Wednesday 30th

Yellow-browed Warbler by Steve Reynaert
Yellow-browed Warbler by Steve Reynaert

Another day of increasingly frisky easterlies saw at least 5 Yellow-browed Warblers remaining from yesterday’s influx, but there was little evidence of much new, although 25 Goldcrests and 30 Chiffchaffs appeared to represent a slight increase. Otherwise, a Hobby was hunting over the Estate where a Kingfisher flashed across one of the fields and the ringers trapped a Firecrest.

Tuesday 29th

The wind that continues to blow with increasing enthusiasm from somewhere east of the Caspian had the welcome effect of depositing at least 7 Yellow-browed Warblers this morning, though to be exact one was the bird that has been present for four days now. Large numbers of Stonechats remained, with at least 9 Wheatears and 3 Whinchats, and around 250 Goldfinches were seen around HQ first thing.

Monday 28th

Apart from the eastern promise, one thing that the current easterly airflow can be relied upon is to turn visible migration into a right old mess. This morning’s total of 420 Goldfinches involved 208 flying N and 112 heading S, while 100 were associated with various patches of thistles, 33 Siskins flew S and 27 flew N and 37 Redpolls completed the avian minestrone. At least 22 Stonechats were on fences and bushes between Dickson’s Corner and the Chequers, with another 14 over on Worth, 3 Firecrests were present with 12 Goldcrests and the Yellow-browed Warbler was calling fitfully from Waldershare Gully. For lovers of aquabatics, a Little Grebe was back on the scrape – the first there for almost exactly two months.

Sunday 27th

With the wind set in the east for a few days it looks like being hard work, hopefully a case of quality over quantity, but this morning was fairly hard work, with 30 or so Chiffchaffs in the bushes, very little visible migration and a Firecrest in the nets.

Saturday 26th

A reasonable bit of vis.mig. this morning included 249 Goldfinches, 247 Siskins, 35 Redpolls and a notable 32 Blue Tits, while a Yellow-browed Warbler was in Waldershare Gully and a Treecreeper was trapped.

Friday 25th

Visible migration had the feel of October about it this morning, with the first significant movements of Goldfinches (343), Redpolls (147) and Linnets (159), all heading N along with 177 Siskins, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 6 Reed Buntings 20 alba and 9 Grey Wagtails. Ten Stonechats and 3 Whinchats were clustered around Dickson’s Corner, with a Short-eared Owl nearby, 3 Song Thrushes dropped in and the bushes held at least 100 Chiffchaffs. As the day warmed in the approach to midday, 12 Buzzards, 3 Sparrowhawks and a Hobby flew S to round off a pleasant autumn morning.

Wednesday 23rd

juvenile Pallid Harrier by Martin Sutherland
juvenile Pallid Harrier by Martin Sutherland

Life’s like that. isn’t it? A clear morning with a W breeze didn’t augur well for much that might be moving, but following an alert of a slight ringtail harrier flying out to sea at 0650 a juvenile PALLID HARRIER was seen and photographed near Mary Bax and the nearby golf course at 0730; the first Observatory record. A rather tense period followed, partially relieved by a phone call to say that it had been found near Roaring Gutter and fully relieved when it gave excellent views for ten minutes or so from 0825 before flying off to the south. Returning to the Observatory, another call came through to say that a juvenile Red-footed Falcon had been found in the same area! It may be that these were connected with Sunday’s influx of raptors and there were certainly plenty still to be seen, including a Hobby, at least 12 Kestrels, four of which seemed to move away to the N, and 2-3 Buzzards.

Tuesday 22nd

A soggy morning allowed a couple of hours of dry stuff before closing in again for the afternoon, during which 45 Chiffchaffs and 58 Siskins were recorded. along with a late-ish Swift.

Monday 21st

Mostly overcast conditions with a light but steadily increasing S/SW breeze encouraged 180 Swallows to fly in from the NE, while a Hobby did much the same and 41 Siskins were wandering about, rather than moving with much obvious purpose. Offshore, 33 Brent Geese flew by and a Barn Owl was flopping about over the golf course not long after first light. Several noisy parties of Great Tits were moving through the bushes and around 50 Chiffchaffs were present.

Sunday 20th

A clear, chilly start was helped by the absence of any wind, though seeing overflying birds in cloudless conditions was testing. Nevertheless, in three hours 220 Siskins, 2 Lapland Buntings, 8 Redpolls and a Grey Wagtail flew N and 2 Redstarts, at least 30 Goldcrests, 4 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 200 Chiffchaffs and similar numbers of Blackcaps were on the bushes and associated fence lines. Warming conditions as midday approached enticed raptors to show, including 5 Sparrowhawks, 8 Buzzards, at least 4 Hobbies and a Peregrine.

Saturday 19th

Rather After the Lord Mayor’s Show, 81 Siskins flew N in a couple of hours this morning, along with 540 Meadow Pipits and 180 Swallows, small parties of which were also flying in off the sea to the NE. Grounded birds were thin on the ground, but did include around 40-50 Blackcaps.

Friday 18th

The forecast of showers with sunny spells proved correct apart from the sunny spells bit and before persistent rain set a heavily overcast morning produced some haphazard movement that involved 260 Siskins, 1,450 Swallows, 3 Tree Pipits, 7 Redpolls and 7 Grey Wagtails, mostly flying N.

Thursday 17th

Although the day started heavily overcast a heavy shower around 0500 was the last of nearly 48 hours of rain and the improvement in fortunes, in a wind that started out WNW 2-3, was spectacular. As it turned out, a calling Yellow-browed Warbler on the Observatory track first thing was a bit of a distraction from six hours of heavy movement along the shore in which it was impossible to walk more than half a dozen paces without having to stop to count Swallows or a passing flock of Siskins or Meadow Pipits. Totals of 4,520 Siskins and 94 Grey Wagtails broke existing SBBO records by a street, while other notables included at least 3,100 Meadow Pipits, 4 Tree Pipits, 3 Redpolls, a Crossbill (our first for nearly two years), a Short-eared Owl soaring high over the golf course to the south, one of 3 Hobbies that flew out to sea and a party of 3 Dotterel that flew S above the shore. There was relatively little time to scour the bushes, but 2 Redstarts, 2 Spotted Flycatchers and a Pied Flycatcher were present, along with around 30 Chiffchaffs and 3 Whinchats.

Wednesday 16th

Although today lacked the intense squalls of yesterday it was another day of more or less incessant rain, with a drizzly window of opportunity in mid morning that allowed a brief inspection of the Elms and associated bits of the Estate. In addition to a 1st winter Mediterranean Gull on the scrape a Pied Flycatcher and 2 Spotted Flycatchers were moving through the trees along with a party of Long-tailed Tits that was tugging along about 16 Chiffchaffs and 6 Goldcrests, but as they melted away the weather soon closed in again.

Sunday 13th

Comprehensive coverage of Worth as part of the first WeBS count of the season was responsible for fairly appalling numbers of waterbirds, but continuing large numbers of Siskins, which were moving all day. At least 480 flew N, with 80 more on the Estate, while other notables included 30 Whinchats on Worth, at least 290 Linnets, several thousand Swallows heading N and 7 Grey Wagtails, while Blackcaps had clearly responded to the change in the weather, with 100 on the Estate and 30 on Worth.

Saturday 12th

Approaching rain arrived late enough to allow 47 Siskins to fly S and around 1,000 hirundines to fly N ahead of the oncoming front. One or two each of Pied Flycatcher, Redstart and Firecrest were found but it was otherwise rather pedestrian.

Friday 11th

This morning was another day of cloudless skies and a continuing easterly. Birds were much the same as have been found in the last couple of days, but the main event was the discovery of a Phyllosc. on the fence near Cinque Ports golf course that instead of heading for the nearest bush when disturbed flew into a bunker on the nearby fairway, then on to the sandy track leading across the course. It hopped along feeding, looking heavy and lumbering for a warbler, its stout, orange-yellow legs and buffy undertail coverts indicating a Radde’s Warbler, but on September 11th? The earliest British record appears to have been on September 24th, so this would be amazingly early. Other bits and bobs included a Peregrine chasing a Merlin, singles of Pied and Spotted Flycatchers and Redstart and 4 Firecrests that were trapped; possibly the party seen in the Elms yesterday.

Thursday 10th

Today was much the same as yesterday, but without a cloud in the sky, making the location of regular overflying (and probably small) parties of Siskins all but impossible. However, 9 Whinchats and 4 Wheatears remained and single Pied Flycatcher and Redstart were seen near the sailing club, with another Redstart in the Oasis. Predictably enough on a wind like this, 4 Firecrests were in the Elms.

Wednesday 9th

With the wind having slipped around to the east, movement was predictably haphazard, with about 80 Siskins flying in assorted directions, while 8 Buzzards over Worth around midday, a Merlin and 17 Whinchats were the best of the rest.

Tuesday 8th

Our apologies for the interruption to normal service, but we’re back again – hooray! Yesterday’s Siskin tally amounted to 253 N, 30 grounded and another 70 ringed, while small numbers of wagtails and pipits also flew N. This morning was oddly quiet in a NE breeze until around 0900 when the first Siskins started to move, perhaps coinciding with the appearance of the first sunshine of the morning. Around 200 flew N, many of which were further inland than in previous days, around 400 Swallows also flew N and 7 Whinchats were gathered to the south of the sailing club, while a Shag flew by close inshore and the first Water Pipit of the autumn/winter landed on the sailing club jetty.

Sunday 6th

Our first Merlin of the autumn zipped over HQ first thing, followed shortly afterwards by a Hobby, and Siskins continue to move in remarkable numbers, with 311 N in two hours from 0715 and at least 95 more as the morning went by. Bearing in mind that the Observatory’s previous highest annual total of Siskins ringed was 56, today’s total of 193 was a bit of a jaw-dropper. A Firecrest was also trapped, 3 Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk flew N along the shore and a Raven was seen over the marshes inland. Apart from the Siskins, it was actually fairly quiet.

Saturday 5th

A clear start lasted for little more than an hour and although visible passage lacked the variety of yesterday 232 Siskins flew N, along with at least 60 in the Oasis and 2 Redstarts and a Spotted Flycatcher were present. Around 260 Siskins were grounded throughout the day, making an astonishing total of about 500 for the day, which is very early for a species that normally moves in numbers from mid September through to early November.

Friday 4th

A rather chilly morning with a light W breeze precipitated the first decent movement of the autumn, in which 105 Siskins flew N (with 9 S), together with 1300 House Martins, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a Grey Wagtail and 94 Linnets. Avid followers of Siskin Monthly will have noticed from the July issue that this has already been a bonkers year for Siskins and more than the previous annual record were trapped this morning, bringing the likely total for the day to over 200. Before cloud moved in around mid-day, 3 Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk flew N.

Thursday 3rd

Although a bright morning with a light NW breeze was a bit After the Lord Mayor’s Show, the Hoopoe was seen again and around 100 Blackcaps, 2 Spotted Flycatchers and 2 Redstarts remained, while 40 Siskins flew N. Seven Buzzards drifted N ahead of gathering cloud just after midday.

Wednesday 2nd

There was some light overnight rain, which probably helped deposit an excellent early autumn arrival that included 26 Lesser Whitethroats – very good numbers these days – about 150 Blackcaps, 3 Spotted Flycatchers and 2 Redstarts, while 37 Siskins flew N and raptors joined later in the morning, with 8 Buzzards, a Hobby and a Sparrowhawk overhead. However, the best bird by some distance was a Long-eared Owl that was perched in full view just past the gate into the Oasis, giving visitors scrummy views all morning.

Tuesday 1st

With the dust settled from the very successful Bank Holiday weekend and the Wildlife & Countryside Fair, it was a morning for catching up with the bits and pieces that remained. At least 32 Whinchats and 7 Wheatears were arranged along the fence and fairways bordering Royal Cinque Ports, the Hoopoe was showing fitfully near the Chequers and in searching for it a Wryneck was found about 200 metres to the north. Parties of Swallows were moving N and at least 5 Siskins were recorded.