With perfect conditions this morning except that it was -1 degrees celsius and a bit cold at first, I was out in the car at 4.45am where after a few minutes I pulled up to see if the Nightingale was still around. Thankfully on a Sunday morning the Thanet Way traffic is pretty quiet and luckily the Nightingale was in fine song and competing with the other species for the loudest noise! I then had a listen along the cliff tops at Beltinge to see if any Grasshopper Warblers could be heard but this drew a blank. I continued driving around the area noting 4 Red legged and 4 Grey Partridge as well as 2 Green Woodpecker, 2 Grey Heron, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Little Grebe heard and 1 Cetti's Warbler heard in an area I have never heard before on the eastern boundary. I had made prior arrangements to meet Julian Perry at Shuart where we wanted to locate the Grasshopper Warbler that had been seen yesterday. With the early morning mist soon burning off to a beautiful sunny day we walked down to the sea and then west towards Coldharbour before walking inland to Chambers Wall where the bushes were checked before walking back east along the embankment. Birds noted were 15 Whitethroat, 5 Red legged Partridge, 2 Green Woodpecker, 1 Sparrowhawk, 3 Chiffchaff, 3 Blackcap, 8 Pheasant, 1 Yellow Wagtail, c25 Linnet, 3 Skylark, 16 Sedge Warbler and 1 Marsh Harrier.
We arrived near the railway crossing where the Grasshopper Warbler had been seen and heard yesterday but despite waiting around for 20 minutes we drew a blank on this. Moving on we noted 6 Reed Bunting, 5 Oystercatcher, 5 Meadow Pipit, 5 Swallow, 4 Common Tern west, 2 Shelduck, 4 Shoveler, 7 Redshank, 4 Tufted Duck, 1 Goldcrest and 1 Barn Owl was seen hunting distantly. The walk back along the embankment proved to be quite productive with 10 Corn Bunting, 1 Tree Pipit flew low west calling, 1 Whimbrel (141) was heard but went unseen and as we returned back to the area the Grasshopper Warbler had been calling we thought we should give it another go just in case. A good decision as the Grasshopper Warbler (142) started reeling and could be seen in a small bush within the reeds. It soon stopped however but feeling pleased we moved on only to see a small raptor sat in a field which ended up being a Merlin (143). The rest of the walk produced 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Jay, 2 Ring necked Parakeet and an hour spent in the Shuart layby raptor watching produced 4 Marsh Harrier, 1 Kestrel and 2 Common Buzzard. Whilst at home this afternoon I was playing with the kids in the garden when I looked up and saw a large raptor coming my way. I raced indoors to get the binoculars and was soon watching a Red Kite as it passed west over my house in Broomfield. Later 1 Common Buzzard also flew through. Not a bad weekend and checking back through this time last year I am 3 species ahead surprisingly. Still no Cuckoo but maybe my luck will change in the week.