March 2015

1stFirecrest was seen in the trapping area on an otherwise quiet day although coverage was a bit limited by meetings.
2ndAnother windy day with no sign of any offshore passage but plenty of gulls roosting at the Point which included three first-winter Caspian Gulls.
3rdIt remains windy with heavy rain at first and still very little movement offshore and none on the land.
4thThe wind dropped through the day but it remained quite cold all the same. As for the birds it was much the same as in previous days with very little passage offshore and not a great deal new on the land other than a possible increase in Black Redstarts to four. One Firecrest was seen in the trapping area and a handful of Chaffinches came in.
5thMerlin and a Black Redstart were seen on the land and 600 Great Crested Grebeswere feeding offshore.
6thA trickle of birds moved east offshore including 244 Brent Geese, two Shovelers, aRed-breasted Mergansers and 63 Red-throated Divers of interest.
7thThe easterly trickle of birds offshore continued with 78 Brent Geese, three Wigeon, 15Teal, six Pochards, two Eiders, a Little Gull and the first three Sandwich Terns of the year.
8thThe highlight of the day was a first-winter Iceland Gull which was feeding at the Patch whilst easterly passage continued with 1403 Brent Geese, seven Eiders and aSandwich Tern whilst a Velvet Scoter flew east.On the land, three Firecrests, two Black Redstarts and a Chiffchaff were seen.
9thThe Iceland Gull was seen again briefly in the morning.Firecrest and two Chiffchaffs were seen on the land.
10thTwo Firecrests and four Black Redstarts were seen.
11thA distinct increase in migrants on the land with the first Wheatear of the spring along with seven Firecrests, two Chiffchaffs. three Black Redstarts and a Mistle Thrush of note whilst 200 Chaffinches and four Siskins passed overhead.Despite the onshore breeze the sea was very quiet with just 114 Common Scoters in two hours this morning.
12thMigrants on the ground increased in the fine weather with four Wheatears, a rubicolaStonechat, eight Black Redstarts and three Chiffchaffs of interest whilst a Buzzard, a Golden Plover, 35 Chaffinches and two Siskins passed overhead.The sea was fairly quiet with 318 Brent Geese, three Shovelers, a Goldeneye and three Sandwich Terns passing east in two hours this morning and a first-winterCaspian Gull was in the gull roost at the Point.
13thFours hours of seawatching produced 1570 Brent Geese, 66 Common Scoters, anEider, four Red-breasted Mergansers, three Bar-tailed Godwits and an adultMediterranean Gull passing east whilst a new first-winter Caspian Gull was in the roost at the Point.There were fewer grounded migrants about today but still included two Wheatears, three Black Redstarts, two Stonechats (including yesterdays rubicola still present), aFirecrest, two Song Thrushes and four Redwings. A flyover Rock Pipit was the first of the spring and a Siskin also flew over.
The new Observatory vehicle also turned up this afternoon.!


Birds in the greater Dungeness area seen during the week included the two long-staying Cattle Egrets, usually at Brickwall Farm, a Slavonian Grebe at Dengemarsh on 12th, Great White Egrets still present on the RSPB Reserve although numbers have fallen and a drake Scaup still at Scotney. The first Sand Martins were seen at Lydd-on-sea on 9th.
Regular readers may have noticed a short break in the updates last week. This was because I was away in Iceland for a few days where many hours were spent looking at gulls. One particular individual seen at Grundarfjordur on the Snaelfellsness peninsula on 6th and 8th March was extremely interesting and appeared to show many features of a second-winter Thayer's Gull. Some photos are shown below.









14thA very quiet day in strong and cold easterly winds. Two Wheatears, three Black Redstarts and the male rubicola Stonechat were still at the fishing boats and a flock of 13 Siskins flew over.Seawatching produced five Pintails, a few Gannets and Red-throated Divers and a single Sandwich Tern but not much else and an adult Yellow-legged Gull was in the roost at the Point.
15thA cold and miserable day that at times hardly seemed to get light. Birds were few and far between but frequent checking of the roosting gulls produced two Caspian Gullsand three Yellow-legged Gulls. Three Black Redstarts were the only grounded noted.
16thStill barely a hint of any migration taking place with just two Song Thrushes in the bushes and a couple of Siskins overhead of any interest. The sea was also extremely quiet although a new third-winter Caspian Gull was feeding on the beach.
17thEasily the best day of the spring so far with a light easterly breeze resulting in a decent movement offshore and a few bits and pieces on and over the land. Of particular note was a Great White Egret arriving and two Little Egrets leaving to the east, twoGoldeneyes, a party of four Avocets, a very early Whimbrel and five Mediterranean Gulls passing up-channel. Numbers and further variety offshore were provided by 1600Brent Geese, three Wigeon, five Teal, eight Pintail, two Knot, 27 Bar-tailed Godwitsand two Sandwich Terns.A small increase in grounded migrants also occurred with four Firecrests, fiveChiffchaffs and a Wheatear along with 18 Siskins and a Redpoll passing overhead.
18thA return to another quiet day although two first-winter Caspian Gulls were of some note. There was a slight trickle of birds moving offshore with 15 Shovelers, two Red-breasted Mergansers and five Mediterranean Gulls of note and also another threeMediterranean Gulls feeding at the Patch.The only signs of any migration on the land were three Chiffchaffs in the Lighthouse Garden and three Black Redstarts and a Wheatear were also seen.
19thAnother thoroughly miserable day with a cold northerly wind and occasional drizzle and that never really got light. The birding was not a great deal brighter either with a very quiet sea and nothing of note at the Patch except for a Sandwich Tern despite large numbers of gulls there. There was a handful of migrants on the land including fiveSnipe, two Wheatears, 25 Redwings and 25 Chaffinches. Two Firecrests remain in the trapping area.
20thA heavy overcast sky blocked out any chance of seeing today's Total Eclipse but it did encourage a very small arrival of migrants with the best being the first two, very earlyRing Ouzels of the spring along with a Woodcock, a Snipe and 35 Redwings. AMerlin, a Grey Wagtail and three Siskins also flew over.The sea was virtually devoid of any passage but a late afternoon visit to the Patch produced another first-winter Caspian Gull and a Sandwich Tern.
Weekly Round-up.
Elsewhere on the peninsula it seems  much the same as last week. The two Cattle Egrets are still feeding around the Brickwall Farm area and roosting at ARC. Great White Egrets and a drake Smew continue to be seen around the RSPB Reserve. A couple of Little Ringed Plovers have been seen at Dengemarsh and Scotney. TwoWhite Wagtails and a Scandinavian Rock Pipit were also seen at Dengemarsh.
21stA nice, clear morning saw a small arrival of thrushes with a Firecrest in the Lighthouse Garden, four Chiffchaffs and ten Fieldfares of note and a trickle of birds overhead which included a Brambling. The dubious rarity of the day was a pair of Egyptian Geese which flew around the Point before heading to Dengemarsh.The sea remains quiet although slightly improved from yesterday with a two-hour watch from first light producing 144 Brent Geese, six Teal and three Red-breasted Mergansers.
22ndA very quiet day on both land and sea with the exception of an adult Iceland Gullwhich was reported from the Patch just a couple of minutes after I left and already gone by the time I returned. A Mediterranean Gull and two Yellow-legged Gulls were also seen. A Merlin came in off the sea chasing a Chaffinch and three Black Redstarts were seen around the Point.
23rdVery quiet for most of the day with just a third-winter Yellow-legged Gull and aMediterranean x Black-headed Gull hybrid at the Patch and two Black Redstarts and a Firecrest on the land. However, a sudden movement in the late afternoon of Brent Goose brought the total to 1300 for the day.
24thA decent increase in the numbers of migrants on the land with a Snipe, 30Chiffchaffs, a Blackcap, five Wheatears and five Black Redstarts of note and 90Meadow Pipits and a Siskin passing overhead.The sea was very quiet with just an adult Mediterranean Gull feeding at the Patch of note. A very dark-backed Lesser Black-backed Gull was in the roost at the Point this afternoon. 
Herring Gulls Larus argenteus will try and eat almost anything.

A nice, dark adult Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus spp   Dungeness   24th March 2015.
25thMigrants continue to trickle in with a Greenshank, three Sandwich Terns, a fly-overShort-eared Owl, two Firecrests at the Long Pits, five Chiffchaffs, nine Wheatears at the fishing boats, six Black Redstarts, a Grey Wagtail and four Siskins of interest. The sea was very quiet with just the occasional small flock of Brent Geese passing through.
We have just received a batch of ringing recoveries which included these more interesting ones:
Common Gull 7165328 ringed at Pildammsparken, Malmo, Sweden on 27th June 2002 as an adult was found dead on the road at Lade on 7th February 2012. A distance of 951km.
Chiffchaff ALY535 ringed at Dungeness on 11th September 2014 was controlled at Lagoa de Santo Andre, Setubal, Portugal on 1st October 2014. A distance of 1619km in 20 days.
Robin 13014937 ringed at Berendrecht, Antwerp, Belgium on 11th October 2013 was controlled at Dungeness on 9th November 2013. A distance of 240km in 29 days.
26thHeavy rain from early morning and into the afternoon resulted  in the grounding of at least 17 Firecrests but other new migrants were hard to come by on the land. SeveralWheatears and a Black Redstart were on the beach at the fishing boats again and twoSnipe and eight Chiffchaffs were also seen.The sea continues to disappoint with just eight Teal, three Red-breasted Mergansers, 22 Fulmars, an adult Mediterranean Gull and three Sandwich Terns of any interest.
27thA few lingering migrants from recent days with eight Wheatears at the fishing boats and seven Firecrests scattered across the Point whilst a trickle of birds passing overhead included an early Little Ringed Plover, two Bramblings and seven Siskins.Sea passage remains almost non-existent but five Mediterranean Gulls were feeding at the Patch in the morning.
Weekly Round-up.
Elsewhere on the peninsula it does not seem to have changed that much since last week.. The first Willow Warbler of the spring was seen today at Lade and one orSand Martins have been appearing on the pits. The two Cattle Egrets are still feeding around the Brickwall Farm area and roosting at ARC. Great White Egrets continue to be seen around the site and two each of Tundra Bean Geese and Egyptian Geese are being seen regularly at Dengemarsh.
28thA wet, foggy and windy day. Limited coverage due to the poor weather and meetings but a brief spell of clearer weather in the afternoon saw 160 Brent Geese and an adultMediterranean Gull fly east. Four Mediterranean Gulls were also feeding at the Patch.
29thAnother day of strong winds with rain and mist in the morning as well. Little coverage other than several looks at the sea where a Great Skua and a few Brent Geesecontinued to trickle eastwards but very little else to be seen.
30thA nicer morning allowed for a bit of land birding which produced 100 Wood Pigeons, 15 Chiffchaffs, a Fieldfare and two Siskins whilst the early morning seawatch produced 110 Brent Geese moving up-channel and ten Mediterranean Gulls and aSandwich Tern heading west.A check of the Patch at low water this afternoon provided most of the days interest though with a first-winter Iceland Gull, a first-winter Caspian Gull, two Mediterranean Gulls and the first Common Tern of the year all feeding there. A Great Skua also passed through which flushed all the gulls off the beach after which the Iceland Gullcould not be relocated.

Iceland Gull Larus glaucoides   juvenile/first-winter   Dungeness   30th March 2015

Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans   first-winter   Dungeness   30th March 2015
31stA violent night and the strong wind continuing through the day made birding difficult but the Iceland Gull was found again off the fishing boats during the morning. The firstSwallow of the spring was seen and two adult Mediterranean Gulls flew east but migration was otherwise at a virtual standstill.


Iceland Gull Larus glaucoides    juvenile/first-winter   Dungeness   31st March 2015