Category Archives: Uncategorised

September 2020

154 species so far this year

145 species by this time last year

23rd

Cloudy with a moderate SW wind. There were four Little Egrets and a Grey Heron on the beach. Waders imcluded two Sanderlings and a Redshank on the beach. Ten Sandwich Terns were resting on the tidal ponds. A significant movement of hirundines included c500 House Martins and 30 Swallows. There were 28 Pied Wagtails on the football pitch and two Grey Wagtails flew west. A male Stonechat in bushes along the coastal path was our first of the autumn and a Wheatear was well camouflaged on the dried out Marsh Pool. Other birds included a Great Spotted Woodpecker in the churchyard, many Chiffchaffs, a Jay, three Rooks moving west but lingering on the beach, a Brambling again along the east bank and Siskin.

A Water Vole showed well along the middle brook much to the delight of the visiting Nicole Khan and Jason Moule and Arnie!

Sanderling – Geoff Burton

22nd

Sunny and calm. The Brambling was still present along the east bank and two Lesser Redpolls were present in the Elm Wood. There was an abundance of Chiffchaffs with at leasy a couple of dozen present, there was a large movement of Swallows and House Martins and a Skylark was the first of the month.

Lesser Redpoll – Andy Taylor

21st

Cloudy with a light NE wind. There were four Little Egrets on the beach, 21 Brent Geese flew west and another nine were resting on the tidal ponds. Four Wigeon were on the shoreline, 12 Teal flew west, seven Common Scoters flew east and a duck Eider accompanied a group of Brent Geese flying west. A flock of 13 Lapwings flew west over the sea, there were four Sanderlings and a Redshank on the beach. Other birds included a female Kingfisher along the middle brook, two Grey Wagtails, ten Pied Wagtails on the football pitch, a Song Thrush along the east bank which was the first seen here since July, two Blackcaps and eight Chiffchaffs and a Brambling along the east bank. There was a count of 48 Carrion Crows on the beach (numbers appear to be down on recent years).

19th

Sunny with a fresh NE wind. A Barnacle Goose on the shoreline by the Obs was new for the year. Other wildfowl included 19 Brent Geese, 20 Wigeon, 12 Teal and a flock of 16 Pintails – all west. Two Great Crested Grebes flew west and a Red-throated Diver landed on the sea – our first returning bird. Two Gannets were seen offshore, an Arctic Skua and two distant, possibly Pomarine, Skuas flew west and there were four Sandwich Terns on the beach. One Siskin and one Redpoll flew west and a Reed Bunting was on the bushes opposite the Obs.

Butterflies continue to show with Small Whites, a Holly Blue in the churchyard and a Red Admiral by the scout hut.

18th

Three Bramblings were present in the bushes along the brook (those favoured by our recent Wryneck). These were the earliest returning birds for the site (by seven days). Also of interest, a pair of Tufted Ducks flew east in a flock of Common Scoters, there were small numbers of Gannets, Teal and Wigeon moving offshore, three Arctic Skuas and a Snipe flew SE over the football pitch.

Brambling – Andy Taylor

17th

Sunny with a fresh NE wind. Wildfowl on the move were a feature of this morning’s sea watch. Five Brent Geese (a three and a two) flying west were the first of the autumn, 112 Wigeon and 50 Teal flew west and 70 Common Scoters flew east. Waders included our first Golden Plover resting on the shingle ridge and a Common Sandpiper which dropped into the remnant brook. An adult Mediterranean Gull flew west and an Arctic Skua and two Great Skuas were noted offshore. Other birds noted included six Swallows, a Grey Wagtail and a high count of 18 Pied Wagtails on the football pitch.

A Comma in the Elm Wood was our ninth butterfly for the month.

16th

Cloudy, cooler with a moderate NE wind. Sea watching was the order of the day; a Manx Shearwater flew west close inshore, there were about 40 Gannets and 50 Common Scoters moving offshore, three Shelducks flew east, three Arctic Skuas and four Great Skuas flew west and six Sandwich Terns were offshore. Waders included 18 Oystercatchers and103 Ringed Plovers on the beach and five Dunlins circling over the beach. Other birds included a Yellow Wagtail, a Whinchat, ten Jackdaws over the area, 15 Pied Wagtails on the football pitch and a flock of 18 Linnet.

14th

Sunny and calm with fog rolling in for about 45 minutes from 7.45 am. There were three Little Egrets roosting in the pines. 20 Sandwich Terns flew east and an adult dark-phase Arctic Skua flew west close inshore at 11.30 am. Other birds included a Great Spotted Woodpecker, Grey Wagtail, a Goldcrest along the upper brook, eight Siskins which landed in the elms by the scout hut and a Redpoll in bushes along the sea wall by the caravan park.

Once a rare odonata in Britain , a Willow Emerald Damselfly was seen from the bridge by the upper brook. Green-veined White, Common Blue and Peacock were additions to the butterfly month list now standing at eight species.

Willow Emerald Damselfly – Geoff Burton

12th

Sunny and warm with a light SW wind. A Little Grebe in the brook, on the first corner below the sluice (a favourite spot) was the first of the autumn and a bit early. One Gannet flew east and there were three Little Egrets on the beach. Four Egyptian Geese flew east over the area; another addition to the year list. Waders included a single Sanderling on the beach and three Dunlin flying west. Vis mig included c50 Swallows, seven House Martins, four Meadow Pipits and 60 Siskins west. Other birds included a Hobby west over the sewage works, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and two Grey Wagtails.

Sanderling – Geoff Burton

11th

A Garden Warbler in the Elm Wood was a new species for the year.

10th

Sunny with a light northerly wind. The Wryneck appears to have moved on. Where will it be now? Somewhere in France perhaps. 10 Shelducks flew west whilst waders included single Whimbrel heading west and a Common Sandpiper. A Hobby flew west over the estate, the four Lesser Black-backed Gulls were again on the football pitch and a Kingfisher was along the middle brook. One Swallow was seen, a Yellow Wagtail flew west, a Grey Wagtail flew west into the sewage works and warblers included two Lesser Whitethroats. A Jay flew from the Elm Wood to the churchyard. Business as usual after the excitement of the last week.

Common Sandpiper – Andy Taylor

9th

Sunny with a light NW wind. The Wryneck showed well again throughout the day. A single Gannet flew west late morning (our first of the month). Waders included 44 Ringed Plovers and 98 Turnstones roosting between the groynes at the e astern end of the beach and a single Common Sandpiper in the brook. There were two Mediterranean Gulls on the beach and an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was being pursued across the football pitch, apparently unsuccessfully, by three juveniles. Other birds noted included a Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail , Wheatear, Lesser Whitethroat and Willow Warbler and a flock of 12 Siskins heading west. Whilst watching the Wryneck late in the afternoon, a Great Skua flew over the heads of Murray Wright and Steve Clinch heading west over the scout hut car park.

Wryneck – Murray Wright
Lesser Black-backed Gulls – Geoff Burton

8th

The Wryneck delayed its appearance today until about 10 am when it showed well.

Wryneck – Nicole Khan

7th

Sunny with a light westerly wind. The Wryneck was present for its fourth day and, after yesterday’s performance, attracted an appreciative crowd. At one point in the morning, a motley selection of 27 twitchers, toggers and birders were counted. A female/immature Redstart showed well in the Elm Wood and along the east bank; unbelievably our first here for five years! Warblers included two Lesser Whitethroats and a smart juvenile Willow Warbler. Away from the brook, a male Marsh Harrier was circling over the sea early morning and, late morning, a party of 18 Siskins came in low over the beach and headed west whilst a Wood Sandpiper (our third in three weeks but only the fourth for the site) came in over the area dropping down on the beach. Other birds included three Grey Herons on the beach, a calling Whimbrel, a Mediterranean Gull on the beach transitioning from juvenile to first-winter plumage, a Kingfisher and a Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Wheatear on the football pitch, a Grey Wagtail, and two Jays in the sewage works.

Redstart – Mike Gould
Redstart – Mike Gould

6th

The Wryneck was present again but had adopted a more co-operative approach showing well on a number of occasions during the day. Many of Sunday’s worshippers enjoyed good views including Barry Wright, who had been a regular visitor to the site in the last century.

Wryneck – Peter Maton

5th

Sunny with a light westerly wind. The Wryneck was quickly relocated in the same area as yesterday and watched for about 15 minutes as it sat motionless in bushes on the far side of the brook taking in the early morning sun. However, it continued to be elusive for the rest of the day. Along the brook, with many eyes trained in that area, birds noted included Kingfisher, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Grey Wagtail, two Lesser Whitetroats and a Spotted Flycatcher (a good autumn for this species after a blank year in 2019). Also noted two juvenile Greenfinches. There were three Little Egrets on the beach, waders included three Dunlins on the beach and a Whimbrel flying west and three Meadow Pipits flew west.

Wrymeck – Andy Taylor

4th

Andy Taylor was on his own this morning. He found a Wryneck in one of the clumps of small trees and bushes on the football pitch side of the brook. The bird afforded two very brief views between 7.50 am and 8 am. News was put out but, despite searching, it was not found again until 11.50 am (observer unknown). This was the fourth record of this species on site and the first since 2014. Other birds noted included two Whinchats, a Lesser Whitethroat and a Willow Warbler.

3rd

Cloudy with a moderate SW wind. Bird of the day was our second Osprey of the autumn (and year). This bird was present for about half an hour, fishing successfully over the tidal ponds, and taking its fish off to the woods to the south. Four Wigeon and 13 Teal flew west, waders included 20 Oystercatchers, our first Snipe of the season flying west and a Bar-tailed Godwit which landed briefly on the shoreline before heading off west. There were 11 Sandwich Terns gathered on the beach and one Arctic Tern flew west. For the first time this Autumn, a significant movement of hirundines with 168 Sand Martins and 67 Swallows counted flying west in 30 minutes and one pulse of 70 House Martins flying west low over the sea (our first of this species since Spring!). Other birds seen included a Peregrine, two Wheatears and a Whinchat and two Greenfinches (the first for some time).

Butterflies included Holly Blue and Small Heath.

Osprey – Andy Taylor

2nd

Waders inluded 16 Oystercatchers, 32 Ringed Plovers, four Sanderlings. one Redshanks and 70 Turnstones. A Wheatear was also seen.

1st

Cloudy, with a little light rain and a light northerly wind. There were three Little Egrets on the Hampton Flats, three Wigeon circled over the tidal ponds, nine Teal flew west and a Common Scoter flew east. Waders included c60 Ringed Plovers ans singles of Dunlin and Redshank. Three Stock Doves paid brief visits to the beach, two Yellow Wagtails flew west and a Kingfisher was seen in the brook.

Butterflies noted were Small White, Speckled Wood and Red Admiral.

Whitethroat – Geoff Burton

August 2020

A total of 147 species so far this year

142 species by the same time last year

A total of 97 species for the month was significantly above the ten-year average of 89.8 species. Highlights included our fifth record of Garganey ( two west on 1st) and our second and third records of Wood Sandpiper on 17th and 26th. The strong winds on 26th and 29th and 30th of the month contributed to a higher than average total. Also, despite the obvious problems of this year, the total of 147 species so far compares with a ten-year average of 141.6 species.

31st

Cloudy at first then sunny with a light to moderate northerly. With much lighter but still northerly winds the “skua tap” of the last two days was well and truly turned off! No skuas, no Gannets with just two Little Gulls heading west as a clue to what had gone before. One Great Crested Grebe was noted, there were five Teal resting on the tidal ponds and another eight flew west. Waders included 24 Oystercatchers and two Curlews on the beach, 77 Ringed Plovers on the shingle ridge at high tide and two Dunlins and a Common Sandpiper flying west. Three Yellow Wagtails circled over the beach, three Swallows flew west and a Kingfisher was seen again along the brook. One Sedge Warbler (our third of the autumn and year), two Whitethroats and a male Blackcap were along the east bank. Later, Peter Hunt saw a Guillemot close inshore; this was the first large auk to be assigned to this species this year!

Butterflies included a rather tatty Common Blue.

Common Blue – Andy Taylor

30th

Ted put in another (4 hour) session of wind bashing. Again it was a skua fest with 78 Arctic Skuas, 47 Great Skuas and one Long-tailed Skua. Bit parts were played by c20 Gannets, c20 Common Scoters, 10 Wigeon, a Teal, four Sandwich Terns, three Common Terns and a Whimbrel.

29th

Cloudy with a strong NNW wind. Classic sea-watching conditions at the right time of the year. Birds were on the move over the sea from the start. The main participants were skuas with 65 Arctic Skuas, 65 Great Skuas and two juvenile Long-tailed Skuas noted during the morning. The supporting cast included two Fulmars, a Manx Shearwater, six Wigeon, three Teal, one Grey Plover, one Little Gull and a Black Tern and loads of Gannets. A Dunlin was on the shingle ridge, a Common Sandpiper in the brook, four Swallows flew west and a Whitethroat and a Blackcap appeared along the sheltered east bank.

The conditions also brought out the kite surfers in numbers. It was estimated that there were at least 100 off the Tankerton slopes and Long Rock. We spoke to one who, because of the wind direction, had travelled up from Brighton.

Arctic Skua – Andy Taylor
Kite surfer on the shingle ridge – Andy Taylor
Kite surfers everywhere – Andy Taylor

28th

There were two Great Crested Grebes. A Knot flew west with Turnstones and a Dunlin was also seen. Two Swallows flew west, a Wheatear was on the eastern end of the beach and two Whitethroats were noted.

27th

Sunny with a light SW wind in marked contrast to yesterday. However, the day did start on a wader theme with a juvenile Curlew Sandpiper keeping company with flocks of Ringed Plovers, about 60 in total. At high tide this flock were subject to much disturbance, the Ringed Plovers stuck it out but the Sandpiper soon disappeared. Other waders included 12 Oystercatchers, one Dunlin, four Curlews, a Greenshank and a Common Sandpiper. Other birds seen included a Hobby, Meadow Pipit, Whinchat and Willow Warbler.

Butterflies were represented by Small Whites and a Comma and Clouded Yellow.

Curlew Sandpiper – Andy Taylor

26th

Sunny with a fresh to strong westerly wind. A westerly wind, however, strong, can not be relied upon to produce a good seawatch. Nevertheless, a Shag flying west at 7.12 am and a Manx Shearwater at 8.10 am were both new for the year and a good start. A Great Crested Grebe flew west, seven Common Scoters flew east and an Arctic Skua appeared distantly offshore. The strength of the wind did seem to affect the waders. The high tide had waders seeking shelter on the shingle ridge. A Wood Sandpiper dropped onto the ridge briefly at about 8.30 am but moments later disappeared as a dog walker came along. Our third record for the site; the first came after 25 years of observations here; the second five years later and this third bird ten days after the second. It was assumed that the bird had moved on but it was seen again on the tideline at about midday. A female Ruff also dropped onto the ridge and hunkered down and was present for more than an hour (another addition to the year list). Other waders included three Sanderlings, one Dunlin and one Common Sandpiper flying west, a Whimbrel on the shoreline and a Greenshank that flew high south inland. An Arctic Tern flew west and, later one was resting on the beach with eight Sandwich Terns.

24th

Sunny periods with a light southerly wind. Waders included 37 Ringed Plovers, six Sanderlings and a Dunlin. An Arctic Tern flew west and three Sandwich Terns flew east. Single Hobby and Peregrine were seen. A Green Woodpecker was only our second record for the year but last year there was only a single record. Other birds seen included a Whinchat and two Lesser Whitethroats in the scrub and a Spotted Flycatcher and a Willow Warbler along the east bank.

A total of eight butterfly species seen included our first Clouded Yellow of the year.

Clouded Yellow – Geoff Burton

22nd

Sunny with a moderate southerly wind. A Common Sandpiper on the beach was the only wader of any note. Three Mediterranean Gulls flew west. One Sand Martin flew west and a Sedge Warbler and a Lesser Whitethroat were along the east bank.

Sedge Warbler – Andy Taylor

20th

Waders included a Dunlin and a Common Sandpiper and 30 Swallows flew west.

19th

There were six Canada Geese and eight Teal, a Marsh Harrier and a Buzzard were noted, two Arctic Skuas flew west and a Whinchat was present again.

18th

Three Whimbrels and a Curlew flew west, three Swallows and four Yellow Wagtails flew west and a Whinchat and a Sedge Warbler (our first this year) were in the scrub.

17th

A Wood Sandpiper was on the beach early morning for about ten minutes before being flushed by a dog walker. This is only the second record for the site following one on 14th August 2015. Other waders included a flock of 54 Redshanks west, two Dunlins and a Common Sandpiper. Four Sanderlings were noted in the afternoon. Other birds noted included a Raven tussling with a Buzzard, four Yellow Wagtails and a Skylark.

Wood Sandpiper – Andy Taylor
Redshanks – Andy Taylor
Buzzard and Raven – Andy Taylor

16th

Three Green Sandpipers were seen overhead and a Whinchat was in the scrub.

13th

An Arctic Skua was our first of the year and six Gannets were also noted offshore. Waders included 22 Ringed Plovers, with four juveniles, and a Whimbrel. Four Yellow Wagtails and Sand Martin and Swallow were also noted.

12th

A Greenshank had taken up the place in the remnant brook vacated by the Knot. Four Yellow Wagtails flew over and a Kingfisher was seen along the brook.

Greenshank – Andy Taylor

10th

Sunny, warm with a light northerly wind. Four Little Egrets were again on the beach and waders included one juvenile Dunlin and 32 Turnstones on the beach. A Whinchat was in the scrub and a Spotted Flycatcher showed briefly along the east bank.

Butterflies included Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral and Migrant Hawker and Common Darter dragonflies were also seen.

Small Tortoiseshell – Andy Taylor

8th

Light cloud, very warm and calm. Three Gannets flew east and there were four Little Egrets on the beach. A flock of 12 Teal flew west and 64 Common Scoters flew east. Waders included 12 Ringed Plovers and two Sanderlings on the beach, two Green Sandpipers were heard but not seen and a party of eight Common Sandpipers alighted on the tideline. There were many terns distantly offshore early morning which included a party of 30+ Black Terns. [That afternoon a flock of c200 Little Terns and 80 Black Terns were roosting on the east flood at Oare Marshes]. Other birds included a Kingfisher along the middle brook, a Yellow Wagtail west and a juvenile Willow Warbler at the Obs.

Black and Little Terns at Oare Marshes – Geoff Burton

7th

Sunny, very warm, calm. Waders included 5 Oystercatchers and 15 Ringed Plovers on the beach and a flock of seven Whimbrels flew west. Other birds included a Stock Dove dropping onto the beach, a Great Spotted Woodpecker circling over the grassland, a Skylark circling over and dropping into the grassland and a Jay flying east from the Obs.

Small White – Geoff Burton
Holly Blue – Geoff Burton

5th

Sunny, warm with a light SE wind. Bird of the day was an Osprey, picked out amongst a cloud of gulls offshore. It drifted east clear of the gulls then headed south over the caravan park at 7.45 am. A Hobby made a couple of appearances as it hunted beyond the caravan park and over the estate. A Fulmar flying west was the first seen since June. Waders included 18 Ringed Plovers on the beach, the juvenile Knot for its sixth day and two adult Dunlins flying west. A flock of 11 Common Terns flew west close inshore. Four Swifts and 24 Swallows flew west and two juvenile Willow Warblers were along the east bank.

3rd

Sunny with a fresh northerly abating. A Shelduck flew east, four Teal flew west and four Common Scoters flew west with another east. Waders included the juvenile Knot for its fourth day, six Whimbrel west and a Common Sandpiper circling high over the area before drifting west. A Merlin that flew east over the area was unexpectedly early whilst a Peregrine over the beach was not. There were six Gannets offshore and a juvenile Kittiwake flew west. Other birds included a Kingfisher along the middle brook and three Jackdaws, scarce of late, heading for the beach.

Butterflies included two Speckled Woods and a Large White.

1st

Sunny with a light SW wind. Two Garganey flew west at 6.15 am; our fifth record, our first for six years and an addition to Andy’s site list. The juvenile Knot was still in the remnant brook. Other waders included 15 Bar-tailed Godwits, a total of 54 Whimbrels west during the morning, and a heard-only Greenshank. One Swift, one Wheatear and a Willow Warbler were also noted.

Butterflies noted were Gatekeeper. Small White and Green-veined White, Comma, Holly Blue and Essex Skipper.

Knot – Geoff Burton
Whimbrel – Geoff Burton

July 2020

A total of 136 species for the year

138 species by this time last year

A total of 74 species for the month was the same as last year and as the average for the last ten years (73.9). There were only three additions to the year list; our third and fourth Cattle Egrets on 9th (juvenile) and 16th (breeding plumage adult), our earliest returning Whinchat (27th) and a Knot (31st).

31st

Sunny, very warm with a light SE wind. Singles of Ringed Plover and Redshank were heard and there were 22 Turnstones. James Avery, a self-confessed astronomer rather than a birder, found a wader along the remnant brook which appeared to have an injured leg but, nevertheless, seemed to be feeding quite happily. It turned out to be a juvenile Knot, our first of this species this year which, fortunately lingered into August. An immature male Peregrine circled over the beach. The adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was still being pestered by two young birds on the beach. Two juvenile Willow Warblers were along the east bank and at the Obs; a good showing of this species in the last week of the month.

30th

Sunny, warm with a light westerly wind. Waders included five Ringed Plovers, a Lapwing, an adult Dunlin and 37 Turnstones on the beach and two Common Sandpipers. A raft of 90 juvenile Herring Gulls were resting on the sea. One Swift, a Sand Martin and seven Swallows flew west and a Wheatear was present in the grassland. There were also four Yellow Wagtails and four Willow Warblers.

29th

Sunny, warm, light NW wind. There were five Little Egrets whilst waders included four Oystercatchers, a Whimbrel and a Common Sandpiper west, a Redshank in the Marsh Pool and 18 Turnstones on the beach. 22 Swifts flew west but only single Sand Martin and Swallow were noted. There were three Willow Warblers again along the east bank with frequent snatches of song.

An immature Great Black-backed Gull amongst its smaller Herring Gull cousins – Geoff Burton

28th

There were three bright juvenile Willow Warblers along the east bank.

A Small Heath (only a few seen this year so far) was noted.

27th

Cloudy with showers, light SE wind. A better morning for waders with seven Oystercatchers, one west and six east, four Ringed Plovers on the beach, one Whimbrel and one Curlew, a Redshank on the beach, four Common Sandpipers and a significant increase to 65 Turnstones on the beach. Five Little Egrets were noted, a Marsh Harrier flew west behind the church, there were four Mediterranean Gulls, a Sandwich Tern and four Common Terns included one juvenile. Four Swifts flew west whilst a male Whinchat seen well but only briefly in the scrub was our earliest returning bird (after one on 29th July in 2006). A juvenile Willow Warbler was also present in the scrub.

25th

Cloudy with a little rain and a moderate SW wind. One Gannet and five Little Egrets (three on the Marsh Pool). Waders included one Oystercatcher west, three Ringed Plovers on the beach, a Whimbrel on the beach early morning and another eight west, a Curlew, a Common Sandpiper and 11 Turnstones on the beach. An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was feeding two juveniles on the beach, two Sandwich Terns were offshore and eight Common Terns flew east. Two Stock Doves dropped into the grassland, 73 Swifts and 11 Sand Martins flew west and two Swallows and a Yellow Wagtail were also noted.

23rd

Sunny. A quiet morning. Three adult Mute Swans flew west over the area at 7.20 am and were later seen on the sea off the Tankerton slopes. There were four Redshanks on the beach and a Common Sandpiper on the Marsh Pool. There were two Swifts, five Swallows flew west and a Lesser Whitethroat was seen near the scout hut.

22nd

Sunny, warm and calm. There were eight Little Egrets on the beach. Waders included a Common Sandpiper on the Marsh Pool and 38 Turnstones roosting on the groynes but as parting shot a flock of eight Green Sandpipers flew west high in the sky and over the sea. A record count for this site. Otherwise, it was a quiet morning as befitted the weather conditions. A Jay flew from the sewage works along the upper brook.

20th

Sunny with a light northerly wind. One Gannet flew east and there were four Little Egrets on the beach. Two Oystercatchers flew east, three flew west and one was on the beach. A summer plumage Dunlin was with Turnstones on the beach, a Whimbrel on the beach flew off west, there were three Curlews on the beach and two Redshanks on the tidal ponds. 18 Mediterranean Gulls were on the beach and single Sandwich Tern was noted offshore. A Yellow Wagtail dropped onto the shingle ridge and a Lesser Whitethroat was seen along the east bank.

18th

Sunny with a light westerly wind. There were three Little Egrets on the Marsh Pool. Waders were represented by a single Oystercatcher, three Curlews and 21 Turnstones on the beach. A juvenile Willow Warbler along the east bank was the first returning bird and an early one. Other birds included one Sand Martin and four Swallows west and singles of Stock Dove and Jay.

A male Common Blue in the grass to the west of the skate park was new for the year and our 21st species.

16th

Cloudy with a fresh NW wind. A breeding plumage Cattle Egret was present early morning (at 5.50 am), with four Little Egrets in the remnant brook. Unfortunately, it was flushed by some random with camera who got too close; where is field craft these days? Although the second record this month, this is only the fourth record for the site of this on-the-increase species. There were 30+ Gannets offshore, two Teal circled over the brook before heading off west and a single Common Scoter flew east. Waders included a Ringed Plover on the shingle ridge and single Whimbrels heading south and west. A total of 27 Mediterranean Gulls were counted on the beach and the sea and an adult Common Gull was on the shingle ridge at high tide. 18 Swifts flew west and two Swallows were noted.

15th

Sunny with a light SW wind. There were three Little Egrets on the Marsh Pool, two Oystercatchers flew west and a Whimbrel circled over the beach. There were 18 Mediterranean Gulls (including three juveniles) and a Sandwich Tern with the Black-headed Gulls on the beach. One of the Mediterranean Gulls was ringed; the details were that it was ringed as an adult at Antwerp in Belgium in May 2020 and seen again there in June. Three Swifts and a Swallow flew west and a Kingfisher was seen along the middle brook.

Kingfisher – Geoff Burton

13th

Sunny, warmer, with a light NW wind. Two Gannets flew west, two Grey Herons flew west inland and there were ten Little Egrets (nine on the Marsh pool early morning). Waders were a single Ringed Plover on the beach, a flock of seven Whimbrel and a Redshank flying west and 15 roosting Turnstones. Looking to the skies to the south a Sparrowhawk, a Buzzard and a Hobby feeding on insects were noted. Four Sandwich Terns flew west. Vis mig included ten Swifts, seven Sand Martins and 12 Swallows. Other birds noted included a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Grey Wagtail.

In the warm weather, Andy’s attention was drawn to the bugs around the Obs. In addition to some of the usual butterflies, a Blue Mason Bee, a Wilke’s Mining Bee and a hoverfly (Eristalinus sepulcharalis) were all new for the site.

11th

Sunny, moderate SW wind. Six Gannets flew east, there were eight Little Egrets, seven on the Marsh Pool at one point, and two Grey Herons flew over. There were four Oystercatchers on the beach, another flew west, five Whimbrels flew west and a Curlew was on the beach. 53 Swifts flew west, a single House Martin flew west and a Yellow Wagtail was heard calling.

Confirmation of our first Brown Argus by the EA car park. Our 20th species for the year.

Brown Argus – Andy Taylor
Sparrowhawk and Kestrel – Andy Taylor

9th

Cloudy, light to moderate SW wind. Two Gannets and 11 Little Egrets and, at 10.45 am, a juvenile Cattle Egret flew west low over the brook and sewage works. A better day for waders with seven species in total; three Oystercatchers, two Ringed Plovers, five Whimbrels flew west singly, a party of six Curlews flew west with two more on the beach, one Redshank west, one Common Sandpiper and 13 Turnstones on the beach. 95 Swifts and single Sand Martin and Swallow flew west.

11 species of butterfly included a suspected Brown Argus.

8th

Cloudy, rain until 9 am, calm then light SW wind. There were eight Little Egrets and a Grey Heron on the beach. Two Ringed Plovers were again on the shingle ridge and single Curlew and Turnstone were on the beach. Two Common Terns were on one of the 8K buoys. A flock of eight Sand Martins flew west and 46 Swifts also flew west.

7th

Six summer plumage Dunlins were the first returning birds, there were also 16 Turnstones. There were six Little Egrets, a juvenile Marsh Harrier and a Buzzard, and vis mig included a Yellow Wagtail, four Sand Martins and five Swallows.

Another 14 species of butterflies were seen today including two Ringlets. A Magpie Moth and a pammene aurana were also seen.

6th

Sunny periods with a fresh SW wind. A Great Crested Grebe was within the tidal ponds and later one flew west. A Ringed Plover was on the shingle ridge, a Curlew on the beach and 23 Turnstones were feeding along the tide line on the incoming tide. A flock of 12 Mediterranean Gulls were feeding along the shoreline by the Obs. Today, only a single Swift was noted, flying west.

Despite the fresh winds, the warmth of the sun in sheltered areas encouraged a good variety of butterflies to be on the wing. A total of 14 species were recorded including our first Gatekeepers of the year in the scrub. Most species, however, were noted around the Obs. The full list was: Large, Small and Essex Skippers, Green-veined, Small and Large Whites, Holly Blue, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Peacock, Red Admiral, Meadow Brown, Marbled White and Gatekeeper. A record day total for the site, I think.

Gatekeeper – Geoff Burton
Marbled White- Geoff Burton

4th

Cloudy with a fresh SW wind. A flock of 25 Common Scoters flew east, there were two Ringed Plovers on the shingle ridge, four Curlews on the beach and a Common Sandpiper dropped onto a sliver of shingle spit on the incoming tide. There was a steady movement of Swifts, several hundred birds, heading west as did a single Sand Martin.

A Ringlet was at the Obs, our 18th butterfly species of the year. There had only been two records of this species prior to 2018 but this is the third year running it has been recorded here.

Swift- Andy Taylor
Ringlet – Geoff Burton

2nd

Sunny periods with a moderate SW wind. There was one Great Crested Grebe on the sea. A Curlew and three Whimbrels flew west, a Ringed Plover and 13 Turnstones were on the beach. Three Sandwich Terns were offshore and 70 Swifts flew west.

A total of nine species of butterfly included our first Essex Skipper at the Obs.

Essex Skipper – Andy Taylor

1st

Sunny periods with a moderate SW wind. A single Gannet flew east and three flew west. 11 Turnstones roosting between the groynes at the eastern end of the beach were the only waders noted. There were at least six Mediterranean Gulls on the beach and offshore which included three second calendar year birds. A total of 51 Swifts were noted flying west in early morning and a single Swallow also flew west. A Great Spotted Woodpecker flew across from the sewage works to the churchyard. A modest, but not unexpectedly so, total of 38 species to start the month.

A total of seven butterflies were noted which included our first Peacock since March and two Commas.

Moorhen – Geoff Burton

June 2020

A total of 133 species so far this year

134 species by this time last year

The total of 69 species for the month was significantly better than last year’s poorest performance of 63 but just under the ten-year average of 70.1 species. Only one species, Kittiwake, on the first of the month, was new for the year but the total for the first six months was only one less than last year and compares with a ten-year average of 133.7. Not bad considering the constraints we have been under. Of particular interest, was our second only June record of Great Skua which was seen on four occasions between 12th-27th of the month. Also, it appears that Meadow Pipits are breeding for the first time for several years; one of the species, along with Skylark and Reed Bunting, we had lost through the level of disturbance in their habitats.

The total of 16 species of butterfly by the end of the month is the same as this time last year. The only species it seems we will have missed because of lockdown is Orange-tip.

30th

Cloudy with a moderate SW wind. A Great Crested Grebe was close inshore and single Gannets flew east and west. Two Ringed Plovers were lingering on the shingle ridge seemingly reluctant to be pushed off by dog walkers. 15 Turnstones were roosting between the groynes at the eastern end of the beach. One Sandwich Tern was fishing close inshore.

The total

Butterflies included a single Small Heath by the scout hut. A Brown Rat swam across the middle brook.

29th

Sunny periods and a freshening SW wind. A Gadwall flew west close inshore at 6.20 am. A party of four Oystercatchers and a single Curlew flying west were the only waders of the day. A Hobby flew SE over the sewage works. Three Sand Martins flying west were, perhaps, a hint of Autumn.

The sun at the sheltered Obs proved a butterfly trap with nine species recorded including a Marbled White.

Little Egret – Geoff Burton
Marbled White – Andy Taylor

27th

Cloudy, cooler with a moderate SW wind and a few showers. There were seven Little Egrets on the Marsh Pool at the early morning high tide. Singles Oystercatcher and Curlew flew west and there were 16 Turnstones on the beach as the tide receded. There was a fourth sighting of the Great Skua, which flew west at 8.20 am, an adult Mediterranean Gull flew west and four Sandwich Terns and two Common Terns flew east. An immature Peregrine was seen chasing a gull far offshore.

25th

Sunny, very warm, light SE wind. There were four Little Egrets on the beach. A Curlew flew east and another flew west in the company of three Whimbrels; our first returning birds. A Ringed Plover and three Turnstones were seen on the beach.

Two or three Marbled White butterflies were the 16th species for the year (and 14 for the month).

24th

Sunny, very warm and a light southerly wind. The quietest of hot summer days was enlivened by a Lesser Whitethroat singing in the scrub. This was interrupted by a dog walker passing through the scrub and the Lesser Whitethroat was not heard or seen again. This former regular breeding bird was only recorded three times this Spring, in late April. Otherwise, an Oystercatcher flying west was the only wader, there were three immature Great Black-backed Gulls on the beach and a party of Long-tailed Tits again by the Obs.

Fortunately, there was some non-avian distraction in the form of butterflies, though none new for the year, and our first Burnet Moth, a Six-spot and a Silver Y.

Six-spot Burnet – Geoff Burton

22nd

Sunny, warm with a light southerly wind. A single Great Crested Grebe flew west and a flock of c50 Common Scoters, breaking up in the heat haze, flew east. Waders were two Ringed Plovers and just two Turnstones. Two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, at least one was a juvenile, dropped into pine corner. A Hobby zipped through the area in hunting mode and 42 Swifts flew west.

The Moth Finder General located a new moth for the area in the guise of a Dotted Fan-foot. New for the site and, seemingly, a rare moth in these parts. A Painted Lady just west of the skate park was our 15th species for the year.

Meadow Pipit – Geoff Burton
Dotted Fan-foot – Andy Taylor
Painted Lady – Geoff Burton

21st

The Great Skua was seen again at 8.50 am chasing gulls.

20th

Sunny periods, warm with a light SW wind. A party of six Gannets flew west and two singles flew east. A Curlew, five Mediterranean Gulls and a Sandwich Tern flew west. There were four Little Egrets and 12 Turnstones on the beach. Five Swifts flew west and ten Long-tailed Tits, the first this month, appeared at the Obs.

A good morning for butterflies with eight species recorded, including two Commas, the first seen here since March.

Long-tailed Tit – Andy Taylor
Chiffchaff – Andy Taylor
Comma – Geoff Burton
Comma – Andy Taylor

19th

Sunny, warm with a light SW wind. Four Gannets and three Sandwich Terns flew east. Five Lapwings flew west to the south of the church, there were three Curlews on the beach and another flew west, and there were 14 Turnstones (seems quite a stable group) on the beach. 12 Swifts flew west and there were five Pied Wagtails ( a pair of the football pitch and a female with two juveniles on the beach between the groynes.

A Shaded Broad-bar was in the long grass near the bluethroat bush.

After yesterday’s rain, the first since the shingle ridge’s makeover a month ago, it was interesting to see where the water in the brook would go.

The brook’s exit strategy – Geoff Burton

The brook was full of water but could not follow the route set out for it by the Council and so the water was seeping through the shingle and across the beach. Exactly as it had done before the recent intervention!

17th

Cloudy, warm and calm. 23 Gannets flew east including a flock of 18. A Shelduck was on the shingle ridge early morning. Two Sandwich Terns were offshore and a Grey Wagtail flew out of the brook by the sluice.

15th

Sunny and warm with a light SW wind. A Great Crested Grebe was on the sea, nine Gannets flew east and a Curlew flew west. There were 13 Turnstones on the beach and the Great Skua was seen again, briefly over the sea disappearing as it landed. A Grey Wagtail that flew east by the skate park was the first of the post-breeding period.

13th

Sunny and warm with a light SE wind. There were three Great Crested Grebes on the sea that eventually flew off west. Four Gannets flew east and a pair of Shelducks were again on the Marsh Pool. Another appearance of a Ringed Plover on the beach (wondering what the Council had done to its home) and 14 Turnstones were roosting between the groynes. Two Stock Doves flew south from the beach.

A good morning for butterflies, six species, including our first Small Heath on the path near the bluethroat bush and Large Skipper at the Obs. Also good to see two Water Voles in the brook by the wooden bridge (note to the Environment Agency, they are still here!).

Water Vole – Andy Taylor

12th

On an afternoon visit Andy found a Great Skua resting on the beach. It flew around a bit before heading off north. Only our second June record after one in 2007.

Great Skua – Andy Taylor

11th

Cloudy, cool with a moderate NE wind. A Fulmar and 11 Gannets noted and a pair of Shelducks were on the Marsh Pool. Two Curlews flew east, the first of the retu rning birds, and nine Turnstones were on the beach. An adult Peregrine snatched a Starling (no rosy future there) from the football pitch. An adult Kittiwake flew east, three Sandwich Terns flew west and three Common Terns flew east. A Hobby was also seen.

10th

Cloudy and cool with a light SW wind. One Fulmar and four adult Mediterranean Gulls flew west. Waders were represented by a party of five Oystercatchers flying east and 18 Turnstones on the beach. One Sandwich Tern was fishing offshore. About 50 Swifts flew west and a group of 40 were feeding low over the area around the Marsh Pool with two House Martins in attendance. A male Yellow Wagtail was on the football pitch and a juvenile Greenfinch was noted in the Elm Wood.

8th

Cloudy, freshening northerly wind, some light rain. A Fulmar flew west over the area, six Gannets flew east and a party of 12 Common Scoters flew west. There were 17 Turnstones on the beach, one Oystercatcher and four Mediterranean Gulls flew west. Three Swifts and two Swallows also flew west.

6th

Sunny with a freshening westerly wind. Two Marsh Harriers, an adult male and an immature, flew west over the sea and a Hobby flew east over the estate. One Lapwing flew west and six Turnstones were on the beach. A steady early morning movement of Swifts amounted to 495 birds and two Swallows and five House Martins also flew west. A Kingfisher which flew from the brook into the sewage works was earlier than our usual post-breeding arrivals.

A Red Admiral and Holly Blue butterflies were noted by the Obs and a Meadow Brown behind the scout hut was our first of the year ( on the same date as our first last year).

Meadow Brown – Geoff Burton

4th

Cloudy and cool with a fresh northerly wind. At another time of the year such conditions are favourable but today we had to be content with three Gannets flying east and three Common Scoters flying west. Eight Mediterranean Gulls were noted and 55 Swifts flew west.

The carefully crafted shingle ridge is already on the move. The narrow trench created only a few weeks ago to guide the brook to the sea has already been filled.

Not quite flows the brook – Geoff Burton

3rd

Cloudy and calm. There was a Great Crested Grebe on the sea,a Gannet flew east and a Shelduck flew west. Waders were represented by a single Ringed Plover on the shingle, a Redshank which flew south having been disturbed from the marsh area and 30 Turnstones between the groynes at the eastern end of the beach. There were eight Great Black-backed Gulls on the beach – an adult and seven immatures.

2nd

Arnie reported a Grey Heron present at 9.10 pm!

1st

Sunny and warm with a light NE wind. Two Great Crested Grebes, three Gannets and two adult Mediterranean Gulls flew west, three Shelducks, eight Oystercatchers and six Sandwich Terns flew east but the birds of the day were two adult Kittiwakes that flew west and were an addition to the year list. A single Ringed Plover was on the shoreline and 26 Turnstones was a good count as there have been no June records here for the last two years. In addition two Stock Doves were seen on the beach briefly, a Yellow Wagtail was heard calling and a Reed Warbler was chuntering away unseen along the east bank. A total of 44 species was a respectable start to the month.

Our first Small Tortoiseshell butterfly of the year, and tenth species, was seen at the Obs.

Small Tortoiseshell – Geoff Burton

April 2020

A total of 111 species so far this year 113 species by this time last year

Now we embark on our first month of lockdown. Fortunately for us, and Andy as well, he is able to walk down to the site. Therefore, most if not all the records for the time being will be his.

9th

Light cloud, misty at first, calm then a light cooling NE wind. There were eight Great Crested Grebes on the sea, an adult Gannet flew east, two Shelducks flew west and two Sandwich Terns rested on the red buoy. Waders included a single Ringed Plover, three Curlews, eight Redshanks and 21 Turnstones and a Snipe flushed from the back of the Marsh Pool. There was little vis mig with a Sand Martin west at 6.30 am the only noteworthy occurrence.

6th

Cloudy, mild with a light westerly wind. Early indications were that it was going to be a good day. A Wheatear was on the shingle ridge and a Willow Warbler was singing by the skate park (new for the year) and during the morning another three were found. Andy found a male Ring Ousel on the dog walker created path by the Obs Pool and later, at 8.20 am, the real surprise came in the form of a Waxwing which flew west by the Obs calling as it went! In addition, three adult Mute Swans flew west behind the church and another two east and a total of eight Yellow Wagtails flew west during the morning. A boost of five year ticks by 9 am. Other birds on the move included two Redwings south early morning, four Sand Martins and eight Swallows west and a Marsh Harrier south. There were three Red-throated Divers on the sea and three Red-breasted Mergansers flew west.

Ring Ousel – Andy Taylor

5th

Andy’s brief circuit produced two Swallows and two Sand Martins to add to the year list.

4th

Cloudy, cold with a SW breeze. There were eight Red-throated Divers, including two in summer plumage, close inshore, six Great Crested Grebes and a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers. Three Canada Geese and an Avocet (at 7.40 am) flew west (both additions to the year list). Other waders included just single Oystercatcher and Ringed Plover, eight Redshanks and 22 Turnstones. Two adult Mediterranean Gulls flew east and another flew west. Three Stock Doves, 180 Woodpigeons and some small parties of Goldfinches flew west.

2nd

Cloudy with a light WNW wind. There were nine Red-throated Divers, two Great Crested Grebes and a party of nine Teal on the sea. A flock of 30 Brent Geese flew high east, two Greylag Geese flew east and a total of 22 Shelducks flew west in small parties. Waders included 24 Oystercatchers east, five Ringed Plovers, seven Redshanks and a Snipe in the marsh. Four Lesser Black-backed Gulls flew west. Birds of the day, however, were two additions to the year list in the form of a Redwing briefly in the Elm Wood and three Redpolls west over the Obs. Meadow Pipits and the Reed Bunting continue to hold territory and a male Blackcap and two Chiffchaffs.

Redwing – Andy Taylor

March 2020

                                                  100 species so far this year                                                    107 species by the same time last year

The total of 77 species for the month was well below the average for the previous ten years of 84 species. The coronavirus lockdown  imposed towards the end of the month was matched by a weather lockdown, cool with fresh northerly winds. Only five species were added during the month with Ring-necked Parakeet and Corn Bunting useful additions at the beginning but only two summer visitors, Wheatear and Sandwich Tern, seen before the weather put a block on things. 

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