Birds: October 2021
Seawatching was the name of the game again before rain stopped play. Singles of Arctic Skua, Great Skua, Purple Sandpiper, and Little Gull were well worth the effort, plus 54 Auks and 108 Gannets. There continues to be large numbers of Snipe on Restharrow Scrape.
Another day looking at the sea produced Slavonian Grebe and two Little Gulls, plus 11 Razorbills (and 135 Auks), 155 Gannets, and two Mediterranean Gulls.
Stormy conditions encouraged a southward passage of Auks offshore with 112 counted, plus eight confirmed Razorbills and one Guillemot, a Mediterranean Gull, a Pintail, 165 Great Black-backed Gulls, and 151 Gannets. In Pegwell there were over 5,000 Gulls including 4,100 Black-headed, 690 Herring, and 400 Great Black-backed.
A Rock Pipit was along the beach and a few Sandwich Terns offshore. At least eight Tree Sparrows remained at Dickson’s corner and a Ring Ouzel was at New Downs New Pool.
Bearded Tits continue to arrive with two small flocks on the Pinnock Wall on Worth marshes this morning. There are now flocks present at the Hoverport in Pegwell Bay, on the South Pool on New Downs, along the river on the Green Wall, and now on Worth too. I wonder if we will get any on Restharrow Scrape? There was a little visible migration overhead with 66 Swallows and small numbers of Chaffinches and Siskins, whilst 60 Mediterranean Gulls were also on Worth.
A mix of species on New Downs today with a minimum of eight Bearded Tits on the South Pool, and two Ruffs, 521 Lapwings, 176 Golden Plovers, and 412 Wigeons on the North Pool. Rock Pipit, Green Sandpiper, and Water Rail were also seen and there were unusually high counts of 38 Pheasants, 15 Ring-necked Parakeets, and 110 Coots. Both Rock and Water Pipit were on Worth marshes, plus five Ravens, and an arrival of Gadwall (71 ). Two Bearded Tits were also present on the Green Wall by the Black Sluice.
Impressive Gallinago action on Restharrow Scrape today with 54 Snipes and a Jack Snipe. It looks to be our highest ever count on Restharrow Scrape (previous highest Snipe count was 45 on 24th November 2011.). At least five Tree Sparrows, perhaps more, were around the sandpit area at Dickson’s Corner. There were still a number of Corn Buntings singing nearby and a few coveys of Grey Partridge, completing a good morning for farmland species. On the flip side, with no Yellow-browed Warblers at Sandwich Bay yet this could prove to be the first year since 2002 with no records. There’s still a little time left though so get out there and find it!
Some interesting movement offshore comprised a drake Eider north, an Arctic Skua, and three Arctic Terns, whilst almost 400 Starlings came in off the sea. Two Jack Snipes were glimpsed on the Estate and at least 62 Swallows and a House Martin lingered. Three Pochards were on Restharrow Scrape.
A Greylag Goose offshore was unusual and the elusive flock of Tree Sparrows got pinned down finally and showed at Dickson’s Corner. At least nine, maybe 12, birds were present among the Linnets and Reed Buntings.
Two Cattle Egrets on Worth marshes were the first since the 14th (or new arrivals maybe?). There were still good numbers of Swallows around the Restharrow Scrape area, 35 Lesser Redpolls in the Oasis, and a noticeable increase in Tits too. Similar peaks of the latter were also seen on the near continent this week so we may see more this coming week. Most interesting were a flock of four pale grey waders flushed off the sea by a passing Mediterranean Gull. They flew around hugging the troughs of the waves and could not be relocated. Their behaviour and structure imply a Phalarope species, most likely Grey at this time of year.
A flock of six female Goosanders north offshore was the best sighting of the day. A handful of Siskins also flew over, two late Wheatears were seen, Jack Snipes were on Restharrow Scrape and on Worth marshes. The lack of Siskins this autumn is interesting. Part of it may be the knock-on effects of the continuous north-easterly winds in April that caused problems with many early breeding species. But unusually large numbers have been reported from the Welsh island Bird Observatories and from our recent trip to the Isles of Scilly, so perhaps a subtle change in wind direction at a key time forced their southward migration along the west coast this year. Quite a number of Glossy Ibises have turned up in the UK these last few days so keep your eyes open. My bet is on the newly created scrapes on Worth.
A Ring Ouzel on Worth marshes was our first of the autumn. A spell along the sea front produced 39 Siskins north overhead and 23 Sanderlings north offshore. A Brambling flew over Restharrow Scrape where a Rock Pipit and 32 Snipes were seen.
It was quite breezy on the Estate. Birding the bushes was unproductive but the sea saw 50+ Gannets and a few Razorbills, 27 Swallows and six House Martins flew through, and Restharrow Scrape had almost 30 Snipes and a Pochard. A wader flock on the Estate beach comprised 95 Sanderlings, 46 Ringed Plovers, 36 Dunlins, and three Turnstones. Singles of Merlin and Water Rail were on Worth marshes whilst an Alexandrine Parakeet provided some colour.
A Yellowhammer and five Jays flew through early on, a Merlin was at Dickson’s Corner, and later 2,500 Black-headed Gulls were on Worth marshes in the afternoon.
Yesterday’s RADDE’S WARBLER continued to play hard-to-get. It remained stubbornly elusive in the vegetation with just the odd call heard. A Spoonbill flew over the Observatory and a Great White Egret was on view from the Drove. Flocks of Golden Plovers and winter thrushes were more noticeable and a few Lesser Redpolls and Bramblings were seen.
A RADDE’S WARBLER was discovered at Dickson’s Corner in the ditch north of the Clay Pigeon Shooting School, along the public footpath behind the Royal Cinque Ports Golf Course sandpit area. A reminder that there is no parking or access up the driveway to the Shooting School. Access the footpath from the Drove or Mary Bax’s stone, or the other direction just down from the Obs. The first Snow Bunting of autumn was also seen flying along the Estate beach and the Jack Snipe remained on Restharrow Scrape.
Visible migration only occurred in fits and starts despite the conditions being seemingly perfect. Still, 230 Chaffinches and 400+ Goldfinches came through over the course of the morning. Both Merlin and Great White Egret flew over Restharrow Scrape, with a Water Rail on it. A Razorbill was offshore and four Firecrests were around Vigo Sluice on the Green Wall.
The day toggled back and forth from bright and sunny to grey and cloudy. There was some finch passage through with small parties of Chaffinches, Goldfinches, and the odd Brambling. At least 17 Jays came through the area and flocks of 170 Swallows and 40 House Martins were unexpected. Two Cattle Egret were back on Worth marshes, presumably the same birds which have been present on and off for a while now.
A nice, sunny, calm, but cool, start to the day. Light passage comprised 25 Jays north, two House Martins, a Red Kite, 230 Goldfinches, and a handful of Bramblings. There were a scattering of Song Thrushes and Chiffchaffs in the bushes and at the back of the asparagus fields there were four Tree Sparrows, 22 Corn Buntings, and 80 Skylarks. A Jack Snipe was on Restharrow Scrape and Bullfinches were at the Drove and in the Gullies. The first Fieldfare of autumn flew through and a Bearded Tit was along the river on the Green Wall. A pale Buzzard also around the Restharrow Scrape area caught the eye, with bright white underparts, a white tail, and white head. Structure ruled out Rough-legged Buzzard though. One to be aware of if visiting the area.
In the morning a RUSTIC BUNTING flew inland over the Oasis and the Haven heading towards the Observatory and the asparagus fields. Despite a lot of searching it could not be refound. There are lots of Reed Buntings around the fields and at Dickson’s Corner so hopefully it’ll turn up among them in the next few days. Meanwhile the first Lesser Redpoll of autumn flew over and there was an increase in Redwings.
Yesterday’s Manx Shearwater was seen again offshore, 41 Pied Wagtails flew north, and a few Short-eared Owls were on Royal Cinque Ports Golf Course.
A very foggy start to the day made it hard work. Mid-morning things cleared and a Manx Shearwater glided south over the Estate beach, presumably disorientated by the fog. An impressive 175 Pied Wagtails flew north too, along with 198 Meadow Pipits, three Rock Pipits, 150 Starlings, and a Brambling. There were 23 Reed Buntings around the Dickson’s Corner area and a few new Goldcrests made landfall on the Estate.
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A good variety of winter waders were in Pegwell Bay though two Avocet were unusual for the time of year and the 1,1170 Oystercatchers was an above average count. Two Wheatears were on Prince’s Beach and three Pochards, two Ruffs, a Whinchat and a Rock Pipit were the highlights on New Downs.
A really busy night of migration with hundreds of Redwings and Song Thrushes recorded calling overnight at Stonar and at the Observatory. During the day a Merlin, three Rock Pipits, and a Coal Tit were new on the Estate and there was a noticeable increase in Skylarks.
A calm morning with low-lying cloud was perfect for observing visible migration. Meadow Pipits were the main movers with 777 counted going south. There were handfuls of Skylarks, Starlings, Goldfinches, Linnets, and Reed Buntings in amongst plus two Bramblings and two Rock Pipits. Robins increased to 54 on the Estate, a Spotted Flycatcher was at the Observatory, and a Jack Snipe was seen briefly on Royal St George’s Golf Course. A/the Spotted Redshank was on Worth marshes.
A Hen Harrier flew south offshore and there was a steady passage of wildfowl north, an Arctic Skua, plus a Rock Pipit along the shore. The two Cattle Egrets on Worth were joined by a third again but there was no sign of the Spoonbill. The first Redwings of autumn were around the Observatory carpark and later two Short-eared Owls came in off the sea. In the evening a Tawny Owl was in The Elms, a Spotted Redshank flew over, and the autumn’s first Jack Snipe was on Restharrow Scrape.
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Another wet start to the day but a Black-throated Diver was seen offshore. As conditions got better a Spotted Flycatcher was found in Waldershare Gully among the feeding Chiffchaffs. At least nine Jays flew north over the Estate, do keep an eye on these at the moment as there continues to be large numbers seen around the UK. A flock of 120 Linnets were at Dickson’s Corner and two Sand Martins flew through.
After a few early downpours there was an Arctic Skua, seven Common Terns, and a Guillemot offshore, and a Siskin over the Observatory. A Wood Sandpiper was on Worth plus four Jays, and a number on the Green Wall and Estate too.
It felt birdy first thing in the morning with the ‘hueet’ of Chiffchaffs from the bushes around the Observatory. There was no hoped-for Red-flanked Bluetail but a Short-eared Owl, a Black-throated Diver offshore, and a Spoonbill over the Observatory (which may have been the Worth bird) were compensation. A Spotted Redshank joined the two Cattle Egrets on Worth marshes.
Horrible weather for most of the day but seawatching was very good. Long-tailed Skua was the pick of the bunch and recorded for the second year in succession. Eight Arctic Skuas and six Great Skuas provided good comparison, plus 220 Gannets, 45 Sanderlings, and a Razorbill.
Two Arctic Skua were the highlights offshore and a Pochard and a Greenshank were on Restharrow Scrape. Ring-necked Parakeet is not a species that gets a mention on here very often but 11 on Worth were unusual. The usual Spoonbill and two Cattle Egrets made it into the next month.
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