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There was not much to report from a rather flat weekend, although a Bonxie was seen offshore yesterday and a few Siskins continued to move along the Pinnock Wall and railway. As for this morning, it would be nice to report on flurries of early migrants moving along the shore but in truth it was dead as a doornail apart from a couple of intermedius Lesser Black-backs.
Undeniably the highlight of the morning was a Short-eared Owl drifting over early frost on the golf course. It could only go downhill after this, so it did.
A Raven flew over the Observatory not long after the morning dawned above a heavy frost, though it was calm throughout. 2 Siskins and a Coal Tit were trapped and a Firecrest was singing in the Elms, but it was otherwise pretty quiet, although the Dartford Warbler was showing well along the beach, this time fairly well south of Prince’s clubhouse.
Colder and mostly overcast, a walk around the Estate turned up 2 Firecrests, one of which was singing rather optimistically, and 2 Yellowhammers flying over Restharrow Dunes, though to suggest this might indicate the onset of spring would be stretching the point a bit, though the appearance of 150 Siskins on Worth confirmed that some early movement is happening.
WeBS count day in the northern part of the recording area was carried out in rain that was persistent from the word go. A Common Sandpiper on the river was the highlight of the New Downs section, while an adult Yellow-legged Gull was in Pegwell, 7 Pintail flew S offshore and 71 Brent Geese flew into Pegwell, possibly indicating some early movement. Opinion is divided on whether this was worth getting a thorough soaking.
February WeBS count day, on an overcast morning with a strengthening SW wind that had become troublesome by mid morning. Highlights were few and far between and certainly involved few wildfowl, though one of the adult drake Goosanders was loafing on the scrape. Otherwise, a male Marsh Harrier was omnipresent, 2 Ravens flew along the railway, a flock of 65 Fieldfares was tumbling about near the sheepfold and a showy Firecrest was in the Elms. There was also a leech on the farm access track, the first any of us has seen here.
Yesterday’s wash-out of a morning was consigned to the memory as this morning dawned bright, calm and frosty. One drake Goosander was floating on a partially frozen scrape and 2 pairs of Bullfinches were evident on Worth, where a Marsh Harrier and a Buzzard were winding up the local corvids. At least 30 Reed Buntings, 10 Yellowhammers and 9 Corn Buntings remained on Blue Pigeons, although the Pied Wagtail flock appears to have dispersed, and back on the Estate 40 Fieldfares had appeared in the Oasis. Hints of migration came from 4 high Siskins and 2 Buzzards that drifted over HQ, while a Sparrowhawk circled higher and higher and eventually disappeared to the north although it could also have been having fun at the expense of the local crows, as they frequently seem to do.
Lured out on to New Downs by a second successive bright and calm morning it turned out to be a thoroughly enjoyable morning. A drake Goosander flew up from the river as 2 Peregrines flew over, adding to the drake Goosander seen earlier on Restharrow Scrape, Kingfishers were seen on the river and flying from Prince’s plantation, 2 Buzzards were drifting about, 9 Little Egrets and a Green Sandpiper were poking about and 44 Gadwall were on one of the reservoirs. A Bullfinch was at the polytunnels, 24 Corn Buntings were seen along the riverbank, a notable flock of at least 130 Linnets was flurrying about a wilted belt of sunflowers and 4 Chiffchaffs included one in hawthorns at the edge of the Sampher and 3 along the farm access track.
Being the contrary month that it often is, this morning was eventually calm and sunny after early fog had decided to melt away. 2 Firecrests and a continental-type Coal Tit were on the Estate, on Worth a Water Pipit was in its usual haunt near Roaring Gutter and at least 19 Yellowhammers were on Blue Pigeons and the 2 adult drake Goosanders were floating on the mirror-calm waters of Restharrow Scrape.
Winter certainly hasn’t done with us yet. Rain throughout Saturday and the onset of a penetrating NE wind overnight made the weekend character-building, to say the least. Like most beastly things in life, it wasn’t totally without its good points, however, with the Golden Plover flock on the fields up to a very impressive 800 and a Red-necked Grebe on the sea with a few Great Crests. As for this morning, the wind was a tad less exhilarating and some early movement was suggested by 5 Siskins N over the Oasis and 15 in alders on Worth, which were the first there this year, while 3 Peregrines were tussling with each other over HQ first thing.
So much for waxing lyrical about the onset of spring. This morning started frosty and soon clouded over as a raw SE breeze sprang up. Still, it was not without its compensations, with the Golden Plover flock having increased again to around 550, 2 Coal Tits on the Estate and an un-ringed singing male Firecrest in the Elms, making it at least 3 wintering in the area this year.
A frosty, cold start eventually morphed into a lovely late winter day, with no wind and extensive sunshine, until midday at least. A walk over New Downs was almost spring-like once the early chill had withdrawn and birds included a Green Sandpiper and 3 Turnstones on the river, 8 Little Egrets, 2 Bullfinches in hawthorns bordering the Sampher and 20 Redpolls and 12 Song Thrushes along the access track, while the local Robins, Wrens and so forth were singing heartily.
This morning brought increasing numbers of lambs, many of which were gambolling responsibly, and 2 Marsh Harriers, a Buzzard and a Little Egret on Worth and 2 more Buzzards over the Observatory.
Despite rain that set in around dawn and lasted most of the morning, the weather could hardly have offered a greater contrast to yesterday, with virtually no wind to ruffle our feathers. The flock of Golden Plover near HQ was up to around 440 and an adult Mediterranean Gull was floating about over the fields nearby.
Teal numbers continue to decline and a Red Kite was seen flying over Worth and the Green Wall; a welcome diversion from Storm Imogen that brought gusts of up to 66 mph overnight and threatens to repeat the treat later today.
With Teal numbers on the scrape having halved in the last few days and 3 Fieldfares in the Oasis – the first for around 3 weeks – it is possible that some movement is under way, but otherwise there was very little going on, though a Chiffchaff was flitting about by the sailing club and a Grey Wagtail flew over Restharrow.
Overnight rain cleared an hour or so after first light and the rest of the morning was notably more palatable than yesterday. A Red Kite was seen over Worth, where the Pied Wagtail flock is still doing a passable impression of a blizzard among the brassicas on Blue Pigeons and a most impressive flock of 400 Stock Doves was flurrying about nearby.
Although there was no frost a raw W wind made the morning particularly cold, with some light sleety rain by morning. Birding was very hard work, although the Teal flock on the scrape was up to nearly 700, a Blackcap was found along the Green Wall and a Peregrine and a Buzzard were responsible for putting the local Golden Plover flock to flight around mid day.
With weather much the same as yesterday, it was surprising to find a mixed flock of around 130 Pied Wagtails and Meadow Pipits that has appeared in a partially harvested field of brassicas on Blue Pigeons, the majority of which were wagtails. Otherwise, a Chiffchaff was hopping about outside the Observatory window, a Coal Tit was in the Elms and a Little Egret was at Roaring Gutter. Just to add a bit of cheer, here’s a rather nice image of a Short-eared Owl, taken a few days ago by Steve Ray.
Emerging into the start of what promises to be a windy week it was almost like a warm early June morning. Under the circumstances, it looks like a case of plucking scraps from an already well-visited table and this morning’s delicacies included a Firecrest in the Elms and a Grey Wagtail over Restharrow Dunes. Incidentally, should anyone fancy it, there has been a spectacular pre-roost gathering of Starlings for the past three or four weeks, currently around 5,000 swirling over the fields between the tollgate and golf course.