|Robin, Allden's Hill, 27/10/2018.|
I have mixed feelings about seawatching and don’t always enjoy it, but the thought of some late autumn variety and good numbers moving into the Swale/Thames was enough to tempt me. So, having perused Google Maps and historic records, I found a seriously under-watched spot with potential – Herne Bay. Highlights were a Little Auk moving west (picked up at Tankerton minutes later) and two Leach’s Storm Petrels east; I’ve seen neither for years and the former was a nice self-found tick. I was kindly given a heads up for the petrels so can’t claim them.
I also tallied two Pomarine Skuas, four Arctic Skuas, 19 Little Gulls, four Bonxies, 263 Common Scoter, 418 Brent Geese and 66 Kittiwakes. Stuff was initially being blown west and into the estuary, though by late morning many birds were pushing back east. Four Goldcrests cannoned in at shoulder height early on, and a Fieldfare somehow managed to avoid a persistent Peregrine by pulling off an epic shearwater-esque getaway over the waves. Chaffinches and Starlings were arriving in-off, and it was clear passerines were taking advantage of the first northeasterlies for ages to make the crossing.
I’d never normally bunk the patch when a big migration day is on the cards, but I hold my hands up and admit I totally got it wrong on Sunday. I thought the wind (up to force four) would impede movement, and with cold squalls forecast I figured movement would be OK but limited. How wrong I was … Leith Hill had one of their best days with hundreds of finches and thrushes (including 100 Bramblings) in what sounded like a great session. Beddington just about outdid the tower with a whopping 1,300 Starlings, 429 Chaffinches and 263 Skylarks complimenting singles of Short-eared Owl, Brent Goose and Great Egret. Some old school Surrey counts at both sites, and I’ve no doubt Thorncombe Street would have been great.
Saturday was OK on patch to be fair, with an entertaining vismig in the morning. Six Crossbills highlighted along with 1,916 Woodpigeons moving west. Sadly, weather and time mean the big Woodpigeon day this year will likely allude. I was pleased to finally pin down the hard-to-find Grey Partridges in the afternoon, around Tellytubbyland Hill (between Cheyne Row cottages and Nadia’s Hill). Up to six have been seen so presumably they’ve been released locally somewhere, though they could be linked to the breeding birds from 2016.
|Woodpigeons, Tilsey Farm, 27/10/2018.|
The last couple of days have seen a nice spread of scarcities across the southeast (Pete Alfrey dug out a monstrous Surrey record in the shape of a Richard’s Pipit at Beddington on Monday) but unfortunately the forecast for the weekend looks wet with poor winds. Autumn will be on its last legs after the next few days, and it won’t be long until thoughts of gulls, foreign trips and that first Swallow begin.