The last day of the year brought a final surprise in the form of a flock of 17 White-fronted Geese which circled around Worth in the murk before heading off south towards Deal. The two Cattle Egrets were still present, and correct ready to tick off again on New Years Day, plus Water Pipit and Woodcock. There were 37 Red-throated Divers moving offshore too and a Kittiwake.
A brief stroll in the morning produced Great Skua offshore and a good diversity of species on Restharrow Scrape. Worth was interesting as usual with the two Cattle Egrets, three Green Sandpipers, and one Common Sandpiper, though the presence of a local falconer with a Harris Hawk meant that the birds were very jumpy.
Still very mild for the time of year. This morning the two Cattle Egrets were probing away in the flooded fields on Worth marshes, a Brambling was along the Worth track, a 1cy Caspian Gull was on Restharrow Scrape, and a Slavonian Grebe was offshore.
Well i hope all of you enjoyed your Christmas break. The Estate was busy this morning as people either tried to burn off that turkey dinner or escape from their grandchildren for a few hours. It was grey but nice enough to be outside. There was a bustle of activity offshore; highlighted by a Great Skua and 24 Avocets north towards Pegwell. Teal numbers hit three-figures on Restharrow Scrape and the Water Pipit was still present on and off. Meanwhile the two Cattle Egrets were still having fun on Worth marshes and three Bewick’s Swans were new in.
It was a lovely day to be outside (for the first time in a while). The Black-throated Diver was seen offshore again, as was a Great Skua, and the two Cattle Egrets were on Worth. Wildfowl have begun to build again on Restharrow Scrape and three Marsh Harriers were hunting nearby, with a Firecrest at the top of King’s Avenue.
Despite the heavy rain all morning an adult Yellow-legged Gull was a good find on Worth marshes, a large diver was seen briefly offshore amongst a throng of 2,500+ Cormorants and 60 Gannets, and a Pink-footed Goose turned up in Pegwell Bay.
The Black-throated Diver was seen again offshore. Depending on the state of the tide, the last few mornings it has been close-ish inshore 2-300 metres north of the top of King’s Avenue before flying south towards Deal. Meanwhile on Restharrow Scrape an adult Caspian Gull dropped in for a bathe and the Water Pipit was showing well again.
In a reversal of yesterday’s fortune there was heavy rain at dawn (despite what the forecast said last night). Attempts to seawatch between the spells of rain produced 2,176 Cormorants, 105 Red-throated Divers, one Great Skua, but no sign of the big numbers of Brent Geese seen elsewhere along the coast yesterday.
The forecasted downpours didn’t appear at all in the morning allowing the Water Pipit to be seen on Restharrow Scrape again and a Black-throated Diver offshore. The two Cattle Egrets were on Worth still but the big flocks of birds on the marsh were more interesting. There were at least 600 Golden Plovers, 2,500 Lapwings, 8,500 Black-headed Gulls, 800 Common Gulls, and 10,000 Starlings. It made quite the spectacle. Three Water Pipits were also present whilst the cover crop along the Worth track held three Bramblings and a Corn Bunting.
A pleasant wander around the Estate with Coal Tit and ten Corn Buntings the highlights. Skylarks were more numerous than usual and though maybe not quite as exciting as the recent Glossy Ibis, the winter Collared Dove flock is building up at the Observatory with 37 out of roost at dawn. The Water Pipit was on Restharrow Scrape again and two Cattle Egrets were spied on Worth marshes.
The Red-breasted Merganser was still in Pegwell and 95 Fieldfares on Worth were an increase on the last few weeks. Of particular interest were flocks of 140 Lapwing and 33 Golden Plovers on Restharrow Scrape. These might be the first Golden Plovers physically on the scrape?
Over 2,000 Cormorants were moving around in squadrons offshore again, a Water Rail was on the Green Wall, there was a showy Water Pipit on Restharrow Scrape, and a good flock of 810 Golden Plovers were on the Estate. Though the numbers of Golden Plovers using the area has declined markedly in recent years it is still important that the Observatory keeps track of these large flocks. This species, along with Turnstone, form an important part of the Sandwich and Pegwell Bay SPA designation.
Water Pipits all over the place today with singles seen on Restharrow Scrape, Worth, and the Green Wall. Three Cattle Egrets, 1,000+ Lapwings, two Green Sandpipers, and three Bramblings were also on Worth.
Not the best conditions for WeBS counts but two Cattle Egrets and three Water Pipits were still on Worth marshes, plus a Kittiwake flew over inland. A Woodcock on New Downs, Great Skua at the Point, and Red-breasted Merganser in Pegwell Bay added to the mix.
One Cattle Egret was still on Worth marshes, with a mobile Great White Egret touring around, and at least one Brambling still in the fallow field along the Worth track.
Heavy downpours throughout though a Water Pipit was on the Green Wall and Cattle Egret on Worth marshes.
A drake Mandarin in Pegwell was an unlikely highlight of the day. It is presumably the same bird which frequented New Downs on a few occasions last month, i wonder if it will hang around long enough for our WeBS counts this weekend? Meanwhile on New Downs two Common Sandpipers were of note and the two Cattle Egrets remain in amongst the sheep on Worth. Single Snow Buntings were seen on the Estate and Prince’s Beach, with two Jack Snipe and three Rock Pipits at the Point, and a late Chiffchaff in the Whitehouse perhaps set to overwinter.
Conditions carried on from yesterday and another spell watching the sea saw 3,230 Cormorants moving to and fro over the course of an hour and a half. Wildfowl was restricted to 17 Brent Geese, two Red-breasted Mergansers, and five Common Scoters, with four Kittiwakes, ten distant Auk ‘sp’, and a Great Skua for a bit of variety. A second year Yellow-legged Gull dropped in for a bathe on Restharrow Scrape, as did four Shelducks, our first on there since the excavations, and two of the Cattle Egret flock were near the wooden bridge on Worth marshes.
A blustery north-westerly came through overnight leaving us with little option other than seawatching. A Red-breasted Merganser was the only notable wildfowl but counts of 34 Red-throated Divers, two Fulmars, 94 Gannets, 3,520 Cormorants, four Great Skuas, one Arctic Skua, and one Shag made it worthwhile. Two Egyptian Geese were on Restharrow Scrape again and in the evening the three Cattle Egrets were still on Worth.
At least 2,500 Cormorants and a Razorbill were offshore, with Worth supplying Woodcock, a flyover Lapland Bunting, two Peregrines, two Cattle Egrets, and an extremely late House Martin, though it looks like our Glossy Ibis was seen heading south over Walmer. Restharrow Scrape had a good comparison of Caspian and Yellow-legged Gull on show.
Restharrow Scrape was fairly active as the Glossy Ibis paid a brief visit again, as did a Water Pipit and nice 1cy Caspian Gull. The Cattle Egret flock was back up to three individuals on Worth marshes, with two extra Water Pipits too.
A complete washout today with very little to report. Which in turn gives me the opportunity for a quick pre-Christmas request. Do you ever shop online through Amazon? Did you know you can donate a percentage of your online costs to Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory at no extra cost to yourself? AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support SBBOT. It is a website operated by Amazon with the same products, prices and shopping features as Amazon.co.uk and you use your same account, shopping cart, Wish List, wedding or baby registry, and other account settings etc. To shop at AmazonSmile simply go to smile.amazon.co.uk from the web browser on your computer or mobile device and select Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory, or go to https://smile.amazon.co.uk/ch/289343-0 to be taken directly to SBBOT’s fundraising portal. As Christmas approaches these small amounts can make such a difference to a small charity like us. So spread the word!
Two Swallows going north over the Estate were surprising and a welcome contrast from the heavy frost again. Meanwhile at least five different Marsh Harriers hunted around the asparagus fields, a Coal Tit was in the Elms, and there was a small increase in Song Thrushes. On Worth the Glossy Ibis and Cattle Egret were still present, with Merlin and Common Sandpiper noteworthy, as were 55 Pied Wagtails feeding on the new workings. Five Snow Buntings were on Royal Cinque Ports Golf Course.
It was another frosty start. The Glossy Ibis and Cattle Egret were still on Worth marshes whilst a healthy flock of finches along the Worth track contained 165 Chaffinches and five Bramblings. A Firecrest was on the Estate and Snow Bunting flocks were on Royal Cinque Ports Golf Course (three) and Prince’s Golf Course (19).
Heavy frost at dawn but it gave way quickly to a really nice winter’s day. Two Egyptian Geese were on Restharrow Scrape and a lovely walk along the Green Wall found Bearded Tit, Water Pipit, Little Owl, Green Sandpiper, and eight Goldcrests. The Glossy Ibis was back on Worth marshes again and a single Cattle Egret was still present.
Cold but nice. The Glossy Ibis paid a brief visit onto Restharrow Scrape but flew off strongly north after. Three Cattle Egrets, a Great White Egret, two Water Pipits, a Barn Owl, and a Raven were on Worth marshes and 290 Golden Plovers were on the Estate.
A little spell sea-watching produced records of Goosander and Arctic Skua offshore with 103 Red-throated Divers a decent count. The Glossy Ibis and three Cattle Egrets were on Worth marshes.