April 2019

                                                                    130 species so far this year                                                                                       123  at the same time last year

The total of 94 species recorded during the month is in line with the average over the last ten years (94.8). However, it was a curious month with a combination of dominant easterlies with a few settled spells which combined to hinder vis mig. However, we added our fifth Iceland Gull on 2nd, our second Cattle Egret on 4th and our second Great White Egret on 18th. Other birds not necessarily annual included Nightingale and Black Redstart. At the end of the month, the year total of 130 species was higher than nine of the previous ten years.  There are still a few Spring migrants to expect which should include Little Tern, Turtle Dove and Reed Warbler. 


Cloudy with a light NE wind. There was one Great Crested Grebe on the sea, two Shelducks flew west over the sea whilst three Mute Swans, an adult and two immatures, flew west to the south of the village. Waders included a female Bar-tailed Godwit on the shoreline by the skate park and a breeding plumage male heading west, two Whimbrel, including one which gave a burst of song, five Curlews flying east, a Redshank on the Marsh Pool and six Turnstones. Also, one Stock Dove flew south over the area and four Swallows flew north over the sea.  And so the month ended whilst we still wait for any significant vis mig!


Sunny at times with a cool, light northerly wind. There were three Greylag Geese on the sea early morning which eventually flew off east. 12 Gannets flew east and a Great Skua coming in from the west landed distantly on the sea. Waders included two Whimbrel on the beach early morning, two singles flying west and three which dropped onto the beach by the Obs before flying west. There were also 16 Turnstones on the beach and a Redshank (a late bird for this site) was on the Marsh Pool. Two Hobbies flew west, at 8.35 and 9.20 am. Vis mig included 23 Swallows, six Sand Martins, a House Martin, three Yellow Wagtails and a Rook (all west). A single Meadow Pipit (formerly a breeding bird) was in the grassland. A brood of ten Mallard ducklings were in the brook by the sewage works entrance.

Small and Green-veined Whites were the only butterflies noted.


Sunny but clouding over, a strong westerly wind and rather cool. Following yesterday’s Swift, a Hobby, low over the sea and struggling against the wind, was new for the year. There was one Great Crested Grebe on the sea, a Fulmar flew west and two Shelducks flew east. At least 40 Sandwich Terns flew east early morning and then there were many lingering close inshore for the rest of the morning.  One Whimbrel and two adult Mediterranean Gulls flew west. Also, a Stock Dove flew out of the grassland and six Swallows flew west.

A Speckled Wood hung motionless in the trees by the Obs.

Sandwich Tern – Andy Taylor


A very quiet morning for Andy was enlivened by our first Swift which flew west at 9.30 am.


Cloudy with a moderate southerly wind. One Great Crested Grebe on the sea and two Shelducks flew west. Waders included four Sanderlings, ten Whimbrel and a Greenshank and five Mediterranean Gulls flew west. Six Swallows and three Yellow Wagtails flew west, a Willow Warbler (only our second and this wasn’t singing either) was in the churchyard and three Jays were around the sewage works entrance.


Cloudy with a moderate SE wind. A Grasshopper Warbler was singing occasionally from the scrub early in the morning.  A Wheatear was on the shingle ridge and one Yellow Wagtail was noted. Otherwise, rather quiet with waders being two Oystercatchers, a Ringed Plover, a Lapwing (unusual at this time of the year) and 12 Turnstones. There were also two adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls on the beach, two sub-adult Great Black-backed Gulls and five Sandwich Terns offshore.

Butterflies included several Green-veined Whites, a Peacock and an Orange-tip.

Turnstone – Andy Taylor


Cloudy and calm at first then with a freshening easterly wind. Two Great Crested Grebes flew east, two Shelducks flew east and three flew west and three Whimbrels flew west. There were three Little Egrets on the beach and a Greenshank circled the beach calling before heading south inland. A Great Spotted Woodpecker flew into the churchyard, a Skylark flew SE from the grassland and another came in off the sea and two Yellow Wagtails flew west.


Four Red Kites flew west between 10 and 10.50 am. A Common Sandpiper was on the Marsh Pool, 18 Mediterranean Gulls flew east and a Lesser Whitethroat at the Obs, chased by the local Blackcaps, was new for the year.


A Sunday, Easter Sunday and a very warm Sunday; all good reasons to avoid the site. However, Andy’s brief sojourn produced three new birds for the year; a Mute Swan, a hepatic Cuckoo (probably the same bird seen in the previous two years) and a Nightingale singing from within the sewage works.  A Whimbrel also flew west.


With the increase in temperatures came an increase in expectations, for Andy and Ted et al, but not for me sitting it out for the next four days in deepest Berkshire. Three Whitethroats were new for the year, at last! They had been seen locally, at Oare Marshes and Pye Alley Lane for instance, so seemed a bit overdue. A lone Brent Goose referenced the winter gone by whilst four Sandwich Terns and a total of 18 Mediterranean Gulls flying east spoke of Spring. There was some vis mig with a trickle of Sand Martins and Swallows, three House Martins and six Yellow Wagtails. A Wheatear was also seen.

Whitethroat – Andy Taylor


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


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


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


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.


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.


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.


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).


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.


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.


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


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


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.