October 2019

Thursday 31st

With the wind still in the east though slightly less frisky than yesterday early movement on a bright morning included 731 Goldfinches, 36 Chaffinches, 10 Bramblings, 12 alba wagtails, 8 Siskins, 4 Redpolls, 7 Yellowhammers, 44 Fieldfares, 19 Redwings and 31 Blackbirds, of which there were 110 in all. 4 Great Spotted Woodpeckers were noisily evident and 2 Little Egrets remained on the rocks, shaken not stirred.

Wednesday 30th

Amid the early morning ex-roost extravaganza of 630 Woodpigeons 21 Fieldfares, 28 Redwings and several of an eventual total of 90 Blackbirds flew over or dropped in, along with 3 Redpolls and 4 Bramblings. A late flurry of 182 Goldfinches flew NE, a Woodcock was in Langdon Hole, 61 Lapwings flopped NE inland of the valley and an excellent 53 Yellowhammers were recorded. While this might not be back to the numbers of the late 70s/early 80s it is a vast improvement on 15 or so years ago.

Tuesday 29th

Now here’s a quandary. Yesterday’s GG Shrike was seen in Fan Bay in the afternoon and was still there this morning, so was the lighthouse sighting of a second bird? Anyway, this morning was a mix of early showers and increasingly bright spells, during which 7 Bramblings, 51 Redwings and 3 Fieldfares flew over, with one of the Redwing flocks attracting interest from a Sparrowhawk. 70 Blackbirds represented the first significant influx of autumn, 800 Starlings flew in off the sea and 5 Swallows were tiddling about on the farm.

Monday 28th

Although the first frost of autumn in Sandwich was not replicated locally it was still pretty cold to start with, but bright with a light NW breeze. 835 Woodpigeons flew up the valley this morning, several flocks appearing from north of the bay, and a party of 5 Bewick’s Swans flew SW at the back of the valley, while 330 Starlings, 9 Bramblings, 8 Reed Buntings and 125 Skylarks flew SW or in off the sea during the course of the morning. A Ring Ouzel, 2 Black Redstarts and 2 Firecrests were also found, but the bird of the morning was unquestionably this Great Grey Shrike that was initially discovered at Fan Bay before making its way past the lighthouse.

Steve Ray
Great Grey Shrike by Steve Ray

Sunday 27th

Movement in the first hour was dominated by 546 Woodpigeons leaving the valley from their overnight roost, but despite a light NW breeze everything else was in dribs and drabs. Still, 2 Tree Sparrows flew over, at least 5 Firecrests were scattered about, a Snow Bunting was found on Lighthouse Down and a probable Long-eared Owl was disturbed in pre-dawn half light.

Friday 25th

A morning that a bit of an end-of-term feel about it saw 197 Goldfinches, 51 Chaffinches, 11 alba wagtails, a Short-eared Owl, 9 Greenfinches, 5 Reed Buntings and 23 Redpolls fly SW, while 10 Skylarks flew in off the sea. 2 Fieldfares were chattering away at first light but only one Firecrest and 11 Goldcrests were found; well down on the last couple of days.

Thursday 24th

A heavily overcast morning with the threat of rain never distant and a brisk S wind induced a steady movement of birds flying SW up the valley, including 308 Chaffinches, 215 Goldfinches, 4 Bramblings, 11 alba wagtails, 7 Redpolls, 44 Swallows, 33 House Martins, Woodlark and a Hawfinch. 270 Starlings included 120 flying in off the sea, 21 Song Thrushes dropped in and there were also at least 60 Goldcrests in the valley and 5 Firecrests.

Steve Ray
Firecrest by Steve Ray

Wednesday 23rd

Overcast with a brisk NE breeze movement included 360 Goldfinches, 2 Fieldfares, 11 alba wagtails, a Redpoll, 6 Siskins and 4 Bramblings. A Tawny Owl was calling prior to first light, a Ring Ouzel was at Fan Bay, several Blackbirds dropped in to the top of the valley, 7 Firecrests, 24 Goldcrests and 8 Black Redstarts were scattered about and 13 Swallows flew NE.

Tuesday 22nd

In light of yesterday’s wet weather there was no coverage of the main area but a large influx of thrushes (700 Redwings, 320 Fieldfares and 20 Ring Ouzels) plus Hawfinch and Woodlark was evident at Langdon. There was also a Shore Lark on Lighthouse Down, all of which serves us right, as my old gran would have said. This morning began promisingly but within half an hour fog rolled in and the next hour and a half visibility was no more than 400m. However, substantial numbers of Robins remained, with at least 70 in the area, 3 furtive Ring Ouzels were creeping about and 15 Song Thrushes, a Redpoll and 6 Reed Buntings flew over.

Sunday 20th

In a busy couple of hours vis.mig. from below the lighthouse in a gentle but chilly NNW breeze 1,370 Goldfinches, 260 Linnets and 11 alba wagtails flew NE while birds moving in the opposite direction included 27 Reed Buntings, 3 Bramblings, the first 2 Redpolls of autumn, 52 Chaffinches and a notable 141 Stock Doves. Otherwise, 2 Ring Ouzels and 7 Stonechats were still present, a Tawny Owl was calling on the farm, where at least 35 Long-tailed Tits were roving about and 5 Fieldfares and 2 Redwings flew over. Curiously, 27 House Sparrows also flew NE, a Woodlark flew NE over the farm and, back at the top of the valley, 9 Blue Tits were tree-topping SW and an interesting eastern-type Lesser Whitethroat was in the top wood.

Thursday 17th

Overcast with a very light SSW breeze movement in the first hour was haphazard, to say the least, though it did include our first 2 Bramblings of the autumn, audible among a couple of impossibly high Chaffinch flocks, 159 Goldfinches, 9 Reed Buntings and 11 Siskins. A Black Redstart was at the lighthouse, 7 Golden Plovers flew over and a Collared Dove appeared to fly strongly in off the sea. The farm was beset with rain, but in lovely sunshine there were 14 Blackcaps, 6 Chiffchaffs and a Ring Ouzel in the valley.

Tuesday 15th

Yesterday’s rain had more or less moved on, though it remained heavily overcast with a blustery SW wind. Two hours vis.mig. from Lighthouse Down was rewarded with 1,740 Goldfinches, 6 Siskins, 315 Linnets, 21 alba wagtails, 51 Meadow Pipits, 12 Greenfinches, 52 Chaffinches, 160 Swallows and 60 House Martins. 2 Ring Ouzels were noisily active, 5 Chiffchaffs remained in the valley and 2 Little Egrets were fishing in the rock pools below.

Sunday 13th

A brief window in some unruly weather allowed for an hour and a half of vis.mig. at the clifftop, which resulted in totals of 368 Goldfinches, 249 Linnets, 2 Siskins, a Grey Wagtail, 3 alba wagtails,  and, best of all, 2 Woodlarks. The blustery S wind was perfect for at least 7 Ravens, which were playing about on the breeze, annoying the local Peregrines, a Firecrest was found in the valley and 2 Redwings and 3 Mistle Thrushes flew over.

Thursday 10th

Downchannel movement in the first hour of a crystal clear morning with a brisk SW breeze included 184 Goldfinches, 117 Linnets, 12 alba wagtails, 104 Meadow Pipits, 8 Reed Buntings, 4 Sparrowhawks and a Siskin. 4 Ring Ouzels were unearthed along the cliffs and a Wheatear was found near the lighthouse.

Wednesday 9th

Two hours vis.mig. on an overcast, damp and chilly morning produced a SW movement of 269 Goldfinches, 4 Reed Buntings, 36 Meadow Pipits, 3 Mistle Thrushes and 60 Swallows. Otherwise, 2 Redwings flew over the valley and 3 Ring Ouzels were recorded.

Tuesday 8th

Another day of good variety, if smaller numbers. Overhead movement in the first 75 minutes after dawn amounted to 51 Meadow Pipits, 209 Linnets, 13 Reed Buntings, a Rock Pipit and 15 alba wagtails. A loose party of 11 Ring Ouzels was at Fan Bay, with at least 10 more in Langdon Hole, 320 more Linnets were on the farm, where a very nice male Redstart put in an appearance, and 2 Siskins flew over the top wood.

Steve Ray
Ring Ouzel by Steve Ray

Monday 7th

Yesterday’s rain cleared overnight and the first hour or so was spent counting most of the 64 Song Thrushes that flew off inland, to a background of ticking Robins and calling Dunnocks. Overhead movement included 236 Goldfinches, 3 Siskins, 21 alba wagtails, 11 Jays and most of the 38 Reed Buntings that were recorded during the morning, while 6 Ring Ouzels and at least 120 Robins were scattered about, 3 Sparrowhawks were conspicuously active and a late Willow Warbler was found in Langdon Hole.

Sunday 6th

Despite a day of almost continuous rain 3 Ring Ouzels and a Yellow-browed Warbler were reported from Fan Bay.

Saturday 5th

With light overnight rain, a light NE breeze and a drizzly dawn it really should have been better than it turned out to be. A Tawny Owl was calling in the valley before sun-up and a Ring Ouzel was flushed from the farm at much the same time, but there was precious little movement and a Treecreeper, trapped on the farm, and a Short-eared Owl over the fields were the most interesting bits on offer.

Friday 4th

Noticeably warmer this morning, it was nevertheless very quiet, with a Merlin flying along the cliff and a Ring Ouzel in bushes below the lighthouse the best bits on offer. Otherwise, 450 House Martins and 160 Swallows flew SW and 72 Brent Geese flew NE offshore.

Thursday 3rd

The coldest night since early May contributed to a character-building start to proceedings, though at least there was no wind. An hour and a half of vis. mig. produced totals of 166 Chaffinches, 128 Linnets and 8 Reed Buntings and a total of 62 Skylarks included 5 coming in off the sea. The bushes contributed 70 Chiffchaffs and 30 Blackcaps and the fields singles of Wheatear, Black Redstart and Golden Plover.

Wednesday 2nd

Clear and bright with a chill and brisk NW wind meant thrushes and even though it is probably too early for large numbers we were treated to 2 Ring Ouzels, 21 Song Thrushes, a Fieldfare and 17 Redwings. Birds of prey were also conspicuous, including 5 Sparrowhawks and a late Hobby, 4 Great Spotted Woodpeckers included one flying strongly SW over the farm and 2 Skylarks came in off the sea.

Tuesday 1st

In the hour it took for an overcast start to clear 166 Meadow Pipits, 170 House Martins, 140 Swallows and 5 Reed Buntings flew downchannel. Otherwise, a Black Redstart was at Fan Bay, 70 Chiffchaffs and 60 Blackcaps were in the bushes, 2 Mistle Thrushes flew SW and a vocal party of 5 Golden Plovers was on the lighthouse field.