Despite last night’s Blue Moon in a cloudless sky it was another good morning, with a Redstart, 30 Willow Warblers, 40 Whitethroats and 8 Lesser Whitethroats on the bushes, a juvenile Stonechat raising the possibility of local breeding and a Hobby along the shore.
The Great White Egret was still on the scrape early on, but soon departed to the SW, though attention was significantly diverted by the autumn’s first arrival of warblers that has presumably been precipitated by overnight rain that lasted into the early hours. Around 60 Willow Warblers made up the bulk of birds in the bushes, with a bit of welcome glitter from 2 Wood Warblers – one that was trapped in the Whitehouse and another in poplars along the Estate road. You can almost set your clock by them, so regular are they in the last couple of days of July. Several Bullfinches were still noisily apparent and about a dozen Reed Warblers were also present.
This update may reveal more than is healthy. Under severe pressure from having started a new notebook, it actually turned out to be quite good for a bright, breezy day in late July. At least 4 Bullfinches were on the Estate, the Wood Sandpiper was back on the scrape with 2 LRPs and 4 Little Egrets, 3 Whimbrel were poking about on Royal Cinque Ports, a huge female Peregrine flew along the beach with a comparatively diminutive male and 6 Siskins flew N, bringing our total for the month to an unprecedented 200. Three Wheatears were also seen along the shore, though migrant passerines remain in very short supply, and, to make the first page of the new notebook one to reflect upon a Great White Egret dropped on to the scrape just before midday.
On an initially bright but rather breezy morning the first 2 migrant Wheatears of the autumn were bouncing about near Dickson’s Corner, 3 Siskins flew S and a Little Ringed Plover was on the scrape, where the R-c Pochard has kept its promise to be back.
40 Gannets were fishing offshore in the residue of overnight rain and wind and the young Cuckoo was still along the shore, but it was generally very quiet.
Seawatching in overcast and windy conditions after heavy overnight rain and gales produced relatively little, though 4 Little Terns flew S, with another 8 in Pegwell, and 3 Wood Sandpipers were on the scrape in the afternoon.
There’s a fair amount of marking time at present, with the scrape still host to the Wood Sandpiper, 2 Little Ringed Plovers, a Ruff and the R-c Pochard, while a Cuckoo was seen near the sailing club again.
The scrape held a Greenshank, 2 Little Ringed Plovers and the Wood Sandpiper this morning and the R-cP was still present. Otherwise, a Hobby flew along the shore where a Cuckoo was tumbling about on the fence line near the sailing club, a Great Spot flew S from the Little Elms and a Turtle Dove flew over the car park first thing.
A stomp across Worth was rewarded by the sudden appearance of a flock of 40 Sand Martins heading S, a tatty adult Buzzard and 2 Siskins that flew N. There were also 3 Lesser Whitethroats in the bushes and a Wood Sandpiper, found on the scrape yesterday evening, was still prancing about this morning.
Good news for lovers of dubious wildfowl – the RcP is still on the scrape – otherwise a dull, drizzly morning was resurrected from total pointlessness by building numbers of San Martins and a Tree Pipit on Worth.
The RcP and the Bullfinch remained in situ, but new arrivals etc included a Green Sandpiper on the scrape and flurries of Sand Martins, about 50 of which moved through.
The RcP was still on the scrape this morning, though in truth most interest lay elsewhere. A Bullfinch was calling in the Elms and a male Peregrine flew along the shore, taking a diversion out to sea to gratuitously tweak a Lesser Black-back that appeared to be mightily unimpressed with the whole thing. A notable piece of local interest is that a pair of Wheatears has bred close by, for the first time since 2008.
A day at the seaside for us today (well, Dungeness, to be precise). However, before we departed to take our chances with Operation Stack a visit to the scrape turned up a female Red-crested Pochard. The finger of suspicion points at the female present on Stonar and New Downs in the winter.
The Siskin-fest continued this morning with a flock of 26 that flew from willows along the main Estate road and off to the N, followed by 3 more flocks totalling about 10 more. Since the Observatory was founded in 1962 the number of July Siskins probably amounts to fewer than ten individuals, so the numbers we are seeing this month are without precedent. Is it something to do with a good or bad breeding season, or a crop failure in their preferred food, or something even more obscure? Otherwise, 2 Common Terns flew on to the scrape; a rare species away from the sea in this neck of the woods, and in some sullen weather in the afternoon 5,000 Swifts flew N in little over 30 minutes.
An update for the weekend which featured mainly returning waders, although 15 more Siskins were seen on the 11th in a continuation of exceptional (unprecedented, in fact) numbers for July. 3 Spoonbills, a Greenshank and 2 Green Sandpipers were on New Downs on the 11th and the first 2 Golden Plovers of the summer were on Worth on the 12th, with 3 Greenshanks and 2 Med. Gulls on the scrape. This morning followed a similar theme, with 4 Med. Gulls on the scrape and a Quail calling close by.
Restharrow Scrape was clearly the place to be this morning. Not only were there a moulting adult Ruff, 6 Little Egrets and a Med. Gull but 3 Bee-eaters flew over.
If Siskins carry on like this, we will record more this month than we did last autumn. 20 were recorded this morning, including parties of 6 and 3 N over the Green Wall, 9 N over the Estate and a different 2 in the Whitehouse. Much later in the day, a Quail was audible from the Observatory at 20.45.
Overcast and a good deal fresher, the morning did at least produce an interesting midsummer movement of at least 7 Siskins, which have been surprisingly (relatively) numerous this year given their almost complete absence last autumn.
The highlight of the morning, sad to say, was a juvenile Yellow Wagtail on wires near the site of this year’s only apparent breeding attempt. If you’d said 30 years ago that there would be only one pair of YWs on Worth you would have been greeted with incredulity.
In response to please tell all about the birds that have been recorded since the last avian update, it is good to be able to report a few bits and pieces over the weekend. Much as expected, it mainly involves returning waders, though not entirely. 2 Green Sandpipers were on New Downs on Friday 3rd (New Downs is so dry it resembles a steppe lake in central Turkey at the moment), along with a 1st summer Med. Gull, 3 Spoonbills were on New Downs and a ringtail harrier flew over the Estate on Saturday 4th and 4 Little Ringed Plovers appeared on Restharrow yesterday.
As for this morning, 3 Grey Herons flew in from the east on to the scrape, departing inland not long after, and a Common Buzzard flew over from the same direction.