Well, a subtle change at last, though it is to be hoped that is wasn’t so subtle as to be non-existent by tomorrow. An overcast, calm morning brought the first Siskins of autumn, at least 12 either heading N or fiddling about in the Haven, 10 Stonechats represented a conspicuous influx and a very early Red-throated Diver was sitting on the sea, while one of Tuesday’s Yellow-browed Warblers was re-trapped. A bit of overhead movement included 20 or so Skylarks in off the sea or N and a steady trickle of Meadow Pipits heading S.
Overcast with a fresh SW breeze continuing through the morning, bringing occasional pulses of drizzle, it was a morning for a sea watch. Such things are rarely memorable affairs at Sandwich, but this morning’s was elevated from mindless tedium by an adult Mediterranean Gull and one or two Bonxies, while about 30 Gannets were milling about in the offshore murk. Several parties of Swallows blustered their way southward, but it was otherwise pretty predictable stuff and we need October to bring a change in the weather.
Bits and pieces seem to be trickling down the east coast following large arrivals from East Anglia northwards a short while ago and this morning produced 2 Yellow-browed Warblers – one in the nets and the other on the Estate. Otherwise, 6 Stonechats, a Whinchat and 2 Wheatears were seen along the shore, but there was virtually no overhead movement in the continuing and increasingly fresh breeze, still persisting from the south.
A rather overcast but calm morning had some heavy shower clouds circling ominously and although rain only came to a light shower in late morning, the darker bits seemed to be associated with occasional bursts of migrant activity, mainly involving pulses of Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps, of which around a hundred of each were recorded. To the north, 40 Reed Buntings were in vegetation along the shore but there was precious little overhead movement.
A bright morning with a frisky S breeze was ludicrously warm for late September and although the wind made finding things in the bushes a bit of a problem about 50 Chiffchaffs were present and a Grasshopper Warbler was flushed from deep rough at the edge of the golf course.
Despite clear and rather cold conditions overnight there was another substantial arrival of warblers, with a constant procession of Chiffchaffs (around 200) and Blackcaps (at least 100) passing through the Estate all morning. Today’s embellishments included our first Yellow-browed Warbler of autumn, seen in the gullies early on and then typically elusive, and a Spotted Flycatcher.
Today’s best bit of news was of a Barred Warbler, found early on along the beach to the north, which sort of makes up for a probable sighting on Monday in the gullies. Otherwise, there were lots of Chiffchaffs around again – probably close to 100 – and pockets of Blackcaps scattered about. A Hobby flew in from the NE and a Peregrine did the same later in the morning.
Another bright sunny morning after early mist produced an early Merlin, lots more Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, a Firecrest and at least 2 Tree Pipits.
It was something of a surprise to wake to the sound of rain and, despite assertions on just about every website available, it continued for a couple of hours after dawn. About 500 Swallows flew S offshore when it stopped and a handful of Meadow Pipits and a Merlin flew in off the sea, but apart from 12 Grey Plover flying high NW inland there was a good deal less going on than yesterday.
You know when Chiffchaffs start appearing in cabbages on the shingle that something is afoot. A calm, initially bright morning that soon clouded over was probably the best of the autumn so far; undoubtedly so for birds in the bushes, which included an arrival of 200 Chiffchaffs and well over a hundred Blackcaps, while visible movement early on included 1,260 Meadow Pipits, 12 Grey Wagtails and a smattering of finches and buntings. Several Song Thrushes also dropped in from on high; also the first of autumn, and 3 Spotted Flycatchers were present. Combined counts of New Downs and Pegwell for the monthly WeBS count were also interesting, including 6 Little Stints and 7 Curlew Sandpipers.
A light NNW breeze produced another reasonable day of vis.mig., including totals of 1100 Swallows, 245 House Martins, 603 Meadow Pipits, 137 Goldfinches, 233 Linnets and 34 Reed Buntings, while offshore there were 131 Wigeon and small numbers of Teal and Brent Geese. Best of a humdrum bunch in the bushes were a Spotted Flycatcher and a singing Coal Tit.
It was well worth standing at the seafront despite/ because of the frequent drizzle and increasing breeze. I do not know the final counts but highlights in the first three hours included- 2878 Swallows and 1376 House Martins north, two Black Terns feeding offshore and 49 Gannets, three Arctic and three Great Skuas south. The first autumn movement of wildfowl included 11 Brent Geese in, 14 Pintail, 110 Wigeon and 85 Teal north.
Well, the weather did change this morning, as some heavy rain circled about for most of the morning and finally arrived with us just before midday. Meadow Pipits were in increasingly impressive numbers, with around 450 flying N and flocks of 100 on the shore and 350-400 behind Mary Bax where, it is pleasant to report, a female/immature Red-backed Shrike was discovered. Factor in 3 Spotted Flycatchers and Pied Flycatchers there and at the Drove, about 600 House Martins over the Estate, 7 Whinchats, mainly around the sailing club and a Kestrel that flew strongly out to sea and it was easily the best day of the month so far.
A bit of a change this morning, even though it remained hot and clear overhead. 93 Meadow Pipits flew N, representing the first significant movement of autumn, a Pied Flycatcher and two Redstarts were in the Oasis and Haven and at least 40 Reed Buntings were on Worth; a clear increase on previous numbers. Backsand Scrape was notable for a slightly bizarre gathering of Little Grebes, loafing in the sunshine as if waiting for the pub to open …….
This morning’s blue-fest of cloudless skies and soaring temperatures was tinged with a gathering SE breeze, which had become quite frisky by mid morning. There was a bit of movement, namely 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers that flew S, although they realised the error of their ways and turned back again, and a Buzzard was hovering over the heat-shimmering fields, but the bushes remain incredibly quiet.
Dear me, the absence of an update yesterday will lead you all to believe there’s nothing out there to see. Well, ermmmmmm………………… Today was gruesomely similar.
Well, despite a clear night and cloudless morning it was a tad better than earlier this week, with about 15 Whitethroats, 14 Chiffchaffs and 4 Lesser Whitethroats in the bushes, while 11 Whinchats were present and a Grasshopper Warbler and a Redstart were trapped. Visible migration continued to be limited to a few wasps, but as mid day approached at least 9 Buzzards were soaring and hovering over the marshes.
A dull week, in terms of activity at least, ended on a familiar note with very little in the bushes, no waders on the scrape and only 4 Whinchats to be seen around the sailing club. Proceedings were elevated slightly by a trickle of visibly moving birds that included 4 Grey Wagtails and one Yellow Wagtail, all pouring S.
Sunny and warm from the word go, but for the first time in several days a breeze began to pick up. Birding was much the same as yesterday, with 14 Whinchats the highlight, though a juvenile Knot on New Downs was symptomatic of the increasing use of the area by birds that have presumably been disturbed from off the Point.
Early fog soon lifted to reveal a cloudless, calm and increasingly warm morning. 18 Whinchats and 5 Wheatears were scattered about along the shore and golf courses and a Pied Flycatcher was flitting about in the Cellars, but finding much in the bushes was again a real challenge.
Gloomy, humid and calm, the morning stuttered along with Pied Flycatcher and Redstart in the nets, a Spotted Flycatcher at the Chequers and small groups of migrants turning up at intervals, amounting to 9 Lesser Whitethroats, 7 Wheatears and 5 Whinchats, while a Whimbrel flew S.
Well, as normal as can be expected, anyway. Some un-forecast overnight rain did little to cheer things on the ground except, perhaps, to bring some much-needed moisture, and drizzle continued for much of the morning. The bushes were very quiet, although around 220 Linnets were scattered about and a few waders remained on the scrape but in truth it was all a far cry from Regal Hairstreaks and Royal Flycatchers.
Sunday 4th September
Decent coverage today however another quiet day. A Marsh Harrier in-off, a sprinkling of Whinchats and Wheatears, a party of 18 Blue Tits and a Redstart in the afternoon. Normal blog service will be resumed tomorrow as the wanderer has returned – let’s hope he’s brought some birds with him. P.S there is no truth in the rumour that he came back via St Leonards.
Saturday 3rd September
Sunny and warm with a fresh westerly breeze after overnight showers. A trek across New Downs to check the state of the scrapes revealed they’d shrunk to a fraction of their size during this spell of fine weather. A few waders hung on, namely eight Dunlin, five Ruff, a Spotted Redshank and 13 Greenshank together with 25 Little Egrets feeding in the few remaining shrinking pools. On the return journey, a game of I-spy scrutinising all bird-sized clods in the ploughed fields for anything beginning with D (or SC) but all I got was dirt. On Worth, NRD reported four Raven, 21 Golden Plover and eight Buzzard got up mid-morning to head north.
Friday 2nd September
The day started overcast with a chilly SW breeze and by being greeted by the ringers with ‘it’s slow”. There’s only one response, you’ve got to get out there and find them yourself! Total counts across the eastern half of the recording area came to 20 Wheatear, nine Whinchat, three Lesser Whitethroat and a trickle of other migrants. The recent “wader-fest” seems to have come to a temporary (hopefully) pause but Restharrow Scrape still held four Snipe, two Black-tailed Godwits, a Ruff, two Common and one Green Sandpiper. Late news from yesterday included a dark phase Buzzard sp. (another item for those cheeky chaps at Vague Bird News) and two separate reports of four Grey Wagtails and a Tree Pipit which are probably additive and hinted at some movement.
Thursday 1st September
Pinch punch and all of that. Another fine sunny day with a gentle NW breeze. Bird-wise it was reminiscent of that famous Country and Western album “The Best of Slim Pickings”. Tracks included eight Wheatear, four Whinchat, a roving party of Sylvia warblers, including three Garden Warblers, gorging on ripe elderberries and a party of seven Buzzards soaring over HQ at 11.30 in a dog-fight with a pair of Sparrowhawks. PS Sorry no blog yesterday, I was at Bedgebury looking at Brilliant Emeralds and White-legged Damselflies.