Category Archives: Uncategorised

April 2019

                                                                    122 species so far this year                                                                   115  at the same time last year

18th

Sunny, though misty over the sea, with a freshening easterly wind. Expectations were not high but, looking out over the beach from the skate park at 6.40 am, I saw a Great White Egret fishing in the shallows. It was low tide and so, although distant, it was fairly safe from disturbance. The bird moved sedately as it fished and was present undisturbed until at least 8 am. The egret was joined by our first Grey Heron of the month and two Little Egrets. However, the tide was coming in and so it would not have stayed much longer. I contacted Ted (easy) and Andy (not so easy) as Ted had to resort to the old-fashioned strategy of calling on him at his house to let him know. This was only the second record for the site after one briefly on 1st November 2011. There were two more additions to the year list in the forms of a Sedge Warbler singing behind us as we watched the egret and a Common Sandpiper on the Marsh Pool. Other waders included two Sanderlings , three Dunlin and 70  Turnstones on the beach and three Redshanks on the Marsh Pool. Four adult Mediterranean Gulls flew east and there were two Sandwich Terns offshore.  No vis mig and two Swallows west and a single Wheatear on the shingle ridge were the only other passerine migrant.

Dunlin – Geoff Burton

17th

Sunny, misty over the sea, with a light NW wind and warmer. One Great Crested Grebe on the sea, two Shelducks flew west and a party of 12 ducks flew east, led by a pair of Shovelers, and ten Wigeon which settled on the sea. Waders included a Whimbrel west and a Greenshank which were both new for the year and one Sanderling on the beach and three Redshanks on the beach and later on the Marsh Pool. 13 Mediterranean Gulls flew east and four Sandwich Terns were resting on the buoys.  Also, a single Stock Dove flew east and two Wheatears were on the shingle ridge.

Butterflies included our first Large White and Orange-tip bringing the total to six species.

Sanderling – Geoff Burton

15th

Sunny, light to moderate easterly wind. A male Black Redstart was seen but only briefly on the beach by the skate park. Four Arctic Terns flew east close inshore and a Ring Ousel flew west by the Obs. Three welcome additions to the year list but clear skies and an easterly wind has done nothing for “general” migration.  A Fulmar and a Gannet flew east and two Shelducks flew west whilst the immature drake Eider was present all morning,  having been seen at Seasalter the day before. Waders included four Sanderlings, two Dunlins and 101 Turnstones on the beach and a Snipe and six Redshanks on the Marsh Pool. Other birds included a single Common Tern east, four Buzzards circling together low to the SE and a Wheatear on the shingle ridge.

Blackcap – Andy Taylor

13th

Cloudy and cold with a light NE wind. One Great Crested Grebe, four Gannets, 16 Shelducks and two Sandwich Terns flew east and two Common Scoters flew west. There were three Brent Geese on the beach and an immature drake Eider appeared close inshore late morning (plumage details suggest it was the bird present at Reculver recently). Waders included three Sanderlings on the beach and five Redshanks on the Marsh Pool. Two Common Terns resting on the red “cheesy” buoy were new for the year. Away from the sea, two Sand Martins flew west, a Jay which flew east over the football pitch was our first since February and two adult Rooks circled the beach before flying south inland. It is noticeable, if a previous year can catch up with the current year, that 2018 is only two species behind this year (it was 13 behind at the end of March).

A Small White butterfly by the scout hut was new for the year.

11th

Cloudy with a moderate NE wind and cool. Single Red-throated Divers flew east and west, a Great Crested Grebe was offshore, two Shelducks and nine Common Scoters flew west. There were two Sanderlings on the beach and four adult Mediterranean Gulls flew west along the shoreline. Eight Swallows flew west.

9th

Cloudy, misty with a light NE wind. A much quieter day with a highlight of a single Canada Goose which flew west low over the area! Otherwise, five Brent Geese flew west over the beach, two Shelducks flew west, and a Grey Plover was again on the beach with single Sanderling and Redshank.

8th

Cloudy and misty with a light NW wind. There were three Great Crested Grebes offshore, eight Shelducks flew east and another flew west, two Marsh Harriers flew west over the area at 10.20 am and 14 Mediterranean Gulls included a party of ten flying east. Waders included a Grey Plover, a Sanderling and two Redshanks on the beach whilst a Green Sandpiper, briefly on the Marsh Pool, was a new species for the year. There was also a pair of Teal which commuted between the brook and the Marsh Pool before, eventually, giving up and heading off west. Two Sandwich Terns flew west and three Buzzards were circling to the south. Some vis mig today including five Sand Martins, 12 Swallows and four House Martins (the latter new for the year), a Yellow Wagtail that called a couple of times unseen in the mist (also new) and six Goldfinches and 20 Linnets (all heading west).

6th

Cloudy with a moderate NE wind and the cold weather continues.  There were five Great Crested Grebes offshore and a Brent Goose flew east over the beach. A Ringed Plover calling agitatedly on the beach was replaced later that morning by three fisherman and a tent on exactly the same spot! Three Sandwich Terns were close inshore by the Obs, a Stock Dove that sang briefly in the Scout Wood was unusual and two Swallows flew west.

4th

Sunny periods, light SE wind and cool. A pack of agitated gulls over the beach at 7.40 am revealed a Cattle Egret in their midst.  The egret, only our second, after one last May, flew off high to the  west. There were six Great Crested Grebes offshore, single Fulmars flew west and east and a female Marsh Harrier flew west close inshore. Later that morning, a total of ten Sandwich Terns, our first this year, flew west offshore.  There was little other movement with six Swallows flying west.

3rd

Two Sand Martins and 15 Swallows flew west and four Greylag Geese were seen.

2nd

Cloudy, dull with a light SW wind. Bird of the day (who knows, maybe bird of the month) was a second calendar year Iceland Gull which flew west, stopping on the beach to bathe and preen for 20 minutes,  between 8.40-9.00 am. This is the fifth record for the site and three of these have been within the 12-day period between 22nd March and 2nd April. A summer plumage Red-throated Diver and four Great Crested Grebes were offshore and a single Brent Goose lingered close inshore waiting for the tide to turn. Two Shelduck also flew west, there were two Sanderlings on the beach and a Snipe and five Redshanks on the Marsh Pool. The westerly winds encouraged some vis mig with 25 Sand Martins, 25 Swallows, 20 Goldfinches and 50 Linnets heading west.

Iceland Gull – Geoff Burton

1st

Sunny with a fresh NE wind. A slow start to the month. One Red-throated Diver offshore, a Great Crested Grebe and a Gannet flew east and a flock of nine Common Scoters flew west. There were five Brent Geese on the beach and waders included a Sanderling on the beach and two Redshanks on the Marsh Pool. One Blackcap and three Chiffchaffs (including one at Lang Court) were in song. The pair of Long-tailed Tits were still at the Obs.

 

March 2019

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

A total of 88 species for the month was (for the first time this year) above the average over the previous ten years. The year total of 107 is 13 more than the same time last year but that is very unlikely to be maintained. Early Spring migrants included Sand Martin, Swallow, Wheatear, Blackcap and Willow Warbler. 

31st

Cloudy and cold with a fresh NE wind. There was one Great Crested Grebe on the sea and one Fulmar, three Gannets, 29 Common Gulls and four large auk sp flew east. Waders included five Ringed Plovers, one Sanderling  and 34 Turnstones on the beach and three Redshanks on the Marsh Pool. There were also 115 Herring Gulls on the beach. A Willow Warbler was silently moving about in the bushes opposite the Obs.

30th

Sunny with a light northerly wind. There were five Great Crested Grebes offshore , a Fulmar flew east and there were three Brent Geese on the beach. Our second Red Kite of the year circled over the estate, drifting west, at 8.40 am. Waders included just two Sanderlings on the beach, two Dunlin flying west and two Snipe on the Marsh Pool. More abundant were 57 Turnstones gathering on the outgoing tide.

The warmth and sun encouraged our first Brimstone butterflies on the wing with a male at the Obs, at the entrance to the sewage works and by Lang Court and a female by the scout hut. This species was recorded here for the first time only last year. A Peacock was also seen as it sped by the Obs.

Red Kite – Andy Taylor

Brimstone – Geoff Burton

28th

Cloudy with a light NW wind. There were three Red-throated Divers (including one in summer plumage) and five Great Crested Grebes offshore. A flock of 70 Brent Geese flying west offshore was a surprising number this late in the month (at this site anyway) and another three were on the beach as the tide receded. Four Shelducks and five Common Scoters flew west and two Greylag Geese flew east by the church. Waders included eight Sanderlings and six Redshanks on the beach. One Blackcap was singing in the churchyard and there were two Chiffchaffs along the east bank and at the Obs.

26th

Sunny with a light NW wind and cool. A Red Kite flew west at 9.34 am. Other birds of prey included three Sparrowhawks and three Common Buzzards. There were three Great Crested Grebes offshore, one Red-throated Diver and five Common Scoters flew east and there were only six Brent Geese on the beach. Waders included two Lapwings flying east (unusual here in March), only one Sanderling and one visible Snipe On the Marsh Pool. There was another appearance by the wintering Water Rail, a Skylark flew south over the area, 12 Meadow Pipits and nine Linnets flew west and a male Blackcap flew along the upper brook and one Chiffchaff was singing.

A Peacock was our second butterfly species of the year.

Kestrel – Geoff Burton

25th

Swallow flew west at 11.50 am and a Peregrine flew east along the beach. However, most notable was an easterly passage of Kittiwakes, most between 10.20-11.20 am, totalling 343 birds. Also, 32 Common Scoters flew west and two Skylarks were noted.

24th

A misty, cold morning put a block on Spring migrants. A few Meadow Pipits and Chaffinches flew west, a Blackcap was present and the  Water Rail and a Moorhen were seen together.

Little Egret – Andy Taylor

Water Rail and Moorhen – Andy Taylor

Chiffchaff – Andy Taylor

23rd

With Geoff on family duties in deepest Berkshire, Andy had free rein (and used it well). A Sand Martin, which flew west at 7.35 am, was our first of the year as were two drake Pochards, and a Pheasant calling unseen from within the sewage works. Also, our second Merlin of the year and ten Black-tailed Godwits flew west, a female Wheatear was on the shingle ridge and there was a steady movement of Meadow Pipits.

Merlin – Andy Taylor

22nd

Cloudy with a light NW wind. After yesterday’s events, today proved an anticlimax. There were about eight Red-throated Divers and 13 Great Crested Grebes offshore. A Fulmar flew east and two Gannets wee offshore. Two Shelducks flew west, two Common Scoters flew east and another four, on the sea, flew off west. Waders included 12 Sanderlings and 112 Turnstones (a significant increase suggestive of return passage). A Blackcap was heard singing at the back of the east bank and there were three Linnets in the scrub.

21st

Cloudy with a light SW wind. A good day for the site’s year list. A female Blackcap was found along the upper brook; a Bar-tailed Godwit flew east apparently to land on the Hampton flats; shortly afterwards two Swallows flew west along the shingle ridge and, finally, a Firecrest showed well, if briefly, near the scout hut. Other birds included at least six Red-throated Divers and seven Great Crested Grebes offshore, two Gannets and two Shelducks west and a flock of 11 Common Scoters east and a Marsh Harrier drifting east over the tidal ponds. There were 22 Brent Geese on the beach. Waders included 15 Sanderlings on the beach and 23 Curlews had gathered on the Hampton flats on the incoming tide. A group of four Common Buzzards were soaring to the SE. One Skylark and 18 Meadow Pipits flew west and a male Wheatear was on the shingle ridge.

20th

Cloudy and mild with a light SW wind. The Spring equinox and with it more hope after two weeks of blocking winds. Looking up to locate Jackdaws calling, I picked out six birds high up and flying west. Don’t often note passage of this species here. A male Stonechat on the edge of the  coastal path was another migrant. Six Black-tailed Godwits flew west at 7.52 am; our first since one on New Year’s Day. A male  Wheatear appeared on the shingle ridge where it remained during the morning. Later, a Great Skua flew west at 11.35 am. A few Red-throated Divers, mostly in summer plumage, a few Great Crested Grebes, two Common Scoters and a redhead Red-breasted Mergansers were offshore, an adult Gannet and a flock of ten Common Scoters flew east. There were 23 Brent Geese and 15  Sanderlings were on the beach. Two Common Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk circled beyond the estate.

Wheatear – Geoff Burton

19th

A stroll around the site in the morning by Andy produced our first Wheatear for the year on the caravan park fields and a Rook overhead. Meanwhile, Arnie’s afternoon visit was rewarded with good views of the usually elusive Water Rail, nine Sanderlings and a Grey Wagtail on the beach and an influx of 4-5 Chiffchaffs.

18th

Sunny with a much lighter NW wind but cooler too.  There were c6 Red-throated Divers offshore, two Gannets flew east and a string of some 400 Cormorants moved west mid-morning. Two Shelduck also flew west and four Common Scoters east were the first recorded this month. Two Sparrowhawks flew low over the area and a third Kestrel caused a spat with the local pair. 15 Sanderlings were on the beach, 12 Lesser Black-backed Gulls flew west and the first significant vis mig was dominated by 129 Meadow Pipits with also three Reed Buntings which flew west.

16th

Cloudy with strong SW winds and mild. Hopefully, this will be the end of the strong winds that have suppressed our birding for most of the month? One Red-throated Diver and a flock of ten Golden Plovers flew west and a pair of Pintail, only our second record of the year, flew east. There were 17 Sanderlings on the beach and three Meadow Pipits flew west.

15th

The gales continue and Ted saw one Great Crested Grebe, 65 Brent Geese, three Snipe on the Marsh Pool and c20 Meadow Pipits moving west.

14th

Cloudy, strong NW wind and rain. There were 115 Brent Geese on the beach accompanied by a drake Shelduck. A group of seven Golden Plovers flew west and seven Snipe could be seen on the Marsh Pool. A large female Sparrowhawk whipped through the caravan park. A male Kingfisher (and therefore not the one seen regularly during the winter) was in the brook near the sewage works entrance. A surprise as usually they have left for the breeding areas by now.

13th

Sunny with a strong NW wind. There were 100 Brent Geese on the beach, a pair of Shelducks flew west over the beach and, late morning, two immature drake Eiders appeared close inshore off the Obs. An immature Marsh Harrier struggled to make westerly progress against the strong winds at 7.20 am. There were 17 Sanderlings on the beach, 14 Meadow Pipits flew west and a Chiffchaff sang briefly in the Scout Wood and then made its way along the east bank.

11th

Sunny with strong WNW winds. A Great Crested Grebe, a Fulmar and a Gannet flew west. There were 185 Brent Geese on the beach. Waders included a single Grey Plover and 22 Sanderlings and a second-summer Mediterranean Gull flew west close inshore. A Chiffchaff was seen along the upper brook and a flock of 28 Goldfinches gathered in the trees behind the Obs.

Sparrowhawk – Andy Taylor

9th

Cloudy with a fresh SW wind. There were four Red-throated Divers, three Great Crested Grebes and the pair of Red-breasted Mergansers offshore.  One Gannet flew west, there were 42 Brent Geese on the beach and three Little Egrets were on the Hampton flats. One Shelduck flew west and a duck Eider was offshore and drifting west. Waders included a Grey Plover on the beach, two Snipe visible on the Marsh Pool and 35 Curlews circling over the caravan park fields. Three adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls flew west together and a whisper of vis mig was represented by one Stock Dove, seven Meadow Pipits and a Linnet flying west.

7th

Sunny with a fresh SW wind. A Gannet flew east and three Shelducks flew west. There were 45 Brent Geese on the beach. A single Golden Plover flew west followed later by a Knot (another addition to the year list).

6th

Cloudy with a fresh southerly wind. There were six Red-throated Divers, four Great Crested Grebes and a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers offshore. Fulmars flew east and west and three Gannets flew east. There were 50 Brent Geese on the beach. Ten Sanderlings were on the beach and a Snipe and 18 Redshanks were on the beach. Gulls on the beach included 15 Common Gulls and 12 Great Black-backed Gulls. A flock of c30 Fieldfares flew west (new for the year) and a female Stonechat in the scrub was also a migrant.

Kestrels- Geoff Burton

4th

Cloudy, moderate westerly wind and cool. There were 73 Brent Geese on the beach and five Red-breasted Mergansers and a duck Eider offshore. 47 Oystercatchers gathered on the shingle ridge at high tide and an adult Mediterranean Gull flew west over the area. One Stock Dove flew west, there was a flock of 15 Goldfinches along the east bank and three Linnets outside the churchyard flew off along Church Way.

2nd

Cloudy with a light SW wind. Bird of the day was a drake Goosander,our first of the year,which flew west at 8.10 am. A Marsh Harrier (our third this year and first since 6th January) flew west at 7.20 am, four Shelduck and ten Gannets flew east and a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers were offshore. An  adult Mediterranean Gull flew east, there were 20 Brent Geese and 15 Sanderlings on the beach and three Snipe were visible on the Marsh Pool. A female Reed Bunting was also present.

1st

Cloudy and rather dull with a light NW wind. There was a single Great Northern Diver offshore of the Obs,  a summer plumage  Red-throated Diver flew west close inshore and there were three Great Crested Grebes and a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers offshore. A Fulmar and three Gannets flew east and 70 Oystercatchers flew east as the tide receded. There were 80 Brent Geese and 15 Sanderlings on the beach and 30 Redshanks were on the Marsh Pool. A vocal adult Mediterranean Gull flew over the Obs and the football pitch and drifted east. A Kingfisher flew down Coot Strait and a Rock Pipit (not yesterday’s bird) was at the mouth of the remnant brook. There were also five Greenfinches in flight over the estate and two Linnets in the scrub.

Sparrowhawk – Geoff Burton

February 2019

                                                   94 species so far this year                                                    83 species by this time last year

The total of 74 species for the month was well below the average of 78.5 for the previous ten years but, given the unseasonal warm temperatures, perhaps not surprising. Nevertheless, there were 12 additions to the year list during the month which left us with 11 more species than at the same time last year. Bird of the month was the Glaucous Gull on 18th (our first for six years) and a Merlin was on 9th was also good to get. 

28th

Light cloud, a light SW wind and cooler. Three Gannets flew east, two Common Scoters flew west and a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers were offshore. Waders included 15 Sanderlings on the beach and three visible Snipe on the Marsh Pool. A Rock Pipit in the remnant brook, which showed signs of the Scandinavian littoralis race, was a new species for the year. Also, two Stock Doves flew west and a male Great Spotted Woodpecker was in the trees along the east bank.

27th

Sunny, warm and calm, again! And quiet too, again! Only single Red-throated Diver and Great Crested Grebe on the sea and no sign of any Mergansers. There were c100 Brent Geese on the beach and three Snipe visible on the Marsh Pool. Other birds included a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Chiffchaff, both along the upper brook.

Whilst we await the first Spring migrants, we are losing winter visitors such as Stonechat (not seen since 21st) and the Lapwings on the Marsh Pool (last one seen on 18th).

Unfortunately, the warm weather encouraged two commercial foragers intent on plundering our vegetation.

Kestrel – Geoff Burton

25th

Sunny, warm and calm. A flock of 11 Red-breasted Mergansers (six drakes and five ducks) offshore was the highest count of the winter. Waders included one Grey Plover on the beach and one visible Snipe on the Marsh Pool. A Siskin, which flew east over the Obs, was our first this year. Other birds included a Kingfisher along the middle brook, a Skylark flying east over the sea and the Chiffchaff again at the Obs.

Long-tailed Tit – Andy Taylor

24th

A brief visit by Andy who found a Canada Goose on the Marsh Pool.

23rd

Sunny and calm with a mist over the sea early morning. There were at least ten Great Crested Grebes and seven Red-breasted Mergansers offshore. There were 240 Brent Geese on the beach, two Shelducks flew west and two Little Egrets were on the tidal ponds. One adult Gannet flew east. Waders included one Grey Plover and 21 Sanderlings on the beach and one Snipe was visible on the Marsh Pool.It was quite a surprise to see a Water Rail in its favoured spot on a bend in the brook. Two had been seen first on 24th November with occasional sightings of one up to 7th January. Could it have remained hidden, not seen or heard,  for nearly seven weeks? It might seem unlikely but then, Moorhens, thought to be resident here, have only been seen once this year. A Chiffchaff, which sang sporadically, by the Obs was our first this year and a second bird was found on the eastern side of the sight. Other birds seen included a Kingfisher and our second Reed Bunting of the year, a female in the bushes opposite the Obs.

There was a frustrating glimpse of our first butterfly, which flitted by the Obs, but later Arnie saw a definite Red Admiral near the scout hut.

Water Rail – Geoff Burton

21st

Sunny, mild with a light SW wind. A Fulmar flew east, a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers were on the sea and c200 Brent Geese were off the Tankerton slopes. A Grey Plover was on the beach and a Snipe was visible on the Marsh Pool. The female Stonechat was seen and a party of four Rooks flew south over the area.

20th

Sunny, mild with a moderate SW wind. There were 120 Brent Geese on the beach, a drake Red-breasted Merganser on the sea and a Shelduck flew west. Waders included 29 Sanderlings on the beach and a Snipe but no Lapwings on the Marsh Pool. The male Stonechat was in the grassland and a pair of Long-tailed Tits were showing interest in the brambles opposite the Obs.

18th

It was misty at first but another sunny, warm, calm day ensued. It started well for Andy when out of the mist there appeared a huge, ghostly white gull. The immature Glaucous Gull (probably third calendar year) was our first since 2013. It bathed on the beach for a while before flying off west.  The plumage details suggested this was the bird that had been present at Rainham Marshes recently and before that at Beddington Sewage Farm. A Fulmar flying east was also a new bird for the year. Eight Shelduck flew west and a single Lapwing remained on the Marsh Pool. Also seen were a Skylark, two Rooks, a Kingfisher and two Stonechats.

Glaucous Gull – Andy Taylor

16th

Sunny, mild with a light breeze (unseasonal). A quiet day for Andy whilst I was away. There were three Red-breasted Mergansers offshore and a total of 18 Shelducks flew west. There was only one Lapwing remaining on the Marsh Pool. Other birds included one Stock Dove flying west over the beach, a Kingfisher over the sluice, the pair of Stonechats, a displaying Greenfinch and a large female Sparrowhawk working the east bank.

14th

Sunny with a light SW wind. A Great Northern Diver,  spotted by Ted, was drifting west close inshore early morning and there were c10 Great Crested Grebes offshore. Three Shelducks flew west. A Sparrowhawk was displaying distantly beyond the estate.

An  adult Black-headed Gull on the beach was displaying a colour-ring. It had been rung as a breeding adult in Poland on 25th May last year. It was still in Poland (some 85 kilometres from the nest site) on 31st July before being seen today at Swalecliffe (1172 kilometres further west).

13th

Sunny with a light SW wind. There were 70 Brent Geese on the beach and waders included 35 Ringed Plovers, a Grey Plover and 25 Sanderlings on the beach and single Lapwing and Snipe on the Marsh Pool. Other birds included the female Kingfisher along the middle brook, one Skylark flying west, the male Stonechat, four Long-tailed Tits and three Greenfinches chasing each other in the airspace above the Obs.

12th

Andy’s brief visit this morning added two Canada Geese  to the year list. There were also five Red-breasted Mergansers offshore and a Skylark was “half-heartedly” displaying.

Canada Geese – Andy Taylor

11th

Sunny , colder with a light NW wind. There were 110 Brent Geese on the beach and seven Shelducks flew east (another three flew west). An  adult Mediterranean Gull flew west and an immature Peregrine landed on the beach where it rested for some time. A Stock Dove and two Skylarks (new for the year) flew west and a Jay was seen along the upper brook and in the Elm Wood.

Peregrine – Andy Taylor

9th

Sunny, mild with a strong westerly wind. A quiet morning was interrupted by a female Merlin which flew west low over the beach at 10.10 am; a new bird for the year and always good to see. There were 115 Brent Geese on the beach and waders included 37 roosting Ringed Plovers, 35 Sanderlings on the beach on the incoming tide and a Grey Plover flying west. An adult Mediterranean Gull was on the beach, a male Great Spotted Woodpecker was in trees along the upper brook and there were  26 Goldfinches along the east bank.

Kestrel – Andy Taylor

7th

Sunny with a strong SW wind. Four Stock Doves flew west and a single Greylag Goose flew south inland; two additions to the year list. Two Shelducks flew west and waders included 49 Oystercatchers on the beach, 30 Lapwings flying west and 15 Sanderlings on the beach. An  adult Mediterranean Gull was along the shoreline. A Greenfinch was “wheezing” along the east bank.

6th

Andy added a Reed Bunting to the year list. A regular breeding bird until the last few years and, with current levels of disturbance, sadly unlikely to return. There was also four Red-breasted Mergansers offshore and Arnie reported a Kingfisher by the Marsh Pool.

5th

Cloudy, milder with a light southerly wind. There were four Red-breasted Mergansers offshore and, after being alerted by James Lowen, we saw a Great Northern Diver swimming close to Hampton Pier. Six Shelducks flew west, a Peregrine flew north over the caravan park heading for Hampton Pier and c60 Golden Plovers flew west over the sea. A Mediterranean Gull was on Hampton flats and a  Guillemot was close inshore on the sea. Also, a Grey Wagtail was seen.

2nd

Sunny and cold with a strong NW wind. Sea-watching failed to produce; an adult Gannet and two Kittiwakes flew east and five adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls flew west. There were two drake Red-breasted Mergansers offshore and waders included 90 Dunlin roosting on the shingle ridge at high tide. The highlight of the morning was, however, unexpected; a Mistle Thrush (scarce here nowadays) flew west by the Obs. Other birds included the pair of Stonechats sharing the Obs with us, two Rooks flying south over the area and seven Linnets near the scout hut.

January 2019

                                                           82 species so far this year                                                          80 species by this time last year

The total of 82 species for the month, whilst a little above last year’s total, was below the average of the previous ten years of  85.6 species. This is of little significance for the year as a whole but two species, our second only record of Raven on 17th and an unseasonal Spotted Redshank on 26th made no appearance last year. 

31st

Sunny, light SW wind, cold. Five Great Crested Grebes included three flying west. An adult Gannet flew east, three Shelducks flew west and a pair of Gadwall and two drake Red-breasted Mergansers were on the sea. The adult male Kestrel was plucking prey on one of the groynes at the eastern end of the beach. Waders included 41 Ringed Plovers and three Grey Plovers on the beach. A Little Grebe,which appeared briefly along the middle brook, was presumably the bird seen previously on 26th. Other birds included a Kingfisher, the male Stonechat and two Greenfinches.

30th

Sunny, light WNW wind, cold. Two Moorhens in the brook below the sewage works entrance were the first seen this year! Where to they go? Waders included three Grey Plovers and 18 Sanderlings on the beach, the three Lapwings and a Snipe on the Marsh Pool. An adult Mediterranean Gull flew west.

Song Thrush – Geoff Burton

28th

Sunny, fresh NW wind, cold. Ten Great Crested Grebes and nine Red-breasted Mergansers flew west. An adult Kittiwake and two Guillemots flew east. Other birds included the pair of Stonechats sheltering by the Obs, two Rooks flying south (first of the year) and five Linnets by the scout hut.

26th

Cloudy with a moderate SW wind and milder. Perhaps surprisingly, this proved to be a good day for the year list. Firstly, a Great Northern Diver was fishing offshore, a drake  Pintail flew west and then an out of season Spotted Redshank flew west along the beach (one was reported from Grove Ferry that morning). This was our first since 2013 and our first ever in winter. Finally, a Little Grebe was present in Coot Strait, begging the question as to whether this a particularly elusive individual (last seen in December) or a new arrival? An adult Kittiwake was also seen.

25th

Cloudy with drizzle and light rain, light SW wind. Two Great Crested Grebes in summer plumage offshore. Two drakes and a duck Red-breasted Merganser were also offshore and another duck flew west. Four Teal also flew west. A check of the Marsh Pool revealed a total of 28 Snipe; the highest count here for ten years. Other birds included a Great Spotted Woodpecker flying east over the churchyard, a Grey Wagtail and the male Stonechat.

24th

Cloudy, calm and cold. There were two Shags on the sea early morning that flew off west. There were 50+ Red-throated Divers offshore and ten Great Crested Grebes included seven flying west. There was a movement of ducks for the first time recently with a flock of 16 Teal offshore, another 16 flying west and a flock of ten Shovelers also flying west. There were also five Red-breasted Mergansers (four drakes) on the sea.  Waders included 59 Oystercatchers on the beach on the incoming tide. Two Kittiwakes, an adult and an immature, flew east.

21st

Three Velvet Scoters flew east at 8.35 am.

20th

A crisp, cold morning produced 22 Great Crested Grebes on the sea (the highest count of the winter), a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers and 12 Kittiwakes flying east. A Jay which flew into the churchyard was the first this year.

19th

Sunny with a light southerly wind and cold. There were five Great Crested Grebes on the sea, single Shelduck and Gadwall flew west (latter new for the year) and three Eider ducks (new for the year) flew east. Also new for the year was a Buzzard that flew SE over the estate. Waders included 35 Ringed Plovers, seven Lapwings, 12 Sanderlings and 71 Dunlin. A Guillemot and a Razorbill flew west. Other birds included a Kingfisher, a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming briefly, the male Stonechat Greenfinch and three Linnets.

17th

Cloudy at first then sunny with a fresh to strong NW wind and colder. It seems that we’re always waiting and hoping for a change in the weather. Today it came with the promise of some sea-watching. We had our first definite Razorbill, which flew west, a number of Kittiwakes and a single Great Skua which drifted east late morning. However, bird of the day went to two Ravens which flew west close to the Obs at 10 am. This was only our second record, after one in September 2011 and was, given the increase in this species in the county, long overdue.  One Gannet flew west, there were three Red-breasted Mergansers offshore and waders included c120 Oystercatchers flying east on the outgoing tide and 31 Sanderlings on the beach. Other birds included the pair of Stonechats which, like us sought shelter at the Obs.

Our excitement at only the second record of Raven was, however, tempered by the ominous sound of chainsaws. The Council had arrived and felled two mature sycamore trees just outside the churchyard. We had heard from the Church Warden that the Council had been approached about managing  trees just outside the church boundaries because of concerns (of unknown validity) that they might undermine the church foundations. The Council’s response was that the only management  they could offer was to the fell them. As far as we understood, no agreement had been reached. The Church Warden told us that he had received an e-mail from the Council re their intentions and had replied requesting a meeting to discuss the matter further only to be told that they were on site and felling. A belated meeting has been scheduled where the fate of  other trees (we don’t know how many) will be discussed. There has been much clearer of bushes and felling of some trees in the churchyard in recent years and Andy and I have discussed the matter with the Church Warden, providing him with information and advice about the environmental impact of such work. He has seemed quite sympathetic to our concerns about this impact, and the aesthetic impact as well.

Raven pursued by Carrion Crow – Andy Taylor

Little Egret – Geoff Burton

Stonechat – Geoff Burton

16th

Cloudy, fresh SW wind and drizzle late am. Three Red-throated Divers were offshore and a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers,which remained all morning.  There were c100 Brent Geese on the beach. Waders included two Grey Plovers and 18 Sanderlings on the beach and three Lapwings and a Snipe on the Marsh Pool. Other birds included a Sparrowhawk,  a male Great Spotted Woodpecker in the churchyard, the pair of Stonechats in the scrub, two Long-tailed Tits and two Linnets.

I started the day with a high tide visit to Hampton which secured one of the two Purple Sandpipers that are wintering there. We are hoping one of them will stray on to the site sometime soon.

Purple Sandpiper – Geoff Burton

14th

Sunny at times, moderate NW wind. There were c15 Red-throated Divers flying west and a single Great Crested Grebe was offshore. There were 120 Brent Geese on the beach. Other birds included a male Great Spotted Woodpecker and three Long-tailed Tits in the churchyard and the pair of Stonechats in the scrub.

Female Stonechat – Geoff Burton

12th

Cloudy with a light westerly wind. There were two pairs of Red-breasted Mergansers offshore. 80 Golden Plovers flew west and an adult Mediterranean Gull flew east over the tidal ponds. Other birds included a Kingfisher, a Great Spotted Woodpecker in the churchyard, six Meadow Pipits, two Grey Wagtails, male Stonechat and four Linnets.

10th

Cloudy, light NW wind and cool. Two Avocets were resting in the shallows by the tidal ponds and a White-fronted Goose flew west at 8.55 am. Two new birds for the year made for a good start to the day.   There were 90 Brent Geese on the beach, 17 Mallards on the Marsh Pool and two Common Scoters flew east.  Waders included 40 Oystercatchers, 54  Ringed Plovers and three Grey Plovers on the beach. Another three adult  White-fronted Geese flew NW across the area at 11.05 am. Other birds included a female Great Spotted Woodpecker in the sewage works, a Grey Wagtail, the male Stonechat and four Linnets on the scout hut car park.

White-fronted Geese – Andy Taylor

9th

Cloudy, fresh NW wind and cold. A Little Egret, 13 Mallard and two Lapwings were on the Marsh Pool. An adult, apparently intermediusLesser Black-backed Gull flew west. Other birds included a Stonechat and a flock of c30 Goldfinches were along the east bank.

7th

Cloudy with a light NW wind. 13 Red-throated Divers flew west and there were two Great Crested Grebes offshore. Two Grey Herons were on the tidal ponds, there were 70 Brent Geese on the beach, a Shelduck and a duck Wigeon flew west and five Red-breasted Mergansers were offshore. Waders include four Grey Plovers on the beach. A Peregrine was on the tidal ponds and later an immature flew west by the Obs. A first-winter Mediterranean Gull was along the shoreline with Black-headed Gulls. Also seen were KingfisherStonechat male, two Long-tailed Tits and six Linnets.

6th

Marsh Harrier flew west inland. Waders included 32 Oystercatchers on the beach and 80 Golden Plovers flew west. The Snipe in the Marsh Pool are usually elusive and so a total of 11  on show along the water’s edge was unusual. Other birds included Kingfisher, a male Great Spotted WoodpeckerGrey Wagtail and 15 Goldfinches.

5th

A handful of Red-throated Divers flew east and west, six Gannets flew east, one flew west, and ten Common Scoters flew est, with four west. Three Redwings, which flew out of the trees along the upper brook, were new for the year.

3rd

Sunny, cooler with a light Northerly wind. One Great Crested Grebe flew west, a Gannet flew east  and a Shag was seen offshore to the east of the tidal ponds. A drake Wigeon was on the foreshore. Waders included 38 Sanderlings on the beach. An Auk sp was seen close inshore but too briefly to be sure of its specific identity with one or two more distantly offshore. Other birds included a Kingfisher, two Long-tailed Tits at the Obs and a Greenfinch which flew south over the scout hut.

2nd 

Cloudy with a moderate northerly wind. There were at least 30 Red-throated Divers offshore (mostly in flight) and two Gannets and two redhead Red-breasted Mergansers  flew west. One Auk sp flew east. Waders included 48 Sanderlings on the beach and three Lapwings, a Snipe and 25 Redshanks on the Marsh Pool.  Other birds seen included a female Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Grey Wagtail and the female Stonechat.

1st

Cloudy with a light NW wind and cooler. Red-throated Divers were present offshore and Great Crested Grebes included a flock of six heading west. Two Shelducks and five Wigeon flew west, a Common Scoter flew east and there were six Red-breasted Mergansers offshore. Waders included a Black-tailed Godwit flying west, 18 Sanderlings on the beach and three Lapwings and two Snipe on the Marsh Pool. Raptors were represented by a Marsh Harrier flying west, a Peregrine distantly offshore and Sparrowhawk and Kestrel. A Mediterranean Gull was seen and a few auks included one definite Guillemot. The Water Rail was still in the brook where a Kingfisher and two Grey Wagtails were also seen. Other birds seen included Great Spotted Woodpecker and Stonechat and a total of 56 species for the day.

December 2018

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

The total of 79 species for the month was lower than any of the previous ten years which averaged 87.4 species.  Only one species, Corn Bunting, was added to the year list, and that was a species we had never failed to see before! 

31st

Cloudy with a light WNW wind and mild again. There were 30+ Red-throated Divers and a single Black-throated Diver offshore.  Two Shelducks and four Teal flew west and there were six Red-breasted Mergansers offshore. Waders included a Grey Plover and 32 Sanderlings on the beach, three Lapwings on the Marsh Pool and 15 Curlews flew west over the area from the direction of the caravan park fields as the tide receded (Philip Hurst counted 58 on these fields that morning). Other birds included a Kingfisher, a female Great Spotted Woodpecker, the pair of Stonechats, two Long-tailed Tits in the Elm Wood, 12 Goldfinches in the churchyard and three Linnets on the scout hut car park.

30th

Arnie van Orsouw reported a Black-throated Diver off the eastern end of the beach.

29th

Cloudy with a light SW wind and still mild. There were c10 Red-throated Divers offshore and seven Great Crested Grebes included a party of four flying west. The Pale-bellied Brent Goose was on the beach with its dark-bellied cousins but later, when there were 160 Dark-bellied Brent Geese on the beach, there was no sign of it.  c100 Golden Plovers flew west in small parties during the morning. An adult Mediterranean Gull was on the beach and a Peregrine flew south over the sewage works. Other birds included a Moorhen in the brook (curiously elusive at the moment), two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a Grey Wagtail, the male Stonechat in the scrub and a Long-tailed Tit in the Elm Wood.

Great Spotted Woodpecker – Andy Taylor

A Fox, looking very bedraggled and covered in mud, was seen weaving its way through the crows on the beach at low tide. We later learned that it had got into the skate park,  panicked when it couldn’t get out, and then was set on by dogs!

Fox and crows – Andy Taylor

28th

A female Great Spotted Woodpecker was the highlight for Arnie van Orsouw.

27th

14 Red-throated Divers and seven Red-breasted Mergansers were viewed on a flat calm sea. There were c300 Golden Plovers on the beach early morning and an immature Mute Swan appeared at midday.

24th

Great Northern Diver, a Common Scoter, a Great Skua and two Kittiwakes flew west and four Gannets and ten Kittiwakes flew east. There were also two Kittiwakes on the sea and 230 Golden Plovers on the beach.

22nd

Mild again  but sunny this time with a light SW wind. More activity today. There were 35 Brent Geese on the beach, two Shelduck and eight Common Scoters flew west and a drake Red-breasted Mergansers flew east.  An immature Marsh Harrier circled over the sea for some time before heading south inland. Only one crow and no gulls could be bothered to mob it (a Christmas truce?). A Great Skua flew west and an adult Mediterranean Gull was settled on the sea. A Rock Pipit was feeding along the brook behind the shingle ridge (uncommon here in winter). The female Kingfisher was along the middle brook, the pair of Stonechats in the scrub and a Grey Wagtail was in the brook.

Stonechat – Andy Taylor

21st

Cloudy, mild with a fresh westerly wind. Only one Great Crested Grebe on the sea and no divers. A flock of 19 Common Scoters flying east were the first seen this month. Waders included 26 Oystercatchers on the shingle ridge at high tide, seven Sanderlings on the beach and two Lapwings and a Snipe on the Marsh Pool. Few small birds seen in the fresh winds but eight Goldfinches and five Linnets were amongst those noted.

19th

Cloudy with a few showers at first then sunny with a light SW wind. There were ten Red-throated Divers, including eight flying east, eight Great Crested Grebes offshore and three Gannets flew east. Two Brent Geese on the sea were the only one seen all morning. Waders included two Grey Plovers and 26 Sanderlings on the beach and three Lapwings and a Snipe on the Marsh Pool. The often elusive flock of Linnets numbered ten.

18th

Greg Herne was out today. He recorded 20+ Sanderlings amongst the roosting Dunlin and Ringed Plovers and three Grey Plovers. The three Lapwings were on the Marsh Pool, the Little Grebe was along Coot Strait and the cock Stonechat was also seen.

17th

Sunny with a light SW wind and milder. Two adult Mute Swans flew east early morning. There were at least four Great Crested Grebes and a redhead Red-breasted Merganser on the sea. The Little Grebe was seen further up the brook than before, near to the scout hut. The female Kingfisher was also seen in this area. Waders included a flock of 40 Golden Plovers flying west over the sea, three Grey Plovers on the beach, the three Lapwings were on the Marsh Pool (another party of 17 flew west) and 15 Sanderlings on the beach. A Marsh Harrier flew NW high over the football pitch and an immature Peregrine flew west over the beach.

15th

Cloudy with a moderate SE wind and very cold. A party of seven Eiders (which included four drakes) flew east close inshore. No divers were seen, only one Great Crested Grebe was noted offshore and two Gannets flew east. One Little Grebe was seen in Coot Strait (the same location as previous records this year but the first sighting since November 22nd).

14th

Sunny with a light easterly wind and very cold. There was a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers on the sea off the Obs for much of the morning. A thousand or more Cormorants flew east offshore and 114 Carrion Crows were counted along the beach. A Kingfisher was seen in the remnant brook and perched briefly on the shingle ridge. Later, it was seen flying across the grassland towards Coot Strait carrying a small fish. Two Buzzards, circling together high to the SE, were our first here since October.

Dunlin – Andy Taylor

13th

Ted reported 40 Golden Plovers roosting on the beach and four Eiders (two drakes and two ducks) flying east.  Arnie noted the Pale-bellied Brent Goose was amongst the flock of Dark-bellied Brent Goose on the beach, a Redwing along the east bank and a Jay.

12th

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

Jackdaw – Geoff Burton

10th

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

8th

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

6th

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

5th

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

4th

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

3rd

Cloudy, mild with light SW wind. Two Red-throated Divers were offshore. Waders included two Grey Plovers and 12 Sanderlings on the beach, eight Curlews flew west along the beach and three Lapwings and 13 Redshanks were on the Marsh Pool. There were 40 Great Black-backed Gulls on the beach. The female Kingfisher was in the brook, two Skylarks flew west, the male Stonechat was in the scrub, a Chiffchaff was along the upper brook and a flock of ten Linnets roamed the area. A lunchtime visit by Arnie, in the rain, was notable for three Moorhens on the grass by the upper brook. An elusive species here, often within the sewage works or hiding in the brookside vegetation, it is interesting to see that there are at least three individuals present.

Kingfisher – Geoff Burton

1st

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

 

November 2018

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

A total of 99 species for the month was a little below the average for the previous ten years of 101. However, a total of 12 species were added to the year list during the month which, at 168 species, is the second highest year total, shared with 2005, 2007 and 2008. Quite how we got to this when we have spent much of the year complaining about the weather and the lack of birds, I’m not sure.  No new birds were added until 12th and the best of these were our third ever Long-eared Owl on 12th, our fourth ever Grey Phalarope on 18th and our first for over eight years Firecrest on 30th. With one month to go, our record year total of 176 in 2001 is surely beyond reach. The most added in December, in the previous ten years, is five and the average is 2.1 species

30th

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

27th

An early afternoon visit by Arnie in cloudy conditions threatening rain. An immature Shag flew east stopping briefly on the sea.

26th

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

24th

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

Kingfisher – Geoff Burton

22nd

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

Goosander – Andy Taylor

21st

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

19th

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

 

Grey Plover – Geoff Burton

Song Thrush – Geoff Burton

18th

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

17th

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

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

Stonechat – Geoff Burton

16th

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

15th

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

14th

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

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

13th

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

12th

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

10th

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

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

Pallid Swift – Andy Taylor

Where the brook meets the sea – Geoff Burton

8th

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

Marsh Harrier – Andy Taylor

7th

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

6th

Arnie noted a Kingfisher and the pair of Stonechats.

5th

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

3rd

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

A Red Admiral showed well by the changing rooms.

Red Admiral – Geoff Burton

2nd

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

1st

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

October 2018

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

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

31st

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

30th

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

29th

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

27th

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

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

Kite surfer – Geoff Burton

26th

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

25th

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

24th

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

One Red Admiral was seen.

22nd

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

21st

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

 20th

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

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

Wheatear – Geoff Burton

18th

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

16th

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

15th

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

14th

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

Two Speckled Woods and a Common Darter were also seen.

13th

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

11th

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

A Red Admiral butterfly was also noted.

10th

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

9th

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

8th

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

Moorhen – Geoff Burton

7th

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

6th

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

Sandwich Tern – Geoff Burton

4th

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

Pomarine Skua – Andy Taylor

Grey Wagtail – Geoff Burton

3rd

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

Purple Sandpiper – Andy Taylor

2nd

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

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

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

Common Seal – Andy Taylor

Common seal pup and admirers – Andy Taylor

1st 

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

September 2018

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

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

30th

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

29th

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

Meadow Pipit – Andy Taylor

28th

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

27th

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

Two Speckled Wood butterflies were also seen.

26th

A male Stonechat was our first of the autumn.

25th

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

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

Kingfisher – Geoff Burton

24th

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

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

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

23rd

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

22nd

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

20th

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

19th

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

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

18th

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

17th

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

Butterflies included two Speckled Woods.

15th

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

13th

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

                Whinchat – Andy Taylor

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

11th

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

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

10th

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

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

Teal – Geoff Burton

Meadow Brown – Geoff Burton

Small Copper – Andy Taylor

8th

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

6th

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

5th

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

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

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

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

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

Butterflies included Small Heath and the three whites.

August 2018

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

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

31st

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

Purple Heron – Geoff Burton

Purple Heron – Alex Perry

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

30th

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

Fox – Geoff Burton

28th

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

27th

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

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

25th

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

24th

The Spotted Flycatcher was still present.

23rd

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

Spotted Flycatcher – Andy Taylor

22nd

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

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

Spoonbill – Andy Taylor

21st

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

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

Water Vole – Andy Taylor

Banded Demoiselle – Andy Taylor

20th

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

18th

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

16th

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

A Painted Lady was near the scout hut buddleia bush.

Painted Lady – Geoff Burton

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

15th

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

14th

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

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

Common Blue – Geoff Burton

Migrant Hawker – Geoff Burton

13th

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

The Marsh Pool – Geoff Burton

12th

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

Wheatear – Andy Taylor

11th

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

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

Willow Warbler – Andy Taylor

Broad-bodied Chaser – Andy Taylor

Willow Emerald – Andy Taylor

9th

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

8th

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

Whimbrel – Geoff Burton

7th

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

Green Woodpecker – Andy Taylor

6th

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

4th

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

2nd

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

1st 

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

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

July 2018

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

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

31st

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

30th

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

28th

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

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

That was the flower meadow that was – Geoff Burton

26th

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

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

25th

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

23rd

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

21st

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

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

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

Ringed Plover – Geoff Burton

 

Dead ivy – Geoff Burton

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

 

19th

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

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

Turnstone – Geoff Burton

Black-and-yellow Longhorn Beetle – Andy Taylor

Brown-tail – Geoff Burton (scope Andy Taylor)

 

17th

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

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

Shaded Broad-bar – Geoff Burton

16th

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

13th

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

12th

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

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

The Marsh Pool – Geoff Burton

11th

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

House Sparrow – Geoff Burton

9th

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

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

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

Mediterranean Gulls – Geoff Burton

7th

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

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

6th

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

5th

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

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

Juvenile Kestrel – Geoff Burton

4th

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

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

Essex Skipper – Geoff Burton

2nd

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

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

Mediterranean Gulls – Geoff Burton

Ringlet – Geoff Burton

Hornet Moth – Andy Taylor

Dock Bug – Geoff Burton

1st

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

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

Silver Y – Geoff Burton