Highlights of a rather windy but still very mild post-Christmas spell included a Slavonian Grebe on the sea on the 29th and 3 Bonxies offshore yesterday.
In between bursts of sun and drizzle there was a Bonxie, a Guillemot, a Kittiwake and 9 Red-throated Divers offshore. Four Snipe and a Wigeon will hopefully remain on the Scrape so as to avoid the Boxing Day guns. Hey ho its off to stuff the Turkey.
It was a shame it was not quite shorts on the beach weather as there were no birds of note to watch. However a Harbour Porpoise had a brief frolic just offshore.
Bright and sunny today, with a good deal less wind than the last couple, it was pretty quiet on the Estate, with 5 Redpolls in the Elms and not much else of note. However, the weedy field on Worth still held very good numbers of passerines, including 7 Yellowhammers, 35 Reed Buntings and 19 Corn Buntings; currently the only flock on show south of the estuary.
The adult drake Goosander was apparently back at the scrape last night but departed soon after dawn, leaving a spume-lashed seawatch as the only sensible option, with a gale force SW wind howling in the rigging in gusts to over 45 mph. As it turned out, it was better in theory than in practice, with totals of 52 Gannets and 17 Red-throated Divers being the best on offer.
Overnight rain attempted to have the last word with a brief shower just after dawn, but bright sunshine soon took over and it was mostly a very pleasant morning, even if the temperature continues to be more like March than December. 2 Bonxies were seen offshore again, 2 Water Rails were breaking the sound barrier in the Haven and 6 Siskins were present for most of the morning, while at least 6 Chiffchaffs remained in the Elms and gullies.
With a frisky SW breeze in action, a seawatch seemed the best option and it turned out to be a reasonable couple of hours, during which 2 Bonxies, 61 Red-throated Divers, a Black-throated Diver and about 30 Gannets were seen, while (believe it or not) 17 auks was our largest count for two years!
2 Bonxies flew S offshore.
Rather against the run of play, given the ludicrous temperatures we are currently experiencing, a splendid adult drake Goosander appeared on the scrape, while 27 Blackbirds included a few that were behaving like freshly-arrived migrants. A Short-eared Owl was flopping about over the usual field, 2 Marsh Harriers were drifting over Worth and at least 6 Chiffchaffs and 10 Goldcrests were in the Elms.
Some watery sunshine was soon overcome by gathering cloud, but it remains ridiculously warm for the time of year. Early birds emerging from their overnight roosts included 2 Marsh Harriers and 11 Siskins, while at least 6 Chiffchaffs were in the Elms and gullies and offshore Great Crested Grebes continue to increase, with a total of 117 this morning.
Well, Scott Walker, you were wrong. The sun did come out in mid morning, though without a great deal of enthusiasm. Offshore movement amounted to 2 Bonxies, over 30 Red-throated Divers and a drake Eider, while a ringtail Hen Harrier was the first for several weeks, a Firecrest was in the Elms and 10 Goldcrests and 6 Chiffchaffs were fiddling about in the gullies.
Gloomy as someone who’s lost a tenner and found sixpence, a dull and drizzly morning was much as expected, though 66 Great Crested Grebes were floating about offshore, with 11 Red-throated Divers moving by, and a Mistle Thrush was belting out its song with gusto.
WeBS count day over the northern part of the area failed to cheer up the weather, which remained stubbornly glum all morning, though it was dry with little wind. Highlights on New Downs were 5 Black-tailed Godwits, 2,100 Lapwings and 190 Golden Plover, though the main source of raised eyebrows was a flock of at least 270 Linnets; the largest winter gathering for several years. There were also at least 64 Pied Wagtails near Backsand and 30 Redpolls in the alders on the access track, while 3 Marsh Harriers were recorded during the course of the morning.
Overcast, still and drizzly, it was a morning to savour, if you are a fan of Jack Dee. Thorough coverage of Worth Marshes for the Lydden Valley WeBS count produced very few wildfowl away from Restharrow, although 140 Golden Plover, 900 Lapwings, a Little Egret and 2 Peregrines rescued the exercise from complete torpor.
Dull and overcast yet again, this morning featured a Black-throated Diver on the sea off the sailing club and a Woodcock on the Estate.
Much the same as yesterday but without so much wind, today’s highlights were a couple of Marsh Harriers over Worth, instigating a stroppy reaction from a couple of Peregrines, a Water Rail squealing in the Haven, a first winter Yellow-legged Gull near HQ and a Shag flying by offshore.
A dull, blustery wind-blown morning was resurrected from its depths by a very nice adult Yellow-legged Gull on the scrape.
For the first time in a while it was frosty this morning, but warm sunshine soon developed. Counts around the Estate included a Woodcock, 51 Goldfinches, 17 Siskins, at least 14 Goldcrests and 13 Chiffchaffs, while inspection of the beach revealed one Dartford Warbler and 2 Snow Buntings. Of rather more than parochial interest, we have received notification that DNA confirms the Lesser Whitethroat trapped on 18th October as ascribable to the race S.c.blythi, identical to one recently sequenced from Kazakhstan.
7 Little Egrets flew across the car park towards Worth in the half-light, presumably from their overnight roost, and a drake Red-breasted Merganser flew south from the estuary early on in an hour peering out on a grey, rainy sea.
With the wind of the weekend having fallen away, it was just right for a walk over New Downs, which produced 2 Peregrines, at least 2500 Lapwings, a Black-tailed Godwit and, sadly, a well-eaten corpse of a Barn Owl, possibly connected with the aforementioned Peregrines. To the south, a Red Kite was seen over Worth and at least ten Chiffchaffs were on the Estate, one of which looked and sounded like a good candidate for an eastern bird.
The Reader’s Digest Universal Dictionary gives the meaning of the word pointless as ‘meaningless; irrelevant’ and continues with an example of its use in a sentence as ‘it would be pointless to complain’. The little-known Sandwich version if this erudite publication contains the phrase ‘a seawatch at Sandwich Bay in a SW wind’, which neatly sums up the last two days. However, as the wind and cynicism began to slacken, 2 Swallows flew past the Observatory and a swift was seen by several observers, all of whom though it was probably a Pallid.
Despite overnight rain it continues to be very mild and whilst notable the appearance of 2 Swallows over the gullies and confirmation that 9 Chiffchaffs remain in the Elms and gullies was not entirely surprising. There was also a Firecrest in the Elms and a trudge along the beach to the Point was rewarded by a flock of 8 Corn Buntings, a male Snow Bunting and 17 Rock Pipits on the saltings.
4 Little Egrets flew in from the direction of the shore in the early half-light and 8 Siskins flew over early on, presumably from their overnight roost, while at least 5 Chiffchaffs remained in the Elms and gullies.
Worth this morning, which produced 2 Water Pipits, 3 Ravens heading south and a reasonable selection of raptors that included Buzzard, Peregrine and Marsh Harrier. 8 Siskins were seen at HQ and 9 Redpolls were trapped, while at least 3 Chiffchaffs remained in the Elms and gullies. During a visit to Pegwell in the afternoon a lone Swallow flew across the estuary, equalling the latest date here in at least the last 15 years.
A visit to New Downs was rewarded by a blizzard of Lapwings – something like 4,000 of them – put flight by a passing Peregrine, while back on the Estate 2 Chiffchaffs were in the gullies and an interesting female Teal, showing characters of Green-winged, was found on the scrape. A Long-eared Owl and 6 Water Rails were seen on Worth at dusk and a Swallow flew N out at sea around mid day.