Clear skies, a gentle NW breeze and bright sunshine was the setting to a peaceful walk up through the valley and along the cliffs today. 3 Firecrests were all of note among the tit flocks and Redwings were well represented with c70 between the fields and the valley . c50 Goldenplover were counted on the headland, with 20 of these on the deck in the stubble fields ear the light house, the others in off and west. The same line taken by a dozen Snipe and 22 Lapwing.
Golden Plover heading West.
Ive seen a few CaspianGulls from the cliff tops and recently 2 at st Margarets (1st W and 2nd W) but nothing coming particularly close, Nothing to be seen at Deal and nothing at Shakey beach at the moment – a reflection on the calm weather perhaps as shakey is only good on a windy days.
1st Winter Caspian Gull, Langdon cliffs.
Another 1st winter Caspian Gull, st Margarets bay.
BlackRedstarts are around and about, with at least 2 at Shakey, a single bird in the marina and one or two in the port my end. The VelvetScoter in the harbour was enjoyable but seems to have disappeared now.
Another 30 mph South Westerly morning so I headed to the sheltered end of the patch and quickly came across a Pallas’swarbler. Not in top wood however the bird was down in the Pines garden where I’d had one last friday. I took it to be ‘probably’ one of last weeks birds until it called: a flatter and shorter note, on occasion a dysllabic almost Humes like call though still obviously pallas’s-esque, quite different from anything heard last week.
The bird showed on and off for about an hour until I moved off and toured the valley seeing very little except the same EurasianTreecreeper, 3 Firecrest and a Blackcap.
Ive been checking the harbour and Shakey Beach area in the afternoons. Nothing today but 2 CaspianGulls last Friday which i forgot to mention. A striking 2nd winter patrolling the beach (pic) and a dainty first winter on the puddles.
Light South Easterlies with sunshine and the occasional fog patch over the weekend made were good condition looking for the Pallas’s Warbler. Although no sign in the Pines garden on Saturday morning and very little else until we walked through Top wood and Rich picked up a Pallas’s calling that then appeared overhead. The bird was high up and moving quickly in the canopy. Later in the day Tony M put out that there were in fact two Pallas’sWarblers in top wood. Sunday was a similar situation and more people looking for the birds produced the same conclusion – 2 Birds. Myself Rich and Steve C had two vocal birds together briefly, again fast moving and feeding high up. Im of the mind that the two in Top wood are different to the bird in the Pines (almost 1km away) from Friday, so potentially 3 Pallas’s over the weekend which is great!
Fast forward to this morning and a blanket of fog lay over the Western end of the patch which moved east throughout the morning, and a different set of birds. Thrushes moving first thing with mixed flocks of Redwing, Fieldfare and Blackbirds dotted within. 18 Lapwing flew in off and north aswell as 2 GoldenPlover.
1 EurasianTreecreeper, 1 Brambling, 25 Siskin, 2 Redpoll, 44 Goldcrest , 8 Firecrest, 4 Chiffchaff and 5 Blackcap were counted, 3 Coaltit also -which looked like British birds.
The constant & strong SW winds have ground me down somewhat and with little to report this blog has been unchanged for nearly 2 weeks. Waking up again to the sound of wind whistling down the between our house and the cliff I decided to start my search at the very far end of the patch: the ever-sheltered South Foreland valley.
I drove, which is a rare occurrence, and as I walked up the track to the start of the valley, I came across a tit flock moving across the track containing several Goldcrests plus a Firecrest and as I pished I heard the little “cork pulled from a wine bottle-squeak” of a Pallas’sWarbler, which then appeared right in front of me.
My best and most prolonged views of the species in this country and perhaps the most vocal individual I’ve known. It eventually performed for a small crowd after relocating it down in the Pines garden.
Favouring a Beech hedge bordering some gardens the bird fed at lower levels but did also flit about in some sycamores.
Some decent weather ahead for the weekend or at least some lighter winds!
A full circuit of the patch today in light South easterly wind was a slight disappointment, the avain highlights being a Ringouzel at each end (one at Langdon and the other on light house down) c10 Swallows and 4 Firecrest.
Whilst walking back across the farm I picked up a Crimsonspeckled moth flying in front of me. Only the second ive ever seen and glad to ‘geg in’ on the influx. Shame it wasn’t a Pallid swift.
A quick walk up and down the sea front and marina before dusk produced a Hummingbirdhawkmoth, 64 MedGulls and 2 1st winter YellowLeggedgulls
For over a month this blog has laid dormant, and despite efforts there has been mostly little to report. Since returning from Scilly (and between work trips to Paris) the highlight has been a YellowBrowedWarbler at langdon on the 21st.
Today I had 3 RingOuzel at the west end of the patch and 5 Lapwing flew West. Firecrests have been counted each day with around 10 a high count. Finch movement seems below average, 10’s of Siskins noted along with a handful of Redpoll and one or two Bambling.
Most days have seen hirundine movement (between 25 and 100 Swallows and low numbers of HouseMartins)
Hopefully a change in wind direction will produce some more birds or these southerlies will deliver a much much desired Pallid swift.
One of my main targets this autumn was to find a Yellow Browed Warbler before I go to Scilly on Saturday. Today it all played out as I had hoped when I heard one call right above my head in Top wood South Foreland.
It was feeding in the canopy mostly and called only a handful of times but I very much enjoyed it. My first since moving here, with last year being away on Scilly for crucial dates plus the overall paucity of autumn records for the country as a whole.
Other things of note were again decent numbers of Hirundines (c1,000) and close to 500 Meadow pipits counted, a CommonWhitethroat and a Willow Warbler may be my last this year, also c25 Chiffchaff , 15 Goldcrest, 3 Firecrest, 2 BlackRedstart
Caspian Gulls are still coming through Deal in numbers with new birds being seen every visit by myself and Gerald S (7 in the last 2 days). Today I had 3 Birds and what looks like a Casp x Herring Hybrid. Heres the nicest of the bunch, a large, vocal 1st Winter. I’ll do a post detailing the highlights of the Caspian gull ‘influx’ at some point.
Unchanging North Westerly wind direction and its increased strength over the weekend dampened enthusiasm somewhat. However a juv Cuckoo and 2 Hobbies highlighted a windy walk on the 17th.
Lighter winds today and Rich B and I slowly tracked East from Langdon first thing and notched up a decent list of birds: Great White Egret North East at 10.30, Ring Ouzel, 3 Black Redstart, 2 Firecrest, Tree pipit, Swift, Whinchat, Grasshopperwarbler, 30 Chiffchaff, 20 House Martin, 800 HouseMartin, 600 Swallow, 2 Snipe,3 LittleEgret,2 Grey Wagtail,2 YellowWagtail 9 Curlew, 15 Stonechat, ReedBunting. Whilst Steve and Russ had seen a Ring tailed HenHarrier and heard a Dotterel.
A mid-afternoon walk with Amy away from the patch developed a brilliant edge when a feeding ball of Hirundines c1500 strong (mostly House Martins) started zipping up and down at the top of the cliffs along Round down above Samphire Hoe.
With them were smaller numbers of Swallows and Sand martins but also 2 Swift. I stood on the old concrete bunkers as the birds swarmed around, it was really very nice, perhaps saying goodbye to the numbers.
A surprise Brambling, my first of the autumn joined the ranks and flew among the hirundines briefly before circling, calling and heading west along the cliffs. A Ring Ouzel also noisily flew west between the cliff edge and the A20.
A moderate NNW breeze this am and the first morning I’ve needed a jumper this autumn!
2 Ring ouzels (one in Langdon Hole, the other flying out over the sea along the cliffs, Spotted Flycatcher,Swift, Firecrest, 4 whinchat, Common Redstart, Black Redstart. A notable increase in Stonechats, Decent Numbers of Meadow pipits & hirundines but unfortunately it looks like I missed the big numbers y’day.
The Gull bonanza thats been going on in the beach and harbour area seems to have finished now and numbers are down. Here are some of the other Caspian gulls that i saw since the last post.
Deal beach too seems productive with lots of turn over and rarely the same bird seen over two days. I had 2 nice proper first winter Caspian Gulls this evening; a Large male and a smaller female type.
Ive actually never seen so many different 1CY Caspian gulls at this particular time of year before, theres such a range from almost juv-like brown birds to very white headed, grey mantled individuals. Really enjoying the numbers!
A switch in the wind from light southerly to a moderate North Easterly over night and cloud cover by morning dropped in some new birds: I had my first RingOuzel of the autumn calling in flight along the cliffs near Fan bay plus 10 or so Treepipits over South East, 10 Wheatear, seemingly more stonechats, a decent stream of Meadowpipits and Hirundines aswell as 2 Spottedflycatchers a whinchat and c25 Chiffchaff (only 8 Willows) but the highlight came in the form of a juvenile Rosefinch! Found by local Russ B in Langdon Hole around 09.30 (long after I’d gone through there!)
Well done Russ, I was very happy to see this bird, a species which I associate with Scilly and Shetland, feeding on blackberries – a much rarer bird here in Kent.
Steve – another local had seen the Wryneck thats been hanging around close to the Rosefinch site and I luckily saw that briefly before the rain set in and I made my way home.
The Harbour was full of large gulls this afternoon. Large numbers of Mackerel have been chasing schools of sprats into the shallows and 1,000s were being stranded on the shoreline. generating feeding frenzies for the gulls and some nice views of them for me. I counted 15 Yellow Legged Gulls and 2 CaspianGulls. Both casps looking a little ugly as they morph into 1st winter but still nice.