Thursday 31st

A Swallow on Worth was our first hirundine of the year. A few flocks of Siskins were around the edge of the Great Wood and Cornfield Wood and the White Stork was still present. Two Firecrests were in The Elms. All before the weather took a turn for the worse…

Wednesday 30th

A drake Garganey was a nice find on Restharrow Scrape and showed well throughout the morning. Three Little Ringed Plovers dropped in briefly before heading off again and a male Hen Harrier flew through towards Worth marshes. There were also c.100 Redwings in the Whitehouse area at dawn, most likely grounded by the rain overnight. Our first Sedge Warbler of the year was found on Worth marshes.

Tuesday 29th

It felt cold today but that didn’t stop 18 Chiffchaffs and 12 Cetti’s Warblers from singing away on the Green Wall. A Hen Harrier and two Kingfishers were on Worth marshes.

Teal by G.Lee

Monday 28th

Low cloud and cool for a walk along Prince’s Beach in the morning. Four Grey Partridges and a Jack Snipe were the highlights. There were only small numbers of waders at the Point as the tide was not particularly high, and we’re that changeover period where the wintering birds have moved on and the spring migrants yet to arrive. It’ll pick up soon though so keep an eye on Pegwell and the Point over the coming weeks for migrant wader flocks. A Mediterranean Gull was offshore and eight singing Corn Buntings on territory on the Estate was a good count. There was a Firecrest in The Elms and a Black Redstart at the Observatory.

Sunday 27th

A little dampness in the air today. Not much new in but the White Stork and three Pintails remained on Worth and a Brambling was at the Observatory.

Saturday 26th

Three Water Pipits, two Ruffs, a Spotted Redshank, and a Hen Harrier were on Worth. A male Marsh Harrier hunted on the Estate and 44 Lapwings were still on the ploughed fields behind Restharrow Scrape. An Avocet continues to show well on the Garage Pool at Pegwell.

Friday 25th

Seven Red Kites flew north today. Worth marshes produced three Little Ringed Plovers, a Spotted Redshank, seven Ruffs, and two Black Redstarts, whilst the White Stork was mobile throughout the area.

As some of you may already be aware there are a few Trustees stepping down from SBBOT Council in May. There are also lots of vacancies for manning the shop, fund-raising, leading guided walks, event planning, etc. In short, the Observatory is looking for new people to join the team. Anyone can make a real difference and you don’t have to be an expert ornithologist or scientist as all sorts of skills, talents, and experiences can enrich the Trust. A willingness to get involved and help the trust secure a useful future are far more important that any qualifications. Moreover, the more diverse the council, the more diverse will be those attracted to it and its work. We want EVERYONE to share our love of birds, wildlife, and the natural world. If you have any spare time and fancy joining us please send us a message at info@sbbot.org.uk or drop by the Observatory some time for a chat.

Buzzard by S.Reynaert

Thursday 24th

Another day of lovely weather. The White Stork was still on Worth marshes and the Hen Harrier flew low through. The daily passage of birds of prey included seven Red Kites, 17 Buzzards, and another WHITE-TAILED EAGLE north. There was also a report of a Hobby. Yesterday’s Grey Plover was still present, as were five Pintails, and the first Blackcap was singing in the Great Wood. A Black Redstart was around the Observatory and farm buildings, a Red Kite flew over, as did 74 Siskins.

Wednesday 23rd

An excellent morning on Worth marshes with three Pintails, Hen Harrier, 19 Buzzards, Red Kite, Little Ringed Plover, Spotted Redshank, Grey Plover, three White Wagtails, and two Water Pipits. Mid-morning another WHITE-TAILED EAGLE drifted through over the marshes, seen next over New Downs, and then later at Pegwell Bay. The White Stork was also seen over New Downs but by mid-afternoon it was back again on Worth marshes. There were two Ruffs and four Pintails on the pools on New Downs and on the Estate the highlights were Brambling and Siskin overhead and a Firecrest trapped and ringed.

White Stork by N.Smith

Tuesday 22nd

The White Stork was still around Willow Farm in the morning but as the day warmed up it became more active and began thermalling south towards Betteshanger CP. A Black Redstart was on the Estate seafront at the top of Waldershare Avenue. A few Siskins were heard overhead and a Merlin came in off the sea.

There have been large numbers of Garganey seen around the UK this week so keep your eyes open in the area. Restharrow Scrape, New Downs, and Worth marshes all have good track records for this species. It’s a good time for Black-necked Grebe too, though this species is much rarer in the Sandwich Bay area.

Monday 21st

The White Stork was pacing around Willow Farm with a Hen Harrier, two Canada Geese, and a Short-eared Owl also present. On the other side of Worth marshes there were two Little Ringed Plovers, two Pintails, a Red Kite, and 18 Buzzards. New Downs produced four Pintails, three Ruffs, and a Spotted Redshank and a Wheatear was on Prince’s Beach.

Avocet by N.Hefford

Sunday 20th

An excellent day with our first Little Gull of the year on Worth marshes, followed swiftly by a female Garganey on the same pool. The White Stork was still present, as well as two Water Pipits and a Pintail, and four Red Kites went north. There were also four additional Garganeys in Pegwell Bay and two Dunlins dropped into Restharrow Scrape.

Saturday 19th

Sunny and breezy. A Red Kite drifted north and Jack Snipe and White Stork were on Worth.

Friday 18th

An early walk on the Green Wall produced three Kingfishers, nine Cetti’s Warblers, seven Chiffchaffs, two Goldcrests, two Coal Tits, seven Siskins, four Bramblings, and four Bullfinches. An Egyptian Goose on New Downs North Pool was new for the year with Pintail and Spotted Redshank still present. Another first of the year appeared in the form of Red Kite, as five drifted north over Worth marshes, where a Dunlin was new in and six Siskins and four Bramblings flew through.

Dunnock by G.Lee

Thursday 17th

Our first Wheatear of the year was at Sandilands, along with the Black Redstart, with a Firecrest singing in The Elms. The White Stork was still on Worth marshes as well as the pair of Little Ringed Plovers.

Firecrest by J.Dodds

Wednesday 16th

A grey day, perfect for watching migration in action. Chaffinches dominated with over 900 birds flying south during the morning. They were joined by 120+ Siskins, ten Bramblings, a few hundred Starlings, and, best of all, a brief Woodlark. A Black Redstart was around the Sandilands area and Firecrest was singing next door in the Cellars. The first Red-breasted Merganser of the year flew past offshore and three Black-tailed Godwits and two Avocets dropped in an out of Restharrow Scrape. The Blackcap was singing again in The Elms and 15 Turnstones and a handful of Ringed Plovers were along Prince’s Beach. Over on Worth marshes there were singles of Water Pipit, Jack Snipe, and Spotted Redshank, and the first two Little Ringed Plovers of the year.

Snipe by N.Smith

Tuesday 15th

The clear highlight of the morning was an immature WHITE-TAILED EAGLE that cruised low over The Elms and the Observatory building before continuing north over Royal St George’s Golf Course. It was a spectacular sight and one that is becoming more and more regular here, which is amazing considering there were no previous records before 2020. The release of birds onto the Isle of Wight has clearly played a large part in this increase but it has been proven that not all birds that pass through Sandwich Bay area from this re-introduction scheme. Some birds are genuine continental migrants. Photos show a small tracker on the mantle of the bird so it is presumably from the Isle of Wight, but we will confirm the provenance of the bird in due time. It becomes our eighth confirmed record (six in 2020, two in 2021).

Elsewhere there seemed to be a small clear-out of birds. However, two Canada Geese were on Restharrow Scrape and a Spotted Redshank was new on Worth marshes (favouring the muddy pool near the wooden bridge off the Pinnock Wall). There’s a Saharan dust cloud forecast for tonight so fingers crossed the next few days will bring us Black-winged Stilts, Glossy Ibises, and Great Spotted Cuckoos.

White-tailed Eagle by S.Reynaert

Monday 14th

The first Blackcaps of the year were singing on the Estate and there was a noticeable arrival of Chiffchaffs with five singing on the Estate, 12 on the Green Wall, and 11 on Worth. Two Bullfinches were at Sandilands but there was no sign of yesterday’s Black Redstart. There were still a few Siskins and Bramblings around today but the sunny conditions meant that most of vismig was lost high up in the clear skies. On the flip side, the light southerlies and sun meant that Buzzards were moving. At least 21 were over Worth marshes with double-figures noted over the Estate probably including some of the same birds. A lone Water Pipit was still on the pools on Worth but eight Redshanks and two Ringed Plovers were new in. There were still two Pintails on New Downs and a Short-eared Owl was seen to come in off the sea.

Sunday 13th

Low cloud for most of the day meant a bit of ‘vismig’ occurred again. Just over 270 Chaffinches flew south, plus a few Bramblings and Siskins. The year’s first Black Redstart was on the lawn at Sandilands, though elusive. Two Firecrests and three Chiffchaffs were in The Elms, a Cetti’s Warbler was at Slazengers, and an interesting (presumed) Caspian x Herring Gull hybrid dropped into Restharrow Scrape. At least six Tree Sparrows were still around the sandpit area at Dickson’s Corner. The White Stork was also still on Worth marshes and on the Green Wall there were ten Chiffchaffs and a White Wagtail.

Saturday 12th

A few Mediterranean Gulls and Kittiwakes were offshore but most of the activity was happening along the shore with 250 Starlings, 75+ Siskins, 200+ Chaffinches, 16 Lesser Redpolls, and a Brambling south. There were migrant Stonechats noted in odd places and five Marsh Harriers on Worth marshes was a high count. The White Stork was still present. A Firecrest was in The Elms and a number of Redwings were calling after dark.

Dunlins on Restharrow Scrape by S.Reynaert

Friday 11th

The first three Sandwich Terns of the year went past offshore, along with a Great Skua. The White Stork was still present on Worth marshes and six Siskins flew over, all before the wind picked and the rain rolled in just around midday.

We would like to know your views about Restharrow Scrape following the re-development work we have undertaken over the last couple of years. There are forms at the Observatory and in the hides at Restharrow Scrape. Alternatively, you can fill in the form online HERE. Thanks.

Thursday 10th

Light southerlies and clear skies made for a splendid day to explore the Recording Area. New Downs was busy with almost 70 species recorded in the morning. A winter plumaged Spotted Redshank was on the river at Bloody Point (TR340597) and was presumably one of the birds seen in Pegwell Bay recently. There were four Pintails on the North Pool (TR338601), three Bearded Tits on New Downs Pool (TR338589), and two each of Green Sandpiper and Corn Bunting.

Four migrant Lesser Black-backed Gulls dropped onto Restharrow Scrape and over on Worth marshes there were two White Wagtails, an Avocet, two Oystercatchers, and a Great White Egret on the pools either side of the Wooden Bridge (TR348558), two Pintails and two Pochards on the deep pool by the Great Wood (TR344562), as well as Peregrine, three Green Sandpipers, five Chiffchaffs, and the mobile White Stork.

Goldfinch by J.Dodds

Wednesday 9th

Singles of Firecrest and Bullfinch were on the Estate today. The latter isn’t resident on the Estate so is a presumed migrant passing through. In fact, up until around five-six years ago any sightings of Bullfinch were notable. These days there are small breeding populations on New Downs, the Green Wall, and on Worth marshes. A few Chiffchaffs were on the Green Wall and the Great White Egret and White Stork were on Worth marshes again today. A Glaucous Gull was reported nearby at Deal so could conceivably roost in Pegwell Bay.

Tuesday 8th

A nice wander on Worth marshes produced White Stork, Great White Egret, two male Pintails, Merlin, Raven, three Grey Wagtails, and three Water Pipits. A singing Firecrest was at the bottom of King’s Avenue on the Estate and four Brent Geese flew over Restharrow Scrape.

Monday 7th

It was still very fresh out there despite the sunshine. The White Stork was seen thermalling over Willow Farm and the Great White Egret dropped into a pool by the Great Wood. A large flock of 70 Skylarks were in the ploughed asparagus field behind the sandpit area. If there’s going to be a Woodlark drop in that’ll be the place I reckon. A few Siskins and Grey Wagtails flew over and the Oystercatchers have returned to the islands on Restharrow Scrape, hopefully to breed once again.

Oystercatcher by P.Coltman

Sunday 6th

A much quieter (and colder) day. There were 560 Lapwings around the Restharrow Scrape area and thousands of Starlings on the Estate.

Yesterday’s Caspian Gull by G.Segelbacher

Saturday 5th

There were singles of Black-throated Diver and Slavonian Grebe offshore among the Red-throated Divers and Great Crested Grebes. The latter was the first of the year. A Caspian Gull on the beach south of Sandilands was an excellent find on the Estate. A small overhead movement of Chaffinches took place and there was a noticeable influx of Starlings into the area with at least 4,000 on Worth marshes alone. The Great White Egret was still on Worth too.

Stepping outside after dark revealed an overnight Thrush movement. This was picked up on our ‘Nocmig’ recorders (see below). A flock of Knot were also recorded over the Observatory building.

‘Nocmig’ results from Stonar overnight by M.Sutherland

Friday 4th

The sunny spell early on produced a lot of activity on the Estate. There were 39 Skylarks displaying over the Golf Courses and the fields, three Redwings, and singles of Siskin and Lesser Redpoll. The Green Wall was similar with vocal Cetti’s Warblers and singles of Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Coal Tit, and Siskin. A second-calendar Caspian Gull was present at the high tide roost in Pegwell Bay, along with lots of waders moving to and fro due to the very high water. The White Stork was seen on Worth marshes as well as two Mediterranean Gulls and seven Buzzards.

Tufted Duck by G.Lee

Thursday 3rd

More signs of spring today with Chiffchaff singing, Long-tailed Tits nest building, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Grey Wagtail on Restharrow Scrape, and the first migrant Ringed Plover on Worth marshes. A Great White Egret was still present on Worth too.

Chiffchaff by P.Blanche

Wednesday 2nd

There was brief views of a possible flock of seven Spoonbills heading north over the New Downs/Stonar area but no sign of them in Pegwell Bay later. They could turn up somewhere nearby though. At least one Great White Egret remained on Worth marshes, as well as the White Stork. An arrival of Wagtails on the asparagus fields on the Estate included a minimum of 33 Pied and five White, the latter being our first sightings this year. Three Tree Sparrows were still around Dickson’s Corner and two Mediterranean Gulls in almost full summer plumage were strutting around on the Green Wall.

Of local interest, Dover District Council have opened consultations to extend the Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) at Sandwich Bay for a further three years. The current PSPO includes a Dog Exclusion area at the very north of Shellness Point and in Pegwell Bay itself. These areas have always been out of bounds for people anyway. The proposed Dog Exclusion area will remain the same as before. However, the Dogs on Lead Restricted Area is now bigger. It includes everything down to the low-tide mark on Prince’s Beach (whereas before it was just along the footpath and shingle). See Page 26 of https://www.dover.gov.uk/Environment/Environmental-Crime/Public-Spaces-Protection-Order/PSPO-2021.pdf for current restrictions and compare to Page 30 of https://preview-dover.cloud.contensis.com/Consultation/Public-Spaces-Protection-Order/PSPO-proposals-1.pdf for proposed restrictions.

You can comment on the proposal at the following two links:

Dog Exclusion – https://forms.office.com/pages/responsepage.aspx?id=U8vQl50ZcEygATdejJU3NVcsWzjGGOtJuRGoQSz7iINUNjE0WjNYUlhWU01LVk00NVpBSjYwNUdNMi4u

Dogs on lead restrictions – https://forms.office.com/pages/responsepage.aspx?id=U8vQl50ZcEygATdejJU3NVcsWzjGGOtJuRGoQSz7iINURU4xMUlPWVkzOEhGNFY3VjdYQUlTSlFQRC4u

Tuesday 1st

A Long-eared Owl was seen on the Estate and there was an increase in Great Crested Grebes offshore, though the groggy weather made viewing difficult. Corn Buntings have begun to return to their breeding territories on the golf courses and near Restharrow Dunes and were even singing in the mizzly conditions. There were two of everything on Worth today; two Great White Egrets, two Pintails, two Pochards, two Marsh Harriers, two Water Pipits, and two Yellowhammers.

InFocus will be here again on Sunday so feel free to pop by and test or purchase optics and accessories.