Category Archives: Uncategorised

April 2018

                                                            123 species so far this year                                                                126 species by the same time last year

A total of 96 species for the month was a bit above the average for the last ten years (which was 94.8 species). It looked as if we were going to do better but poor un-Spring like weather in the last week, when only two species were added, Cuckoo and Sedge Warbler, pulled it back.  However, we did reduce the deficit over last year from 16 to 3 species. In any case, at this stage in the year, it is not how many you see but what you see. Our second only Cetti’s Warbler, our first for four years Black Redstart and Grasshopper Warbler, and Spoonbill and Hen Harrier not seen last year, may be significant later on.

Spring birds likely to be added next month would include Hobby, Greenshank, Little Tern, Turtle Dove, Reed Warbler and Garden Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher. 


Heavy rain, fresh northerly winds and cold. And 5 degrees C at home this afternoon, therefore, a no show today.


Cloudy with a moderate northerly wind and light rain. Unpleasant! Three Gannets flew west, and later east, one Great Crested Grebe flew west and a Fulmar flew east. In the murky conditions, a Whimbrel rested on the beach by the Obs and three Bar-tailed Godwits (two breeding plumage males and a female) also dropped in for a rest. They were able to get some respite as the foul conditions had cut down on the dog walkers. Some Yellow Wagtails appeared out of the mist and included  a party of five which flew north out to sea. Two Swifts were seen over the estate and seven Swallows flew west. The Cetti’s Warbler continues to roam up and down the east bank occasionally letting out a burst of song.


Cloudy with spots of rain, a moderate NW wind and cool. There were two Great Crested Grebes offshore, four Gannets flew east, seven flew west, ten Common Scoters flew east and a Fulmar circled over the Obs several times. A Whimbrel flew west, touching down on the beach briefly. Three Ringed Plovers were on the beach, 34 Turnstones gathered towards high tide and a Common Sandpiper was along the middle brook. Three Sandwich Terns and two Common Terns flew west. Limited vis mig included one Swift, nine Swallows, four Yellow Wagtails, 30 Goldfinches and 12 Linnets. A male Wheatear was on the beach, the Cetti’s Warbler was present for its eight day and a Sedge Warbler suddenly burst into song behind the Obs at 11 am. Our first Spring record for four years.

Fulmar – Andy Taylor


A quiet morning with two Swifts, movement of Swallows and Sand Martins but not House Martins. The Cetti’s Warbler was still present and there were two Willow Warblers in the churchyard. A Sparrowhawk taking a Turnstone was perhaps an unusual prey item.

The Great Crested Grebe was again in the brook but two dog walkers took it upon themselves to try and catch it with nets! Apparently, it looked “knackered” but it swam off and hasn’t been seen again.

Willow Warbler – Andy Taylor


Sunny, cool with a fresh SW wind. A light vis mig with four Swifts, one Sand Martin, 32 Swallows, two House Martins, 76 Goldfinches and 12 Linnets west. There were 58 Turnstones roosting on the beach at high tide.  The Cetti’s Warbler continues to sing unseen along the east bank. We need a change in the weather.


Cloudy with a light SW wind. A much quieter day with a Cuckoo flying west high over the sewage works, the highlight. There was little other vis mig save for seven Swallows, two Yellow Wagtails, five Goldfinches and 13 Linnets flying west. There was one Great Crested Grebe on the sea, two Fulmars and a Common Scoter flew east and on the beach at high tide there were three Ringed Plovers, a Sanderling and 67 Turnstones. Two Sandwich Terns and a Brent Goose flew west. The Cetti’s Warbler continued to be heard but not seen along the     east bank, where a Lesser Whitethroat was also singing and a Common Whitethroat was performing aerial displays in the scrub.


Sunny with a moderate SW wind and cooler. A return to Spring after a premature bout of Summer! This was more conducive to vis mig and totals included our first six Swifts, 14 Sand Martins, c50 Swallows, five House Martins, three Meadow Pipits, ten Yellow Wagtails and a few Goldfinches and Linnets. It was a good day for raptors too with the prize going to a ringtail Hen Harrier flying west low over the sea at 7.30 am and later appearances of a female Marsh Harrier, three Sparrowhawks and a Buzzard. Waders included our first Common Sandpiper of the year which commuted between the beach, the brook and the Marsh Pool, as the vagaries of disturbance dictated and a roost of 80 Turnstones which harboured three guest Sanderlings.  Two late Brent Geese flew east close inshore,  eight Mediterranean Gulls , a Sandwich Tern and two Common Terns flew west.  There were two Wheatears on the beach, the Cetti’s Warbler was still present along the east bank and a Lesser Whitethroat was singing opposite the Obs.

Swift- Andy Taylor

Lesser Black-backed Gull – Geoff Burton


Sunny and warm at first but a freshening easterly wind cooled things down considerably. Yet again conditions didn’t look good for vis mig and they weren’t. However, Andy started us off with a fine male Ring Ousel which dropped into the trees at the back of the upper brook and promptly disappeared. Whilst taking that in, he heard an unmistakable burst of Cetti’s Warbler song coming out of the depths of the east bank bushes. This was only the second record for the site after one on 29th October 1995! That one was heard by Mike Gould and a visiting RSPB group from Thanet (I think). Visits from RSPB groups to Swalecliffe are equally rare. This came at at time when the population was still recovering from the extinction brought about by the severe winters in the 1980s. The bird got a specific mention in the Kent Bird Report of that year.  Four Red Kites drifted west during the morning but the only other vis mig consisted of a couple of Swallows and Yellow Wagtails. A Great Northern Diver was seen offshore (the first for a week), four Fulmars flew east and three Canada Geese did a circuit of the area. Waders were few but included 15 Oystercatchers, 25 Turnstones and a Whimbrel. One Sandwich Tern flew west.

Sadly, the brook-haunting Great Crested Grebe appears to have a broken leg. Today it swam along to the upper brook where, despite it being very shallow, it was seen to be catching small fish by snorkelling.


Sunny, calm and very warm. We are greeted all the time with “isn’t it a lovely day”. It is but clear skies with no wind, however warm, is not a recipe for visible Spring migration. There was nothing moving over land or sea. A Whitethroat sang a bit late morning  in the scrub (a second bird was present) and this was an addition to the year list. A Whimbrel was seen on the beach but six Oystercatchers, two Curlews and about 25 Turnstones were the only other waders seen. There were two Great Crested Grebes on the sea whilst the bird in the brook was present for its fourth day.

A Green-veined White at the Obs was our 11th butterfly of the year and there were also Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell, Orange-tip and Small White about. That may be all the species seen by the end of  the month as the only others seen here before the end of April has been  an occasional Small Copper and Painted Lady.

Great Crested Grebe – Geoff Burton


Sunny, calm and very warm. Four immatures Mute Swans flew west close inshore. There were 44 Turnstones roosting between the groynes, a single Sanderling was on the beach and seven Redshanks were roosting on the Marsh Pool.  Only one Swallow flew west and one Yellow Wagtail was heard.  A quiet day but one that produced three additions to the year list with a Green Woodpecker calling from the sewage works, a Lesser Whitethroat in the bushes opposite the Obs and a single Redpoll flying west.

Butterflies included two Orange-tips and another sighting of Brimstone.

Mute Swans-  Geoff Burton


Ted Lee reported two Red Kites flew west along the beach during the morning.


Sunny, light to moderate southerly wind, warm. An adult Gannet,  a drake Shoveler and seven Mediterranean Gulls flew west. Waders included 87 Turnstones roosting between the groynes and seven Redshanks roosting on the Marsh Pool. Vis mig included one Stock Dove, 55 Woodpigeons, single Sand MartinSwallow and House Martin, two Meadow Pipits, a Yellow Wagtail, 39 Goldfinches  and 25 Linnets flying west. There were also three Willow Warblers, a Jay, two Rooks and a Peregrine.

Warm weather brought out three new butterflies for the year; two Speckled Woods, a Large White and a Holly Blue.


We have emerged from a week’s gloom to a bright, sunny and much warmer Spring-like day. However, the birds have yet to hear about it. The four Great Northern Divers appeared again as the tide came in but were together only briefly. The divers had to run the gauntlet of jet skiers but they just nonchalantly dived and came up again as if nothing had happened. There was a  good turnout of the usual suspects augmented by Julian Russell and Richard Smith. There were also six Great Crested Grebes offshore and a Fulmar flew west. Typical at this time of the year, there were five Greylag Geese flying west,  a flock of nine Shelduck west and smaller numbers east or west. Waders included two Whimbrel west and there were 118 Turnstones, two Sanderlings and a Dunlin roosting amongst the groynes at high tide. A total of 41 Redshanks were roosting on the Marsh Pool, a high number at any time and more surprising given the lateness in the season. A few Swallows  and a single House Martin flew west and the Grasshopper Warbler continued to sing fitfully and, for the most part, invisibly in the scrub.

The warmer weather brought out butterflies with a second showing of Brimstone, a few Small Whites and Peacocks and a Comma.



Cloudy, dull but a marked improvement on recent days,  with a light SW wind. A Grasshopper Warbler was singing occasionally near the bluethroat bush; our first for three years. A Willow Warbler was also in the scrub. There was a trickle of Swallows flying west (c12) and a single Sand Martin. A Wheatear appeared along the coastal path mid-morning. Waders included three Whimbrel west and two Ringed Plovers, five  Sanderlings and c70 Turnstones on the beach and 14 Redshanks were on the Marsh Pool. Two Sandwich Terns were offshore. A group of four Great Northern Divers were close inshore as the tide came in; an unprecedented number for the site.

Wheatear – Geoff Burton


Away visiting relatives in Yorkshire. It appears it was  cool and murky throughout the period (as it was in Yorkshire) but Andy managed to track down a few additions to the year list. Best was a Black Redstart in the churchyard on 9th (still present the next day when it was seen by Ted). This was our first for four years and so a bad one to miss. A Common Tern on 9th was also a new bird for the year.  A Green Sandpiper was seen briefly on the Obs Pool on 11th before being flushed (yet another example of dogs rescued at the expense of wildlife), a Willow Warbler was new on 12th and our second Wheatear was also present that day.

Black Redstart – Andy Taylor


Cloudy, calm, light rain .  A Great Northern Diver and three Great Crested Grebes were offshore. Three Shelduck  flew west and a Little Egret and a Grey Heron were in the brook. Waders included nine Sanderlings and 34 Turnstones on the beach.  A first-summer Mediterranean Gull flew west and there were ten Sandwich Terns were offshore. Vis mig included four Sand Martins, 42 Swallows and two Yellow Wagtails flying west.

March 2018

                                                                        94 species for the year                                                                         110 species for the same time last year

The total of 84 species for the month was a little above the average over the last ten years but this did little to reduce the deficit. This is 16 species behind the end of March total last year and about ten behind the average over the last ten years.  The severe weather did produce our first Woodcocks for four years and other good birds were a Lapland Bunting on 20th (also our first for four years) and a lingering Black-throated Diver from 29th. The only Spring migrants were Chiffchaff and Sand Martin. 


Sunny periods with a few light showers. Diver numbers built up as the tide came in this morning. Disturbance from  a police boat saw at least 45 Red-throated Divers in the air at one time. Other birds offshore included the Black-throated Diver and at least one Great Northern Diver. There was also an adult Shag in full breeding plumage which lingered offshore. Three Common Scoters flew east and a party of seven Red-breasted Mergansers flew west. Two Gannets flew east and c100 Cormorants had gathered offshore. An adult Little Gull also flew west close inshore. There were 20 Brent Geese on the beach and waders included eight Ringed Plovers, three Sanderlings and a Dunlin. Little Egret,  a species apparently  badly effected by recent severe weather conditions, was in the remnant brook. Two Buzzards were soaring behind the estate.


Cloudy with a light easterly wind, cool. There was a raft of c150 Cormorants close inshore, 30 or more Red-throated Divers, one Great Northern Diver but no sign of yesterday’s Black-throated Diver.  Six Great Crested Grebes were offshore. A pairof Pintail flew east, four Common Scoters flew east, 11 flew west and two drakes and a duck were close inshore late morning. 19 Brent Geese were on the beach and 25 Redshanks were roosting on the Marsh Pool.


Sunny after a clear night with a touch of frost. Light southerly winds. The bird of the day was undoubtedly a Black-throated Diver which, unusually for this species here, showed well close inshore. There were also two Great Northern Divers and c15 Red-throated Divers, a  Great Crested Grebe and four Red-breasted Mergansers offshore. Also, 21 Brent Geese are still lingering on the beach and waders included 18 Sanderlings and 140 Turnstones roosting at high tide, but only one Ringed Plover and a few Dunlin, and 14 Redshanks roosting on the Marsh Pool. An immature Peregrine flew east along the beach, a Buzzard appeared low over the estate and a Jay flying towards the sewage works was the first for some time.  However, we are still waiting for Spring!


Cloudy with steady light rain all morning. Two Great Northern Divers were present offshore all morning at least three Red-throated Divers and three Great Crested Grebes. Three adult  Gannets flew west and another was sitting on the sea. One Grey Plover and 14 Sanderlings were on the beach and ten Redshanks were roosting on the Marsh Pool. A Moorhen, about ten feet up in the bushes along the east bank, was fending off the attentions of two Magpies. They pursued the bird into the trees by the sewage works.


Sunny periods, a fresh NW wind and cool. A Great Northern Diver and a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers were offshore. Ten Greylag Geese and eight drake Common Scoters flew east. There were 32 Redshanks on an undisturbed Marsh Pool and a single Snipe was also in view. Three Buzzards and two Sparrowhawks were circling over the estate late morning. Two Sand Martins flew west at 10.50 am; a new bird for the year. Four alba Wagtails, probably of the nominate race, and a Reed Bunting also flew west.


Cloudy and calm. There were 18 Red-throated Divers offshore, a Great Northern Diver was the first seen this month and two summer plumage Black-throated Divers flying west were new for the year.  Two Canada Geese flying west over the beach were also new for the year, five Shelduck flew west and single Fulmar and Gannet flew east.  Three Red-breasted Mergansers (two drakes and a duck) were offshore and a female Marsh Harrier flew west then headed inland. There were three Great Spotted Woodpeckers (two males and a female) were seen and there were two Chiffchaffs along the east bank.


Cloudy with a moderate SW wind. Six Red-throated Divers, a Great Crested Grebe and two pairs of Red-breasted Mergansers  were offshore. There were 20 Brent Geese, three Snipe in the marsh and an adult Mediterranean Gull flew east.  A Great Spotted Woodpecker was again heard drumming along the upper brook and a pair of Long-tailed Tits were at the Obs.


Cloudy, light westerly wind, cool. There were four Red-throated Divers and a Great Crested Grebe offshore. Two Shelduck flew west and there were c40 Brent Geese. Waders included 22 Oystercatchers, one Grey Plover and three Sanderlings on the beach. Some vis.mig with 22 Meadow Pipits, 62 Redwings and two Reed Buntings (our first this year) flying west. Finally, a Great Spotted Woodpecker was drumming along the upper brook, a male Stonechat was in the scrub (the first since 10th, so possibly a migrant) and a Rock Pipit was at the mouth of the brook.



Sunny, feeling mild where sheltered from the fresh southerly wind. There were 12 Red-throated Divers and eight Red-breasted Mergansers on the sea, one Fulmar flew west and a Gannet flew east. There were 40 Brent Geese on the sea by the skate park.  Waders included 22 Redshanks on the Marsh Pool and our second sighting this year of a Purple Sandpiper (courtesy of Arnie) which had no doubt strayed from its Hampton base. One Skylark flew south and two Rooks flew east.

A Peacock butterfly was our second species this year.


There were 40+ Red-throated Divers offshore, some in partial or full breeding plumage, and ten Red-breasted Mergansers (seven drake and three ducks). Seven Shelduck and two Mediterranean Gulls, in breeding plumage, flew west.  A  Common Buzzard, which came in off the sea and continued south, was our first of the year and a Peregrine was seen several times during the morning. There were 13 Redshanks on the Marsh Pool (another 12 on the caravan park field) and five Snipe were flushed from the marsh. Also, two Skylarks flew west and there was a trickle of Meadow Pipit passage as well. One Meadow Pipit was in display flight.


A shortened visit in the steady drizzle, but with some heavier outbreaks of rain, and a fresh southerly wind. A Fulmar flew west and 12 adult Gannets flew east.  Three Red-breasted Mergansers (two drakes and a duck) were on the sea. A Little Egret in the brook was the first seen since the cold weather. There were 21 Redshanks on the caravan park field. A Rock Pipit on the beach was of the Scandinavian race, littoralis.

Scandinavian Rock Pipit – Andy Taylor


Cloudy, mild with a southerly wind. There were four Great Crested Grebes and three Red-breasted Mergansers offshore. One Fulmar and a breeding plumage adult Mediterranean Gull flew west, Waders included four Grey Plovers, 32 Sanderlings and 47 Dunlin and 26 Lapwings flew west. A male Stonechat was the first recorded since the cold weather; a survivor or a migrant?


Sunny periods with a cool westerly wind. There were six Great Crested Grebes on the sea but one feeding in the brook was exceptional. An adult Shag was on the sea,  two Shelduck flew west and another was on the Marsh Pool. Waders included 40+ Golden Plovers and 37 Lapwings flew west and five Grey Plovers were on the beach.  Also, there were two Mediterranean Gulls, a Stock Dove and four Skylarks flew west whilst another Skylark was in song beyond the caravan park.


Milder again with a light SE breeze. There were 22 Red-throated Divers. A Greylag Goose and two Shelduck flew west, two drake Teal, a drake Common Scoter and six Red-breasted Mergansers were on the sea. 12 Grey Plovers included seven flying west, 39 Lapwings were on the beach briefly with another eight on the Marsh Pool, 22 Sanderlings flew west and five Bar-tailed Godwits were on the Hampton flats. An adult Mediterranean Gull in breeding plumage flew west. A Stock Dove, which flew NW over the football pitch, was the first of the year (it has been a much scarcer bird here in recent years). Three  Skylarks headed inland, a Fieldfare and a Redwing were on the football pitch and an immature Rook was on the beach.


It was milder (i.e. not below freezing) for the first time for a week.  However, a species associated with the cold weather, Woodcock, appeared for the first time in four years when two were flushed by dogs from the shingle ridge. Other waders included four Grey Plovers and a Bar-tailed Godwits on the beach. Five Great Crested Grebes flew east, a Greylag Goose flew west and five Teal were offshore all morning.  Another Teal was on the Marsh Pool and there was another appearance by the  female Mandarin Duck which flew from the upper brook into the sewage works.  A flock of 12 Fieldfares flew west over the Obs (another was in the area all morning) and two Snow Buntings were seen in flight by the Obs.


Another freezing morning, cloudy with strong easterly winds and freezing rain that coated both clothing and optics (not like that at the Pak Thale salt plans as I watched my first ever Spoon-billed Sandpiper!) At least the conditions had some effect on the movement of birds; ducks included eight Red-breasted Mergansers flying west, a Wigeon on the Marsh Pool and also three Shelducks, two drake Pintail and two Teal. Most notable amongst the waders were 17 Bar-tailed Godwits where also there were six Grey Plovers and 188 Dunlin. A juvenile Kittiwake was also seen.


Andy took a brief walk around in the afternoon braving the strong easterly winds. Snow was lying on the ground and the brook was frozen. Most notable were 22 Little Gulls that flew east close inshore,  Bar-tailed Godwit also flying east and also an addition to the year list and three Snow Buntings, seen by Jim Bloor, around the children’s play area. A Common Scoter flew east, 30 Brent Geese flew east and another eight were on the Marsh Pool.

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.