December 2018

                                                        169 species so far this year                                                        158 species by this time last year

12th

Sunny, colder with a light SE wind. Two adult Gannets flew east distantly offshore. These were the first here for nearly three weeks. A flock of c160 Brent Geese descended onto the beach but, again, did not include the Pale-bellied individual. Four Red-breasted Mergansers (two  drakes and two redheads) lingered close inshore as they fished busily together. A Marsh Harrier, a female with red tags on both wings, flew east. There were three Long-tailed Tits in the churchyard and another Greenfinch was seen along the east bank.

Jackdaw – Geoff Burton

10th

Cloudy with a light NW wind. There were c50 Brent Geese on the beach (one party of ten remaining after others had left  included seven juveniles). One Shelduck and three Wigeon flew west. Waders included 40 Oystercatchers, 44 Ringed Plovers and 17 Dunlin on the beach and three Lapwings and 19 Redshanks on the Marsh Pool.

8th

Sunny with a moderate westerly wind. A quiet morning with one Red-throated Diver offshore and 20 Brent Geese on the beach. A flock of 130 Golden Plovers flew off the beach and other waders included 20+ Redshanks on the Marsh Pool at high tide. An adult Peregrine and a juvenile Marsh Harrier flew west. A Water Rail swam across the middle brook. A Grey Wagtail was by the sluice and two adult Rooks flew west.

6th

Cloudy, mild  with a light SW wind. A number of Red-throated Divers offshore, one Black-throated Diver, and a Great Northern Diver flew west. A drake Wigeon also flew west. A female Great Spotted Woodpecker flew from the Elder Wood to the sewage works, the pair of Stonechats were in the scrub, a Goldcrest flew into the Scout Wood and a female Reed Bunting was in the bushes opposite the Obs.

5th

Cloudy, dull and mild  with drizzle. There were c15 Red-throated Divers offshore, some on the sea  but most flying east. One Snipe was seen on the Marsh Pool and a Great Skua flew west. Unusually for the time of the year, most interest came form two passerines.  A Corn Bunting was calling in the grassland. It flew up circled high but then dropped down again. It was invisible in the grass but, when it started calling again, it came up on a plant stem and then took off, this time heading strongly SE ( a new bird for the year).  A Firecrest was seen by the entrance to the sewage works, feeding about two feet off the ground and showing well and close before disappearing into the bramble clump. This was presumably the bird seen close by five days earlier.  Hopefully, a wintering bird that we’ll add to next year’s list in January.

4th

Sunny and cold. Arnie reported three Grey Wagtails on the flooded skatebord park and a, scarce recently, Greenfinch.

3rd

Cloudy, mild with light SW wind. Two Red-throated Divers were offshore. Waders included two Grey Plovers and 12 Sanderlings on the beach, eight Curlews flew west along the beach and three Lapwings and 13 Redshanks were on the Marsh Pool. There were 40 Great Black-backed Gulls on the beach. The female Kingfisher was in the brook, two Skylarks flew west, the male Stonechat was in the scrub, a Chiffchaff was along the upper brook and a flock of ten Linnets roamed the area.

Kingfisher – Geoff Burton

1st

Cloudy with steady rain and a light to moderate SW wind. A wet start to the month and little to report. There was an increase to three Grey Plovers on the beach and the female Kingfisher (Queenfisher?) showed well along the middle brook. Flocks of ten Goldfinches and nine Linnets.

 

November 2018

                                                          168 species so far this year                                                             157 by this time last year

A total of 98 species for the month was a little below the average for the previous ten years of 101. However, a total of 12 species were added to the year list during the month which, at 168 species, is the second highest year total, shared with 2005, 2007 and 2008. Quite how we got to this when we have spent much of the year complaining about the weather and the lack of birds, I’m not sure.  No new birds were added until 12th and the best of these were our third ever Long-eared Owl on 12th, our fourth ever Grey Phalarope on 18th and our first for over eight years Firecrest on 30th. With one month to go, our record year total of 176 in 2001 is surely beyond reach. The most added in December, in the previous ten years, is five and the average is 2.1 species

30th

Sunny, mild with a light SW wind. A first visit for three days after two days of much rain. Two Slavonian Grebes appeared close inshore towards midday. There were also three Great Crested Grebes and a redhead Red-breasted Merganser offshore and three drakes and a duck mergansers flew west. There were 56 Brent Geese on the beach, including at least seven juveniles, but no sign of Chris Gibbard’s Pale-bellied bird seen from the Tankerton slopes the previous afternoon. Waders included a flock of 40 Golden Plovers flying west offshore, one Grey Plover and three Sanderlings on the Hampton flats and three Lapwings on the Marsh Pool. A Little Grebe was in Coot Strait, a superb male Sparrowhawk was in trees by the middle brook and a female Blackcap, the first since October, was along the east bank. However, the bird of the day was a Firecrest, seen briefly in an ivy-covered tree along the upper brook, which was, inconceivably, our first for eight years!

26th

Cloudy, light NE wind, steady rain. Andy and I were optimistic that the forecast for, at worst, intermittent rain would prove to be the case. However, that was not. The few birds we did see included one Red-throated Diver flying east, a Little Egret and a Grey Heron on the beach, five Brent Geese flying west and 12 Mallard in the brook. Waders included a Grey Plover on the beach and three Lapwings on the Marsh Pool. The pair of Stonechats were in the scrub and a flock of ten Linnets were in the area.

24th

Cloudy with a light easterly wind. 12 Red-throated Divers, two Gannets and three Common Scoters flew east. Two Teal and two redhead Red-breasted Mergansers were on the tidal ponds whilst a flock of 14 Brent Geese on the beach included four juvenilesTwo Water Rails in the brook by the scout hut were new for the year and our first multiple sighting. As they scuttled across the brook, one after the other, a Kingfisher splashed into the water beside them (an attempt at digiscoping below).

Kingfisher – Geoff Burton

22nd

Cloudy and calm. A redhead Goosander circled over the Marsh Pool before landing on the sea close inshore where it remained for some time before flying off east over the caravan park. Another addition to the year list. Our third record of Little Grebe was, like the other two, along Coot Strait. Five Wigeon and seven Pintail flew west together and seven Teal also flew west.  An adult drake and a duck Eider were offshore. A juvenile Marsh Harrier flew high west over the area and then drifted back east.

Goosander – Andy Taylor

21st

Cloudy with a light SE wind. A Red-throated Diver flew west, a Great Northern Diver flew east close inshore and a Black-throated Diver, close inshore, flew off east. Two female Eiders were on the sea. An adult Mediterranean Gull landed on the sea off the Obs.

19th

Cloudy, cold, fresh easterly wind with a few showers. A good variety of wildfowl with a single adult  White-fronted Goose flying east close inshore and the  a flock of c35 coming in off the sea and heading SE, and two Goldeneye flying east (an adult drake followed later by a redhead) both additions to the year list. Other ducks included a party of seven Gadwall flying east, a Tufted Duck flying with a flock of Wigeon, 12 Eider flying west and six Red-breasted Mergansers flying east.  Also, two Great Skuas, an adult Little Gull and a Razorbill flew east.

 

Grey Plover – Geoff Burton

Song Thrush – Geoff Burton

18th

Sunny and cold with a moderate easterly wind. Andy braved the Sunday dog worshippers and was rewarded with a Grey Phalarope, which flew east close inshore at 8.35 am, occasionally touching down on the sea. New for the year and only our fourth record here! Also noted were 18 Red-throated Divers and four Eiders east and eight Teal, 24 Common Scoters, three Great Skuas and eight Razorbills west. Two Red-breasted Mergansers were on the sea.

17th

Sunny and cold with a light SE wind. The cold weather encouraged a significant movement over the sea although the winds were light.  There were two Slavonian Grebes on the sea, c50 Gannets were feeding distantly offshore, 24 Red-throated Divers, c50 Common Scoters flew east with five Velvet Scoters and two Shovelers accompanied them. One Black-throated Diver, the immature drake Eider and two redhead Red-breasted Mergansers were offshore and 120 Brent Geese, two Shelducks, five Teal and ten Little Gulls flew west.  One Great Skua was also seen offshore. Three Kittiwakes flew east and c100 large auks, the majority identified being our first Razorbills of the year, also flew east. Away from the sea, the distinctive calls of a Ring-necked Parakeet were heard from the estate (another addition to the year list).

Despite the cold, the sun encouraged a late Red Admiral on the wing.

Stonechat – Geoff Burton

16th

Cloudy, murky, calm  with a constant drizzle. A Great Northern Diver was offshore. A pair of Wigeon with three Teal were on the tidal ponds and another seven Teal flew west. Two Shelduck flew west, three Gadwall were on the sea,  flocks of five and 25 Pochard flew east and there were now two immature drake Eiders on the sea. An unprecedented flock of 288 Dunlin were feeding on the Hampton flats. Two Grey Plovers were on the beach, a party of five Knot flew west and a Bar-tailed Godwit flew west then east along the beach. Two Lapwings and a Snipe were on the Marsh Pool.

15th

Cloudy, mild with a light southerly wind. Singles of Red-throated, Black-throated and Great Northern Divers were present offshore. The immature drake Eider was also, with 16 Common Scoters flying east and four Red-breasted Mergansers flying west. 14 Lapwings flew west and a party of five Shore Larks flew west by the Obs but, unfortunately, without stopping. Flocks of 20 Goldfinches and 18 Linnets wee also noted.

14th

Sunny and mild with a moderate southerly wind. Waders included a single Jack Snipe and Snipe flushed from the Marsh Pool, where there were also two Lapwings, and a Grey Plover on the beach. There were six Great Crested Grebes offshore and the immature drake Eider was still present. A Little Grebe found by Greg Herne in Coot Strait was only the second record for the year (the previous one, also along Coot Strait, was on 25th September).

A Common Seal pup was apparently stranded on the sewage outfall pipe but disappeared when the tide came over it.

13th

On a brief afternoon visit, Andy scored with a Shore Lark, which appeared to get up from the eastern end of the beach, flying by him and continuing west. This species has been recorded here in eight of the last ten years.

12th

Sunny periods and showers with a light southerly wind. An owl circling over the tidal ponds harried by gulls did not seem quite right for Short-eared and Andy managed a few “shots” before it drifted off towards Hampton. These confirmed that it was indeed a Long-eared Owl – only our third recorded here and the first for over 20 years! There were 40 Mallard on the Marsh Pool and the immature drake Eider was still present offshore. Waders included 18 Redshanks on the beach and then on the marsh Pool. There was an increase in the numbers of Great Black-backed Gulls  and 49 on the beach were almost all adults.  Six Reed Buntings were feeding along the remnant brook.

10th

Sunny at times with a shower, light southerly wind. Three Red-throated Divers, a Great Northern Diver and six Great Crested Grebes offshore. Four Gannets flew east. A flock of 44 Mallard was unprecedented and probably relates to the flooding of the area due to heavy overnight rain. Waders included a single Golden Plover on the beach, a flock of 50 Lapwings heading west over the sea, eight Curlews heading SE towards the caravan park fields and 16 Redshanks on the Marsh Pool. Late morning, during a rain shower, another Swift sp appeared over the sewage works. It circled around a few times before drifting off south. Andy managed to fire off a few shots which, on examination, showed the bird had features consistent with a Pallid Swift. As we are in an unprecedented “invasion” of this species along the East Coast, and the North Coast of Kent, this is not altogether surprising.

After recent heavy rain, the brook has found its way to the sea again.

Pallid Swift – Andy Taylor

Where the brook meets the sea – Geoff Burton

8th

Sunny and mild with a light southerly wind. There was one Red-throated Diver,  eight Great Crested Grebes on the sea, eight Gannets flew east, one Wigeon flew west and the immature drake Eider was still offshore. A female Marsh Harrier came in off the sea and continued south at 10.40 am. Waders included 35 Oystercatchers on the beach, 15 Sanderlings and ten Redshanks. An  adult Mediterranean Gull and 16 Great Black-backed Gulls were also on the beach.  A Swift sp put in a frustratingly brief appearance above the sewage works and then drifted south. It looked pale, when it caught the sunlight, and given the time of the year and the weather conditions, Pallid was clearly a possibility. Also noted were a female Great Spotted Woodpecker and a single Siskin which flew west.

Marsh Harrier – Andy Taylor

7th

Sunny with a moderate southerly wind. Our first Great Northern Diver of the winter and only our second Eider of the year (an immature drake) were offshore.  The Eider was also joined briefly by two redhead Red-breasted Mergansers.  Waders roosting on the shingle at high tide included 48 Ringed Plovers, 47 Dunlin and a single Sanderling.  There were also ten Redshanks roosting on the Marsh Pool. Arnie noted a Sandwich Tern offshore.

6th

Arnie noted a Kingfisher and the pair of Stonechats.

5th

Whilst I was helping my wife to celebrate her birthday down in deepest Berkshire, Andy managed a few birds in the unseasonal, and unhelpful, mild weather. A Red-throated Diver, a Gannet and a Red-breasted Merganser, two Common Scoters flying east and four Great Crested Grebes on the sea. An adult Mediterranean Gull posed on one of the groynes whilst  a few Skylarks passed overhead and a Chiffchaff and a Goldcrest were in the bushes.

3rd

Sunny and warm with a light SE wind. A morning interrupted by the need for Andy, Ted and me to head east along the coast to see the spectacular, and first twitchable in Kent, White-billed Diver. Not a lot to see when we were here; a Red-throated Diver flew west and there were two Gannets offshore. 19 Brent Geese were on the Hampton flats, a Chiffchaff was at the Obs and a Brambling flew west in a flock of Chaffinches.

A Red Admiral showed well by the changing rooms.

Red Admiral – Geoff Burton

2nd

Velvet Scoter flew east with a flock of c50 Common Scoters. A Kingfisher was also noted.

1st

Sunny and warmer with a light SE wind. One Red-throated Diver, two Great Crested Grebes and three Red-breasted Mergansers flew west and  a Canada Goose flew east over the Obs.  Waders included five Sanderlings and seven Dunlin on the beach. Three Grey Wagtails were chasing each other around Lang Court, two male Stonechats were in the grassland, one Redwing was in the churchyard and a Chiffchaff was at the Obs.

October 2018

                                                                   157 species this year                                                                        153 species by the same time last year

A total of 108 species during the month was very much an expected result (an average of 108.1 species over the previous ten years). The seven new birds for the year included our fourth Leach’s Petrel on 29th and our first Pheasant for five years, first Tree Sparrow for three years and our first two Yellowhammers since April 2016. It was a very poor month for vis mig, especially for hirundines. There was a flock of over 1,000 House Martins on 4th but thereafter only one-two Swallows up to 21st and no further martins; this was truly exceptional. 

31st

Sunny with a light SE wind. Five Gannets and 18 Brent Geese flew west. Waders on the beach included one Grey Plover, seven Sanderlings and eight Dunlin and a single Snipe was flushed from the Marsh Pool by dogs. A Rock Pipit was along the remnant brook, three Stonechats (two males and a female) were along the coastal path, five Long-tailed Tits were in the scrub and one Siskin flew west.

30th

Cloudy with a strong NW wind. A struggle today  with little benefit from the strong onshore winds. Ten Brent Geese flew west, 11 Lapwings flew west,  whilst another eight were hunkered down on the beach and three Black-tailed Godwits also flew west. Two Stock Doves flew west and two Goldcrests at the Obs were the first recorded this autumn!

29th

Sunny at times but cold with a fresh northerly wind. Bird of the day, just before midday, was only our fourth Leach’s Petrel flying east. Always difficult to pick out here, at our lowly site, so Andy did well to pick out this one. A reasonable movement of Brent Geese with 163 west during the morning. Also one Red-throated Diver flew east, a Velvet Scoter flew east amongst a flock of Common Scoters, and later two more headed west. Other birds out at sea included a juvenile Arctic Skua flying west and about five Little Gulls. An immaculate adult male Snow Bunting buzzed around the beach dodging the dog walkers, a single Rock Pipit was also seen and a Redwing.

27th

Sunny with a fresh northerly wind. Two Great Crested Grebes , c50 Gannets, one Shelduck and ten Brent Geese flew west. One Common Scoter flew east. Waders included 17 Lapwings and five Snipe flying west and 17 Redshank, disturbed from the remnant brook by a kite surfer, relocating to the Marsh Pool. One Pomarine Skua, three Great Skuas and six Little Gulls and 122 Kittiwakes (our first mass movement) also flew west.  Six Fieldfares dropped into the bushes opposite the Obs, one Redwing flew west and there was a Chiffchaff at the Obs.

As soon as the wind gets up, kite surfers appear, effectively keeping bird off the beach for as long as they remain. However, this individual took it upon himself to surf up and down the brook flushing roosting Redshanks, whilst his kite hung worryingly low over the coastal path.

Kite surfer – Geoff Burton

26th

Cloudy with a light westerly wind. One Great Crested Grebe and five Gannets flew west and six Common Scoters flew east. The single Lapwing remained on the Marsh Pool, 14 Redshanks were roosting along the remnant brook and 33 Oystercatchers were on the beach. A flock of 40 Fieldfares landed in the scrub by Lang Court early morning, staying only briefly before flying off west. Another two flew west over the Obs later.  A Chiffchaff was at the Obs and two Grey Wagtails and two Reed Buntings were also noted.

25th

Sunny with a light WNW wind. Waders included three Avocets flying west (earlier seen at Reculver), c80 Golden Plovers roosting on the beach before flying off west, 13 Dunlin  roosting on the shingle ridge, one Snipe NW over the beach and 26 Redshanks roosting along the remnant brook behind the shingle ridge, with another one on the Marsh Pool.  An adult light-phase Pomarine Skua and a Great Skua flew west. There were ten Great Black-backed Gulls on the tidal ponds and a large Auk sp flew west. A Short-eared Owl (our first of the year) circled around the area and over the sea for about 30 minutes having been flushed from the grassland by dogs. Following a movement of Fieldfares in the area the previous afternoon, c2,000 flew west, most in the early morning. 15 Skylarks flew west, there were three Rock Pipits and three Grey Wagtails, nine Redwings, two adult Rooks, one Siskin and two Bramblings.

24th

Sunny with a light NW wind. A quiet morning with one Gannet flying west and a Manx Shearwater resting on the sea off the Obs.  Waders included 81 Ringed Plovers, four Sanderings and 11 Dunlin roosting on the beach and one Lapwing on the Marsh Pool. Eight Skylarks flew west, two groups of four and five Fieldfares flew west and two Reed Buntings flew west. A Redwing was in the scrub.

One Red Admiral was seen.

22nd

Sunny, cool with a fresh northerly wind. Three Gannets, two Wigeon, a Pomarine Skua, two Arctic Skuas and four Great Skuas, a Mediterranran Gull and four Little Gulls flew west. There were eight Sanderlings on the beach. One Redpoll was heard over the Obs.

21st

An immature Velvet Scoter flew east. Two Swallows flew west. A Snow Bunting was flying around over the beach whilst two Yellowhammers, a male and a female, in the bushes opposite the Obs were the first seen here since April 2016. Two Siskins also flew west.

 20th

Sunny and warm with a light northerly wind. There were c60 Gannets, whichflew west with many drifting back east. Six Wigeon, five Teal and a drake  Common Scoter flew west and a Red-throated Diver flew east. Waders included 11 Sanderlings and eight Dunlin on the beach and a Lapwing was on the Marsh Pool. A Pomarine Skua flew east close inshore. A Wheatear on the beach between the groynes at the eastern end of the beach was the first recorded this month. Two Rock Pipits were also on the beach. A Fieldfare and a Mistle Thrush flew west together, another Mistle Thrush was in the trees in the sewage works and a party of six Redwings flew west. There was a Chiffchaff and three Bramblings in or around the churchyard. Other vis mig included 65 Chaffinches, two Greenfinches, a Siskin and a Redpoll.

The warm weather encouraged a Speckled Wood and a Red Admiral.

Wheatear – Geoff Burton

18th

Cloudy at first then sunny, cool with a fresh northerly wind. 66 Brent Geese, one Shelduck, six Wigeon, 12 Common Scoters,  single  PomarineArctic   and Great Skuas, four Little Gulls and two Kittiwakes flew west. One Red-throated Diver flew east.  There were 11 Great Black-backed Gulls on the beach and four Sandwich Terns offshore.  A cock Pheasant flew into the bushes opposite the Obs; our first record for five years!

16th

A summer in October sort of day! Andy noted a drake Pochard (our first of the year), three Gadwall and three Common Scoters flying  east and a Purple Sandpiper flew west. Two Swallows flew west and there was a “trickle” of StarlingsChaffinches and Reed Buntings.

15th

Andy noted 30 Brent Geese, two Shelduck, four Wigeon, eight Teal and five Pintail flying west. A Merlin also flew west, there were five Arctic Skuas (three adults landed on the beach) and two juvenile Pomarine Skuas and a Great Skua also flew west. Vis mig included good numbers of Starlings and Chaffinches, a few Skylarks and Redwings and four Lapwings flew north.

14th

Cloudy at first then sunny, warm with a light southerly wind. There were four Great Crested Grebes on the sea and five Gannets, two Teal and a pair of Common Scoters flew west whilst four Brent Geese flew east.  The juvenile Pomarine Skua was chasing gulls and terns and resting on the sea. A first-winter Mediterranean Gull and some Sandwich Terns were offshore and five Common Terns flew west. One Swallow flew west and two immature Rooks dropped onto the beach.

Two Speckled Woods and a Common Darter were also seen.

13th

Sunny with a moderate southerly wind. Waders included 17 Redshanks and 99 Turnstones on the beach. An adult Mediterranean Gull flew south and the now regular juvenile Pomarine Skua flew east and then west along the beach. Sandwich Terns were joined by three Common Terns. Not much in the way of passerines but they did include a single Swallow feeding over the estate (relatively scarce this autumn), there were also two Grey Wagtails, the female Stonechat, three Chiffchaffs, two Bramblings and a male Reed Bunting in the bushes opposite the Obs.

11th

Sunny and warm with a moderate SW wind. Three juvenile Gannets flew east close inshore whilst five “white” birds flew west distantly offshore. Four Wigeon and eight Teal flew west and eight Common Scoters flew east. Two Sanderlings on the beach were the first of the month and five Dunlin were also on the beach. A Great Crested Grebe was on the sea and seven Sandwich Terns and a Common Tern flew west. There was some vis.mig with a movement of Chaffinches, 12 Skylarks and single Bramblings and Siskins heading west.

A Red Admiral butterfly was also noted.

10th

Sunny, warm and a light SE wind. One Red-throated Diver flew east and another was on the sea. Two Great Crested Grebes were also on the sea and 31 Gannets flew west. An immature Mute Swan was on the sea and also flew around the area, a single Greylag Goose flew west and the “resident” Teal was again in the brook. Waders included 96 Ringed Plovers on the incoming tide, and three Dunlin, a Curlew and 11 Redshanks also on the beach.  Three Sandwich Terns were offshore, seven Common/Arctic Terns flew east and there were five adult Great Black-backed Gulls on the beach. A Green Woodpecker flew into the trees by the obs and was the first here since August.

9th

Andy noted a Tree Sparrow (our first for three years) briefly in trees near Lang Court before flying off west. A Brambling also flew south along the east bank.

8th

Sunny, light SW wind. More movement today. One Red-throated Diver, one Brent Goose, a flock of ten Shelducks, five Wigeon and two Pintail flew west and a drake Common Scoter flew east. A party of four Grey Herons flew west over the sea, eight flew west over the area and a another was on the tidal ponds. Nine Lapwings flew west inland, a Snipe flew south over the sewage works and two Golden Plovers and a Ruff flew west. 28 Oystercatchers and seven Redshanks were on the beach. A few Redwings were in the area and two Fieldfares flew west. A Lesser Whitethroat and two Blackcaps were along the east bank. Five Bramblings and seven Reed Buntings were also noted.

Moorhen – Geoff Burton

7th

Sunny with a fresh northerly wind. There was the first significant movement of Brent Geese with 162 flying west during the morning.  Single Red-throated Divers flew west and east,  six Wigeon and three Pintail,  three Great Skuas, three Little Gulls and an Arctic Tern flew west. The pair of Stonechats were in the scrub and a female Brambling, our first this year, flew into the bushes opposite the Obs.

6th

Cloudy, misty,  with a light northerly wind. One Gannet, one Shelduck,  14 Wigeon and an Arctic Tern flew west, two Gadwall and eight Common Scoters flew east. An Arctic Skua and four Sandwich Terns were also present. The pair of Stonechats were in the scrub, and there were 11 Redwings, four Chiffchaffs and 100+ Chaffinches which flew west.

Sandwich Tern – Geoff Burton

4th

Sunny with a light SW wind. A juvenile Pomarine Skua was chasing gulls over the beach before flying on west. A Red-throated Diver, nine Brent Geese and a Marsh Harrier also flew west. Waders included a summer plumage Grey Plover on the beach. Eight Sandwich Terns were fishing offshore and resting on the beach. A huge “pulse” of House Martins, perhaps 1,000+, arrived from the SE and were swirling around low over the sea, many dipping into the sea. Within a few minutes, they had all moved on. The flock included a Swift, a Sand Martin and a Swallow. No hirundines had been seen before, that morning, and none were seen after the flock moved on.  A Rock Pipit was on the beach.

Pomarine Skua – Andy Taylor

Grey Wagtail – Geoff Burton

3rd

Sunny with a light westerly wind. An adult Purple Sandpiper was on the beach for a few minutes before flying off west. Although this was the third record of the year, this was the earliest returning bird we have had (previous earliest was on 10th in 2011).  Other birds included a Pomarine Skua flying west, three Grey Wagtails (two coming in off the sea) and three Stonechats.

Purple Sandpiper – Andy Taylor

2nd

A quiet morning with a Snipe on the beach and a single Great Skua flying west.

A year ago today – a juvenile Citrine Wagtail was the fourth for Kent and the first recorded in autumn.

The main interest today was the appearance of a pup Common Seal on the beach by the skate park. Whilst many dog walkers kept their charges at a respectable distance some had no such qualms, and one let her dog off the lead so she could take a photo (with a predictable result!).  The pup was taken into care.

Common Seal – Andy Taylor

Common seal pup and admirers – Andy Taylor

1st 

Sunny with a fresh NW wind. One Red-throated Diver, c100 Gannets, 11 Wigeon, a juvenile Pomarine Skua, 16 Arctic Skuas and 13 Great Skuas flew west. There were 12 Great Black-backed Gulls on the tidal ponds. There was a pair of Stonechats in the scrub but the winds may have kept most small birds out of sight.

September 2018

                                                       150 species recorded so far this year                                                       146 by the same time last year

A total of 99 species for the month was well below the average for the ten previous years of 107 species. There were six additions to the year list all of which would be expected during the year. However, the five Velvet Scoters on 24th was our earliest record (previously 2nd October in 2004) and the Mistle Thrush  on 22nd was only the fourth record since the berry-laden holly tree in the churchyard was felled in February 2015. 

30th

Sunny with a light WNW wind. The month ended quietly; four Gannets, eight Brent Geese and four Wigeon flew west, there were 12 Little Egrets and two Grey Herons and two Buzzards were seen. One Great Skua was seen. There were now four Stonechats and a Willow Warbler along the east bank.

29th

A quiet morning. Stonechat numbers had increased to three and there was also a Wheatear (only the third this month). No Whinchats were seen. There were 12 Golden Plovers roosting on their favoured part of the beach for the first time this autumn.

Meadow Pipit – Andy Taylor

28th

A change in weather, cloudy  with a fresh NE wind. A Manx Shearwater flew west at 10 am (returning east later) and was an addition to the year list and a Pomarine Skua flew east close inshore. . Other birds on the move included our first Red-throated Diver of the year, 37 Brent Geese, nine Wigeon and four Teal flying west and a late Fulmar flying west. Also, 30+ Common Scoters flew around offshore. A flock of 30 Bar-tailed Godwits flew west and a Snipe flew over the beach. There were two Black Terns fishing offshore, difficult to pick out in the swell. Lastly, there were two Whinchats in the scrub.

27th

Sunny with a light westerly wind. A juvenile Arctic Skua flew west. A Yellow Wagtail flew west over the Obs and two Whinchats and a male Stonechat were in the scrub/grassland area. Also noted were a Kingfisher and a Great  Spotted Woodpecker, a Blackcap and eight Chiffchaffs, two Jays and a Reed Bunting.

Two Speckled Wood butterflies were also seen.

26th

A male Stonechat was our first of the autumn.

25th

Sunny and calm. Not the best weather at this time of the year but a juvenile Pomarine Skua, which flew east close inshore, was an addition to the year list (a catch up after the weekend’s activities elsewhere). A second addition was a Little Grebe seen briefly along Coot Strait. This is the first here since November 2016 when a few wintering birds disappeared when the brook was in spate after heavy rain. A single Brent Goose was on the tidal ponds and two Teal were on the beach with another three on the Marsh Pool. Waders included 35 Oystercatchers on the beach on the incoming tide, three Dunlin and a Curlew on the beach and a party of five Redshanks flew west. Two Kingfishers, a male and a female, were clinging to the overhanging vegetation along Coot Strait (we showed them to one of the regular dog walkers who vowed to take up bird-watching!). Five Pied Wagtails on the football pitch were joined briefly by three Grey Wagtails. There were two Whinchats in the  scrub, a Reed Warbler in the brambles opposite the Obs and at least seven Chiffchaffs in the area.

A Painted Lady was at the Obs (not many have been seen here this year.

Kingfisher – Geoff Burton

24th

Sunny with a light NW wind. Hoping for some residuals after yesterday’s storms. Not a bad day with the highlights being five Velvet Scoters which came in from the west and landed on the sea (later seen at Reculver by Richard Roberts). A new bird for the year and our earliest of this species (previously 11th October).  A Spoonbill that flew west over the beach was our third this year. Two Brent Geese flying west were our first returning birds and other wildfowl included 23 Wigeon west, seven Teal west  (and another three on the Marsh Pool), and about 20 Common Scoters. A Marsh Harrier, an Avocet (second record this year), a Bar-tailed Godwit and c10 Great Skuas also flew west. Two auk sp flew east. A count of 102 Turnstones roosting between the groynes courtesy of Philip Hurst.

Rock Pipit, which landed on the shingle ridge, was our first of the autumn, two Whinchats remained in the scrub and three Reed Buntings flew west.

Butterflies included Large and Small Whites, Comma, Speckled Wood and Common Blue whilst a Common Lizard showed well at the Obs.

23rd

A day of strong northerly winds and driving rain proved an excellent one for sea-watching but these are not good conditions at Swalecliffe.  There is little shelter here that will, at the same time, allow observations looking directly north. Therefore, no observations were made! One might speculate as to what might have  passed by that day but, with Andy watching from the comfort of his home not half a mile away to the  west, we can more than speculate as he noted five species heading from the east that would have been new for the year; these were Sooty and Manx Shearwaters, Leach’s Petrel, Pomarine and Long-tailed Skuas. How many of these will we get back by the end of the year?

22nd

Cloudy with a light westerly wind. A Great Crested Grebe was on the sea, a Bar-tailed Godwit was on the beach and an Arctic Skua flew east. Bird of the day was a Mistle Thrush, which flew into the tallest tree at the back of the sewage works where it remained for about ten minutes. New for the year, this is only the fourth record since the berry-laden holly tree in the churchyard was felled in February 2015. For several winters, this tree had provided sustenance for a very territorial Mistle Thrush. Also noted were two Kingfishers and two Grey Wagtails whilst c15 Meadow Pipits flew west.

20th

Sunny with a freshening SW wind. Another quiet day. A drake Common Scoter flew west, 80 Ringed Plovers were roosting between the groynes at the eastern end of the beach and a Whimbrel flew west. A Hobby circled over the sewage works early morning and a Whinchat was in the scrub.

19th

Light cloud dispersing, light to moderate southerly wind. Waders included 45 Oystercatchers heading east on the outgoing tide with single Dunlin and Redshank on the beach. Four adult Great Black-backed Gulls were also on the beach. There was a steady trickle of Swallows, total 223, moving through until mid-morning but only two Sand Martins and five House Martins. At least five Chiffchaffs were present.

The first Common Darter of the autumn was present along the upper brook bushes.

18th

Ted Lee witnessed some movement with flocks of c15 Knot, 25+ Bar-tailed Godwits and 30+ Common Terns heading west. Also noted was a KingfisherYellow Wagtail and Jay.

17th

Sunny and warm with a light southerly wind. A juvenile Mute Swan, close inshore on the sea, drifted east down to Hampton (and was also seen in the afternoon by Arnie van Orsouw). One Common Scoter flew east and the “resident” Teal was again seen. Waders included a single Whimbrel on the beach and a Sanderling amongst a flock of Ringed Plovers and Turnstones. A Kingfisher was perched on the side of the brook behind the shingle ridge, a Great Spotted Woodpecker was in the churchyard and in flight over the Obs, a Whinchat was in the grassland, and a Wheatear on the beach between the groynes at the eastern end.  A Blackcap, four Chiffchaffs (three newly arrived by the beach) and a Willow Warbler were noted and a Reed Bunting was in the bushes opposite the Obs.

Butterflies included two Speckled Woods.

15th

Sunny with a light NW wind. There were 16 Little Egrets gathered together on the shoreline by the Obs early morning; a good count for the site. A single Teal and Common Scoter were noted. A juvenile Marsh Harrier flew west close inshore and a Hobby flying through was the first of the month. Only one Whinchat and one Willow Warbler were seen whilst a Sparrowhawk crashing out of the trees by the Obs left the sound of alarmed Long-tailed Tits in its wake; our first recorded here since June.

13th

Sunny with a light NW wind. One Great Crested Grebe flew east and ten Gannets flew west. There was one Golden Plover (our first this autumn) and three Dunlin on the beach and two Whimbrel. Other birds included a male Great Spotted Woodpecker at the Obs, a Kingfisher along the brook, three Whinchats in the scrub and a Willow Warbler along the east bank.

                Whinchat – Andy Taylor

On this day in 2008 – a Fan-tailed Warbler was found in the scrub at about 9 am and remained in the area for about three hours before flying off strongly west. This was only the second record for Kent and the sixth for Britain. There have been two records in Kent since then, a long-staying bird at Pegwell Bay in October-December 2009 and a second for Bockhill in March 2010. There has been no further sightings in Kent or in Britain since. Always touted as a species that might colonise from the near Continent, the four records in Kent between 2006 and 2010 might have given credence to this but it has turned out to be another false dawn.

11th

Sunny with a moderate SW wind. A juvenile Mediterranean Gull in transition to first-winter plumage was on the beach. Ten Common Terns (scarce here recently) flew west and, as the tide came in, there were five Little Egrets on the shoreline.  One of these was colour-ringed and we traced it to the Southern Colour Ringing Group who have been ringing Little Egrets and Grey Herons at two sites in the Lee Valley since 2015. Our bird was one of a family of three ringed at Netherhall on 10th May this year. The bird was seen at Dartford Marshes on 23rd July before visiting us. This is the first colour ringed Little Egret we have seen here. Most of our colour ringed birds have been gulls and we have now learnt that ringing at the Pitsea Landfill Site, where most of our ringed gulls originate, ceased on 13th March this year because of the lack of food waste and consequently lack of gulls! However, I am sure we will continue to see Pitsea gulls for many years yet.

There was a westerly movement of House Martins this morning, typically in pulses, with 285 being the highest count so far this autumn.  Only four Sand Martins and four Swallows were noted. Other birds noted included six Meadow Pipits west, a Whinchat in the scrub and a Willow Warbler along the east bank.

10th

Sunny with a light SW wind. Five Common Scoters flew east, a Teal was on the Marsh Pool where, later, a Snipe dropped in and settled down to sleep. Four Swallows, 11 Meadow Pipits and five Yellow Wagtails flew west and there were three Whinchats in the grassland.

Butterflies included a late Meadow Brown and our first Small Copper. A total of 23 species this year with only Wall, Brown Argus and Purple Hairstreak seen here only in previous years.

Teal – Geoff Burton

Meadow Brown – Geoff Burton

Small Copper – Andy Taylor

8th

Light cloud and a light SW wind. A duck Eider which flew west was our first of the year! Waders included a party of six Ruff west over the sewage works, two Whimbrel and eight Redshanks. Seven Whinchats were together around the bushes opposite the Obs;  a high count for this site. Also six Sand Martins and three Yellow Wagtails flew west.

6th

Cloudy with a moderate NW wind. Seven Gannets flew east, 58 Wigeon, including a flock of c50, and 14 Teal flew west. Two Shovelers on the sea flew off west. Waders included one Ruff and one Snipe with 60 Ringed Plovers and 40 Turnstones roosting. Two Arctic Skuas were chasing a Sandwich Tern and another rested on the sea close inshore. Our first movement of Meadow Pipits with c90 birds and also six Sand Martins and three Yellow Wagtails; all flew west. Three Whinchats were in the s crub and another came in off the sea.

5th

Cloudy with a moderate northerly wind and some drizzle. A flock of ten Knot accompanied by a single Ruff and Black-tailed Godwit flew west early morning. Later four Bar-tailed Godwits flew east. Ducks were on the move with 43 Wigeon and 28 Teal flying west and a single Teal was on the Marsh Pool. Four Arctic Skuas and three Great Skuas and c20 Common Terns also flew west. About 50 Swallows flew west and a Whinchat (only  our second of the year) was near the scout hut.

4th – Ted Lee’s sea-watch produced 20+ Gannets, two Arctic Skuas and a Great Skua flying west and a Common Scoter and a small Shearwater sp flying east.

Jason Moule saw a Hummingbird Hawkmoth on the buddlea behind the scout hut.

3rd – after a light early morning mist, it was warm with a light northerly wind. Two Bar-tailed Godwits, nine Curlews, a Greenshank and an adult Mediterranean Gull flew west and a party of  six Wigeon flew east. However, the highlight of the day came mid-morning when parties of Arctic Skuas – three, five, 13 and two – flew high NW heading towards Sheppey and two single  Great Skuas followed the same trajectory. Three Yellow Wagtails flew west, a Lesser Whitethroat was in the scrub and a Willow Warbler at the obs.

1st – a sunny, calm and warm day. Three Common Scoters flew east and four Shelducks flew west. It was nice to have close views of a juvenile Knot on the beach and four Sanderlings were also seen. Two Kingfishers in pursuit flew by the sluice and along the east bank, there was a female Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Garden Warbler along the east bank, a Lesser Whitethroat in the scrub and a Wheatear on the beach in amongst the Ringed Plovers.

Butterflies included Small Heath and the three whites.

August 2018

                                           144 species for the year                                                138 species by this time last year

The total number of species recorded during the month was 98 which is well above the average for the previous ten years of 91.1 species. After no new additions to the year list in June or July,  a total of 12 additions in August was most welcome. Whilst most were expected, we saved the best until last with the  juvenile Purple Heron on 31st. Described by Andy Malone as “unbelievable”  and, surely, it was not an obvious site for such a bird. However, any new bird will be something of a surprise after 28 years of watching. Also, welcome was the Little Stint on 2nd, our first for four years, and a Pied Flycatcher on 21st, after two years without one. 

31st

A light cloud with a succession of showers visible offshore . Calm with a light NE wind developing. It seemed promising; perhaps we would get our first Redstart of the year or a second Pied Flycatcher. A juvenile Great Crested Grebe was on the sea, a Kingfisher was on the groynes at the eastern end of the beach and a Meadow Pipit,with Pied Wagtails on the promenade, would be a precursor of many more in the following months. However, this did not prepare me for the sight of a Heron flying low towards the Marsh Pool whose overall warm brown colours proved it to be a juvenile Purple Heron. A brilliant new species for the site and, despite the usual scattering of people and dogs, it surprised us by landing on top of a large bush in the scrub.  It remained there for about ten minutes and then glided down towards the brook where it was lost from sight. We couldn’t check all the brook without a risk of flushing the bird. As we hadn’t seen the bird in flight again Ted and I  waited.  Rob Stokes and Alex Perry and his father arrived and shortly afterwards the bird appeared, apparently having flown from the brook, and headed west by the Obs. Thanks to Alex for the excellent flight photo.

Purple Heron – Geoff Burton

Purple Heron – Alex Perry

Other birds included a Dunlin on the Marsh Pool, 10 Ruff (another new bird for the year) which flew west along the shoreline and an Arctic Skua flew east. A Sedge Warbler, two Lesser Whitethroats and four Whitethroats were in a small bush in the scrub, a Reed Warbler was along the east bank and two Yellow Wagtails flew west.

30th

Cloudy gave way to sunshine and a light northerly wind.  A westerly movement was sporadic but included one Gannet, nine Wigeon and eight Teal, two Common Scoters, a summer plumage Grey Plover, a flock of 20 Knot, a flock of 12 Whimbrel and two singles, two Curlews and, best of all, two adult Arctic Skuas (light and dark phase) new for the year. A Green Sandpiper circled around the area looking to land in the brook. Also, a Great Spotted Woodpecker was on the spire of the church, three Yellow Wagtails flew west, there were two Lesser Whitethroats in the scrub and the Linnet flock had reached 25.

Fox – Geoff Burton

28th

Cloudy and calm. Waders included a Curlew flying west, three Greenshanks landing on the foreshore by the Obs briefly before flying on west, and three Redshanks on the beach. A Kingfisher was our first returning bird, later than usual but it was relief, after the “Beast from the East”,  to have one on site again. 13 Swallows were gathered on TV aerials in the caravan park but there was no sign of any movement. A Spotted Flycatcher by the scout hut was probably a different bird to the Obs bird last seen three days previously. There were three Lesser Whitethroats, three Whitethroats and a Blackcap in the s crub or along the e ast bankIt was good to have Nicole Khan and Jason Moule pay a visit; they found a juvenile Cuckoo by Lang Court and also had a Hobby flying west.

27th

Waders noted were 23 Oystercatchers gathering on the incoming tide, 58 roosting Ringed Plovers (highest count of returning birds), one Dunlin, two Whimbrels on the beach which flew off west, a Redshank on the Marsh Pool and 85 roosting Turnstones. There were 12 Sandwich Terns offshore. A Stock Dove landed on the beach, two Swifts were hawking over the estate, a Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard calling from the sewage works, Lesser Whitethroats were seen in the scrub and along the east bank and a Willow Warbler was at the Obs.

On this day: in 1990,  a juvenile Golden Oriole was seen for much of the day in what was then an area of scrub but now forms part of the enlarged sewage works.

25th

Sunny with moderate WNW wind and cooler. Waders included an unusual flock of 55 Redshanks flying west (seen earlier at Reculver), three Sanderlings roosting with Ringed Plovers and four Dunlin and a Whimbrel on the beach. Our  first Swift for nine days drifted south over the football pitch and a Sand Martin and two Yellow Wagtails flew west. The Spotted Flycatcher was using the facilities at the Obs for the third day and a Willow Warbler was also there.

24th

The Spotted Flycatcher was still present.

23rd

Cloudy with a light westerly wind. A Spotted Flycatcher along the east bank and later by the Obs, was the first of the year. Many Commic Terns were feeding distantly offshore but our first Black Tern of the year flew west close inshore. Seven Teal and two Curlews also flew west.  A Wheatear was on the shingle ridge and a Reed Warbler and Willow Warbler were along the east bank.

Spotted Flycatcher – Andy Taylor

22nd

Cloudy with a light westerly wind. 13 Little Egrets were gathered in the remnant brook at first light. A juvenile Spoonbill flew west at 7.45 am (our second this year) and was probably the one that had been present at Grove Ferry earlier in the morning. 10 Teal, a party of six Greenshanks and seven Curlews flew west. Common Terns were flying west, in groups up to 20, one group included an Arctic Tern. There were two Wheatears were on the shingle ridge, a Lesser Whitethroawas in the scrub and a Willow Warbler was at the Obs.

A Clouded Yellow that wizzed by the Obs was our 22nd butterfly species of the year.

Spoonbill – Andy Taylor

21st

A Pied Flycatcher, seen briefly along the upper brook, was our first for three years. Found by Andy but, unfortunately,  not seen by those who looked for it later. Also, three Lapwings flew west (the first this month) and a Wheatear and two Lesser Whitethroats were also seen.

It was good to see a Water Vole for only the second time this year. This species has hung in along the Swalecliffe brook because of the absence of mink (never seen here) but still has to cope with dog owners who allow their dogs to hunt the brook. A Banded Demoiselle dragonfly was only the fourth record for this site.

Water Vole – Andy Taylor

Banded Demoiselle – Andy Taylor

20th

Cloudy and calm. Not so active today. Seven Dunlin flew west along the beach and another was roosting with Ringed Plovers and Turnstones. Seven Yellow Wagtails flew west, there were two Wheatears on the beach, a Reed Warbler near the Marsh Pool and four Willow Warblers along the east bank.

18th

Sunny with a light westerly wind. More activity today. A flock of eight Canada Geese, which came in over the sea, flew east and then back west, was unusual for August. Groups of seven, nine and two Teal flew west, two Common Scoters flew east and a juvenile Marsh Harrier flew west. A single summer plumage Grey Plover, our first of the autumn,  and a party of nine Black-tailed Godwits flew west. Roosting waders included 43 Ringed Plovers, four Sanderlings and 114 Turnstones. Also, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, landing in the trees at the back of the sewage works, was chased off by a Magpie and two Yellow Wagtails flew west.

16th

Sunny periods and a moderate SW wind. A Great Crested Grebe and a female Marsh Harrier flew west over the sea and a Hobby flew west low over the grassland and a Peregrine was also seen.  There were seven Sandwich Terns offshore ans 10 Swifts and a Sand Martin flew west.

A Painted Lady was near the scout hut buddleia bush.

Painted Lady – Geoff Burton

Details of the four Pitsea landfill site Herring Gulls, that were on the beach on 31st July, have been received. None has been recorded out of Kent since they were rung (between 2013 and 2017). All have been  seen in the Thames Estuary-North Kent coast area  although one has ventured as far as Dungeness.

15th

Reed Warbler and a Reed Bunting in the scrub were both first returning birds and a Willow Warbler was also seen. Five Gannets and 32 Gannets were offshore.

14th

Sunny with a moderate westerly wind. Three Gannets and three Whimbrel flew west and two Dunlin were seen in flight over the beach. Our first Whinchat of the year was in the scrub although it proved difficult to relocate. Three Swallows flew west, one Yellow Wagtail flew west and one or two were seen around the Marsh Pool. A Grey Wagtail was in the brook by the sewage works entrance, a Willow Warbler was heard calling near the Obs and a Jay flew along the east bank and into the Wood.

An adult Great Black-backed Gull on the beach was carrying the colour-ring 34G. An old friend, having been seen here in 2014 and 2016. He was rung as a chick in Brittany in 2010 and has also been seen at Whitstable, at Dungeness and twice more back in France.

Common Blue – Geoff Burton

Migrant Hawker – Geoff Burton

13th

Sunny with a light westerly wind. A female Tufted Duck flew east at 6.20 am. Later, three Shovelers flew west. Two Whimbrel flew west and, on the Marsh Pool now with some water, a Common Sandpiper and Redshank were seen. Two Stock Doves flew south over the football pitch, a Garden Warbler was along the east bank and a Willow Warbler at the Obs.

The Marsh Pool – Geoff Burton

12th

An evening visit by Andy produced our first returning Wheatear and Snipe. 30 Swifts flew west and a Kestrel was the first seen here for some time.

Wheatear – Andy Taylor

11th

Sunny and fairly calm. Warblers were more in evidence this morning; our first Garden Warbler of the year was seen along the east bank; our first Sedge Warbler of the autumn was in the scrub, there were several Willow Warblers in the scrub and along the east bank and the “resident”warblers, WhitethroatBlackcap and Chiffchaff were also more showy. Even Robins showed more! A flock of six Whimbrels flew west and a Common Sandpiper was seen on the beach and in the brook.  As the tide rose, waders gathered to roost on the beach between the groynes; 84 Turnstones, 37 Ringed Plovers and four Sanderlings were also the highest counts so far this autumn. A juvenile Moorhen was in the brook and Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were calling within the sewage works.

Swalecliffe is not known for odonata. So, our second ever Willow Emerald, our first Broad-bodied Chaser and a Migrant Hawker represented a good result. A Brimstone moth was also seen by the Obs.

Willow Warbler – Andy Taylor

Broad-bodied Chaser – Andy Taylor

Willow Emerald – Andy Taylor

9th

Cloudy with a light northerly wind. Wader numbers continue to increase with 34 Ringed Plovers roosting on the shingle ridge and 68 Turnstones roosting between the groynes at the eastern end of the beach.  There was also a pristine breeding plumage Sanderling,complete with rufous face and breast (I believe they are called Red-necked Stints on Fair Isle). Other waders included single Redshank and Common Sandpiper. One Swallow and one Yellow Wagtail flew west and one Grey Wagtail was in the brook by the sluice.

8th

Sunny with a light to moderate NW wind and cooler. A juvenile Arctic Tern, seen close inshore by the Obs, was a new species for the year and there were more Sandwich Terns offshore and ten Common Terns flew east.  An early Pintail flew west and a juvenile Marsh Harrier, flying west low over the sea, was our first of this species since April. Waders included 28 Ringed Plovers on the beach on the incoming tide, two Common Sandpipers and, late in the morning, a flock of 28 Whimbrel rested briefly on the beach.  Also, five Sand Martins flew west and a Willow Warbler was along the east bank.

Whimbrel – Geoff Burton

7th

An “white” Swallow was perhaps the highlight of Andy’ visit. There  was also one drake Common Scoter which flew east close inshore and a juvenile Green Woodpecker on the football pitch. Arnie van Orsouw noted three Grey Wagtails present in the afternoon.

Green Woodpecker – Andy Taylor

6th

Sunny, warm but with an onshore breeze. Two Great Crested Grebes flying west were the first noted here since May. An adult Sanderling  was the first of the autumn and other waders numbers increased with 18 Ringed Plovers and 60 Turnstones roosting at high tide. A flock of eight Whimbrel flew west and a calling  Green Sandpiper flew south unseen. A flock of c190 Herring Gulls on the beach included 113 juveniles. Two Sandwich Terns included a juvenile bird. Three Little Egrets were roosting along the east bank at high tide and later were feeding on the beach.

4th

Sunny with a light NE wind and still very  warm. Two Gannets and three Sandwich Terns were offshore. Waders included 12 Ringed Plovers, an increase to 33 Turnstones and an adult Dunlin (our first returning bird) roosting between the groynes at the e astern end of the beach, six Whimbrel west and a Common Sandpiper. A Stock Dove flew west over the beach, a Meadow Pipit was in the grassland, a Grey Wagtail was in the middle brook and two very vocal Lesser Whitethroats were in the scrub.

2nd

Sunny with a light NE wind. Another very hot day with clear skies did not seem promising. However, when I arrived Andy had already seen a flock of 80 Knot flying west. As I was counting the Ringed Plovers (13 in total), I spotted an adult Little Stint feeding amongst them. This was our first for four years and only our third in the last ten.  So that was two year ticks already. However, it did not carry on it quite the same vein. Other waders included two Redshanks, a Common Sandpiper and 13 Turnstones. Frustratingly, two more flocks of tightly-grouped waders (perhaps 200 in all) flew west too far out to positively identify. Other birds noted were eight Little Egrets, four Mediterranean Gulls, including three juveniles on the beach, a Stock Dove flying south over the Obs, a Great Spotted Woodpecker in the sewage works that later flew south over the churchyard,  two Sand Martins flying west, a Lesser Whitethroat in the scrub and a Grey Wagtail.

1st 

sunny with an onshore breeze and very warm. A slow start to the month. Waders noted included three Ringed Plovers, two Redshanks and seven Turnstones but the falling tide may not have facilitated an optimum count. All three (as far as we know) broods of Mallard were on show; one brood of seven in flight and two broods of five are fully-grown. The juvenile Sandwich Tern was seen again.

A total of eight species of butterfly to start the month including a Green-veined White, Comma, Small Heath and Holly Blue.

July 2018

                                             132 species so far this year                                                       132 species by this time last year 

With a  total of 70 species, another below par month (an average of 72.5 in July over the previous ten years). It was also the second month running that no new species was added to the year list and the  total of 66 days without an addition, by the end of the month, was a new record. However, typical of July was the trickle of returning waders which included a few Green Sandpipers, lots of Whimbrel and singles of  Bar-tailed Godwit and Greenshank. 

31st

Thunder and lightning and a period of heavy rain from 7.15-30 am. Then it was sunny with a light SW wind. A flock of 15 Common Scoters flew east and four Sandwich Terns offshore included our first juvenile of the year. Waders included a single Curlew flying west and a Redshank and two Common Sandpipers on the beach. There were also five Little Egrets and an adult Grey Heron on the beach and four Herring Gulls sporting Pitsea colour rings were noted.

30th

Cloudy, moderste southerly wind with light rain showers. Six Whimbrel flew west, two Common Sandpipers flew south over the area and a Redshank appeared on the beach by the Obs late morning. A single Swift, two Sand Martins and Swallow flew west. A Stock Dove on the shingle ridge flew off south and was the first recorded here since April (they seem to be getting extremely scarce).

28th

Sunny at times but much cooler with a light southerly wind. Unfortunately, this change in the weather did not result in a change in our fortunes. A Whimbrel was on the beach, three Ringed Plovers and six Turnstones were scattered over the beach at low tide and a single Redshank was heard calling. 16 Swifts flew west and two Jackdaws on the football pitch were the first seen since mid-June.

Sad to see that what is supposed to be our flower meadow (in front of the sewage works) has been mowed for the second time this season. Having recovered a bit from being mowed in May, there is now not a single flower standing! Is it simply that the contractors forget what they are supposed to do? Last year, Andy was able to stop a contractor mowing this area but we can’t be on site 24/7.

That was the flower meadow that was – Geoff Burton

26th

The heat had Andy heading home by 9.30 am but not before noting the increase in waders with ten Ringed Plovers, a Whimbrel, a Green Sandpiper and two Common Sandpipers, and eight Turnstones. A juvenile Green Woodpecker was doing a tour of the sites hotspots!

It is two months to the day since we added a new species to the year list. It is not, however, a record as none were added between May 22nd and July 26th in 2009 (a gap of 65 days). Nearly there though!

25th

Sunny and calm with an onshore breeze. There were five Little Egrets with three roosting along the east bank during the morning. A Grey Heron was on the shingle ridge. Wader numbers continue to increase with nine Oystercatchers and 14 Ringed Plovers roosting between the groynes including four juveniles. Single Whimbrel and Redshank were heard calling as was a flock of Turnstones, though only two were seen. A Green Woodpecker was calling in the churchyard and later one was seen in the trees along the upper brook. Only our second of the year but regular sightings will now be expected in the post-breeding period. Five Swallows were circling over the shingle ridge and the local House Martins continue to visit the beach to feed.

23rd

Sunny with a light southerly wind and very warm. A developing onshore breeze cooled things down  a bit. Just a bit! Three Gannets flew east and a Teal circled over the beach. Waders were on the increase with seven Oystercatchers, seven Ringed Plovers  (all adults) and seven Turnstones (six still in breeding plumage) on the beach. A single Whimbrel and a party of 11 passed offshore. There were 17 Mediterranean Gulls, including eight juveniles, on the beach. Two Sandwich Terns flew east, five Swallows flew west and a Grey Wagtail was in the brook near the sewage works entrance.

21st

Sunny, calm, very warm. Waders included a Whimbrel and a Redshank heard calling, the latter our first returning bird, and two Green Sandpipers which circled over the brook and the Marsh Pool before disappearing over the beach. Eight Turnstones flew east along the beach. A trickle of vis mig with six Swifts, a Sand Martin and two Swallows, a Meadow Pipit (first since April now it is not a breeding species anymore) and two Yellow Wagtails, all heading west.

The latest event in the “tidying up” of the churchyard was the cutting off of ivy at the base of two of the sycamore trees. Ivy provides many insects and nesting sights for birds and, later in the autumn, is often alive with Ivy Bees. Bad for wildlife, ugly and seemingly pointless!

The Marsh Pool managed to attract one wader, a Common Sandpiper on 19th, before becoming completely dry two days later.

Ringed Plover – Geoff Burton

 

Dead ivy – Geoff Burton

The Marsh Pool (compare with 12th) – Geoff Burton

 

19th

Sunny with a light westerly wind. Five Gannets and a Gadwall flew west. Waders included a Whimbrel on the beach, a Greenshank, which dropped down towards the beach before continuing east, and a Common Sandpiper on the Marsh Pool (both first returning birds) and a summer plumage Turnstone. Seven Swallows flew west and two Yellow Wagtails were on the beach. Also, a Great Spotted Woodpecker was calling in the churchyard, a Grey Wagtail flew into the sewage works and a Buzzard was soaring in the sky to the SE.

A male Brown-tail moth was not a surprise, given the number of caterpillars seen, but a Black-and-yellow Longhorn Beetle was a smart dude!

Turnstone – Geoff Burton

Black-and-yellow Longhorn Beetle – Andy Taylor

Brown-tail – Geoff Burton (scope Andy Taylor)

 

17th

Sunny, light westerly wind, warm. Two Grey Herons flew west, a Whimbrel was on the beach and ten Mediterranean Gulls flying west included three juveniles. An  adult Turnstone on the beach was our first here since late May. A bit of vis mig with 20 Swifts, four Sand Martins and six Swallows west.

A Shaded Broad-bar moth was the first noted this year.

Shaded Broad-bar – Geoff Burton

16th

A short visit for Ted before he was driven off by the heat. There were five Little Egrets on the Marsh Pool and two Whimbrel flew west.

13th

Ted Lee noted ten Common Scoters flying east, three Whimbrel flying west and 12 Mediterranean Gulls on the beach.

12th

Cloudy with a light northerly wind. A flock of 30 Common Scoters flew east, a Hobby flew west low over the scrub and there were three Curlews, two flew west and one was on the beach. A flock of 54 Carrion Crows was on the football pitch and feeding time!

The Marsh Pool looks good for migrant waders at the moment but potential customers should hurry because, with this hot weather, it will not look good for long.

The Marsh Pool – Geoff Burton

11th

Cloudy with a cooling NE wind. Three Curlews flew west accompanied by  a single Bar-tailed Godwit. Five adult Common Gulls also flew west. There was a flock of 20 Goldfinches in the scrub including a few juveniles.

House Sparrow – Geoff Burton

9th

Sunny with a light NE breeze and very warm again. A little more happening today with one Fulmar east, an immature Gannet, a Curlew and a Shelduck west and c110 Common Scoters, including one flock of 80, in flight offshore. Numbers of Mediterranean Gulls continue to gather on the beach; there were at least 11 today including our first sighting of a juvenile. This individual was colour-coded and was rung as a chick at Antwerp in Belgium on 9th June (thanks to Camille Duponcheel for the rapid response). Two Sandwich Terns flew east, seven Swifts flew west, a Grey Wagtail was heard in the sewage works and a Lesser Whitethroat was watched as it delicately extracted insects from the head of an umbellifer opposite the Obs.

Another Marbled White was seen near the Obs and a female Velvet Ant (Mutillidae) was seen crawling towards the Obs. This wingless wasp has a legendary sting which has earned it the name of “cow killer). Fortunately, your team escaped unscathed!

Unfortunately, no photo of the Velvet Ant was obtained. My son has asked why the “Swalecliffe Birds” site is full of pictures of insects with the odd rabbit and cat thrown in. I told him it’s that time of the year!

Mediterranean Gulls – Geoff Burton

7th

Sunny, a light NE wind and very warm. 15 Gannets flew east, a Curlew flew west and 11 Mediterranean Gulls were on the beach.

Two Marbled Whites were at the Obs and the Lang Court rabbit was seen again.

6th

12 adults and two second-summer Mediterranean Gulls flew west.

5th

Light cloud, calm. A Hobby flew low over the wooden bridge by the sewage works entrance.  Two Common Terns were offshore,  an adult Cuckoo flew by the Obs, there were six Swifts, c10 House Martins over the beach and a Grey Wagtail.

Our first gatekeeper of the year by the obs (21st species for the year) and another sighting of Ringlet.

Juvenile Kestrel – Geoff Burton

4th

Cloudy with a moderate NE wind. Very little to report; a pair of Shelducks were on the Marsh Pool.

Our first Essex Skipper of the year was recorded along the middle brook and a Ringlet was seen again in the scrub.

Essex Skipper – Geoff Burton

2nd

Sunny, moderate NE wind, warm. Two Gannets flew east, there were four Little Egrets and a Grey Heron on the Marsh Pool and six adult Mediterranean Gulls appeared on the beach by the skate park on the incoming tide.

Andy Taylor found a pair of Hornet Moths on the poplar tree by Lang Court. This was the same tree as last year but a bit later (24th June in 2017). A Ringlet butterfly in the scrub was only our third record here with the two previous records many years ago. Other butterflies included Large White and Peacock, there were some Silver Ys, a Dock Bug and the first sighting of a Water Vole, near the lower wooden bridge, this year.

Mediterranean Gulls – Geoff Burton

Ringlet – Geoff Burton

Hornet Moth – Andy Taylor

Dock Bug – Geoff Burton

1st

Sunny, light to moderate NE wind, warm. An immature Mute Swan flew east over the sea, there were five Little Egrets in the area, including three on the Marsh Pool, and a Grey Heron was also on the Marsh Pool.

Butterflies recorded were Small and Green-veined Whites, Small and Large Skippers, Red Admiral, Meadow Brown and Small Heath. Also, in common with many sites, there were a lot of Silver Y moths about.

Silver Y – Geoff Burton

June 2018

                                                                                 132 species so far this year                                                                                    130 species by this time last year

The total of 66 species recorded during the month was the lowest June total (since records began) and the lowest of any month (since records began). The average June total for the previous ten years was 72.4 species. There were two species not recorded in June before; the long staying Cetti’s Warbler, last recorded on 14th, and the Barnacle Goose which flew east on 2nd. For the first time here, no Turnstones were recorded in June this year. Although summering totals have been low in recent years,  with a maximum count of 16 in the last four years, there were peaks of 126 in June 2010 and 95 in June 2013. June is always a quiet month but the prevalence of easterly winds may have contributed to the  particularly poor showing this year.  

30th

Sunny periods with a light NE wind. First returners were a Grey Wagtail in the brook by the sewage works entrance and a Green Sandpiper, possibly two, which flew SE from the brook and later flew north. Four Curlews flew west. A Grey Heron resting on the beach from mid-morning was the first here since April.

A good morning for butterflies with a Marbled White zipping by the Obs (our first for four years) and a Painted Lady pausing briefly there; both new for the year. A Rabbit was feeding on the grass by Lang Court; nobody can remember seeing one at this site before!

Rabbit- Andy Taylor

28th

Cloudy, moderate easterly wind. One Gannet flew east, one Curlew flew west and another two lingered on the beach. Six Teal landed briefly on the water’s edge by the Obs before continuing west. Only our second June record of this species in the last 12 years. There were 46 Carrion Crows on the football pitch awaiting the arrival of the corvid food bank.

Now where have those ducklings got to?

27th

Cloudy, moderate easterly wind. Very quiet. A Shelduck flew west and a second-summer Mediterranean Gull flew east.

26th

An adult Cuckoo was in the scrub, a Hobby flew west and there were five Little Egrets in the area.

Our first Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet Moth was in the scrub and two Comma butterflies were the first seen since April.

Burnet Moth – Andy Taylor

25th

Sunny, calm and very warm.  Two flocks of six and ten Curlews flew west and a single Lapwing and Yellow Wagtail also. 12 Swifts flew west and a Great Spotted Woodpecker circled over the promenade before dropping into trees behind the caravan park.

Butterflies included our first Small Skippers.

Little Egret – Geoff Burton

23rd

Sunny, calm and warm. Two Gannets flew east and there were more waders today with seven Oystercatchers east and 13 Lapwings and a Curlew west. A Hobby flew west close by the Obs and a Great Spotted Woodpecker  (on a typical first date for post-breeding dispersal last noted in March) flew along the east bank.

A good day for butterflies with our first Large Skipper of the year plus Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Small and Large White,  Small Heath, Meadow Brown and Holly Blue. A Common Lizard, favourite food of the local Kestrels, was seen in the scrub.

Sparrowhawk and Common Lizard – Andy Taylor

21st

Sunny with a fresh NW wind. Not the weather we want until about August! Two Gannets flew east,  a Curlew flew west and our eight singing migrant Reed Warbler of the “Spring” was near the scout hut.

20th

Cloudy, moderate southerly wind. Four Curlews and an adult Mediterranean Gull flew west but an adult Common Gull in breeding plumage was more unexpected. A Yellow Wagtail flew west and there were five House Martins feeding over the beach.

A Cinnabar moth was the first noted here this year.

 

Common Gull – Geoff Burton

18th

Cloudy with a moderate SW wind. An immature Gannet flew east, a Whimbrel, heard calling, was drifting east, a first-summer Mediterranean Gull flew east and parties of five and two (mostly adults) flew west. A second brood of Mallard (seven ducklings) were along the upper brook.

16th

Sunny periods, a light southerly wind and warm. Curlews were on the move today with 13 flying west and another two resting on the tidal ponds. Two Hobbies, flying west over the churchyard and the Obs, were only the second and third this year. Two Common Terns resting on the buoys offshore were noteworthy only because of their scarcity here this year. Another movement of Swifts with 20 passing through during the morning. The Cetti’s Warbler, first recorded here on 21st April,  was not heard today. Time will tell if it has just gone quiet or departed.

14th

Cloudy with a fresh southerly wind. Bird of the day was the hepatic female Cuckoo which put in its first appearance since 11th May. Two Curlews flew west and 16 Swifts (presumably a feeding movement) also heading west was the highest count so far this year. An adult Moorhen in the sewage works was our first sighting seen April but this is likely to because they have become very elusive.

13th

Sunny with a light southerly and warmer. A change in the weather but not in our fortunes. One Fulmar flew east, two Shelducks flew west, one Oystercatcher was the only wader and two Sandwich Terns fed close inshore.

Hoowever, warmer weather did result in two additions to the butterfly list in Small Heath and Meadow Brown (total now 14 species). Holly and Common Blues, Speckled Wood and Small White were also seen.

Small Heath – Geoff Burton

11th

Cloudy with a moderate NE wind and cool. A Curlew on the beach by the Obs was the first returning wader. A Canada Goose flew east close inshore. The brood of seven ducklings were again seen along Coot Strait and a Magpie was feeding two fledged young along the   east bank.

Butterflies noted were Small and Large Whites and Common Blue.

Large White – Geoff Burton

9th

Cloudy with a light NE wind. Ten Gannets flew west and four flew east. An immature Mute Swan flew west over the sea. So we are still waiting for a change in the weather or season!

7th

Cloudy with a moderate NE wind. The cool northerly airflow continues its grip. Three Fulmars  and 12 Gannets flew east.  A family of six Long-tailed Tits appeared briefly along the east bank.

A Common Blue near the Obs was our first new butterfly for the year since Green-veined White on 19th April. A Silver Y moth and a Thick-thighed Beetle were also seen.

Little Egret – Geoff Burton

5th

Cloudy, fresh NE wind and cool. One Fulmar flew SW over the area whilst 62 Gannets east was the highest count of the year. A  Grey Plover flew north by the Obs. An  adult Common Gull on the beach was unusual as, typically, only first-summer birds are seen at this time of the year. A duck Mallard with seven ducklings in the brook were the first brood seen this year. A Reed  Warbler was singing along the east bank.

4th

Cloudy, misty at first with a light NE wind and cool. 10 Sandwich Terns flew east close inshore early in the morning. 25 Gannets flew east. There were two Shelducks on the beach and two Little Egrets on the beach with one on the Marsh Pool. Six Lapwings flew north out over the sea.

A quiet morning, and with news of a Black-winged Stilt at Oare Marshes, an early departure was called for.

Black-winged Stilt – Geoff Burton

2nd

Sunny and warm. Three Gannets flew west and eight flew east. A Barnacle Goose flying east over the sea was our second record of the year and a first for June. There were two Shelducks on the shingle ridge and six flew west and  a party of 23 Common Scoters flew east. Eight Oystercatchers on the beach were the only waders seen and there were four Great Black-backed Gulls on the beach. Seven Swifts and two Swallows flew west and our first juvenile Pied Wagtail was on the beach and the football pitch.

Butterflies were represented by Small Whites, Holly Blues and a male Orange-tip. In the ten years or so I have kept records this is the first June record of Orange-tip (all previous records have been in April and May). Andy Taylor found a new moth for the site in the form of Alabonia geoffrella .

Alabonia geoffrella – Andy Taylor

1st

Arnie van Orsouw heard a Reed Warbler singing along the east bank. Our sixth migrant this Spring.

May 2018

                                                                        132 species so far this year                                                                                    129 species by the same time last year

An odd month with warm spells at the beginning but much cold northerly weather from mid-month onwards.. The total of just 80 species compares with an average of 85.5 over the previous ten years. The month started well with five of the expected migrants, i.e Hobby, Greenshank, Little Tern, Turtle Dove and Reed Warbler, seen but no sign of a Garden Warbler or Spotted Flycatcher. Bird of the month was undoubtedly the Cattle Egret on 5th whilst our first Merlin of the year, on 3rd, was unexpected. However, the second half of the month was dire with five Avocets appearing out of the gloom on 26th, the only other addition to the year list.  Despite all this, the total of species for the year is now three ahead of that at the same time in 2017.   

 

28th

Sunny, warm with a light NE wind. A struggle this morning with one Gannet and one Shelduck west and two Swifts, three Sand Martins and four Swallows also west whilst a single House Martin was hawking over the area.  Our second ever Cetti’s  Warbler was present for its 38th day!

A Red Admiral at the Obs was the first since one recorded by Andy during the winter months.

Greenfinch – Geoff Burton

26th

Cloudy and misty and warm when the sun broke through. Early morning conditions favoured a few migrant waders with a party of five Avocets calling and eventually emerging from the mist as they flew on west (our first this year). Also two Dunlin and three Ringed Plovers (probably migrants) flew east along the beach and two Turnstones flew west. Over the sea, 57 Gannets, including one party of 26, flew east (our highest count this year) and an adult Kittiwake also flew west.  An immature Mute Swan flew east over the Obs and then flew back west and there were eight Great Black-backed Gulls (two adults and six immatures of various ages) on the beach (a high count for this time of the year. Other migrants included six Swallows west and two Reed Warblers singing, along the east bank and in the Scout Wood.

Sadly, there is as yet no evidence of the new notice boards having any affect on disturbance on the beach. Today, this included a lady, with dog of course,  painstakingly collecting rubbish on the shingle ridge at high tide.

24th

Cloudy with a light NE wind. 13 Gannets flew east and a party of four Grey Plovers flying east close inshore were the first this month.  Swifts continue to be uncommonly scarce with only two noted today.

Holly Blue and Small White were the only butterflies seen today.

22nd

Cloudy with a shower of rain and light northerly winds. Three Sandwich Terns feeding close inshore unusually included a second year bird (usually they remain in the winter quarters of West Africa). Two Turnstones were on the beach and the resident Carrion Crow flock numbered 64 birds.

21st

Cloudy, light NE wind and cool. A better day in comparison with the poor standards of recent times. Five Gannets and five Common Scoters flew west. A Greenshank was heard calling and two Sanderlings (the first this month) and five Turnstones were on the “slipway” at the eastern end of the beach. Eight Swallows and a Yellow Wagtail flew west and a Reed Warbler was singing in the bushes opposite the Obs.

Sanderlings – Geoff Burton

19th

Sunny with a light NE wind, warmer. Remains quiet, very quiet. There were four Swifts hunting over the area early morning.  A Whimbrel flew west and two Lapwings, the first since March, circled over the Marsh Pool then drifted off inland. A Song Thrush was videod as it smashed and ate a snail along the coastal path.

17th

Cloudy, moderate NE wind and again cool. After a period of quiet warm weather, we now have a period of quiet cold weather. Five Shelduck  flew east whilst a single Turnstone was the first seen here for a week.

The notice boards ask that people avoid the area marked “sensitive” which is the beach. Today, there was a party of 55 school children on the beach wielding red and white poles and tape!

 16th

Cloudy with a fresh northerly wind and cool. Ten Gannets flew east over the sea and a party of five Mediterranean Gulls (four adults) flew east over the area. Vis mig was limited to hirundines with one Sand Martin, 43 Swallows and five House Martins flying west. A Reed Warbler, singing in the depths of the east bank, was our second this year as was a Turtle Dove heading south, seen by Arnie van Orsouw in the afternoon.

Three notice boards, many years in the gestation, have finally materialised. They look good, they are more substantial than previous versions which had a tendency to unexplained disappearance, and  so will hopefully remain longer. They are quite informative but I fear the appeals to more “sensitive” behaviour may go unheard.

14th

Light cloud with a fresh, cooling northerly wind.  Not a pleasant morning. Four Gannets flew east and 27 flew west.  Some vis mig with seven Swifts, 82 Swallows and four Yellow Wagtails heading west.  Unusually, no Turnstones were seen for the second visit; more usually a few remain throughout the summer.

12th

Sunny with a light SW wind. Two Great Crested Grebes were offshore, four Shelducks flew west and a Little Egret was on the beach, then roosting along the east bank and then on the Marsh Pool. Waders were scarce with two Oystercatchers and two Ringed Plovers but no sign of any Turnstones. Not a vis mig day but a flock of six Collared Doves appeared to be in a hurry heading west and there were two Swallows and three Goldfinches also on the move. Two House Martins were back at the remnant brook presumably in search of mud for their nest.

Little Egret – Geoff Burton

11th

Sunny with a moderate southerly wind. This had all the makings of another quiet day but two additions to the year list were welcome if not unexpected. Firstly, a Hobby flipped over the east bank and flew low across the football pitch heading east. Secondly, a Reed Warbler was singing in the trees by the Obs and showed well briefly. Out over the sea, five Gannets circled distantly, a Shelduck flew east and there were two Great Crested Grebes offshore. It was a good morning for raptors with, as well as the Hobby, a Red Kite flying west over the sea at 9.40 am and a very pale Common Buzzard flying west over the area at 10.55 am. Waders were limited to the ever present OystercatcherRinged Plover and Turnstone and a few Sandwich Terns flew east. Vis mig was minimal; three Swallows,  a Sand Martin and two Rooks flew west and there were also two local House Martins in search of nesting material. The hepatic female Cuckoo appeared in the scrub and the Cetti’s Warbler was present for its 21st day.

Hepatic female Cuckoo – Ted Lee

10th

Ted was on duty again today. The three Turnstones were still present but there were no other waders of any note. More vis mig, however, with seven Swifts, 125 Swallows, five House Martins and three Yellow Wagtails west.

8th

Ted Lee saw two Little Egrets, three Turnstones and a Common Tern. Two Swallows and three Yellow Wagtails flew west.

7th

Sunny, calm and very warm. There were two Great Crested Grebes offshore, two Gannets flew east, a drake Gadwall flew west, a few Sandwich Terns flew east but the highlight of the day was three Little Terns which flew east mid-morning. Only just about annual in occurrence in recent years. Waders were scarce with only six Turnstones remaining but there was another flock of 60 Black-tailed Godwits which (as on 5th) flew high east. A Cuckoo flew west and a few Swallows and four Yellow Wagtails also.

Butterflies included Speckled Wood and Holly Blue and a female Orange-tip which often go overlooked. A Brimstone moth also flew by the Obs.

Finally, on its 17th day, the Cetti’s Warbler showed well enough at the Obs for Andy to get a record shot.

Cetti’s Warbler – Andy Taylor

6th

Andy bravely ignored the obvious downsides of a hot, Bank Holiday Sunday morning. He was rewarded with a flock of five Common Sandpipers, flushed from the beach by a dog walker,  and heard two Greenshanks calling ( new for the year).  He then beat a hasty retreat.

5th

Sunny, calm and warm with just a little cooling onshore breeze. Andy’s reward for an early start was a new bird for the site. A Cattle Egret circled over the area at 5.35 am, decided on balance not to land, and headed off SE. Anything after that was likely to be an anti-climax but a flock of 70 Black-tailed Godwits flying high and east was not only a new species for the year but our highest ever count here. Also, it was good to welcome back a hepatic Cuckoo for her third year. She mooched about the scrub for a bit before flying off west in front of the obs. Otherwise it was very quiet. A few Sandwich Terns and a Common Tern were the first for a week, a few Swallows flew west, a Skylark rested briefly on the shingle ridge.

The Cattle Egret was the 245th species recorded here since 1990 and, after Citrine Wagtail last October and Melodious Warbler last May, the third addition in less than a year, i.e. above average for recent years.

Cattle Egret – Andy Taylor

 4th

Sunny, calm and warm. There was one Great Crested Grebe on the sea, three adult Gannets flew west, two Mute Swans flew west  an seven Shelducks flew east. A Cuckoo was calling in the sewage works and then flew east across the area and beyond. A little vis mig ealy morning included three Sand Martins, 32 Swallows and a Yellow Wagtail. One male Wheatear was on the shingle ridge whilst a  flock of nine Jackdaws, flying south over the football pitch, was unusual.

3rd

Sunny, light westerly wind, warmer. What seemed a fairly quiet morning did produce two new birds for the year. Firstly, a Merlin (not the most expected falcon addition at this time of the year) flew low over the estate at c8.30 am and then, presumably the same bird, flew east across the area at 10.10 am. Secondly, a Turtle Dove starting “purring” from the sewage works behind the Obs at about 11 am. It was out of sight save for a brief appearance in display flight. There was a modicum of vis mig with one Swift, 24 Sand Martins, 94 Swallows, five House Martins, three Yellow Wagtails, 15 Goldfinches and four Linnets flying west. Two Wheatears were again on the shingle ridge. One Great Crested Grebe was on the sea, two Greylag Geese paused briefly offshore by the Obs and two Brent Geese flew west close inshore. One Whimbrel flew west.

Wheatear – Andy Taylor

1st

Sunny with a moderate westerly wind. A relief after yesterday’s winds and heavy rain. One Great Crested Grebe was on the sea, an adult Mute Swan flew east and two Whimbrel flew west. Vis mig included one Swift, two Sand Martins, 55 Swallows, two House Martins, 15 Yellow Wagtails, 106 Goldfinches and 18 Linnets. There were two Wheatears, a male and a female, on the shingle ridge and a Willow Warbler along the east bank.  Good to hear that the Cetti’s Warbler has made it into the new month.

Butterflies seen were Green-veined and Small Whites, Speckled Wood and Orange-tip.

April 2018

                                                            123 species so far this year                                                                126 species by the same time last year

A total of 96 species for the month was a bit above the average for the last ten years (which was 94.8 species). It looked as if we were going to do better but poor un-Spring like weather in the last week, when only two species were added, Cuckoo and Sedge Warbler, pulled it back.  However, we did reduce the deficit over last year from 16 to 3 species. In any case, at this stage in the year, it is not how many you see but what you see. Our second only Cetti’s Warbler, our first for four years Black Redstart and Grasshopper Warbler, and Spoonbill and Hen Harrier not seen last year, may be significant later on.

Spring birds likely to be added next month would include Hobby, Greenshank, Little Tern, Turtle Dove, Reed Warbler and Garden Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher. 

30th

Heavy rain, fresh northerly winds and cold. And 5 degrees C at home this afternoon, therefore, a no show today.

29th

Cloudy with a moderate northerly wind and light rain. Unpleasant! Three Gannets flew west, and later east, one Great Crested Grebe flew west and a Fulmar flew east. In the murky conditions, a Whimbrel rested on the beach by the Obs and three Bar-tailed Godwits (two breeding plumage males and a female) also dropped in for a rest. They were able to get some respite as the foul conditions had cut down on the dog walkers. Some Yellow Wagtails appeared out of the mist and included  a party of five which flew north out to sea. Two Swifts were seen over the estate and seven Swallows flew west. The Cetti’s Warbler continues to roam up and down the east bank occasionally letting out a burst of song.

28th

Cloudy with spots of rain, a moderate NW wind and cool. There were two Great Crested Grebes offshore, four Gannets flew east, seven flew west, ten Common Scoters flew east and a Fulmar circled over the Obs several times. A Whimbrel flew west, touching down on the beach briefly. Three Ringed Plovers were on the beach, 34 Turnstones gathered towards high tide and a Common Sandpiper was along the middle brook. Three Sandwich Terns and two Common Terns flew west. Limited vis mig included one Swift, nine Swallows, four Yellow Wagtails, 30 Goldfinches and 12 Linnets. A male Wheatear was on the beach, the Cetti’s Warbler was present for its eight day and a Sedge Warbler suddenly burst into song behind the Obs at 11 am. Our first Spring record for four years.

Fulmar – Andy Taylor

27th

A quiet morning with two Swifts, movement of Swallows and Sand Martins but not House Martins. The Cetti’s Warbler was still present and there were two Willow Warblers in the churchyard. A Sparrowhawk taking a Turnstone was perhaps an unusual prey item.

The Great Crested Grebe was again in the brook but two dog walkers took it upon themselves to try and catch it with nets! Apparently, it looked “knackered” but it swam off and hasn’t been seen again.

Willow Warbler – Andy Taylor

26th

Sunny, cool with a fresh SW wind. A light vis mig with four Swifts, one Sand Martin, 32 Swallows, two House Martins, 76 Goldfinches and 12 Linnets west. There were 58 Turnstones roosting on the beach at high tide.  The Cetti’s Warbler continues to sing unseen along the east bank. We need a change in the weather.

24th

Cloudy with a light SW wind. A much quieter day with a Cuckoo flying west high over the sewage works, the highlight. There was little other vis mig save for seven Swallows, two Yellow Wagtails, five Goldfinches and 13 Linnets flying west. There was one Great Crested Grebe on the sea, two Fulmars and a Common Scoter flew east and on the beach at high tide there were three Ringed Plovers, a Sanderling and 67 Turnstones. Two Sandwich Terns and a Brent Goose flew west. The Cetti’s Warbler continued to be heard but not seen along the     east bank, where a Lesser Whitethroat was also singing and a Common Whitethroat was performing aerial displays in the scrub.

23rd

Sunny with a moderate SW wind and cooler. A return to Spring after a premature bout of Summer! This was more conducive to vis mig and totals included our first six Swifts, 14 Sand Martins, c50 Swallows, five House Martins, three Meadow Pipits, ten Yellow Wagtails and a few Goldfinches and Linnets. It was a good day for raptors too with the prize going to a ringtail Hen Harrier flying west low over the sea at 7.30 am and later appearances of a female Marsh Harrier, three Sparrowhawks and a Buzzard. Waders included our first Common Sandpiper of the year which commuted between the beach, the brook and the Marsh Pool, as the vagaries of disturbance dictated and a roost of 80 Turnstones which harboured three guest Sanderlings.  Two late Brent Geese flew east close inshore,  eight Mediterranean Gulls , a Sandwich Tern and two Common Terns flew west.  There were two Wheatears on the beach, the Cetti’s Warbler was still present along the east bank and a Lesser Whitethroat was singing opposite the Obs.

Swift- Andy Taylor

Lesser Black-backed Gull – Geoff Burton

21st

Sunny and warm at first but a freshening easterly wind cooled things down considerably. Yet again conditions didn’t look good for vis mig and they weren’t. However, Andy started us off with a fine male Ring Ousel which dropped into the trees at the back of the upper brook and promptly disappeared. Whilst taking that in, he heard an unmistakable burst of Cetti’s Warbler song coming out of the depths of the east bank bushes. This was only the second record for the site after one on 29th October 1995! That one was heard by Mike Gould and a visiting RSPB group from Thanet (I think). Visits from RSPB groups to Swalecliffe are equally rare. This came at at time when the population was still recovering from the extinction brought about by the severe winters in the 1980s. The bird got a specific mention in the Kent Bird Report of that year.  Four Red Kites drifted west during the morning but the only other vis mig consisted of a couple of Swallows and Yellow Wagtails. A Great Northern Diver was seen offshore (the first for a week), four Fulmars flew east and three Canada Geese did a circuit of the area. Waders were few but included 15 Oystercatchers, 25 Turnstones and a Whimbrel. One Sandwich Tern flew west.

Sadly, the brook-haunting Great Crested Grebe appears to have a broken leg. Today it swam along to the upper brook where, despite it being very shallow, it was seen to be catching small fish by snorkelling.

19th

Sunny, calm and very warm. We are greeted all the time with “isn’t it a lovely day”. It is but clear skies with no wind, however warm, is not a recipe for visible Spring migration. There was nothing moving over land or sea. A Whitethroat sang a bit late morning  in the scrub (a second bird was present) and this was an addition to the year list. A Whimbrel was seen on the beach but six Oystercatchers, two Curlews and about 25 Turnstones were the only other waders seen. There were two Great Crested Grebes on the sea whilst the bird in the brook was present for its fourth day.

A Green-veined White at the Obs was our 11th butterfly of the year and there were also Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell, Orange-tip and Small White about. That may be all the species seen by the end of  the month as the only others seen here before the end of April has been  an occasional Small Copper and Painted Lady.

Great Crested Grebe – Geoff Burton

18th

Sunny, calm and very warm. Four immatures Mute Swans flew west close inshore. There were 44 Turnstones roosting between the groynes, a single Sanderling was on the beach and seven Redshanks were roosting on the Marsh Pool.  Only one Swallow flew west and one Yellow Wagtail was heard.  A quiet day but one that produced three additions to the year list with a Green Woodpecker calling from the sewage works, a Lesser Whitethroat in the bushes opposite the Obs and a single Redpoll flying west.

Butterflies included two Orange-tips and another sighting of Brimstone.

Mute Swans-  Geoff Burton

17th

Ted Lee reported two Red Kites flew west along the beach during the morning.

16th

Sunny, light to moderate southerly wind, warm. An adult Gannet,  a drake Shoveler and seven Mediterranean Gulls flew west. Waders included 87 Turnstones roosting between the groynes and seven Redshanks roosting on the Marsh Pool. Vis mig included one Stock Dove, 55 Woodpigeons, single Sand MartinSwallow and House Martin, two Meadow Pipits, a Yellow Wagtail, 39 Goldfinches  and 25 Linnets flying west. There were also three Willow Warblers, a Jay, two Rooks and a Peregrine.

Warm weather brought out three new butterflies for the year; two Speckled Woods, a Large White and a Holly Blue.

14th

We have emerged from a week’s gloom to a bright, sunny and much warmer Spring-like day. However, the birds have yet to hear about it. The four Great Northern Divers appeared again as the tide came in but were together only briefly. The divers had to run the gauntlet of jet skiers but they just nonchalantly dived and came up again as if nothing had happened. There was a  good turnout of the usual suspects augmented by Julian Russell and Richard Smith. There were also six Great Crested Grebes offshore and a Fulmar flew west. Typical at this time of the year, there were five Greylag Geese flying west,  a flock of nine Shelduck west and smaller numbers east or west. Waders included two Whimbrel west and there were 118 Turnstones, two Sanderlings and a Dunlin roosting amongst the groynes at high tide. A total of 41 Redshanks were roosting on the Marsh Pool, a high number at any time and more surprising given the lateness in the season. A few Swallows  and a single House Martin flew west and the Grasshopper Warbler continued to sing fitfully and, for the most part, invisibly in the scrub.

The warmer weather brought out butterflies with a second showing of Brimstone, a few Small Whites and Peacocks and a Comma.

 

13th

Cloudy, dull but a marked improvement on recent days,  with a light SW wind. A Grasshopper Warbler was singing occasionally near the bluethroat bush; our first for three years. A Willow Warbler was also in the scrub. There was a trickle of Swallows flying west (c12) and a single Sand Martin. A Wheatear appeared along the coastal path mid-morning. Waders included three Whimbrel west and two Ringed Plovers, five  Sanderlings and c70 Turnstones on the beach and 14 Redshanks were on the Marsh Pool. Two Sandwich Terns were offshore. A group of four Great Northern Divers were close inshore as the tide came in; an unprecedented number for the site.

Wheatear – Geoff Burton

9th-12th

Away visiting relatives in Yorkshire. It appears it was  cool and murky throughout the period (as it was in Yorkshire) but Andy managed to track down a few additions to the year list. Best was a Black Redstart in the churchyard on 9th (still present the next day when it was seen by Ted). This was our first for four years and so a bad one to miss. A Common Tern on 9th was also a new bird for the year.  A Green Sandpiper was seen briefly on the Obs Pool on 11th before being flushed (yet another example of dogs rescued at the expense of wildlife), a Willow Warbler was new on 12th and our second Wheatear was also present that day.

Black Redstart – Andy Taylor

8th

Cloudy, calm, light rain .  A Great Northern Diver and three Great Crested Grebes were offshore. Three Shelduck  flew west and a Little Egret and a Grey Heron were in the brook. Waders included nine Sanderlings and 34 Turnstones on the beach.  A first-summer Mediterranean Gull flew west and there were ten Sandwich Terns were offshore. Vis mig included four Sand Martins, 42 Swallows and two Yellow Wagtails flying west.

March 2018

                                                                        94 species for the year                                                                         110 species for the same time last year

The total of 84 species for the month was a little above the average over the last ten years but this did little to reduce the deficit. This is 16 species behind the end of March total last year and about ten behind the average over the last ten years.  The severe weather did produce our first Woodcocks for four years and other good birds were a Lapland Bunting on 20th (also our first for four years) and a lingering Black-throated Diver from 29th. The only Spring migrants were Chiffchaff and Sand Martin. 

31st

Sunny periods with a few light showers. Diver numbers built up as the tide came in this morning. Disturbance from  a police boat saw at least 45 Red-throated Divers in the air at one time. Other birds offshore included the Black-throated Diver and at least one Great Northern Diver. There was also an adult Shag in full breeding plumage which lingered offshore. Three Common Scoters flew east and a party of seven Red-breasted Mergansers flew west. Two Gannets flew east and c100 Cormorants had gathered offshore. An adult Little Gull also flew west close inshore. There were 20 Brent Geese on the beach and waders included eight Ringed Plovers, three Sanderlings and a Dunlin. Little Egret,  a species apparently  badly effected by recent severe weather conditions, was in the remnant brook. Two Buzzards were soaring behind the estate.

30th

Cloudy with a light easterly wind, cool. There was a raft of c150 Cormorants close inshore, 30 or more Red-throated Divers, one Great Northern Diver but no sign of yesterday’s Black-throated Diver.  Six Great Crested Grebes were offshore. A pairof Pintail flew east, four Common Scoters flew east, 11 flew west and two drakes and a duck were close inshore late morning. 19 Brent Geese were on the beach and 25 Redshanks were roosting on the Marsh Pool.

29th

Sunny after a clear night with a touch of frost. Light southerly winds. The bird of the day was undoubtedly a Black-throated Diver which, unusually for this species here, showed well close inshore. There were also two Great Northern Divers and c15 Red-throated Divers, a  Great Crested Grebe and four Red-breasted Mergansers offshore. Also, 21 Brent Geese are still lingering on the beach and waders included 18 Sanderlings and 140 Turnstones roosting at high tide, but only one Ringed Plover and a few Dunlin, and 14 Redshanks roosting on the Marsh Pool. An immature Peregrine flew east along the beach, a Buzzard appeared low over the estate and a Jay flying towards the sewage works was the first for some time.  However, we are still waiting for Spring!

27th

Cloudy with steady light rain all morning. Two Great Northern Divers were present offshore all morning at least three Red-throated Divers and three Great Crested Grebes. Three adult  Gannets flew west and another was sitting on the sea. One Grey Plover and 14 Sanderlings were on the beach and ten Redshanks were roosting on the Marsh Pool. A Moorhen, about ten feet up in the bushes along the east bank, was fending off the attentions of two Magpies. They pursued the bird into the trees by the sewage works.

26th

Sunny periods, a fresh NW wind and cool. A Great Northern Diver and a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers were offshore. Ten Greylag Geese and eight drake Common Scoters flew east. There were 32 Redshanks on an undisturbed Marsh Pool and a single Snipe was also in view. Three Buzzards and two Sparrowhawks were circling over the estate late morning. Two Sand Martins flew west at 10.50 am; a new bird for the year. Four alba Wagtails, probably of the nominate race, and a Reed Bunting also flew west.

24th

Cloudy and calm. There were 18 Red-throated Divers offshore, a Great Northern Diver was the first seen this month and two summer plumage Black-throated Divers flying west were new for the year.  Two Canada Geese flying west over the beach were also new for the year, five Shelduck flew west and single Fulmar and Gannet flew east.  Three Red-breasted Mergansers (two drakes and a duck) were offshore and a female Marsh Harrier flew west then headed inland. There were three Great Spotted Woodpeckers (two males and a female) were seen and there were two Chiffchaffs along the east bank.

23rd

Cloudy with a moderate SW wind. Six Red-throated Divers, a Great Crested Grebe and two pairs of Red-breasted Mergansers  were offshore. There were 20 Brent Geese, three Snipe in the marsh and an adult Mediterranean Gull flew east.  A Great Spotted Woodpecker was again heard drumming along the upper brook and a pair of Long-tailed Tits were at the Obs.

22nd

Cloudy, light westerly wind, cool. There were four Red-throated Divers and a Great Crested Grebe offshore. Two Shelduck flew west and there were c40 Brent Geese. Waders included 22 Oystercatchers, one Grey Plover and three Sanderlings on the beach. Some vis.mig with 22 Meadow Pipits, 62 Redwings and two Reed Buntings (our first this year) flying west. Finally, a Great Spotted Woodpecker was drumming along the upper brook, a male Stonechat was in the scrub (the first since 10th, so possibly a migrant) and a Rock Pipit was at the mouth of the brook.

 

14th. 

Sunny, feeling mild where sheltered from the fresh southerly wind. There were 12 Red-throated Divers and eight Red-breasted Mergansers on the sea, one Fulmar flew west and a Gannet flew east. There were 40 Brent Geese on the sea by the skate park.  Waders included 22 Redshanks on the Marsh Pool and our second sighting this year of a Purple Sandpiper (courtesy of Arnie) which had no doubt strayed from its Hampton base. One Skylark flew south and two Rooks flew east.

A Peacock butterfly was our second species this year.

13th

There were 40+ Red-throated Divers offshore, some in partial or full breeding plumage, and ten Red-breasted Mergansers (seven drake and three ducks). Seven Shelduck and two Mediterranean Gulls, in breeding plumage, flew west.  A  Common Buzzard, which came in off the sea and continued south, was our first of the year and a Peregrine was seen several times during the morning. There were 13 Redshanks on the Marsh Pool (another 12 on the caravan park field) and five Snipe were flushed from the marsh. Also, two Skylarks flew west and there was a trickle of Meadow Pipit passage as well. One Meadow Pipit was in display flight.

12th

A shortened visit in the steady drizzle, but with some heavier outbreaks of rain, and a fresh southerly wind. A Fulmar flew west and 12 adult Gannets flew east.  Three Red-breasted Mergansers (two drakes and a duck) were on the sea. A Little Egret in the brook was the first seen since the cold weather. There were 21 Redshanks on the caravan park field. A Rock Pipit on the beach was of the Scandinavian race, littoralis.

Scandinavian Rock Pipit – Andy Taylor

10th

Cloudy, mild with a southerly wind. There were four Great Crested Grebes and three Red-breasted Mergansers offshore. One Fulmar and a breeding plumage adult Mediterranean Gull flew west, Waders included four Grey Plovers, 32 Sanderlings and 47 Dunlin and 26 Lapwings flew west. A male Stonechat was the first recorded since the cold weather; a survivor or a migrant?

8th

Sunny periods with a cool westerly wind. There were six Great Crested Grebes on the sea but one feeding in the brook was exceptional. An adult Shag was on the sea,  two Shelduck flew west and another was on the Marsh Pool. Waders included 40+ Golden Plovers and 37 Lapwings flew west and five Grey Plovers were on the beach.  Also, there were two Mediterranean Gulls, a Stock Dove and four Skylarks flew west whilst another Skylark was in song beyond the caravan park.

4th

Milder again with a light SE breeze. There were 22 Red-throated Divers. A Greylag Goose and two Shelduck flew west, two drake Teal, a drake Common Scoter and six Red-breasted Mergansers were on the sea. 12 Grey Plovers included seven flying west, 39 Lapwings were on the beach briefly with another eight on the Marsh Pool, 22 Sanderlings flew west and five Bar-tailed Godwits were on the Hampton flats. An adult Mediterranean Gull in breeding plumage flew west. A Stock Dove, which flew NW over the football pitch, was the first of the year (it has been a much scarcer bird here in recent years). Three  Skylarks headed inland, a Fieldfare and a Redwing were on the football pitch and an immature Rook was on the beach.

3rd

It was milder (i.e. not below freezing) for the first time for a week.  However, a species associated with the cold weather, Woodcock, appeared for the first time in four years when two were flushed by dogs from the shingle ridge. Other waders included four Grey Plovers and a Bar-tailed Godwits on the beach. Five Great Crested Grebes flew east, a Greylag Goose flew west and five Teal were offshore all morning.  Another Teal was on the Marsh Pool and there was another appearance by the  female Mandarin Duck which flew from the upper brook into the sewage works.  A flock of 12 Fieldfares flew west over the Obs (another was in the area all morning) and two Snow Buntings were seen in flight by the Obs.

2nd

Another freezing morning, cloudy with strong easterly winds and freezing rain that coated both clothing and optics (not like that at the Pak Thale salt plans as I watched my first ever Spoon-billed Sandpiper!) At least the conditions had some effect on the movement of birds; ducks included eight Red-breasted Mergansers flying west, a Wigeon on the Marsh Pool and also three Shelducks, two drake Pintail and two Teal. Most notable amongst the waders were 17 Bar-tailed Godwits where also there were six Grey Plovers and 188 Dunlin. A juvenile Kittiwake was also seen.

1st

Andy took a brief walk around in the afternoon braving the strong easterly winds. Snow was lying on the ground and the brook was frozen. Most notable were 22 Little Gulls that flew east close inshore,  Bar-tailed Godwit also flying east and also an addition to the year list and three Snow Buntings, seen by Jim Bloor, around the children’s play area. A Common Scoter flew east, 30 Brent Geese flew east and another eight were on the Marsh Pool.