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2016 Report

Our 2016 Report is now available from the Observatory for £8.00 plus P&P if needed. Please contact the Warden: dungenessobs@vfast.co.uk

18th Oct

The day was dominated by two species. Seawatching this morning was quiet for passage but there were a record-breaking 1900 Mediterranean Gulls feeding offshore while the afternoon brought another autumn record with a total of 6200 Brent Geese moving west. Other bits on the sea included four Eiders, three Great Skuas and 200 Kittiwakes.
The land was fairly slow going with just a few Chiffchaffs in the bushes and a Wheatear in the Desert. Overhead passage consisted of a few Skylarks, two Fieldfares, pipits and finches with a Rock Pipit and five Bramblings and 50 Siskins of note.

A Common Seal, two Grey Seals and two Porpoises were feeding offshore.

Cold and fresh winds overnight limited the moth catch but two Green-brindled Crescents were of some note. 

17th Oct

A few grounded migrants were present with the autumn's best total so far of Goldcrests (only eight), 30 Chiffchaffs, five Blackcaps, 25 Song Thrushes, nine Redwings and a brief Yellow-browed Warbler in the Lighthouse Garden.
Visible migration was also full of interest with five Great White Egrets coming in from the East, a Hobby, 73 Jackdaws, two Wood Larks, two Grey Wagtails, seven Rock Pipits, two Bramblings, seven Redpolls, 210 Siskins and 63 Reed Buntings.

The early morning seawatch produced over 1200 Gannets west along with a Great Skua and six Arctic Skuas whilst 320 Mediterranean Gulls were lingering offshore. Two Merlins flew out to sea.

With the warm weather continuing there was a good scattering of butterflies to be seen with four Clouded Yellows and a Brown Argus of note.

The excellent moth trapping continued again overnight with the obvious highlight being our second Beautiful Marbled of the year and an excellent supporting cast of a Gem, five Vestals, four Delicates, two Dark Sword-grass, a Turnip, one Udea ferrugalis and an exceptional total of six Palpita vitrealis.
Two Hummingbird Hawkmoths were also seen. 


Beautiful Marbled Eublemma purpurina   Dungeness   17th October 2018
Our second record of the autumn.

Gem Orthonama obstipata   Dungeness   17th October 2018



Vestals Rhodometra sacraria   Dungeness   17th October 2018
Three different individuals showing variation in colours.

16th Oct

A fine, warm morning with a few grounded migrants including two Yellow-browed Warblers of note (one in the Lighthouse Garden and one near the Pumphouse at the Long Pits) along with five Firecrests, five Goldcrests, 13 Redwings and eight Song Thrushes. There was a steady stream of Siskins and Goldfinches overhead which was joined by a Wood Lark, a Grey Wagtail, two Rock Pipits, two Crossbills and 22 Reed Buntings.

Seawatching was very quiet although 16 Mediterranean Gulls were around this afternoon.

Two Porpoises were feeding offshore.

The moth traps proved extremely productive overnight although most of the good stuff was actually taken off the wall during the previous evening rather than from the traps when entered. The highlights were two pyralids, Hellula undalis which was new for the trap and the fifth area record and a Spodalea recurvalis, the second observatory and sixth area record. In addition two Palpita vitrealis were also of note. Four Hummingbird Hawkmoths were seen during the day.
Hellula undalis   Dungeness   16th October 2018
The first Observatory record of this very scarce migrant

Spoladea recurvalis   Dungeness   16th October 2018
The second Observatory record of this migrant but part of a remarkable arrival across southern Britain overnight.
Also clinging to the side of the moth trap this morning was a Western Conifer Seed Bug.   

The continuing very warm weather is also prolonging the flight periods of some of our butterflies with two very freshly emerged Meadow Browns seen today and at least 70 Red Admirals on the wing.

For the second day running there was no sign of any Asian Hornets on the ivy in the Lighthouse Garden so it may be that the previous individuals were migrants rather than attending an undiscovered nest. 

15th Oct

It was another day of relatively few birds on the land but it was good in quality with three Yellow-browed Warblers being the stars of the show. One was found and later caught in the trapping area, one was in the garden of Southview Cottage and one was at the top end of the Long Pits. Two Firecrests, 18 Redwings, 15 Song Thrushes, three Wheatears and eight Black Redstarts were also noteworthy. Overhead movement consisted mainly of a few Goldfinches and Siskins along with a Hobby, a Grey Wagtail, a Rock Pipit, a Brambling, a Crossbill and 65 Reed Buntings.
Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus   Dungeness   15th October 2018
Offshore passage was very limited but 66 Mediterranean Gulls with three Arctic Skuas in attendance were seen. Two Great Skuas also flew west.

Three Porpoises were seen offshore and a party of three Brown Hares were seen near the Sanctuary.

Moth-trapping was very disappointing with just a Clancy's Rustic of any note.

There was no sign of any Asian Hornets today and yesterdays individual has been taken away for genetic analysis. Several Ivy Bees were feeding on the Ivy flowers in the Lighthouse Garden.

14th Oct

It was fairly quiet for grounded migrants with two Merlins, a Firecrest, a Mistle Thrush and a few Song Thrushes and Blackbirds being about the best to be seen although the Wryneck made another brief appearance in the Desert. Visible migration was much more noticeable with 65 Skylarks, a Grey Wagtail, two Rock Pipits, two Bramblings,1300 Goldfinches, 780 Siskins and 56 Reed Buntings.
It was also a strange day offshore with a massive arrival of over 1000 Mediterranean Gulls into the area along with large numbers of Kittiwakes and Sandwich Terns and ten or so Arctic Skuas in attendance.


Mediterranean Gulls Icthyaetus melanocephalus   Dungeness   14th October 2018
Just part of the huge flock of Mediterranean Gulls and Kittiwakes feeding offshore today

Three Porpoises and a Grey Seal were also feeding offshore.

The event of the day on the insect front was the finding and capturing of another Asian Hornet Vespa vetulina as it fed on Ivy flowers at the Lighthouse Garden and what a stunner it is. Sadly as it is considered a very harmful invasive pest species and it cannot be released back into the wild.


Asian Hornet Vespa velutina    Dungeness   14th October 2018
In the field shots.

Admiring the Asian Wasp - the first wasp to be twitched in Britain?




Asian Hornet Vespa velutina   Dungeness   14th October 2018
A few close-up shots 
With a mass arrival of migrant moths across the country as a whole our moth traps were actually fairly disappointing with just the pyralid Palpita vitrealis of note but it was very windy so we were probably lucky to get this, A Blair's Shoulder-knot was also caught - only the 12th Observatory record.

Later in the day a Western Conifer Seed Bug was found at the Observatory. 
Western Conifer Seed Bug Leptoglossus occidentalis   Dungeness   14th October 2018

13th Oct

With the strong but very warm winds still blowing seawatching was the order of the day. Nearly eight hours of observations produced a Pintail, 2000 Gannets, four Great Skuas, 36 Arctic Skuas, 474 Mediterranean Gulls, 410 Kittiwakes, 225 Sandwich Terns and two late Black Terns of note, mostly passing westwards.
A first-winter Caspian Gull was seen on the beach at the fishing boats this afternoon.

A few Song Thrushes were seen in the bushes and 1700 Goldfinches and 250 Linnets passed through.

Two Porpoises and a Grey Seal were seen offshore.

The moth traps were very quiet in the windy conditions but a Hummingbird Hawkmoth was seen in the field and the caterpillar that was found on Sep.12th also hatched out.
Hummingbird Hawkmoth Macroglossom stellatarum   emerged from pupa    13th October 2018

The saga of the Asian Hornet continues with a male seen in a private garden and then it/or another individual was trapped not far away in the lighthouse garden.
Asian Hornet Vespa vetulina   male   Dungeness    13th October 2018   (D.Bunney)

12th Oct

Another very windy day which made observations on the land very difficult whilst the sea was disappointingly quiet again.
Gannets and Sandwich Terns continued to push through but 4.5 hours of watching produced just two Shovelers, two Great Skuas, maybe 15 Arctic Skuas, 52 Kittiwakes and seven Mediterranean Gulls of additional interest.
A few Goldfinches flew south, a Little Owl was found in the Desert and a Firecrest was still present in the lighthouse garden. A couple of late Sand Martins were also seen.
Seawatching at dawn   Dungeness   12th October 2018
Two Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

Overnight moth trapping produced a Delicate, a Scarce Bordered Straw and a Clancy's Rustic of note.

Ivy Bees were feeding in good numbers in the Lighthouse Garden but the disturbing news on the insect front was that David Bunney videoed an Asian Hornet Vespa velutina in his garden yesterday. Despite searching it was not seen today.
Asian Hornet Vespa vetulina  11th October 2018  (D.Bunney))
This wasp was first seen in Europe in France in 2004 and has since spread rapidly from there across much of western Europe and was first recorded in Britain in 2016. It is considered one of the most harmful of all the invasive species listed by European Union  and is of particular concern because of its likely impact on the European Honeybee Apis mellifera. Please report any confirmed sightings to the Observatory or direct to the GB Non-native Species Secretariat.

11th Oct

A day with strong SSE winds and most of the interest offshore. Nearly seven hours seawatching produced five Sooty Shearwaters, 150 Mediterranean Gulls, an Arctic Tern and five Great Skuas of note along with a few wildfowl including 61 Brent Geese, six Shoveler, six Pintail, an Eider and three Red-breasted Mergansers. At least three Arctic Skuas were also lingering offshore.
It was very quiet on the land with just 17 Skylarks and a few Goldfinches heading out to sea, a Firecrest in the Lighthouse Garden and 12 Song Thrushes scattered around the Point.

Two Grey Seals were feeding offshore.

10th Oct

A few grounded migrants were present this with a Firecrest, ten Chiffchaffs, six Blackcaps, four Redwings, four Song Thrushes, four Wheatears and three Bearded Tits were in the reedbed at the Long Pits. The Wryneck was still present but continued to be fairly elusive. 
Visible migration also picked up a bit with a Buzzard, 45 Chaffinch, 250 Goldfinch, 230 Siskins and 20 Reed Buntings and also a flock of 20 Crossbills of note. 

The sea was very quiet with just two Mediterranean Gulls, 53 Sandwich Terns and two Arctic Skuas of interest.

A Delicate was the best of the overnight trapping and two Hummingbird Hawkmoths were seen during the day.

9th Oct

Although there was very little in the way of new grounded migrants there was still plenty of interest with the Wryneck showing again in the Desert and a Yellow-browed Warbler showing well at times in the trapping area. Other grounded migrants included 15 Chiffchaffs, 14 Redwings, six Song Thrushes, a Whinchat and two Wheatears.
There was also bit of visible migration with 150 Siskins of note along with a Merlin, two Yellow Wagtails, seven Grey Wagtails. six Bramblings, 75 Goldfinches and 25 Reed Buntings.
There was no signs of passage offshore but 28 Mediterranean Gulls were feeding off the fishing boats were of note.

One Porpoise was seen.

The moth traps turned up a goodie in the form of a Porter's Rustic. Not the most stunning of moths to look at but it is very rare in Britain and a new species for the Observatory traps. A Barred Yellow and a Beaded Chestnut were also trapped and three Hummingbird Hawkmoths were feeding in the Red Valerian around the Observatory.
Porter's Rustic Proxenus hospes   Dungeness   9th October 2018