Birds: January 2021
Yesterday’s Caspian Gull was still present in the same field on the Estate along with the bonus prizes of an adult Yellow-legged Gull and a 2cy Mediterranean Gull. Over by Blue Pigeons on Worth the wagtail flock remains at large with at least 120 Pieds and two Grey in the leftover brassicas.
In some horrible conditions, a 2cy Caspian Gull dropped in amongst the large gathering of gulls on the field next to Restharrow Scrape.
Two Ravens, a Marsh Harrier, four Grey Partridges, three Bullfinches, and four Green Sandpipers were highlights on Worth this morning. Heavy rain came through again overnight and the area is saturated. On the plus side, there are some lovely new pools across the area and wildfowl and waders are making use of them. Lapwings seem to especially enjoy it. A good spot to check at the moment are the fields immediately next to Restharrow Scrape.
Thank to you everyone who has renewed their membership already. For those of you who haven’t do so yet, this is a quick reminder on how easy it is online. Just click HERE .
A group of 35 Kittiwakes milling about offshore contained a 2cy Little Gull and a Raven circled the Estate.
A fine walk around the Green Wall saw Yellowhammer, Coal Tit, Firecrest, two Woodcocks, and two Bearded Tits. Offshore there were 62 Red-throated Divers and 118 Great Crested Grebes, plus a male Goosander, whilst Water Pipit and Pintail were on Worth marshes.
There was quite a lot of activity on the Estate this morning despite the overcast conditions and frost. There were plenty of singing Great Tits, the odd Corvid carrying twigs, and a few Lapwings displaying over the fields. A party of nine Long-tailed Tits flying north along the beach added to the feeling that spring is on it’s way. After all, Sand Martins and Wheatears will be on our shores again in just four weeks. Also of note were 123 Great Crested Grebes and 68 Red-throated Divers offshore, an Egyptian Goose sat outside the Observatory, and a Water Rail in the Haven.
It was a nice and bright day, if a little cold and frosty, with two White-fronted Goose in with the Greylags by Restharrow Scrape, a female Marsh Harrier on the Estate, and both Water Pipit and Raven on Worth.
There was just the one White-fronted Goose in with the Greylags behind Restharrow Scrape but good numbers of other birds nearby included 220 Skylarks, 400 Stock Doves, 120 Golden Plovers, 35 Tree Sparrows, 60 Linnets, 22 Reed Buntings, and the regular immature male Hen Harrier. A Jack Snipe was on Worth.
Although a quiet day there was a movement of over 2,500 Cormorants heading out to sea in the morning. This has been a regular sighting in the last few winters but until now Cormorants had been a lot lower this winter, with just a few hundred seen offshore. A Pintail was also new in on Worth marshes.
A really nice day out there. There was a double-figure flock of Corn Buntings at the Drove and another handful at Dickson’s Corner. Combined with the 65+ seen on New Downs before New Year, and some regularly reported along Prince’s Beach, and we have ourselves a very good winter (by recent standards) for this declining farmland species. The group of 31 White-fronted Geese were seen again flying around the Estate before heading off towards New Downs, where the three Tundra Bean Geese were still residing.
And in late news, yesterday was 70 years to the day of the one and only Ivory Gull seen in Kent (a first-winter discovered in Pegwell Bay and later seen again on 17th February). Hopefully we don’t have to wait another 70 years for our second to appear.
A Woodcock was in The Elms and the regular flock of 31 White-fronted Geese were in the fields behind Restharrow Scrape again. Small numbers of Kittiwake and distant Auks were seen offshore and six Barnacle Geese flew south along the shore. The small influx in Pochards continued with at least nine on the pools by the Great Wood on Worth. This is a species which has declined a lot as a wintering bird at Sandwich Bay and elsewhere around the UK. Milder winters on the continent mean there is less of a need for birds to migrate west to the UK, a theory known as ‘short-stopping’. This is thought to also be causing the declines in wintering numbers of Bewick’s Swan and Smew, so enjoy them while you can because in 10-20 years time they’ll be real rarities in the south east.
A Great Northern Diver was sat on the sea just off the Estate in the afternoon.
A Great Skua harassing Herring Gulls offshore was the first of the year whilst the immature male Hen Harrier cruised around the asparagus fields on the Estate and at least 28 White-fronted Geese were in the field behind Restharrow Scrape.
The three Tundra Bean Geese were still on New Downs with a Hen Harrier, four Pochards, and three Green Sandpipers on Worth marshes. A Mute Swan sat on the sea was a strange sight.
A walk around Worth marshes saw the flock of 31 White-fronted Geese with the Greylags, a Dunlin in with the Lapwing flock, an Egyptian Goose, two Marsh Harriers, and a Corn Bunting.
Lastly, a friendly reminder that we are in a National Lockdown where the onus is to not leave your home unless necessary and to remain local for exercise. Our carpark was remarkably busy today. Whilst we are keen for local residents to enjoy our reserves and the Sandwich Bay area it is not acceptable to drive significant distances to be here. If large numbers continue to visit the area will we have to shut our reserves and carpark. Us birdwatchers can all do our bit by staying safe and enjoying our local areas.
After some truly horrible weather the last few days it was good to be out and about today. New Downs was excellent with close views of the grey male Hen Harrier north over towards the Sampher, three Tundra Bean Geese with the Greylag flock by the North Pool, two groups of Bearded Tits (on North Pool and New Downs Pool), three Kingfishers, ten Rock Pipits, five Pochards (four males and one female), a Green Sandpiper, and 22 Corn Buntings.
The adult male Hen Harrier was out hunting over Willow Farm with two Pochards, a Raven, and 90 Fieldfares also noted across the Worth marshes. Seawatching wasn’t too productive but 180 Auks was a good count.
A pleasant wander up to the Point for the high tide roost saw two Dartford Warblers and a Snow Bunting on the beach along the way. In the last few days there’s also been Dartford Warblers on Worth and at Sandown Castle (just outside the Recording Area). The recent old snap may have moved these little Sylvias around so it’s worth checking any scrub near you for these delightful warblers. The immature male Hen Harrier with grey central tail feathers flew over Hundred Acre field with 31 Tree Sparrows and 31 White-fronted Geese were at their usual spots.
After a seriously hard frost there was a small influx of Pochards with a female on Worth and a handful on Stonar lake. A lovely male Hen Harrier flew through Worth marshes in the evening with Jack Snipe, two Water Pipits, and five Green Sandpipers for good company.
A flock of 31 White-fronted Geese showed extremely well in the evening light along the footpath behind Restharrow Scrape and the asparagus fields. The Dartford Warbler was still present on Worth.
There was dense fog and frozen temperatures for this morning’s walk around the Estate. Singles of Firecrest and Woodcock were the best on offer. The three Cattle Egrets had moved over to the Worth track and must’ve been feeling the cold as they were standing on the ram’s backs (for warmth?), with 20 White-fronted Geese, two Brent Geese, and a surprise Dartford Warbler on the marsh.
Despite the nice sunny conditions it was rather cold still. A wander around Worth marshes produced the three Cattle Egrets, 21 White-fronted Geese, and two Hen Harriers (including a new adult male). Wildfowl numbers were down on the pool by the Great Wood but there were good numbers of finches along the Worth track and the Pied Wagtail/Meadow Pipit flock at Blue Pigeons. The WHITE-TAILED EAGLE flew off strongly early in the morning but was not seen to return.
A little seawatch this morning produced 20 Red-throated Divers, a few Great Crested Grebes, and a Kittiwake offshore whilst a wander through the Gullies produced the first Woodcock of the year. Two Ring-necked Parakeets and a Greenfinch were welcome additions to the Warden’s yearlist whilst the Stock Dove flock numbered 357. A Great White Egret flew over Worth marshes late morning with the WHITE-TAILED EAGLE and three overwintering Cattle Egrets still present plus three Water Pipits, two Hen Harriers, four Tundra Bean Geese, three Barnacle Geese, 90 White-fronted Geese, and an amazing flock of c.200 Pied Wagtails to cap an excellent day.
Meanwhile, our events team have been hard at work over the holiday period and have come up with a great selection of new online Zoom talks and courses. They are now available to purchase HERE. Enjoy!
Who says optimism doesn’t help? A wander around the Estate this morning was curtailed quick with news of an adult WHITE-TAILED EAGLE flying south over the Green Wall. After a few mad minutes waiting for it to re-appear it was found dropping down onto Worth marshes. Over the next few hours it put on a great show, though I’m not sure the petrified Wigeon flocks felt the same. A stunning bird to start the year!
The secretive flock of Tree Sparrows put in a brief appearance at the sandpit at Dickson’s Corner, with at least 25 present, whilst a Brent Goose flew over the Estate and 17 White-fronted Geese were on Willow Farm (most of the flock are south of the Chequers currently). As has been the case for some time now, all sightings reported here are from the Wardening team and volunteers who are resident on-site at Sandwich Bay. With Covid-19 cases rising and another Lockdown upon us, we at SBBOT hope everyone stays home and stays safe. We’re looking forward to having guests and visitors back at a safer time.
Appalling weather again but a few brave souls stuck it out to add a few new things to the year. A Raven flew over the Observatory, a Caspian Gull was next to Restharrow Scrape, and two Goosanders went north offshore. Over on Worth marshes there were at least 20 White-fronted Geese, four Tundra Bean Geese, and a Merlin. With a Brünnich’s Guillemot in the Netherlands and a Sandhill Crane in Denmark you never know what could appear. We’re an optimistic bunch.
It was a surprisingly busy day despite the spells of torrential rain, sleet, and hail. Two Cattle Egrets were on Worth marshes with another between the Sandwich toll gate and the farm buildings next to the Observatory. At least ten White-fronted Geese remained and a Pintail dropped in by the Great Wood. A flock of eight Barnacle Geese flew over Royal Cinque Ports Golf Course and offshore there were at least 870 Cormorants and a Razorbill. Singles of Yellowhammer and Water Pipit appeared on the Green Wall whilst on the Estate a Chiffchaff was in The Elms and a Merlin behind Restharrow Scrape.
Only 12 White-fronted Geese and two Brent Geese were viewable on the Willow Farm side of Worth but on the Minnis side there were three Water Rails, a Jack Snipe, and four Green Sandpipers. A Great Northern Diver went north offshore along with small numbers of Teal, Wigeon, and Common Scoter, whilst an Avocet was on New Downs. Pegwell was busy with people but a Hen Harrier was the highlight, along with three Corn Buntings in the saltmarsh (a scarce bird here).
The year started off with Water Pipit, Hen Harrier, and the flock of 200 White-fronted Geese still present on Worth marshes. At least 25 Tree Sparrows were at Mary Bax, four Bearded Tits and a Coal Tit were on the Green Wall, an Egyptian Goose was on the Estate, 1,400+ Cormorants were offshore, and another Hen Harrier was on New Downs.