of yesterday's mega bunting. In fact, there had been a significant clear-out of most birds overnight. Our first Black Redstart of the autumn was flicking around the boats at the Sailing Club, a Rock Pipit was on Restharrow Scrape, and two Firecrests were on the Estate. Of note were 17 Grey Partridges on the Estate, 12 on New Downs, and another 12 near the Drove. These, combined with the large numbers seen on the Green Wall a week ago and a small flock at the Point the other day, suggest at least 90 different individuals have been recorded this week.
Low cloud and a switch to north-westerly winds brought some movement early on with an Arctic Skua and some wildfowl offshore, and six Grey Wagtails, 28 Redwings, 189 Chaffinches, and 283 Goldfinches overhead. This all came to a screaming stop when news came through of a YELLOW-BROWED BUNTING trapped and ringed. The bird was released between the Haven and Royal St George's Golf Course (at TR356576) but unfortunately not seen again since. This becomes the first record for Kent and only the sixth for the UK.
A good day on the Estate with Long-eared Owl, Short-eared Owl, two Woodcocks, Ring Ouzel, a late Reed Warbler, 45 Blackcaps, 83 Chiffchaffs, and a Firecrest. Across the railway on Worth marshes there was a Pochard, two Curlew Sandpipers, and 75 Mediterranean Gulls.
The second part of our monthly WeBS coverage was on Worth marshes. There was not much different in the way of wildfowl and waders except a mobile Pintail and a Curlew Sandpiper on the pool by the wooden bridge. Our first Merlin of autumn was hunting Meadow Pipits and a Short-eared Owl was around Willow Farm and Restharrow Scrape. There were two late Lesser Whitethroats, a fly-over Tree Sparrow, and an influx of 33 Stonechats.
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 email@example.com. You will then be sent a link to join.
There was good coverage of Pegwell Bay, Shellness Point, and New Downs for WeBS. In Pegwell there were good numbers of waders, including 57 Ringed Plovers, 225 Dunlins, 195 Sanderlings, and two Curlew Sandpipers. There were also 118 Wigeons and two each of Caspian and Yellow-legged Gull. Another three Curlew Sandpipers were on New Downs, plus a Ruff and a Little Stint. A Whimbrel and two Rock Pipits were the highlights on Prince's Beach. A total of 131 Goldfinches flew north along the shore and there was Blue Tit and Great Tit activity again, with small numbers moving through the area.
The weather was much better today, in fact quite warm at times. A flock of 19 Canada Geese flew around the Estate early morning. This is our highest count since 2012. A juvenile Hobby hawked overhead, a late Tree Pipit flew north, as did 28 Siskins. A/the Redstart remained in the Oasis hawthorns and elsewhere on the Estate there were 39 Chiffchaffs, a Firecrest, and a Coal Tit. A large flock of waders on the beach comprised 64 Ringed Plovers, 132 Sanderlings, 44 Dunlins, and five Turnstones, with two Yellow-legged Gulls and one Caspian Gull on the beach too.
Strong winds for the second day in succession hampered observations. A dark phase Arctic Skua was the highlight offshore, with 51 Gannets also noted. Teal numbers are increasing on Restharrow Scrape with around 70 present most days now.
The weather got worse throughout the day and by the end it was quite windy. A 1cy Yellow-legged Gull was the highlight offshore, plus 17 Brent Geese, two Red-throated Divers, one Mediterranean Gull, and a Sandwich Tern.
A stroll along the Green Wall was productive. There were singles of Ruff, Green Sandpiper, Rock Pipit, and Brambling, plus three Coal Tits. A count of 35 Grey Partridges was impressive, most of which were in the stubble viewable from the riverbank at TR341584. On the Estate there were 100 Blackcaps, 65 Chiffchaffs, and an increase in Blue Tits to 28.
Hirundines were moving again and over the course of the morning 2,350 Swallows and 3,050 House Martins were recorded flying north. A Lapland Bunting heading over was the highlight of the day. On Worth there were 22 Stonechats, 42 Sand Martins, and a late Whitethroat.
A Yellow-browed Warbler was in Oasis and a Firecrest at the Observatory. On Worth marshes a GLOSSY IBIS had returned and two Grey Plovers were new in on the pools.