The Estate is the core part of our census effort and comprises the immediate area around the Observatory from the Sandwich Tollgate up towards the northern end of Royal Cinque Ports Golf Course. It is one of the richest and most biodiverse parts of the Recording Area with a patchwork of habitats providing suitable home and respite for many species.

Short-eared Owl by Nick Smith

In the winter, thrushes and Woodcocks can be found sheltering, whilst Short-eared and Barn Owls quarter over the rough grassland on still evenings. In the fields, species such as Golden Plover, Lapwing and Curlew take refuge and flocks of Geese from Worth Marshes fly noisily overhead. On Restharrow Scrape, large numbers of wildfowl can be seen and Snipe can be frequently seen on the islands with the occasional Jack Snipe interspersed. In the Elms, foraging mixed Tit flocks are encountered with overwintering warblers occasionally sighted.

Barnacle Geese by Steve Ray

Spring can be a busy time on the Estate. Early spring can see influxes of species such as Black Redstart, Caspian Gull, and White-tailed Eagle all passing through. By mid-April, returning summer migrants such as Blackcap, Common and Lesser Whitethroat return to breed whilst the occasional passage species such as Spotted Flycatcher, Sand Martin, and Willow Warbler pass through. In certain areas, the air is thick with the sound of singing Skylarks and Corn Buntings.

Corn Bunting by Paul Coltman

Early spring butterflies can be observed and plants such as Green-winged Orchid and Heath Dog-violet are in flower. Restharrow Scrape can see a whole variety of species breed and passage Waders can arrive in small numbers. Late Spring can see the occasional scarcities pass through with species such as Red-rumped Swallow, Golden Oriole, and Bee-eater all recorded in recent years. Odonata also begins to ramp up at this stage with several species frequently observed.

In Summer, the insect and plant-life are at their peak with rare species such as Lizard Orchid, Marsh Helleborine, and Bedstraw Broomrape in flower. The rare day-flying moths, Bright Wave and Restharrow, can also be readily flying on the Estate in sufficient conditions and Hummingbird Hawk-moths are frequently nectaring on the Red Valerian along the beachfront. Dragonfly species such as Emperor, Brown Hawker, Southern Hawker, Southern Migrant Hawker, and Red-veined Darter can all be found with scarcer species such as Norfolk Hawker and Lesser Emperor also possible. Butterflies are also in their peak and transects can record many different species on the wing in mid-summer. In the wetter areas, the colourful Southern Marsh Orchid flowers in considerable numbers whilst Bee Orchids can also be found in a few patches.

Pyramidal Orchids and Heath Bedstraw on the Estate Beach by Becky Johnson

Autumn is the busiest time of the year for birds. Areas such as the bushes in the Haven, Oasis, Whitehouse, and the Gullies can be particularly exciting as large numbers of migrants pass through. In particular, large numbers of Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs pass through whilst other migrant species such as Garden Warbler, Redstart, and Pied Flycatcher are recorded in lower numbers. Scarcities are also fairly regular with species such as Wryneck, Icterine Warbler, Pallas’s Warbler, Arctic Warbler and Red-flanked Bluetail all present in the last decade.

Pallas's Warbler by Steve Ray
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