September 2020

156 species so far this year

147 species by this time last year

A total of 110 species for the month equalled the highest in the last ten years and was significantly above the average of those years (103.7). The year total of 156 species was the higher than any of the previous ten years. The nine additions to the year list included the fourth record of Wryneck on 4th which remained to 9th; the longest staying and first for six years. A Redstart on 7th was, surprisingly, our first for five years. Other birds included an Osprey on 3rd and our second earliest Red-necked Grebe on 25th.


There were three Great Crested Grebes offshore, four Little Egrets on the Hampton flats and a Grey Heron on the tidal ponds. Waders included seven Curlews and three Redshanks. There was a significant movement of hirundines, estimated at 2,000 birds an hour at 10 am; more House Martins than Swallows. Other vis mig included our first Crossbills of the year with a flock of five low over the football pitch and sewage works and a single bird later. Also c40 Chaffinches west, with a single Siskin, and a Reed Bunting briefly in the bushes by the Obs before carrying on west. Other birds noted included a female Great Spotted Woodpecker in the churchyard, three Skylarks, a pair of Stonechats, three Blackcaps and c10 Chiffchaffs.

A Wall butterfly’s brief appearance at the Obs was a surprise. Only the second recorded at the site with the previous one in 2010. Small White and Speckled Wood butterflies were also seen.

Wall – Geoff Burton
Juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull – Geoff Burton


Cloudy with a moderate NW wind. In calmer weather, a Great Crested Grebe and Gannet flew west and wildfowl included 25 Brent Geese, a Shelduck, 25 Wigeon, including one obviously tired individual which dropped into the marshy edge of the remnant brook and wasn’t disturbed by close approaches from dogs and children, 23 Teal and nine Common Scoters – all heading west. Waders included 25 Oystercatchers on the shingle ridge, one Golden Plover west, one Grey Plover on the beach, a Sanderling, seven Dunlin west and two Snipe overhead. Also a brief view of a Merlin and a single Arctic Tern west. Other birds included Kingfisher and Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Skylark south over the area, another Rock Pipit, two Grey Wagtails, two Stonechats and a flock of 20 Siskins.

Wigeon – Geoff Burton


Sunday is a day traditionally avoided by the regulars; too much disturbance, although that probably wouldn’t have been a problem on day 3 of the strong NW winds. A three-hour afternoon watch by Andy from the shelter of his balcony gave an indication of what might have been missed. It produced juvenile Long-tailed and Pomarine Skuas as highlights but was still not part of a mass movement that had been hoped for in these conditions.


Cloudy, cool with a strong NW wind. Day 2 of these sea watching winds. More lively than day 1 with six Manx Shearwaters west the highlight; no more than one or two birds here in the most favourable of winds. Other birds on the move included 10 Gannets, three Arctic Skuas and 14 Great Skuas. Wildfowl included seven Wigeon, three Teal, a Pintail and a Shoveler all west and nine Common Scoters west, and another seven east. Waders included three Golden Plovers, two Grey Plovers, seven Knot and 50 Dunlin west. One Red-throated Diver west was our first returning bird.


Cloudy, cool with a strong WNW wind. There had been a lot of anticipation of a good Friday for sea watching along the north coast of Kent. It proved to be a bit of an anti-climax. Perhaps there was too much of a westerly element to the wind, perhaps previous weather conditions meant most bird were further north in the North Sea. Perhaps most notable was the complete absence of any Gannets. Bird of the day was a Merlin which flew west over the sea at 8.25 am. Other birds noted over the sea were a single Gadwall, single Grey Plover and Bar-tailed Godwit, a Great Skua and a Little Gull. There were seven Great Black-backed Gulls on the beach (an increase), five Sandwich Terns flew west and another nine rested on the beach. Little else to report, with ten Pied Wagtails on the football pitch, four Chiffchaffs and a Jay, but later Arnie had a Rock Pipit which, in the absence of any Spring records, was new for the year!


Sunny periods and showers, a light SW wind. Three grebes, close inshore off the Obs, proved to be two Great Crested Grebes and an adult Red-necked Grebe. The trio drifted east then flew back west but were not relocated. This was the earliest record of Red-necked Grebe since a juvenile was recorded on 23rd August 2001. The only other September record was on the 25th September 2006. The third record for the year, after records in January and February. There were eight Little Egrets early morning, a single Sanderling on the beach and seven Sandwich Terns offshore. Other birds noted included 13 Pied Wagtails on the football pitch, both male and female Stonechats along the coastal path, a Song Thrush along the upper brook and 11 Chiffchaffs.

Sandwich Tern – Geoff Burton


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

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


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

Lesser Redpoll – Andy Taylor


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


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

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


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

Brambling – Andy Taylor


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

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


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


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

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

Willow Emerald Damselfly – Geoff Burton


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

Sanderling – Geoff Burton


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


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

Common Sandpiper – Andy Taylor


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

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


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

Wryneck – Nicole Khan


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

Redstart – Mike Gould
Redstart – Mike Gould


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

Wryneck – Peter Maton


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

Wrymeck – Andy Taylor


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


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

Butterflies included Holly Blue and Small Heath.

Osprey – Andy Taylor


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


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

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

Whitethroat – Geoff Burton