April 2015

1stThe wind continues though showed signs of dropping by the evening and made for difficult viewing conditions. There was still very little movement offshore but an adultLittle Gull was feeding offshore and a second-summer Yellow-legged Gull was feeding at the Patch among the throng of gull there. An afternoon session at the Patch resulted in 20 colour-rings being read with Norwegian and French Great Black-backed Gulls and Herring Gulls from Bristol, the Isle of Wight (3), Suffolk and the Thames Estuary (13).It remains very quiet on the land with just a Wheatear and a Blackcap of interest.
2ndAt least the wind dropped. Very quiet with just a small arrival of migrants on the land including a Snipe, a Swallow, four Firecrests and eight Chiffchaffs and very little offshore but large numbers of gulls still present.
3rdAnother miserable day with frequent heavy drizzle and fog but with a change to a light south-east wind there was a small arrival of migrants on the land and a decent passage offshore (at least for the first three hours).The highlights on the land were a Siberian Chiffchaff in the Lighthouse Garden, aRing Ouzel in the trapping area and the first two Willow Warblers of the spring along with five Swallows, 40 Chiffchaffs, five Firecrests and a Siskin.
Seawatching produced 405 Brent Geese, two Pintail, 31 Shoveler, 19 Teal, aGarganey, 1047 Common Scoters, a Long-tailed Duck and five Red-breasted Mergansers, a Shag, 12 Sandwich Terns and also a Common Tern at the Patch.
4thIn dank, murky conditions there was a small arrival of migrants this morning with the highlights being two Ring Ouzels, four Fieldfares and six Firecrests along with twoSwallows and five Chiffchaffs.Velvet Scoter, 22 Sandwich Terns and 11 Common Terns was the best the sea could offer.
5thA trickle of migrants, mainly Meadow Pipits and Linnets, passing overhead during the morning was enlivened at 1020hrs when an Osprey appeared over the Point and then headed steadily NW and inland. Grounded migrants were few and far between with the best being five Firecrests between the Observatory and the Old Lighthouse and fourChiffchaffs in and around the trapping area.The early morning seawatch was very slow with just four Mediterranean Gulls and 22Sandwich Terns of interest but with the light wind backing into the NE in the afternoon there was an increase in passage with a Black-throated Diver, 20 Knot, a Little Gulland a further 110 Sandwich Terns whilst a Great Skua was seen on the beach eating a dogfish.
6thThe trickle of Meadow Pipits and Linnets passing overhead continued during the morning but was again enlivened by a decent raptor when a Red Kite flew north over the Long Pits at 1130hrs. Grounded migrants remain extremely scarce with just a handful of Chiffchaffs and five Firecrests of interest.There was a patchy movement of birds offshore with eventual totals of an excellent total of 319 Sandwich Terns along with 19 Shoveler, six Gadwall, 391 Common Scoters, 11 Velvet Scoters, 18 Red-breasted Mergansers and five Common Terns.
However, the highlight of the seawatching was a pod of four White-beaked Dolphinswhich were watched for over an hour during the morning as they fed and moved slowly eastwards.


Red Kite Milvus milvus   Dungeness   6th April 2015
7thSewatching provided most of the interest again with a decent trickle of birds throughout the day and with two Pintails, nine Shovelers, 593 Common Scoters, 22 Red-breasted Mergansers, five Whimbrels, 22 Curlews, three Little Gulls, twoMediterranean Gulls, a very early Little Tern, 402 Sandwich Terns and threeCommon Terns of interest. A Great Skua also flew west.It was very quiet on the land with just a Swallow, two Firecrests and 15 Chiffchaffs of note.
8thThe highlight of the day was another Red Kite (this time with no wing damage) which flew NW over the Point at around midday whilst four Buzzards were also seen. There was a small arrival of birds in the bushes including five Blackcaps and 15 Chiffchaffsand a few other birds passed overhead including the first Yellow Wagtail of the year, three Swallows and a Brambling.Birds also passed through offshore for much of the day. Final totals included 576 Brent Geese, two Gadwall, 24 Teal, 16 Shoveler, 317 Common Scoters and 11 Red-breasted Mergansers, two Black-throated Divers, 28 Whimbrel, 16 Curlew, the firstArctic Skua of the year, seven Little Gulls, 409 Sandwich Terns and 14 Common Terns.



Red Kite Milvus milvus   Dungeness   8th April 2015
9thA day of mostly thick fog and is usually the case in these conditions there were actually few grounded migrants to be seen. They did include a superb Hoopoe which showed well for a couple of observers before disappearing into the murk. The only other grounded migrants were two Firecrests, about 20 Chiffchaffs, three Willow Warblers and singles of BlackcapRedwingRing Ouzel and White Wagtail. A trickle of birds passing overhead included a Little Ringed Plover, a Yellow Wagtailand three Redpolls.The sea was barely visible for most of the day but a brief clearer spell in mid-afternoon produced four Little Gulls and an Arctic Skua, a second-summer Yellow-legged Gullwas in the roost at the Point.
10thAlthough still misty for much of the day visibility was much better than yesterday and allowed for a good passage offshore and a small arrival of migrants on the land.A total of 7.5hrs of seawatching at various times through the day resulted in good counts of 3961 Brent Geese, 657 Common Scoters, three Velvet Scoters, 40 Red-breasted Mergansers, a Black-throated Diver, 26 Curlew, one Whimbrel, an Arctic Skua, 585 Sandwich Terns and 166 Common Terns.
Migrants on the land included a steady arrival during the day of 40 Chiffchaffs along with a Willow Warbler and a couple of apparent migrant Black Redstarts in the trapping area an three Swallows, a Yellow Wagtail, a Tree Sparrow, a Brambling, plenty of Linnets and three Redpolls passing overhead.
Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochrurus   Dungeness   10th April 2014
This bird was in the trapping area an was presumably a migrant individual.
11thThere was a small arrival of Willow Warblers and Blackcaps after which it was fairly quiet on the land.Most of the days interest was offshore where there was a juvenile/first-winter Iceland Gull along with a second-winter Herring x Glaucous Gull and a first-winter Little Gullat the Patch and birds passing up-channel included 690 Brent Geese, three Arctic Skuas, three Great Skuas and 20 Common Terns.
12thA bright but cold and breezy day produced a small  arrival of migrants on the land and some more passage offshore.Of note on the land were the first Redstart of the spring and three Ring Ouzels along with 25 Willow Warblers, 15 Chiffchaffs and six Blackcaps.
Just over five hours of seawatching gave totals of five Red-breasted Mergansers, nine Arctic and four Great Skuas, and 446 Sandwich Terns passing east whilst at the Patch, the Iceland Gull was seen again along (thanks to Barry Wright for the image below) with the first-winter Little Gull and 25 Common Terns. A second-winterCaspian Gull also flew west off the fishing boats.

Iceland Gull Larus glaucoides   juvenile/first-winter   Dungeness   12th April 2015 (Barry Wright)

Ring Ouzel Turdus torquatus    Dungeness   12th April 2015
13thWith dawn breaking to a crystal clear sky and superb visibility across to France the first couple of hours of the morning were relatively quiet with what little interest there was being offshore. Two Red-breasted Mergansers, 135 Common Scoters, twoGreat Skuas, an Arctic Skua and 304 Sandwich Terns passed through whilst theIceland Gull was seen briefly before it headed off into the distance towards Rye. The first-summer Little Gull and 35 Common Terns were also feeding at the Patch.However, as we returned inland it became clear that something unusual was going on with flocks of Willow Warblers and Blackcaps leaping out of the gorse and broom between the Observatory and the Old Lighthouse. Birds then continued to arrive for most of the day although from mid-afternoon thick fog rolled in and made observations more difficult. 
Blackcaps (175), Willow Warblers (150) and Chiffchaffs (50) provided the numbers whilst Sedge WarblerCommon Whitethroat (seven), Lesser Whitethroat and Tree Pipit were all new for the year and more unusual birds were a fine male Pied Flycatcher, three Ring Ouzels, five Redstarts, some migrant Black Redstarts and aWood Lark.
The most remarkable sights though were the flocks of Blackcaps feeding like finches on the ground or gathered around apples at garden feeders. All in all a brilliant day.

Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca   Dungeness   13th April 2015

Ring Ouzel Turdus torquatus   Dungeness   13th April 2015



Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla   Dungeness  13th April 2015 (last image by David Bunney)
14thMost of yesterdays migrants departed overnight but there were still a good few migrants around the area. The first House Martin and Whinchat of the year were seen (the latter on the beach at the fishing boats) and 20 Chiffchaffs, 12 Willow Warblers, 20 Blackcaps and about 20 "Greenland" Wheatears also arrived. Other notable birds included a Little Ringed Plover, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Redstart, threeRing Ouzels and a Tree Pipit.An interesting immature Peregrine Falcon flew over the area which appeared to be of one of the tundra races calidus/tundriae.
Offshore passage was slow for the most part but 325 Common Scoters, nine Red-breasted Mergansers, a summer-plumaged Black-throated Diver and aMediterranean Gull flew east during the morning and the Iceland Gull was seen again around mid-day.
"Greenland" Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe leucorhoa   Dungeness   14th April 2015
15thA quieter day on the land but still one or two bits of interest including a Whinchat, 16Wheatears (mostly Greenlands), a Redstart, 25 Chiffchaffs, 12 Blackcaps and aRing Ouzel whilst several Sparrowhawks and a Little Ringed Plover flew over.There was a light but steady passage offshore with 401 Common Scoters, five Red-breasted Mergansers, a drake Goosander (quite rare in the Observatory recording area), six Bar-tailed Godwits, 35 Whimbrels, 35 Curlews, an Arctic Skua and fourGreat Skuas. Two Mediterranean Gulls and a Little Gull seemed to be lingering offshore.
Whinchat Saxicola rubetra   Dungeness   15th April 2015
16thWith fresh and strengthening NE winds and mostly clear skies there was very little to be seen on the land although there were at least 16 "Greenland" Wheatears.Seawatching saw good numbers of Common ScotersGannets and Common Ternsand more unusual birds in the form of six Teal, 21 Red-breasted Mergansers, 39Whimbrel, 12 Bar-tailed Godwits, a first-winter Mediterranean Gull and a flock of 18Arctic Terns. A Buzzard also flew east offshore.
17thWith a very stiff NE wind blowing there was very little to be seen on the land and not a great deal offshore. Nine Red-breasted Mergansers, four Whimbrel, singles of Arcticand Great Skua and a few Common Terns were the only notable birds.
18thVery strong NE winds continue to limit any migration so it was a great surprise that aWryneck was found in the low scrub to the south of the trapping area. Virtually the only other migrants of any significance were five Sand Martins and two Ring Ouzels.There were three Yellow-legged Gulls in the roost at the Point, a Little Gull was feeding at the Patch and six Arctic Terns flew east.
Wryneck Jynx torquilla   Dungeness   18th April 2015
19thStill very quiet on both land and sea but a first-winter Caspian Gull was a new arrival at the Patch where there were also 120 Common Terns and a first-winter Little Gullfeeding. One Arctic Skua flew east.


Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans    first-winter   Dungeness    19th April 2015
20thMigrants remain fairly hard to come by on the Point although the Wryneck was seen again and a male Firecrest was singing in the trapping area. There were also 30Swallows and five "Greenland" Wheatears and the first Reed Warblers of the year were singing at the Long Pits.There was a Black Tern and a second-winter Yellow-legged Gull feeding at the Patch and a trickle of movement offshore included two Pintail, a flock of 70 Bar-tailed Godwits, 45 Whimbrel and two Mediterranean Gulls.

"Greenland" Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe leucorhoa   Dungeness   20th April 2015
21stThe Wryneck was seen again but remains elusive whilst other migrants on the land were almost non-existent with just a Ring Ouzel of interest.The early morning seawatch was very slow but things picked up a bit in the afternoon with final day totals of 190 Brent Geese, 161 Common Scoters, 36 Whimbrel, 99Bar-tailed Godwits, 15 Little Gulls, five Mediterranean Gulls and 14 Little Terns. Two Arctic Terns were feeding at the Patch.
22ndA trickle of birds flew east offshore during the first couple of hours but after that it was very quiet on both sea and land. Birds seen offshore included 26 Whimbrels, twoGreat Skuas, 11 Little Gulls, five Mediterranean Gulls and two Yellow-legged Gulls. A Ring Ouzel was seen near the Old Lighthouse.
23rdA thin scatter of migrants on the land included two Lesser Whitethroats, fourBlackcaps and singles of RedstartRing OuzelYellow Wagtail and Tree Pipit.There was a steady trickle of birds offshore in the morning and a sudden flurry of movement in the evening. Nine hours of watching produced a Pink-footed Goose, 143Common Scoters, five Black-throated Divers, 66 Bar-tailed Godwits, 133Whimbrel, three Arctic Skuas, 34 Little Gulls, three Mediterranean Gulls, 436Common Terns, five Arctic Terns and 186 distant "commic" Terns. An additional two Mediterranean Gulls and a second-winter Yellow-legged Gull were feeding at the Patch.
Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochrurus   Dungeness   23rd April 2015
24thThe wind dropped and veered into the SW but brought with it lots of fog, especially in the early morning. There was small but varied arrival of migrants on the land with aMerlin, the first Garden Warbler of the year, six Blackcaps, two Lesser Whitethroats, a Ring Ouzel, a late Fieldfare, two Redstarts and three Tree Pipitsand a semi-rarity in the form of three Jays.Seawatching was hampered by the poor visibility but over eight hours of watching eventually produced 1272 Brent Geese, 13 Eider, 429 Common Scoters, 18 Bar-tailed Godwits, 32 Whimbrels, 17 Arctic and 11 Great Skuas, five Mediterranean Gulls, two Little Terns and 114 Common Terns.
25thA very quiet day on both land and sea in mostly damp and foggy conditions.On the land the best that could be found were a Ring Ouzel and two Redstarts whilst the produced a Great Northern Diver and just three Arctic and one Great Skua flying east and a Mediterranean Gull lingering at the Patch. 
However, the highlight of the day was a party of about eight White-beaked Dolphinswhich spent about two hours feeding offshore during the morning.
26thYet another cold and damp day.Migrants continue to trickle through on the land in very small numbers with the best being 15 Willow Warblers, four Garden Warblers and a Redstart.
The sea was very quiet with a single Great Skua and a few Brent Geese andCommon Scoters moving east, a Black-throated Diver flying west and single Blackand Little Terns feeding offshore. A first-winter Caspian Gull was found at the Point.
Late news concerns the first Pomarine Skuas of the spring, a flock of seven birds passing close inshore at around 1630hrs.
27thA very cold start to the day with northerly winds further limited passage with just aGreenshank, the first Swift of the year, a few Swallows, two Garden Warblers, aYellow Wagtail and a Siskin of any interest on the land.The sea was even quieter but a first-winter Little Gull and a couple of Arctic Ternswere feeding at the Patch this afternoon.
28thAnother cold morning and wind increasing through the day. A thin scatter of migrants again including singles of Ring OuzelWhinchat and Garden Warbler and nineWillow Warblers.Very quiet offshore.
29thMost of the interest was offshore with S x SW winds during the morning producing twoVelvet Scoters, single Great Northern and Black-throated Divers, seven Manx Shearwaters, 26 Whimbrel, seven Arctic Skuas, two Pomarine Skuas, 13 Great Skuas, three Little Terns and seven Arctic Terns of note.Very quiet on the land with just a Ring Ouzel of note.
30thNo sign of any improvement in passage with just a slow trickle of Sandwich andCommon Terns passing offshore and a Lesser Whitethroat, two Blackcaps and twoYellow Wagtails on the land.