December 2020

176 species so far this year

169 species by the same time last year

A total of 85 species during the month was slightly below average (86.5 in the last ten-year period). Only one species was added to the year list; a Scaup on 1st. Amongst the birds seen during the month were Black-throated Diver and Shag, both seen on a number of occasions, and White-fronted Geese also seen several times. Great Skuas regularly occur in the winter months, but usually single birds, so ten west on 1st and 15 west on the 24th were exceptional. Other birds worthy of a mention were a maximum of 71 Sanderlings on 26th and a female Bullfinch on 28th.


Sunny and cold (rising to 1 C), light westerly wind. With abnormally high numbers in the county this winter, White-fronted Geese continue to be seen more often here and today 13 flew west (which included four juveniles) at 10.45 am. A duck Teal flew east and a drake Red-breasted Merganser flew west. A Shag was close inshore off the shingle ridge and 42 Golden Plovers were roosting on the beach. There were two Mediterranean Gulls – a second-winter on the sea and a first-winter flew west.


Sunny with a light westerly wind. There were two Red-breasted Mergansers offshore. Waders included 55 Ringed Plovers, 102 Golden Plovers on the beach, nine Snipe on the Marsh Pool and 56 Curlews on the sports fields. Other birds included the female Kingfisher, pair of Stonechats, Song Thrush, two Long-tailed Tits in the Elm Wood, four Linnets and two female Reed Buntings in the scrub.

A Water Vole showed well along the middle brook.


Cloudy and calm. There were 50 Red-throated Divers east and another ten offshore. One Great Northern Diver flew west. Three White-fronted Geese flew east, a pair of Wigeon was offshore and three Red-breasted Mergansers were also seen. Waders included 78 Ringed Plovers roosting and 20 Snipe on the Marsh Pool. A Guillemot flew east close inshore. A Water Rail in the usual place along the middle brook was the third for the period. Bird of the day, however, was a female Bullfinch heard calling at the back of the east bank and seen in flight as it headed across the sewage works. Not an annual visitor although a male was seen several times between December last year and February.

Redshank – Geoff Burton


Cloudy with a light SW wind. A Black-throated Diver landed briefly on the sea by the Obs before flying west. Three Common Scoters flew east, a drake Red-breasted Merganser and a redhead Goosander flew west. Waders included 12 Golden Plovers and 12 Lapwings west, 59 Ringed Plovers, a Grey Plover, 71 Sanderlings and 39 Dunlin roosting between the groynes at the eastern end of the site and 18 Snipe on the Marsh Pool. An adult Mediterranean Gull flew west. Other birds noted included Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail and Stonechat.


Sunny periods, cold with a strong northerly wind. Would a strong onshore wind produce this late in the year? The answer, not to the extent it would have done in Autumn but it did liven things up. All three divers included a(the) Black-throated Diver west and a Great Northern Diver offshore, which also flew west. A single Fulmar flew east and a Shag west. Ducks included four Shelducks, a pair of Wigeon and a pair of Goosanders west, two Velvet Scoters east and single Goldeneye east and west. There were also four Red-breasted Mergansers offshore. A total of 15 Great Skuas that flew west (all between 9.10 and 9.30 am) was exceptional this late in the year, a party of 12 Little Gulls west was welcome and 25 Kittiwakes also flew west.


Cloudy, mild and calm. There were two Black-throated Divers, one flew west and one on the sea towards Hampton. A Shag flew west close inshore and there were 74 Brent Geese on the beach. Three Shelducks flew east, a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers were offshore and three redhead Goosanders arrived from the east, landing and then fishing along the shoreline. Other birds included a Guillemot sitting on the sea, eight Long-tailed Tits in the churchyard and nine Linnets that alighted on the shingle ridge rosebush.

Goosanders – Geoff Burton


Sunny with a light SW wind. There were 110 Brent Geese on the beach, one Shelduck flew west and a pair Red-breasted Mergansers were offshore. Waders included ten Sanderlings along the shoreline and ten Snipe and a Lapwing on the Marsh Pool. The brook was in full spate and, where it flowed out over the beach, 118 Black-headed Gulls and one Mediterranean Gull gathered. Other birds included a female Kingfisher in the remnant brook, five Meadow Pipits on the very wet “pigloo” field, a pair of Stonechats, and five Long-tailed Tits in the churchyard.


A Black-throated Diver was offshore and a Shag flew west.


Sunny with a light SW wind. A Black-throated Diver, a Shelduck and five Red-breasted Mergansers flew west, a Gadwall flew east, five and a duck Common Scoter was also noted. There were 25 Golden Plovers roosting on the beach at low tide. This is the highest roosting count so far this winter. There appears to have been a sharp decline. Compare this with a count of 440 on 6th December 2017. Is this due to the increase in disturbance? There were five Little Grebes in the brook. Other birds noted included a firsst-winter Mediterranean Gull west, a male Kingfisher on the “nest tray”, three Stonechats and 25 Linnets on the shingle ridge.


Sunny, mild with a fresh southerly wind. Four Red-throated Divers, a Great Northern Diver and three Great Crested Grebes were noted offshore. Two Little Grebes were in the brook below the sluice and waders included 30 Oystercatchers on the shingle ridge at high tide and the resident Lapwing on the Marsh Pool. Other birds noted included, one Meadow Pipit, a male Stonechat in the bushes opposite the Obs, three Long-tailed Tits in the Elm Wood and five Linnets on the shingle ridge. Another less than average day!


A pair of Red-breasted Mergansers offshore and 12 Snipe on the Marsh Pool. The higher water levels in the marsh are making Snipe more readily visible. In the afternoon, the Great Northern Diver was seen again.


Sunny, mild with a moderate SW wind. One Gannet flew east, three Shelducks flew west and a Great Skua and Kittiwake were offshore. Another 70 Golden Plovers flew west. Other birds included a female Kingfisher, a Meadow Pipit, a pair of Stonechats, six Long-tailed Tits in the Elm Wood and an unusually large gathering of 45 Linnets on the shingle ridge most of whom flew off west.

A Red Admiral sailed over the Obs on this mild and sunny morning. Our first butterfly since the last day of October when also a Red Admiral was seen.


Cloudy, milder, moderate NW wind. One Great Northern Diver was on the sea, a Black-throated Diver flew east, there were 27 Brent Geese off the beach at high tide and 12 Common Scoters and a Guillemot flew east. Waders included 90 Golden Plovers west over the sea, 30 Sanderlings on the beach and a Marsh Pool gathering of one Lapwing, six Snipe and 30 Redshanks.


Cloudy with a light SE wind. There were five Little Grebes again in the brook below the sluice, two Gannets offshore, one redhead Red-breasted Merganser and 30 Brent Geese. Two Grey Plovers came in from the NW towards the beach. Other birds included a female Kingfisher on the bend below the sluice, seen to catch three small fish in quick succession, two Meadow Pipits, a male Stonechat and a female Reed Bunting.

A weasel was seen hunting amongst the detritus along the back of the Marsh Pool. It came quite close to a Snipe, which was noticeably jittery, but the weasel didn’t seem to pay it any attention.


Cloudy with light rain at first and a light southerly wind. There were three Little Grebes along Coot Strait, 29 Brent Geese on the beach and two duck Wigeon flew west close inshore. Other birds included a Kingfisher at the Marsh Pool and along Coot Strait, a Skylark flying west and a Grey Wagtail along the middle brook.

We are going through a quiet period at the moment.


Two Great Northern Divers were offshore, a flock of 30+ White-fronted Geese flew west, and another four flew SE, and four Greylag Geese headed NW over the Obs. A Reed Bunting was the first seen here for a couple of weeks.


Misty at first becoming more foggy, calm. There were five Little Grebes together in the brook below the sluice, a duck Common Scoter circled around offshore and a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers flew west. Waders included a single Grey Plover on the beach and five Snipe on the Marsh Pool. Other birds included two Kingfishers, a Grey Wagtail, a pair of Stonechats, a Redwing calling in the sewage works behind the Obs, a flock of c15 Long-tailed Tits and 16 Goldfinches.


No reports from the site but a a first-winter Scaup flew east by the infamous balcony heading towards Swalecliffe. Given the scarcity of this species these days, it may well have been the bird seen here on 1st and elsewhere along the Swale subsequently.


Sunny with a light SW wind. Although Fulmars return to their breeding cliffs as early as November, a single bird, circling around feeding gulls offshore, was our first December record since 2004! Our only November record was in 2012. A Great Northern Diver close inshore was seen making heavy weather of swallowing a flat fish. Later it was trying its beak on crabs. There were three Grey Herons on the tidal ponds and four Gadwall and three Red-breasted Mergansers offshore. A flock of 20 Knot flew west over the sea and there were 11 Snipe and the Lapwing on the Marsh Pool.


Greg counted 24 Curlews on the sports filed behind the caravan park.


Cloudy, drizzle, light SW wind. A Slavonian Grebe was on the sea just west of the tidal ponds, there were 75 Brent Geese on the beach and four Red-breasted Mergansers offshore. A rather quiet morning overall.


Sunny, cold and calm. Three Mute Swans flew east, a Red-necked Grebe was off the Obs and there were also ten Red-throated Divers and a Red-breasted Merganser offshore. Waders included eight Golden Plovers on the beach and seven Snipe on the Marsh Pool. Three Mistle Thrushes flew over (the highest count here for some time) and two Stonechats were also seen.


Sunny with a strong NW wind and cold. Good to start with a good sea-watching wind albeit rather late in the year. Early on a Great Northern Diver and a Slavonian Grebe flew west. No streams of birds flying west as one might expect in the earlier autumn months but wildfowl were the main focus with two White-fronted Geese east, four Shelducks, two Wigeon and two Gadwall west, an Eider east and the star bird an immature drake Scaup which nearly slipped by unnoticed as it flew west close inshore; our first record for 13 years. Later that day, presumably the same bird was seen in Faversham Creek and the following day on the Swale near the Sportsman at Seasalter. Another notable record was of a total of ten Great Skuas (heading west in ones and twos). The highest December counts at this site previously was only three. Other birds on the move included six adult Kittiwakes and a second-winter Mediterranean Gull west and a dozen or so larger auks including both Guillemot and Razorbill.