Tuesday, 17 October 2017

17th October 2017

Light winds, overcast and the middle of October. All the ingredients to find a good bird. Sadly this never happened and the birds were as quiet as the weather. There was a reasonable overhead movement early on with over 40 Redpolls, 3 Reed Buntings, 130 Swallows & 30 House Martins. On the ground only 22 Chiffchaffs were seen but no other warbler species were encountered. There was a single Firecrest in the Freedown and across the area there were at least 18 Goldcrests. 6 Stonechats were encountered all bar one at Hope Point. There seemed to be a small arrival of Song Thrushes with around 27 seen including a flock of 8 over Hope Point. Things can only get better! ( Brendan & Jack)

Late news from Sunday (15th). Yellow-browed Warbler along Hotel Road.

Firecrest- Freedown  (Brendan Ryan) 

Saturday, 14 October 2017

14th October 2017

Today, in past years, has been our best for autumn rarities but it did not live up to expectations this year. We did however have a couple of Yellow- browed Warblers outside of Bert's garden.
Other notable birds around the area were four Stonechats, a Black Redstart, two Blackcaps, 107 Chiffchaffs, 109 Goldcrests, a Little Owl, four Great-spotted Woodpeckers and a Hobby chasing the moving finches over the Leas.
Overhead most of the morning there was a steady SW movement of birds consisting of 65 Swallows, 12 Alba and one Grey Wagtail, three Rock Pipits, five Brambling, 142 Chaffinches, 92 Siskins, 13 Redpolls, four Reed Buntings and a single Snow Bunting.
Butterflies included many Red Admirals, a Common Blue, a small Copper and three Clouded Yellows. Julian,Malcolm,Nigel,Phil,Simon,Steve,Richard,Jack.  
Little Owl - Nigel Jarman

Friday, 13 October 2017

13th October 2017

In a week dominated by westerlies and with relatively few migrants, Yellow-broweds continue to get through with another new bird this morning on the Droveway behind McSwiggan's. Photo below. Couldn't find the Paddock bird but the Farm Wood bird was present early morning but couldn't be re-found later.

4th Yellow-browed Warbler of the week (Brendan Ryan)

Thursday, 12 October 2017

12th October 2017

Winds were still unhelpfully in the westerly quarter but it was calmer than in recent days making it easier to observe the lack of migrants! The day started with a bang when a Great White Egret leisurely flew south over the Paddock. This is the second record for the Greater Bockhill area with a previous record from Nigel and Heather's bathroom in Kingsdown.

The Paddock Yellow-browed Warbler was still present in exactly the same spot as Tuesday (in the hedge behind the last house on Granville Road by the stile. Then Tuesday's Farm Wood bird reappeared in the same clump of Elders by the barn/grain store.

Yellow-browed Warbler- Farm Wood (Brendan Ryan)
It was all fairly routine thereafter with 35 Chiffchaffs, 4 Blackcaps, 2 Firecrests and 1 Stonechat. There is a healthy (and increasing) Yellowhammer flock in the Freedown and adjacent stubble fields with over 30 birds. I spent some time scrutinising the flock for something a little more exciting but only managed 4 Reed Buntings, a Corn Bunting and and 6 Greenfinches.

In my limited time this morning I only got as far as the Empty Wood, though Richard covered the area from Kingsdown to Hope Point. There were a few more birds at that end of the area but none of the good stuff! 94 Chiffchaffs, 30 Goldcrests, five Blackcaps, seven Stonechats, a Little Egret, two Ravens and a Clouded Yellow. Two Firecrests were in a big mixed flock of birds and one of them, as you can see from the photo below, had a ring on it's right leg. Unfortunately the camera and indeed the binoculars are not powerful enough to read it!

Firecrest (Richard Heading)
Dave Brown had a Bearded Tit fly over the Farm Wood at midday. This is as far as we are aware only the second Bockhill record, the first having been seen by Andy Hamby, many years ago.

One of 30 Yellowhammers in the Freedown (Brendan Ryan)

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

11th October 2017

With the wind a strong south westerly a walk around the Paddock produced only a handfull of Chiffchaffs, a couple of Goldcrests and 15 Magpies and when Richard arrived we decided to go to the Bay and do a seawatch. This was not the best of ideas as in two hours we had 20 Gannets, six Common Scoters, three Auks, five Mediterranean Gulls and two Arctic Skuas. The cafĂ© called us, a Hobby flew over us and landed where we had been seawatching and we ended the morning drinking coffee and talking with Jean and Pauline about birds we had seen in the past.  

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

10th October 2017

A fairly stiff SW wind didn't inspire much confidence but there was some early encouragement when a Yellow-browed Warbler was heard in the SE corner of the Paddock. It showed briefly in a mixed group of Chiffchaffs and crests (photo below). Surprisingly another appeared in the elders in the Farm Wood a little later and then in the early afternoon, Richard found a third bird at Oldstairs.

Yellow-browed Warbler- Paddock (Brendan Ryan)

Other birds recorded today included 3 Firecrests, 21 Goldcrests, 7 Blackcaps, 14 Stonechats, 2 Whinchats,  while overhead the first Snow Bunting of the Autumn was recorded along with 2 Reed Buntings, a Yellow Wagtail, 3 Tree Sparrows, 180 House Martins and 25 Swallows.

One of 14 Stonechats recorded today ( Brendan Ryan) 

Sunday, 8 October 2017

8th October 2017

Lighter NW winds encouraged a good turn out this morning but the results were not radically different from the previous few days. There was good overhead movement early morning with 1,300 Goldfinches, 2 Brambling, 24 Redpolls, 7 Tree Sparrows, 127 Siskins, 44 Alba Wagtails, 10 Reed Buntings. Stonechat numbers increased with at least 9, along with a single Whinchat on the cliffftop and later at Hope Bay Studios ( Friday's bird?). Chiffchaff numbers were down (41) and only 2 Blackcaps were recorded. In a brief look at the sea from the Clifftop while viz migging early morning 2 Bonxie and 4 Med Gulls were seen along with a few Harbour Porpoises. (Jack, Phil, Gerald, Richard, Simon,  Brendan et al)

One of today's nine Stonechats (Brendan Ryan)

Whinchat (Brendan Ryan) 

Saturday, 7 October 2017

7th October 2017

In a strong SW wind it was difficult to find places where one could see any birds, however in the few calm spots there were 69 Chiffchaffs, 20 or so Crests of which one was a Firecrest and a couple of Blackcaps. Other birds included 50 House Martins feeding in the lee of the Farm Wood, four Grey Partridges and a Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Friday, 6 October 2017

6th October 2017

Oh for some warblers that aren't Chiffchaffs and Backcaps, which numbered 52 and two respectively today. Another day of hard work in a brisk NW wind. There was some evidence of overhead movement with regular parties of Siskins, mostly unseen against bright blue skies, and at least 14  Redpolls, seven Reed Buntings, one Grey Wagtail, and 400 Goldfinches. A small group (seven) of Song Thrushes and a Great Spotted Woodpecker were seen arriving in over the sea. Other birds of interest included a juvenile Hobby, a Tree Pipit, a Firecrest, three Stonechats and a Whinchat in the Freedown and presumably the same bird on the clifftop later. (Jack, Richard and Brendan).

Whinchat (Brendan Ryan) 

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

4th October 2017

A fresh arrival of Chiffchaffs was evident with small groups throughout the area and many on the clifftop at Hope Point. We eventually logged 129 along with 16 Blackcaps. Other notable birds including a Merlin over the Big Field and a Woodlark, picked up by Richard as it flew north over Hope Point. Overhead passage included around 600 Chaffinches heading straight in and four Redpolls, one Brambling, 15 Siskins and six Alba Wagtails. 3 Stonechats were at Hope Point (Jack, Richard and Brendan).

Whilst enjoying a coffee in St. Margaret’s Bay we looked up to see eight Ravens heading east along the cliff top, a larger amount than is usual. A Firecrest was still present in Kingsdown at the corner of Granville/Oldstairs Road in the evening.

Chiffchaff (Brendan Ryan) 

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

3rd October 2017

Knowing that the area had received limited coverage in the last couple of days, I was keen to get out into the field despite of a brisk WNW wind which promised little but hard graft.

The day started well with a Ring Ouzel in the Paddock and there was a good movement overhead in the first couple of hours including 700 House Martins, 250 Swallows,  130 Starlings, 120 Meadow Pipits 14 Alba Wagtails, 10+ Siskins, two Reed Buntings, three Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a Golden Plover and five parties of House Sparrows (27  in total).

Chiffchaffs remained numerous (55), along with Blackcaps 17.  A single Lesser Whitethroat showed briefly in the Freedown. A Stonechat and a Wheatear were at Hope Point. At this point I gave up and went to Oare!

Wheatear- Hope Point ( Brendan Ryan)

Monday, 2 October 2017

2nd October 2017

A walk in the rain this evening around Kingsdown was quiet and damp! Four Firecrests were at the corner of Granville/Oldstairs Road and 80 Siskins went over. Hopefully a bit more will be seen tomorrow.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

1st October 2017

A 2 hour seawatch in the gloom from 1515 on Kingsdown Rifle Butts did not produce the hoped-for seabirds, with 100+ Gannets offshore, 4 Med Gulls, 1 Great Skua, 6 Sandwich Terns and 1 Black Tern all moving down channel. However, the mood brightened when an Alpine Swift was watched powering towards the shore before heading north at 1542. It was not picked up either in the village or further up the coast in Deal.