March 2020

                                                  100 species so far this year                                                    106 species by the same time last year

29th

Another afternoon visit by Andy produced nothing “birdy” of note but a dead Lesser Spotted Dogfish.

28th

An afternoon sortie by Andy produced eight Sanderlings and 12 Turnstones and a few passing Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

27th

The brisk NE wind meant that the weather had Long Rock in lockdown. Waders included two Sanderlings, 12 Redshanks and seven Turnstones. It was encouraging that the Meadow Pipit continues to display and the Reed Bunting to sing; both had been lost as breeding species in the last few years. Two Chiffchaffs were also noted.

26th

Sunny with a moderate NE wind. There were four Red-throated Divers and three Great Crested Grebes offshore, two Shelducks flew east another west and waders included seven Sanderlings on the beach and a Snipe visible on the Marsh Pool. Two adult Mediterranean Gulls flew west over the area calling and a pair of Lesser Black-backed Gulls were on the beach. Otherwise, Meadow Pipit and Reed Bunting continue to hold territory and two Chiffchaffs were singing.

25th

Sunny, frost, with a light SE wind. There were eight Red-throated Divers, five Great Crested Grebes and a drake Red-breasted Merganser offshore, two Greylag Geese flew west over the sewage works, three Shelducks flew west close inshore and a Fulmar flew east. There were eight Brent Geese on the beach. A brood of 11 Mallard ducklings were on the Marsh Pool and another brood of nine were along the middle brook near the wooden bridge. Recent experience has been that broods have not been seen this early in the season possibly because early attempts had been unsuccessful.  Wader numbers have, as would be expected, been in decline but included three Sanderlings on the beach.

24th

There were seven Redshanks on the Marsh Pool and at least 12 Sanderlings on the beach. A female Blackcap and two or three Chiffchaffs were noted and the male Reed Bunting continued to hold territory.

23rd

Sunny, a touch of frost and a moderate easterly wind. One Red-throated Diver and two Shelducks flew west, the drake Eider was again by the tidal ponds, a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers were offshore and three Brent Geese dropped onto the beach. Waders included two Ringed Plovers and ten Sanderlings and a Bar-tailed Godwit. A pair of Lesser Black-backed Gulls displayed to each other on the beach. Other birds included two Chiffchaffs, four Greenfinches in trees along the east bank whilst Meadow Pipit and Reed Bunting are still holding territory.

22nd

Nine Ringed Plovers were noted on the beach and four drake Mallards were on the Marsh Pool.

21st

Sunny with a fresh NE wind. One Great Crested Grebe could be seen offshore in the rough seas, the drake Eider was by the tidal ponds again,  and two drake Common Scoters and a large auk sp flew east. Waders included eight Sanderlings on the beach, nine Redshanks on the Marsh Pool and a Snipe dropped in to the pool.

19th

Cloudy, early rain, and a fresh NE wind. A Fulmar flying west was only the second record of the year. Seven adult Gannets flew east, five Shelduck  and a flock of 50 Common Scoters and there were eight Red-breasted Mergansers offshore. Waders included only one Ringed Plover and 22 Sanderlings. Two Sandwich Terns flew east offshore (new for the year) and a second calendar year Mediterranean Gull flew SE across the area.

A Water Vole showed well as it swam along the side of the upper brook by the wooden bridge and dived into the bank.

18th

Sunny and mild with a moderate westerly wind. There were five Great Crested Grebes and eight Red-breasted Mergansers were offshore whilst an adult Gannet flew west, a Greylag Goose flew east and an immature  Marsh Harrier flew west low over the sea at 11.15 am. Waders included seven Ringed Plovers and 22 Sanderlings on the beach and seven Redshanks on the Marsh Pool. Other birds included a Stock Dove west,  two Chiffchaffs were at the Obs and two Buzzards were circling to the SE.

The sun brought out the butterflies at the Obs with two Peacocks, a Small White and a Comma.

Kestrel – Geoff Burton

Comma – Geoff Burton

16th

Sunny with a light westerly wind. There were two Red-throated Divers, ten Great Crested Grebes and a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers offshore. A drake Goosander and a Shelduck flew west and there were 14 Brent Geese on the beach. Waders included 29 Sanderlings and 44 Turnstones on the beach. Highlight of the day was a male Wheatear, found by Ted, and which showed for a few minutes on one of the bushes by the coastal path. New for the year, our earliest bird was on 15th March 2008 but this is the third year one has been recorded on this date. Other birds included a Stock Dove west over the football pitch, about ten Meadow Pipits, with one continuing to display in the grassland, three Chiffchaffs, five Jackdaws circling over the area and a female Reed Bunting in the bushes opposite the Obs.

The warmth of the sun brought out our first butterflies with at least three Peacocks, a Small White and a Brimstone.

Where the brook meets the sea (high and low tide)

 14th

Cloudy with light rain showers and a light SE wind. There was a single breeding plumage Red-throated Diver,  five Great Crested Grebes and four Red-breasted Mergansers offshore, there were 30 Brent Geese on the beach, a Greylag Goose flew south by the Obs and a Shelduck flew west. A Marsh Harrier flew west in a cloud of gulls at 7.20 am and a Grey Plover by the tidal ponds was our first since January. Two Chiffchaffs were also noted.

The previous night a man took his dog for a walk along the prom by the caravan park. He fell off the prom onto the beach losing his car keys and glasses which, in the dark and without his glasses, he could not find. He made a mark on the wall to indicate where to look the next morning. It was raining then and the mark had washed away. Eventually though he did find them and was particularly relieved to have found his £600 glasses! However, he still supports Luton FC. Less lucky was a Spotted Dogfish found dead in the same area.

Spotted Dogfish – Greg Herne

13th

Kay Herne saw a male Great Spotted Woodpecker in the Elm Wood.

12th

Sunny with a light SW wind. There were five Great Crested Grebes and four Red-breasted Mergansers offshore whilst the apparently local drake Eider flew west. There were 14 Brent Geese on the beach and a Lapwing came in from the east to rest on the beach by the Obs. The pair of Stonechats were noted, a male Blackcap was in the Elm Wood, a Chiffchaff  by the Obs and a Meadow Pipit was in song flight.

11th

Sunny periods, calm then a light westerly wind. There were three Red-throated Divers, eight Great Crested Grebes and three Red-breasted Mergansers offshore. An adult drake Eider flew in from the west at 7 am and settled by the tidal ponds where it remained all morning. Three Greylag Geese and two Shelducks flew west and there were six Brent Geese on the beach. Waders included 14 Oystercatchers , one Ringed Plover, 52 Sanderlings and eight Dunlins at high tide and 21 Redshanks on the Marsh Pool. A Skylark was in song flight over the fields beyond the caravan park and two more flew west low over the sea. Two Stonechats were still present, an adult Rook flew west, there were six Linnets and a female Reed Bunting.

10th

The flock of Red-breasted Mergansers numbered ten, there were about 20 Sanderlings, and two Skylarks were also noted.

9th

Sunny with a moderate westerly wind. Two Red-throated Divers flew west, there were six Great Crested Grebes and a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers offshore and 33 Brent Geese on the beach. Waders included nine Ringed Plovers and 16 Sanderlings on the beach, a Snipe and 14 Redshanks on the Marsh Pool where there was also a Turnstone ( a single bird, presumably the same individual, is often seen on the pool. Other birds included two Stock Doves flew west , Kingfisher, a Meadow Pipit in song flight and two Reed Buntings.

Michael Lee of Bird Wise East Kent had set up his stall, unfortunately in rather windy conditions, and spoke to many local dog walkers during the morning. At one point, he was surrounded by 32 dogs and their owners. He seemed quite positive that his message of bird-friendly dog walking was well received.

Bird Wise East Kent and some dog walkers – Philip Hurst

7th

Sunny with a light SW wind and a touch of frost. Only a handful of Red-throated Divers had been seen during the morning until two jet skiers passed west a long way out and 44 were counted in flight! Three Shelducks flew west, six Common Scoters flew east and a single drake Red-breasted Merganser was on the sea. There were 67 Brent Geese on the beach and waders included a flock of 15 Golden Plovers flying west high over the sea, 16 Sanderlings, 40 Dunlin and six Ringed Plovers on the beach and 15 Redshanks on the Marsh Pool. An adult Mediterranean Gull flew west. Two Grey Wagtails were the first for over a month and presumably on passage. A Chiffchaff was in the Scout Wood and a Rook flew south by the Obs.

Great Black-backed Gull – Andy Taylor

5th

Cloudy with a fresh NE wind and rain from 9.30 am.  Even in the worst of conditions there is always the chance of a good bird. But not on this occasion! There were 53 Brent Geese and 19 Sanderlings on the beach.

4th

Cloudy with a light SW wind. One Red-throated Diver flew west and there were ten Great Crested Grebes offshore.  There were 23 Brent Geese on the beach and three Grey Herons flew west.  A Ring-necked Parakeet flew east over the houses to the south of the scout hut. The three Stonechats were opposite the Obs and three Rooks flew west.

3rd

Eight Great Crested Grebes and five Red-breasted Mergansers were noted offshore. There were 67 Brent Geese on the beach and waders included 40+ Dunlins. Other birds noted included a SparrowhawkMediterranean GullKingfisher and a pair of Stonechats. However, birds of the day were a group of five Corn Buntings which appeared late morning in the bushes opposite the Obs. This species whose wintering flocks may have numbered c100 thirty years ago now, is now down to the occasional record usually of just a single bird. This group was the highest count here for over ten years. They flew off south towards Studd Hill.

Corn Buntings – Andy Taylor

2nd

Cloudy and calm at first but with a freshening NW wind. Three Red-throated Divers and three Great Crested Grebes were offshore together with six Red-breasted Mergansers, that were joined mid-morning by our first Velvet Scoter of the year. This  soon flew off west.  One Shelduck flew west and there were  55 Brent Geese on the beach. Bird of the day, in terms if rarity if nothing else although we still enjoy seeing them here, was a pair of Ring-necked Parakeets in the churchyard. Unusually, they stayed for about 10-15 minutes with the male tenderly grooming its mate. Other birds noted included two Meadow Pipits, two Stonechats, a Jay and a female Reed Bunting.

Ring-necked Parakeets – Geoff Burton

1st

Sunny with a fresh SW wind. A quiet start to the month. Three Great Crested Grebes and two drake Red-breasted Mergansers were offshore. There were 65 Brent Geese on the beach. Other birds included an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull west and regulars such as the three Stonechats and a Kingfisher and three Greenfinches over the Obs.

Long-tailed Tit – Geoff Burton

February 2020

                                                  95 species so far this year                                                                                        94 species by this time last year

The total of 73 species for the month was well below the ten-year average of 77.2 as it petered out amidst a succession of storms. There were highlights, in particular on “Super Saturday” when Black-tailed Godwit and Spotted Redshank were added to the year list, a Red-necked Grebe made a second appearance of the year and the male Bullfinch showed up again. The total number of species seen here in all of the previous ten years, i.e the regulars, is 122. So far this year 12 species not on that list have been seen but January’s Slavonian Grebe remains the only species seen this year but not last. 

27th

Arnie noted 24 Redshanks roosting on the Marsh Pool where there was also a single Turnstone. A Sparrowhawk was also seen.

26th

Sunny with a strong WNW wind. Singles of  Red-throated Diver and Great Crested Grebe were seen offshore, there were seven Red-breasted Mergansers  offshore whilst a redhead Goosander flew west, failing to disguise itself as just another Merganser. There were 18 Redshanks on the Marsh Pool, an adult Mediterranean Gull flew west and there were two adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls (becoming more regular now). Two Stock Doves flew west over the Obs, there were two Long-tailed Tits in the Elm Wood where the “dark-bellied” Great Tit showed again briefly.

25th

Another quiet day; a Marsh Harrier and three Shelducks flew west. The three Stonechats were still present, two Skylarks, a few Meadow Pipits and a Reed Bunting were seen with a Chiffchaff by the sewage works entrance.

Andy managed to get photos of the striking “black-breasted” Great Tit fist seen by Arnie on the 3rd. It seems to be faithful to the Elm Wood and thereabouts.

Aberrant Great Tit – Andy Taylor

24th

Cloudy with strong SW wind and mild. The weather was similar to that on Saturday, the birding wasn’t! Two Great Crested Grebes and three Red-breasted Mergansers were seen offshore, there were only five Brent Geese on the beach. Flocks of 25 and 30 Golden Plovers flew west low over the sea. Other birds included two Meadow Pipits in the grassland and ten roaming Linnets.

22nd

Cloudy with a strong SW wind. Not much expected in this weather but we have to make the effort. The first dent in our pessimistic wall came with a Black-tailed Godwit which rested briefly on the beach before the inevitable appearance of a dog walker had it flying off west. The second came with the latest showing of the male Bullfinch; it was heard calling along the east bank and then flew out towards the scout hut and beyond; first seen on December 5th but only about half a dozen times since. The third was a Red-necked Grebe spotted close inshore by the shingle ridge but which soon followed the godwit heading west. This is the third sighting of this species this winter. The others were on November 15th and January 8th; too far apart surely to be the same bird? And finally, a Spotted Redshank was seen  high over the sea, it circled round calling looking for somewhere to land,  but then followed godwit and grebe heading west. There was little else; a few Red-throated Divers in flight, a group of seven Red-breasted Mergansers offshore and two adult Mediterranean Gulls during the morning.  Other birds included 46 Dunlin feeding on the Hampton flats, a Skylark flying west low over the sea and two Meadow Pipits west over the Obs and three Stonechats.

Today’s lesson is that a combined 46 years of experience on this site is not enough to predict events on any day except to say that you have to be there to see it!

20th

Cloudy with a freshening SW wind. A few Red-throated Divers and Great Crested Grebes offshore but only one drake  Red-breasted Merganser seen in the choppy conditions. There were c100 Brent Geese on the beach and waders included c40 Sanderlings on the beach, 18 Ringed Plovers and 24 Dunlin roosting between the groynes and the now lone Lapwing on the Marsh Pool. Three adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls flew west. Highlight of the morning was a group of three Ravens which flew west at 9.40 am; only our fourth record but three of these have been in the last 14 months. Other birds included the male Kingfisher, a Chiffchaff  calling in the Elm Wood, two Long-tailed Tits at the Obs and 12 Linnets by the scout hut.

Kingfisher – Geoff Burton

18th

A flock of five Stock Doves and a single bird flew west. Two Skylarks flew over and only one Lapwing remained on the Marsh Pool.

17th

Another Stock Dove, Chiffchaff at the Obs and a Mediterranean Gull.

15th

A redhead Goosander was flushed from the brook near the Marsh Pool by  a dog!

14th

Sunny with a light SW wind. A calm day in between storms Ciara and Dennis. There were 13 Red-breasted Mergansers offshore but only c30 Brent Geese on the beach. Bird of the day was a Red Kite which flew west offshore  at 11.55 am. New for the year, and unusual in the winter months, although birds were also reported from Worth Marshes and Sevenscore that day. Little else to report but a Chiffchaff was on the edge of the Scout Wood and two Greenfinches were along the upper brook; both species now being recorded regularly again.

12th

Sunny with a fresh SW wind.  Three Shelducks and a duck Pintail flew west and there were five Red-breasted Mergansers offshore.  An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull flew west. A Stock Dove which flew west low over the scrub was our first of the year. Also noted were Kingfisher, Stonechat, two Chiffchaffs and ten Linnets.

Chiffchaff – Andy Taylor

11th

Andy’s reward for his refurbishment activities at the Obs was a good view of our resident, but elusive, Firecrest.

10th

Sunny and mild with a fresh SW wind. A Great Northern Diver flew west and a Gannet flew east. There were five Red-breasted Mergansers offshore, waders included 66 Sanderlings and an adult Mediterranean Gull flying west along the beach settled on the Marsh Pool  amongst the Black-headed and Common Gulls. Scarce so far this year, a Jackdaw flew east over the scout hut, a flock of 20 Goldfinches flew along the east bank and there were ten Linnets.

8th

Sunny with a light SW wind. There were 23 Great Crested Grebes offshore. A Great Northern Diver flew off west, there were three Wigeon lingering close inshore, nine Red-breasted Mergansers offshore and c100 Brent Geese on the beach. Other birds included a Kingfisher, three Stonechats (two males and a female) along the coastal path, a Chiffchaff calling in the Elm Wood and six Linnets which included one singing on the beach between the groynes at the eastern end.

A Water Vole swam across the middle brook.

Ringed Plover – Geoff Burton

6th

Sunny, calm with a light frost. The Great Northern Diver was off the eastern end of the beach. Two Shelducks flew west, two Common Scoters flew east and there were 14 Red-breasted Mergansers offshore. Waders included 132 Sanderlings on the beach on the outgoing tide and 22  Redshanks roosting on the Marsh Pool. Other birds included a Skylark calling but unseen as it flew west, a female Blackcap in the Elm Wood, 45 Carrion Crows on the shingle ridge at high tide, a Greenfinch “wheezing” in the trees along the upper brook and a male Reed Bunting in the grassland.

5th

Sunny periods with a light NW wind.  A Great Northern Diver lingered off the Obs, two Shelducks flew west and a flock of 20 Common Scoters flew east. There were three Blackaps, two males and a female in the Elm Wood (an unusually large nunber for winter here) and, finally, three Greenfinches along the east bank and the upper brook were the first this year. They should be regular from now on.

Greenfinch – Geoff Burton

3rd

Sunny and mild with a moderate SW wind. There were 120 Brent Geese on the beach, about ten Gannets and a Shelduck flew west and there were five Red-breasted Mergansers offshore. Waders included a record count of 141 Sanderlings on the beach, 39 Ringed Plovers on the beach,  40 Golden Plovers flying west and eight Snipe flushed from the Marsh Pool (dog walker). The Water Rail was seen along the middle brook. A Skylark flying west by the Obs was our first of the year. A Firecrest showed well in the Elm Wood and a Grey Wagtail appeared by the Obs.

1st

Sunny and mild (10-12.5 degrees C), with a moderate westerly wind. Two Red-throated Divers, five Great Crested Grebes and only one drake Red-breasted Merganser noted offshore. Waders included 42 Sanderlings on the beach, the three Lapwings on the Marsh Pool and a single Golden Plover flying west over the sea. Two Little Grebes were in the brook below the sluice. Other birds included a Kingfisher, a male Stonechat, four Long-tailed Tits, 25 Goldfinches, four Linnets and a female Reed Bunting.

A modest 41 species to start the month.

January 2020

                                       A total of 88 species for the year                                                A total of 82 species by the same time last year

A total of 88 species for the month compares with an average of 85.2 species over the previous ten years and represents the best start to the year since 2013 when 96 species were recorded in January. However, only one species recorded this month was not recorded in 2019; Slavonian Grebe, which was recorded a number of times between 3rd and 25th. Other notable birds included the lingering Bullfinch seen several times and a Red-necked Grebe and a Firecrest on 8th. Counts of Red-breasted Mergansers, up to 14, were a welcome improvement on recent years and there was a record count of 116 Sanderlings on 6th.  

31st

Cloudy with a moderate SW wind. Only four Red-breasted Mergansers were noted offshore today. A few small flocks of Golden Plovers, totalling 48, flew west over the sea. The Bar-tailed Godwit was on Hampton flats. Other birds noted included two Meadow Pipits in the scrub, a Jay flying into the Scout Wood and 11 Linnets perched atop trees in the Elm Wood.

Two newly-planted sycamore trees  have appeared along Swalecliffe Court Drive. Not native but at least not more eucalyptus!

Male Kestrel – Geoff Burton

30th

The Firecrest made a second appearance (first on 8th) along the east bank at 9.45 am.

28th

The two Little Grebes were in Coot Strait,  a Common Buzzard circling over the estate was new for the year and the Water Rail was seen in the brambles along the east bank.

27th

Cloudy with a few showers and a moderate SW wind. There were 11 Red-breasted Mergansers offshore and the two Little Grebes were again in Coot Strait. Waders included 30 Oystercatchers and a Grey Plover on the beach.  The supporting cast included the regular Kingfisher, male and female Stonechat, two Long-tailed Tits and ten Linnets on the shingle ridge. A Great Northern Diver was seen on the sea off the caravan park in the afternoon.

25th

Cloudy and calm. The Slavonian Grebe was again offshore, there were also 14 Red-breasted Mergansers  there and four Shelducks and a Greylag Goose flew west and a Common Scoter flew east. Waders included a single Grey Plover, there were two Little Grebes along Coot Strait and a Grey Wagtail was also heard.

24th

Cloudy with a light NE wind. Two Shelducks flew west and a flock of 17 flew east. There were seven Red-breasted Mergansers offshore and 140 Brent Geese on the beach.  There were c100 Sanderlings along the beach. Other birds included a Grey Wagtail in the sewage works, the pair of Stonechats and eight Linnets.

23rd

Cloudy and calm. Finally, we had our first Great Northern Diver and another appearance of the Slavonian Grebe first seen here on 3rd. Other birds on the sea included four Wigeon, a pair of Gadwall, a duck Common Scoter but only  single pair of Red-breasted Mergansers. Waders included the three Lapwings and two Snipe on the Marsh Pool and c50 Sanderlings. Other birds included Kingfisher, a pair of Stonechats and seven Linnets on the shingle ridge, whilst the call of Jackdaws was heard for the first time this year.

Slavonian Grebe – Andy Taylor

21st

Andy’s quick circuit provided our first Fulmar of the year and three adult Gannets diving offshore and a few photo opportunities!

Sanderlings, Kingfisher and Stonechat – Andy Taylor

20th

Sunny, calm and cold. There were 11 Red-throated Divers, two Shelducks and two Wigeon west, 110 Brent Geese moved east along the beach and there were nine Red-breasted Mergansers offshore. A female Marsh Harrier flew west over the sea at 10.15 am and waders included 70 Sanderlings and 12 Snipe in the Marsh Pool.  An adult Mediterranean Gull was on the Marsh Pool and then on the beach. Three Stonechats, two males and a female, a Goldcrest was the first sighting for two weeks and a pair of Reed Buntings were also present.

19th

Razorbill flying west was our first auk of the year. There were 13 Red-breasted Mergansers offshore, two Lesser Black-backed Gulls were seen and the Water Rail showed if briefly as it swam across the brook.

18th

Sunny with a light westerly wind, cooler. There were seven Great Crested Grebes and eight Red-breasted Mergansers offshore, two Shelducks flew west and seven Common Scoters were on the sea. Waders included 70 Sanderlings on the beach. Other birds included Kingfisher, a pair of Stonechats, two Long-tailed Tits in the churchyard, seven Linnets over the shingle ridge and a pair of Reed Buntings.

17th

Sunny with a moderate westerly wind. There were 90 Brent Geese on the beach, ten Shelducks – two singles and a flock of eight – flew west and there were five Red-breasted Mergansers offshore. Star waders was a Purple Sandpiper on the beach by the caravan park – this was the bird that was photographed recently at Hampton with a deformed bill. Other waders included a Grey Plover west, a Bar-tailed Godwit on Hampton flats and, of course, the three amigos Lapwings on the Marsh Pool.

Andy and I met up with Michael Lee of Birdwise East Kent this morning. We had a long and interesting conversation in which we shared our experiences of birding at Swalecliffe whilst he explained his proposals for tackling the problems of disturbance along this coast from Whitstable to Pegwell Bay.

16th

Cloudy with a moderate southerly wind. There were seven Red-breasted Mergansers offshore and waders included a single Golden Plover on the beach, 35 Sanderlings along the tideline and a Bar-tailed Godwit on the Hampton flats. Two Rooks flew west over the beach and were another addition to the year list. Other birds included two Meadow Pipits on the beach, a pair of Stonechats and six Linnets hanging around the scout hut.

At the half-way point of the month, the 82 species recorded equalled the total for the whole of January last year.  A staggering 17 species ahead of last year’s very poor start!

 

15th

Andy’s decision to make a late morning/lunchtime visit after earlier rain was, perhaps, encouraged by Greg’s finding of a Purple Sandpiper feeding along the promenade by the caravan park. It proved inspired with a Red-necked Grebe offshore by the caravan park at 12.05 pm which slowly drifted west, two Little Grebes on the Marsh Pool and another appearance of the male Bullfinch by the scout hut.

14th

Jay was an addition to the year list.

13th

Sunny periods with a moderate SW wind. A Fisheries Patrol vessel was preceded by about 100 Red-throated Divers heading west. There were 11 Great Crested Grebes and three Red-breasted Mergansers offshore and two Shelducks flew west. 90 Golden Plovers flew west and a Peregrine flew west by the Obs.

Peregrine – Andy Taylor

11th

Cloudy with a moderate westerly wind. At last a flock of 70 Golden Plovers on the beach (another 20 flew west), a party of five grey geese came in from the SE heading towards Sheppey (three Greylag and two White-fronted Geese) and an  adult Little Gull flew west offshore; another three additions to the year list. Two Gannets flew east, a drake Shelduck flew west, two Common Scoters were seen and nine Red-breasted Mergansers were offshore. Another Marsh Harrier flew west, two flocks of waders distantly offshore did include a number of Grey Plovers and possibly some Knot. A flock of 102 Sanderlings were roosting on the beach. Other birds included the male Kingfisher along the middle brook, a male Great Spotted Woodpecker in the large trees along the upper brook, a male Stonechat, a Chiffchaff and seven Linnets.

10th

Cloudy and mild with a fresh NW wind. Hopes that, with a fresh onshore wind, sea-watching might be at least better than it has been. A few duck were on the move, two Wigeon and two Common Scoters flew west but a drake Goosander west and a duck Eider east were welcome additions to the year list. Waders included 36 Ringed Plovers, 65 Sanderlings and 70 Dunlin roosting on the beach between the groynes and the ever-present three Lapwings were present as ever on the Marsh Pool. Other ever-present birds included the male  Kingfisher along the middle brook and a Chiffchaff at the Obs.

Kingfisher – Geoff Burton

9th

Cloudy and mild with a fresh SW wind. An  adult Gannet flew west, there were 90 Brent Geese on the beach, an immature Peregrine flew west along the beach and there were 68 Sanderlings on the beach. A Mediterranean Gull joined Black-headed and Common Gulls on the Marsh Pool and other birds noted included the male Kingfisher, pair of Stonechats and two Long-tailed Tits.

8th

The Slavonian Grebe was seen again off the caravan park and later in the morning heading west by the Obs. Andy enjoyed a purple patch around the entrance to the sewage works with another appearance of the male Bullfinch (fourth sighting; first seen on December 5th), a female Blackcap and a Firecrest – all within the space of 35 minutes.

Bullfinch and Firecrest – Andy Taylor

7th

There were estimates of between 100-200 Sanderlings scattered along the beach. There were seven Meadow Pipits around the “pigloos” and the Water Rail showed well

6th

Cloudy at first then sunny, with a moderate SW wind. The Slavonian Grebe was seen again off the caravan park. There were 100 Brent Geese on the beach and a Common Scoter (the first this year) flew east. A Marsh Harrier flying west over the estate was also new for the year. Waders included a total of 116 Sanderlings on the beach (a  record count for this site). An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull flew west offshore (another addition to the year list). There were two Goldcrests along the east bank (a fourth addition to the year list) and other birds included a Kingfisher, three Stonechats (including two males), a Chiffchaff and 12 Linnets. Late morning, courtesy of a dog walker, three Snipe were flushed from the Marsh Pool  to make it a fifth addition to the year list.

4th

Sunny with a moderate westerly wind. There were c200 Brent Geese on the beach and a flock of ten White-fronted Geese and one Shelduck flew west over the sea. Waders included 46 Ringed Plovers and c80 Sanderlings on the beach. A Great Spotted Woodpecker,heard calling in the tall trees along the upper brook, was new for the year. Other birds included Kingfisher, Grey WagtailChiffchaff, two Long-tailed Tits and two Reed Buntings.

3rd

Andy’s afternoon constitutional was rewarded by the sight of a Slavonian Grebe on the sea off the skate park at 3 pm. A species we failed to see in 2019!

2nd

Cloudy and calm. There were six Red-breasted Mergansers offshore, a flock of 11 Wigeon and four Gadwall flew west and a pair of Tufted Ducks flew west close inshore. Two adult Gannets flew east. The three Lapwings continue to inhabit the Marsh Pool and the Water Rail was seen again along the middle brook. Other birds included two Chiffchaffs and two Long-tailed Tits. 

Wildlife other than birds seldom get a mention in the winter but a Common Striped Woodlouse (yellow form) was seen cruising the leaf litter by the Obs.

Common Striped Woodlouse – Geoff Burton

1st

Cloudy, murky and calm. It turned out to be a  good day for wildfowl. There were six Red-breasted Mergansers offshore. A pair of Shovelers flew east. Later, a large skein of White-fronted Geese (c80) came in off the sea over the tidal ponds and headed south at 12.23 pm. This was followed by a  small flock of duck which circled over the ponds and headed west and consisted of about five Wigeon and singles of Teal, female Pintail and drake Shoveler. A pair of Gadwall on the sea flew off west. Waders included a Grey Plover and a Bar-tailed Godwit and 14 Sanderlings. A Great Skua was noted on the sea at 10.20 am and was still present at 1 pm. The Water Rail was present along the upper brook and the male Bullfinch made its third appearance, by the sewage works entrance. Other birds noted included a Grey Wagtail, a pair of Stonechats, a Chiffchaff and two Reed Buntings. A total of 59 species was a good start for the year.

A Water Vole, the first for months, was seen along the middle brook. There’s still hope!

White-fronted Geese – Geoff Burton

December 2019

                                                169 species so far this year                                                  169 species by the same time last year

The total of 85 species for the month was a little short of the ten-year average of 87.6. There were two additions to the year list with a fine male Bullfinch along the east bank on 5th and, finally, a Purple Sandpiper strayed from Hampton on 18th. 

31st

Cloudy, murky with some drizzle and a light easterly wind. There were four Little Egrets, three around the tidal ponds and one on the Marsh Pool. There was a Grey Heron on the beach and c250 Brent Geese on the beach and by the Tankerton slopes.  A pair of Wigeon flew west and there were six Red-breasted Mergansers offshore.  Waders included the three Lapwings, which had forsaken the Marsh Pool for the beach, and five Sanderlings on the beach. An adult Mediterranean Gull flew east along the beach. Other birds seen included a Kingfisher, a Grey Wagtail and a pair of Stonechats. 

Little Egret and Lapwing – Geoff Burton

28th

Cloudy with a light southerly wind. There were c20 Great Crested Grebes offshore and 110 Brent Geese on the beach.  A better duck day with two Shelducks east, three Gadwall (the first since January) west and five Teal resting on the sea. A group of nine Red-breasted Mergansers offshore were joined mid-morning by a redhead Goldeneye. There were 45 Golden Plovers on the beach at low tide which flew off west apparently unprovoked. In addition to the three regular Lapwings on the Marsh Pool, one landed on the tidal ponds and a flock of ten flew west. There were also a Little Grebe and 24 Redshanks  on the Marsh Pool and a Great Skua resting on the calm sea. The Water Rail made another appearance along the middle brook, there were five Meadow Pipits in the grassland, two Chiffchaffs and a pair of Reed Buntings on one of the coastal path bushes.

27th

Cloudy, murky, drizzle and light rain, and a light SW wind. Four Red-throated Divers flew east, there were seven Great Crested Grebes and five Red-breasted Mergansers offshore and a Shag flew in along the shoreline from the east, with a Cormorant, and landed by the little pier. Three Shelducks and a flock of 14 Wigeons flew west. The three Lapwings were on the Marsh Pool and 35 Curlews flew east in the direction of the caravan park roost. A Little Grebe was along Coot Strait, a male Stonechat along the coastal path, a Chiffchaff along the east bank and six Linnets were also seen.

Shag – Geoff Burton

25th-26th

No reports. Birding put aside for family duties.

24th

Greg and Arnie were out on Christmas Eve and were rewarded with Shelduck, three KestrelsWater Rail, a Kingfisher, two Stonechats and three Greenfinches.

23rd

Sunny with a moderate SW wind. A Great Northern Diver lingering close inshore off the Obs was only the second record of this winter. Two Common Scoters flew east and there were six Red-breasted Mergansers offshore. Waders included 65 Sanderlings and 59 Dunlin roosting between the groynes and 20 Redshanks on the Marsh Pool. Other birds noted included a Kingfisher, a Meadow Pipit, a male StonechatSong Thrush (only seen occasionally at the moment), a Chiffchaff, a Long-tailed Tit and a Jay. 

22nd

A count of the Curlew roost at high tide revealed only 22 birds.

21st

Cloudy, moderate SW wind. A drake Red-breasted Merganser was offshore and a Little Grebe was on the Marsh Pool. Waders included 49 Ringed Plovers, a Grey Plover and 67 Sanderlings (the highest count this year). Two Kingfishers were seen, there were 15 Goldfinches in trees near the skate park and 15 Linnets on the shingle ridge.

20th

The Purple Sandpiper was seen again at 3pm today on the beach near the little pier.

19th

Cloudy and mild with a moderate SW wind. There were c50 Brent Geese on the beach, five Red-breasted Mergansers offshore and a single Shelduck flew west. Waders included a Grey Plover and a Bar-tailed Godwit on the beach and the three Lapwings on the Marsh Pool. Other birds included another sighting of the Water Rail along the middle brook, a Grey Wagtail, three Chiffchaffs including one “beachcombing” between the groynes and six Long-tailed Tits.

18th

Sunny and calm. An immature  Purple Sandpiper which flew by at the eastern end of the beach was relocated, not on the beach but on the promenade amongst the dog walkers! Found a worm, flew to the beach and promptly disappeared. Another addition to the year list. Although one or two winter regularly, within walking distance to the east at Hampton, this was our first sighting since October last year. There were 14 Great Crested Grebes and eight Red-breasted Mergansers offshore and 15 Common Scoters flew east. Other waders included two Grey Plovers on the beach and the three Lapwings, with one visible Snipe, on the Marsh Pool. Two Great Skuas flew west, there were three Stonechats including two males, and 15 Linnets over the shingle ridge.

Purple Sandpiper – Andy Taylor

17th

Three adult Kittiwakes flew west, the three Lapwings continue to occupy the Marsh Pool and there were four Goldcrest – three near the car park and one by the sluice.

15th

Greg saw about 100 Curlews leaving the roost in the caravan park fields.

14th

There were six Red-breasted Mergansers offshore, 90 Golden Plovers on the beach (highest count so far this winter) and two Peregrines chasing each other by the Herne Bay pier. A single Bar-tailed Godwit, a Chiffchaff and a second appearance of the male Bullfinch along the east bank were also noted.

12th

Cloudy, with rain from 11 am and a freshening SW wind. There were three Gannets offshore, seven Red-breasted Mergansers offshore, an immature Marsh Harrier flew west at 8.12 am and a Little Grebe was in the brook. Waders included 30 Golden Plovers flying west, 66 Ringed Plovers and single Grey Plover and Bar-tailed Godwit on the beach. Other birds included a Kingfisher, a  Great Spotted Woodpecker, two Jays and two Reed Buntings.

Great Crested Grebes – Geoff Burton

11th

Interest was drawn to the brook today with three Little Grebes in the brook below the sluice and a Water Rail along the favoured middle brook. One was last seen on 4th November (could this be the same?). Also, a Guillemot flew east and a Grey Wagtail was also seen.g

Sanderlings – Geoff Burton

10th

Greg reported 15 Sanderlings and 30 Dunlin amongst the waders on the beach and two Lapwings and a Little Egret on the Marsh Pool. A female Reed Bunting was in the bluethroat bush and a Sparrowhawk scattered starlings as it flew across the caravan park.

9th

Sunny, strong NW wind. Just the sort of winds we had hoped for in the Autumn but didn’t get! One Gannet, three Shelducks and  three Pintail flew west. Two Great Skuas flew west, at 11.30 and 11.40 am, and two Razorbills flew east. Not much else to report although two Chiffchaffs and two Goldcrests visited us at the Obs during our sea watch.

8th

The flock of 50+ Sanderlings was again on the beach.

7th

Cloudy, mild with a light westerly wind. Not much of note. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard calling in the sewage works and a Goldcrest was seen in Elm Wood.

6th

A group of 50+ Sanderlings was on the beach between the groynes.

5th

Sunny, calm and with a frost. There were c80 Brent Geese on the beach and a Tufted Duck and a female  Marsh Harrier flew west. Waders included a Grey Plover, 11 Sanderlings and a Bar-tailed Godwit on the beach. The bird of the day was a male Bullfinch which showed briefly along the east bank. This was our first record for two years.

4th

Sunny, cold and calm with a frost. There were nine Great Crested Grebes and three Red-breasted Mergansers  offshore and 80 Brent Geese on the beach. Waders included the single Grey Plover and Bar-tailed Godwit on the beach and three Snipe on the Marsh Pool. Other birds included a Kingfisher, the pair of Stonechats, a Song Thrush in the churchyard, three Chiffchaffs, six Linnets and three Reed Buntings (females or immatures) in bushes by the coastal path.

3rd

It seems that Greg (and presumably Max) had the site to themselves on this sunny and calm day. Two Kingfishers were noted and four Snipe were out in the open on the Marsh Pool “sunbathing”.

2nd

Sunny and cold with a light NW wind. Six Greylag Geese flying west along the beach early morning were the first seen here since May. Three Red-throated Divers and a Great Crested Grebe were noted offshore, a Shelduck flew west and a Velvet Scoter flew east at 10.50 am. A female Marsh Harrier flew west at 10.35 am and waders included a Grey Plover west and 17 Sanderlings on the beach. A Kingfisher was along the middle brook, a Grey Wagtail in the sluice car park, there were three Chiffchaffs, and an unusual gathering of four Goldcrests together at the Obs. A pair of Reed Buntings was in the bushes opposite the Obs.

1st

Cloudy, cold with a fresh NE wind. A modest start to the month with three duck Eider flying east the highlight. There were also ten Common Scoters (six west, four east). Waders included the three Lapwings on the Marsh Pool and the Bar-tailed Godwit on the beach. A first-winter Mediterranean Gull flew east and other birds noted included the pair of Stonechats, a Jay and a female Reed Bunting. 

November 2019

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

The second month with an above average total of species, 104 compared with a ten year average of 100.8. The annual total of 167 species will also prove to be an above average year (163.8 species over the last ten years.  Otherwise, November was not a particularly exciting month but Hen Harrier, Red-necked Grebe and Long-tailed Duck were amongst the six additions to the year list. 

30th

Sunny, calm at first then a light easterly wind. 35 Red-throated Divers flew east, four Shelducks flew west, a Velvet Scoter flew east at 10.45 am and five Red-breasted Mergansers were noted offshore. Waders included a Grey Plover on the Hampton flats, three Lapwings on the Marsh Pool and a Bar-tailed Godwit west.  Four Skylarks flew over the area, there were three Chiffchaffs and a pair of Reed Buntings feeding on the coastal path.

Male Sparrowhawk – Andy Taylor

29th

Sunny, cool with a light northerly wind. A flock of 18 and a group of three Common Scoters flying west were all female/immatures whilst another flock of 12 on the sea included four drakes. There were 21 Golden Plovers on the beach (few have been seen there this winter). They flew off west. Other waders included five Sanderlings on the beach, two Lapwings on the Marsh Pool and a dozen Snipe flushed from there by a dog walker. Bird of the day was a juvenile Pomarine Skua which circled high over the beach before heading on east. Other birds noted included a Great Spotted Woodpecker, two Chiffchaffs and two Reed Buntings.

28th

Cloudy, moderate westerly wind. A Shelduck, two Common Scoters and a Red-breasted Merganser flew west. Waders on the beach included 58 Ringed Plovers, 40 Dunlin and a Bar-tailed Godwit, 30 Golden Plovers flew west whilst 28 Snipe were flushed from the Marsh Pool and the two Lapwings and 18 Redshanks were still there. Other birds noted included a Grey Wagtail by the sluice, the male Stonechat and a Jay.

 

26th

Cloudy, steady light rain, moderate SE wind, mild. Five Red-throated Diver and five Great Crested Grebes were offshore. There were 95 Brent Geese on the beachwhilst waders included 70 Ringed Plovers, a Grey Plover and 15 Sanderlings on the beach and two Lapwings and 22 Redshanks on the Marsh Pool. Numbers of Great Black-backed Gulls had risen to 38 with five immatures.

25th

Cloudy and mild with a light SE wind. There were ten Great Crested Grebes and three Red-breasted Mergansers offshore. Waders included the single Grey Plover on the beach, a flock of 50 Lapwings heading west, as well as the two on the Marsh Pool, 55 Dunlins roosting on the beach between the groynes and c60 Curlews in flight over the caravan park fields. Two adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls  on the beach did not include the “odd” Plough lane resident and 27 Great Black-backed Gulls on the beach included only one immature. Two Little Gulls flew east and a Peregrine flew south beyond the caravan park.  The usual supporting cast included a male Kingfisher along Coot Strait, a Grey Wagtail, the pair of Stonechats, two  Chiffchaffs, 18 Linnets over the shingle ridge and a female Reed Bunting in the bushes opposite the Obs. Last, and definitely not least, the Snow Buntings were present on site for their fifth day.

24th

The two Snow Buntings were again on the beach between the groynes.

23rd

Cloudy with a light SE wind, milder. There were seven Great Crested Grebes offshore, a redhead  Red-breasted Merganser, a Great Skua and a Razorbill flew east and a Shag appeared close inshore by the Obs. A Chiffchaff and a Goldcrest were in the churchyard and the two Snow Buntings were on the beach.

22nd

The two Snow Buntings were on the beach again. Other birds seen included a male Peregrine and a female Great Spotted Woodpecker.

21st

Cloudy, murky, light SE wind, cold. There were 60 Brent Geese on the beach, two Teal and a pair of Shovelers were in flight offshore and four Velvet Scoters flew east at 9.30 am. Waders included a Grey Plover, a Knot, 17 Sanderlings and a Bar-tailed Godwit were on the beach and two Lapwings were on the caravan park fields. Two Snow Buntings finally wandered onto our site on the beach between the groynes; a welcome addition to the year list. Other birds included a Grey Wagtail, a Fieldfare, two GoldcrestsChiffchaff and six Linnets.

Snow Bunting – Geoff Burton

Snow Bunting – Andy Taylor

Fieldfare – Andy Taylor

20th

Sunny and cold with a light SE wind. One Red-throated Diver flew east and there were eight Great Crested Grebes offshore. There were 60 Brent Geese on the beach and two Velvet Scoters flew east at 11.20 am. Waders included a Grey Plover, 17 Sanderlings, 15 Dunlin and a Bar-tailed Godwit on the beach and two Lapwings and three Snipe on the Marsh Pool.  A Kingfisher was fishing from the little pier and later occupied the tray on the pole in the marsh and fished from there.

Kingfisher – Geoff Burton

19th

Andy’s brief visit left little to report save for one surprise. We had been promised, some time ago,  that new trees would be planted around the football pitch. They have; a variety of eucalyptus trees. Non-native and vulnerable to strong winds. Not a good replacement for the mature, ivy-covered trees felled by the Council earlier this year!

18th

Sunny periods, cold  with a fresh NW wind. Another onshore wind encoraged the movement of wildfowl; two White-fronted Geese flew NW, six Shelducks, a duck Wigeon, a duck Pochard, two Common Scoters and a drake Goldeneye close inshore, flew west. Waders included 220 Lapwings west and 11 Sanderlings on the beach. Two Great Skuas and a Guillemot also flew west. Other birds included 20 Fieldfares and a few Redwings west, with one of the latter along the east bank, a Chiffchaff along the east bank, a Goldcrest in the Elm Wood, a Jay along the upper brook and a Brambling heard calling over the scrub.

17th

Arnie recorded four Snow Buntings at Hampton in the late afternoon and one (possibly of these) just east of our recording area. Hopefully, they will linger and wander a bit.

16th

Cloudy and calm. A total of 84 Red-throated Divers were recorded offshore (mostly in flight). Two Gannets and three Red-breasted Mwergansers flew east.  35 Lapwings flew NW. A Kingfisher was fishing in the pools left on the beach at low tide. Two Chiffchaffs and three Goldcrests were also noted.

15th

Cloudy, cold with a fresh northerly wind. The strong onshore wind encouraged a few ducks to move including a drake Long-tailed Duck which flew east and then, shortly afterwards, flew strong and high to the NW (a new bird for the year). Other ducks included 15 Shelducks, eight Pintail, six Shovelers  and six Eiders heading west, three Common Scoters, two Velvet Scoters, three Red-breasted Mergansers and a drake Goosander heading east.  Another new addition to the year list came in the form of a Red-necked Grebe which flew west close inshore. Singles of  Arctic Skua and Great Skua flew west, Little Gull and Kittiwake were noted and a Guillemot flew east.

Visibilty was pretty poor and so four large white birds heading west on the horizon remained unidentified. However, we later heard that Matt Hindle had seen a party of four Great White Egrets flying west at Reculver at 7.43 am that morning. The timing was right for our birds and very frustrating for a species only ever recorded here twice.

14th

Cloudy, showers, light SE wind. There were eight Great Crested Grebes offshore, 63 Brent Geese on the beach and a Red-breasted Merganser flew east. Waders included 28 Oystercatchers on the beach, two Lapwings on the beach and the Marsh Pool, c30 Sanderlings flying east along the beach and two Snipe on the Marsh Pool. Three Grey Wagtails were seen and a Goldcrest was in the churchyard.

13th

There were two Snipe, 22 Redshanks, a Lapwing and a Little Egret on the Marsh Pool. Two Stonechats were seen and a Song Thrush (few seen recently) was in the scrub.

12th

Sunny, cold with a moderate SW wind. One Red-throated Diver flew west, there were 24 Brent Geese on the beach and four Teal flew west. A Marsh Harrier flew west over the sea. Waders included 53 Ringed Plovers roosting between the groynes, 15 Sanderlings roosting on the shingle ridge, a party of nine Grey Plovers flying west, single Lapwings on the beach and the Marsh Pool, 22 Redshanks on the Marsh Pool, a Snipe circling over the area and heading SE and 40 Curlews circling over the caravan park fields. Four Redwings flew south over the area and a Shore Lark flew west along the beach.

11th

A flock of nine Shovelers and a Wigeon flew west. A drake Red-breasted Merganser was on the sea, a Guillemot showed well and some Golden Plovers and Lapwings flew west.

9th

Sunny with a light SW wind. A Great Northern Diver, which flew west at 7.35 am, was the first of the season. Two Red-throated Divers and a Great Crested Grebe were also seen. Three Little Egrets included one flying west over the sea, 11 Common Scoters flew east and a Little Grebe was along Coot Strait. Waders included a Grey Plover and six Sanderlings on the beach and there were three Snipe and 16 Redshanks on the Marsh Pool. A Sandwich Tern continues to linger offshore. A Redwing was perched up in the scrub at Lang Court. Four Chiffchaffs were along the east bank, a Goldcrest and three Long-tailed Tits were by the sewage works entrance. A small movement of c50 Chaffinches flew west.

8th

A female type Black Redstart flew west landing on the wooden steps by the Obs. The Little Grebe was still on the Main Pool.  Two Little Gulls flew west. There were six Chiffchaffs along the east bank.

Black Redstart – Andy Taylor

7th

Sunny periods with a light SW wind. The Little Grebe continues to reside on the Marsh Pool. An  adult Mediterranean Gull was on the football pitch early morning with Black-headed Gulls. Four Shelducks flew west and an immature Little Gull was feeding offshore amongst a flock of Black-headed Gulls. There were 21 Great Black-backed Gulls (20 adults) on the beach; a typical increase as winter approaches. There were three Chiffchaffs along the east bank.

6th

Sunny, cool and a light NW wind. One Red-throated Diver flew west and five Great Crested Grebes were offshore. There were 43 Brent Geese on the beach, 40 Common Scoters (predominantly female/immatures) flew east and three Wigeons flew west. A drake Goosander flew east over the area and the caravan park and, later,  a redhead flew west over the beach. Waders included 40 Sanderlings, a Bar-tailed Godwit flying east and 21 Redshanks on the Marsh Pool. Three Kittiwakes flew east and a Sandwich Tern was offshore. Vis mig included three Skylarks, a Rock Pipit, six Siskins, a flock of 15 Redpolls and two Reed Buntings all heading west. A Chiffchaff was along the east bank and a Goldcrest in the churchyard.

Goosander – Andy Taylor

5th

More activity with a NW wind. Three Red-throated Divers and three large auk sp flew east and 13 Little Gulls and four Kittiwakes flew west. An Avocet landed briefly on the beach, a Kingfisher was in Coot Strait, a male Black Redstart flew west at 11.10 am (an unlikely candidate for vis mig) and two Bramblings flew west in  a party of Chaffinches.

4th

Cloudy with a light southerly wind. A Little Grebe on the Marsh Pool was the first of the season whilst a second was found along the middle brook. A Water Rail (also new for the season) along the middle brook ran for shelter under the east bank bushes. One Red-throated Diver flew east, three Great Crested Grebes were offshore, a party of eight Common Scoters flew east and a single drake flew west. There were two Little Egrets on the tidal ponds and a Lapwing and 14 Mallard on the Marsh Pool. Other waders included ten Sanderlings on Hampton flats and a Bar-tailed Godwit on the beach. One Sandwich Tern was fishing offshore and three larger auks flew east. Other birds included a female Kingfisher along the middle brook, a Great Spotted Woodpecker in the Elm Wood and sewage works, three Grey Wagtails, a pair of Stonechats, a Chiffchaff along the east bank and  six Long-tailed Tits in the churchyard

2nd

Cloudy with a fresh southerly wind and heavy rain from 10 am. The bird of the day was a Yellowhammer (our first of the year and a rarity here in recent years). It circled the Obs at 8.20 am before heading west. The duck Wigeon was again on the Marsh Pool and there were 17 Sanderlings and a Bar-tailed Godwit on the beach. Two Razorbills flew west at 9.30 am. One Skylark and seven House Martins flew west and there were six Long-tailed Tits and a Goldcrest in the Elm/Scout Woods.

1st

Cloudy, light southerly wind. There were two Red-throated Divers and two Great Crested Grebes offshore and four Little Egrets on the tidal ponds. There were 46 Brent Geese on the beach, four Shelducks flew west, a Wigeon joined 20 Mallards on the Marsh Pool and three Teal flew over the area. However, birds of the day were two ringtail Hen Harriers (a new species for the year) which flew west over the sea at 10.50 and 11.25 am. Waders included 45 Oystercatchers, three Sanderlings and a Bar-tailed Godwit on the beach and a Snipe in the Marsh Pool. Seven Little  Gulls flew south over the caravan park. Other birds recorded included a Great Spotted Woodpecker, a pair of Stonechats, a Fieldfare, a Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, two Long-tailed Tits and a Jay with a reasonable total to start the month of 55 Species.

Lesser Black-backed Gull – Geoff Burton

October 2019

                                                  161 species so far this year                                                     157 species by the same time last year

An odd month with a slow start, with the briefest views of a Yellow-browed Warbler on 9th the highlight, and a rapid finish with seven additions to the year list in the last four days of the month including a long-awaited first Pallas’s Warbler on 29th. A total of 110 species during the month compared with an average of 108 over the previous ten years (only the second month this year above the average). 

31st

Sunny with a light easterly wind. A wildfowl day to end the month with three adult Bewick’s Swans flying west over the estate (just south of the church) at 8.25 am. Earlier two adult Mute Swans flew east over the area and, later, an adult and an immature flew east separately. There were 12 Brent Geese on the beach, three Teal flew over the area, a duck Pintail was on the sea by the tidal ponds and two drake Eiders, separately, flew east. Waders included 63 Ringed Plovers roosting between the groynes, there were ten Sanderlings  20 Dunlins and a  Bar-tailed Godwit on the beach and 33 Redshanks, with 18 on the Marsh Pool and 15 on the beach. A flock of 22 Little Gulls were resting on the sea and nine adult Great Black-backed Gulls were on the beach. Other birds included a Peregrine in off the sea and flying south, two Fieldfares and a Redwing.

Bar-tailed Godwit – Geoff Burton

30th

No sign of the Pallas’s Warbler today. Movement of wildfowl with an immature Mute SwanShelduckWigeon, Teal, Pintail and Common Scoters west and a pair of Eiders east. Two juvenile Pomarine Skuas were noted and 19 Little Gulls flew east. There were ten Sanderlings on the beach. Also seen were two Kingfishers and two Goldcrest and, at 12.15 pm, a Shore Lark appeared briefly on the shingle ridge before, inevitably, being flushed by a dog walker.

It was always a disappointment that a rare Wheatear had never been recorded at Swalecliffe, or anywhere along “our” stretch of coast (Swaleciffe west to Oare Marshes). There have been several Desert Wheatears at Reculver and also one at Herne Bay and Sheppey and Pied Wheatear at Reculver and Sheppey. So it was good to hear of Danny Chesterman’s cracking male Desert Wheatear along the South Swale just east of Castle Coote. A pity it wasn’t here!

Desert Wheatear – Geoff Burton

29th

Cloudy with rain at first but later, drier with sunny periods. After yesterday’s excellent show, would today be an anti-climax? The answer came at about 10.30 am when Andy found a Pallas’s Warbler along the east bank. A new, if much overdue, addition to the site list (now on 247 species since 1990). The bird showed well for a short time but then became more elusive as a few arrived to twitch the bird. However, it was seen again at 12.30 and, I believe, between 3 and 4 pm. There was a supporting cast, ducks included one Shelduck, six Wigeon, eight Teal, three Pintail, four Shovelers, a Velvet Scoter and a Red-breasted Merganser together with a steady movement of Brent Geese, all heading west. Waders included 72 Ringed Plovers roosting between the groynes and c20 Redshanks on the Marsh Pool. There was one Red-throated Diver, ten Little Gulls, 12 Kittiwakes and one Sandwich Tern. Three Fieldfares and a Redwing were seen, and nine Chiffchaffs and six Goldcrests also (thanks to Brendan’s dark arts!). Finally, a Short-eared Owl (a first this year) came in off the sea at 11.55 am and, judging by the commotion of crows, may have settled in the sewage works whilst it was reported that a Woodcock was flushed from the sewage works entrance.

28th

Sunny, cold  with a light northerly wind.  Yesterday’s hopes for the northerly wind direction proved mistaken but today, with similar weather conditions, was much better. Quite at first, it burst into life between 8.30-9 am when a Merlin over the beach was distracted by a Woodcock coming in off the sea, which nearly landed by the bluethroat bush, before heading on south. This was followed by two Shore Larks flying west within a group of Skylarks, a redhead Goldeneye west and four duck Eiders east. Three new year ticks! There was a steady vis mig movement which included 20 Skylarks, 174 Fieldfares, eight Redwings, a Tree Sparrow (a fourth new bird for the year), eight Bramblings, three Siskins and a Redpoll.  There were hundreds of Gannets offshore, one Red-throated Diver on the sea, c10 Great Crested Grebes including six flying east together, three Shelducks and a Teal west and 40 Common Scoters offshore. Two Pomarine Skuas, five Little Gulls and seven Kittiwakes also flew west. Waders included 47 Ringed Plovers roosting between the groynes, eight Dunlins and a Bar-tailed Godwit, one Lapwing on the Marsh Pool and 22 Redshanks on the beach. Other birds included two Kingfishers,a Grey Wagtail, a male Stonechat, two Chiffchaffs, a Jay and two Reed Buntings. A grand total of 70 species during the morning; the highest for some considerable time!

Male Sparrowhawk – Geoff Burton

27th

Cloudy, light NW wind, cooler. There were five Great Crested Grebes in flight offshore. Waders included 53 Ringed Plovers roosting on the beach with five Dunlins, three Sanderlings on the beach, a Snipe and 23 Redshanks on the Marsh Pool, 35 Curlews heading east towards the caravan park fields and one Bar-tailed Godwit flying west. One Sandwich Tern flew east. Vis mig included 15 Skylarks, four Swallows and two House Martins and a party of 30 Siskins heading north over the sea. The Wheatear was still present on the beach (nearly two weeks now), there were two Grey Wagtails near Lang Court, a male Stonechat, three Chiffchaffs and two Reed Buntings.

26th

Cloudy with a moderate W wind. A Red-throated Diver flew east, three Great Crested Grebes flew west and there were about ten Gannets offshore. Waders included 66  Ringed Plovers and seven Sanderlings and four Dunlins roosting on the beach. Later, a single Golden Plover was on the beach. The Lapwing and 25 Redshanks were on the Marsh Pool. The Wheatear continues to inhabit the beach and a Fieldfare was in the scrub. Four Skylarks flew west and about 15 Swallows and ten House Martins were lingering in the area. About 200 Chaffinches flew west during the morning.

Small White butterflies and a Common Darter were also seen.

25th

Cloudy with a strengthening SW wind. A Red-throated Diver flew east and west, there were three Great Crested Grebes offshore and 14 Brent Geese on the beach. Waders included the “resident” Lapwing on the beach, a Snipe on the Marsh Pool (one of many I expect), and 19 Redshanks on the Marsh Pool and then the beach. The Wheatear was on the beach (for its 11th day), there were three Chiffchaffs, a Goldcrest and a Redpoll, flying over the Obs calling, was a new bird for the year.

Butterflies continue to appear in the mild weather with Small White, Red Admiral and Small Copper seen.

Blue Tit – Geoff Burton

24th

Bird of the day was a Coal Tit (continental) in the bushes near the skate park. New for the year, this was a  typical date for this not quite annual migrant. There was a steady movement  of Starlings and Chaffinches, with a few Skylarks and Redwings,  and a single Swallow and Siskin were noted. Two Goldcrests were also seen. Two Wigeon flew west and there were some Brent Geese offshore.

Coal Tit – Andy Taylor

23rd

Cloudy with a light easterly wind. A single juvenile Gannet flew west and flocks of ten Wigeon and 30 Teal as well as a single Tufted Duck also flew west. Waders included a Lapwing and 20 Redshanks on the Marsh Pool, six Dunlin on the beach and a single Snipe flew west. An  adult Mediterranean Gull flew east, there were eight Great Black-backed Gulls (including one immature) on the beach and a single Sandwich Tern was offshore. One Swallow flew south, there were two Rock Pipits in the area ans the Wheatear remained on the beach. One Chiffchaff was at the Obs and a flock of Long-tailed Tits was also seen.

Wheatear – Geoff Burton

22nd

Cloudy with a light NW wind. There were four Great Crested Grebes offshore, four Gannets flew west and there were single Little Egret and Grey Heron on the beach. A pair of Brent Geese were accompanied by four juveniles; it seems to have been a good breeding season for them in Siberia. A single duck Wigeon and two Red-breasted Mergansers flew west and a Marsh Harrier flew east. Waders included a Lapwing and a Snipe on the Marsh Pool, 23 Redshanks on the Marsh Pool with another four on the beach, a Sanderling on the beach and two Bar-tailed Godwits on Hampton Flats. An adult Little Gull flew west and a Sandwich Tern few east.  The Wheatear was on the beach, two Fieldfares landed in trees by the play area, 12 Redwings flew west and a Mistle Thrush (only our second this year) flew high west over the beach at 12.30 pm. 20 Skylarks, c100 Chaffinches, three Bramblings, a Siskin and two Reed Buntings also flew west. A party of nine Long-tailed Tits were in the scrub accompanied by three Chiffchaffs. Other birds noted included a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Grey Wagtail.

A Dark Bush-cricket crossed the path near the roundabout. Not scarce, I believe, but the first I know to have been seen here.

Dark Bush-cricket – Geoff Burton

21st

A late afternoon visit by Andy. There were fresh northerly winds but the rain had eased. Good numbers of Gannets and Brent Geese, 60 Wigeons and a Pintail, eight Golden Plovers, 2 Grey Plovers, 12 Knot and a Bar-tailed Godwits. One juvenile Pomarine Skua was the first of the year and there were two Arctic Skuas and two Great Skuas. There were four Mediterranean Gulls, 22 Little Gulls and eight Kittiwakes. Razorbills and Guillemots were also noted.

20th

Cloudy with a light northerly wind. Northerly winds being as rare as hen’s teeth, uncharacteristically, I made a visit on the Sabbath. There were 20 or more Gannets lingering offshore. A very high skein of 200 Brent Geese which flew east was unusual and there were smaller numbers around particularly in Hampton Bay. Waders included 50 Ringed Plovers, a Sanderling and a Bar-tailed Godwit on Hampton Flats and a Lapwing and a Snipe on the Marsh Pool. Flocks of six and 19 Little Gulls flew west and two Mediterranean Gulls flew east. There were seven adult Great Black-backed Gulls on the tidal ponds and three Sandwich Terns offshore.  There was a steady trickle of Chaffinches (132) most heading NW and a tight flock of 40 Siskins zipped west by the Obs. Other birds included a pair of Stonechats, the lingering Wheatear, two Grey Wagtails and two Reed Buntings.

Andy was down in the afternoon and clearly the movement was enhanced. There were more than 100 Gannets offshore, one Velvet Scoter, six Common Scoters, a Great Skua, 67 Little Gulls, 106 Kittiwakes, and an unusual 61 large auks, which included nine Guillemots and four Razorbills. A NW movement of Chaffinches  was also noted.

19th

Cloudy with a light southerly wind. Single Red-throated Divers flew east and west, there were six Great Crested Grebes on the sea and two Little Egrets and a Grey Heron on the beach. Waders included four Dunlin, two Bar-tailed Godwits and nine Redshanks on the beach and a Lapwing and a Snipe on the Marsh Pool. There were two Sandwich Terns offshore. A mixed flock of Swallows and House Martins (about 40) were feeding over the area for much of the morning. Five Skylarks flew west, there were four Stonechats in the scrub, a female Blackcap in the scrub and four Chiffchaffs around the area. There were also two Grey Wagtails and a male Kingfisher noted.

Bar-tailed Godwit – Geoff Burton

Kingfisher – Geoff Burton

18th

Andy glimpsed a “probable” Dartford Warbler near the bluethroat bush; frustrating as this would have been only the third record for the site (the previous records were in 2001 and 2003). Otherwise, there was a steady movement of Swallows and House Martins and a few SkylarksChaffinches and Goldfinches heading west.  Two  Sanderlings on the beach were the first this month.

Painted Lady and Red Admiral butterflies were also seen.

17th

Cloudy, light southerly wind. There were four Great Crested Grebes offshore, a Red-throated Diver flew west and three Gannets flew east.  There were 14 Brent Geese on the shoreline which included six juveniles. A Marsh Harrier, which flew SE over the tidal ponds, was our first since August and a Common Buzzard was the first seen this month. Waders included a Lapwing on the beach and then the Marsh Pool, there were also two Snipe and 15 Redshanks on the pool. One Bar-tailed Godwit was on the beach. There were three Mediterranean Gulls which flew east and four Little Gulls circled over the tidal ponds and then headed south. There were six Sandwich Terns and a Common Tern offshore. Other birds included two Kingfishers, a pair of Stonechats, a Blackcap, four Chiffchaffs and a Goldcrest. There were 30 Swallows and a House Martin and a party of 16 Goldfinches were in the grassland.

16th

There were 15 Gannets, two Mediterranean Gulls and a Razorbill offshore. The Lapwing and 23 Redshanks were on the Marsh Pool. A Wheatear was at the eastern end of the beach, a trickle of Chaffinches, a Swallow and a few House Martins flew through.

15th

Cloudy light SW wind, a shower. There were two Great Crested Grebes on the sea, one Gannet flew east and 55 Brent Geese (36 flew west whilst a party of 19 on the shoreline included six juveniles). One Shelduck flew west and c150 Common Scoters were flying around offshore sometimes landing on the sea and a Teal was sen flying with a party of scoters. . Waders included four Dunlin and a Bar-tailed Godwit On Hampton Flats and a Lapwing and 23 Redshanks on the Marsh Pool at high tide. One Mediterranean Gull flew east, there were four Sandwich Terns and a Common Tern offshore and a Guillemot was seen on the sea.  Vis mig was mostly of Chaffinches )100+) with six Skylarks, a Swallow and eight House Martins. Other birds included one Grey Wagtail, two male Stonechats, a Blackcap and five Chiffchaffs, a Goldcrest along the east bank, a Jay flying west,  seven Jackdaws over the beach and three Reed Buntings.

Cormorant – Geoff Burton

14th

Cloudy and calm with steady rain until 10.30 am then dry with a light easterly wind. There were four Gannets offshore, three Little Egrets on the Hampton Flats and a Grey Heron flying towards the tidal ponds. Seven Brent Geese and two Red-breasted Mergansers flew west and eight Common Scoters flew east. Waders included four Snipe and 13 Redshanks on the Marsh Pool and two Bar-tailed Godwits on the Hampton Flats. Two Little Gulls flew west, a Razorbill was on the sea by the tidal ponds and at least four Sandwich Terns continue to linger offshore. Two Swallows flew east, there were three Grey Wagtails in the area, the male Stonechat and three Chiffchaffs were noted and a party of eight Siskins flew west by the Obs.

13th

A glimpse of what might have been on a day when there were no reports from the site. An hours vis mig (9.30-10.30 am) by Andy on the slopes produced 26Lapwings, a Woodlark, 2 Skylarks, c200 Satrlings, c1900 Chaffinches and six Bramblings.

12th

Cloudy and calm. A very quiet day for October even without favourable winds. Waders included two Golden Plovers, a Dunlin and eight Redshanks on the beach. Two Mediterranean Gulls flew east and there were four Sandwich Terns offshore. Two Great Spotted Woodpeckers calling at Lang Court flew out west, a Grey Wagtail was in Church Way and another flew west, there was a female Blackcap along the upper brook and eight Chiffchaffs in the area. One Reed Bunting was in the bushes opposite the Obs.

11th

Andy had four Bramblings heading west during a passage of Chaffinches.

10th

Cloudy with a moderate SW wind. Waders included a Snipe and 12 Redshanks on the Marsh Pool. Sandwich Terns continue to linger offshore with three noted today. Three Skylarks, a Rock Pipit,  a Grey Wagtail,  five Siskins and one Reed Bunting flew west, there were three Blackaps along the east bank and c10 Chiffchaffs in the area. Other birds included a Kingfisher, a Great Spotted Woodpecker heard calling from the sewage works, five Long-tailed Tits and a Jay.

As well as Small Whites, a Red Admiral and a Small Copper butterfly were seen and a Weasel did the usual scamper across the path by the Obs.

Kestrel – Geoff Burton

9th

Cloudy, cool with a light SW wind. The highlight of the day was all too brief when Andy spotted a Yellow-browed Warbler in a patch of ivy just a few feet away from the three of us (also Geoff and Ted). It flitted out and was then seen only as it moved between bushes before disappearing into the Elm Wood. It wasn’t heard to call. The summer plumage Red-throated Diver was again offshore, there were two Little Egrets on the Marsh Pool and two Grey Herons flew west. A duck Eider close inshore by the Obs drifted east. Waders included 44 Ringed Plovers roosting between the groynes, with one Dunlin, and a Snipe and five Redshanks on the Marsh Pool. A flock of 150 Herring Gulls on the beach included one Pitsea colour-ringed adult (which we had noted on 27th March 2018). One Common Tern flew west. Vis mig consisted mostly of House Martins (350) with 30 Swallows, a Skylark and two Reed Buntings. A Goldcrest and c10 Chiffchaffs wee also seen.

8th

Visible migration of House Martins, Starlings and Chaffinches. Amidst them a “leucistic” Swallow stood out. The pair of  Stonechats were also noted.

7th

Cloudy and calm. A movement of wildfowl with 265 Brent Geese, seven Shelducks, 28 Wigeon, six Teal, a Tufted Duck and a Red-breasted Merganser west and four Pintail and six Common Scoters east. One summer plumage Red-throated Diver was on the sea, 59 Little Gulls, a Kittiwake , an Arctic Skua flew west and two Sandwich Terns were offshore. Waders included 20 Dunlin west and seven Redshanks on the Marsh Pool. One Stock Dove, eight Skylarks, a Swallow, a Grey Wagtail and three Reed Buntings flew west. Also noted a male Stonechat, c10 Chiffchaffs, five Long-tailed Tits and two Rooks.

A Painted Lady and a tatty Large White were seen.

Little Gull – Andy Taylor

5th

Cloudy with a light SW wind. There were two Red-throated Divers offshore, one in full summer plumage, one Gannet flew east, 164 Brent Geese, one Shelduck, 28 Wigeon, three Teal and a Shoveler flew west and six Common Scoters and two Red-breasted Mergansers flew east. Waders included a Lapwing on the beach and six Dunlin. Eight Little Gulls flew west and a Razorbill flew east close inshore. Three Swallows  flew west, a Grey Wagtail was in the churchyard, a Wheatear and two Stonechats were in the scrub, there were six Chiffchaffs and a Blackcap,  two Jays and two Reed Buntings. Finally, a Goldcrest by the sewage works entrance was new for the year.

4th

Highlight of Andy’s mid-morning visit was a male Ring Ousel in flight over the caravan park whilst two Redwings along the east bank were our first returning birds. Two Red-breasted Mergansers west were also our first of the season and 30 Brent Geese also flew west.  There was also a Rock Pipit and two Stonechats and a big movement of hirundines.

Painted Lady and Red Admiral butterflies were also seen.

Redwing – Andy Taylor

3rd

Light cloud and calm. A Great Crested Grebe was on the sea, there were four Little Egrets around the tidal ponds and a Grey Heron on the beach. One Brent Goose and one Teal flew west. Waders included a flock of 12 Black-tailed Godwits west, two Grey Plovers, four Dunlin and three Snipe. Other birds included a Great Spotted Woodpecker, four Skylarks west, a Rock Pipit, two Grey Wagtails, a Wheatear, at least ten Chiffchaffs and four Reed Buntings.

2nd

Sunny with a fresh NW wind. Strong onshore (i.e. northerly winds) have been in short supply so far this Autumn. However, this day proved to be a modest haul; Wildfowl included 97 Brent Geese, six Shelducks, seven Wigeon with one Pintail  heading west and six Eider and one Common Scoter heading east. Three Arctic Skuas and seven Great Skuas flew west, an Arctic Tern  was seen close inshore whilst two Little Gulls circling high above the turbines was an overdue new species for the year (I note that one at Reculver was also a first for the year there). Best was a Manx Shearwater that flew east at 12.15 pm. Waders included 113 Ringed Plovers, with three Dunlin, roosting between the groynes, a Grey Plover on the beach and a Knot flying west.  A single Skylark and Rock Pipit flew west and a Stock Dove, a Kingfisher, two Stonechats and a Blackcap were also noted.

1st

Patchy cloud with a light southerly wind. There was one Great Crested Grebe on the sea, a Gannet flew east and a Little Egret and three Grey Herons were on the beach. Waders included a Grey Plover, our first since July, a Curlew flying west and 13 Redshanks on the beach and then the Marsh Pool. There were ten Sandwich Terns offshore. Other birds noted included a Stock Dove, which dropped into the marsh, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, two Grey Wagtails, four Stonechats, a Wheatear on the beach, ten Chiffchaffs, a Jay, 30 Linnets and five Reed Buntings, including four flying west together. A steady if not inspirational start to what is usually the best month of the year!

Butterflies noted were Red Admiral and Small White.

Redshanks on the Marsh Pool – Geoff Burton

 

September 2019

                                         147 species so far this year                                                                                    150 species by this time last year 

The total of 97 species for the month was lower than any of the previous ten years which averaged 105 species. This was presumably due to the dominance throughout the month of southerly winds. There were a few days with light northerly winds, one of fresh NW but none from the NE. The total did include our third ever Cattle Egret and Cetti’s Warbler and Osprey and Spoonbill. However, a chance of a flycatcher this year now seems unlikely, or Redstart or Black Tern. 

30th

Cloudy, warm with a light SW wind. A summer plumage Red-throated Diver offshore was our first returning bird. There were also two Great Crested Grebes and two Grey Herons. Two Common Buzzards,seen soaring behind the church, were our first since 12th August. Waders included a single Knot and Bar-tailed Godwit flying west together. Three Arctic Skuas and three Great Skuas flew west, there were 12 Sandwich Terns and a juvenile Common Tern offshore and an auk sp flew east. A male Great Spotted Woodpecker was in the churchyard and Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail were noted. Four Stonechats were hanging around the Obs, a Wheatear was on the beach and a female Reed Bunting was in the bushes opposite the Obs.

28th

Sunny with a moderate SW wind. On an otherwise quiet day, the adult Spoonbill, which flew west at 9.18 am, was a welcome addition the the year list. There have now been a total of 13 records, all but one in the last 13 years and five of those in September. Other birds heading west include four Gannets and two Shelducks. A Great Spotted Woodpecker circled over the Obs calling and two Rooks flew west, the first of the Autumn.

27th

There was a large movement over a wide front,  of Swallows and House Martins (timed at 80 per minute between 8.45-9.15 am). There was also a steady stream of Meadow Pipits. A Wheatear and a pair of Stonechats were also noted.

Butterflies included a Peacock and two Common Blues.

26th

Cloudy with a few showers, moderate SW wind. Four Gannets, a Grey Heron, a juvenile Peregrine and a Tufted Duck close inshore at 11.35 am, flew west. Waders included 109 roosting Ringed Plovers, two Curlews west and two Redshanks on the beach. An  adult light-phase Arctic Skua flew east and six Sandwich Terns were offshore. A late Swift flew west amongst a movement of hirundines; c100 Swallows and 40 House Martins. There were also two Stonechats and two Wheatears.

25th

There were three Stonechats and a Wheatear was on the beach.

Butterflies included three Small Coppers and a Common Blue.

24th

Cloudy, light drizzle became steady rain. Light southerly wind. There were three Little Egrets on the beach. Waders included our first Snipe of the Autumn, flushed twice from the area, a Knot,  a juvenile Sanderling and two Redshanks on the beach and three Black-tailed Godwits flew west at 11 am. There were also seven Sandwich Terns on the beach and a Kingfisher flew along Coot Strait.

Peter Curd reported a flock of Avocets (estimated 10-20) flying west at 2.30 pm. Probably our largest flock even at the lower end of the estimate.

23rd

Cloudy, light SE wind.  Five Gannets and two Grey Herons flew west.  Waders included 96 Ringed Plovers and 14 Sanderlings (including at least five juveniles).  Two Stock Doves flew south over the area, two Kingfishers were chasing each other along the middle brook and a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew high east. Six Swallows flew west and c10 House Martins were over the estate. There were two Grey Wagtails over the football pitch, a pair of Stonechats in the scrub and a count of six Chiffchaffs. One Jay flew high west and, late in the morning, a Reed Bunting in the rose bush flew west (our first of the Autumn) and a Corn Bunting flew west over the Obs (our first of the year).

Butterflies included Painted Lady, Speckled Wood and two Common Blues.

22nd

There were five Sanderlings on the beach.

21st

Sunny with  light SE wind. A colour-ringed Sanderling on the beach had been ringed in Orkney as an adult in the Spring on last year. Later seen in Iceland in May and Grenham Bay in October, and this year seen in Orkney in April and May and again in Iceland in July. It seems likely that it is part of the Greenland breeding population. A Knot was also on the beach and three Arctic Skuas were chasing gulls distantly over the sea. Two Kingfishers chased each other along the middle brook, a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew high east over the area and the pair of Stonechats were in the scrub. An influx of Chiffchaffs with about 20 birds, two Blackcaps and five Long-tailed Tits were in the Elm Wood.

Painted Lady – Geoff Burton

 20th

Three parties of Brent Geese flew west, each consisting of seven birds, were the first here this autumn. There were three Stonechats in the scrub.

19th

Sunny with a light northerly wind. A Gannet, eight Wigeon, four Teal and two Great Skuas flew west. Three Common Scoters were also noted. Waders included single Redshank and Curlew on the beach. A Hobby flew west over the estate and sewage works and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard calling by the sewage works. There were three Stonechats in the scrub and a Blackcap and six  Chiffchaffs were also seen.

18th

Sunny with a light northerly wind. There were three Little Egrets in the brook. Four Shelducks  flew west and there were three Wigeon on the tidal ponds. There were 29 Oystercatchers on the beach and a Common Sandpiper was heard over the beach. A juvenile Mediterranean Gull flew east, a Common Tern and two Great Skuas flew west. Ten Swallows flew west, a pair of Stonechats were in the scrub, there were four Long-tailed Tits by the sewage works entrance and the flock of 60 Linnets was maintained.

Stonechat – Geoff Burton

17th

Seven Great Skuas, five Arctic Skuas and a few Common Terns flew west. The Cetti’s Warbler was heard again as it gave a burst of song near the sluice. A Jay was also seen.

16th

Cloudy, calm and humid. Light northerly wind. Four Gannets and  three Common Scoters flew east. An adult and a juvenile Grey Heron were on the beach. Waders included four Redshanks on the beach and a Dunlin in flight over the area. There were six Sandwich Terns offshore and three Common Terns, including a juvenile close inshore, flew west. 20 Swallows and a Yellow Wagtail flew west. A female Stonechat in the scrub was our first of the autumn, a Jay flew west into the sewage works and the Linnet flock on the shingle ridge had risen to 60 birds.

14th

Sunny and warm with a light northerly wind. Four Teal flew west and eight Common Scoters (2 and 6) flew east. Waders included single Knot (with the Ringed Plovers and Turnstones) and Bar-tailed Godwits (with the Oystercatchers) on the beach. Both appeared intent on having a good sleep after a North Sea crossing (?) despite disturnbance. One Arctic Skua flew east and two flew west. Bird of the day, however, despite giving little or no views, was a Cetti’s Warbler calling in the vegetation alongside the middle brook (only our third record). Also, a juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker was in the Elm Wood, one Sand Martin and two Swallows flew west, a Wheatear was on the beach and Yellow and Grey Wagtails were seen.

12th

Sunny, warm, light SW wind. Three Gannets were noted offshore, a juvenile Grey Heron was on the beach and two Little Egrets were roosting in the sewage works trees. Two Whimbrel were resting on the beach, despite regular disturbance, but flew off west when joined by a third. A Guillemot was close inshore by the tidal ponds but flew off west. Warblers included a Lesser Whitethroat and a Whitethroat and a juvenile Willow Warbler. There was a Wheatear and two Grey Wagtails.

Butterflies included a Red Admiral, Green-veined White and Small Heath.

Grey Squirrel – Geoff Burton

11th

Cloudy with a moderate SW wind. Two Great Crested Grebes and one Common Scoter flew west. Vis mig included two Swifts, one Skylark (our first of the autumn), 30 Sand Martins, c200 Swallows and c50 House Martins flying west.  Warblers included single Lesser Whitethroat and Whitethroat along the east bank.

9th

Cloudy, light SW wind and light rain. An Osprey which flew west over the beach at 7.17 am was new for the year. Two Shelducks and 12 Mallards flew west and ten Common Scoters flew east. Waders included 18 Oystercatchers and two Dunlins on the beach, a Curlew flying west  and a Redshank in the brook. Three Swifts flew south over the area, c10 Sand Martins, c50 Swallows and  c30 Meadow Pipits flew west as did a group of five Grey Wagtails. A Wheatear was on the shingle ridge and warblers included a Lesser Whitethroat and a juvenile Willow Warbler.

8th

A pair of Wigeon flew west and waders included 56 Ringed Plovers, three Sanderlings and 94 Turnstones on the beach.

7th

Sunny with a fresh north to NW wind. Bird of the day was Manx Shearwater with one flying west and then east close inshore 25 minutes later and another flying west. Other birds on the move included a Fulmar, a few Gannets, five Shelducks, seven Common Scoters, a Hobby low over the sea, a Golden Plover, three Greenshanks, two Arctic Skuas, six Great Skuas and a Common Tern.

 5th

Sunny with a fresh NW wind. The first sign of any movement was a drake Tufted Duck heading west. However, it soon developed into a movement of skuas with 61 Arctic Skuas and 12 Great Skuas during the morning. Other birds on the move included a flock of five Great Crested Grebes, only a single Gannet, a Hobby, seven Sandwich Terns and two Common Terns all heading west. Vis mig included two House Martins, four Meadow Pipits and a Yellow Wagtail west. Warblers included six Chiffchaffs and two Willow Warblers.

Butterflies in sheltered spots included Holly Blue and Speckled Wood.

4th

Cloudy with a moderate SW wind and steady rain between 8 and 10 am. Waders included a single Sanderling on the beach and three Bar-tailed Godwits flying west over the beach but not much else was seen in difficult conditions.

Greenfinch – Geoff Burton

3rd

Common Sandpiper was the only bird of note in a brief visit by Andy.

2nd

Cattle Egret, which flew west low over the sea at 6.48 am, was only our third record (after one in May last year and one in April this year). Waders included a flock of nine Whimbrels, four Bar-tailed Godwits and two Greenshanks.  There was a movement of Swallows along with a few Meadow Pipits and Yellow Wagtails. Warblers included one Reed Warbler, one Lesser Whitethroat and four Chiffchaffs. 

August 2019

                                                     142 species so far this year                                                    144 species by the same time last year

A total of 87 species were recorded in August compared with an average of 91 species in Augusts in the ten previous years (only March this year has scored a greater than average total). There were only four additions to the year list (compared with 12 in 2018) and so we are trailing last year now, for the first time this year.  The Crossbills on 7th and 8th were our first for six years but pride of place must go the Brown Booby which shocked us with its brief appearance and has now been followed by records from Cornwall, France and even Newfoundland in Canada. The sighting, backed up by photos and our research, will be submitted to the British Birds Rarities Committee in due course!  

31st

A quiet morning but a Ruff was a new bird for the year.  A flock of 19 Redshanks flew west and single Fulmar and Swift were noted. There was a steady trickle of Swallows, a few Sand Martins and Yellow Wagtails and a Wheatear.

30th

Sunny with a light SW wind. A Fulmar flew east, there were five Little Egrets  on the Hampton Flats and a Grey Heron was fishing along the beach. Two Whimbrel came in from the east, rested on the beach for ten minutes, before continuing west. Four Sand Martins and c30 Swallows flew west, there were four Meadow Pipits and a Yellow Wagtail in the grassland, a Whinchat in the marsh and a Wheatear on the grass west of the Lang Court scrub. There were five Whitethroats and a Willow Warbler in the scrub, another Whitethroat along the  east bank, where there were also four Blackcaps and three Long-tailed Tits. A Kingfisher was heard by the wooden bridge and Linnets are beginning to flock with 13 seen together.

A weasel shot across the path near the Obs.

Grey Heron – Geoff Burton

Green-veined White – Geoff Burton

29th

Cloudy and calm. Two Gannets, a Peregrine and a Whimbrel flew west. A Green Sandpiper was seen along the lower brook. Seven Sand Martins, 25 Swallows and four Yellow Wagtails also flew west. A Willow Warbler was heard calling at the Obs and two Jays, along the upper brook, were collecting acorns.

28th

Cloudy, calm with light rain showers. Waders included two Redshanks and a flock of seven Knot with seven Bar-tailed Godwits west and a single lingering Whimbrel. Three Yellow Wagtails flew west, two Whinchats were in the grassland and a Wheatear was on the shingle ridge. A Willow Warbler was calling from an oak bush in the grassland.

27th

Another sunny, calm and very warm day although we are promised change. Waders included four Knot,with the Ringed Plovers on the beach, and two Redshanks. There were two Wheatears on the shingle ridge, two Meadow Pipits on the dried-out Marsh Pool were the first of the season and warblers included another Reed Warbler, a Lesser Whitethroat and a Willow Warbler. The Kingfisher continues to be seen almost daily.

A Small Copper by the Obs was our 22nd species of the year. Of the regular species on Clouded Yellow and, strangely enough, Small Tortoiseshell remain to be seen.

26th

Sunny, calm and very warm. One Whimbrel on the beach flew off west, a Greenshank was heard calling and a flock of ten Teal flew west. Four Yellow Wagtails flew west, our first returning Reed Warbler was in the scrub, a Lesser Whitethroat was along the east bank and a Kingfisher was along the middle brook. A total of 586 House Sparrows left the roost in the bushes opposite the Obs betwen 6.25-55 am. Totals of 589 in 2018 and 2017 and 544 in 2016, at the same time of the year, suggest a remarkably stable population.

Butterflies included the daily Painted Ladies, Small Heath and Speckled Wood.

           A Carrion Crow seeks out the tallest trees in the  churchyard   to catch the breeze on such a hot day – Geoff Burton

24th

Sunny, calm and warm. A Fulmar (our first since June) flew west over the shingle ridge and two Grey Herons also flew west. A flock of five Teal followed closely by five Mallards flew west. Waders included the highest counts of Ringed Plovers (54) and Turnstones (94) so far the is Autumn, a Whimbrel and a Green Sandpiper. A party of 14 Common Terns flew east.  Alerted to the presence of a Ring-necked Parakeet in the usual way (raucous screams), the bird flew west into the sewage works, returning east a few minutes later; a new bird for the year. Our second Whinchat of the year was in the scrub, a Wheatear was on the shingle ridge, a Kingfisher along the middle brook and warblers included Lesser WhitethroatChiffchaff and Willow Warbler.

Whinchat – Geoff Burton

22nd

Sunny with a light westerly wind. A Greenshank flew west. A juvenile Mediterranean Gull on the beach was moulting into first-winter plumage. Flocks of Common Terns totalling 120 birds flew west during the morning. Three Sand Martins flew west,  c20 Swallows and ten Yellow Wagtails were in the area, a Wheatear was on the beach, and a Willow Warbler and a Chiffchaff were also seen.

Mediterranean Gull – Geoff Burton

21st

Sunny, calm and warmer. A single Great Crested Grebe close inshore was the first for some time. Seven Whimbrels flew west and a Common Sandpiper was perched on the groynes amongst the Turnstones. A Hobby flew over the sewage works, a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew into Lang Court and onto the sewage works from the west, a Grey Wagtail was in flight over the sewage works, two Jays were near the scout hut  and a juvenile Willow Warbler was at the Obs.

Painted Lady – Geoff Burton

20th

Ted made an early morning visit noting WhimbrelGreen and Common Sandpipers, four Redshanks and a Sanderling. There were also four Yellow Wagtails and a Sedge Warbler. Later, Andy saw a Raven flying SW at 10.35 am (only our third record for the site).

Butterflies included Painted Lady, Holly and Common Blues, Small Heath, Speckled Wood and Brown Argus, also plenty of Migrant Hawkers, a few Southern Hawkers and a male Large Velvet Ant.

19th

Sunny with a moderate SW wind. A brisk start to the day with flocks of Common Terns (35, 60 and 47) flying west, flocks of ten and seven Whimbrel flying west and three Redshanks on the beach. A single Knot flew west and, later, two flew west with a few Turnstones. One Swift was noted, six Swallows and eight Yellow Wagtails flew west. A Great Spotted Woodpecker flew high over the sewage works, warblers included Lesser WhitethroatGarden Warbler and Chiffchaff and two Long-tailed Tits, the first for some time, were along the east bank and at the Obs.

Tatty Lady – Geoff Burton

It’s frustrating when you don’t see something but it can be even more frustrating when you do. Just after 7, I saw a large, dark bird flying east low over the sea only a few hundred metres offshore. Glimpsed, through binoculars, I thought it was a juvenile Gannet but, through the scope, it looked distinctly odd! Leaving aside the rarity of  juveniles here this early in the season (they are predominant in late Autumn), the all dark plumage of the upperparts, the head, neck and chest, were in stark contrast to the pure white belly. It looked a very neat bird with clear cut divisions between the dark areas and the white belly. Unfortunately, heading east early on a sunny morning, the bird was soon flying away from us and into the light. Andy was straight onto it and had the presence of mind to fire off a few shots. I called up Chris Hindle at Reculver to warn him that it was heading in his direction but the bird wasn’t seen there.

Andy Taylor

Andy and I both said Brown Booby! In all our years of Gannet watching at Swalecliffe, neither of us had seen a Gannet looking like this. The question is could a Gannet, in some sort of immature plumage, replicate these features?  The photos, despite their deficiencies (sorry Andy but you know what I mean) do illustrate the features we saw. A contrasting pale bill, a contrasting white belly, and everything else uniformly dark. They  also show pale underwing coverts which we did not notice through our scopes.

It would be of interest to know whether there are examples of juvenile Gannets that show such a neat dark and pure white pattern. There is an example of a Northern Gannet being initially identified as a Brown Booby but re-identified correctly, in Portugal in July this year. Photographs of this bird to do not seem to be as neatly demarcated as our bird. The distinctive features pointing to Northern Gannet in that bird included the white rump and the dark underwing. In our bird, no white rump was noticed and the photos show a paler underwing. A Brown Booby was seen in the Netherlands and Germany on 20th August 2017 (one day short of two years previously). Photographs of this bird show a pale rather than a pure white underwing which, in both cases, could be a photographic effect. Finally, Barry Wright put the two photos above into the Merlin app (result, in both cases, came out as Brown Booby!).

We saw the bird clearly but very briefly, were unprepared for it, and our photos were not the best. We would be very interested to hear any views.

17th

Sunny with a moderate SW wind. A Bar-tailed Godwit flew west at 9.15 am, a flock of seven Common Terns flew west and a Shoveler was resting on the shoreline by the Obs before flying off west. 12 Swifts flew west, warblers along the east bank included Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler and Willow Warbler and a Kingfisher was along the middle brook.

Butterflies included a Speckled Wood, the first noted here since 18th June.

16th

Arnie reported 12 Oystercatchers and a Whimbrel on the beach.

15th

Sunny periods, light SW wind. There were five Little Egrets on the Hampton flats. Waders included 18 Oystercatchers and a Dunlin on the beach. Four Swallows flew west, there were c10 Yellow Wagtails, a Kingfisher and warblers along the east bank included Lesser Whitethroat, Garden and Willow Warblers.

Garden Warbler – Andy Taylor

14th

Cloudy with a fresh SW wind. A juvenile Gannet flew east, a Bar-tailed Godwit flew west along the beach and a Golden Plover, our first of the autumn, flew west at 10.40 am. Other waders included single Sanderling and Dunlin on the beach. A Whinchat in the grassland was a new bird for the year (on the same date as the first last year) but disappeared as soon as it was found; there will be more! One Swift was seen and Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler were heard at the Obs.

13th

Ted, Arnie and Greg were about today. The Garden Warbler was present along the east bank again and waders included a single Dunlin, 32 Ringed Plovers and 28 Turnstones.

Holly Blue – Greg Herne

12th

Cloudy with showers and a light SW wind. Waders included a flock of 15 Knot west, 40 Ringed Plovers on the beach and two Common Sandpipers. A Sedge Warbler along the side of Coot Strait, a Garden Warbler along the east bank and a juvenile Wheatear on the beach were all firsts for the Autumn. Also, a Kingfisher flew up the brook, a Swift and a Yellow Wagtail flew west, and a  Grey Heron, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Willow Warbler were also seen.

Butterflies seen included Painted Lady and Holly Blue.

10th

Sunny periods but fresh to strong SW wind and light showers. This was notably for the movement of terns. There were c30 Sandwich Terns, 120 Common Terns and four Little Terns west during the morning. Also, c50 Swifts and 12 Sand Martins flew west, there were 22 Ringed Plovers on the beach and, despite the winds, seven Whitethroats were noted in the scrub.

Common Terns – Andy Taylor

Swift – Andy Taylor

8th

Sunny with a light SW wind. A total of nine Little Egrets comprised of four in the brook, later roosting in the sewage works trees, one in the Marsh Pool and a single bird followed by three more flying west out at sea. Waders included singles of Sanderling, Dunlin and Common Sandpiper, 25 Ringed Plovers and 30 Turnstones. There were six Swifts, three Sand Martins, five Swallows and a Yellow Wagtail flying west, warblers included a Lesser Whitethroat and two Willow Warblers and a Great Spotted Woodpecker appeared briefly in the Elm Wood. On arrival, the calls of Crossbills could be heard from Lang Court but they soon ceased and none were seen.

Butterflies included Holly Blue and Brown Argus and dragonflies were Migrant Hawkers, a Southern Hawker and a Blue-tailed Damselfly.

7th

Mostly sunny with a light westerly wind. A Little Ringed Plover (our third of the autumn) was flying around the beach early morning. Other waders included 20 Sanderlings ( a big increase over the two seen up to now), and 29 Ringed Plovers. There were also five Common Sandpipers in the area. Birds of the day were two Crossbills, which flew west over the football pitch and sewage works at 7.25 am (our first here since 2013). There were two Yellow Wagtails, one on the beach and one west over the Obs, and a Willow Warbler dropped in at the Obs. An adult Moorhen was in the middle brook quite close to the site of the spillage. The diesel smell lingers and the brook looks a turgid brown colour; lets hope our hen is ok!

Butterflies included Painted Ladies and Red Admirals, a Brown Argus and mating Common Blues. Plenty of Migrant Hawkers about too.

6th

Andy noted 26 Swifts and Arnie noted a Common Sandpiper on the Marsh Pool and a Willow Warbler and the Lesser Whitethroat was seen again.

The sight of Southern Water workers cutting across the Marsh Pool kind of encapsulates the lack of joined-up thinking that has plagued “management” of this SSSI.

5th

Cloudy with a light southerly wind. Waders included a Whimbrel, a Bar-tailed Godwit and a Green Sandpiper west, a Dunlin and two Common Sandpipers on the beach and an increase to 21 Ringed Plovers. A Hobby flew low west beyond the caravan park.  A total of 85 Swifts heading west included flocks of 35 and 30, there were also 23 Sand Martins and six Swallows west.  A Lesser Whitethroat was seen again near the scout hut and a juvenile Willow Warbler appeared in the rose bush on the shingle mid-morning.

Not a day for butterflies but Painted Lady, Gatekeeper and Meadow Brown were seen.

3rd

Sunny with a light northerly wind. Three Gannets flew west (possibly the same ones flew east) and parties of 30 and eight Common Scoters flew west. Waders included a Common Sandpiper on the Marsh Pool, a Dunlin and 54 Turnstones on the beach. Two Mediterranean Gulls flew east over the area but, more unexpected, was juvenile Kittiwake which flew east close inshore. One Swift and a juvenile Swallow flew west and a Lesser Whitethroat was near the scout hut.

A Brimstone butterfly was the first seen here since May.

1st

Cloudy at first then sunny, light westerly wind. Rather a quiet start to the month. Waders were six Oystercatchers, 15 Ringed Plovers, one Sanderling and 50 Turnstones. Five Swifts and a Yellow Wagtail flew west, a Grey Wagtail was over the sewage works and a Lesser Whitethroat and two juvenile Willow Warblers were along the east bank.

A warm day encouraged butterflies with nine species recorded including two Brown Argus and a Painted Lady at the Obs. A Thistle Ermine moth was seen at the Obs and a number of Migrant Hawkers were also seen.

Brown Argus, Painted Lady and Thistle Ermine – Andy Taylor

After yesterday’s diesel pollution of the brook , there was much activity by Southern Water at the site. More so than there has been in the past with other pollutions. However, we were dismayed at one particular warning sign which warns against bathing or allowing dogs in the brook but implies that such “restrictions”  are only temporary! This contradicts the Councils own notices which says that dogs should not be allowed in the brook under any circumstances to protect wildlife including Water Voles (which have been preyed on by dogs in the past).

Extract from permanent Council notice

Temporary Council notice

July 2019

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

A total of 74 species during the month (average of 74.1 for the previous ten years).  As expected,  July is a month of returning waders. 15 Species were recorded during the month although only Little Ringed Plover was new for the year.  Most notable was a single flock of 26 Common Sandpipers on the beach on 24th. Other new species for the year were Tufted Duck, Arctic Skua and Green Woodpecker. 

31st

Cloudy with a moderate SW wind. A Grey Plover and two Whimbrel flew west, a Common Sandpiper was on the Marsh Pool, joined briefly by a Green Sandpiper and there were two Dunlin on the pool from mid-morning. Later, there were 11 Ringed Plovers and 39 Turnstones roosting on the beach. One Chiffchaff was heard calling at the Obs.

A Roesel’s Bush Cricket was at the Obs.

Arriving at the Obs this morning, I was greeted by a strong smell of diesel. Looking down at the brook by the sluice the source of the aroma was all too clear.

Later the slick had reached the beach

 

30th

Arnie noted two Common Sandpipers on the Marsh Pool and a Redshank and 35 Turnstones on the beach.

29th

Sunny, cooler, light southerly wind. Waders included four Oystercatchers west, a Common Sandpiper on the Marsh Pool and ten  Ringed Plovers and 32 Turnstones on the beach. 100 juvenile Herring Gulls were gathered on the beach. A Great Spotted Woodpecker flew east high over the area whilst a juvenile Willow Warbler along the east bank was the first returning bird after a poor Spring with only two records. 42 Swifts, a Sand Martin, three Swallows and four Grey Wagtails flew west.

Butterflies included a female Common Blue at the Obs.

Willow Warbler – Andy Taylor

Common  Blue – Geoff Burton

28th

Helen reported seeing a Kingfisher. The first of what should be regular sightings from now into the New  Year.

27th

Cloudy, moderate westerly wind and with steady rain. Two Little Terns flew west close inshore at 9 am and an Arctic Skua flew west at 9.50 am; the highlights of a soaking for Ted and me. Also, three Gannets flew west and a party of seven Teal flew west after stopping briefly on the sea. Waders included five Whimbrels and five Curlews and a Common Sandpiper west. Ten Sand Martins and ten Swallows also flew west and there were two-three Chiffchaffs calling between the upper brook and the Obs.

26th

Cloudy at first then sunny with a light westerly wind. Almost the first bird seen was a juvenile Green Woodpecker on the football pitch near the churchyard. A new bird for the year and a typical record for this species which is regular here after the breeding season and on towards the end of the year and consists predominantly of juveniles. There were three Little Egrets and four Teal on the Marsh Pool. A juvenile Little Ringed Plover (our second of the month and year) was on the tide line in the company of Ringed Plovers and Turnstones. However, a minute or so after its discovery, it was flushed by a dog-walker! Other waders included seven Ringed Plovers and two Sanderlings on the beach, 22 Turnstones roosting between the groynes, a Green Sandpiper flying west at 8.48 am and a flock of seven Common Sandpipers west at 10.19 am. Three Whimbrel also flew west. A duck Mallard with seven medium-sized ducklings along the middle brook was the third brood of the year. Other birds included four Swifts, nine Swallows west and a Chiffchaff calling at the Obs.

25th

Sunny, light SE wind, very warm. Ten Gannets flew east, a party of six Common Scoters flew west and another two flew east. There were four Little Egrets on the Marsh Pool. Two Sanderlings, still sporting much of their breeding plumage, were on the beach and three Lapwings dropped down onto the beach. Also, two Common Terns and a Yellow Wagtail  flew west.

24th

Sunny, calm and very warm. Waders continue to be the main feature of recent days. A flock of 26 Common Sandpipers on the shoreline at 6.15 am was exceptional but they soon moved on. Another three were seen on the beach later. A flock of 33 Redshanks that flew west at 7.48 am was also unexpected. Other waders included a Lapwing, three Dunlins and seven Whimbrels west and nine Ringed Plovers and 16 Turnstones on the beach. Two Arctic Skuas (our first of the year) were chasing terns off shore then drifted east. Two Common Terns and one of two adult Great Black-backed Gulls was an old favourite (34G), rung as a pullus at Le Havre in 2010, and an occasional visitor to our shores. Two Yellow Wagtails flew west and a Chiffchaff was calling by the Obs.

23rd

Ted saw six Little Egrets and a Common Sandpiper On the Marsh Pool and other waders included two Dunlins and ten Turnstones. Also, 20 Swallows flew west.

22nd

Sunny with a light westerly wind. Waders included a Little Ringed Plover flying west (new for the year), six Ringed Plovers (including two juveniles), and five Turnstones in full breeding plumage on the beach. There were nine  Oystercatchers west, and another eight on the beach, one Curlew flew west and five Whimbrel on the tidal ponds which also flew off west.  Five Common Scoters flew east, one Common Tern flew west and a juvenile Peregrine flew west. 90 Swifts, four Sand Martins and 20 Swallows flew west.

A good day for insects with ten butterflies including our first Brown Argus near the skate park, our only Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet Moth (worn and bleached) and an Emperor Dragonfly.

Brown Argus – Andy Taylor

Burnet Moth – Andy Taylor

20th

Cloudy then sunny with a light SW wind. Four Turnstones which flew west were the first seen since May.  Eight Lapwings and single Whimbrel and Curlew also flew west  and an Oystercatcher and a Redshank were on the beach. Another increase in waders seen.  Otherwise, it was very quiet; two Stock Doves dropped onto the beach and, later, one was on the water’s edge of the Marsh Pool and 12 Swifts flew west.

At the Obs, a family party of Weasels showed briefly as they crossed the path and insects included a Blood-vein moth, an unusual green Roesel’s Bush Cricket and another Marbled White butterfly.

Blood-vein – Andy Taylor

Roesel’s Bush Cricket – Andy Taylor

The large buddlea at the scout hut, that held out much promise in attracting butterflies, was cut down this morning.

18th

Cloudy with a light SW wind. Two Oystercatchers flew west along the beach, a party of five Whimbrels flew west, later another was resting on the tidal ponds before also heading on west, and a Redshank on the beach was our first “returning” bird. A better wader turnout than of late! There was a gathering of 17 Mediterranean Gulls, including two juveniles, on the beach. Seven Swifts flew west and a Lesser Whitethroat along the middle brook was the first since only two records of this species during the Spring. Up to now, it has been a regular breeding bird.

An Essex Skipper was seen in the grassland by the coastal path.

Juvenile Mediterranean Gull – Geoff Burton

Essex Skipper – Geoff Burton

17th

Sunny and very warm with a light southerly wind. A Gannet flew east, there were three Little Egrets on the tidal ponds and five Mediterranean Gulls on the beach. One Swift, 20 Swallows and a Sand Martin flew west. Late morning the gulls were up, chasing flying ants, amongst which were some Mediterranean Gulls and a second calendar year Common Gull (our first since May) and a Hobby. 

A good day for butterflies with at least three Marbled Whites (unprecedented), another Ringlet and a Peacock on the Scout hut buddlea* which is, at the moment, being allowed to flower.

*spell check suggested “befuddle”.

Hobby – Andy Taylor

Marbled White – Geoff Burton

15th

Cloudy with a light NE wind. One Gannet flew west and large juvenile female Peregrine flew west over the beach.

Butterflies included good views of a Ringlet at the Obs.

Ringlet – Geoff Burton

13th

Cloudy, light NW wind and cooler. Five Gannets, two Common Scoters, four Whimbrel, two Curlews, three Mediterranean Gulls and a Common Tern flew west whilst a passing Tufted Duck was new for the year. There were three Little Egrets and a Common Sandpiper on the Marsh Pool. One Swift, two Sand Martins and a Yellow Wagtail also flew west.

10th

One Whimbrel flew west.

A good day for butterflies with 12 species recorded. These included our first Essex Skipper and a Ringlet (recorded a few times last year but only one two occasions in earlier years). The total for the year is now 20 species. The most likely additions would be Small Tortoiseshell, Small Copper and Clouded Yellow.

9th

A short circuit of the site produced six Little Egrets and two Whimbrels flew west.

7th

Cloudy, light NE wind and cooler. There were five Little Egrets on the Marsh Pool early morning. The second brood of seven Mallard ducklings were in the brook. Large but with no primaries as yet. Three Mediterranean Gulls flew east and four Sandwich Terns included two juveniles. There were five Pied Wagtails on the football pitch.

Big gulls – Geoff Burton

6th

Sunny, light westerly wind, warm. Three Little Egrets on the Marsh Pool flew onto the beach where they were joined by a fourth. There were four Oystercatchers  and five Mediterranean Gulls on the beach and also an influx of Black-headed Gulls with 114 together on the beach. Five Swifts, two Sand Martins, five Swallows and two Yellow Wagtails flew west.

Butterflies included a Green-veined White (not seen for some time, a Comma and another Marbled White.

4th

Sunny, calm and warm. 12 Lapwings flew west and a Greenshank was heard calling over the tidal ponds. There were four Pied Wagtails on the football pitch. On an evening visit, Andy had a Common Sandpiper on the Marsh Pool at 7 pm which Arnie confirmed was still present at 9.15 pm (not many of our records come that late in the day!).

Again a good showing of butterflies, including more Painted Ladies, but again no additions to the year list.

Small Skipper – Geoff Burton

3rd

Sunny with a light northerly wind. There were three Mute Swans on the sea off the Tankerton slopes early morning. One Oystercatcher was on the beach and two Whimbrels and two Curlews flew west. A female Pied Wagtail on the tideline seaweed was feeding a fledged youngster. A Grey Wagtail dropped into the brook by the sewage works entrance, four Long-tailed Tits were by the entrance and a Chiffchaff was seen along the east bank.

Seven species of butterfly were seen on this warm day but there were no additions to the year list.

2nd

Andy had nothing to report from the bird world but a Marbled White was our first of the year (18th species), Gatekeeper was also seen and a Marsh Frog  was calling along Coot Strait (only a couple of previous records).

1st

Sunny with a fresh westerly wind. A Great Crested Grebe flew east, three Curlews and three Mediterranean Gulls flew west. 30 Swifts and single Sand Martin and Yellow Wagtail flew west.

A good start for butterflies with nine species including our first Comma of the year and 17th species. A Banded Demoiselle was seen briefly along the middle brook. There has been only a handful of records here.

Comma – Geoff Burton

 

June 2019

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

The total of 63 species for the month was lower than any of the previous ten years, in June, which had averaged 71.4 species. My own daily average of 34.4 species was also the lower than any of the previous ten years. Nothing was added to the year list but there were two Dunlin and two Avocets on the wader-friendly Marsh Pool at the beginning of the month, a Grey Plover mid-month and a trickle of Curlews, Whimbrels and Lapwings plus a Green Sandpiper towards the end of the month.  Things can only get better! 

30th

Sunny, moderate NW wind. Three Curlews, an adult Mediterranean Gull and a Common Tern (scarce this month) flew west and two more adult Mediterranean Gulls were on the beach. A movement of 53 Swifts during the morning and a Yellow Wagtail flew west.  A juvenile Moorhen was in the middle brook. There have been more Moorhen reports in recent weeks and, maybe, they have bred further upstream.

A Water Vole was seen in the middle brook. Again, reports can be months apart and it’s possible that these too are breeding further upstream.

Mediterranean Gull with Black-headed Gull – Geoff Burton

29th

Sunny, calm and very warm. One Great Crested Grebe was on the sea, two Gannets flew east, a Shelduck flew west and two immature Mute Swans flew east, returning west shortly afterwards. A Grey Heron was being mobbed by gulls over the estate.

A Small Skipper and a Gatekeeper were the first of the year bringing the butterfly total to 16 species. A Silver Y moth was also seen and Greg Herne reported a Water Vole (the first for some time).

28th

Andy’s brief visit to the site produced a pair of Hornet Moths on the same tree as they have been seen in the previous two years as well.

Hornet moths – Andy Taylor

27th

Cloudy with a fresh NE wind. A Fulmar and four Gannets flew east and two parties of Common Scoters (eight and ten) flew east – the first this month. Three Lapwings also flew east.

A Silver Y moth was seen in the grassland whilst a few Painted Ladies were the only butterflies to brave the conditions.

26th

Cloudy, moderate northerly wind and cooler. Six Gannets, four flew east, two flew west and a Fulmar inland flew high east. A Whimbrel circled over the beach before heading SE inland and a Curlew flew west.

24th

Sunny, warm and humid with a light SW wind. There was one Great Crested Grebe on the sea and four Gannets flew east. A Buzzard to the SE over Studd Hill, i.e the usual area, was the first of the month.

An  adult Great Black-backed Gull on one of the buoys was colour-ringed but too distant to read before it flew off west. I suspect it was the bird seen at Reculver on 24th May, that was rung as a chick at Le Havre in France on 28th June 2010, was seen in Whitstable in 2011 and 2017, back in Le Havre in 2013, at Swalecliffe in 2014, 2016 and 2018 and at Dungeness in 2015.

22nd

Sunny, warmer with a light SE wind. There was one Great Crested Grebe on the sea, two Gannets flew east and there were two Little Egrets on the beach. Two Lapwings and a Curlew flew west.

20th

Cloudy with a light NW wind. There were five Little Egrets gathered together on the tideline early morning. A steady trickle of Swifts, c60, flew west whilst a Yellow Wagtail calling from the bushes opposite the Obs before flying on west was unusual here at this time.

One of a pair of Herring Gulls, with four well-grown young on a roof in Church Way, was sporting a Pitsea ring (not noted amongst the breeding birds here before).

The above average rainfall this month has reversed the usual decline in the water levels of the pools which  usually results in bone dry pools during the peak of the autumn wader migration.

The Marsh Pool on 2nd June

The Marsh Pool on 20th June

19th

Cloudy with steady rain at first, light NW wind. Indications of a return passage of waders came in the form of a Curlew flying west, a Lapwing calling as it circled over the Obs and a Green Sandpiper calling but unseen a it passed west offshore.

A Large Skipper and a Red Admiral were at the Obs.

18th

Sunny at first, clouding over, with a light SW wind. Six Little Egrets were on the beach, five Great Black-backed Gulls included two adults and one Sandwich Tern flew east. One Stock Dove flew south and a Reed Warbler, our fifth of the “Spring” was singing in the pear tree and the adjacent bluethroat bush. There were two broods of Mallard in the brook, one of seven almost fully-grown ducklings and another of at least five half-sized ducklings.

Butterflies noted were Small Heath, Speckled Wood and Small White.

17th

Ted Lee’s visit produced one Great Crested Grebe offshore (our first since May 27th), one Gannet and two Curlews west. Also, three Swifts and one Swallow flew west.

15th

Ted Lee found a group of six Curlews on the beach. A typical record for this early returning migrant wader.

14th

Waders are at their scarcest here at this time of the year and so it was pleasing for Ted Lee to find this Grey Plover on the beach.

Grey Plover – Ted Lee

13th

Sunny, then showers from 9 am, with a moderate SW wind. An adult Gannet flew east and a single Sandwich Tern was resting on the red buoy. 50 Swifts flew west, mainly during the showers (our highest count so far this year). A Stock Dove was seen near the Marsh Pool and a Skylark flew south over the sewage works.

Six species of butterfly were seen around the Obs including our first Large Skipper of the year, a Red Admiral and another Painted Lady.

The heavy machinery has gone. There are tracks on the shingle and, apparently, holes were being bored. Phase 2 next year, maybe.

Juvenile Woodpigeon – Geoff Burton

Large Skipper – Geoff Burton

11th

 

Sunny with a light SW wind. The struggle continues; a Hobby flew west low over the sewage works at 5.28 am, eight Oystercatchers were on the beach and a single Sandwich Tern flew east.  Sandwich Terns have been rather scarce this year. Usually there is an early morning movement of these terns (presumably from breeding grounds in the Medway) but not this year. What are the implications? Another scarce species has been the Swift and c20 feeding beyond the caravan park is one of the higher counts so far this year.

There have been a number of reports of Painted Ladies in the county and two more here today may suggest that it will be a good year.

Yesterday’s heavy rain has enabled the brook to pour its waters into the sea for the first time for months. Also, the recently dry Obs Pool now holds some water and the Marsh Pool is fuller. This may prove beneficial  for early returning Autumn waders.

Heavy machinery parked by the sluice may indicate that the work on replacing the sewage outfall pipe is about to begin.

Painted Lady – Geoff Burton

The brook breaks free – Geoff Burton

Pipeline machinery ? – Geoff Burton

8th

Cloudy with a fresh SW wind. It is a struggle to find anything to mention! There were eight immature Great Black-backed Gulls on the beach and two Sandwich Terns offshore. Two juvenile Robins were in the sewage works.

There were no waders seen. A flock of non-breeding Turnstones  had always been a feature of mid-summer. Numbers from year to year have varied. The maximum June count in 2007 was only 16 but there were 126 in 2010 and 95 in 2013. Since then numbers have been lower with 16 in 2015, only six in 2016, 13 in 2017 and none recorded were recorded in June last year. And none have been recorded so far this month.

6th

Sunny with a light SW wind. Little to report with four Oystercatchers on the tidal ponds (no other waders) and a second calendar year Mediterranean Gull west. 20 Swifts flew also west.

Better on the butterfly front with our first Painted Lady and Meadow Brown of the year amongst the six species seen.

Painted Lady – Geoff Burton

Meadow Brown – Geoff Burton

5th

Sunny periods and a light SW wind. At 6.05 am, the calling of Avocets led to the sight of two dropping onto the Marsh Pool. Previously, all records of this species had been either on the beach or flying over. A first record for the Marsh Pool and probably only the third record here in June. However, after five minutes they took off and flew over towards the beach, returning to circle around over the pool  again before finally moving on. There was also a Shelduck  on the Marsh Pool. Two single Fulmars flew west, a Gannet flew west and another six settled on the sea. A little passage with ten Swifts, three Swallows and four House Martins west whilst a Chiffchaff,singing briefly at the Obs, was probably a resident which are quiet and elusive at this time in the season.

Butterflies seen were Small White, Holly Blue and Speckled Wood.

Two Dunlin on 1st and these two Avocets show the attraction of the Marsh Pool when the level is unusually low at this time of the year. A bit late for Spring migration and maybe it will have dried up before the Autumn passage gets going.

Avocet and Shelduck – Geoff Burton

Avocets departing – Geoff Burton

3rd

Sunny with a light westerly wind. There were two Little Egrets on the beach and a Grey Heron flew west. A small, but more than so far this year, movement of Swifts totalled 21 and there were also three Swallows and a single Sand Martin and House Martin.

The Marsh Pool – Geoff Burton

1st

A sunny and very warm start to the year with a light SE wind.  There were seven Little Egrets around the tidal ponds. Two Dunlin on the Marsh Pool mid-morning were unusual but the pool does look good for waders at the moment. It has been a very dry month. A Reed Warbler was singing in the depths of one of the scrubland bushes. Two juvenile Long-tailed Tits were in the trees along the upper brook.

Butterflies were Small and Green-veined Whites, Holly Blue and Small Heath.

Dunlins – Geoff Burton