Four Curlew Sandpipers were on New Downs yesterday and the month concluded with a hitherto unprecedented 96 Dunlins on New Downs and a juvenile Water Rail on Restharrow Scrape.
Mostly overcast and eventually very warm and humid, the morning had the feel of autumn about it. There was a steady procession of Sandwich Terns offshore, presumably attracted by several shoals of bait fish in the shallows, 80 or so Swallows were circling low over the golf course, one of which was being nibbled by a Hobby over the Elms, 2 Whinchats and a Wheatear were seen along the shore and a Yellow Wagtail flew N. Apart from the local Whitethroats, though, warbler numbers have yet to get off the ground.
The recent hot spell came to a close as cloud built up and light rain arrived in mid morning. At least 200 Swifts were circling about, a Cuckoo put in an appearance and the first autumn Wheatear was along the shore, but it was otherwise very quiet.
RSPB, or at least their associates in large yellow diggers, are proceeding with the wetland creation on Worth and the results are predictably attracting substantial numbers of gulls, among which was an adult Mediterranean Gull. A Kingfisher was seen flying from the North Stream and a few warblers along the approach to the Pinnock Wall included at least one Willow. The evening roost on New Downs was notable for very high counts of 140 Redshanks and 156 Oystercatchers, while 70 Common Sandpipers were on the river and 20 Greenshanks were also present.
Without doubt the highlight of the weekend was a Black Stork that was seen soaring inland over Worth on Saturday, later being reported from and Ashford somewhere in West Kent. A few waders were on New Downs yesterday, including 70 Redshanks, 12 Greenshanks and 5-6 Common and Green Sandpipers. As for this morning, a light shower around dawn may have been responsible for precipitating our first obviously migrant warblers of the autumn, including Willow and Garden Warblers and a rather excellent Wood Warbler in the Whitehouse.
A walk across New Downs turned up a Barn Owl but fairly low numbers of waders due to the state of the tide. However, there were 2 Black-tailed Godwits, 4 Green Sandpipers, 21 Dunlin and a Ruff, which a few weeks ago must have looked pretty stunning in its black-feathered regalia.
A Great White Egret flew N over Worth this morning, while on the Estate highlights, such as they were, included a family party of 4 Great Spotted Woodpeckers in the Haven, a Dunlin and a Common Sandpiper on the scrape and one Yellow Wagtail N. It’s also worth noting that a family party of Whinchats was seen on Worth on Tuesday – whilst it doesn’t prove breeding it is certainly an intriguing record of a species that doesn’t normally show until late July at the earliest.
A trundle across the stirrrin’ hay acres of Willow Farm this morning, beneath a clear blue sky but with a gathering S/SW breeze that had become fresh by late morning. A few bits and pieces included 2 Green Sandpipers and a Redshank flying N, while 4 Whimbrel flew in the opposite direction.
A Barn Owl was hunting over the golf course this morning but apart from a few Whimbrel it was all pretty quiet.
Becoming hot again, Worth was notable for not much more than a family party of 6 Lesser Whitethroats, a Marsh Harrier and a Little Egret. There was also a party of Yellow Wagtails on the scrape, notable enough to include a photo.
A walk across New Downs in warm, humid sunshine was very productive, with a Temminck’s Stint among a good collection of waders that included 38 Avocets, a Black-tailed Godwit, at least 6 Green Sandpipers, 18 Greenshanks, 2 Little Ringed Plovers and a notable 114 Redshanks.
Sunny from the starter’s gun for once, the morning featured a Turtle Dove N over the Observatory – a sadly uncommon sight these days – a late-ish Cuckoo, a family party of Lesser Whitethroats and a Little Owl, plus a few Sand Martins and Swifts.
A walk along Worth tack this morning was interesting more for dragonflies than birds, but 4 Whimbrel flew over.
Gloomy and quite chilly after some pre-dawn rain, hordes of Swifts – at least 1500 – were swirling about over the golf course, with a few hirundines mixed in, while 7 Whimbrel flew N, 2 Little Egrets were on the scrape and an adult Med.Gull was posing outside the Observatory.
Beneath cascading showers of promises from the weather chaps that summer is just around the corner, this morning started with a couple of hours of rain before sunny and breezy conditions took over. 3 Little Egrets were on the scrape, with Marsh Harrier, Buzzard and Hobby nearby, and at least 4 Med.Gulls were seen at various spots between the Estate and New Downs.
An increasingly brisk SW wind made things a bit difficult this morning, not least of all for 13 Tufted Duck chicks on the scrape, 9 of which were first evident yesterday, while only 20 Sand Martins remained over the fields in very much fresher conditions than yesterday. Wader passage on New Downs continues to increase, with 7 Green Sandpipers and 3 Black-tailed Godwits on the flood and 15 Common Sandpipers and 2 Greenshanks on the river.
Back in semi-action it was good to see a hint of early autumn as several hundred Sand Martins swirled about over the golf course and Estate, probably amounting to well over 600, while a Green Sandpiper was on the scrape. A family party of Stonechats was also evident, as were at least 15 probably local Blackcaps, and a Cuckoo put in its bid to be the latest this year.
Due to the continued absence of our illustrious leader Kim Sun Still Ill the log sheet does a good imitation of Procul Harems greatest hit. I can report the Reed Warbler on the observatory pond is singing lustily now the first brood have fledged.
No reports today apart from a Buzzard drifting north mid-morning and the mix of hirundines still on the golf course in the evening.
Apologies for the man -flu induced break from our usual correspondent. For those well enough a walk down to New Downs proved interesting. Highlights included 5 Green Sandpipers,2 Little Ringed Plovers and a Black-tailed Godwit. A newly turned field by the riverbank boosted gull numbers with at least 600 Herring Gulls and 300 Black-headed Gulls.
For those unable to get so far a walk around the estate is well worth it. The plant growth is impressive and flowers such as Yellow Bartsia are showing well. It is a good time to practice bird song id as all the local warblers are in full song again as they prepare for their second broods.
The first signs of autumn (gulp!) are the disappearance of Cuckoos and the appearance of small flocks of departing Sand Martins.
Warm and sunny from the word go for a welcome change, this morning brought a Whimbrel over the Estate, a Buzzard lounging on the pump house near HQ and a noisy family of Lesser Whitethroats at the Chequers. This rather splendid Stonechat was photographed just outsde the hide at Restharrow Scrape.
A Red Kite and 4 Buzzards were seen over Worth this morning and a Hobby flew over the car park at HQ.
Apparently, on this day last year the thermometer reached 34 degrees Celsius, a figure that this year would only be attainable with the aid of a Bunsen burner. Small parties of Swifts continued to zip about over the golf course and a couple of Little Egrets were on the scrape, but at least it was dry.