The past couple of days have seen good numbers of BlackRedstart coming through with a high count on friday of 11 for me (13 for others out on the headland) Thursday was also good for the species with 8/9 Birds seen including 4 males, 2 of which were locked in combat at one point.
Still no trans Saharan migrants for me! and all too late to see one in march as I make my way up to the highlands of Scotland on Sunday for 10 or so days surveying.
A light SSE breeze met me as I climbed the cliff path first thing and my walk Eastwards was punctuated by 3 BlackRedstart and a Woodcock in Langdon Hole.
2 WhiteWagtails flew along the cliffs east of Fan bay but the highlight of the day was a singing Serin in the old light house garden just after 9am.
Unfortunately it was into the light and hard to pin down but it was a joy to hear fully singing initially alongside Goldfinches and then solo. A few of its distinctive calls were heard as it moved further away to the limit of my hearing, where it gave a final few bursts of its high pitched squeezed-out song, I didnt hear it again after that. Bizarrely it was 150 metres from where the other 2 Serin I have seen on the headland have been.
Further searching for the Serin led me along lighthouse down where a Woodlark flew over Colin J and I calling at Height and to the North East , my second of the spring. Up to 4 Brambling including a nice male calling from a cornbunting style perch (one of last yea’s umbellifers) in the middle of a field. Also 4 RedKites came south over the valley, these were seen again over the farm half an hour later, then another 2 came in low above the cliffs as I traipsed back home.
I keep forgetting to mention I had 2 Bottle–noseddolphins from the headland last week, the only other Cetaceans Ive seen here being harbourporpoise.
A light NE wind, bright sunshine and a great morning for Chaffinch movement locally.
3,470 ENE from the top of Harbour field, Langdon cliffs area. Plus 18 Brambling, 250 Siskin, single Crossbill + Greenfinch+ WhiteWagtail. Whilst 3 RedKites, 2 BlackRedstart and a single Firecrest were noted during the morning.
The previous day was another bright warm day with winds from my usual favourite direction here (NW) but little migration was noted although siskin and chaffinch were heard high up throughout the morning. I spent some time looking at common birds in nice light. The below Jay was one of 5 on lighthouse down where a singing Firecrest and female BlackRedstart remained.
An eerie glow in the air today with the Saharan Dust cloud having an effect on visibility but it didn’t stop some 900 Chaffinches, 260 Siskin, 9 Brambling and up to 300 Redwing moving. From first thing till around 9am all finch and thrush movement was in a steady NE direction, some higher than usual. After this point birds were coming in high off the sea and circling, some flocks in off and straight west , others due North, they were all over the place which made counting harder.
A RedKite flew West over Reach road, a single BlackRedstart was on Lighthouse down, where a GreyWagtail flew west. 3 Firecrests were vocal in Langdon hole, c200 BrentGeese in 3 flocks were fairly close in flying North East and a flock of 15 Greylags flew West as I walked East from Fan Bay and a smart first winter CaspianGull flew towards the port as I walked back.
On the 15th of March 1969 an AlpineSwift was found over Dover town. This is my number one top of my list ‘Bird to find’ here this spring but unfortunately it wasn’t to be repeated today…
The highlight of the mild and still morning was a Woodlark that fluted its way East near the Radar station first thing. Best of my poor pics below.
A conservative count of 870 Chaffinches flew North East between 06.45 and about 9am. Much higher and about 200m further in land than last weeks larger numbers, c150 Siskin also took a similar line though a flock of 25 of these charming little finches came through at head height and flew right past me which was nice.
2 Brambling (one of which was perched up calling in Langdon hole early on) 2 BlackRedstart (including a killer male) and 2 Whitewagtails (along the cliff tops at eye level) 2 Firecrest and 2 RedKite were also noted , as was a Kettle of 11 CommonBuzzards including the pale bird which ive seen acouple times recently. The lonely Treecreeper was still singing in middle wood.
Sea watching on windier days (yesterday and sunday) produced a number of BrentGeese at slightly closer range with the Easterly element to the wind. 5 DrakeEider and a 1st Winter CaspianGull were nice and a handful of Commonscoter plus 20+ RedthroatedDivers.
The southerly wind continues with varying strengths over the past 3 days. The 10th was a calm warm morning with 2 MarshHarriers and 3 RedKites the highlights of my walk around the patch. All 3 Kites and one of the MarshHarriers headed South and out to sea bizarrely. I wish I understood why!
3 Brimstones, a Comma,3 Peacocks and a few Whites were also taking advantage of the mild and still weather as were the local WallLizard population.
3 WhiteWagtails along the cliffs, c50 Siskin a single Greenfinch, c100 Chaffinch, single Brambling and a BlackRedstart were noted on the 11th aswell as a jump in Stonechat numbers (7) and some continental looking males while this morning’s efforts were aimed at the Sea where c750 BrentGeese were counted between 7am and 9ish. flying East some at great distance and others abit closer. 26 Red–throateddivers also East.
One of the closer flocks contained a lone Pale–BelliedBrent bringing up the rear. A bird was reported from Reculver later in the day. I wonder if it could be the same bird?
The winds dropped mid afternoon and I broke from working on the house to check the headland quickly for a Wheatear. Alas it was not to be but 2 Firecrests on Foxhill down and a pocket of 3 ChiffChaffs along the fence on Reach Road were welcomed migrants to look at.
A strong SSE breeze met me as I climbed the cliff path early doors and as I reached Langdon cliffs I realised a semi-shift in the seasons had occurred : the headland was full of birdsong. Yellowhammers were dotted about singing away (after not seeing one for over a month!) As were up to 10 CornBuntings. Linnets seemed to have arrived overnight and were muttering to each other in flocks aswell as fully singing in a couple of places. MeadowPipits song flighting along the cliffs, joining the already enthusiastic Skylarks, It sounded great.
A Snowbunting was heard overhead as I walked along Reach road which appeared a few minutes later on the fenceline near the old Airstrip so presumably the wintering bird which I havent seen for a while.
A Brambling flew over Langdon Hole in circles calling but other than 2 Redpoll East there was little other Finch movement. The herd of cattle on the cliffs near the lighthouse did exactly what I had hoped for in attracting migrant insectivores in the form of 2 WhiteWagtails. Hopefully more of that kind of thing as spring progresses.
A single Chiffchaff was noted in top wood and in lower wood a EurasianTreecreeper was singing. 3 Firecrest and a Coaltit were also counted here.
Whislt chatting to Lucy L near her home we picked up a Redkite low over the old windmill garden, then another 2 very high with a CommonBuzzard heading Northish. A quick scan of the sea got me a nice flock of 50 or so BrentGeese east aswell as many GreatcrestedGrebes and 2 Red throated Divers on the water near Fan Bay.
A trip to the timber merchants in Deal was interrupted by a Text from Gerald S letting me know of a juv GlaucousGull he had found on deal beach a few minutes away from where i was standing so I raced over and we watched it for a while before it was chased away by the local Herringgulls. Fantastic bird; my first and only White winged Gull of the winter.
Northerly and North Easterly winds dominated the weekend and finch movement was apparently going ahead on Saturday throughout the morning with c1,300 Chaffinches East in flocks of 20-80 birds every few minutes and mostly at cliff height which meant each flock could be easily scanned for brambling (2 of which were seen).
Several Firecrests and Chiffchaffs have been noted recently but no sign of migrant BlackRedstarts, Whitewagtails or Blackcaps. I’m hopeful next week will provide these and a Wheatear or two.
Finch movement today seemed to be non existent in comparison to yesterday, if it was happening it must have been further inland and the movement along the cliffs was dominated by large gulls. Many Lesser Blackbacks and 2 CaspianGulls (A 1st winter and a 2nd Winter) glided East during the morning.
The harbour is hosting a roost of several thousand Gulls in the evenings. Mostly small Gulls and despite a good look through I havent managed to find anything of interest beyond 100+ Medgulls this evening.