March 2021

A total of 105 species so far this year

100 species by the same time last year


A drake Eider was feeding offshore and a Sandwich Tern was on the red cheesy buoy. An influx of Blackcaps with a total of five (all males), a Redwing in the scrub and a Redpoll flew west. Six Swallows were seen in the afternoon.


An unseasonally warm and calm day after a touch of frost. Too good, apparently, for any vis mig! There were about 20 Red-throated Divers and seven Great Crested Grebes offshore, and a pair of Pintail were resting on the beach and, at low tide, managed to stay there undisturbed for several hours. A Canada Goose flew east along the beach, eight Shelduck flew west, a drake Eider flew west (new for the year here but probably the bird that has wintered in the Swale) and a drake Red-breasted Merganser was on the sea. Waders included 11 Sanderlings on the beach and nine Snipe on the Marsh Pool. A Great Spotted Woodpecker called briefly from the sewage works, and there were brief appearances from single Swallow and Willow Warbler. A male Stonechat was presumably a migrant rather than one of our wintering birds.

The warmth brought out our first butterflies of the year with two sightings of Brimstone and Small White, and Red Admiral and Peacock.


A hint of Spring with our first hirundines, 18 Sand Martins and four Swallows west, a singing Willow Warbler along the brook and at the Obs (our earliest for many years) and three Redpolls heading west. Also, a female Marsh Harrier flew west.


A pair of Ringed Plovers displaying was quintessentially a triumph of hope over experience. A Greenfinch was singing but so far this species has been slow to settle down here this year.


Two Stock Doves and a Skylark were noted whilst Greg Herne’s Wheatear down amongst the pigloos was our 100th species for the year.


A Blackcap and four Chiffchaffs were present and there was a trickle of Meadow Pipits and Goldfinches heading west.


Two Ravens circled over the area at 8 am before heading west; although there have only been a handful of record, all but one in recent years, it is likely that this species will become more regular. A Blackcap singing along the brook was also our first of the year. A few Chiffchaffs were also present.


Sunny with a light SW wind. A Sandwich Tern, our first of the year, fishing close inshore was a hint of Spring. Other additions to the year list were a vocal Avocet heading west and a Velvet Scoter heading east. There were 40 Red-throated Divers, many in summer plumage, scattered across the calm sea but only two Great Crested Grebes although they were resplendent in breeding plumage. Three Grey Herons flew north out to sea, our first this month, and another flew west inland. Four Greylag Geese and two Shelducks flew west and a duck Red-breasted Merganser was on the sea. Waders on the beach included 29 Sanderlings, eight Dunlin and seven Ringed Plovers. There were 11 Snipe and 18 Redshanks on the Marsh Pool. There was an influx of Chiffchaffs with at least six scattered around.


A flock of about 60 White-fronted Geese flew east presumably on their wat back to Russian breeding grounds. In contrast, a Green Woodpecker in the sewage works, new for the year, has probably not strayed far from its natal home.


A very quiet period whilst we wait for the weather to become more Spring-like. There were two additions to the year list on 8th with a female Merlin which flew west (a male was also seen on 12th) and a female Great Spotted Woodpecker in the sewage works trees. Two Canada Geese which circled over the marsh on 20th was also an addition to the year list. A Chiffchaff singing at the Obs on 16th was the first since one between 22nd and 27th February.


A quiet start to the month continued the theme of the second half of February. There were no additions to the year list. The rarer divers continue to appear occasionally with Black-throated Diver on 1st and Great Northern Diver on 6th. There were good counts of Red-breasted Mergansers, with 16 0n 5th, and Redshanks with 34 on the Marsh Pool on 2nd. A littoralis Rock Pipit was seen on 4th and a Purple Sandpiper was extra-territorial on 6th.

February 2021

A total of 86 species for the month was well above the ten year average of only 77 species and, of those ten years, only 91 species in 2012 was better. Clearly, the cold spell was responsible for this. However, the year total of 90 species is still below the ten year average of 92.5 species. Furthermore, no species have been seen this year that was missed in 2020.

A total of 90 species so far this year

95 species by this time last year


The last week continued in the same vein. A pair of Gadwall flying west and a Chiffchaff at the Obs on 22nd were new for the year but there were no more additions by the end of the month. A Black-throated Diver and six White-fronted Geese flew east and the Water Rail made another of its infrequent appearances on 22nd, a Marsh Harrier flew west and there was a first post cold-spell show of a Kingfisher on 23rd, a raft of 16 Red-breasted Mergansers were draped around the red buoy on 24th and the only Gannet of the month was seen on 28th.


With the cold spell over, we returned to the scraps of the February doldrums. There were five unremarkable additions to the year list with a Stock Dove and a Rook heading west on 16th, a Greenfinch singing along the east bank on 17th and two Mute Swans and two Greylag Geese on 20th. Otherwise, a lone White-fronted Goose flew west on 13th, there were two sightings of Great Northern Divers, on 15th and 21st, and a count of 18 Snipe on the Marsh Pool on 19th.


There were two Wigeon on the tidal ponds, a drake Teal in the brook and 14 Red-breasted Mergansers offshore. 20 Golden Plovers were scattered over the beach and a single Redwing was by the scout hut.


A Black-throated Diver was on the sea. There were 60 Golden Plovers spread across the beach and 50 Lapwings and 40 Knot flew east. Six Teal were noted. Also, eight Skylarks, 44 Fieldfares flew west and 14 Redwings were in the area. A single Corn Bunting at the mouth of the brook was new for the year.


The drake Shoveler on the Marsh Pool had made way for a duck, there were three Teal in the brook and ten Golden Plovers on the beach.


The cold weather continued to provide interesting birds. A Barnacle Goose that had joined the Teal and Shoveler on the Marsh Pool a new bird for the year and in a surprise location. There were 30 Snipe scattered around the area and a lone Jack Snipe was in the brook. Other waders on the beach, included 30 Lapwings and three Knot. Other birds reacting to the conditions were a flock of five Skylarks, a single Fieldfare and 11 Redwings.


Wildfowl were on the move with 15 Shelducks, 22 Wigeon and 14 Pintails heading west. Pride of place, however, must go to a Spotted Redshank which had joined the roosting Common Redshanks on the Marsh Pool. A first for the pool but the third year running it as been recorded in the early months of the year. A drake Shoveler was also present on the pool (another addition to the yearlist). A Rock Pipit was seen in the brook.


The start of a cold period with easterly winds and snow. A Woodcock (always a possibility in this weather) was found at the eastern end of the beach and flew into the grassland. Also noted were four Teal, two Grey Plovers and an adult Kittiwake.


The quiet weather continued into February. There was a good count of 27 Redshanks on the Marsh Pool on 1st, a flock of 90 Lapwings flew west on 2nd and a Jay was an addition to the year list on 4th.