There were a number of Hobbies, Buzzards, and a few Marsh Harriers hunting and soaring over the marshes in the summer sun. A pair of Stonechats fed young at Dickson’s Corner.
Over on New Downs the Spoonbill spent most it’s time asleep on the North Pool (as Spoonbills often do), a Hobby showed well near New Downs New Pool, and a Whimbrel bathed along the river by Bloody Point. It was nice to hear a duet of ‘bubbling’ female and ‘cuckoo-ing’ male Cuckoos on the walk. The early arriving Warblers, such as Chiffchaff, Blackcap, and Sedge Warbler are beginning to go quiet now they have large young, but Reed Warblers and Whitethroats are still active.
The warm weather saw the best morning for raptor passage this spring with 53 Red Kites and ten Buzzards north, plus at least seven Hobbies in the air at the time. The consistent cold weather throughout April and early May held up so many migrants which were trying to reach our shores. As such, there’s Spotted Flycatchers and waves of new Reed Warblers still arriving. There are reports of migrants passing through southern European countries so I expect we may continue to see spring migration here well into June.
A Great White Egret flew off from New Downs towards Stonar whilst a Red Kite drifted north through and a female Garganey was on Worth marshes.
Darting around the Estate between heavy rain showers found two Spotted Flycatchers in the Haven, small numbers of Swifts overhead, and a late White Wagtail and ten Black-tailed Godwits on Restharrow Scrape.
A different Spoonbill was on New Downs today. The previous bird had a pale bill indicative of immaturity (likely born last year) whereas today’s bird was mostly black with a pale tip.
The Spoonbill remained on New Downs whilst the first Black-headed Gull young were seen on Restharrow Scrape. It won’t be long before there’s lots of them running around.
The Spoonbill was relocated on New Downs. A handful of waders were on the pools and also at the Point, with more so in Pegwell Bay including 41 Ringed Plovers, 135 Sanderlings, and 75 Dunlins, plus a lone Little Tern. A flock of 29 Corn Buntings on Prince’s Beach was high and unseasonal, though they are often later nesters, and it was pleasing to see the first Redshank young on Worth marshes.
It still remains very windy out there. Little was happening on the sea but Restharrow Scrape was busy with breeding activity. All the Coots have tiny chicks, the Black-headed Gulls are all on nests, and the Tufted Ducks can be seen trying to discretely hide away in the surrounding vegetation. There’s a Gadwall pair hanging around too which likely have a nest somewhere. Over on Worth a Spoonbill dropped in on the deep pool east of the Great Wood before heading off mid-afternoon.
A female Hen Harrier sparked excitement as it motored through Worth marshes late morning. Another Wheatear was out on the scrapes too. The wind soon became quite strong and made birding rather difficult, but a Dunlin dropped into Restharrow Scrape.
This Sunday 23rd at 2pm we will be holding our AGM. This will be held online and (free) tickets for the event can be obtained HERE. Also occurring on Sunday will be our first visit by InFocus for some time. They will be set up at the front of the Observatory.
In a spell of sunshine 15 Red Kites went north over Worth. There were at least four Hobbies hunting the marshes too whilst three unseasonal Siskins zipped over.
A Willow Warbler was at Mary Bax, an Avocet was on Restharrow Scrape first thing, and two Wheatears were at Dickson’s Corner. The pair of Wheatears in the rough area south of Sandilands do seem to breeding which is excellent news. A singing Yellow Wagtail in the asparagus fields on the Estate is also now a notable event. At least 21 Red Kites went north overhead later in the morning.
The hides at Restharrow Scrape are now open again. Please remember to bring your facemask. Two interesting wagtails dropped into the newly open scrape to kick things off. I’ve spoken before on the complexity of the ‘flava’ wagtail group. At least one of today’s birds shows a demarcated white throat (often touted as an Iberian feature). However, the noticeable subocular patch seems to rule that out. It’s most likely to be a Blue-headed Wagtail variation. But do keep an eye on Yellow Wagtail flocks at the moment as there’s been a noticeable arrival of Grey-headed Wagtails M.f.thunbergi into the UK this week. Also of note were Wheatear, Barnacle goose, and the first Honey-buzzard of the year which flew over the Observatory at midday.
Singles of migrant Greenshank, Ringed Plover, and Common Sandpiper were on New Downs, as well as 11 Corn Buntings and 140 Swallows (our highest count this year). Three Wheatears and four Whimbrels were on the Estate.
Three Wheatears are still hanging around the area south of Sandilands. Fingers crossed they will breed. Wheatears are now only occasional nesters at Sandwich Bay and a much-declined breeding bird in the County. Most pairs are found at Dungeness with a few also around the Samphire Hoe area. It’s been around four years since the last pair bred here so if you do see any breeding activity please do drop us a message. We were hopeful the light drizzle and easterly winds would drop some migrants in but it was surprisingly quiet. However, whilst prepping the Restharrow Scrape hides for opening on Monday, a Sandwich Tern dropped in.
The BLACK STORK must have roosted somewhere on Worth marshes as it was present at first light. It soon hopped over to Ham Fen though where it spent most of the morning before heading off again inland. Also on Worth were Greenshank, three Cuckoos, and Turtle Dove. Eight Whimbrels and three Bar-tailed Godwits were in the Dickson’s Corner/Mary Bax area.
With the Government Covid-19 restrictions due to ease the Trustees have agreed that the hides at Restharrow Scrape can open again on Monday 17th May. The hides will be limited to six people at a time with social distancing and facemasks essential. Hand gel will be provided. Please act safely and responsibly in the hides and I hope you enjoy being back.
A few singing Reed Warblers around the Oasis/Whitehouse area were perhaps new migrants, a Great Spotted Woodpecker heading high north certainly was. The wind soon picked up and made things rather difficult after. In the late afternoon a BLACK STORK was filmed flying over Worth marshes. This is presumably the same bird which has also been seen around Stodmarsh and Bekesbourne in the last few days.
An Osprey motored through Worth marshes, avoiding almost everyone, with another also seen heading north from Deal which must’ve come through here too. It’s amazing how large birds of prey can sneak through unnoticed. The satellite-tracking of the released Isle of Wight White-tailed Eagles shows this. There were still lots of Whimbrels around, plus a handful of Common Scoters, Mediterranean Gulls, and Sandwich Terns offshore. A Turtle Dove was a good sighting on the Green Wall. In the evening the heavens opened and was accompanied by impressive thunder and lightning. Hopefully the Purple Heron seen nearby at Ham Fen will do the right thing and drop by on Worth marshes this week.
The Estate was reasonably productive. A few Wheatears were along the coast, a trickle of hirundines flew through, and a Hobby sat on the beach early on (presumably having just made the sea crossing). An Arctic Tern went north offshore in the company of a few Sandwich Terns. A Bar-tailed Godwit in Restharrow Dunes was a strange sight whilst 40 Whimbrels were spread in various fields between the Drove and Restharrow Scrape, with seven Mediterranean Gulls calling overhead. A/the Cattle Egret flew over the Estate just before midday. A Turnstone on New Downs was unusual inland find, with Black-tailed Godwit and ten Greenshanks more expected.
Five Turtle Doves were on Worth marshes this morning and a Cattle Egret flew straight through heading inland. There were 24 Whimbrels, a Wheatear, and a late White Wagtail in fields between the Chequers and Dickson’s Corner. And then it hailed (again).
There wasn’t too much in the way of new migrants to shout about today but it was pleasing to note the Turtle Doves back on territory on Worth. It’s always a delight to hear their soft purring across the marshes. Just a reminder that the Kent Ornithological Society are organising a survey of Turtle Doves across Kent this summer. If you haven’t signed up yet please do, there are still plenty of squares available. Visit http://kosturtledoves.birdsurvey.org.uk/ for info.
There was enough passage offshore to keep us interested for a while, though it was hardly Cap Gris-Nez. A Hobby came in off, 32 Sanderlings and three Whimbrels went north, and 77 Sandwich Terns milled to and fro. A flock of 69 Dunlins in nice summer finery were on the Estate beach with 11 Whimbrels and a Curlew at Dickson’s Corner allowing close comparison. Fourteen Swifts and two Yellow Wagtails also went north.
Today was the first day without northerlies for a month. A Great White Egret flew south from the Sampher and three Turtle Doves and five Wheatears were on Worth. Over on the Estate 27 Whimbrels were in the fields around Dickson’s Corner, a few Mediterranean Gulls loafed around, and 14 Lesser Redpolls flew overhead (noteworthy in spring). Two Bullfinch in the Whitehouse were also unusual.
A Hobby over the Observatory was a good start to the day but Worth produced Spotted Redshank and Ring Ouzel to take top spot. A Wood Sandpiper flew over Stonar after dark.
A lovely male Whinchat was at Dickson’s Corner, a bird (and plumage) that is really quite rare here in spring. There was a Willow Warbler, an increase in hirundines, and lots of territorial Whitethroats also on the Estate. A Red Kite and 12 Buzzards flew over Worth marshes and a female Ring Ouzel dropped in.