Thursday, 19 July 2018

19th July 2018

The early morning mist was hanging in the dip between Kingsdown and St Margaret’s this morning. This week has seen the first signs of autumn migration. A pair of Turtle Doves were near The Rough for a couple of days but appear to have departed now. A Cuckoo was on the golf course along Granville Road and a few Willow Warblers have been in the area. Hopefully we will have another post in less than a month’s time!

Thursday, 21 June 2018

20th June 2018

Jack, Jay and I took the 'Gary Ann' out of Deal along the coast to Dover Harbour to survey breeding seabirds on the cliffs today. It provided a very different view of the area and was probably most notable for the alarming lack of breeding birds! The paucity of species appears to follow a nationwide declining trend. What was quite apparent though was the scarcity of potential nest sites with much of the cliff face being sheer with hardly any suitable ledges. The amount of cliff falls that have occurred being very noticeable.

That apart, I though my experience of working in The English Channel for many years would stand me in good stead for the rather bumpy ride, but studying the cliffs whilst bobbing up and down quickly became a rather unpleasant experience for both Jack and I. Thank goodness Jay was least affected and continued to keep watching for us!

Anyway the numbers were derisory with only Fulmar and Herring Gull noted as breeding. We did have two Shags, a handful of Gannets and a Grey Seal along the way.

14th June 2018

A Honey-buzzard flew over the top of the High Street in Kingsdown this afternoon, mobbed by Jackdaws.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

25th May 2018

John Cantelo and Brendan started at Oldstairs where there was no sign of last night's Red-rumped Swallows and walked to Bockhill Farm Wood and back. It was predictably quiet with the highlights being, three Grey Partridge, two Swifts, 9 House Martins and 11 Swallows.

24th May 2018

A Hobby flew past the house around 16.00, then about half an hour later a flock of hirundines started feedingover the area between Northcote Road and Oldstairs Road. Given the paucity of House Martins this Spring it was remarkable enough that they comprised of approximately 40 of this species, but then a Red-rumped Swallow came into view. As other birders arrived to enjoy it, one became two and they stayed in the area until 20.45 when the flock headed off towards Deal. I know it's not a really rare bird, but we don't often have things that stick around and are twitchable!

In the evening, Nigel and Gerald managed to see an adult Long-tailed Skua which was tracked off the Kent coast from Dungeness eastwards.

Red-rumped Swallow (Gerald Segelbacher)

Monday, 21 May 2018

21st May 2018

Not only is this an exceptionally poor Spring, but it is getting late for large numbers of migrants and the wind has been consistently from the North for several days. So I was not overly optimistic when I set out this morning. However a Spotted Flycatcher in the Paddock closely followed by five fly over Crossbills was encouraging. There was little else to get excited about as I walked the clifftop to Little Green apart from 11 Swallows heading North. Returning past Hope Point I picked up a singing Marsh Warbler, which only gave three brief glimpses in the two hours I spent with it. No photos sadly but I managed a couple of sound recordings on my phone. Other birds noted two House Martins at Hope Point, 14 Whitethroats holding territory, four singing Chiffchaffs, two Lesser Whitethroats

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

16th May 2018

A brisk northerly wind didn't offer much hope but inspired by the arrival of new rarities in the north, I mistakenly thought it was worth a visit to Bockhill. An early morning sea watch produced a single dark phase Arctic Skua but nothing else. "Up top" produced nine Whitethroats, four Chiffchaffs, and three Blackcaps, all presumably local breeding birds. Highlight was a Turtle Dove which flew North past the empty wood and a grant total of seven Swallows going North. Returning to the sea with Chris Cox, produced two Common Scoters, 17 Sandwich Terns, a Whimbel and three Sanderling

Sunday, 6 May 2018

6th May 2018

Well, it's been a bit disappointing to be honest for May. 1 Hobby & 1 Yellow Wagtail were today's highlights, although our first Green Hairstreak and Small Copper were welcome distractions. Some of the Early Spider Orchids are still going strong. Jack & Nigel (photos)

Sunday, 29 April 2018

29th April 2018

An early morning seawatch from 0540-0800 was somewhat disappointing with 328 Sandwich Terns, 24 Common Terns, 20 Arctic Terns, 1 Black Tern, 10 Shag, 5 Red-th Divers, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Whimbrel, 2 Com Scoter and a pale phase Arctic Skua all heading up channel. With a natural lull in proceedings, we headed up top, where there were also very few birds; namely 4 Chiffs, 4 Willow Warblers, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 6 Whitethroats and a Swallow. The day was salvaged however by this male Pied Flycatcher in the Farm Wood (a very rare bird in the spring here).
With rain arriving, we decided to head back to the sea, where we saw a further 47 Com Scoter, 45 Bar-tailed Godwits and 4 Whimbrel. Brendan, Gerald, Nigel (photos).

Saturday, 28 April 2018

28th April 2018

We met at the Monument about 7:30 with the weather cold, quite misty and becoming increasingly horrible. However although we didn't see lots of birds what we saw was quite good.
We had 9 Whitethroats, 6 Lesser Whitethroats, a Chiffchaff and 3 Willow Warblers, nearly all of which were singing.

Overhead were a steady trickle of Swallows, 50 Linnets and 3 Siskins all moving SW, also had 3 Hobbys in off the sea. In one of the gardens at Hope Point were the first Early Spider Orchids and as we started back up the hill we had 2 White Wagtails on the path. Overhead the first 'big gathering' of 80 plus House Martins and 10 Swifts moved N. At sea was a Great Skua, an Arctic Skua and 14 Sandwich Terns moving NE. Standing at the Monument we had  several Common Carder Bees and to finish the morning a Manx Shearwater moved SW down Channel. Nigel (photos), Phil, Simon, Jack.

Friday, 27 April 2018

27th April 2018

It’s the end of April, winds were a light SE, there was excellent visibility for a morning in St. Margaret’s Bay, surely all the pieces were fitting together for our first Pomarine Skua passage of the year. Clearly not whilst I was watching! I spent three and a half hours from mid morning and had a steady movement of the following all up channel: Six Red-throated Divers, seven Razorbills, four Guillemots, two Shelducks, a Common Tern, 112 Sandwich Terns, 234 Common Scoters, 68 Gannets, two Whimbrel, a Black Tern, two Great Skuas and a Brent Goose. Two ‘Greenland’ Wheatears were also present, one of them joining me on the seawatch platform for a while.

‘Greenland’ Wheatear (Richard Heading)

Sunday, 22 April 2018

22nd April 2018

Gerald, Nigel, Phil, Jack and I were out this morning but it was a couple of visiting birders that found a Wryneck in the Paddock. This is an almost exclusively autumnal bird for us and rounds off a pretty good week. Needless to say we couldn't relocate it, a bit of a theme here!

Also recorded were a Red Kite, 25 Swallows, a House Martin, seven Yellow Wagtails, a Blue-headed Wagtail, two White Wagtails, a 'Greenland' Wheatear, a Siskin, 46 Linnets and 42 Chaffinches, the finches flying SW into the breeze.

On the sea we didn't manage to have any of the skuas seen past Dungeness, the light was pretty terrible, but we did see nine Mute Swans (scarce here), two Whimbrels, nine Shelducks and four Brent Geese all moving NE.

Blue-headed Wagtail (Richard Heading)

Saturday, 21 April 2018

21st April 2017

Highlight of the day was a male Serin seen by Tony Swandale, John Cantelo and Jack around the Monument at 08.10 which eventually flew off NE. Other highlights were a Ring Ouzel in the Freedown and 17 Red Kites which were around the area from 09.35 before eventually heading off NE.

We also recorded a Firecrest, 24 Swallows, a Sand Martin, 11 Blackcaps, 14 Lesser Whitethroats, 12 Whitethroats, a Willow Warbler, eight Chiffchaffs, two Red-legged Partridges, two Grey Partridges, seven Bullfinches and at sea a Whimbrel, two Red-throated Divers and a Great Skua all up channel.