All posts by geoffburton

February 2018

                                                 83 species  so far this year                                                                                     96 species by this time last year


The total of only 70 species recorded during the month was poor. It compares with an average of 78.2 over the previous ten years with a maximum total of 91 seen in 2012. Only three species were added during the month with Snow Buntings (a single on 10th and 13th and the flock of seven on 28th), the only notable addition. As a result, we are now a massive 13 species behind last year (seven at the end of January).  


As I head off to warmer climes (Thailand), Andy has the opportunity to capitalise on the cold conditions. Will “the Beast from the East” bear fruit or is it just too late in the season? A good start with seven Snow Buntings appearing late morning (six flew off east) and 13 Pintail on the sea. Also 12 Teal were noted.


Sunny periods with snow showers in a light NE wind. A few inches of snow on the ground. Three Red-breasted Mergansers were offshore and a pair of Teal were in the brook. 30 Golden Plovers were resting on the shingle ridge and a Grey Plover, 16 Sanderlings and 59 Dunlin were on the beach. Away from the sea, seven Skylarks flew east, two Fieldfares dropped into the scrub and two Redwings flew west. A Rook,  circling over the caravan park and drifted north.  Some reaction to the cold weather without anything of great significance.


Cloudy, cold with a few snow flurries in a moderate NE wind. An adult Gannet flew east. There were 35 Brent Geese, 29 Ringed Plovers, a Grey Plover and 20 Sanderlings on the beach.


Sunny with a fresh easterly wind, very cold. A Great Northern Diver was offshore early morning and drifting east and there were 12 Red-breasted Mergansers on the sea. A pair of Shelduck circled close inshore by the Obs and a drake Teal flew west. A small improvement. There were also 16 Sanderlings on the beach and the lone Grey Plover. However, birds of the day were two immature Rooks which came in off the beach flying south over the sewage works; a typical time for the  first record of this mainly migrant species here.


Sunny, moderate to fresh NE wind and cold. There were 102 Brent Geese on the beach and a flock of seven Common Scoters flew east. Six Red-throated Divers and a Great Crested Grebe were offshore whilst waders included a Grey Plover and 12 Sanderlings again, there were two Lapwings on the Marsh Pool where a check found eight Snipe (the highest count for some time). The male Stonechat continues to show and four Greenfinches and ten Goldfinches were in the sewage works.


Cloudy, rather misty with a light to moderate NE wind and cold. The sea continues to be almost devoid of interest; three Red-throated Divers flew east, a Great Crested Grebe was offshore and a single Cormorant flew east. There were 29 Brent Geese on the beach whilst waders included a single Grey Plover and 12 Sanderlings. Only one Lapwing was roosting on the Marsh Pool. Other birds included the male Stonechat, two Long-tailed Tits and only one Linnet.


I was away in Reading (lots of Red Kites including a flock of 30, 3 Goosanders and a Red-crested Pochard) whilst Andy was busy constructing a model of Rutland Water in his garden. Andy did, however, manage to complete the East Kent Turnstone Survey count on 17th; 162 birds in the Swalecliffe-Hampton sector was again the highest of all the 22 sectors. He also managed to see a Gannet (only our third this year) and the wintering Rock Pipit. Ian Rendall saw a Kingfisher in the brook on 16th (only our third sighting this year).


Sunny with a freshening southerly wind. Only two Lapwings were roosting on the Marsh Pool. There were 32 Oystercatchers on the beach and a single Grey Plover was present. Three  Goldfinches were in the churchyard and ten Linnets on the shingle ridge. The quietest of quiet days but Ted found the Snow Bunting by the jetty at the e astern end of the beach. It is probably roaming between there and Hampton where it will be subject to much disturbance.


Sunny with a light SW wind. There were 20+ Red-throated Divers and two Great Crested Grebes offshore. There were 100 Brent Geese on the beach. The pair with two juveniles often seen grazing on the jetty were on the Marsh Pool for much of the morning. Also on the pool, there were ten Mallard, three Lapwings  and a Rock Pipit. 79 Dunlin  were roosting on the beach. A Greenfinch was in song in the sewage works and eight Linnets were on the shingle ridge.

10th – sunny with a light SW wind, cold. The highlight of the morning, and of the month so far, was our first Snow Bunting of the year on the beach between the groynes at the eastern end. Nine Red-throated Divers and a summer plumage Great Crested Grebe were offshore, a Fulmar and a Shelduck flew west and a drake Teal was just off the beach by the Obs. There were 16 Mallard and three Lapwings on the Marsh Pool. 


Snow Bunting – Geoff Burton


8th – sunny, light SW wind, cold. There were 11 Mallard again on the Marsh Pool but Lapwings were down to three individuals. There were 22 Sanderlings on the beach. Other birds included a Rock Pipit in the brook by the shingle ridge, the male Stonechat and a Jay in bushes along the upper brook. 


5th – cloudy with an occasional snow shower, a moderate easterly wind and cold. Although the tide was low, the brook was blocked again and therefore murky and unmoving. Not good for the wildlife. There were 11 Mallard in the brook, an increase that often occurs with flooding. A pair of Red-breasted Mergansers flew east close inshore and a Peregrine flew east over the tidal ponds. There were 130 Golden Plovers on the beach. A group of 17 Sanderlings were feeding at low tide and a flock of 18 Linnets flew onto the shingle ridge. 


3rd – cloudy, moderate SW wind, cold. There were 31 Red-throated Divers, three Great Crested Grebes and a Red-breasted Merganser noted offshore. Two Pintail flew west close inshore and a gaggle of eight Greylag Geese flew high east (and inland) at 12.33 pm. Two Grey Herons were on the tidal ponds and two Little Egrets (which have been scarce here since recent cold spells) were on the beach. There were 52 Oystercatchers on the beach. Other birds noted included a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming in trees along the upper brook, a Skylark flying west, a Grey Wagtail, and the male Stonechat.  

Stonechat – Andy Taylor


1st – cloudy with a moderate NW wind and cold. A new month with the same old struggle. However, four Greylag Geese, which flew west, were an addition to the year list. Waders included 42 Oystercatchers, 61 Ringed Plovers, eight Sanderlings and 80 Dunlin with the usual, but down one to  four, Lapwings on the Marsh Pool.  Other birds noted included a Kingfisher for the second time this year, the Rock Pipit in the brook behind the beach, a Grey Wagtail, the now single male Stonechat, a Fieldfare and a Redwing. 

January 2018


                                    80 species recorded so far this year                                                                     87 species recorded by this time last year 


The total of 80 species was the lowest start to the year since 2014 and well below the average of 86.7 species over the previous ten years. Highlights, however, included only our second Glossy Ibis on 23rd. Other good birds were Shag on 2nd, a Purple Sandpiper on 5th and a Slavonian Grebe on 9th.



A sunny and calm morning. A line of 50 Red-throated Divers flew west and birds could be seen dotted all over the sea during the morning. There were also eight Great Crested Grebes offshore and two drake Common Scoters flew east. Waders on the beach included 32 Oystercatchers, 28 Sanderlings and 90 Dunlin whilst the five Lapwing were  still roosting on the Marsh Pool. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was calling in the Obs corner of the sewage works . The male Stonechat was present but the female has not been noted since 19th.


Cloudy, mild with a moderate SW wind. Another quiet day but there were two additions to the year list. Ted Lee enjoyed a private showing of a Kingfisher along the middle brook (not a coincidence that the brook is now flowing again) and there was a Guillemot offshore. Waders included 70 Golden Plovers flying west over the sea, 58 Sanderlings on the beach and five Lapwings and 18 Redshanks on the Marsh Pool. There were 124 Brent Geese close inshore. Other birds included a Grey Wagtail which flew into the sewage works and the male Stonechat.


Waders – Andy Taylor


Yet another quiet morning, There were about a dozen Red-throated Divers and six Great Crested Grebes offshore and two female Common Scoters flew east. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was calling behind Lang Court, the male Stonechat was seen and a Greenfinch was in the trees along Swalecliffe Court Drive.


Ian Rendall reported an adult Mediterranean Gull on the beach.


Another quiet morning but with the surprise element this time. An immature male Marsh Harrier flew west low over the sea at 10.40 am. Our fourth so far this year. There were 25  Sanderlings on the beach by the Obs as the tide receded. One Skylark flew west, a Redwing was in trees by the scout hut and two Long-tailed Tits were in the churchyard.


Cloudy with a moderate SW wind. It was another quiet morning with a few Red-throated Divers and Great Crested Grebes offshore and also a single drake Red-breasted Merganser. Gannet offshore was a belated addition to the year list. However, at 10 am, the perspective of the day changed when a Glossy Ibis flew west only metres in front of the Obs. Only our second record (the first was in October 2009) which it is safe to say we were not expecting! Will it be refound at Oare Marshes or on Sheppey? There was little else to note; another, or the same, Gannet flew east at midday and a Grey Wagtail showed well in the brook by the Brook Road bridge.

Grey Wagtail – Geoff Burton


Sunny with a light NW wind. Four Mute Swans, three adults and an immature, flew west distantly out to sea and a male Great Spotted Woodpecker was in the Wood; two additions to the year list. About 35 Red-throated Divers were offshore, most moving west, and a drake Red-breasted Merganser was offshore. A flock of 210 Golden Plovers were on the beach. There were also 19 Sanderlings on the beach. There were also two Redwings in the churchyard.


Cloudy, calm, steady rain. The pair of Red-breasted Mergansers were offshore and there were 50 Brent Geese on the beach. The Rock Pipit was on the beach and there were four Redwings in the football pitch trees.

A count of Turnstones between Long Rock and Hampton was carried out at the afternoon high tide. There were 168 birds and a Purple Sandpiper with them was, unfortunately, a 100 metres or so east of the site.


Ted Lee and Arnie van Orsouw were down today and reported a drake Red-breasted Merganser, a Goldcrest along the upper brook and the pair of Stonechats.  


Sunny with a strong, but lessening, westerly wind. An immature male Marsh Harrier flew west at 8.50 am and a Great Northern Diver flew west close inshore at 9.05 am. Two small flocks of Pintail, ten birds in total, flew west; a new bird for the year and a Little Egret, which also flew west, was only the second this year.  Waders included 40 Oystercatchers roosting on the shingle ridge and 90 Dunlin roosting at the eastern end of the beach. A Skylark flew west over the beach, the Rock Pipit was on the Marsh Pool and a Redwing in the bushes along the east bank.

Brent Geese – Andy Taylor


Sunny with a moderate SW wind. As the tide came in, waders on the beach included 33 Oystercatchers, 58 Ringed Plovers, one Grey Plover, 48 Sanderlings (our highest count so far this year) and 41 Dunlin. Flocks of Golden Plovers (c300 in total) flew west low the sea during the morning. It appeared that a large ship had disturbed distant and, up until then,  unseen Red-throated Divers, 82 were counted, and small numbers were seen  flying around, and pitching down,  for the rest of the morning. Two Wigeon flew west,  an adult Mediterranean Gull landed briefly on the beach and a female Teal was resting amongst the gulls and waders. Two new birds for the year were a single Skylark, which flew west over the shingle ridge, and two Greenfinches, which flew over the football pitch. Other birds seen included a Peregrine, two Jays and six Long-tailed Tits.

The brook is now blocked again save for a trickle leaching through the shingle at the eastern end of the beach. The water is high and very cloudy and this may help to explain the absence of Kingfishers for the last month, the total absence of Little Grebes this winter and the lack of any reports of Water Voles.


Sunny periods with a light SE wind. A quiet morning with our first Fulmar of the year flying east. Otherwise, there were a few Red-throated Divers and Great Crested Grebes and a drake Red-breasted Merganser offshore, a single Shelduck flew west and two first-winter Kittiwakes flew east. The Rock Pipit was again on the Marsh Pool and the pair of Stonechats continue to roam the grassland. Six Long-tailed Tits passed through the Obs.


Arnie van Orsouw visited today. Red-throated Divers and Great Crested Grebes were noted offshore. A Snipe was in the Marsh Pool and the pair of Stonechats were also noted.


Cloudy and calm with light rain and poor visibility. There were five Great Crested Grebes and a drake Red-breasted Merganser on the sea and 40 Brent Geese and a Grey Heron on the beach. The female Mandarin Duck was back on the Marsh Pool and two Grey Wagtails appeared briefly on the Obs Pool. The pair of Stonechats and the flock of 20 Linnets were also present.


An adult Mediterranean Gull on the beach was new for the year. There were also 20 Common Gulls there and, as the tide receded, 44 Sanderlings (the highest count this year). 70 Lapwings flew west low over the sea and there were another four on the Marsh Pool.


Cloudy, murky and calm with the wind turbines hidden from view.  Two drake Red-breasted Mergansers on the sea flew off west whilst a drake Common Scoter lingered offshore  all morning. Five Gadwall, which flew west over the tidal ponds, were new for the year, and other ducks in support were two Shelduck, six Wigeon, a Teal  and a pair of Mallard. A total of seven species of duck has not been attained often this winter. There were 22 Sanderlings on the beach. Other birds included the Rock Pipit along the mouth of the brook, two Goldcrests  in the churchyard  and six Redwings flying along the east bank and perching in trees behind the scout hut. Finally, a sub-adult male Marsh Harrier flew west over the Marsh Pool and the Obs at midday and a Slavonian Grebe made a late but timely appearance as it swam steadily westwards passed the Obs (only one recorded last year). A better than average day for Andy.



Cloudy with a light NE wind and colder. Three Barnacle Geese flew east over the sea at 8.50 am (a useful addition to the year list as this species has proved less than annual). The cold weather brought in a few winter thrushes; a Fieldfare was feeding with Blackbirds by the skate park and another two flew in off  the sea and over the Obs. A Redwing was in the bushes along the upper brook. Two Jays that flew from the sewage works to the Scout Wood were also an addition to the year list. Other birds, included 31 Sanderlings on the beach and a Rock Pipit on the Marsh Pool.


Cloudy with a light NE wind and colder. A few ducks were on the move with three Shelduck (two east, one west), seven Wigeon west and four Common Scoters east. The three Red-breasted Mergansers were again offshore and the female Mandarin Duck was on the Marsh Pool.  A Little Egret on the tidal ponds was the first of the year, an adult Kittiwake was offshore and a Great Skua flew west at 11.30 am. A Rock Pipit was on the shingle ridge and a Goldcrest along the middle brook.

Mandarin Duck – Geoff Burton


Cloudy, a light SW wind and showers. There were three Red-breasted Mergansers offshore, an immature male Marsh Harrier flew west over the sea at 10.40 am and 440 Golden Plovers were roosting on the beach. The duck Mandarin Duck was again on the Marsh Pool and a Rock Pipit was also there. A Goldcrest was seen along the east bank. On an afternoon visit, Andy Taylor found a Purple Sandpiper amongst the roosting waders at the east end of the beach which must have strayed from the Hampton “stronghold” of this species!


Rock Pipit, seen by Arnie van Orsouw, was the first of the year, though it was probably the same bird that had been seen regularly in December.


Cloudy with a light SW wind and rain from late morning. A Shag flew west close inshore. Waders on the beach included 79 Ringed Plovers and 109 Dunlin and, on the Marsh Pool, there were three Lapwings and 14 Redshanks. The duck Mandarin Duck was also on the Marsh Pool.


Cloudy with a light SW wind and rain from 10.30 am. A quiet start to the year. There was a Great Northern Diver offshore, 18 Wigeon flew west and the duck Mandarin Duck was on the Marsh Pool. The pair of Stonechats were present and a Goldcrest was along the east bank. The total of 47 species compared with an average of 54 over the previous ten years.