Sunday 28th

There were pairs of Coot and Gadwall in the Dragonfly pond, no doubt prospecting for breeding sites, and vocal Little and Barn Owls after dark. Grey Herons were mating on Worth marshes and there were still two Water Pipits, Hen Harrier, four Pintails, and a Jack Snipe.

Saturday 27th

There were still a few Woodcock in the Oasis area and a nice selection of wildfowl were in Pegwell Bay, plus our first Sandwich Tern of the year.

Wigeon by N.Hefford

Friday 26th

A walk around Worth marshes in the spring sunshine was lovely and some contrast to the blanket of snow and ice from just over a week ago. A Great White Egret flew over heading towards Ham Fen and there was a fair amount of raptor activity with one Red Kite, two Sparrowhawks, two Peregrines, one Marsh Harrier, and double figures of Buzzards competing for airspace. Two Water Pipits were coming into summer finery near Roaring Gutter and 11 Pintails were scattered on the pools near the Great Wood. A minimum of 600 Starlings were also present. It is typical for Starling flocks to increase at this time of year as birds begin to move north and east back to their breeding grounds. At Sandwich Bay we can often see some large spring movements with counts into the tens of thousands not unusual. A Swallow was reported from Pegwell Bay in the afternoon.

Thursday 25th

There were signs of spring all around today with lots of birds singing and displaying. It was great to hear ‘Chiff-chaffing’ from the Willows in the Haven and see the parachuting display flight of a Meadow Pipit in Restharrow Dunes. Despite the spring fare the winter geese were still present and today a smorgasbord of Tundra Bean, Pink-footed, Canada, Egyptian, and five White-fronted Geese were among the local Greylag flock.

Monday 22nd

Another mild day in lockdown. On Worth a Water Pipit and Egyptian Goose were among the regular collection of Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler and Lapwing. Snipe numbers picked up to 31 and the five Green Sandpipers remain on the deep pool. On New Downs Avocet numbers have increased with the spring temperatures, and a Tundra Bean Goose and several White-fronted Geese were present with the Brents and Greylags. Two flocks of Corn Buntings and a singing Greenfinch were also spotted.

Brent Goose by A. Outen
Brent Goose by A. Outen

Sunday 21st

Duck numbers on Worth have fallen overnight with now only 300 on the deep pool there. The juvenile male Hen Harrier was seen again, noted by it’s pale tail feathers. Elsewhere in the UK migrants have begun to be reported such as Sand Martins, Wheatears, Osprey, Garganey, and Ring Ouzel, so get ready for the migration season!

Saturday 20th

A much milder day, and perfect for our livestream from our Restharrow Scrape Hide! If you missed it you can watch it here on Facebook, and also look out for future ones. Large skeins of Cormorants were moving north and south offshore, we had 545 moving south and 190 moving north today, something you’ll probably spot if you’re around the coastline here. On Worth there was the juvenile male Hen Harrier, Marsh Harrier, and at least five Bullfinch around the Great Wood and along the Worth Track.

Friday 19th

An overcast and windy day although some good bird numbers to make it worth it. On New Downs there was a large flock of Greylag and Brent Geese with a couple of White-fronted Geese in amongst them. Bearded Tits were nice to see. On the Green Wall there were nearly 300 Woodpigeon and on Worth there are high numbers of Wigeon and Lapwing still, and a visit from the Yellow-legged Gull again.

Thursday 18th

While warmer it’s still fairly drizzly here, Spring is definitely on it’s way. There were constant groups of Cormorants moving North this morning offshore. On Worth the five Green Sandpipers and two Redshank were still present on the “big pool”, along with four Buzzards, a Sparrowhawk, three Ravens and 12 Dunlins. Around the Estate a few Woodcock were still present and a flock of Greylags with a Tundra Bean Goose around the asparagus fields. If you’re missing being able to see what’s on the Scrape then you might be interested in joining us online for a Facebook Livestream by our wardens Steffan and Becky this Saturday at 2pm. We’ll be having a look and a chat about what’s present on the Restharrow Scrape Reserve: https://fb.me/e/20M23MVAd

Wednesday 17th

The bird of the day is probably the Yellow-legged Gull on Worth, along with highlights of three Ravens, Kingfisher, Pintail, Redshank and Green Sandpipers. On the Green Wall a Woodcock is still lurking and there are large numbers of Woodpigeon present.

Tuesday 16th

A Ruff continues to been seen around Dickson’s Corner along with Fieldfare, Redwings, Lapwings, Golden Plover, and Stonechats. On the Green Wall there were two White-fronted and two Pink-footed Geese in with the flock of Greylag and Brents. On Worth, alongside large numbers of Teal, Wigeon and Lapwing, there were 101 Dunlin! Large flocks of Fieldfare were present on Worth; they’re a beautiful bird to see before they head back to their breeding grounds.

Male Stonechat by Pete Blanche
Male Stonechat by Peter Blanche
Ruff by Peter Blanche
Ruff by Peter Blanche

Monday 15th

The increase in temperature means everything has thawed out and it’s finally a bit warmer. It also means a lot of the Snipe and Woodcock have moved on, but there were still at least eight Woodcock around the Estate. On the Green Wall there were good numbers of Dunnock and Robin, along with 150 Greylag and 185 Brent Geese! Still a handful of Snipe around on Worth with five Green Sandpipers and large numbers of Wigeon. Head to Worth for your duck fix!

Sunday 14th

Overnight there were an influx of even more Wigeon and Teal to Worth, bringing their totals up to ~600 Wigeon and 250 Teal on the pools. Another 400 Wigeon are present at Pegwell. Two Jack Snipe were still on Worth marshes with the large numbers of Snipe, Woodcock, Pintail, with two Firecrest also present. Around the Estate Lapwings are seen in nearly every field along with groups of Snipe, Redwing and Fieldfares.

Saturday 13th

Another very cold day produced five Pintail and two Black-tailed Godwits on Worth, and three Bearded Tits on the Green Wall. The flock of Stock Doves on the Estate is reaching numbers of around 600! Stock Doves are often overlooked within the dove and pigeon family. They are considered largely sedentary, but in winter move to farmlands in large flocks like the one that can be seen here at the Observatory. Stock Doves faced large declines in the 1950s and 60s due to the lethal effects of the organochlorine seed-dressings, but have been slowly increasing in numbers since the 1980s. They nest in tree cavities and can often be found in Barn Owl boxes.

Stock Dove by Steve Ray
Stock Dove by Steve Ray (from the archives)

Friday 12th

An icy chill today but some Pink-footed Geese were around on Worth.

Thursday 11th

Still very chilly but lots of interesting things around. There were about 30 White-fronted Geese still in among a large group of Greylags around the Estate. A short wander in the afternoon produced totals of 21 Woodcock and 135 Snipe around the Estate as well as a large flock of 165 Skylarks! On Worth highlights were two Pintail drakes, Jack Snipe and another 192 Snipe.

Wednesday 10th

Despite a sunny start to the day which started to melt the ice, more snow came in the afternoon continuing the wonderful birding weather! Highlights of the day, aside from many Snipe, included three Pintails and a Merlin on Worth, 66 Brent Geese and a Goldeneye on New Downs, and 35 White-fronted and one Tundra Bean Goose in with a Greylag flock on the Asparagus fields between the Estate and Worth.

Tuesday 9th

The icy weather continues with thick snow in some places and risky ice patches in another. I’ve spotted quite a few Meadow Pipits ice skating around frozen puddles in their search for food. Around the Estate the waders fighting the winds included Curlew, Lapwing, Snipe, Woodcock, Redshank, and a Water Rail. The cloud of gulls by the shore is also a sight to see, if you can brave the wind!

View of the Field Centre in the snow
The Field Centre

Monday 8th

Even though we have an even covering of snow, it is the icy wind which is the noticeable feature. A flock of six Smew were seen on Worth first thing in the morning before flying north. Snipe were around in huge numbers with over 700 on Worth marshes alone with five Jack Snipe hiding amongst them. Around the Green Wall there were 44 Blackbirds mostly rooting around in the barer patches below the hedges. The churned up areas around the sheep feed troughs are also attracting thrushes and finches.

Friday 5th

It was positively spring-like on New Downs this morning. There was an increase in Tufted Ducks, to 32, but a decrease in all other wildfowl. Singles of Water Rail, Bearded Tit, and Corn Bunting were seen and five Rock Pipits were at Backsand Point. There were quite a few noisy Oystercatchers new in around the riverbank and the North Pool. The nice weather stimulated the first movement of Buzzards of the year with at least 19 noted. At least 130 Great Crested Grebes were on the sea and a Water Pipit was on Worth marshes.

A bright and sunny New Downs by S.Walton

Often Sand Martins, Swallows, Chiffchaffs, and Wheatears are heralded as the first signs of spring but at Sandwich Bay the first inklings of spring are actually the Shelducks, Oystercatchers, and Avocets which to start to move away from the coast and appear inland. Coots are another species moving around and they start to drop in overnight on new water bodies. In the next week or so I would also expect to see a light passage of Lesser Black-backed Gulls moving through or dropping into the high tide roost at Pegwell Bay. We saw our first movements from the 14th last year.

Thursday 4th

Feelings that there may be two Slavonian Grebes on Stonar were confirmed with one in partial summer plumage and the other in full winter plumage. Stonar lake has no public access but there is a footpath between the Stonar Estate and the Discovery Park where some of the lake can be viewed through the fence. There were lots of singing birds on the Estate including some nice Corn Buntings at Dickson’s Corner. An immature Peregrine was hunting Lapwings nearby, seven Mute Swans flew overhead, and 37 Tree Sparrows were in the Mary Bax area. There were two Treecreepers, two Coal Tits, and a Woodcock on the Green Wall and a male Merlin and five Green Sandpipers on Worth marshes.

Prime Waterthrush habitat in Waldershare Gully by S.Walton

Tuesday 2nd

A Slavonian Grebe on Stonar lake was the best bird of the day. There were lots of singing Robins and Song Thrushes on the Estate and hundreds of Black-headed, Common, and Herring Gulls outside the Observatory to have fun grilling (but nothing too rare today). Only a handful of Red-throated Divers, Kittiwakes, and Auks were offshore whilst a Water Rail on the Green Wall was particularly showy.

Monday 1st

It was a bit of a dreary and drizzly day. A flock of 20 Sanderlings on the Estate beach were unusual and a Chiffchaff was in the cellars. Over on Worth marshes and there was a further drop in wildfowl numbers, perhaps another sign of the incoming spring, whilst a male Merlin, four Green Sandpipers, and 77 Fieldfares were of note.