The pier master said he'd never seen such a North-easterly gale in August, and he should know - he's worked on the pier for 12 years and with his father on the fishing boats before that.
The grey sea and howling wind looked like winter, but in fact it was about 18 degrees C so trying to watch birds from the end of the pier was not uncomfortable. The shelter below is where birders congregate on days like this (usually in the colder months) protected from all but easterly winds and rain. It is in fact the entrance to the disabled toilet but it makes a great shelter. The pier's buildings are to be demolished in November and a separate cafe and toilet block will be built, so we hope that a similar shelter is provided.
There was a movement of birds northwards into the teeth of the wind this evening, including Common and Sandwich terns (the former singly, the latter in noisy parties), three Curlews, four small indeterminate dark waders, two kittiwakes and a couple of cormorants. A Common Scoter was sitting on the water, the first of the season for me.
This tally is nothing compared with the impressive sightings of gannets, terns, skuas and shearwaters elsewhere in Kent today, but there will hopefully be more tomorrow morning.
The evening was brightened up by the sight of three Turnstones on the pier, including Stumpy, the resident over the last three years, who is well known to the fishermen and trippers.