A report on the birds of the New Hythe,Leybourne,Eccles/Burham and Holborough area.It covers the period from the early 1960s,up until the present time.Alan Woodcock.
MUTE SWAN Cygus olor
Breeding species,present all year.During 1976,two nests were found at Leybourne,with a further six at New Hythe.Covering the same area in 1993,the BTO Mute swan survey found five nests,with a non breeding flock of thirty birds.The breeding population has probably always been under ten pairs.Because of its tidal nature nesting sites along the banks of the Medway are very limited.However during 1978,a nest was built at Horse Shoe Bend,but with unknown success as to the outcome.During the summer of 1987,a pair raised young on the dyke behind the river wall at Burham marsh,During the first half of the 1990s,the non breeding flock reached a maximum of 124 birds in the area of Eccles island Creek.Wintering numbers were also high there at that time,with up to 100 being present.However by the end of the decade and up to the present time,numbers have been much reduced.White `Polish` juveniles were seen at Leybourne in 1979 (1) and at New Hythe in 2000 (2).
WHOOPER SWAN Cygnus cygnus
One adult was seen flying down the Medway at Holborough on Jan 20th,1963.Two adults were present on Johnsons lake from Dec 19th-24th 1968.One adult that was present in the lakes complex from 2009 into 2011,was thought to have been a feral bird from Leeds Castle.One was present on Abbey Meads from November 5th-9th 2016,another was seen on the 8th flying over heading N (both birds were adults).
BEWICK`S SWAN Cygnus columbianus
All the records relate to New Hythe.Three were present on Dec 21st 1968,with two during Dec 1972,which stayed into Fed 1993.During 1979,five flew over on Jan 2nd and on Dec 19th,29 flew NE.Singles there on March 26th 1980,Nov 18th 1985 and from Jan 14th-18th 1987.On March 16th 1986,eleven adults and three imm were present on Abbey Meads.Five were seen on Jan 20th 1987 and on March 15th 1992,six went down on Abbey Meads during a rain storm and left a short while later NE.
BEAN GOOSE Anser fabalis
Two records,both of which probably relate to feral or escaped birds.Two were seen just outside the recording area on Wouldam marshes on Dec 5th 1993 and on April 9th 1994,one was seen with Greylags on Burham marsh.
PINK-FOOTED GOOSE Anser brachyrhynchus
One record which probably relates to feral or escaped birds.Two at New Hythe on March 17th 1974.
WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE Anser albifrons
Most of the records refer to birds passing over the area either S or SW.Eighty on Jan 5th 1967.(5) on Jan 22nd 1970,a small flock at the beginning of 1976,(100) on Dec 31st 1978,(30) on Jan 20th 1979,(11) on Feb 8th and (14) on Feb 17th 1985,(60) on Dec 21st 2010 and 3 on December 17th 2016..Birds that were seen on the ground are as follows - One in the Burham/New Hythe area from April 14th-16th 1988 (this bird was probably feral) and in mid Dec 1993,(7) were present for a while in the Wouldham/Burham marshes area.
GREYLAG GOOSE Anser anser
Breeding species,present in all months.In 1963,WAGBI introduced Greylags to their reserve at Sevenoaks and by 1975,there was (21) breeding pairs and the feral flock reached (220) birds.In 1970,they also introduced them to North Kent.With such big numbers not far away it is perhaps surprising that this Goose did not start to breed in our area until 1980.The first occurrence of this bird in the area was of (2) birds on April 17th 1976,followed by (9) on March 24th 1979.In early April 1980,4 pairs were present and breeding took place for the first time and annually thereafter.The species is now more numerous in the area than the Canada Goose.The wintering flock on Burham marsh reached (300),during Dec 1993.
There was a peak count at New Hythe during 2015,of 190 in June.
There was a peak count at New Hythe during 2015,of 190 in June.
CANADA GOOSE Branta canadensis
Breeding species,present in all months,has declined in recent years.A pair was introduced to Leybourne in 1959 and by the first half of the 1960s,2-3 pairs were breeding.The breeding population by the end of the 1990s and up to the present time is probably between 4-6 pairs.I believe over the years it has lost ground to the Greylag.The numbers are swollen at times during the autumn and winter when our birds are joined by birds from Sevenoaks and Mote Park,There was a very high count of (450) birds on Oct 20th 1975.The flock probably included all of the Sevenoaks birds that were missing on that day.
There was a peak count at New Hythe during 2017,of 252,in July.
There was a peak count at New Hythe during 2017,of 252,in July.
BARNACLE GOOSE Branta leucopis
All the records probably relate to feral or escaped birds.Singles at New Hythe on May 7th 1975 and April 23rd 1978.One was present on Burham marsh from Feb 21st-March 6th 1981.There are a few recent undated records of single Barnacles in with the Canada geese flocks.
BRENT GOOSE Branta bernicle bernicle
Between 1975-1978,there are five records of single birds at New Hythe between Sept 17th and March 25th.In 1980,there were exceptional numbers using the new overland migration route over Kent,first noticed in 1975.In our area in Nov (40) flew over New Hythe and (500) over Snodland.1982,was another good year,all the birds again passing over S or SW.On Nov 4th,(80) flew over New Hythe,followed by (100) the next day and on the 6th,(70} passed over Snodland.The only record for 1983,was of (50) over New Hythe on Nov 10th.Numbers continued to be seen up until the mid 1990s,but since then it has been less regular,although I saw (100) flying over New Hythe on Oct 30th 2014.I have only two records of Brents using the route during the spring.One was seen leaving Abbey Meads and heading NE,on March 25th 1976 and another bird was seen flying down the Medway at Holborough during March 2012.Winter records are also scarce.Two on the Medway at New Hythe during Dec 1985 and two at Burham on Feb 5th 1986.A leucistic individuel was seen at New Hythe on Nov 20th 1993.
RED BREASTED GOOSE Branta ruficollis
Two at Burham marsh on December 21st 2017,with one on the 28th.
These birds were with a flock of Canada Geese and were more than likely of feral origin.One of these birds was seen occasionally,again with Canada Geese in the lakes area (Jan/Feb 2018.
RED BREASTED GOOSE Branta ruficollis
Two at Burham marsh on December 21st 2017,with one on the 28th.
These birds were with a flock of Canada Geese and were more than likely of feral origin.One of these birds was seen occasionally,again with Canada Geese in the lakes area (Jan/Feb 2018.
EGYPTIAN GOOSE Alopochen aegyptiaca
In recent years a small breeding population has been slowly establishing a foothold in the county.Two at New Hythe on May 16th and Nov 1st 1975.On March 30th 2010,(3) were seen at Tesco lake and during the winter of 2014,(1-2) were seen on Sand Hole golf course,which is on the edge of the recording area.One was seen at Leybourne on January 7th 2018,with two on the Streamside lake on March 16th.
SHELDUCK Tadorna tadorna
Shelduck nest in the chalk quarries along the North Downs at Halling,Wouldham and Burham.During the summer of 1982,10 pairs were seen in the quarry at Halling.When the young hatch they are led down to the Medway by their parents.One to two broods are regularly seen along our stretch.Occasionally pairs do nest in the recording area,as did a pair at Leybourne in the 1960s and at New Hythe in one of the new diggings in the 1970s.As a result of recent road building and housing between the quarries and the river the journey must be even more hazardous than before.Towards the end of July most of the birds move out of the area to moult.By early Nov they start to return,usually with peak numbers not being reached until Jan/Feb.At Burham marsh,in the meadow north of Burham church,from 1965-1968,up to five pairs were recorded from March - April,with 2-4 pairs remaining until June.The species was then scarce through the winter,with (14) being the maximum count.Peak winter counts during the 1980s and early 1990s,were much higher.Counts recorded are as follows - Dec 1981 (118),Feb 1984 (155),Feb 1985 (198) and Feb 1991 (112).Since the marsh was shot over during the winters of 1992/93,the numbers have never recovered.The only lake shelduck regularly use is Abbey Meads,where numbers have reached 50 birds.
RUDDY SHELDUCK Tadorne ferrugines
These records probably relate to feral or escaped birds.One at Burham marsh from March 8th-17th,with two from the 21st-26th 1981.Two were again present the following year during Jan,Feb and Dec,A bird there in Jan/Feb 1983,was thought to have been a Shelduck x Ruddy hybrid.
One was seen not far outside the area at Wouldham during April 2017.
SNOW GOOSE Anser caerulescens
All the records relate to feral or escaped birds.Singles at Leybourne on April 21st 1977 and Feb 26th 1978,At New Hythe there was two in March 1986,one of which was a blue phase bird.A white bird was seen with a flock of sixty Canada geese at New Hythe on Sept 11th 1994.There have been a few more undated records of this Goose.
MANDARIN Aix galericulata
Introduced species.In recent years a drake was seen on the Medway near Eccles island.
WIGEON Anas penelope
Winter visitor and passage migrant.Wigeon are usually seen in the area during cold spells,especially if there is snow.The larger counts are as follows - (7) at New Hythe in Dec 1974,(10) in Nov 1975,(80) in Jan 1979,(92) in Jan 1985,(125) in 1987,(30) in Jan 1997 and circa 50 on November 8th 2016 (Abbey Meads).The big numbers during the 1980s,were feeding around the newly landscaped banks of Tesco lake.Recent maximum counts have been smaller,usually under twenty birds.A flock of (32) at Eccles on March 24th 1965 and (5) at Burham on March 16th 1966,may have been birds dispersing from the North Kent marshes.
GADWALL Anas strepera
Until the mid 1970s,this duck was a scarce winter visitor,(1-2) being the norm.From 1976,when (5) were present at New Hythe in Feb and March.There then began a steady rise in the numbers recorded.Ten were present in Jan/Feb 1979,(14) in Dec 1981,(20) in Jan 1984,(58) in Jan 1987,(52) in Jan 1992,(76) in Dec 1995,and (130) in Dec 1997.The count for 1997,exceeded the nationally important qualifying level.There was then a fall off in numbers between 2000 and 2004,which was probably caused by the building of the new housing development,which was built on part of the southern lakes area.However by 2005,numbers were back at national levels again.In Jan 2009,there was a count of (152) and in Feb 2012 and Jan 2013 (140).Although Gadwall have been seen in all months of the year,I have no proof of breeding.Gadwall winter mainly in the lakes complex but small numbers also frequent the marshes and river.A flock of (30) was present on Holborough marsh during the winter of 1989/90 and just outside the area on Halling marshes on February 3rd 2017,32 were present.
There was a peak winter count of 70,at New Hythe during November 2015.
TEAL Anas crecca
For most of the 1960s,there was two main wintering flocks.One at Castle lake Leybourne and the other in the Burham/New Hythe river area,only the latter remains.The Leybourne flock deserted the lake during the late 1960s.The leybourne flock averaged (70) birds and in 1962,the Medway flock was recorded at (100) birds and in Jan 1968 at (70).Through most of the 1970s,the flock averaged around (100),However in Dec 1981,I counted (300) in the meadow just north of Burham church and there then began an annual increase in numbers until a maximum of (1,500),was recorded roosting/loafing in the meadow during Feb 1986.In Jan/Feb 1987,(1100) were present,with (700) in Dec 1988,(600) in Dec 1989 and (1100) in Dec 1990.These high numbers though were not to be recorded again.During the 1990s,peak winter counts averaged (500) and by the end of the decade and up to the present time numbers have usually been around the (100) mark.Over the years the odd pair has been seen during the summer.Breeding was finally proved in April 1984,when a duck with small ducklings was seen in the area of Eccles island.Teal start to return during Sept,with the maximum numbers usually being reached in Jan/Feb.By March the numbers start to fall,with small numbers remaining into April.Although the lakes are very close to the river,it is unusual now to see Teal in the lakes complex.Since the establishment of the KTNC reserve at Holborough marsh,Teal are regularly present.
GREEN-WINGED TEAL Anas carolinensis
North American race of the Teal.A drake was seen on the Medway at New Hythe from March 4th-7th 2006.
MALLARD Anas platyrhynchos
Common breeding species and winter visitor,which has declined over the years.Mallard nest in the lakes complex and on the marshes.Up until the beginning of the 1990s,when a decline set in,Mallard were wintering in their hundreds.There was counts of (319) at Leybourne in Jan 1963,(280) at New Hythe in Jan 1975,followed by (180) in Jan 1982,(450) in Jan 1985 and (104) in Dec 1989.Since then peak winter counts have rarely reached (100).In recent years the higher counts have come mainly from the Medway.In the area of Eccles island creek,where winter counts have reached (100) birds,2016 and 17.
PINTAIL Anas acuta
Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant,even more so in recent years.Pintail are usually seen in the lakes complex and occasionally on the marshes during spells of harsh weather,especially if there is snow.The more notable counts are - (6) at Leybourne from early Jan through to March 1963,(5) at New Hythe in Feb 1976,up to (8) there in Feb 1979,with (10) on Feb 20th 1985 and Jan 12th 1987.During Jan and Feb 1998,(4) drakes and (2) duck were present on flooded marshland at Holborough (KTNC) reserve.There was a pair along the Medway there on March 12th 2012.
GARGANEY Anas querquedula
Formerly quite regular as a passage migrant,now rare.A drake at Leybourne (Motorway lake) on March 18th 1962,was the earliest recorded.Three there from March 20th-April 10th 1963,with a pair on Aug 17th 1977 and a lone duck on Sept 16th 1974.At New Hythe single pairs were seen as follows - March 28th 1971,March 28th-31st 1976,April 9th 1979,and from April 13th-21st 1982.At Burham marsh (3) were seen on March 21st 1971.At Holborough a duck was seen in Aug 1987 and a drake spent three weeks there during March and April 1998.At New Hythe a drake was seen in the Sunken marsh from May 31st-June 1st 1995 and on April 6th 2012,a drake was seen on the Medway there.A pair was recorded as breeding at New Hythe in 1979.
SHOVELER Anas clypeata
Winter visitor and passage migrant,which has become more numerous over the years.Shoveler are annual visitors.The period spanning the 1960s-1980s,saw a maximum count of (20) birds in Dec 1978.During the 1990s,good numbers were recorded from Abbey Meads,with counts of (27) in March 1992 and Dec 1993,(28) in Jan 1994 and (20) in Dec 1995.There was a high count of (63) in Dec 1996,when there was (30) on Abbey Meads and (33) on Alders lake.Other more recent counts are as follows - (41) in Dec 2003,(32) in Jan 2008,(42) in Jan 2009,(35) in Feb 2010 and (47) in Feb 2012.Shoveler have usually dispersed by the end of March and start to return during Sept/Oct.On occasions birds have been seen during the summer months,such as a drake in June 1995,Shoveler can also be seen at times along the river and on the marshes,but always in small numbers.
RED-CRESTED POCHARD Netta rufina
It is impossible to say whether any of these records are of genuine wild birds,Recent records are all the more clouded by the fact that the species now breeds occasionally at nearby West Malling Country Park.The period spanning the 1960s-1970s,saw just two records,both of single females.One at Leybourne (Motorway lake) during Jan 1962 and the other at New Hythe from Feb 3rd-16th 1974.From the early 1980s,there then began an upsurge in records.Most of these being of single birds of both sexes and seen during the winter months,although in one instance a drake stayed for a whole year.Apart from these single birds,in 2004,a pair was seen during June and (3) were present on the (small Tesco lake) from Jan 1st-5th 2009.A more recent record is of a fine drake on the Streamside lake on April 17th 2013.
POCHARD Aythya ferine
Common winter visitor,with a notable fall in numbers in recent years.The period spanning 1962-1968 (when I first started watching in the area).Pochard wintered mainly at Leybourne (Motorway lake and Alders).Peak winter counts being - (90) in Dec 1962,(94) in Jan 1966,(115) in Dec 1967 and (80) in Feb 1968.During the early 1970s,with more water appearing in the form of new gravel workings nearby at New Hythe.Pochard started to winter there also and their numbers increased.By 1974,up to (300) were wintering in the area.During the very cold weather of Dec 1981 and Jan 1982,(550) were present on Abbey Meads by Dec 30th.The lake then froze over and the birds moved onto the nearby Medway.When the lake thawed and the duck moved back,there was a very high count of (908) on Jan 22nd.Other peak winter counts include - (545) in Feb 1986,(670) in Feb 1987,(350) in Feb 1991,(131) in Jan 1994,(630) in Jan 1997,with (150) in Dec,(100) in Jan 1998,(82) in Jan 1999 and (50) in Dec 2000.By the start of the new millennium it can be seen that a general downward trend in numbers had started and this has continued up to the present time.Winter 2014/15,was notable for the fact that in all my years of watching,I saw no Pochard during Oct.Indeed I didn`t see my first birds until mid Nov and then they only reached a peak of (60) birds in Dec and they also dispersed earlier than usual.There are a number of mid summer records mainly involving (1-2) drakes although (4 pairs) were seen on Abbey Meads on May 30th 1982.The only proof of breeding I have was when I came across a female with small ducklings at Castle lake,one summer during the 1970s.There has been a general decline in Pochard numbers visiting Britain.
On November 26th 2017,83 were present on Abbey Mead.A good number for recent years and especially for November.During Jan/Feb 2018,up to 150 were present,with 80 still on March 8th.
RING-NECKED DUCK Aythya collaris
North America.Some of the records of this duck in Britain are of escaped birds.A first winter drake was seen on the streamside lake during Dec 1999.
FERRUGINOUS DUCK Aythya nyroca
Some birds may be escapes.Singles at Leybourne on Dec 8th 1968,Jan 13th-14th 1969 and Nov 6th 1970.At New Hythe from Dec 29th 1996,to at least Jan 14th 1977,on Dec 19th 2003,from Dec 11th 2005-March 18th 2006 and in 2007,one was seen from the beginning of the year until March 12th and again on July 27th.The 2005/06/07,records may have been the same returning individual.On Dec 30th 2014,a Pochard x Ferruginous was seen on Abbey Meads lake.
TUFTED DUCK Aythya fuligula
Common winter visitor,present in all months,with small numbers breeding.Peak winter counts at Leybourne in the 1960s,are as follows - (81) in Jan 1963,(40) in Jan 1965,(50) in Jan 1966 and (60) in Dec 1968.During the 1970s,with more water appearing in the form of new gravel workings nearby at New Hythe.Their numbers increased considerably and by 1987,there was a peak count of (660) in Jan.More recent counts have included - (325) in Dec 2004,(350) in Dec 2006,(350) in Jan 2010 and (560) in Jan 2012.I first noticed breeding in the area when I saw a brood of small young in the Brook House area in 1968.Small numbers also occasionally breed on the marshes at Holborough and Burham.
There was a peak winter count of 425 at New Hythe in December 2015'
SCAUP Aythya marila
Rare winter visitor,Scaup usually occur during times of harsh weather.One was seen at Snodland on Feb 3rd 1963.At Leybourne there was (2) from Nov 11th-18th 1962 and Nov 10th-20th 1963.At New Hythe there was (5) on Jan 13th 1979,(1-2) from Jan through to March 23rd 1980.Singles during Feb,/March and Dec 1981,Jan 9th 1982,winter 1986,Feb 6th 1991,from the end of Dec 1996,through to at least Feb 9th 1997,Jan 26th 2000 and March 14th 2003.1998,was a very good year with (1) adult drake,(2) immature drakes and (1) female present on Abbey Meads from Jan into March.
A female was seen on the Streamside lake on December 30th 2012.
A female was present on Abbey Meads from late November 2017,up until at least March 8th,2018..
COMMON EIDER Somateria mollissima
A very unusual record of this sea duck was of a flock of fourteen flying south over Leybourne on Nov 18th 1989.
COMMON SCOTOR Melanitta nigra
Singles at New Hythe on Nov 27th 1969,April 10th 1971,Jan 4th 1974,April 27th 1989,Sept 26th 2000,June 26th and from Nov 1st-6th 2012,Two were seen on March 12th 1982 and March 17th 2001,
VELVET SCOTOR Melanitta fusca
One at Leybourne on March 6th 1965,was found dead there on the 20th.
LONG-TAILED DUCK clangula hyemalis
A first winter male first seen on Brooklands lake on Nov 17th 2005 remained in the area until April 11th 2006.
GOLDENEYE Bucephala clangula
Winter visitor and passage migrant,recorded almost annually,usually occurs between Oct and May.I believe nine in Jan 1976,is the highest count recorded.Adult drakes are seen less often than immature and females.When they do occur,they can often been seen displaying to the females.Occasionally Goldeneye are seen on the Medway in our area between Holborough and New Hythe.
No records for 2017/18.Many of these cold weather species are now stopping in France and Holland.
SMEW Mergus albellus
Recorded from Dec into March,peak numbers occurring during Jan and Feb.Records as follows -
1963 up to (10) including (3) adult males at Leybourne during Jan/Feb.1964 singles on Jan 24th and in Dec.1976 (6)1979 (18) 1980 (1) in Jan and Dec 1981 (6) 1984 (1) 1985 (6) 1986 (5) 1987 (25) 1988 (25) 1989 (1) 1990 (2) 1991 (26),1996 (10) 1997 (31) 1998 (25) 1999 (22)2000 (16) 2001 (8) 2002 (12) 2003 (5) 2004 (3) 2005 (1) 2006 (1) 2008 (1) 2010 (1) 2011 (2),2012 (9) 2013 (6)2015 (1).Adult males reached a high of six during the winter of 1988.From the 1980s onward,most of the records came from the lakes at New Hythe.
RED-BREASTED MERGANSER Mergus serrator
Scarce winter visitor and passage migrant.The first record was of a fine drake on Abbey Meads on April 10th 1971.1979,was an exceptional year,(1) was seen at New Hythe on Jan 8th,with (3) by the 22nd.On Feb 17th,there was an influx of (10) drakes and (13) red-heads (Streamside lake).The following day most had moved on,but at least (6) red-heads remained until March 4th and odd birds were seen up until the 25th.During 1980,(12) were present at New Hythe on Nov 12th,with a lone red-head from Oct 29th,through to April 20th.1981.In 1982,(2) red-heads were seen on Jan 13th,with (1) on Dec 12th.In 1986,(1) was seen on April 12th,in 1987 there was (1-2) from Jan 24th-25th,in 2003 (1) drake on Dec 7th,in 2011,(1) red-head on Jan 1st and in 2012,(1) drake on Nov 3rd.Away from the lakes,a pair was seen on the river at Holborough on Feb 1st 1977 and (1) was present on the river at Wouldham (not far outside the area) from Jan 3rd-March 7th 1988.It or another bird was present again on Dec 20th.
GOOSANDER Mergus merganser
Irregular winter visitor and uncommon passage migrant.Although Goosanders usually arrive at times of harsh winter weather,when influxes may occur,(1-2) can usually be expected most winters.There was a high count of (15) during the cold weather of Dec 1981.During the last few days of Dec 1996 and the first two of Jan 1997.Goosander were much in evidence in the Abbey Meads lake area.Small flocks were seen dropping in on the lake,while other flocks passed overhead,seemingly following the river N.In all I counted (19) birds.A red-head on the Medway at New Hythe from April 14th-28th 1979,may have been sick or injured.
Three red-heads flew up the Medway at New Hythe,on November 6th 2017.One red-head was then present on the Railway lake/Streamside lake from December 28th-March 16th? 2018.On February 10th 2018,it was joined briefly by two more and then a single bird,which stayed until at least March 8th.
RUDDY DUCK Oxyura jamaicensis
Introduced species,now being culled after a period of rapid increase.Singles at New Hythe on Jan 9th 1979,from Nov 29th-Dec 10th 1980,Feb 13th 1983,from Dec 9th 1985-Feb 1986,Feb 10th-18th 1991,Dec 6th-31st 1993,during Jan/Feb 1994,Jan 18th 2001 and Sep/Oct 2006.A pair was seen on Brookland lake on March 14th 2002 (first spring record) and during Jan/Feb 1997,up to (10) were present on Abbey Meads.Away from the lakes,(3) were seen on the river at New Hythe on Jan 19th 1982.
Three were seen at New Hythe on February 17th 2015.
QUAIL Coturnix coturnix
Singles not far outside the area at Burham on May 13th 1965 and Wouldham on June 19th 1990.
RED-LEGGED PARTRIDGE Alectoris rufa
Irregular breeding species.During the 1970s,small numbers were regularly seen in the New Hythe lakes area and on the marshes at Holborough and Burham.During this period birds were being released on farmland in the area for shoots.By the 1990s,after the shoots had ceased,I believe sometime during the 1980s,birds were seen far less often.A breeding pair on the marsh at Holborough in 1996 and I saw a small covey there in 2013.
GREY PARTRIDGE Perdix perdix
Former breeding species.During the 1970s,small numbers were regularly seen on the marshes and in the New Hythe lakes area.By the 1980s,it had become very scarce.The last record I have was of a pair on Holborough marsh in the summer of 1991.
PHEASANT Phasianus colchicus
Resident.Pheasants breed on the marshes at Holborough and Burham.Small numbers can now also be found in the lakes area.Which first became established about twenty years ago.They are reared for shoots on the North Downs.
RED-THROATED DIVER Gavia stellata
Formerly more regular,now rare.Apart fro two birds at New Hythe on Feb 5th 1986.all the records refer to singles.There are seven for Jan and Feb,five for March,three for April,one for May and two for Dec.Most of the records refer to short stay birds,usually during periods of harsh weather.During 1969 however,a bird stayed at Leybourne from April 1st,through to May 7th and during 1983,a bird stayed again at Leybourne from Feb through to April/There are two records away from the lakes complex.A bird on Eccles reservoir from Dec 26th 1976-Jan 1st 1977 and on the Medway on March 15th 1987.One of the long staying individuals was slightly oiled.Singles at New Hythe in Jan 1996 and on Feb 8th 2006,are the most recent records I have.
BLACK-THROATED DIVER Gavia arctica
Rare visitor.There are two records before a series in the 1980s.Single birds were present on Eccles reservoir from March 25th-May 15th and Oct 21st-29th 1962.Singles at New Hythe on Dec 28th 1981,March 24th 1985,Dec 10th 1987 and from March 2nd-15th 1988.A bird on Abbey Meads from April 14th-15th,may have been the same bird that was seen on the Medway at Holborough a few days later on the 20th.At Leybourne one was present from Feb 17th-March 18th 1982 and on Jan 17th 1982,another bird was seen on the river from Burham.The most recent record is of a bird at New Hythe on Feb 8th 2006.
GREAT NORTHERN DIVER Gavia immer
Two singles,one on Eccles reservoir on March 25th 1962 and one on Brookland lake form Jan 1st-8th 2000.
CORMORANT Phalacrocorax carbo
Formerly mainly a winter visitor in small numbers,now present in all months.1962-1967 - records were of mainly immature birds during the winter months.1968-1973 - recorded more often,with birds occurring in the spring and autumn also.1974 - birds were recorded in all months,with peaks of (20) in March and (32) in Dec.Jan 1975,saw a peak of (65) birds and as well as immature,a few adults were now present.These birds were feeding mainly in the lakes and along the river during the day and roosting by night in trees on the island at Alders lake,Leybourne.By this time however they were coming into conflict with the fishermen and a few were shot.Only (15) were present over the following winter of 1976/77.After the shootings there was a public outcry and the shooting was stopped.Over the following years,the numbers slowly increased again and by 1984,there were counts of (45) in Feb and (35) in March.Feb 1985,saw a roost count of (102).It was shortly sometime after this I believe that the fishermen had had enough and the trees were cut down.The birds though simply moved just across the road (Leybourne Way) to a new roost site.High counts continued to be recorded well into the 1990s,with (165) in 1997,but by the new millennium and up to the present time numbers have only rarely reached (50).Most of the birds now appear to feed along the Medway.Many of the adults seen in the area are P.c.sinensis.There was a count of (28) nests nearby at Aylesford in April 2010.A bird found dead at Burham on 17 03 12,was ringed as an immature at Mageoeme Bogense,Denmark on 09 06 11.On April 14th 2012,there was a count of 28 occupied nests in the east pit at Aylesford.
SHAG Phalacrocorax aristotelis
One was found dead at Leybourne on April 2nd 1962.It had been ringed on the Farne Islands in 1961.Singles there on Jan 31st 1975,Feb 6th 1976,Nov 29th 1977,the first quarter of 1988 and during Dec 1988.Two were present from Dec 31st 1979-Jan 1st 1980.At New Hythe singles there on Dec 21st 1988,during Dec 2000,Dec 13th-14th 2002 and Nov 1st 2012.There was (2) on Dec 20th 1978,Nov 11th 1988 and Nov 13th-15th 2000.Three were present from Oct 17th-19th 1993.Away from the lakes complex,one was seen along the Medway at Holborough on the unusual date of May 7th 1988.
COMMON BITTERN Botaurus stellaris
Winter visitor which has been recorded annually since 1985.Singles at Leybourne on Sept 5th 1962 (early) and Dec 20th 1967.At New Hythe on Feb 21st 1967,during Jan and Feb 1979,on Dec 19th 1981,during Jan 1982 and on Feb 16th 1984.Since the winter of 1985,Bitterns have been noted annually.With many of the records coming from the New Hythe lakes complex.Favoured areas are Brookland lake,Abbey Meads and Streamside lake,all of which are reed fringed.Most winters (1-2) are noted,however up to (4) were thought to have been present in the very cold winter of 2001/02,with (5) on March 1st 2004.
Over the past few winters (2014-2016,only singles have been noted and then only irregularly.
No birds reported during the 2017/18 winter.
CATTLE EGRET Bubulcus ibis
One was present not far outside the recording area on Halling Marsh from July 29th-30th 2011.
LITTLE EGRET Egretta garzetta
Formerly very rare visitor to Kent.Singles in the Burham/Wouldham area during April 1995 and at New Hythe on Jan 3rd 1997.On July 30th,2001 a flock of (11) was seen flying down the river at Holborough,which is the maximum number I have recorded for the area.Since about 2002,it has been seen annually and in all months.The majority of the sightings come from the Medway.In recent years a favoured feeding area in the lakes complex is along the Mill stream at New Hythe.
Three were seen feeding in a horse paddock at Sandhole (by the vets).Which is on the edge of the recording area,on January 30th 2016.On March 16th 2018,six were seen in fields just south of the Big Motoring World Collection and Service Centre.
GREAT WHITE EGRET Ardea alba
Formerly a very rare visitor to Kent.Now seen annually in increasing numbers.Singles at New Hythe on Oct 29th 2011 and Feb 10th 2012.
GREY HERON Ardea cinerea
Common resident.since 1993,when one nest was seen on Eccles island.Breeding has taken place there annually ever since.There were (8) nests in 1996,(21) in 2000,(38) in 2007,(44) in 2012 and (32) in 2014.Congregations of up to (20) or more have been seen feeding on the Medway in the area of Eccles island creek.Three nests were recorded from Leybourne in 1974.
BLACK STORK Ciconia nigra
One flew over New Hythe south on April 8th 2011.
WHITE STORK Circonia circonia
Two records of single birds seen not far outside the area.One flew over Aylesford on April 16th 1967 and on Sept 12th-13th 1988,a bird was seen near Eccles.
SPOONBILL Platalea leuorodia
One quite recent record of two birds seen flying over New Hythe.
LITTLE GREBE Tahybaptus ruficollis
Breeding species in small numbers,seen in all months.It is probably safe to say that no more than eight pairs has nested in any one year.As well as nesting in the lakes complex,a few pairs breed on the marshland dykes at Holborough and Burham.Occasionally more so in the 1970s.There is a build up of birds on one of the larger lakes during the autumn.This though seldom exceeds (15) birds.During the very harsh winter of 1963,this species suffered greatly and it took a number of years to recover.During the winter months small numbers can be found along the river.
On November 19th 2017,6 were seen on Brookland lake,with a further 5 on the Medway.
GREAT CRESTED GREBE Podiceps cristatus
Probably between (6-12) pairs nest annually in the lakes complex.A nest with four eggs was found at Leybourne on the early date of March 7th 1967.This Grebe will also nest late into the season.In recent years small young have been seen in Oct (perhaps earlier nesting attempts failed).Winter numbers have fluctuated over the years.Only (2) were found in Nov 1970 and Dec 1971.Other counts include (40) in Jan and Feb 1976,(30) in Dec 1987,(36) in Feb 1997 and (35) in Feb 2015.This grebe is also seen occasionally along the river (1-2).Nineteen adults on Brookland lake during July 2015,was unusual.
RED-NECKED GREBE Podiceps grisegena
Singles at New Hythe in Nov 1979.on Sept 28th 1980,Sept 23rd 1981,Jan 9th 1982 ,Jan 5th,through to April 5th and Sept 10th 1985,Jan 31st-Feb 9th 1988,Nov/Dec 1991,in Jan and Oct 1995,Feb 14th-17th 1996 and Oct 17th 2006.Unfortunately the long staying 1985 bird was found dead,killed by a baited fishing hook.Besides the above single birds,(2) were present from Feb 16th-March 31st 1979,one of which stayed on to April 9th,(2) in Oct and Dec 1981,Jan 1987,with (3) in Nov 1981 and Feb 1987.During Dec 1993,one was present on Brookland lake from the 15th,through to Jan 30th 1994.On the latter date date in was joined by a second bird that had been present on Abbey Meads,since Dec 31st 1993.These two birds,one an adult female and the other an immature male.They then stayed together until they were last seen on March 19th.However on April 10th ,a bird which was possibly the female,returned to the lake and stayed until the 20th.During their long stay,they were frequently seen displaying to each other.Later the same year on Oct 23rd,two birds returned to the lake (same birds),but only stayed a few days.
SLAVONIAN GREBE Podiceps auritus
Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrantAll the records refer to New Hythe.Singles on Jan 25th and March 19th 1972.In Feb 1978,Jan 25th-26th and March 22nd-27th 1979,Jan 3rd 1982 and from Jan 27th to at least Feb 12th 1984.There were (2) on Feb 21st 1979,singles in Jan/Feb and Dec 1985,Jan 1986,Feb 1987,in Jan and Dec 1996,on Dec 22nd 1998,Jan 31st 2000,March 25th-April 3rd 2006,Nov/Dec 2010 and Jan 15th 2011.
BLACK-NECKED GREBE Podiceps nigricollis
Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant.All the records refer to the lakes complex.Single birds from July 28th-Aug 10th 1968,Jan 5th-11th 1969 and Feb 4th-March 20th 1976.There was (2) on Jan 6th 1977.1979 was a good year,with singles on Jan 6th,23rd-26th,March 16th,April 10th and May 10th.The last two birds were in breeding plumage.Towards the end of the year (2) were seen on Oct 1st.Singles again on Sept 14th 1981,Jan 11th 1982,Jan 13th 1985,April 5th 2004 and in Feb 2006.
One was present on Abbey Meads from March 3rd - ? 2018
GANNET Morus bassanus
An unusual record of one immature flying up the Medway (seen from the Bucket Wood) on September 19th 2016.
HONEY BUZZARD Pernis apivorus
During the very large influx of this species into Britain during Sept 2000.Up to five passed over New Hythe south on one day towards the end of the month.Just outside the area above Birling,one flew west along the North Downs on the 30th.
RED KITE Milvis milvis
Rare,but increasingly regular spring passage migrant.One flew NE over New Hythe on Jan 1st 1997 and (1) flew west just outside the area at Cuxton on March 19th 2001Since 2010,spring migrants have been recorded annually.The most recent sightings being a single bird at New Hythe on April 6th with an incredible 14 on the May 16th and another single nearby at Snodland on May 20th 2015 all of which flew west.Many of the sightings are not until the late afternoon,Which makes sense if the birds are arriving from the Continent.
One was seen at New Hythe on October 5th 2017 (flying west)
One was seen circling high over Leybourne on March 16th 2018.
MARSH HARRIER Circus aeruginosus
Formerly very rare,now seen with increasing frequency.Singles at Leybourne on Jan 1st 1975,Burham marsh on April 4th 1981,New Hythe on Aug 8th 1995,in the Holborough/Burham and New Hythe area from Jan 9th-12th 1997 and New Hythe on Feb 19th and March 28th 2007.Since 2010,this harrier has been seen annually in the area,usually just singles are involved.However on Nov 14th 2012,I saw a male and female quartering the reed beds at Holborough.On July 28th 2015,one was seen from the Bucket Wood quartering the reed bed across the river at Burham marsh.
One flew north across the Sunken marsh on March 25th 2017.
One was seen on several occasions over Burham marsh during August 2017 (imm bird).
HEN HARRIER Circus cyaneus
Rare winter visitor.During the very cold winter of 1963,a ringtail was seen at Holborough marsh on Jan 21st.During the period spanning 1978 to the end of the 1980s.This bird was an annual visitor to the Burham marsh/New Hythe/Sunken marsh area.The records refer to mainly single ringtails.Males were recorded on the following dates-Feb 25th 1979,Nov 15th and Dec 30th 1981.The birds arrived from Nov onwards,the latest date the departure being March 30th 1985.
A ringtail was seen at Holborough marsh on Dec 28th 2007.One which was first seen over Burham marsh on January 1st 2017 (from the Bucket Wood),was seen again on the 5th.
SPAROWHAWK Accipiter nicus
Formerly rare,now breeds in the area.Sparrowhawks were very rare in the 1960s (pesticides).From about the mid 1970s however,the species started to make a comeback.At first just singles were seen in the non breeding season.Then by the mid 1980s,there were breeding season sightings also and by the 1990s,the bird could almost be described as common.This has continued up to the present day.
EW87927 3F 09 09 2011 Snodland Kent (garden)
X 24 10 2012 Aylesford Kent (freshly dead,hit wires) 4km E
COMMON BUZZARD Buteo buteo
Formerly very rare,now the most common bird of prey in the area.Singles were present at Upper Halling (just outside the area) from Feb through to April 1984 and at Holborough marsh on May 10th 1988.There has been a dramatic increase in the population of Buzzards in Kent,which has been gathering pace since the beginning of the 1990s.It was first noticed in our area,or I should say just outside,during the winters of 2006 and 2007.When birds wintered along the North Downs and a pair summered there in 2008.At the present time the bird can be described as common,There is hardly a day that goes by without it being seen.It has now spread away from the Downs and is commonly seen in the recording area.A thermal of (8) was seen over the Downs from New Hythe on Feb 8th 2011 and there was (5) over the east scrub on March 23rd 2015.
On September 9th 2017,6 were seen together high above the fields between Snodland and Paddlesworth (not far outside of the recording area.
ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD Buteo lagopus
One was seen just outside the recording area at Halling marsh on Nov 24th 1985.At New Hythe singles were seen on Dec 24th 2010,Oct 28th 2014 and Oct 18th 2015.
OSPREY Pandion haliatus
Rare passage migrant.Singles in the New Hythe/Eccles reservoir area from Sept 13th-Oct 15th 1965.Burham on May 30th 1978 and at New Hythe on July 7th 1987.More recently,singles were seen at New Hythe on April 1st 2009,in April 2011 and either in the spring or autumn of 2014.
COMMON KESTRAL Falco tinnunculus
Kestrals were scarce during the 1960s (pesticides).It started to make a comeback in the early 1970s and the numbers increased considerably.Up until the end of the 1990s,they were a common sight (2-4) being seen on any one day,At the present time the feeling is that there has been a slight decline.Has nested in the church tower near Burham marsh.
MERLIN Falco columbarius
Singles at Burham marsh during Dec 1985,Holborough marsh during Nov 1993 and flying into New Hythe from the east on March 22nd 1996.One was seen just outside the area at Wouldham on Nov 14th 2006.
One was reported at New Hythe on the unusual date of July 17th 2017.
HOBBY Falco subbuteo
Formerly rare,now seen annually (Hobbies are summer visitors to Britain).There are just three records for the 1960s.Singles at Burham on August 27th and Sept 5th 1963 and at Eccles on April 21st 1968.
Towards the latter end of the 1970s,There then began an increase in sightings,which has continued up to the present day.Through most of the 1980s,the sightings were mainly of single birds frequenting the autumn hirundine roosts at either Holborough or Burham marshes.By the mid 1990s,Hobbies had become annual,with sightings throughout the area from their arrival in the spring through to the autumn.One at New Hythe on April 9th 2005,was early.
On September 8th 2017,3 were seen together between Snodland and Paddlesworth (which is not far outside the recording area).
PEREGRINE Falco peregrinus
Formerly very rare,now seen annually.Along with other birds of prey,Peregrines were severely affected by pesticides during the 1960s.Singles in the Holborough/Burham marsh area during Oct/Nov 1996 and again in Jan 1998.On June 1st 2000,one was seen over Abbey Meads.In more recent years sightings have become annual.
WATER RAIL Rallis aquaticus
Breeding species and winter visitor.Water Rails are heard more often than they are seen.Favoured localities are the marshes and reed beds in the Holborough/Burham and New Hythe area,the Sunken marsh and in the NE corner of Abbey Meads lake.At times of harsh weather,they can be seen feeding along the muddy banks on the Medway.
SPOTTED CRAKE Porzana porzana
Singles at Leybourne on April 8th 1964 and the remains of a dead bird were picked up at Eccles in May 1st 1965.
MOORHEN Gallinula chloropus
Moorhens are common breeding birds in the lakes area and on the marshes.During the winter months,(60) or more have been seen feeding in the wet meadows at both Holborough and Burham marshes and at low tide many feed along the muddy banks of the Medway.
COOT Fulica atra
Common breeding species and winter visitor.As well as nesting in the lakes area,a few pairs now also nest on the marshland dykes at both Holborough and Burham.Peak winter counts - Leybourne (100) in Jan 1967.New Hythe (450) Dec 1974,(735) Jan 1996,(1400) Jan 1997,(530) Jan 2007 and (730) Dec 2012 (815) Dec 2015.
COMMON CRANE Grus grus
Singles flew over New Hythe on May 11th 2009 and Nov 2nd 2012.Three birds circled the lakes before drifting off towards the North Downs on May 6th 2008 and (2) flew NW at Snodland on May 3rd 2010 (these last two birds must have overflown the lakes).
AVOCET Recurvirostra avosetta
An unusual record was of (8) birds (just outside the area at Halling) on the muddy banks of the Medway on Aug 31st 2009.
OYSTERCATCHER Haemotopus ostralegus
Formerly rare,now a regular visitor and seen in all months.The first record for the area,was of a single bird at New Hythe on March 26th 1970.Although the 1970s produced a few more records,it wasn`t until the end of that decade that sightings became more regular.The maximum number I have seen was a flock of (21) flying inland along the river at New Hythe on Aug 13th 1985.Many of the records relate to birds either flying NE in the spring or S SW during the autumn.In more recent years (1-2) birds have taken to feeding along the mud banks of the river at New Hythe and have been seen in all months.Also in recent years breeding has occurred at Wouldham,just outside the recording area.
Three flew through the lakes area on April 13th 2017.
GOLDEN PLOVER Pluvialis apricaris
Uncommon winter visitor and passage migrant.Eleven at Burham marsh on Jan 6th 1965.Singles there on March 4th 1978,Feb 13th and March 6th 1982,Nov 30th 1995,with a flock of (6) on March 3rd 1983.At New Hythe (18) on Dec 29th 1970,with singles on Feb 19th 1984 and Jan 24th 2001.The latter bird flew low over Brookland with Lapwing and had probably come up from Burham marsh.On Feb 17th 1992,(5) were seen on plough at Burham,on the very edge of the recording area.
GREY PLOVER Pluvialis aquatarola
Rare visitor.Singles were seen at New Hythe on Aug 6th 1968,Sept 22nd 1971,Feb 13th 1979 and in the Burham/New Hythe area in 1976.There is a more recent record of a summer plumaged bird along the river at New Hythe on May 9th 2010.
LAPWING Vanellus vanellus
Common winter visitor and passage migrant and occasional breeding species.Up until the mid 1980s,Lapwing were a regular nesting species in small numbers.They nested in the lakes area and on the marshes,both at Holborough and Burham.In the lakes complex the maturing of the lakes,lack of grazing in the Sunken marsh and more disturbance from the general public have all had a detrimental affect in recent years.At Holborough marsh here again until quite recently,the lack of grazing helped the decline.At Burham marsh the lower water table of recent times was also a contributor of the decline.Other former nesting areas in the lakes area were the now industrial estate and the east and west scrub.There was some hope towards the end of the 1990s,when the KTNC took control of the management of Holborough marsh.The water table was raised and for a number of years lapwing (1-2) pairs attempted to nest.However I don`t believe any young were raised due to the big increase in predication by Crows.Then I believe in 2011,a piece of land (a former cereal field) on the edge of the marsh was given over to the KTNC.Lapwing have attempted to nest there each year up to the present time.Whether any young have been raised is very doubtful.During the early years at times of passage and during the winter,Lapwing were very numerous.Large flocks were formed on Burham marsh and in the surrounding fields.The following counts were made in 1977 - (500) in Jan/Feb,(2-4) by March,(1-2 pairs) in April/May,(200) in July/Aug.(250) in Oct with (500) in Nov/Dec.The June and July birds are part of westerly movements which continues into Oct (probably continental birds).Some years there are cold weather movements and many of the birds will leave the area.If however it turns mild again the birds quickly respond and return.The maximum number I recorded at Burham was a flock of (2,400) on Nov 30th 1991.
In the big meadow north of Burham Court (Burham marsh).A pair was seen on May 16th 2017 (one of the birds was sitting).A pair raised four young in the water meadow that borders Marsh road (Halling) in 2017.
LITTLE RINGED PLOVER Charadrius dubius
Former breeding species,now rare (extreme dates,March 20th 1976 and Sept 28th 1969).From the early 1960s,through to the mid 1980s,from (1-4) pairs nested annually in the lakes complex.In the 1960s,a pair nested at Castle lake Leybourne.Towards the end of that decade however the lake had matured and become unsuitable for nesting.Fortunately,nearby at New Hythe new gravel excavations were under way and the birds duly moved in.For the next fifteen years or so,up to four pairs were present there as new lakes were dug,or old ones filled,either way this presented the birds with ideal breeding habitat.In more recent times,I saw one adult and three immature birds along the Medway at Holborough in July 2001.In 2002,a pair was seen displaying over new wader diggings (Kidney lake) at New Hythe.This area quickly matured though and became unsuitable.On April 6th 2011and April 10th 2016 singles were seen along the Medway at New Hythe (from the Bucket wood).One bird was seen along the river at Holborough on April 27th 2017.
RINGED PLOVER Charadrius hiaticula
Uncommon visitor,has nested in the past.During the 1960s,singles were seen at Castle lake,Leybourne from April 26th-30th 1963 and at Eccles on July 31st 1966.Two were seen at Burham on Aug 2nd and 23rd 1969 and in the spring of 1969 (1-2) were seen displaying over a new gravel digging at New Hythe (Brookland lake) and were thought to have bred.Over the next nine years (1-2) were seen annually there.It wasn`t until 1980 however that breeding was proved.In that year two pairs nested,not at Brooklands but on a newly infilled lake area (now the the east scrub).As well as Ringed Plover,L R Plover,Lapwing and Redshank also nested on the area over the next few years until 1983,when unfortunately the area was bulldozed and drained just as eggs were being laid.This bird is now only rarely seen in the area,with most of the records coming from along the Medway.
WHIMBREL Numenius phaeopus
Irregular passage migrant.During the spring birds pass over N NE and in the autumn S SW.The earliest spring record being April 10th 1981 and the latest in the autumn Oct 9th 1983.The maximum recorded was a flock of (13) flying SW over New Hythe on Aug 4th 1996.There is a recent record of a bird seen on the muddy banks of Medway at New Hythe during April 2015.
CURLEW Numenius arquata
Irregular passage migrant and winter visitor.Many of the records refer to birds on autumn migration passing over SW,during the month of Aug.Two early migrants flew over the area on June 20th 1983 and the latest being Oct 30th when (3) passed low over Abbey Meads.There are only a few spring records.During the winter months,Curlew on rare occasions can be seen feeding on the marshes or along the Medway in our area.Just a mile or so down river in the Halling/Wouldham area.Where at low tide there are larger areas of exposed mud,Curlew and a few other wader species are more commonly seen.
BLACK-TAILED GODWIT Limosa limosa
Singles flew over Burham marsh on Feb 6th 1976 and April 14th 1985.On July 17th 1986,(3) were seen there.A flock of (26) flew into New Hythe on April 27th 1982 and on Sept 3rd 2013,(5) were seen along the river at New Hythe.which later flew north.
On July 25th 2017,2 adults were seen along the river from the Bucket Wood (dozing on the spit).
BAR-TAILED GODWIT Limosa phaeopus
A flock of (25) flew SW at Eccles on April 20th 1963.At New Hythe (1) was seen on Jan 12th 1977,with (3) along the river there on May 1st 2011.
TURNSTONE Arenaria interpres
Singles at Leybourne on April 30th 1962.New Hythe from Aug 6th-10th 1968,May 4th-5th 1971 and Sept 18th 1975.
RUFF Philomachus pugnax
Formerly quite a regular visitor.From the beginning of the 1970s through to the mid 1980 Ruff occurred almost annually between Aug and May.Most of the records came from the marshes at Holborough and Burham,just a few were from the lakes at New Hyyhe.The higher of the counts were (15) in April 1970,up to (35) from Jan 31st-March 19th 1976,(11) in Jan/Feb 1977 and up to (18) in Feb/March 1978.One was seen on the river from the Bucket Wood on July 25th 2015.
DUNLIN Calidris aipina
Formerly a common winter visitor.During the harsh winter of 1963,up to (250) were feeding along the Medway at Holborough.Between 1965 and 1968,in the same area (60) was the maximum recorded.At the beginning of the 1970s,higher numbers began appearing (300-800) which was maintained up until the end of the 1980s,when after a decline set in.During the early to mid 1980s,when water flashes were regular on the marsh at Burham (meadow north of Burham church).Dunlin were attracted at high tide and roosts formed,with at times (400) birds.During the winter of 1991/92,the peak count was down to (150) birds and by the end of that decade,just (1-2) was the norm.Small numbers also occurred around the edges of the lakes at New Hythe.On Jan 10th 1978,a bird in breeding plumage was seen.The birds arrived during Nov/Dec and departed in March.A more recent record is of one in the New Hythe lakes complex on Feb 25th 2006.
One was seen on the Medway from the Bucket wood on March 6th 2018.
LITTLE STINT Calidris minuta
Singles in the New Hythe lakes complex on Oct 8th-12th 1969 and Sept 21st 1975.
COMMON SANDPIPER Actitis hypoleucos
Annual passage migrant and winter visitor.Common Sandpipers have been recorded in all months of the year.The main spring passage is during May and the autumn passage,when it is at its most numerous from July into Sept.It the past Common Sandpipers were common around the edges of the lakes,especially Abbey Meads.Now that the lakes have matured,most of the sightings now come from along the Medway.During the autumn on a rising tide,the birds are pushed of the mud.At these times I have seen flocks of up to (17) flying down the river towards Halling and a presumed roost.In 2012 one such roost was located at Holborough,which held (21) birds.Now that the new river crossing is being constructed at Holborough (2014/15),which goes across to Burham.It remains to see if the roost will be used in future years.During the winter (1-2) are regularly seen along the Medway.
GREEN SANDPIPER Tringa ochropus
Annual visitor,most common during the autumn,slight decline in recent years.During the early years up to (12) on any one day during the autumn could be seen along the river at New Hythe,especially in the Eccles creek area.In recent years it is normal to see no more than (1-2).Wintering birds stay around until mid March but generally Green Sandpipers are scarce during the spring,being rare in May and June.Now that the lakes have matured,the majority of the sightings come from the river.One was seen along the Mill stream in Feb 2015.
WOOD SANDPIPER Tringa glareola
Singles at Burham on July 31st 1965 and from Aug 9th-14th 1969.One was seen at New Hythe on June 11th 1976,with (3) on Aug 8th 1977.
SPOTTED REDSHANK Tringa erythropus
Singles at Burham on Sept 4th 1964 and Aug 16th 1975.At New Hythe on March 25th 1973,Nov 21st 1979 and from Jan 31st-Feb 1st 1976.At Leybourne on Aug 16th 1964 and Eccles on Aug 14th 1968.There was (4) at Burham on Sept 10th 1967,with (2) at New Hythe on Jan 20th 1985.
GREENSHANK Tringa nebularia
My first record of this bird in the area was at Castle lake Leybourne on July 5th 1963.Over the years,singles,sometimes two together have been seen during the months of July/Aug and Sept.In the past most of the records came from the lakes complex at New Hythe,but in more recent years from the river.Greenshank are uncommon during the spring and rare during the winter.Singles were seen in the lakes complex at New Hythe during Feb 1986 and Feb 2006.Two were seen on the Medway at New Hythe on May 1st 2011 and July 6th 2016.
COMMON REDSHANK Tringa totanus
Formerly a regular breeding species,present in all months.Up until 1991,when one pair nested on Holborough marsh.Redshank bred annually either on the marsh at Holborough or in the lakes complex at New Hythe,but always in small numbers.In 1976,two pairs raised young at Abbey Meads lake and from 1979-1983,(1-2) pairs nested in the Sunken marsh (back then the marsh was grazed by cattle).Also during this period winter numbers were much higher than now,which is usually just (1-2).There was a maximum count of (100) on Burham marsh in Jan 1982.In 1996,KTNC took control of the management of Holborough marsh.Water levels were raised and in 1998/99 two pairs nested,but sadly this was not to be repeated.
JACK SNIPE Lymnocryptes minimus
Winter visitor and passage migrant in small numbers,recorded from Oct-March.The majority of the records come from marshes at Holborough and Burham.From where the birds have either been flushed from wet areas on the marshes,or from within the reed beds.The maximum seen was (6) flushed from a reed bed at Holborough on Nov 27th 1983.Occasionally birds are seen in the lakes complex,as was a single bird at New Hythe in Jan and Feb 2006.
COMMON SNIPE Gallinago gallinago
Winter visitor and passage migrant,which a declined over the years.Up until the late 1980s,peak winter counts of (300-400) from the Medway and marshes at Burham were quite regular.In recent years,Snipe have become far less numerous.Snipe are usually seen from Aug,through to April,they are rare in other months.I have only suspected Snipe of breeding twice.Once at Holborough in the late 1960s and again there in June 1988,when I watched a bird drumming.In the lakes complex,Snipe are far less common,Snipe have declined all over their range not just in our area.Snipe ringed at Burham have been recovered in USSR (2) Finland (1) and Netherlands (1)
WOODCOCK Scolopax rusticola
Winter visitor.Most years from (1-2) are flushed from damp scrubby places,throughout the recording area.The west scrub has held birds in recent years.
One was seen on Reeds Island Site on June 14th 1980.Due to the unusual date it may have been nesting.
ARCTIC SKUA Stercorarius parasiticus
One was seen at Abbey Meads on Jan 13th 1979.
LITTLE TERN Sterna albifrons
Rare passage migrant.Singles at New Hythe on May 4th and 13th 1970 and July 12th 1990.At Wouldham,not far outside the area one was seen on May 18th 2008.
BLACK TERN Chlidonias niger
Irregular passage migrant,sightings have declined in recent years.The earliest spring record was April 11th 1979 and the latest May 25th when (5) were present.The maximum seen together at this time of the year was (12) on May 4th 1970.During the autumn passage which has been noted from Aug 10th-Oct 20th.The bird is more common with peak numbers occurring during Aug.The maximum count being (21) on Aug 17th 1980.Favoured lakes are Abbey Meads Allders and Brook House.
WHITE-WINGED BLACK TERN Chlidonias leucopterus
One was seen at Leybourne on Sept 29th 1965.
SANDWICH TERN Sterna sandvicensis
Uncommon passage migrant.At New Hythe (4) were seen on Aug 23rd 1968,(2) on Sept 15th 1982,(1) over S on Sept 26th 1986,(3) NE on March 19th 1987,(5) S over Abbey Meads on June 26th 1999 and (1) there on April 26th 2003.Two flew south along the river at Holborough on September 7th 2004.
COMMON TERN Sterna hirundo
Common Terns are recorded annually in the lakes complex.It passes through NE in the spring and S SW in the autumn.Most years (2-4) summer,I have no proof of breeding.The spring passage is from late April into May.During the autumn it is more numerous,with flocks of up to (30) being seen in some years.Oct records are quite usual and a bird at Leybourne (Allders lake) from Oct-Nov 26th,was thought to have been this species,rather than an Arctic tern.
In recent years sightings have been less regular.
ROSEATE TERN Sterna dougalli
One flew off from the Brook House area NE on May 4th 1970.
ARCTIC TERN Sterna paradisaea
May have been overlooked through the years.Singles at Burham during May 1981,Leybourne from Sept 3rd-5th 1983 and at Abbey Meads one autumn in the early 1980s.
KITTIWAKE Risse tridactyia
Singles at Leybourne on Dec 29th 1965 and New Hythe on Jan 2nd and March 5th 1999.
BLACK-HEADED GULL Larus ridibundus
The most numerous gull in the area,present in all months,no breeding records.A bird found dead at New Hythe on the 12 10 1988,had been ringed as an adult at Parnu Estoniya.on the 14 04 88.
LITTLE GULL Larus minutus
Uncommon visitor.Singles at Leybourne on Oct 4th 1966,Nov5th 1980 and Oct 3rd 1982.At New Hythe singles were seen on Aug 23rd 1968.May 6th 1980,during May 1999, March 8th and April 8th 2001 and during May 2016.Three were seen on April 10th 1979.(2) from April 8th-9th 1993,(3) during April 1988,(6) on Dec 24th 2000,(2) on April 18th 2004,(4) on March 26th 2011,(2) on April 14th 2013,with (1) on the 26th.
MEDITERRANEAN GULL Larus melanocephalus
Formerly very rare,now seen annually and in increasing numbers.An adult seen at Brookland lake on Oct 8th 1969,was the first inland record for Kent.This species has been an annual visitor since about 2005,Numbers and sightings continue to increase,especially during the spring.In 2015,(2) flew over New Hythe on March 22nd and on April 20th,a nice flock of (4) adults flew over.In May 2012,there was a nest count of (597) in the main colony in North Kent.
Fourteen were seen at New Hythe on June 3rd 2017.
COMMON GULL Larus canus
Recorded in all months of the year,though scarce from May to July.Most years there is a noticeable spring passage through the area during March and April.In Dec 1970,(150) were feeding on the former Ham Hill rubbish tip.
LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL Larus fuscus
For the past twenty years or more,this gull has been nesting on the roofs of factory buildings on the very edge of the recording area at New Hythe.During the winter it is rather scarce and most of the birds seen are of the darker backed Scandinavian race.On Oct 20th 1969,(150) were feeding on the former Ham Hill rubbish dump.Most springs there is a noticeable passage of the greyer backed British form through the area.
GREAT BLACK BACKED GULL Larus marinus
Regular visitor in small numbers,recorded in all months.This gull is more likely to be seen between Nov and March,Most of the records now come from the Medway.Unlike the other gulls,it is not often seen on the lakes.During Dec 1970,(400) were feeding on the former Ham Hill rubbish dump.
HERRING GULL Larus argentatus
Common seen in all months.For the past twenty years or more,this gull has been breeding on the roofs of factory buildings on the very edge of the recording area at New Hythe.Up until about the mid 1980s,during the winter months.Hundreds passed over the area SW,along with other gull species,Black headed,Common,Lesser Black backed and Great Black backed to feed on rubbish dumps further inland.On their way back during the late afternoons many would stop,at the lakes to bath and preen.
A second year bird was seen on Tesco lake on Feb 17th-19th 1991.
GLAUCOUS GULL Larus hyperboreus
Singles at the former Ham Hill rubbish dump on Jan 8th 1970 and at New Hythe on Feb 16th 1985 and March 2nd 1986.All the birds were immature.
STOCK DOVE Columba oenar
Breeding species,which has declined over the years.During the 1970s and 1980s,counts of (50) or more during the non breeding season were not uncommon on Burham marsh.Small numbers can still be seen there and it also still occurs on Holborough marsh and occasionally in the lakes complex,but the numbers are now much smaller.Regularly nests in the Eccles island/Reed island site area,but this dove nests more commonly in the chalk quarries along the North Downs.
A large flock of 300,was present on newly sown cereal fields just outside the area between Snodland and Paddlesworth during April 2017.
WOOD PIGEON Columba palumbus
Common breeding species and winter visitor.At Burham marsh and on the surrounding farmland it is numerous.Flock of (500) or more being present during the winter.Flocks of (100) in May,(150) in June and (200) in July are also frequently seen there.Common breeding bird in the lakes complex.Some winters if the conditions are harsh.Wood Pigeons undertake cold weather movements S/SW.
COLLARED DOVE Streptopelia palumbus
Formerly scarce,now a resident numerous breeding species.During the 1960s,the bird was only just becoming established in the area.Between 1965 and 1968,in the Burham/Eccles area.It was only recorded in the months of April,May,Oct,Nov and Dec.The maximum number recorded being just (5) in Oct 1967 and there was no breeding records.The 1970s saw a big increase in records and numbers,with regular breeding at a number of locations in the recording area.At Burham marsh (Court farm) by 1976,it had been seen in all months and there was a count there of (80) in May of that year.At the present time it is very common bird,nesting all over the recording area.In my garden at Snodland,it nested for the first time in 1995.
TURTLE DOVE Streptopalia turtur
Breeding summer visitor,which has declined drastically.An early bird was seen at Abbey Meads on April 10th 2007.This bird is not usually seen in and numbers until May.In the spring of 1984,unusually big numbers were present at Burham Court farm (Burham marsh).On May 10th (150) were present,with (65) on the 26th.The birds were feeding around cattle feeding stations (which are no longer there).On the marshes and in the lakes complex it nests in hawthorn trees.Five pairs were located on Holborough marsh in 1997,with (4) in 2001.The decline started gathering pace around fifteen or more years ago.In 2013 2014 only single birds were seen,(2) in 2015 at New Hythe (Sunken marsh) and I only saw (1) bird at Holborough marsh in 2014.Singles seen in the Sunken marsh area and along the Mill stream in July 2016 (same bird ?).Only one bird was seen in 2017 (Sunken marsh).
RING-NECKED PARAKEET Psittacula krameri
Two flew SW over Tesco lake on March 30th 2015 and (20+ flew through New Hythe on November 29th 2016.Just outside the recording area on July 19th 2016,fifteen flew north over Snodland.
CUCKOO Cuculus canorus
Annual summer visitor.Singles at New Hythe on April 3rd 2004 and April 6th 2015,were early.It is not usually heard until the third week of that month.Cuckoo numbers have fluctuated over the years.In the Sunken marsh at New Hythe,a favoured area,(3) were seen in June 1980,with (5) on June 3rd 1983.At the present time this is still the most reliable place to see the bird at New Hythe,where its host bird is the Reed Warbler.Another reliable locality is Holborough marsh.(2-4) birds.
BARN OWL Tyto alba
Singles along the river wall at Burham on Dec 31st 1966 and again in the first quarter of 1967,are the only records for that decade.There was then no more records until the 1980s.When singles were seen at New Hythe,on June 28th 1980,in Dec 1982 and Nov 1984.At Burham marsh singles were again seen there during 1984/5 and 1987.During the 1990s,singles were seen at Holborough marsh during the autumn of 1991 and on various dates in 1995/96.
LITTLE OWL Athene nocyua
Resident.This Owl was rather scarce in the 1960s (pesticides).Since the 1980s,a pair has regularly nested in the church tower close to Burham marsh.Over the years the odd bird has been seen throughout the recording area.
TAWNY OWL Strix aluco
Resident,Over the years the odd bird has been heard and seen in the Eccles/Reed island Site area.During the winter of 1982/83,(2) birds were seen hunting in the grounds of Reed International,(now a housing development),which is on the very edge of the area at New Hythe.A bird was seen at Holborough marsh during the autumn of 1999.One was found dead at Abbey Meads (around 2005) and one was seen and heard there during June 2016 (N/W (corner).Another or the same bird was seen on July 17th 2016.
LONG-EARED OWL Asio otus
Occasional winter visitor.Between 1986 and 1997,up to (9) birds had their winter roost in hawthorns along one side of the Sunken marsh at New Hythe.One bird was seen there in the winter of 2000/01.A pair may have nested in 1998.A bird ringed away from the roost site at New Hythe on the 30 01 87,was found dead (road casualty) at Winchester,Hampshire on 23 03 88.Large numbers of Scandinavian birds cross the North sea in the autumn to argument the British breeding population during the winter months.British birds are far less mobile,although there are post fledging movements of up to 340km within the British Isles.
SHORT-EARED OWL Asio flammeus
Formerly a regular winter visitor.There was only one record during the 1960s.A single bird at Burham marsh on Jan 25th 1966.The beginning of the 1970s,saw a big increase in records.Singles were seen at New Hythe on April 17th 1971,and at Burham marsh on Dec 29th 1974.During Jan/Feb and March and April 1979,(4) were present in the Burham/New Hythe (Sunken marsh) area.The species was then seen in varying numbers through to the beginning of the 1990s,after which records declined.No recent records .
One was seen from the Bucket Wood flying over Burham marsh and the Sunken marsh on April 2nd 2016.
NIGHTJAR Caprimulgus europaeus
One was watched displaying on the edge of St Peters Pit Burham (not far outside the area) in May 1968.
COMMON SWIFT Apus apus
Summer visitor and passage migrant,which has declined over the years.Extreme dates are April 2nd 1962 and Sept 24th 1981.The first birds of spring are usually seen in the first few days of May.On overcast days during the spring and summer (100s) have at times been seen feeding over the lakes.There was (500) over Abbey Meads in May 1991.
ALPINE SWIFT Apus melba
One was seen over Castle lake Leybourne on March 27th 2010.
COMMON KINGFISHER Alcedo atthis
Breeding species.Numbers were very low for a few years after the very harsh winter of 1962/63.A few pairs breed annually in the lakes complex.The maximum number I have seen was (5) during a visit to New Hythe on Dec 13th 1981.It is also seen on the marshes,though mainly in the non breeding season.Although in recent years birds have been seen at Holborough in June and July.It also frequents the Medway throughout the year.
HOOPOE Upupa epops
Singles at Leybourne on July 30th-31st 1979,Abbey Meads lake on May 19th 1980 and in the Sunken marsh area on April 19th 2011.Close to the recording area at Sand Hole,Snodland.One was present from Nov 2013,until at least April 20th 2014.
WRYNECK Jynx torqilla
Former breeding species,now a rare passage migrant.During the 1960s,there was still a small breeding population in the Aylesford/Eccles/old factory area.In 1965,a possible (3) pairs were present and in 1966 and 1967,(2) pairs nested successfully.One pair used a nesting box in a garden at Aylesford.In 1968,singles were recorded between March 28th-June 30th,but there was no proof of breeding.A single bird at Aylesford on Sept 19th 1969,was the only record for that year.Single migrants were seen at New Hythe in the autumn of 1976,on Sept 5th 1981,during the first week of May 1986,April 27th 1989 and Oct 2nd 2012.The last bird was found in the east scrub.
GREEN WOODPECKER Picus viridis
Resident,which has become more numerous over the years.This species was in very low numbers for a few years after the very harsh winter of 1962/63.Green Woodpeckers have bred regularly over the years at Castle lake,on the marshes,Eccles island and in the Eccles/old factory area.It became a regular breeding bird in the lakes complex at New Hythe,towards the end of the 1980s and it is possible now to see up to (6) or more on any one visit.In the summer of 1998,(2) pairs bred on Holborough marsh.Like the Great Spot,they make their nesting holes in the large mature Crack Willows.
GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER Dendrocopos major
Resident.Great Spotted Woodpeckers have bred regularly over the years at Castle lake,on the marshes,Eccles island and in the Eccles/old factory area.It became a regular nesting species at New Hythe at much the same time as the Green.
LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER Dendrocopos minor
Former breeding species.From the 1960s,through to the beginning of the 1990s.Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers were known to have nested at Castle lake Leybourne and on Eccles island.During the 1980s,the odd bird was also seen in the New Hythe lakes complex and in 1990,a pair possibly nested in Crack Willows in the Brook House area.It is possible it may still nest occasionally at Castle lake and in the Eccles island/Reed island Site) area,As in recent years these areas have been under watched.
GOLDEN ORIOLE Oriolus oriolus
A male was heard and seen on Eccles island on May 5th 1987.
RED-BACKED SHRIKE Lanius collurio
A nest with four eggs was found at Eccles on June 27th 1965.The nest was later robbed and the birds left the area.
GREAT GREY SHRIKE Lanius sccubbitor
Formerly quite a regular visitor.Singles in the Burham/Eccles area during Jan,Oct and Nov 1965,Feb,March and Oct 1967,Oct 27th 1968 and March 26th 1977.At New Hythe on Nov 17th1973,April 8th 1975,from Dec 1987,until March 27th 1988,from Oct 1988 until April 13th 1989 and March 11th 1990,with (2) there on March 4th 1989.More recently (1) was seen in the Sunken marsh on Dec 18th 2011.
MAGPIE Pica pica
Resident.Magpies have become much more numerous over the years.In the recording area they are common and loose flocks of up to (10) are regularly seen,especially on the marshes.
JAY Garrulus glandarius
Breeding species.On a numbers of occasions over the years,small flocks have been seen roaming over the area during the autumn.However during the autumn of 1993,a much bigger movement was witnessed .On Oct the 2nd,a flock of (40) flew into the Oaks on Eccles island and only after staying a short while flew off NW.On the same day (24) flew NW over Halling.Over the next few days more birds were seen passing over,all heading NW,At the same time larger flock were seen on the Kent coast.It is likely that these birds were of continental origin.
JACKDAW Corvus monedula
Resident.Jackdaws breed in good numbers in the chalk quarries along the North Downs.A few pairs also breed in the recording area.Flocks of (60) or more have been seen feeding in the Burham marsh area.These birds roost somewhere in the Leybourne area and at times overfly the lakes complex.
ROOK Corvus frugilegus
Many of the Rookeries I knew in the 1960s,have now all gone.Rooks are generally scarce in the lakes complex.Small numbers seen occasionally passing over the area is the norm.During Sept 2014,on a number of mornings just after dawn.I saw a mixed flock of Rooks and Jackdaws overflying the east scrub from the direction of the river and a presumed roost.The flock contained at least (60) Rooks and (40) Jackdaws.
CARRION CROW Corvus corone corone
Resident and winter visitor,which has increased markedly over the years.Carrion Crows are common throughout the recording area.The largest flock I have seen in the area,was a flock of (150) feeding on recently flooded fields on Holborough marsh in the autumn of 1997.
HOODED CROW Corvus corone cornix
During the 1960s,singles were seen at Burham in 1962 and Snodland on Nov 22nd 1963.Between 1965 and 1970,Hooded Crows were present each winter in the Burham/marsh/Eccles and New Hythe area.On many occasions the birds were seen feeding along the Medway at low tide.There was a maximum of (4) in 1966.
RAVEN Corvus corax
Since 2009,Ravens have been recorded annually in the area.
GOLDCREST Regulus regulus
During the month of Oct,falls may occur.Some of these birds will stay on and winter in the area.A few of our British resident birds breed in large gardens with conifers on the edge of the area.A bird found dead at Burham on 28 11 85,was ringed as a young male (3) at Pontesbury,Shropshire on 18 08 85.Many English breeding birds are sedentary,although some move to the near continent for the winter.Northern and central European birds pass through in the autumn,with some staying to winter.During the summer of 2016,several were heard in the New Hythe area and a young bird was seen in the Brook House area on July 8th.A juvenile (3j) was ringed in the west scrub on July 30th 2016.
RINGING (Leysdown Coastal Park)
6W2637 3f 20 10 99 Leysdown,Kent
V 01 04 00 Isles of Man,England (calf of Man bird observatory) 487km NW.
FIRECREST Regulus ignicapillus
Scarce passage migrant and winter visitor,which has probably been overlooked over the years.Singles at Eccles on March 19th 1967 (singing).At New Hythe from March 29th-30th 1979,Feb 16th 1984,during Jan 1997 and during Dec 2002.There was (2) there during winter 1998/99.At Holborough marsh (1) was seen in Dec 1996.There are a number of more recent undated records of birds seen at New Hythe.During December 2015,two were present in the New Hythe area (seen in the Brooklands car park and along the Mill stream) and at least one was still present into the new year.
One was seen on February 17th 2018 (northen end of the Streamside lake).
PENDULINE TIT Remiz pendulinus
One was seen in the north east corner of Abbey Meads and Sunken marsh from,March 14th-17th 1997.
BLUE TIT Parus caeruleus
Common and widespread breeding species,with no noticeable change in status over the years.One ringed at Burham marsh on 13 01 1979 as a (5),was found dead at Tonbridge,Kent 20km SW on 05 04 79.
GREAT TIT Parus major
Common and widespread resident,with no noticeable change in status.
COAL TIT Parus ater
This is a scarce bird in the recording area.The only reliable location where I know this bird can sometimes be found.Is in the large gardens, which border onto the Motor way lake.Two were seen at Abbey Meads in 1985 and one flew across the Sunken marsh on Sept 20th 2010.
WILLOW TIT Parus montanus
Resident which has declined drastically in recent years.Small numbers were present at Castle lake in the 1960s and 1970s.In the 1980s,several were trapped on the Reed island Site and in 1986,(2) were seen at Abbey Meads.One ringed on Reed island Site (just across the Medway from Abbey Meads lake) on the 29 06 1980,as a (3J) juvenile,was controlled at Chatham,Kent 6km north on 01 03 91.English Willow Tits are highly sedentary,many being found no further than 5km from the place of ringing.The fewer longer movements of up to 20km and one of 167km,may well represent post-juvenile fledging dispersal.
MARSH TIT Parus palustris
Resident which has declined drastically over the years.Small numbers were present at Castle lake in the 1960s and 1970s.One was seen at New Hythe in July 2017.
BEARDED TIT Panurus biarmicus
Winter visitor since 1965.Up until about 1970,about (20) birds were wintering in the area,but after a run of mild winters numbers grew to around (60).There was then a fall in numbers again to around (20) during the mid 1980s and sadly the decline continued into the 1990s and beyond with no records at all in some years.This fall in numbers was not just local,but throughout Kent.However over the past five years Bearded Tits have again become regular visitors,but the numbers are small,probably under (15).Four were seen at Holborough marsh on March 30th 2015,which had overwintered there.In the summer of 1981,one pair raised young at Burham marsh.The birds arrive during Oct and stay around until March.They winter in the large reed beds at Holborough and Burham.In some years especially during the 1980s,they can also be found in the smaller reed beds in the Sunken marsh/Abbey Meads area.The male of the pair found breeding at Burham had been ringed as a (3) on 27 07 1980 at Tichfield Haven Hampshire.Birds ringed elsewhere and controlled at either Hoborough or Burham.Minsmere,Walberswick,Fordwich,Stodmarsh,Pitsea,Dungeness and Grain.Birds ringed at either Holborough or Burham were controlled at Heligoland Germany,Murston,Kent,Stodmarsh Kent and Sturry Kent.
Sightings of Bearded Tits in the New Hythe area have been rather scarce in recent years.However a pair was seen in the dyke that runs around the Sunken marsh on October 29th 2015.
SKYLARK Alauda avensis
Resident,passage migrant and winter visitor,which has declined drastically since the 1980s.Before the decline Skylarks bred in very good numbers in the fields that border onto Burham marsh and in smaller numbers on the marshes and in the New Hythe lakes complex.The last (1-2) pairs to nest in the lakes complex was in 2000.This was on the grassy banks of Tesco lake,now overrun with dog walkers.In more recent years,autumn passage movements and cold weather movements,although they still occur.The numbers are much smaller than formerly.The last big movement I recorded was in the cold weather of 1977.When in one hour of watching (2,500) passed over NW.
SAND MARTIN Riparia riparia
Former breeding species and passage migrant,which has declined over the years.One at New Hythe on March 2nd 1998,was early and two there on Oct 23rd 1981,late.The main spring influx is in the second week of April,when they can be seen,more so in the past,in their hundreds over the lakes,The population of Sand Martins declined markedly from 1969-1973.with further declines in 1984 and 1985.This was attributed to drought conditions in the Sahel region of Africa.There were two large nesting colonies on the edge of the recording area at this time,one at Snodland and the other at Aylesford.These along with many others throughout Kent no longer exist.In the 1970s,there was a small colony along the southern bank of Abbey Meads lake.In the past during the autumn and to a lesser degree in the spring,roosts were formed in the reed beds at either Holborough or Burham.The autumn roosts were estimated to hold up to (7,000) birds between 1963 and up to the beginning of the 1990s,where after they declined.Present day roosts are much smaller,Birds ringed elsewhere and controlled in the autumn roost.Beligum Sweden Berks Hants Leics Norfolk Oxford Salop Suffolk Surrey Sussex Yorks and from eleswhere in Kent.Birds that were ringed in the roosts and controlled in Hants Sussex Notts Norfolk Wales France Scotland Hereford Shropshire Spain Senegal and esleswhere in Kent
SWALLOW Hirundo rustica
Common summer visitor and passage migrant,which has declined over the years.One at Brookland lake on April 3rd 2004 was early and (2) at Leybourne on Nov 14th 1962 late.The main spring arrival is usually fro about April 20th onward.At these times especially in the past,hundreds congregate over the lakes.At the present time a count of (100) would be considered good.Alders lake is a good spot to look out for the first hirundines of spring.Autumn roosts in the past contained thousands of birds,(10,000) at Burham in 1964,but by the late 1980s they had declined,to hundreds rather than thousands.Some of the recent autumn roosts have contained well under one hundred birds.Birds controlled at the autumn roosts had been ringed in.Wiltshire Leicestershire Salop and Cheshire.Birds ringed at the roosts were controlled in.Sussex Surrey and Scotland.
RED-RUMPED SWALLOW Cercopis daurica
One was seen over Tesco lake on May 8th 1997.
HOUSE MARTIN Delichon urbica
Common summer visitor and passage migrant,which has declined over the years.A bird at New Hythe on March 16th 2008,was early and (2) there on Nov 23rd-25th,late.The main spring passage is later than the Swallow,most arriving during May.At this time of the year,small numbers can be seen over the lakes,but most probably go straight to there colonies.All the colonies I knew in Snodland only ten years ago have now gone.At least 15 occupied nests at May street Snodland 2015.
CETTI`S WARBLER Cettia cetti
Resident.The first record for the area was of a male at Burham marsh on Oct 25th 1975.Five years later during the spring,a male was heard in the Eccles/island creek area.Later that same year in June,I trapped a juvenile on the nearby Reed island Site.The following year,there was (2) males at Burham marsh in April,(1) at Castle lake in July,(2) at New Hythe in Sept and (1) at Holborough in Oct.The 1981/82 winter was severe and a reduction in numbers was evident the following spring.Only (2) were heard,both at Burham.In 1983,the (2) birds remained at Burham and in Sept (2) more were heard at New Hythe.1984,saw a big increase in numbers (did these arrive in the autumn of 1993?).There was (8) singing at New Hythe,(2) at Burham and singles at Castle lake and Holborough.After the winter of 1985.there was again a reduction,but not as bad as first feared.Five new birds were trapped on Reed island Site,(2) were heard at New Hythe and there was (1) at Burham.Although the winter of 1986 was cold,numbers remained high the following spring.Four were heard in the Abbey Meads area during March and a count in May produced (11) in the Burham/Leybourne and New Hythe area.The winter of 1986/87,saw very heavy snow falls along the North Downs and in West Kent.Although the species had stood up quite well in previous cold winters.The deep snow must have reduced feeding possibilities severely and the population was decimated,save for (1) female that I trapped on Reed island Site in the spring.No more were heard or seen for a further six years.Then on April 17th 1993,the rich loud burst of song was at last heard again.A male was holding a territory along the northern bank of Abbey Meads.1994,saw (3) males in the area and I trapped a female with a brood patch.By 1995,the number had built up to (6) singing males.At the present times 2015,the population is strong with at least (10) singing males in the New Hythe/Leybourne area,with at least a further three each at Holborough and Burham.A male ringed at Chew Valley lake,Avon on 23 12 92 was controlled at Abbey Meads lake on 20 04 94.This bird was then re trapped in the same territory (Abbey Meads) a further four times,the last being five years later.
LONG-TAILED TIT Aegithalos caudatus
Common and widespread resident,which fluctuates in numbers depending on the severity of the winter.One adult (4) ringed on 29 06 80 at Reed island Site.was found dead at East Malling (hit a window) on 02 10 80. 2km SW.A young bird (3) ringed on 20 08 83 at Cliffe Woods,Kent,was controlled at New Hythe on 06 04 85.15km S.Long-tailed Tits are highly sedentary,mainly moving short distances in loose flocks.
PALLAS`S WARBLER Phylloscopsus proregulus
A singing male was present on the edge of the recording area at Wouldham from April 8th-18th 2007.
WOOD WARBLER Phylloscopsus sibilatrix
Rare passage migrant.Singles were seen at Leybourne on April 24th 1966 and in the Eccles area on April 30th 1967.This species has probably been overlooked over the years.
CHIFFCHAFF Phylloscopus collybita
Summer breeding visitor and passage migrant,small numbers winter.Since 1968.small numbers have been recorded wintering in the area.1993,was a good year,with (9) at New Hythe,one bird trapped was of the race P.c.abietinus.On March 30th 2009,a tristis individual was seen and heard at Holborough marsh.The song was quieter,higher pitched and more condensed than Collybita.An adult bird ringed at Abbey Meads on 09 04 1986,was found dead on 02 01 1987,in the Algarve,Portugal.A bird that I ringed in my garden on the 12 02 2016,showed characteristics of P.c.tristis.The bird did not call.It was seen again in the garden on March 6th.There has been a small number of tristis recorded in inland Kent this winter
ELV840 (3j) ringed on 06 08 17 at Ruxley,London,w.t 8.4gm
controlled on 22 09 17 (west scrub) Hew Hythe,w.t 7.9gm,25Km ESE,47 days.
WILLOW WARBLER Phylloscopus trochilus
Summer visitor and passage migrant,which has declined drastically in recent years.Up until about the beginning of the 1990s,Willow Warblers were a common bird in the area.Since 2012,only (1-2) pairs have been recorded in the New Hythe lakes complex,mainly in the west scrub.During April 2015,I heard (2) in the west scrub,and (1) in the east.
JAT869 ringed in the West Scrub as a 3j (juvenile) on the 07 Sept 2016
controlled (caught by a ringer) on 25 Aug 2017 at Laguna de Nava,Polencia,Spain,1,100Km SSW.
BLACKCAP Sylvia atricapilla
Common widespread summer visitor and passage migrant,small numbers winter.Blackcaps,unlike some other warblers have increased in numbers.At New Hythe the maturing of the lakes has certainly helped.In May 2014,I recorded (25) singing males at New Hythe and during the autumn I trapped (153) in the west scrub,many of which must have been on passage.The birds that winter in the country are from a population that breeds in west central Europe.One such bird was controlled in my garden - ringed on 09 09 2011 at Chotec,Czech Republic,controlled on 30 12 2012 at Snodland ,Kent,it was last seen on March 14th 2013.
3j ringed 29 06 2014 East Newlands,Foulness,Essex
controlled 11 09 2014 New Hythe (west scrub) 46Km SW.
3M ringed 05 09 2014 New Hythe (west scrub)
adM,controlled 19 06 2016 Sandy Smith NR,Beadlow,Bedforshire,653 days 99km NW.
GARDEN WARBLER Sylvia borin
Scarce summer visitor and passage migrant,population increase since the 1980s.One at Eccles on April 10th 1966,was early.This species occupies similar habitats as the Blackcap,but is less numerous.In recent years there has been around four pairs in the New Hythe lakes complex.
LESSER WHITETHROAT Sylvia curruca
Scarce summer visitor and passage migrant,population increase since the 1980s.Like the Garden Warbler,although scarce,both have benefited by the maturing of the lakes.There has probably been around (4-6) pairs at New Hythe in recent years.
COMMON WHITETHROAT Sylvia communis
Common summer visitor and passage migrant.One at New Hythe on April 2nd 2001 was early and one there on Nov 2nd 1975 late.In the summer of 1965 (61) males were found singing in the Burham/Eccles/Old Factory area.Walking round the same area in 1985 I found only (1).In 1969 the Whitethroat population crashed dramatically throughout Britain and fell even more in 1972 and 1973.Drought conditions in the Sahel regeon of Africa where the birds winter was thought to have been the reason.The numbers remained low until 1986 when there was a welcome and noticeable increase in numbers.There was up to (10) pairs around Abbey Meads during the 1990s and up to (8) at Holborough.At New Hythe in 2004 there was (24) singing males and in 2012 (23).
DARTFORD WARBLER Sylvia undata
One was present in the east scrub from Jan 14th-22nd 2001.
GRASSHOPPER WARBLER Locustella neevia
Irregular summer breeding species and passage migrant.In the 1960s,(1-2) singing males were present in the Burham/Eccles area.From 1981 to the mid 1990s,(1-2) were present most years,either in the Sunken marsh,or in the north east corner of Abbey Meads lake.The west scrub has also held singing birds over the years.In 1993,there was (3),2001 (2) and more recently in 2013,(1).
SAVI`S WARBLER Locustella lustcinioides
One was heard singing at Holborough marsh one year in the 1970s.
SEDGE WARBLER Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
Summer visitor and passage migrant,which has declined in recent years.One at Eccles on March 31st 1966,was early and one at Burham on Oct 26th 1975,late.During a survey in 1982,(70) pairs were located in TQ76,which included a healthy (25) around Abbey Meads lake alone.By 2001,in the whole of the New Hythe lakes area the count was just (17) and in 2004,it was down to a miserable (4).The decline continues,since 2009,or earlier,just (1-2) have been located at New Hythe.It does still breed on the marshes,but again in much smaller numbers than formerly.One was seen and heard in brambles at Brookland lake on April 3rd 2016' (a nice early date) and during May no less than 5 were heard in the New Hythe lakes area.
(3) 29 07 67 Burham marsh
controlled 21 05 68 Wilstone,reservoir,Tring,Herts.
(3) 26 08 80 Holm,Norfolk.
13 09 80 Burham marsh
(3) 21 08 86 Burham marsh
26 04 87 Heysham harbour,Lancashire.
(3) 26 08 88 Icklesham,Sussex
28 08 88 Burham marsh.47km NE 2 days.
Many young birds in the autumn,such as the above bird.Will head north before turning south for the winter.This maybe to locate suitable breeding areas to return to the following spring.
REED WARBLER Acroephalus scirpaceus
Summer visitor and passage migrant.In 1963.(300) pairs were estimated to be present in the reed beds at Burham marsh.In 1990.I estimated (250),which included (51) in the main dyke there.In the same year,I estimated (60) to be present at Holborough marsh.They also nest in the reed beds that line the Medway at New Hythe and also on Eccles island.Smaller numbers,but just as important,also nest around the reed fringed banks of,Brookland lake,Abbey meads and Streamside.The Sunken marsh area is also important.Birds ringed in the area have been found in.France Portugal Suffolk Essex Sandwich Sussex and ,Hampshire,
Z821329 3j Ringed 19 08 2017 west scrub,caught by a ringer at Kneep Castle Estate,West Sussex,on the 02 09 2017.70Km WSW.
WAXWING Bombycilla garrulus
rare winter visitor.During the years of big Waxwings invasions such as 1965,1986,1989,1996 and 2000/02,Birds were seen close by,but not in the actual recording area.This however all changed in Dec 2004,when (9) birds spent a week in the east and west scrub.More recently small numbers were seen in the Sunken marsh area and Brook House in the winters of 2010/11 and (4) were seen edge of the east scrub on January 31st 2017.
NUTHATCH Sitta europaea
During the 1980s,singles were seen on Eccles island and more recently one was seen by the Leybourne Country Park rangers office.
COMMON TREECREEPER Certhia famillaris
Resident in small numbers,small decline in recent years.Treecreepers have been noted breeding in the Eccles island/Reed island Site,Castle lake,Holborough marsh and in the lakes complex.In recent years the mature crack willows in the vicinity of the Leybourne Country Park rangers office,has been a reliable Site.
WREN Troglodytes trodlodytes
Common and widespread breeding species which fluctuates in numbers,especially after harsh winters.At the present time numbers area high.
STARLING Sturnus vulgaris
Common resident,passage migrant and winter visitor,has declined in recent years.Starlings are one of the most numerous birds in the area.There are large influxes of continental birds during Oct and Nov.These big flocks mainly feed and roost in the vicinity of Burham marsh,they depart during March.Birds ringed in the area have been found in.Estoniya and other areas in Kent.
RING OUZEL Turdus torquatus
Two were seen at Burham marsh on Aug 29th 1963,with (1) there one autumn in the late 1980s.More recently singles were seen at New Hythe in April 2003 and in the Sunken marsh on Oct 14th 2014.This is another species that has probably been overlooked,
BLACKBIRD Turdus merula
Common resident,passage migrant and winter visitorBlackbirds are a widespread breeding species.It is at its most numerous during the autumn,when they feed on the hawthorn crop on the marshes and in the lakes complex.Birds ringed in the area have been found in.Belgium,Netherlands and other areas in Kent.
FIELDFARE Turdus pilaris
Singles at Holborough marsh on sept 6th 1970 and at New Hythe on Sept 8th 1980,were early.The big numbers are not usually seen until the end of Oct.When they do appear they are usually first seen flying over the area in a NW direction.Some of these birds however drop down to feed on the berry crop few a few days,while others move on after just a short while.This is most noticeable in the Abbey Meads area and on the marshes at Holborough and Burham.At these places big roosting flocks may form,especially at Burham.There was a roost estimate of (7,000) in hawthorns there in Nov 1966 and in the mid 1980s,a roost was formed in the reed bed there,which was unusual.In some years small numbers remain in the area all winter.By early March the return passage starts,which continues into April,a May bird is rare.Birds ringed in the area have been found in.Italy and Finland.
SONG THRUSH Turdus philomelos
Widespread breeding species,winter visitor and passage migrant.Song Thrushes have declined drastically over the years,Like the Blackbird it is at its most numerous during the autumn months.Birds ringed in the area have been found in.France,Spain,Norfolk and other areas in Kent.
MISTLE THRUSH Turdus viscivorus
Scarce breeding species and passage migrant,has declined.Post breeding flocks of up to (150),were recorded at Burham in the late 1970s.Since then these flocks have been much smaller.Most years,more so in the past during the month of Oct.Small numbers can be seen passing over the area heading NW.
SPOTTED FLYCATCHER Muscipapa striata.
Summer visitor,formerly common,now rare.During the 1960s,Spotted flycatchers were common and widespread.At Eccles old factory area (13) adults were located there in 1965.By the end of the 1970s,I recorded it as becoming scarce.During the mid 1980s,up to (4) in a day could still be seen at New Hythe,but there after the decline really set in.
Singe birds were seen at New Hythe during Sept 2010.and Sept 2015.
PIED FLYCATCHER Ficedular hypoleuce
Rare passage migrant,which has probably been overlooked through the years.Singles in the Burham/Eccles area on Aug 23rd 1966,with (2) on the 24th,on Sept 30th 1967 and Aug 10th 1968.At Castle lake in the autumn of 1963 and at New Hythe on May 1st 1979,with (2) there on Sept 27th 1983.One was seen in the SE corner of Brookland lake on April 28th 2016.
ROBIN Erithacus rubeccule
Common widespread resident,with no noticeable change in status.
NIGHTINGALE Luscinia megarhnchos
Summer breeding species.During the 1960s,I counted (10) singing birds in the Burham/Eccles/old factory area.At the same time Reed International had been dumping paper pulp onto an area of former marshland close by,(Reed island Site).This former marsh by 1976 had vegetated over and held (10) singing Nightingales.In 1991,these two areas held a combined total of (30) singing males.By the end of that decade however,without management most of the area had become unsuitable for breeding Nightingales.The willows became too tall and dense,restricting the light,essential for ground vegetation.At the present time Nightingales still breed in the same general area,but in smaller numbers.At the beginning of the 1980s,the New Hythe lakes area had matured enough to start attracting a few pairs and by 1991,there was (10) singing males and in 2014 (21).It can be seen that Nightingales are very reliant on scrub of the right age to be able to maintain good breeding populations.Work being carried out to this effect in the Country park and at Holborough marsh,will hopefully help keep this special bird in the area long into the future.Nightingales especially the males will return to the same territory,year after year,as long as it remains suitable.Two of my ringed birds at New Hythe,returned for six years running and one for five.Territories especially in the east scrub and in the Brook House area can remain suitable for many years,fifteen at least.I first heard the song of the Nightingale in the last named areas in 1991.2014/15 saw the laying of a new water pipe through Leybourne Country Park.Hopefully,if the disturbed ground where the pipe was laid especially along the edge of the west scrub and leading up to the Brook House area is left to mature naturally.In the future it might well become good Nightingale habitat once again.0ne was heard and seen jn the Brook House area on the early date of April 4th 2016.During May 2016,I counted 6 singing males to the east of the railway (Brookland/Abbey Mead area) and 25 to the west of the railway (country Park area).Six of these were in the Brook House area (the highest density).
One was singing in the Brook House bushes on the early date of April 3rd 2017.
V376216 4 23 04 08 Kingsnorth Power Station Kent
V 26 04 09 New Hythe (west scrub) Kent 15km SW (this bird was possibly a female,which are less site faithful than males).
L563452 3 10 09 2010 Icklesham Sussex (on passage)
V 15 04 2014 New Hythe Kent (breeding)
V 15 04 2016 . .. . . . . . . . . . .. .
T677063 (5 male),ringed on the 06 06 2008 (Leybourne Country Park),re trapped in 2013,2014,2015 and lastly on 20 07 2016,aged 9 years,or 8 years and 14 days from time of ringing (oldest BTO ringed Nightingale).
BLUETHROAT Luscinia svecia
One at New Hythe (Johnsons lake area) from Feb 11th-March 4th 1968 (1st winter female) was the second wintering record for Kent.
BLACK REDSTART Phoenicurus ochruros
Rare breeding species,passage migrant and winter visitor.During the 1960s,singles were seen at Leybourne in the spring of 1964,in Aylesford sand pit on March 31st 1966 (singing),the old factory area at Eccles from March 26th-30th 1967 and New Hythe in Dec 1968.1970s - Singles near Burham marsh in the spring of 1971 and at Abbey Meads on March 21st and 29th,with (3) there on the 30th 1979.One pair bred at the former Halling cement works(which is now a new housing development)in 1977.1980s - (1) at New Hythe on May 9th 1980,(2) at Abbey Meads from April 12th-13th 1986 and breeding was proved again at Halling (2) pairs in 1995.A pair raised two broods on the edge of the recording area,on the former Reed International site in 1995.
One was seen in the paper mill complex.Which runs along the northern edge of Brookland lake on November 14th 2015,and a male was seen there on April 5th 2016.
COMMON REDSTART Phoenicurus phoenicurus
Scarce passage migrant.Single in the old factory area at Eccles on April 10th,19th and 24th 1966.At New Hythe on Oct 8th 1969,Aug 30th 1983,Aug 18th 2010 and in April (east scrub) 2014.Two early birds were seen at Eccles on April 2nd 1971.One was seen in the east scrub (New Hythe) on April 29th 2016,with two on August 29th (New Hythe).
WHINCHAT Saxicola rubetra
Passage migrant,which has declined in recent years.During the early years,Whinchats were seen quite regularly in the lakes complex and on the marshes during the months of Aug and Sept,especially if there had been a NE wind.Up to (4) in a day being quite usual (1970s and 1980s).There was (6) in the Burham/Eccles area on Aug 31st 1966.As a spring migrant it is scarce,but when it is seen,it is usually during May.A late bird was trapped in a reed bed roost at Burham on Oct 25th 1981.A pair first seen on June 6th 1965,in the Eccles old factory area.Were seen again this time carrying food in the same place on July 4th.
One was seen at New Hythe on August 29th 2016.The same day that two Redstarts were also seen there.
STONECHAT Saxicola torquata
Winter visitor and passage migrant.During the early to mid 1960s,the Stonechat was a rare bird in the area.Two birds at Leybourne in Jan and two singles in the month of Oct at Burham and New Hythe are the only records for that period.With the onset of milder winters towards the end of that decade,there were more records.Most of these coming from New Hythe.Where up to (4) birds wintered regularly through the 1970s.From the beginning of the 1980s,up to the present time the species has become scarce again.Although not far outside the are on Halling marsh,this bird has been seen annually in recent years.Perhaps at New Hythe the habitat they require has changed and there is certainly a lot more disturbance by dogs than formerly.
WHEATEAR Oenanthe oenanthe
Formerly a common passage migrant,which has become far less regular in recent times.During the spring the Wheatear occurs from late March into April and May.The return passage is in Aug and Sept,with a few still passing in Oct.Most of the records especially in the past (1970s and 1980s) came from the more open areas of the New Hythe lakes area (now west and east scrub).Seldom more than (1-2) were seen at any one time.It is more common in the spring,when during May the larger Greenland bird puts in a appearance.A pair during the summer at Abbey Meads one year in the 1970s,probably nested.A recent record of (4) in the east scrub on May 2nd 2012,was unusual.Two were seen in the east scrub on April 28th 2016.
DUNNOCK Prunella modularis
Widespread and abundant resident,with no noticeable change in status.
HOUSE SPARROW Passer domesticus
Common resident,which has become less numerous in recent years.There was a large roost count of (2,500) at Burham during the winter of 1966.In recent years there has been a very noticeable fall in feeding flock numbers on the surrounding farmland,marshland and at New Hythe.On some occasions now,you can walk through the lakes complex without seeing a single bird..It is not until you are back in human habitations that you start to see them again.In my garden at Snodland,where I have lived for over forty years.The species remains numerous,with up to (30) visiting each day.We have four pairs nesting in boxes on the side of the house (2015).
TREE SPARROW Passer montanus
Former resident,passage migrant and winter visitor.In 1966,in the Burham Eccles area there was a winter roost of (400) and a breeding survey count of (72) adults there in 1965.During 1976,several pairs bred in boxes on Eccles island and (9) flew over New Hythe NW on Oct 10th.During the 1980s I regularly caught birds on the Reed island Site and during the autumn and winter flocks of up to (50) were regularly seen at Burham Court farm feeding on spilt grain..In Dec 1985,(100) were feeding along the newly landscaped banks of Tesco lake.From the beginning of the 1990s,the species then became very hard to locate.To my knowledge there has been no more records since.
BLUE-HEADED WAGTAIL Motacilla flava flava
Formerly a regular spring passage migrant.Through the 1970s,I located this bird almost annually in the area which is now known as the east and west scrub.A cock bird was seen feeding young at Burham in 1967.
YELLOW WAGTAIL Motacilla flava flavissima
Extreme dates April 2nd 1996 and Nov 7th 1986.Yellow Wagtails bred annually in the area until a decline set in towards the end of the 1970s.The last record of breeding I have at New Hythe was in 1982 and on the marshes in 1986.However a few pairs were located in cereal fields at Burham up until the mid 1990s.During the 1970s and 1980s,during the spring there was a very noticeable passage of birds in the Abbey meads area with up to (20) on any one day.During the 1960s and 1970s,autumn roosts in the reed beds at either Holborough or Burham held up to (200) birds.By the 1980s,these roost averaged (80).The decline continued and by the beginning of the 1990s,the roosts no longer existed.In more recent times two singles passed through New Hythe in the spring of 2001.I believe small numbers still pass over on passage (hearing them is the key,which I now cant),but very irregularly.
ringed (3) 18 08 66 Beddington,Surrey
controlled 20 08 66 Burham marsh (roost)
ringed (3) 07 08 88 Isle Grain,Kent
controlled 28 08 88 Burham marsh (roost)
SYKES`S WAGTAIL M f beema
Single cock birds were seen at Abbey Meads on April 13th 1979 and ,from April 19th-20th and May 30th 1982.
GREY WAGTAIL Motacilla cinerea
Passage migrant and winter visitor.The Grey Wagtail is usually seen in the area during the late autumn,winter and spring.There are a number of summer records and it has undoubtedly bred over the years.
WHITE WAGTAIL Motacilla alba alba
Formerly an annual spring passage migrant,now rarely seen.During the 1960s and 1970s,this species was an annual visitor to the New Hythe area.One was caught in a Pied Wagtail roost at Holborough on Oct 26th 1986.
PIED WAGTAIL Motacilla alba yarrelil
Resident and passage migrant.Autumn roosts of between (100-200) birds were regular in the reed beds at either Holborough or Burham up until the end of the 1980s.During the 1990s,the birds then starting roosting in buildings on the former Reed International Site on the edge of the area at New Hythe.A decline then set in towards the end of the decade.At the present time the bird is far less numerous.During the early years there was a very noticeable spring passage through the lakes.Birds ringed in the autumn roosts at either Holborough or Burham were found in.Cheshire Yorks Essex Beds and in other parts of Kent.
TREE PIPIT Anthus trivialis
Rare spring passage migrant.During the 1980s,singles were occasionally heard in the spring as they passed over New Hythe.Two early birds were seen there on April 3rd 1982.At this time they were still breeding on the North Downs.
MEADOW PIPIT Anthus pratensis
Former regular nesting species and numerous passage migrant.In the past Meadow Pipits nested quite widely throughout the area.At New Hythe during the 1970s and 1980s,they nested in the Brook House area and in the now west and east scrub.Single pairs continued to nest in the east scrub,up until the mid 1990s,At the present time Meadow Pipits are far less numerous.In the past during Sept and Oct streams of the birds past through heading south.It may still occasionally nest on the marshes,especially at Holborough.
ROCK PIPIT Anthus spinoletta petrosus
Scarce visitor.Singles at Aylesford sewage works on Oct 29th 1976,Burham marsh in March 1968 and at New Hythe in Feb 1969 (Brookland lake) with (2) there in Dec.Although as far as I know there are no records of this species on the Medway at New Hythe.A little further down river at Halling,it has been found to be a regular winter visitor since the 1970s.There was a count of (10) there in Nov 1982.
WATER PIPIT Spinolleta spinoletta
Scarce visitor.Singles were seen at New Hytyhe on Oct 18th 1969 and Burham marsh in April 1977.During 1970,between March 31st and April 17th,(4) were present at New Hythe in the Brook House area.In the 1980s,birds were again recorded from New Hythe and in Feb 1985,(3) were seen on a water flash at Holborough marsh.More recently in the spring of 2001 (5) spent a few days on Holborough marsh.
CHAFFINCH Fringilla coelebs
Common widespread breeding species,passage migrant and winter visitor.From the 1960s,up until about the mid 1980s,during the month of Oct.Flocks of (50) or more were regularly seen passing over the area NW.Also during this period feeding flocks in the autumn and winter months contained sometimes (100s) of birds.In recent times although it is still common,it is far less numerous.
BRAMBLING Fringilla montifringilla
Scarce winter visitor.In Feb 1980,(150) were feeding in a weedy field on Holborough marsh,with (50) there in Dec 1981.At Burham marsh on March 2nd 1986,(55) were feeding in a strip of newly cut reed.During Jan 2004,at Least (25) birds were roosing in hawthorns in the NE corner of Abbey Meads lake.
GREENFINCH Carduelis chloris
Common resident,passage migrant and winter visitor,which has declined in recent years.The Greenfinch up until the decline,was the most abundant and widespread finch in the area.Being present all through the year in reasonable numbers.A more serious decline in recent years has been attributed to trichinosis.
NJ00822 5M 29 03 80 Chatham Kent
V 10 05 80 Eccles (Reed island Site) kent 5km SW
NE97055 4M 24 05 80 Eccles (Reed island Site) Kent
V 14 02 81 Chatham kent 5km NE
NJ09168 6M 08 04 80 Chatham Kent
V 24 04 81 Eccles (Reed island Site Kent 5km SW
NJ00826 6F 29 03 80 Chatham Kent
V 28 05 80 Eccles (Reed island Site Kent) 5km SW
NJ00685 5F 15 03 80 Chatham Kent
V 26 09 83 New Hythe Kent 6 km SW
NC97118 3F 02 11 80 Burham marsh Kent
V 08 02 81 Chatham Kent (roost)
GARDEN RINGING (my house is about one mile from the recording area)
NK19875 5F 08 04 82 Snodland Kent
X 02 02 85 Chatham Kent (cat) 6km NE
NE97656 5M 01 01 79 Snodland Kent
V 16 04 79 Pitsea marsh Essex 24km N
NE97655 5M 03 01 79 Snodland Kent
V 27 01 79 Tonbridge Wells Kent 21km SW
NJ00686 5M 15 03 80 Chathan Kent
V 29 08 81 Snodland Kent
NH62108 6F 09 02 80 Fleet Hampshire
V 14 03 81 Snodland kent 87km NE
NN63016 6M 28 01 84 Snodland kent
X 25 11 85 Enfield London (found dead) 53km NW
VC28574 5M 15 01 88 Snodland Kent
V 18 10 89 Effingham Surrey 58km W
VE12660 4M 20 11 92 Snodland Kent
X 01 06 95 East Farleigh Kent (cat) 8kmSE
NV26528 5M 24 01 94 Snodland Kent
V 09 01 95 Trottiscliffe Kent 5km NW
LEYSDOWN COASTAL PARK
VE12627 3M 10 10 91 Leysdown
V 12 01 92 East Grinstead Sussex 71km SW
VE12659 3M 31 10 92 Leysdown
V 15 02 93 Witstable Kent 5km E
VE12698 3M 16 09 93 Leysdown
V 23 02 93 Dungeness Kent 52km S
NV26537 3F 14 08 94 Leysdown
V 12 10 94 Dungeness Kent
NV26534 3M 14 08 94 Leysdown
X 15 07 95 Shellness Sheppey Kent (found dead) 2km E
GOLDFINCH Carduelis carduelis
Common resident and passage migrant.During the 1970s,flocks containing up to (250) birds were of common occurrence in the New Hythe lakes area.By the 1990s,these flocks averaged about (50).The largest flock I came across was (200) on Burham marsh in Dec 1996.In resent times,although there has been a fall in numbers from the highs of the 1970s.Autumn and winter flocks in the lakes complex have average around (50) birds.There favourite food there being teasel seeds.Some winters Goldfinches are scarce,but by April and May,small flocks start appearing and birds move into their breeding territories.
SISKIN Carduelis spinus
Winter visitor in varying numbers.Siskins are seen in varying numbers most years feeding in the Alders around the lakes.During the 1960s,flocks of up to (60) were regularly seen in the Alders around the motor way lake.In recent years it has been seen less frequently and in smaller numbers.During the winter of 2014/15,I saw none at all in the area,During July 2015 small numbers were heard overflying New Hythe and Snodland,which for the month of July is very unusual and maybe a first.Unusual numbers were also recorded during the month at Sandwich Bay.
LINNET Carduelis cannabina
Breeding species and passage migrant,scarce during the winter.Drastic decline in recent years.During the 1970s and the first half of the 1980s,there were post breeding flocks in the New Hythe lakes area of up to (500) birds and breeding numbers were high throughout the recording area.By the end of the 1980s however,breeding pairs and flock numbers had noticeably fallen.Then in the mid 1990s,a very fast and dramatic decline set in.This was most evident,at least for me,on Holborough marsh.In 1995,at least (10) pairs were present,1996,(5) (1988,(2),2000/01 (1) and 2002 (0).In recent years linnets in the recording area have become very hard to find.In 2013,(1) pair was present in the Sunken marsh.During the first quarter of 2015,a flock of (150) was present in the Sand Hole area of Snodland,which is very encouraging.Two in the Sunken marsh during April 2016.
HB79381 6M 08 04 66 Burham,Kent
X 08 12 66 Spain (found dead)
Leysdown Coastal Park
H199787 3F 09 10 91 Leysdown,Kent
AC 13 11 94 Cabezarrubias,Del Puerto Ciudad Real Spain (caught and caged)
H748181 3F 15 08 93 Leysdown,Kent
X 14 04 94 Sheerness Kent 12km W (cat)
H553209 4F 04 07 92 Haven Point,Essex
V 07 04 93 Leysdown Kent 20km S
H154625 3M 08 10 90 Leysdown Kent
X 15 07 92 Leysdown Kent (road casualty)
H605679 4M 02 05 92 Leysdown Kent
X 07 07 92 - - - - - - - - - - (found dead)
TWITE Carduelis flavirostris
One was seen with Linnets on the edge of the Reed Island Site on Jan 29th 1984.
LESSER REDPOLL Carduelis flammea cabaret
Locally common passage migrant and winter visitor,has bred.During the 1960s,the lesser Redpoll was mainly seen in small numbers during the winter.However by the mid 1970s,it had become more abundant and was present in all months.In the summers of 1979 and 1980,it was very noticeable in the New Hythe area and a few pairs were known to have nested.I also trapped females with brood patches during this period on the Reed island Site.A fall in numbers was apparent in 1982/83,but in the summer of 1985,it was again very abundant A fall in numbers was apparent again in the 1990s and it was back to being a mainly a winter visitor.The trend has continued up to the present day.
COMMON REDPOLL Carduelis flammea
One was seen on the edge of the area at Sand Hole farm (now the golf course) during the winter of 1973.
BULLFINCH Pyrrhula pyrrhula
Resident in small numbers.Up until the 1990s,Bullfinches were quite numerous in the area.In 1986,during a single visit to the Abbey Meads area (16) were seen.At the present time Bullfinches are seen mostly in the west scrub and the Sunken marsh/Abbey Meads area,where in a single visit (4-6) can occasionally be seen.
British Bullfinches are largely sedentary the vast majority of ringed birds being recovered within 5km of the ringing site.
A738849 6M 24 05 80 Eccles (Reed island Site,Kent.
V 11 06 81 Aylesford,Kent 1km E
A738802 5F 26 04 80 Eccles (Reed island Site,Kent
X 12 05 81 New Hythe 1km W (hit building)
A738836 6M 17 05 80 Eccles (Reed island Site,Kent
V 23 08 80 - - - - - - - - -
V 24 04 81 - - - - - - - - -
X 19 06 81 Larkfield,Kent (found dead 2km S
HAWFINCH Coccothraustes coccothraustes
One was seen in the Abbey Meads lake area in Jan 1997.
Three were seen at New Hythe on October 27th 2017.During October;large numbers came into Britain from the Continent. (a very unusual movement).One was seen at New Hythe on January 14th 2018.
LAPLAND BUNTING Calcarius lapponicus
One flew west at Abbey Meads lake during the first week of March 1986.
SNOW BUNTING Plectrophenax nivalis
One was seen at New Hythe during the first week of March 1986.
YELLOWHAMMER Emberiza citrinella
Resident which has declined drastically.Up until the decline,I knew of at Least (5) pairs on Holborough marsh.A further (5) in the Eccles old factory area and the occasional (1-2) pairs on Burham marsh.They also bred commonly along the North Downs.The decline,at least for me,was most evident at Holborough.Where in 1995 and 1996,(5) males were holding territories,but by the following year there was only (2) and in the summer of 1998,(1),which only stayed for a short while.I have not seen any Yellowhammers in the recording area since,During the 1970s,flocks of up to (150) were present at New Hythe during the winter months and in the 1980s,a flock of (60) was seen there in 1986.Winter flocks also occurred on Burham marsh all through the 1980s,These were attracted to spilt grain at the cattle feeding stations.By the 1990s,these winter flock numbers were much reduced.When I first started watching at Halling marsh in 2009.I was pleased to find that at least (3) pairs were present,However,three years later they had gone.At the present time 2015,I know of only (1) pair within a two mile radius of the recording area.Since 2013,I have seen this pair in the cereal fields between Snodland and Paddlesworth.
On September 6th,4 were seen feeding in the fields between Snodland and Paddlesworth (probably a family group).
REED BUNTING Emberiza scheniclus
Resident,passage migrant and winter visitor,which has declined in recent years.Reed Buntings breed in the lakes area (very small numbers in recent years) and on the marshes.Breeding numbers in the Reed beds at both Holborough and Burham,have probably always been under (30) pairs.At Holborough in the summer of 2001,at least (18) singing males were present.The decline has been more evident in the number of birds moving through the area during the spring and at winter roosts which have been smaller.During the 1970s and 1980s,roosts at Burham and New Hythe, regularly held up to (100) birds.
Although I have had no recoveries abroad of birds ringed in the recording area.One of my birds ringed at Leysdown (Country Park,Kent) on the 12 10 91 (3F) was controlled (V) at Kroons Polders,Vlieland,Netherlands on the 09 08 95 and another bird (4M ringed on the 16 09 92 was controlled (V) at Blankenberge,West Vlaanderen,Belgium on the 30 10 93.
A450677 3F 24 10 79 Hall wood,Wrotham,Kent
V 01 03 80 New Hythe,Kent (roost) 9km SE 129 days.
A275165 4F 31 01 79 New Hythe,Kent (roost)
V 24 10 79 Hall wood,Wrotham,Kent 9km NW 207 days
A450930 3M 30 09 79 Hall wood,Wrotham,Kent
V 02 11 80 Burham marsh,Kent 8km ESE
A738706 4F 01 03 80 New Hythe,Kent
X 24 11 80 Fobbing,Essex (found dead) 26km NE 268 days
H748018 5m 31 01 93 New Hythe,Kent
V 24 09 93 Icklesham,Sussex 49km SW
GARDEN RINGING (my house is about one mile from the recording area (New Hythe)
Since the winter of 2010,I have managed to ring 55 birds.How many birds enter the garden to feed depends on how cold the winters are.During the cold winter of 2012.I managed to catch (34) and in the cold winter of 2013.(20).Winter 2014,was notable for how mild it was and consequently I only ringed (1) bird,the winters of 2015 and 16 were also poor for numbers..
L678015 4F 20 12 2010 Shorne marshes,Gravesend,Kent
V 17 01 2012 Snodland,Kent 14km S
V 18 12 2012 Snodland,Kent
L529905 3F 22 12 2010 Snodland,Kent
V 29 12 2010 Shorne marshes,Gravesend,Kent 14km N
Y221956 4F 24 01 2012 Snodland,Kent
X 28 03 2012 Beeston Regis,Sheringham,Norfolk (taken by a cat) 188km NNE
L529907 3F 28 12 2010 Snodland,Kent
V 22 03 2011 Kilnsea,East Riding of Yorkshire 257km N
L529932 6F 17 01 2011 Snodland,Kent
X 17 01 2013 Snodland (village) found freshly dead
One of my garden ringed birds has been retrapped in the Country Park,at Leybourne.
CORN BUNTING Milliaria calandra
Former breeding species.Up to the mid 1990s,the occasional pair bred on both Holborough and Burham marshes.During the 1970s and 1980s,winter roosts in the reed beds at Burham marsh,held up to (150) birdsAt the same time there was also a smaller roost for a few years at Abbey meads.Numbers then declined through the 1990s,to around (50).At the present time as far as I know,the roosts no longer exist.
North America,first record for the Western Palaearctic.A male wintered in the Lunsford Park estate on the very edge of the recording area,at one time being seen in it,from Jan 24th-April 10th 1989
Alan Woodcock .