Wednesday 31st

Temperatures soared again out on the marshes. The three Little Ringed Plovers remained on the grassy pool by the wooden bridge, six Sand Martins and a Swallow flew through, and singles of Greenshank, Water Rail, Mediterranean Gull, and Corn Bunting added to the mix. The wind switches round to northerly from tomorrow so will be considerably cooler and may change what birds are on offer.

Kestrel by S.Reynaert

Tuesday 30th

Warm sunshine all day encouraged another wave of spring migrants to make landfall. Highlights were three Little Ringed Plovers, a Greenshank, a Hen Harrier, a Sedge Warbler, two Black Redstarts, one Common Redstart, and a Blue-headed Wagtail on Worth marshes. The latter two are particularly early records. A Black Redstart and three Wheatears were also on the Estate and analysis of our ‘Nocmig’ recordings discovered a Stone-curlew flying over Stonar in the early hours of the morning.

Hen Harrier by A.Lipczynski
Little Ringed Plover by A.Lipczynski

Monday 29th

There was a noticeable arrival of spring migrants this morning with at least 45 Chiffchaffs, six Blackcaps, two Sedge Warblers, 15 Wheatears, one Black Redstart, three Swallows, and three White Wagtails spread around the Recording Area. It felt like there had to be a Bluethroat hiding in a ditch somewhere. A Cattle Egret was near Mary Bax, along with 16 Tree Sparrows, and on Worth marshes the Siberian Chiffchaff and four Water Pipits remained.

Cattle Egret by P.Coltman

Sunday 28th

Wheatears are beginning to pick up with seven at Dickson’s Corner today. A Blackcap and Firecrest were on the Estate, a Merlin flew north, a Marsh Harrier and four White-fronted Geese flew over the Green Wall, and the Siberian Chiffchaff was re-discovered on Worth marshes. Three Whimbrels and a Common Tern offshore were both their first records this year.

Saturday 27th

A Woodlark on Worth marshes was an excellent record. It was mostly seen in the fields along the Pinnock Wall, between the concrete bridge at Roaring Gutter and the wooden bridge further up, occasionally sitting out on the bushes. Though the Skylarks did not take kindly to it’s presence and soon saw it off. There were also three Wheatears on the Estate and a Red Kite flew north.

Friday 26th

The Black Redstart was still at Sandilands, a Wheatear was nearby at Dickson’s Corner, and a Black-tailed Godwit flew north over Estate. The first Willow Warbler of the year was on Worth marshes and two Sand Martins flew through. Three Sandwich Terns were offshore.

Thursday 25th

Yesterday’s Wheatear at Sandilands was replaced by a Black Redstart and a White Wagtail. A Hen Harrier was hunting in Restharrow Dunes, a few Mediterranean Gulls were flying around, and a Firecrest was in the Little Elms. I don’t often report mammals here but a Harbour Porpoise milling offshore was an excellent record. Over on Worth marshes two Swallows zipped past Roaring Gutter, with a White Wagtail and a Water Pipit also present.

White Wagtail by X.Taylor

Wednesday 24th

A pleasant walk in the spring sunshine on Worth marshes saw Pochard, two Peregrines, Dunlin, Golden Plover, plus lots of displaying Lapwings and Skylarks and singing Reed Buntings. Our first Wheatear of the year was at Sandilands.

Tuesday 23rd

The Siberian Chiffchaff remained on Worth and a Red Kite and three Grey Herons flew north. It’s been an interesting few weeks but it feels like the spring migration floodgates haven’t quite opened yet. Chiffchaffs, Sandwich Terns, and White Wagtails have trickled through rather slowly but I fully expect the pace to pick up over these next weeks. If the southerlies continue Firecrests could be on the agenda, as well as Garganey, Black Redstart, and maybe an early Ring Ouzel.

Monday 22nd

Worth marshes was good with the Siberian Chiffchaff still, Great White Egret, Avocet, and Hen Harrier. There was a male Common Scoter diving just offshore and 134 Red-throated Divers further out, with a Merlin and two Firecrests on the Estate. A few Grey Wagtails and Siskins moved overhead.

Firecrest by P.Blanche

Sunday 21st

A Great White Egret flew over the Estate early on and an Avocet went past offshore. The Siberian Chiffchaff was still present with a bonus Treecreeper nearby too. There were 130 Sanderlings at the Point and later on our nocturnal recorders at Stonar picked up our first Little Ringed Plover of the year was and lots of Redwings (see HERE).

Treecreeper by M.Simm

Saturday 20th

The morning began with two Great Northern Divers sitting offshore amongst the Red-throated divers and Great Crested Grebes. Two Lesser Redpolls flew overhead, the first this spring, and then a push raptor passage included a Red Kite, 11 Buzzards, a Peregrine, and two Sparrowhawks north. On Worth the Siberian Chiffchaff was singing, a Water Pipit was present near Roaring Gutter, and eight Ravens flew over (a new record count for Sandwich Bay).

Siberian Chiffchaff by G.Segelbacher.

Friday 19th

A busy day in the spring sunshine. New Downs held the regular juvenile Tundra Bean Goose and a Barnacle Goose in with 82 White-fronted Geese by the North Pool. A male Bearded Tit showed well along the river by the Polytunnels. On Worth yesterday’s Siberian Chiffchaff was still present and calling frequently in hedgerows along the footpath between Cornfield Wood and Great Wood. A Long-eared Owl, two Firecrests, and a White Wagtail were seen on the Estate and huge numbers of Starlings continue to be seen in the area.

Barnacle, Tundra Bean, and White-fronted Geese by A.Lipczynski

Thursday 18th

A Great Northern Diver and three Goosanders flew past offshore, a handful of Chaffinches flew north overhead, and a bit of raptor activity included a Hen Harrier, Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk, and three Buzzards over the Estate. Two Black-tailed Godwits were on Worth marshes. In the afternoon a Siberian Chiffchaff was discovered on Worth marshes.

Wednesday 17th

Today the brisk northerly wind encouraged the first significant ‘vismig’ of the year. Chaffinches and Starlings were on the move, originally in dribs and drabs, but later picking up momentum. At least 800 Chaffinches were logged going north and Starlings were everywhere with at least 12,000 birds between the Estate and Worth. A Merlin, a Grey Wagtail, and a few Siskins were also passing through. A Woodcock was on the Estate, a small group of White-fronted Geese were glimpsed near Restharrow Scrape, and another 85 White-fronted Geese and a Short-eared Owl were north of the Chequers.

Monday 15th

A female Bearded Tit was on the Green Wall, there was a small increase in Chiffchaffs, and a pair of Spoonbills were on the Garage Pool at Pegwell in the evening.

Monday 15th

The goose flock behind Restharrow Scrape included 73 White-fronted, one Tundra Bean, five Barnacle, and six hybrid Barnacle x Canada Geese. Nearby, the flooded rills of the asparagus fields harboured nine White Wagtails, with another on Willow Farm, plus a Sand Martin on Worth and a Scandinavian Rock Pipit at Dickson’s Corner.

White-fronted Geese by J.Buckingham

Sunday 14th

WeBS counting across the northern sectors produced 22 Sandwich Terns heading into Pegwell Bay and singles of Jack Snipe, Rock Pipit, and Merlin at the Point. At least 68 White-fronted Geese were on the Estate and two Sand Martins and a White Wagtail were on Worth. Hopefully the Crane nearby at Minster may pay us a visit if we’re lucky? Worth marshes seems like a good bet.

Sandwich Terns offshore by A.Lipczynski

Friday 12th

A Black-throated Diver drifted past offshore close-in at the top of King’s Avenue on the Estate and the mixed flock of White-fronted and Barnacle Geese were seen briefly near Restharrow Scrape. Meanwhile the two Sand Martins were still hawking over the pools by the Great Wood on Worth and our first White Wagtail of the spring dropped in briefly. A Hen Harrier motored through and the five Green Sandpipers continue to be seen, having over-wintered successfully on the marshes.

White-fronted Geese by P.Blanche. Can you spot the Barnacle Geese?

Thursday 11th

A windy morning with strong gusts. Sea-watching was well below-par though with just the odd Shelduck, Common Scoter, and Kittiwakes noted. A Sparrowhawk hunting Sanderlings on the Estate beach was the highlight. The two Sand Martins remained on Worth but there was no sign of the Mandarins.

This year the Kent Ornithological Society is conducting a survey of Turtle Doves in Kent, in collaboration with the RSPB, the Rare Breeding Birds Panel, Natural England and BTO. Sadly, the Turtle Dove has declined by over 90% in the last 20 years and recent work has revealed that Kent is now the top county for this species in the UK. As such we have a responsibility to try and make an accurate assessment of the Kent population in 2021. Please see the link below for details of how to take part and select a square for surveying: kosturtledoves.birdsurvey.org.uk.

Turtle Dove by S.Ray

Wednesday 10th

Despite the mostly horrible and windy weather it was an interesting day. A small flock of Mandarin Ducks were the most obvious arrival, with two drakes and a female on the deep pool next to the Great Wood on Worth marshes. Our first Sand Martins of the year were also present and the first Blackcaps of spring were noticeable on the Green Wall. Meanwhile a Black-throated Diver was offshore and the White-fronted Goose flock was seen flying around the Willow Farm area.

Mandarins by A.Lipczynski

Tuesday 9th

There were singles of Hen Harrier, Water Rail, and Mediterranean Gull on the Estate today and the first pulse of Siskins moving through. Analysis of ‘nocmig’ data showed significantly more activity overnight than recently, with waders, thrushes, and wildfowl noticeable, including Common Scoters.

A female Common Scoter offshore by S.Reynaert. I wonder if it is one of the birds recorded overnight on our sound-recording gear?

The Estate stickers, giving SBBOT members free access to our Car Park, will be available from Monday 15th March from the Toll Booth at the Sandwich end.

Monday 8th

Sightings continue to revolve around various geese. The four Barnacle Geese, 88 White-fronted Geese, one Pink-footed, and six Canada x Barnacle hybrids were on Estate fields around Restharrow Scrape whilst one Barnacle Geese and 40 White-fronted Geese were on New Downs, as well as 11 Pintails, two Ringed Plovers, one Grey Wagtail, and one Siskin. In the afternoon a Firecrest was on the Green Wall, a Hen Harrier hunted around the Jubilee field, and a Yellowhammer was singing at the Observatory.

Sunday 7th

A Great White Egret dropped into Worth early on and was then seen heading north over the Observatory and New Downs later. The Estate goose flock comprised four Barnacle Geese, 84 White-fronted Geese, one Pink-footed, one Tundra Bean, and six Canada x Barnacle hybrids. A Merlin was perched nearby whilst 135 Red-throated Divers and 141 Great Crested Grebes were on the sea.

Great White Egret by N.Davies

Saturday 6th

There were 42 White-fronted Geese and a Black-tailed Godwit on New Downs and four Barnacle Geese, and 60 White-fronted Geese on the Estate. Over on worth a Black Kite drifted through around midday, before heading back south, and 25 Dunlins were on Willow Farm.

Friday 5th

The Geesefeast continues. There were five Barnacle Geese, 82 White-fronted Geese, one Tundra Bean, one Brent, one Pink-footed, three Egyptian, one Canada, six Canada x Barnacle hybrids, and many Greylag Geese in the fields behind Restharrow Scrape. The first signs of spring vismig comprised 110 Chaffinches flying north whilst 11 Pintails were on Worth marshes and a House Martin was seen in Pegwell Bay.

Thursday 4th

Cold and still a touch misty. Brent Geese were on the move though and a few hours watching the sea produced 830 birds north, plus a nice selection of other birds heading north including ten Shelducks, two Teals, two Shovelers, four Common Scoters, two Red-breasted Mergansers, two Goldeneyes, 226 Red-throated Divers, one Black-throated Diver, 62 Great Crested Grebes, 50 Gannets, 99 Cormorants, and 68 Dunlins.

If you know of anyone who has taken an interest in nature during lockdown, please direct them to our Art and Photography competition. Primarily, but not exclusively, aimed towards children and young people, we would love them to contribute a piece of work that captured their spirits during lockdown. The competition will be judged by guest judge Richard Taylor-jones, wildlife cameraman for Springwatch, CountryFile, and the One Show on BBC. Entrants could win a wildlife trail camera, games and activities, and their piece displayed in the hides at Restharrow Scrape.

Wednesday 3rd

It was another morning of dense fog, only today it refused to clear. A murky wander to the Chequers and back produced six Canada Geese, four Barnacle Geese, one Pink-footed Goose, and 91 White-fronted Geese, mostly on the fields behind Restharrow Scrape or on Willow Farm. There were also lots of displaying Lapwings despite the poor conditions.

Over the next few weeks I expect the first wave of spring migrants to make landfall. Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Wheatear, Sand Martin, Swallow, and House Martin are all likely whilst it’s also a good time to find scarcer species such as Woodlark, Lapland Bunting, and Spoonbill.

Tuesday 2nd

A very foggy start that didn’t clear until mid-morning. There were still 20 Tree Sparrows in the ploughed field between the Clay Pigeon shoot and the sandpit area at Dickson’s Corner. A flock of 42 White-fronted and four Barnacle Geese were mobile in the area. It’s amazing how quickly we become blasé about that number of White-fronted Geese. We’ve become spoilt with them this winter with flocks of over 600 seen before the New Year. In any other winter 40+ birds would be excellent. Enjoy them while you can as they’ll be on their way back to their breeding grounds shortly.

On Worth there were now ten Chiffchaffs, as well as eight Pintails, four Pochards, five Green Sandpipers, and two Water Pipits.

Monday 1st

At a very cold Pegwell Bay, there was a nice drake Pintail showing well on the Garage Pool and two summer-plumaged Mediterranean Gulls on the mud. A top tip at this time of year is to lookout for the jet-black hoods of Mediterranean Gull as they moult through earlier before Black-headed Gulls. Its often an easy way to flick through a mixed flock of Gulls quickly, though it won’t be long before Black-headed Gulls are also in full summer plumage. There was no sign of the recent Sandwich Terns in the Bay. A Red-legged Partridge on Worth was the rarest bird of the day, with Hen Harrier, Water Pipit, and five Chiffchaffs also present.