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Local weather


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September 2015

1stThree Marsh Harriers, two Buzzards, an Osprey at 1700hrs, 100 Yellow Wagtailsand nine Tree Pipits flew over whilst a Little Owl was heard calling in the Desert in the evening. A small arrival of grounded migrants included 30 Willow Warblers and fourLesser Whitethroats.Eight Balearic Shearwaters, three Arctic Skuas, two Mediterranean Gulls and twoBlack Terns were seen offshore.
The highlight among the butterflies today was a Long-tailed Blue - only the second Dungeness record after one in 2013.
Long-tailed Blue Lampides boeticus   Dungeness   1st September 2015 (Steven Gale)
Moth trapping continues to surprise with at least 50 Vestals seen in the trap or in rough ground on the Point.
A check of the "rare" orthoptera site proved very interesting. The Tree Crickets were fairly easy to see but singing was very subdued after a late evening downpour and low temperatures. However, more noteworthy was the finding of another four Sickle-bearing Bush Crickets and including the first male to be seen.
Sickle-bearing Bush Cricket Phanaroptera falcata   male   Dungeness   1st September 2015.
The first male to be recorded at the site.
2ndWryneck seen briefly in bushes just to the south of the trapping area was the highlight of the day although there was also a very good spread of commoner migrants across the Point. Numbers were provided by 40 Willow Warblers, 15 Blackcaps, 15Lesser Whitethroats and 50 Whitethroats whilst scarcer species included sixSpotted Flycatcher, four Whinchats and three Redstarts.There was a fair amount of overhead passage with three Marsh Harriers, twoBuzzards, 3000 Swallows, six Tree Pipits and 35 Siskins passed overhead whilst four Arctic Skuas were feeding offshore.
The Vestal continue to provide most of the moth interest with at least 65 being seen in the traps and in the field.
The Tree Crickets were very subdued tonight with only three individuals heard singing by 2015hrs.
Elsewhere, one of the White-winged Black Terns was still showing at the ARC Pit and a fine first-winter Red-backed Shrike was showing very well along the Return Trail on the RSPB Reserve.
Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio   Dungeness RSPB Reserve   2nd September 2015
3rdSmall numbers of commoner migrants were present in the bushes and included fiveBlackcaps, three Lesser Whitethroats and a Spotted Flycatcher whilst a minimum of 2500 House Martins were gathered over the Point. Other birds passing overhead included 50 Yellow Wagtails, five Grey Wagtails, three Tree Pipits and 40 Siskins. A flock of large raptors flew out over the Point which consisted of a Honey Buzzard and ten Common Buzzards. A Hobby was also seen. Four Black Terns were seen offshore.Five female Sickle-bearing Bush Crickets and a few Tree Crickets were found in a night time search of the usual site. Vestals continue to dominate the moth interest with 19 trapped and another 15 seen at large.
4thThe White-winged Black Tern that had been feeding at ARC moved to the Patch where an Arctic Skua and a first-winter Mediterranean Gull were also seen.Spotted Flycatcher was seen in the bushes and two Tree Pipits, two Grey Wagtails and 200 Siskins passed overhead.
Six Sickle-bearing Bush Crickets and a few Tree Crickets were seen this evening but there was no song from the latter.
The best of the days butterflies was another Small Copper var radiata seen in the moat by Paul Hogden.
Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas var radiata   Dungeness   4th September 2015 ( Paul Hogben)
5thThe first-winter White-winged Black Tern was feeding at the Patch again but it was very quiet on the land with just a couple each of Garden WarblerLesser Whitethroats and Whinchats and 20 Wheatears of note. Large numbers of Siskinwere passing high overhead along with a Green Sandpiper and two each of Tree Pipitand Grey Wagtail and 40 Yellow Wagtails.Five Sickle-bearing Bush Crickets were seen in the evening and there was a noticeable increase in Tree Cricket activity with a decent amount of singing until the temperature started to drop.
Moth trapping produced another Convolvulus Hawk-moth and 15 Vestals with another 30 seen during the day and a Bordered Straw feeding at Red Valerian flowers. FourHummingbird Hawk-moths were also seen during the day.
6thAnother very quiet day on the land with just a Redstart and two Spotted Flycatchersbeing the best of the grounded migrants on offer. Overhead passage consisted mainly of Siskins with 130 passing through along with two Buzzards, a Tree Pipit and fourGrey Wagtails.The White-winged Black Tern was still feeding at the Patch where a couple of Arctic Skuas and a first-winter Mediterranean Gull were also seen.
7thA quiet day on the land with just 20 Chiffchaffs, six Lesser Whitethroats, a Spotted Flycatcher and a couple of Whinchats of note. Birds passing overhead included sevenGrey Wagtails and a Tree Pipit and large numbers of Siskin again.The first-winter White-winged Black Tern was feeding at the Patch along with a first-winter Mediterranean Gull and at least three Arctic Skuas were also harrasing the terns feeding offshore.

White-winged Black Tern Chlidoian leucopterus   first-winter  Dungeness   7th September 2015
8thSeawatching produced a very close Sooty Shearwater along with 20 Arctic and aPomarine Skua and the first six Brent Geese of the autumn. Single juvenile/first winter Mediterranean and Yellow-legged Gulls were also seen.A trickle of birds overhead this morning included a Tree Pipit and five Grey Wagtailsbut grounded migrants were and far between other than a Kingfisher on the Long Pits..
Moth trapping produced another Convolvulus Hawk-moth and a Vestal with another three seen during the day.
Two Sickle-bearing Bush Crickets were found and the Tree Crickets were singing really well this evening.
9thWith a freshening easterly wind there was plenty of interest offshore with a movement of ducks including 300 Teal, 79 Wigeon and nine Pintail and good numbers of skuas with a Pomarine and at least 12 Arctic Skuas. There were also a few terns moving west including ten Little Terns and two Black Terns.It remained pretty quiet on the land though with grounded migrants limited to aFirecrest, a few Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps, five Lesser Whitethroats, two Spotted Flycatchers and two Whinchats. Overhead passage was also reduced with just sixGrey Wagtails, 60 Yellow Wagtails and 15 Siskins of interest.
Very few moths were trapped overnight but they did include a Ni Moth (the third of the year) and a Vestal (with a couple more seen in the field).
Ni Moth Trichoplusia ni   Dungeness   9th September 2015
10thThe fresh easterly wind brought in a couple of good birds on the land with an Ortolan Bunting seen briefly in the moat before it flew towards the Desert and was lost followed by a treecreeper in a private garden. Its identity as a Short-toed Treecreeperwas not confirmed until very late in the day and due to this and other circumstances it was not possible to put the news out. Also seen late in the day was a Great White Egret which flew in off the sea with a party of 12 Grey Herons. Other migrants on the land included three Firecrests, a Redstart and five Whinchats.Five hours of seawatching during the day produced seven Wigeon, five Teal, twoWigeon, a Sooty Shearwater, a party of four Snipe arriving from the east and nineArctic Skuas.
Four Sickle-bearing Bush Crickets were found and the Tree Crickets were performing well for the BBC.
Filming The Tree Crickets for the BBC
11thMigrants of note on the land included five Firecrests, two Spotted Flycatchers, twoRedstarts, four Whinchats, 20 Wheatears whilst four Grey Wagtails, 25 Siskins and 14 Reed Buntings passed overhead.Three Sickle-bearing Bush Crickets and five Hummingbird Hawk-moths were seen.
12thFour Firecrests and the first Goldcrest and Song Thrush of the autumn were seen on the land whilst there was a very large movement of Swallows with at least 12000 passing through.Eight hours of seawatching during the day produced seven Sooty Shearwaters, threeManx Shearwaters, a Balearic Shearwater, a Pomarine and 12 Arctic Skuaslingering offshore, seven Great Skuas, two Little Gulls and a Little Tern.
Two Sickle-bearing Bush Crickets were found.
13thGrounded migrants were fairly scarce but included two Lesser Whitethroats, nineWheatears, two Redstarts and two Whinchats whilst there was another considerable movement overhead with 2300 Swallows, 6000 House Martins, 11 Grey Wagtails, two Tree Pipits and 155 Siskins of noteThere was quite a bit of activity offshore although it seemed to be mostly of lingering rather than passage birds. Birds that did pass through included a Red-throated Diver, four Balearic Shearwaters and eight Great Skuas whilst at least ten Arctic Skuaswere harassing the terns.
The best catch of immigrant moths for some time produced a Delicate, two Scarce Bordered Straws, 11 Nomophila noctuella and two Udea ferrugalis.

Delicate Mythimna vitellina and Scarce Bordered Straws Helicoverpa armigera   
Dungeness   13th September 2015
14thAll the interest today was offshore in increasingly stormy conditions. Almost five hours of observations produced five Balearic Shearwaters, 694 Gannets, two Ruff, threeGreat Skuas, 25 Arctic Skuas, two Mediterranean Gulls, a Little Gull, three Black Terns and 1137 Sandwich Terns.
15thA pretty miserable day of strong to gale force winds and frequent heavy rain. Seawatching was the only reasonable option but even here it was very disappointing with nearly six hours of observation producing just two Balearic Shearwaters, sixArctic Skuas, a Black Tern and 825 Sandwich Terns. A first-winter Yellow-legged Gull and a green-ringed adult Mediterranean Gull were roosting on the beach. A short video of a singing Tree Cricket taken by Gill Hollamby is available here.
Also of interest was this bumblebee found a few days ago. It has been confirmed as an example of Bombus ruderatus, a rare species but one that appears to be making a bit of a comeback on Romney Marsh.

Bombus ruderatus   Dungeness    September 2015
16thAnother day of pretty miserable weather but at least this time it brought some birds with it. The highlight on the land was a Wryneck in the bushes at the southern end of the trapping area whilst other bits of interest included 25 Chiffchaffs, 15 Blackcaps, two Garden Warblers, three Lesser Whitethroats, seven Whinchats and 25Wheatears. Another 2150 Swallows flew south along with 12 Yellow Wagtails, a Grey Wagtail and 70 Siskins.Seawatching was also productive with over eight hours watching giving totals of 22Balearics and one Manx Shearwater, a Sooty Shearwater, 658 Gannets, a Ruff, aPomarine Skua, six Great Skuas and 842 Sandwich Terns and three Black Ternsfeeding along the tideline. An adult and first-winter Yellow-legged Gull were roosting on the beach.
17thThere was a decent arrival of grounded migrants during the morning as well as a good overhead passage. The best of the totals were three Hobbies, four Swifts, 5500Swallows, 500 House Martins, 25 Chiffchaffs, two Sedge Warblers, three Spotted Flycatchers, nine Whinchats, 42 Wheatears, 25 Yellow Wagtails, 13 Grey Wagtails, 19 Tree Pipits, 250 Meadow Pipits, 350 Siskins, three Redpolls and 15 Reed Buntings.The sea was fairly quiet but a Manx Shearwater flew west during the morning along with five Arctic Skuas and in the evening a Pomarine Skua also flew west.
Several checks during the day and again in the evening failed to produce any Sickle-bearing Bush Crickets but the Tree Crickets were in good voice.
18thMost of the days grounded migrants seemed to be lingerers from previous days with the Wryneck seen again of note along with three Firecrests, 20 Chiffchaffs, a Sedge Warbler, two Spotted Flycatcher, ten Wheatears and six Whinchats. There was another large movement of birds overhead in the miserable weather with a Hobby, 5000 Swallows, 150 House Martins, nine Grey Wagtails, 62 Yellow Wagtails, nineTree Pipits, two Rock Pipit and 150 Siskins of note.Seawatching was very quiet although a Sooty Shearwater and three Great Skuaspassed west and there were seven first-winter Mediterranean Gulls and two Black Terns feeding at the Patch in the evening.
The moth trap was very quiet but did produce an unusual moth for us in the form of aRed-green Carpet.
19thA nice little arrival of migrants occurred this morning with 80 Chiffchaffs, tenBlackcaps, 20 Whitethroats, a Spotted Flycatcher, 20 Robins, a Redstart and 12Wheatears on the ground and overhead passage including 3000 Swallows, 1500House Martins, 30 Yellow Wagtails, six Grey Wagtails, three Tree Pipits, 250Meadow Pipits, 300 Siskins, two Redpolls and eight Reed Buntings.Several Tree Crickets and a female Sickle-bearing Bus Cricket were found in the usual area whilst a Scarce Bordered Straw and a Pearly Underwing were trapped overnight. A Clouded Yellow was also seen.
20thAnother small arrival of migrants dominated by Chiffchaffs and also with 12Blackcaps, five Lesser Whitethroats, two Redstarts, three Whinchats and 12Wheatears. Migrants passing overhead included 2000 Swallows, 500 House Martins, 11 Yellow Wagtails, 14 Grey Wagtails, a Tree Pipit, 200 Siskins, 14 Redpolls and 25 Reed Buntings. The Wryneck was still present but remains very elusive.Offshore, a couple of Arctic Skuas, a Pomarine Skua and two Black Terns were seen in the afternoon.
A Scarce Bordered Straw was the only significant migrant in the moth trap.
21stNot a great deal in the way of grounded migrants this morning although there was an increase in Goldcrests and a Redstart was caught. Overhead passage was also reduced but still included large numbers of Swallows and House Martins along with six Yellow Wagtails, two Grey Wagtails, 60 Siskins, seven Redpolls and ten Reed Buntings.About eight Arctic Skuas were harassing the terns offshore and a flock of 70 Brent Gesse flew west.
Two Pearly Underwings were the best the moth trap could offer.
22ndWhat an amazing day! After a night and early morning of torrential rain hopes were not high for anything special but this changed dramatically at 0930hrs when Martin Casemore saw a small passerine fly past him at the fishing boats and land on the beach. He was shocked to see that it was one of the small American flycatchers of the genus Empidonax. A number of excited phonecalls were quickly made and as locals gathered the bird gave incredible views down to a few feet at times. It then slowly made its way north and was eventually lost only to be relocated an hour or so later in the garden of Southview Cottage. It remained here for the rest of the  day and gave superb views at times for the hundreds of birders now surrounding the garden. Discussions as to its identity continued through the day but the consensus seems to be that it is an Acadian Flycatcher Empidonax virescens and the first record for Britain and the second for the Western Palearctic.  

Acadian Flycatcher Empidonax virescens   Dungeness   22nd September 2015
The identification of the species in this genus is fraught with difficulties but features suggesting this species include a long primary projection, emargination on only three primaries, a heavy, broad-based bill, dull grey legs, a small, neat and yellowish eyering, rich green upperparts and a uniform wash of yellow across the underparts from chin to undertail coverts (although not always showing in photographs or in the field and very dependent on light conditions). I think Alder and Willow Flycatchers can be eliminated by the extent of green and yellow (rather than grey and white) in the plumage and the legs should be black in these two species. Perhaps a bigger problem is the separation from Yellow-bellied Flycatcher but the long wing primary projection and an emargination on three, not four, primaries appears to strongly favour Acadian Flycatcher.
Due to circumstances it was not possible to catch this bird but a number of droppings were collected and it is hoped that DNA analysis of these will help to clinch the identification.
I am sure everyone who saw this bird would like to thank David and Sheila Bunney for allowing so much access to their garden. Also, thanks to everyone who made a donation to the Observatory funds.
In the light of this bird any other observations were a bit limited but the Wryneck was seen again although remaining elusive and seawatching produced four Balearic and two Sooty Shearwaters, about ten Arctic Skuas and a Pomarine Skua.   
23rdToday was always likely to be an anticlimax and so it proved. Despite several hundred birders arriving and hoping to see the flycatcher there was sadly no sign of it. TheWryneck was still present but remained elusive whilst new grounded migrants included a few Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps and a Spotted Flycatcher. Large numbers ofGannets and terns were feeding offshore and a Black Tern was feeding at the Patch. Several Tree Crickets were found during a warm spell around midday.
24thA damp but calm morning saw a decent westerly movement of seabirds with 7.25 hours of watching producing 95 Arctic Skuas, five Great Skuas, three Black Terns, five Little Terns, 941 Sandwich Terns, 134 Common Terns and two Arctic Terns of note.There was also a steady movement of Swallows and Meadow Pipits during the day but the land was very quiet with just a few Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests and a couple ofWheatears of interest.
25thIt was very quiet on the ground this morning with a just a few Chiffchaffs, fourBlackcaps and a Garden Warbler of any interest although the Wryneck was still present but generally elusive. Most of the interest was overhead with two Buzzards, 1000 Swallows, 1500 House Martins, five Grey Wagtails, 200 Meadow Pipits, aRock Pipit, 60 Siskins, 20 Redpolls and 30 Reed Buntings of note. Nine Arctic Skuas were feeding offshore this afternoon,Also of interest, the Tree Crickets were still present and singing from 1845 and a maleSickle-bearing Bush Cricket was also seen. 
26thCetti's Warbler was an unusual bird for us to catch this morning but there were otherwise very few birds to be seen in the area with just a Firecrest, 20 Chiffchaffs, five Song Thrushes on the land and 500 Swallows, seven Grey Wagtails, two Rock Ppits, 40 Siskins, 25 Redpolls and 20 Reed Buntings overhead The Wryneckcontinues to be seen by just a handful of birders each day.Five Arctic Skuas were loitering offshore.
Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti   Dungeness   26th September 2015 

Also of note elsewhere was a first-winter Red-footed Falcon watched for a few minutes in the afternoon as it hunted over the fields opposite the entrance to Bretts Marina,
27thA fairly quiet day for migrants on the land just a few Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps and two Firecrests in the bushes and a trickle of Grey WagtailsRedpollsSiskins andReed Buntings overhead. The Wryneck was still in its usual area but remains very elusive.A check of the gulls feeding/roosting at the fishing boats this afternoon revealed the first two Caspian Gulls of the autumn (a first winter and a second-winter) and a first-winter Yellow-legged Gull.

Caspian Gulls Larus cachinnans   first-winter and second-winter   Dungeness   27th September 2015
28thA day of strong winds and relatively few birds but they did include the first two "ContinentalCoal Tits of the autumn along with a Redstart, two Whinchats and aFirecrest on the land. Offshore, three Arctic Skuas and a Great Skua were feeding and a Grey Phalarope was seen and photographed by a fisherman.
Coal Tit Periparus ater ater   Dungeness   28th September 2015
29thAn interesting day in strong easterly winds. The highlight was a Yellow-browed Warbler feeding in the shelter of the lighthouse garden from late morning and at least 19 "Continental" Coal Tits and 13 Firecrests. Overhead passage was limited to a fewRedpolls and Siskins. A Grey Phalarope was feeding offshore during the day (presumably the same bird as yesterday) and three Mediterranean Gulls were feeding at the Patch. 

Grey Phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius,  Coal Tit Periparus ater ater and
Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus   Dungeness   29th September 2015
30thNot a great deal of change with yesterdays Grey Phalarope still feeding offshore, theYellow-browed Warbler still showing well in the Lighthouse Garden and 13 Firecrestsand seven "Continental" Coal Tits still present. There was a large increase inGoldcrest numbers with 42 present and a Ring Ouzel was a new arrival.There was a bit of overhead movement during the early morning with a Merlin, 150Swallows, a Grey Wagtail, a Rock Pipit, 220 Goldfinch, 40 Siskins, four Redpollsand seven Reed Buntings of note.