Saturday, 30 September 2017

30th September 2017

The last few days has seen a steady decline in the number of warblers,  with only a handful noted yesterday. It was therefore obvious this morning that there had been a big overnight arrival of new birds. We managed to notch up 184 Chiffchaffs, 103 Blackcaps, single Grasshopper and Reed Warblers, Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat and 4 Firecrests.

Overhead there were at least 3 Redpolls (1st of autumn), 30 Siskins, a Brambling, Common Snipe, Golden Plover, 3 Grey Wagtails, 45 Alba Wagtails and 20 Reed Buntings. Meanwhile the Turtle Dove and Short-eared Owl remain in the Hope Point area. There was a Wheatear in the Big Field and a Redstart in The Rough.

Chiffchaff - Hope Point ( Brendan Ryan)
Blackcap - Hope Point (Brendan Ryan) 

29th September 2017

On the land it was a fairly quiet day with very few migrants. However after the initial early morning rain cleared there was a spectacular movement of hirundines, initially predominantly Swallows but then House Martins too over big time. We estimate around 100,000 House Martins and 10,000 Swallows passed through up until mid day, when it started to rain and the passage dried up ( and/or we went home!)

The previous day (28th ) had been quiet with 4 Firecrests being the highlight, along with two late Yellow Wagtails along Reach Road ( part of the Greater Bockhill area!)

Yellow Wagtail ( Brendan Ryan) 

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

27th September 2017

Early morning was dogged by fog and it wasn't until mid morning when it cleared and the sun came out that we saw some action in the form of a juvenile Honey-buzzard by the monument. It seemed reluctant to depart over the channel and was in view for about 15 minutes. A little earlier, Mike Puxley saw it fly out of the Farm Wood, where it had presumably roosted overnight. It is possible that it was the bird seen at Sandwich the previous afternoon. It eventually gained height and headed off over the Channel.

Honey Buzzard ( Brendan Ryan)

As Jack and I walked up from Hope Point early afternoon, a second Buzzard came across the Big Field and headed out to sea before eventually turning north and heading off towards Kingsdown. initially we thought this was another Honey-buzzard but it proved to be a juvenile Common Buzzard

Common Buzzard ( Brendan Ryan) 
The only other birds of note were three Stonechats, a Wheatear, four Firecrests, 35 Chiffchaffs, four Blackcaps and a Reed Warbler. Overhead around 650 Starlings arrived and about 35 Swallows headed south.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

26th September 2017

A fairly quiet day, with a Turtle Dove at Hope Point being the highlight. Most of yesterday's Firecrests seemed to have moved on with only three recorded along with 15 Goldcrests. At least 26 Chiffchaffs were present, along with 13 Blackcaps, 3 Whitethroates and 2 Lesser Whitethroats. Overhead there was 30 Swallows, 6 Reed Buntings, 4 Grey Wagtails, 85 Starlings, a Grey Heron and a Greenshank. The two Stonechats remain on the clifftop near the cafe.

Monday, 25 September 2017

24th September 2017

A very slight SE initially didn't enthuse the four of us who were out across the area, but we stuck with it and got a little bit of reward. With some visiting birders finding a Pied Flycatcher in the Farm Wood we hung around a bit and gave it a good looking at. Brendan briefly heard a Yellow-browed Warbler and shortly after Nigel picked it up on the edge of the wood where it gave good but brief views. A Spotted Flycatcher in the Freedown and a Hobby across the Gun Emplacement were the other highlights. Around the area we also had two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 61 Chiffchaffs, ten Long-tailed Tits, 33 Blackcaps, a Firecrest, 13 Goldcrests, three Grey Wagtails, two Lesser Whitethroats, a Whitethroat, a Yellow Wagtail, two Reed Buntings, 12 Grey Partridges, 15 Yellowhammers, 3 Wheatears and 3 Stonechats.

25th September 2017

A generally quiet morning, a very light SE, with reducing number of warblers and migrants. However there was a small arrival of Firecrests with 17 scattered around the area. Also seen were 16 Goldcrests, 52 Chiffchaffs, 8 Blackcaps, 1 Lesser Whitethroat and a late Willow Warbler. The only other sighting of note were 9 Grey Herons moving south.

In the afternoon a Ring Ouzel flew over Kingsdown and in the early evening a Hobby had a brief chase with a Swallow.

Firecrest ( Brendan Ryan)

Firecrest ( Brendan Ryan) 

Saturday, 23 September 2017

23rd September 2017

A very light SW, five of us out across the area and a couple of birds of interest. The first was a Kingfisher Nigel had along Kingsdown Leas, but that is only half the story. The unfortunate individual was taken by a Sparrowhawk, but obviously used its assets to fight back and was eventually dumped in the sea. Fortunately it appeared to survive the ordeal. It then transpired that presumably the same bird (we have seen more Radde's Warblers than Kingfishers here) was seen in the week flying into the window of a house along The Leas. A fairly traumatic time for this bird!

The other highlight of the day was a Lapland Bunting which was flying into the wind over The Monument and although appeared to drop in, could not be relocated. Elsewhere around the area we had a Stonechat, 440 Meadow Pipits, a Yellow Wagtail, 70 Skylarks, five House Sparrow, 17 Blackcaps, 18 'alba' Wagtails, six Grey Wagtails, 91 Chiffchaffs, 11 Goldcrests, three Reed Buntings, a Whitethroat, two Common Sandpipers, a Tree Pipit, a Whinchat, a Bullfinch, 30 Yellowhammers, four Grey Partridges and a Great Spotted Woodpecker.

A couple of us had a look at the sea late morning but the light was terrible and most of the birds were on the horizon. We managed a Great Skua, five Eider, nine Brent Geese and seven Cormorants all going down channel.

The game of  'estimate the hirundines' was being played again tonight in Kingsdown. Initially the amounts were small at 16.30, but by 18.00 they had built up massively and stretched from the coast all the way up to the Deal-Dover road. Nearly all were Swallows and today the number was 25 000.

Friday, 22 September 2017

22nd September 2017

A Spotted Flycatcher in the Freedown was pick of the bunch today. 2 Reed Buntings on the clifftop is a sign of the autumn progressing. On the warbler front there were 59 Chiffchaffs, 14 Blackcaps and a single Lesser Whitethroat. Yesterday's 2 Stonechats were still present at the monument while a new bird was present in the Freedown. A single Wheatear was at Hope Point while overhead there were 3 Grey and a single Yellow Wagtail. Wind - light SW.

Richard's usual evening walk around Kingsdown yielded little in the trees and bushes but about 2 500 Swallows (nearly all juveniles) were feeding over the golf course and the cliffs.

Spotted Flycatcher ( Brendan Ryan) 

21st September 2017

Another quiet morning in which all I could muster was 39 Chiffchaffs, 2 Blackcaps, single Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroats, 2 Stonechats, 1 Wheatear, 2 Grey Wagtails , 4 Red-legged Partridge and 8 flyover Ringed Plovers.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

20th September 2017

Jack and I walked the cliff top from the Monument to Hope Point in a light SW. Hirundines were still feeding and slowly moving through, not quite like yesterday, but nevertheless pretty impressive. Most interesting of all were the 400 Sand Martins, which together with 4 000 Swallows, 2 000 House Martins and a Swift made for a fabulous aerial spectacle.

In the top field were 500 Meadow Pipits, four Yellow Wagtails, two Wheatears and two Stonechats close by. Along the cliff top there was not much at all, most birds concentrated in Hope Point. 27 Chiffchaffs, 18 Blackcaps, a Bullfinch, 12 Goldfinches, two Yellowhammers, a Sparrowhawk, two Ravens and the ever present Short-eared Owl was flushed yet again.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

19th September 2017

An early morning walk to The Undercliffe and around Kingsdown yielded very little. 5 Rock Pipits, 12 Chiffchaffs, 15 Long-tailed Tits, three Blackcaps and eight Goldcrests.

At around 18.00, with a light NW, the hirundine numbers went stratospheric. They were moving through on a broad front stretching from the golf course at Kingsdown, inland to Ringwould and as far as I could see up to St. Margaret's. Significantly more than last evening. By 19.20 they had moved through and the count was in the region of 40 000 birds with Swallows forming the majority. An amazing sight.

Monday, 18 September 2017

18th September 2017

Apart from Chiffchaff numbers (77) and a fresh arrival of Goldcrests (52), there was limited evidence of migration today. Only 14 Blackcaps could be found along with a single Garden Warbler and Whitethroat. A single Firecrest was in the Paddock and two Wheatears in the Big Field. Overhead there was a single Tree Sparrow and Grey Wagtail. Richard and I spent some time looking for yesterday's Yellow-browed Warbler to no avail. Richard later had a Hobby over the Golf Course and a couple of Lesser Whitethroats.

In the evening hirundines were feeding all the way from Kingsdown to St.Margaret's over the golf course and inland. It is always difficult to estimate the numbers, but it was somewhere along the lines of 10 000 birds, the majority House Martins.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

17th September 2017

Very calm conditions today, early fog and a chilly start to the day. Phil, Abi, Heather, Nigel and I were out from 08.00 to 12.00 concentrating on the Oldstairs and Granville Road end of Kingsdown. The first Yellow-browed Warbler of the Autumn was calling at the beach end of Oldstairs Road mid morning. Of course none of us managed to see it! Birds appeared to be in a couple of tight, mixed flocks and numbered 70 Chiffchaffs, 25 Blackcaps, eight Long-tailed Tits, 12 Goldcrests and a flyover Shelduck. Hirundines were still in good numbers, 300 House Martins and 200 Swallows.

In the evening I had another walk round the same area and the only birds were by the golf course along Granville Road. 20 Chiffchaffs, 15 Blackcaps and a couple of Siskins overhead.

16 September 2017

In a light northwesterly, Phil and Nigel walked the clifftop from the Monument to Hope Point. There were obviously some grounded migrants with 85 Chiffchaffs, 3 Stonechat (first for the autumn), 5 Blackcaps, 2 Reed Warblers, 60 Meadow Pipits and a Goldcrest; whilst overhead we had 2 Grey Wagtails, approximately 500 each of Swallow and House Martin, 2 Sand Martin, 1 Swift, 2 Yellow Wagtails and 4 House Sparrows. The White Stork was also still present in the Big Field.
At Hope Point we found this Blyth's Reed Warbler which showed a couple of times, but could not be relocated despite extensive searching. 

Blyth's Reed Warbler - Phil Chantler

Friday, 15 September 2017

15th September 2017 (Part 2)

One of the farm workers told Brendan about a large white bird that had turned up yesterday afternoon and had been feeding in the fields he and his cousin were working. It was still present this morning. Brendan refound it in a field by the Gun Emplacement and it was a White Stork. Brendan got these excellent shots of it below. Unfortunately it does appear to be suffering a little wing damage! I was having a chat with Phil earlier and we have seen thousands of these migrating in Southern Spain at a similar time of year, we can't remember many with wings in this state. Couple that with a metal ring on its left leg and I think it may lead to a conclusion of 'dubious origin'.

Also in the area, the Short-eared Owl (photo by Brendan below) was still present at Hope Point, 127 Chiffchaffs, 19 Blackcap, five Lesser Whitethroats, three Whitethroats, seven Goldcrests and a Wheatear.

15th September 2017 (Part 1)

White Stork (Richard Heading)

An 'in the field' shot of the White Stork at Bockhill. More to follow. 

Thursday, 14 September 2017

14th September 2017

I spent an hour or so in St. Margaret's Bay from 11.00 with moderate westerly winds. A pale phase and dark phase Arctic Skua went down channel as did a group of four Great Skuas with a gannet. Six Knots also passed down, a Hobby and 16 Meadow Pipits came in off the sea. A Grey Seal and four Harbour Porpoises were offshore.

Around Kingsdown it was very quiet in the early afternoon. Seven Chiffchaffs, a Lesser Whitethroat and five Blackcaps.

 Three out of the four Great Skuas (Richard Heading)

The fourth Great Skua just up to the (Richard Heading

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

12th September 2017

Brendan walked the area from 07.30-11.30 this morning. There were 96 Chiffchaffs, six Lesser Whitethroats, seven Whitethroats, three Firecrests, 14 Goldcrests, ten Blackcaps, two Grey Wagtails, four Tree Sparrows, a Swift, a Short-eared Owl and a Reed Warbler.

Monday, 11 September 2017

11th September 2017

I rang Jack last night and persuaded him that a seawatch this morning could be brilliant. Strong winds up the channel, good numbers of seabirds further west along the coast, overcast conditions so no problem with the light, what could possibly go wrong? We didn't make 10 species, the light was terrible and it rained just to add insult to injury. 150 Sandwich Terns, 19 of which were resting on the beach, a Curlew and a Harbour Porpoise. Not sure I will be able to convince anyone again that a seawatch is a good idea.

Sandwich Terns and Black-headed Gull (Richard Heading)
Curlew (Richard Heading)

Sunday, 10 September 2017

10th September 2017

Phil and I only spent a couple of hours in the Paddock and around the Farm today and had one Redstart, 43 Blackcaps, five Whitethroats, three Lesser Whitethroats, 38 Chiffchaffs, two Willow Warblers and two Spotted Flycatchers.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

9th September 2017

This morning Phil and I arrived to find warblers calling from every bush and by the time we had finished at lunchtime we had recorded 631 warblers. There were 429 Blackcaps, one Garden Warbler, 25 Lesser Whitethroats, six Whitethroats, one Grasshopper Warbler, 163 Chiffchaffs and six Willow Warblers. Other notable birds were five Wheatears, one Whinchat, eight Goldcrests, a Short-eared Owl, seven Spotted Flycatchers and a Nightingale.

Overhead we had 88 Meadow Pipits, three Rock Pipits, single Grey and Yellow Wagtails, three Tree Sparrows and 15 Buzzards all moving W. Also overhead there were 4500 Swallows, 2500 House Martins and eight Swifts feeding along the cliff-top and across the fields whilst being harassed by two Hobbys.

Spotted Flycatcher (Richard Heading)

Friday, 8 September 2017

8th September 2017

A walk with the dog in the rain from Kingsdown, up Ottey Bottom and around the fields by the golf course produced upwards of 50 Chiffchaffs and 300 feeding Swallows.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

7th September 2017

Few grounded migrants today with a Whinchat, Common Redstart, Garden Warbler, five Blackcaps, three Common Whitethroats, four Lesser Whitethroats and four Willow Warblers. We did however have a reasonable fall of 38 Chiffchaffs, our best autumn total this year. Feeding over the fields were 4350 Swallows, 2200 House Martins, 10 Sand Martins and two Swifts.

This puddle at the end of The Droveway was providing a drink for hundreds of swallows and a Sand Martin. If only we had a more permanent water source.

Swallows (Richard Heading)

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

5th September 2017

Jack and I were in the Bay from 09.00 - 11.30. A moderate SW with good visibility, poor visibility, drizzle, sunshine etc! Our first few scans gave us the best birds with a Black Tern (pretty scarce for us and a lot closer than the photos below would have you believe) and an Arctic Skua harrying terns offshore. Other than that it wasn't great, 464 Sandwich Terns were drifting down channel, 40-50 Gannets offshore, a Mediterranean Gull, a couple of Shags were close by, two Curlews and 50 Swallows headed down channel and a Wheatear landed on the beach.

Black Tern (Richard Heading)

Sunday, 3 September 2017

2nd September 2017

Far fewer warblers today and almost overnight there has been a change from Willow Warblers, only one, to Chiffchaffs of which there were 12. Apart from that we had a Tree Pipit and three Yellow Wagtails flyover, five Wheatears and a small influx of nine Song Thrushes.
In the big field 2100 Herring Gulls, 20 Lesser Black-Backed Gulls and 7 Great Black-Backed Gulls rested after a rain squall dashed down Channel.

Friday, 1 September 2017

1st September 2017

Less warblers today with three Reed Warblers, a Sedge Warbler, 24 Whitethroats, 17 Lesser Whitethroats, 28 Blackcaps, five Chiffchaffs and five Willow Warblers.
Other notable birds were two Tree Pipits, two Whinchats, 24 Wheatears, one Redstart and one Pied Flycatcher. We also had a Little Owl a bird that used breed on the farm but has been absent for the last four years.