Friday 30th

The last day of the month started really nicely but got increasingly windy as it progressed, and eventually quite wet. The first Jack Snipe of the season was on Restharrow Scrape, seven Grey Herons came in off the sea, and there were big numbers of Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs on the Estate (111 and 97, respectively).

Thursday 29th

The Estate held two Firecrests, two Redstarts, four Spotted Flycatchers, and the usual good numbers of Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs. There was an increase in Robins to 32 and a Cetti's Warbler in the Cellars was unusual. Overhead migration was not as busy as usual but 146 Goldfinches and a Rock Pipit flew north, as did a handful of other species which are usual thought to be mainly sedentary; three Dunnocks, seven Blue Tits, and four House Sparrows.

Over on Worth marshes there was still no sign of the Pallid Harrier from two days ago but 12 Stonechats, a Tree Pipit, nine Grey Wagtails, 50 Chiffchaffs, and a Firecrest were recorded. Two Little Terns and an Arctic Skua were in Pegwell Bay.

Spotted Flycatcher by N.Smith

Wednesday 28th

There was not quite the same diversity as yesterday but enough around to keep everyone happy. A Shag offshore was notable, as were singles of Coal Tit and Yellow-browed Warbler on the Estate.

Also worthy of mention were two colour-ringed Choughs nearby at Sholden, presumably from the KWT release scheme. They may well end up on the beaches or the marshes here.

Tuesday 27th

A spell 'vismigging' on the shore recorded four Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 13 Skylarks, three Sand Martins, 128 Swallows, 1,915 House Martins, 42 Meadow Pipits, two Rock Pipits, two Grey Wagtails, ten Pied Wagtails, three Tree Sparrows, four Chaffinches, 395 Goldfinches, three Siskins, 46 Linnets, and ten Reed Buntings heading north. In the bushes on the Estate there were three Redstarts, ten Stonechats, and one Lesser Whitethroat. 

On Worth marshes news came through mid-morning of a small, thin-winged, orangey Harrier species which flew through the site. It took a number of hours but finally suspicions were confirmed when an immature PALLID HARRIER appeared. It flew north past the Pinnock Wall, and then back south later, so is seemingly ranging widely. If accepted, this will be the eighth record for Kent.

Also, of note on the Green Wall were two Egyptian Geese, 23 Snipes, seven Grey Wagtails, a Spotted Flycatcher, and a Firecrest.

Pallid Harrier by G.Lee

Monday 26th

There were 63 Blackcaps and 46 Chiffchaffs around the bushes on the Estate, plus a late-ish Willow Warbler, and a roosting Little Owl showed well outside the Observatory. An Arctic Skua was offshore again.

Sunday 25th

Today's seawatching provided 56 Brent Geese, 62 Wigeons, four Pintails, and 750 Lesser Black-backed Gulls. A Rock Pipit was on the beach ands there was our first movement of Goldfinches this autumn with 68 recorded flying north. Yesterday's Yellow-browed Warbler remained in the Pegwell Bay Hoverport area and around 2,500 Lesser Black-backed Gulls were at roost. A Little Stint was the pick on New Downs, plus Water Rail, 240 Lapwings, one Ruff, four Black-tailed Godwits, 114 Redshanks, five Greenshanks, three Green Sandpipers, and one Common Sandpiper. A Coal Tit was on the Green Wall and Stonechats were noticeable with at least 11 scattered around today. 

Starling by J.Buckingham

Saturday 24th

The switch to North-westerly produced a significant Gull movement north along the shore. Over the course of the morning there were at least 2,325 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 577 Herring Gulls, 306 Great Black-backed Gulls, eight Yellow-legged Gulls, and six Caspian Gulls recorded. There were also small numbers of waders and wildfowl, a Shag, and an Arctic Skua.

On Worth marshes there were two GLOSSY IBISES and another 700 Lesser Black-backed Gulls flew over. A Yellow-browed Warbler was in the Hoverport bushes and out on the flats in Pegwell Bay there was a Pale-belled Brent Goose among the Dark-bellied.

Great Black-backed Gull by G.Lee

Friday 23rd

The Long-eared Owl was seen again by the ringing team, it's clearly lingering in the area but very elusive. To stand a chance I suggest a visit early at dawn or late at dusk around the Haven area. A Yellow-browed Warbler was also in the Haven early in the morning before moving over to the Observatory. There was an arrival of Chiffchaffs with 65 logged across the Estate, and another 15 at the Chequers. Today's hirundine movement consisted of 4,830 House Martins and 700 Swallows north, plus a late Swift. Meanwhile Lesser Black-backed Gulls were moving offshore with 755 heading north in a few hours, plus one Yellow-legged Gull and three Caspian Gulls. A GLOSSY IBIS was still on Worth marshes.

After a little break, our autumn programme of walks and talks is almost upon us. Check out HERE for details of our online courses and mid-week walks. Also, take note that we will soon have lectures again in the building on Thursday evenings. These will occur every two weeks, beginning on the 29th of this month. See HERE for details.

Thursday 22nd

The sky was mostly dominated by House Martins with at least 8,500 going north throughout the morning. A Yellow-browed Warbler and a Spotted Flycatcher were among 40 Chiffchaffs at New Downs New Pool, whilst a Grasshopper Warbler and three Garganeys were seen on Worth marshes. 

Spotted Flycatcher by J.Dodds

Wednesday 21st

The first Yellow-browed Warbler of autumn was found along the entrance track to the Observatory, later moving into the first White Poplar north along the Guilford Rd. The ringing team caught a Firecrest and two Redwings on the Estate. On Worth marshes there were now two GLOSSY IBISES and in Pegwell Bay at least one Little Stint remained.

Tuesday 20th

An interesting mix of birds across the Recording Area. On the Estate, a Long-eared Owl was seen briefly at dawn and a Lapland Bunting flew over Royal St George's Golf Course. There was an increase in Chiffchaffs to 35, a Cetti's Warbler, a 1cy Caspian Gull on the beach, small groups of Wigeons offshore, and Grey Plover, Tree Pipit, and Brambling all recorded overhead. 

The area around Prince's beach and Hundred Acre field produced three Whinchats and nine Stonechats, and in Pegwell Bay there were Spoonbill, Little Tern, and two Little Stints. A GLOSSY IBIS flew around Worth marshes and a Firecrest was along the edge of the Great Wood.

Sedge Warbler by M.Simm

Monday 19th

Whilst there was less in the bushes today, there was good overhead 'vismig' again with 4,938 Swallows, smaller numbers of Martins, Pipits, and Wagtails, and at least five Great Spotted Woodpeckers north. The brisk wind brought our first Woodlark of the autumn north over the Chequers. The best of the rest included a Great White Egret on Worth marshes, two Little Stints and a Spoonbill in Pegwell, a Tawny Owl on the Green Wall, and a noticeable increase in Stonechats with 18 recorded across the area.

Sunday 18th

Six Egyptian Geese north offshore was an odd sight. Overhead movement comprised 624 Swallows, 425 House Martins, 355 Meadow Pipits, and seven Grey Wagtails. The Estate held four Redstarts, 122 Blackcaps, four Whinchats, two Stonechats, and our first Dartford Warbler of autumn. The latter was creeping through the vegetation on the bund at Restharrow Scrape, between the two hides.

Saturday 17th

The bird of the day was clearly the BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER found on the beach just south of Sandilands. It showed well to the few observers present, but didn't stay long, and flew off strongly south to Deal. This only our third ever record following an adult at the Point on 5th August 1986 and two present on Royal Cinque Ports Golf Course for a week in September 2011. The Wryneck also re-appeared on the lawn at Sandilands. Please remember this is someone's garden so stick to the path on the beach and not encroach too close. Singles of Caspian and Yellow-legged Gull were just offshore, 31 Brent Geese flew north, and another 11 were in Pegwell Bay.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper by G.Lee

Friday 16th

It was always going to be a touch underwhelming after yesterday's significant movement, but there were still plenty to see. In fact, Meadow Pipits continued where they left off yesterday with at least 3,275 north. Also recorded overhead were two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 985 Swallows, 855 House Martins, eight Tree Pipits, ten Yellow Wagtails, six Grey Wagtails, a Brambling, five Tree Sparrows, and 16 Reed Buntings. The bushes on the Estate were hard work once the wind picked up but Blackcaps were everywhere again. A minimum of 178 was recorded. 

Singles of Redstart, Pied Flycatcher, and Garden Warbler were on Worth marshes, and over in Pegwell there was a colossal 2,500 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, plus three Caspian Gulls and two Yellow-legged Gulls. Offshore, a Hobby came past and another 583 Lesser Black-backed Gulls went north.

Thursday 15th

There was a continuous northward movement overhead from dawn. Observers on the beach front logged at least 38,500 Swallows between 0700 and 1200. Meadow Pipits were also coming through in good numbers and the 3,276 recorded is our highest count since 2014. Also recorded were 820 Sand Martins, 400 House Martins, one Swift, 14 Tree Pipits, two Rock Pipits, ten Yellow Wagtails, 20 Grey Wagtails, five Siskins (our first this autumn), and four Reed Buntings, It was a real spectacle of migration for all involved. Scattered across the Estate were also two Redstarts, four Whinchats, eight Wheatears, 56 Blackcaps, 29 Chiffchaffs, and five Goldcrests. 

The Red-backed Shrike was still present on Worth marshes. There was no sign of the Red-necked Phalarope but a Little Stint was now on the pool. There were also a Pied Flycatcher, a Redstart, 20 Yellow Wagtails, plus a Grasshopper Warbler at Mary Bax. 

Red-backed Shrike by S.Reynaert

Wednesday 14th

The north-easterly winds and near-continuous rain dropped birds in throughout the morning. A probable Ortolan Bunting was glimpsed briefly at Dickson's corner but could not be confirmed and was not seen again. But compensation around the Estate came in the form of five Tree Pipits, a Spotted Flycatcher, five Wheatears, 20 Chiffchaffs, six Goldcrests, and yesterday's Wryneck still performing over at Sandilands. Over 400 Swallows flew north. 

However, the best was yet to come when news came through of a juvenile Red-necked Phalarope on Worth marshes. The bird showed really well on the pool by the wooden bridge off the Pinnock Wall (TR348557), along with three Garganey, a Ruff, and a Black-tailed Godwit. Soon after a juvenile Red-backed Shrike was also found nearby, favouring the hedgerow between the Great Wood and the Pinnock Wall (TR346560). There was plenty of backup too with four Redstarts, two Spotted Flycatchers, a Great White Egret, Tree Pipit, four Whinchats, and two Wheatears, plus a Grasshopper Warbler at the Drove. Great birding for those who don't mind getting a little wet.

Red-necked Phalarope by G.Lee

Tuesday 13th

There was another arrival of Blackcaps on the Estate with at least 102 recorded. Chiffchaffs snuck up into double-figures and there were two Goldcrests. I expect both of the latter to increase in number over the next few weeks. Bird of the day was a Wryneck on the lawn at Sandilands. Three Great White Egrets also flew north over Worth marshes.

Wryneck by G.Lee

Monday 12th

A much quieter day after yesterday's haul but nine Curlew Sandpipers and a Pintail were in Pegwell Bay, and the Lapwing flock on Worth marshes increased to at least 250.

Sandwich Tern by N.Smith

Sunday 11th

The second day of our WeBS coverage, this time in the northern areas of Pegwell Bay, the Point, and New Downs. A few Whinchats and Wheatears were along Prince's Beach and an 'eared' Owl species (most likely Long-eared) was seen briefly on Prince's Golf Course. A late Cuckoo flew over 100 Acre field and two 1cy Caspian Gulls were among the throng of Lesser Black-backed Gulls at the roost on Shellness Point. Over on New Downs the highlights were Water Rail, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, and Little Ringed Plover.

On Worth marshes the Cattle Egret was seen again but the star bird was a dark-morph ELEONORA'S FALCON which performed well (but briefly) around the Great Wood before flying off inland. Amazingly our second record of the year after the stunning bird in Spring.

Meanwhile the touring Short-toed Eagle did it's best to avoid our airspace and give everyone a run around, having been seen at Dover then nearby at Ash and Richborough. Hopefully it will re-appear, with Worth marshes probably being the best bet.

Saturday 10th

A thorough coverage of Worth marshes for WeBS produced a Cattle Egret, three Garganey, and a Ruff. There were two big flocks of Goldfinches totalling 280 birds, plus Pied Flycatcher, Grasshopper Warbler, five Whinchats, one Wheatear, 19 Yellow Wagtails, 80 Meadow Pipits, 47 Blackcaps, and two Ravens.

On the Estate there was a major arrival of Blackcaps with a minimum of 240 recorded, plus one Pied Flycatcher and four Wheatears. Overhead there was also the first significant movement of the autumn with 710 Meadow Pipits north, as well as a Tree Pipit, a few Yellow and Grey Wagtails, and around 200 hirundines. There were also excellent counts of 17 Curlew Sandpipers and nine Little Stints in Pegwell Bay.

Friday 9th

A Spotted Redshank was on Restharrow Scrape and the flock of Yellow Wagtails on Worth marshes increased to 20. In Pegwell Bay there were two Little Stints and a Curlew Sandpiper among 280 Dunlins at high tide. The arrival of Lesser Black-backed Gulls continued full strength with over 1,100 recorded across the Recording Area.

Thursday 8th

It was pleasing to see more rain throughout the morning (and more due overnight tonight). Yesterday's GLOSSY IBIS was still on Worth marshes first thing but disappeared shortly after. It may still be present in the longer grass though. A flock of 13 Egyptian Geese was notable being the joint-highest ever count here (with 13 in Pegwell Bay on 13th August 2020). Despite the good numbers of Shearwaters passing elsewhere in Kent there was no sign of anything offshore here, with small numbers of Mediterranean Gulls and Sandwich Terns passing by and a nice 1cy Caspian Gull on the Estate beach.

Egyptian Geese by N.Davies

Wednesday 7th

The rain overnight was most welcome and meant the pools on New Downs were more productive than of late. There were four Ringed Plovers, two Greenshanks, six Green Sandpipers, one Ruff, two Redshanks, and a Spotted Redshank, plus a Pied Flycatcher by New Downs New Pool (TR348595). Late morning a GLOSSY IBIS flew over the Observatory and dropped in on Restharrow Scrape, where three Green and two Common Sandpipers and a Redshank were also feeding. The Ibis didn't stay long though and flew off south along the Ancient Highway towards Deal. At the same time, a different GLOSSY IBIS was also discovered on Worth marshes. There were also 15 Yellow Wagtails and 16 Black-tailed Godwits still, and a Redstart at the Drove.

Pied Flycatcher by G.Lee

Tuesday 6th

The water levels on Restharrow Scrape are low but still drawing in a few species, including at least four Yellow Wagtails. On Worth marshes there was also good numbers of Yellow Wagtail with at least 15 hiding in the grass near the pool inland of the Great Wood. There were now three Garganey on the pool by the wooden bridge, off the Pinnock Wall, in among 170 Teals. An evening check of Pegwell produced some high counts including 1,623 Oystercatchers, 424 Curlews, 4,500 Black-headed Gulls, 647 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 2,500 Herring Gulls, and 433 Great Black-backed Gulls. Two Little Terns, one Little Stint, and four Curlew Sandpipers were noteworthy. On the other side of the river there were two adult Yellow-legged Gulls and a surprise juvenile Arctic Skua.

Yellow Wagtail by P.Blanche


We are now approaching the busiest time for migration at Sandwich Bay. The next few weeks are the peak period for Blackcap and Chiffchaff migration so expect flocks to be bouncing from bush to bush, especially in the first hour or two after dawn. As the day progresses hirundines will start moving. Mid-to-late morning will see vast numbers of House Martin and Swallow pass overhead, and this is also a good time for raptors such as Honey-buzzard. So keep your eyes open. Wader passage should be good with Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, and Ruff all expected in key places such as Pegwell Bay, which should also see some good Tern flocks still and the first returning wildfowl flocks. Offshore can be good for Skuas following the Tern flocks south. As the weeks draw on Finches will join in too, peaking in the last week of September and October. So there's lots to see. If you're interested in staying in the accommodation at the Observatory it's very easy to use our brand new booking system. See HERE for details. 

Monday 5th

There was a little switch from Easterly to Southerly overnight. It was at times overcast and with even a sprinkling of rain in the air. This dropped in at least seven Pied Flycatchers into the area, six of which on the Estate and one up at the Drove. Seven Grey and six Yellow Wagtails flew overhead, as did a Tree Pipit. A 1cy Caspian Gull was on the Estate beach, and another at the Point with three Yellow-legged Gulls. There were still massive numbers of Mediterranean Gulls in the area with today's minimum count of 619 a new record for Sandwich Bay. 

Kestrel by S.North

Sunday 4th

Yesterday's Wryneck and Bee-eater were still on Worth marshes though very elusive. A Wood Sandpiper was on the pools, along with a Little Ringed Plover, and 22 Whinchats were seen. The first Firecrest of autumn was caught by the ringing team on the Estate and an exceptional flock of 340 Mallards were feeding in the stubble fields between the Estate and the railway.

Saturday 3rd

The Red-backed Shrike showed at the Drove all day (TR365560), with a few Wheatears and Whinchats. A Wryneck was new on New Downs, showing in the scrub between Prince's Reservoir and the beach (TR350592). There were also two Spotted Redshanks, a Ruff, and at least 250 Mediterranean Gulls across the area. Not to be outdone, a Wryneck was also discovered on Worth marshes. It showed distantly on the fence posts south of Roaring Gutter, and a little later a Bee-eater flew over calling. Also on Worth were 11 Black-tailed Godwits. On the Estate there was the first real push of Blackcaps this autumn, a Swift over the Observatory, and a Redstart along the entrance track. A Pied Flycatcher was along the Green Wall.

Red-backed Shrike by S.Reynaert

Friday 2nd

The Red-backed Shrike re-appeared at the Drove (seen previously on 29th August) with Pied Flycatcher, Redstart, and six Whinchats also present in the immediate area. On the Estate there were a further five Pied Flycatchers, one Spotted Flycatcher, and small numbers of Warblers. A Goldcrest in The Elms was of note, and there were two Whinchats and two Wheatears at Dickson's corner. On the Minnis side of Worth marshes the two Garganey were still present and more Whinchats, totaling at least 26, bring today's count up to an impressive 34. A Curlew Sandpiper was in Pegwell Bay.

Whinchat by J.Buckingham

Thursday 1st

The two Garganey were still on Worth marshes but now harder to find among the returning flocks of Teal. A Wood Sandpiper and a few Wigeon were also present. The afternoon tide in Pegwell Bay provided a good variety of passage waders including 541 Oystercatchers, three Avocets, six Ringed Plovers, two Knots, 17 Sanderlings, 70 Dunlins, two Black-tailed Godwits, ten Bar-tailed Godwits, 138 Curlews, 42 Redshanks, and two Turnstones. There were also 38 Sandwich Terns, one Common Tern, one juvenile Yellow-legged Gull, and two juvenile Caspian Gulls. The tides this week should be perfect for visiting in the late afternoon, when the sun will also be behind you.

Sanderlings by S.Reynaert