Despite continuing clear blue sky the SW breeze had enough about it to suggest that the spell of unseasonably warm weather is about to come to an end. It also had the effect of reducing activity to normal levels for late February and 2 Siskins that flew over were just about the best on offer, although 9 Great Tits flying up the valley suggested that some spring movement might be imminent.
On another day of endless blue sky and the merest E breeze finches were on the move; mainly Chaffinches (18) and Siskins, all flying NE. As the morning became spring-like once again butterflies on the wing included 5 Brimstones and a Red Admiral. The latter species might be increasingly regular in winter in Kent these days, but this appears to be the first record for the South Foreland in winter.
With not a cloud in the sky, no breeze and feeling like spring in the morning sun it was hard to believe that it is still February. Great Spots were drumming and Coal Tits and Corn Buntings singing at two different sites, 7 Song Thrushes were in full voice and Dunnocks were audible all over the place. 2 Little Egrets were on the rocks, a second wintering Firecrest was found on the farm, a Siskin flew N and, just to complete what is doubtless an unmade summer, 2 Swallows flew in off the sea. 3 Brimstone butterflies were my first of the year, though they were apparently fluttering about yesterday.
An increase in Woodpigeon numbers to 180 a few days ago suggested that some late winter movement might be afoot and this morning the flock had increased to an impressive 600, with relatively few Stock Doves among them. Otherwise, a Stonechat was the first I’ve seen for a while and 3 Buzzards included 2 soaring inland near the Duke of Yorks.
A bit of interest offshore during a dull start included a Shag, a couple of displaying Great Crested Grebes, 18 Red-throated Divers and about 30 Gannets. Up on top in warm sunshine Great Spotted Woodpeckers were drumming in Pines Gardens and the Hollow Wood, where a Firecrest was fidgeting about in brambles on its northern edge.
After a frosty start, under azure skies and barely a breath of wind it morphed into a stunningly beautiful late winter morning, with the warmer spots in the valley looking likely for the first butterflies of the year. In the event none appeared but Buzzard(s) were seen on the farm and over the valley and a few Redwings remained in the Hollow Wood.
Despite the seductive forecast of lambs frolicking in spring sunshine it was breezier and cloudier than expected, though still pretty mild for the time of year. The local Ravens and Peregrines were putting themselves (and each other) through their paces, 5 Song Thrushes were singing their heads off, 2 Siskins flew SW and 19 Stock Doves did not appear to be around last time I was here, so perhaps there is cause for cautious optimism.
Rather than remain confined to barracks as the stormy weather continues I decided to scale the pinnacle of optimism and see what was on offer offshore. The hour after dawn was little different to Tuesday, with 158 Cormorants and 39 auks flying SW, 34 Red-throated Divers heading in the opposite direction, 30 or so Gannets and 40 Fulmars milling about in the bay and at least 80 Kittiwakes, many of which were well offshore following ferries.
Although it was gloomy two hours or so prior to the onset of drizzle then persistent fine rain allowed for a couple of spells of looking out to sea and a wander around the farm. Predictably, the offshore bit was most interesting, with 67 Red-throated Divers, 93 auks and, best of all, a party of 4 Shags that landed on the sea before heading towards Dover.
A late start after various excesses created by England’s win in Dublin, on a lovely crisp winter morning, brought the discovery of 7 wintering Herald moths and 4 Peacock butterflies, as well as one of the local Peregrines and a Buzzard soaring about inland.