Friday 29th

Despite the wind, now in the SW but still chilly, there were conspicuously more Whitethroats than yesterday and a Whinchat with a large-looking Wheatear on the turf field near Restharrow, while a Grasshopper Warbler was seen and heard on Worth.

Thursday 28th

Although temperatures are still unseasonably low at least there was little wind this morning, making it quite pleasant in the sunshine. Although movement along the shore was slow, at least 16 Blackcaps and 8 Chiffchaffs were scattered about and 4 Whimbrel, a Grey Plover and a Greenshank flew N, followed by 2 Buzzards later on.

Wednesday 27th

Despite extensive sunshine the pernicious NW wind continues to make life difficult, although just under 100 Linnets and a Yellow Wagtail flew N and 4 Whimbrel were poking about in one of the recently-sown asparagus fields with another 2 in off the sea. Otherwise, few new arrivals were evident, which is hardly surprising.

Tuesday 26th

The blast of Arctic air continues, made tolerable only by hiding in the lee of a substantial holm oak on the shore. Not surprisingly, given the cold conditions, Linnets and hirundines were moving in even smaller numbers than yesterday, although a party of 20 House Martins flew N over the scrape, where a Greenshank was again present. Presumably the residents of Irkutsk would have regarded this as a pleasant spring morning.

Monday 25th

Despite the absence of any wind, an overcast morning was still far colder than it had the right to be at this time of year and most birds showed their appreciation by keeping their counsel. However, 97 Linnets and 16 Swallows flew along the shore, a Greenshank dropped briefly on to the scrape, a Firecrest was in the Elms and a Grey Heron flew out to sea, complaining noisily as it did so.

Sunday 24th

Pre-dawn rain lasted for a couple of hours after dawn, on another cold day with a penetrating NW wind. A walk across Worth was notable mainly for birds clustered over the North Stream at Roaring Gutter, amounting to 100 Swallows, 12 House Martins, 2 Sand Martins and 6 Yellow Wagtails.

Friday 22nd

The continuing cold NE breeze made for a morning that had the feel of somewhere well to the north, not made any easier by seeing off a party from the Obs on a week’s birding in Extremadura and the Sierra de Gredos. Still there was a bit of northward movement early on, including 67 Linnets and a Swift, though most recently-arrived migrants were very quiet in the chill conditions.

Thursday 21st

Green Sandpiper by Paul Coltman
Green Sandpiper by Paul Coltman

Our version of Le Mistral seems to have set in for the foreseeable future and this morning was little different from yesterday, with one new Lesser Whitethroat, a Cuckoo, a Little Egret heading S and 2 adult Mediterranean Gulls flying N offshore during a half hour of optimistically peering out to sea. Although water levels on the scrape have precluded many passage waders from visiting this spring this Green Sandpiper dropped in briefly this morning.

Wednesday 20th

In bright conditions with a chilly E wind things were predictably very quiet, with nothing moving along the shore and little out at sea.

Tuesday 19th

Willow Warbler in the gullies by Steve Ray
Willow Warbler in the gullies by Steve Ray

A dull start soon gave way to sunshine and the morning became increasingly warm, with little wind. Some movement along the shore included 139 Linnets, 7 Yellow Wagtails, 12 Swallows and 14 Sand Martins, 2 Avocets appeared briefly on the scrape and a Green Sandpiper flew N inland, but otherwise migrants remained pretty much unmoved from yesterday.

Monday 18th

A bit of a day for marking time, with a trickle of Linnets along the shore, 2 adult Mediterranean Gulls again, this time out at sea, and the best entertainment from 3-4 males Blackcaps singing ferociously in close proximity to each other in the Elms. 2 Buzzards drifted over HQ at midday but were probably a couple of the locals.

Sunday 17th

Bright with a chilly NW breeze, the morning produced a movement of 120 Linnets along the shore, where 2 House Martins were nest prospecting, 3 Buzzards over HQ and Worth and  2 adult Mediterranean Gulls in from the NE on to the asparagus fields not long after first light.

Friday 15th

Still overcast with a few showers after overnight rain, the morning probably produced little that was new, save for at least 11 Willow Warblers. Otherwise, at least 22 Blackcaps, a Ring Ouzel and a Firecrest were present, 4 Yellow Wagtails flew N and a House Martin was seen on the shore.

Thursday 14th

A bright morning with little wind was ideal for a stroll over New Downs and although the tide was too high for any dowitchers to be visible a Purple Heron flew N across the site at about 07.45, apparently coming to earth somewhere around Richborough. Otherwise, a few more migrants had arrived since yesterday, a Black Redstart was singing from nearby buildings and 3 Yellow Wagtails flew over, but the only migrant waders were a couple of Whimbrel.

Wednesday 13th

10 Blackcaps were trapped this morning and with at least 16 still present away from the nets it put yesterday’s estimate somewhat into perspective. To add a bit of spice, one of the males in the Elms was doing a very passable imitation of Reed Warbler, only giving itself away with a bit of fluting at beginning and end of the song. 2 Firecrests and 2 Ring Ouzels were also present, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers and 57 Linnets flew N with as many in groups on the Estate and a Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk drifted over in the warmth of midday.

Tuesday 12th

Ring Ouzel by Andrew Lipczynski
Ring Ouzel by Andrew Lipczynski

Overnight rain ceased before dawn, leaving a calm and mostly overcast start that very gradually turned into a sunny spring morning. There had clearly been a substantial arrival of birds on the Estate, principally involving 14 Chiffchaffs and 21 Blackcaps, mostly males, many of which were uncharacteristically flycatching from low perches just above the ground layer. A Yellow Wagtail and a Whimbrel flew N, while on Worth Nightingale, Reed Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat were all the first of spring, with 5 Green Sandpipers and a Whimbrel on flooded patches of the valley. Back on the Estate, a brief excursion to the Oasis turned up 2 new Firecrests, 2 Redstarts, our very own Lesser Whitethroat and Common Whitethroat and 2 rather splendid Ring Ouzels, chuckling away quite contentedly in the sunshine, while another Ring Ouzel dropped into some bushes along the shore in the afternoon and 3 more Whimbrel were tittering madly over Restharrow.

Monday 11th

The weekend passed by with the dowitcher still showing along the river and the Crane on Worth on both days, though to considerable surprise 3 Cranes were seen flying south across Worth on Sunday morning. First spring records of Yellow Wagtail and Garganey were also of note, as was a wandering Cetti’s Warbler at the Observatory pond. The Long-billed Dowitcher was still on view along the river this morning, which also produced a Ring Ouzel near HQ and a smart-looking Ruff on Willow Farm.

Friday 8th

Long-billed Dowitcher by Sorrell Lyall
Long-billed Dowitcher by Sorrell Lyall

It was a beautiful spring morning, with barely a breath of wind and plenty of sunshine. A walk across Worth marshes turned up a Cuckoo, calling from a copse by the North Stream, 6 Sedge Warblers were cheerfully holding forth along the Delf Stream, the ringtail Hen Harrier was floating about and a pair of rubicola Stonechats were bouncing along the fences and bush tops around Mary Bax. However, when approaching the golf course, 2 Redshanks flew across from the south with a third bird that turned out to be a LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER, all three settling at the edge of one of the pools on Willow Farm. They stayed long enough for brief views on the ground and a record photograph, but were spooked by the shepherd and flew off to the north, leaving a good deal of hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth. However, it was re-found on New Downs in the afternoon, but again flew north, while a Crane appeared on Willow Farm in the meantime!

Thursday 7th

Bright to start with, but with a chill WNW wind, there was some movement along the coast, principally involving 97 Linnets and at least 7 Blue Tits, enthusiastically bush-hopping through the Cellars. Inland, 5 Firecrests were present again, mainly in the Elms, along with 9 Chiffchaffs, 5 Blackcaps and a lone Willow Warbler and a Red Kite flew N over Worth and the Green Wall.

Wednesday 6th

Despite a few patches of blue early on, any pleasantness was soon firmly overcome by overcast conditions, spots of rain and a chilly SW wind. A trek across New Downs was consequently less pleasant than it might have been, highlights amounting to not much more than 3 Little Egrets, a Buzzard and a Peregrine, while the only warblers prepared to give voice in such charmless weather were 5 Chiffchaffs.

Tuesday 5th

This morning gave a passable impression of a decent spring day, with 14 Chiffchaffs, 4 Willow Warblers, 3 Blackcaps and 5 Firecrests on the Estate, the spring’s first Whitethroat on Worth and 7 Swallows and a trickle of Linnets N along the shore. 6 Buzzards also flew N, 2 Peregrines were circling about with some menace and a Merlin was seen plummeting upon some unfortunate from considerable height over the Estate.

Monday 4th

Last night’s unexpected thunderstorm had moved well away by the time dawn revealed an overcast morning with a light S breeze. 2 Swallows were seen along the shore, with another over Willow Farm, where 4 Sand Martins were circling in the distance and a Greenshank was loudly announcing itself. Otherwise, there were 3 Wheatears, at least 12 Goldcrests and 2 Firecrests and a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew S.

Sunday 3rd

The spring’s first Sedge Warbler was on Worth yesterday, but today was a rather torpid affair, despite sunny and eventually quite warm conditions. Still, a male Black Redstart was singing along the shore, with 2 Wheatears nearby, there were at least 7 Chiffchaffs, 10 Goldcrests and 2 Firecrests, mostly in the Elms, 3 Coal Tits flew high to the south from bushes adjacent to the beach and the Sunday walkers were rewarded by a Whimbrel flying N offshore.

Friday 1st

Bright and calm, it was an introduction to the new month that was in stark contrast to the last one. A trickle of movement along the shore was hardly worth a mention, but 3 Firecrests, 6 Goldcrests and a Blackcap were in the Elms, 3 Wheatears were present and 11 Brambling included at least 7 flying N.