May 2015

1stA new month but little change in the birds. Seawatching produced a decent stream ofCommon Terns and 546 Bar-tailed Godwits along with a Black-throated Diver, 31Knot, 27 Whimbrel, a Great Skua, 34 Little Terns and five Arctic Terns.It remains extremely quiet on the land.
During the week two parties of Spoonbills were seen but the once regular Cattle Egrets seem to have moved on. An Osprey flew over the Reserve today.
2ndA cold easterly wind for most of the day but still extremely quiet on the land but a continuing steady movement, mainly of terns, moving east.Nine hours of seawatching produced five Black-throated Divers, eight Grey Plovers, 56 Bar-tailed Godwits, 15 Whimbrel, four Arctic Skuas, 95 Kittiwakes, a Little Gull, 26 Little Terns, 591 Sandwich Terns and 2153 Common Terns.
The only birds of note on the land were 22 Swallows and three Yellow Wagtails.
3rdThe day began with strong SE winds and rain which brought a decent movement of birds offshore. Of note were 102 Fulmars, 400 Gannets, 25 Knot, 32 Sanderling, 75Bar-tailed Godwits, a Greenshank, 11 Arctic Skuas, nine Great Skuas, eight Little Gulls, 12 Little Terns, 31 Black Terns, 253 Sandwich Terns and 1751 Common Terns. The highlight though was a near adult Iceland Gull which flew around the Patch and then off eastwards. (Thanks to Wes Attridge for the image.)Still very few birds on the land with a couple of Garden Warblers being the best.
The other highlight of the day was a pod of at least six White-beaked Dolphinsfeeding fairly inshore this morning - the third sighting of the spring.

Iceland Gull Larus glaucoides    Dungeness   3rd May 2015 (Wes Attridge)
4thPlenty of coverage today produced some decent seabirds, a steady overhead migration and a small number of grounded migrants.The best of the 9.25hrs of seawatching was six Pomarine Skuas along with 13 Arcticand seven Great Skuas, four Black-throated Divers, an adult Little Gull and 723Common Terns. A first-summer Little Gull was feeding at the Patch.
Birds passing overhead included 55 Swifts, nine Jays, 180 Swallows, 13 House Martins, eight Sand Martins, a Tree Pipit, five Yellow Wagtails, 34 Goldfinches and two Siskins. A handful of grounded migrants included seven Willow Warblers and tenChiffchaffs.
Elsewhere, a Crane flew over the RSPB Visitor Centre and headed towards Lydd at 1615hrs. Thanks to Mark Stanley for his image of this bird.

Crane Grus grus   Dungeness RSPB   4th May 2015 (Mark Stanley)
5thThe mornings seawatch produced ten Arctic and five Great Skuas and 248 Sandwich Terns east and 11 Fulmars and a Manx Shearwater west and a Black Tern feeding at the Patch. Otherwise there was nothing else to report on a very windy day.
6thWhen is the wind going to drop? Another day of fierce winds and very few birds. Nearly six hours of seawatching produced just four Manx Shearwaters, three Arctic Skuas, three Great Skuas and two Mediteranean Gulls and an incoming Hobby of note on the sea. The land was barely birdable with just single Redstart of interest.The Observatory also welcomed Steve Cook on Day 6 of a nine-month, 4000 mile walk around the coast of Britain in support of the crusade to stamp out drugs in the UK. See here www.walkthekingdom.co.uk to follow and support Steve's progress over the coming months.
7th
Another windy day (at least until the evening) morning produced very little offshore and only the thinnest scatter of migrants in the bushes although some of these may actually be territory-holding birds.
A mammoth 9.5hr of seawatching remarkably produced just one Arctic Skua and almost nothing else moving east. Two Hobbies came in off and two Eider flew west. An adult Yellow-legged Gull was feeding at the Patch.

Migrants on the land included 65 Swallows and a minor rarity in the form of a Jay at the Long Pits. 

The first Blue-tailedCommon Blue and Red-eyed Damselflies of the year were seen.

With the constant strong winds and generally low temperatures it has been very good for butterflies so it was a stunning sight to see the Senetti plant in the back garden attracting a Brown Argus.and one or two Small Coppers!!
Small Coppers Lycaena phlaeas on Senetti   Dungeness   7th May 2015

Steve Cook heading off on Day 7 of his challenge to work around Britain. 
Next stop Folkestone. Good luck.
8thHopes were high amongst the regulars that with the wind dropping and turning easterly there would be a decent seawatch. Unfortunately the birds had not read the script and it was another slow day. Admittedly, two Pomarine Skuas eventually passed through but other than Sandwich and "commic" Terns, (1450 of the latter), there was very little else in over ten hours of watching. The best of the rest were 22 Sanderlings, 25Whimbrels, four Arctic Skuas, a Great Skua and 12 Little Terns. A Hobby also came in off the sea.The bird of the day but for just one observer was a Melodious Warbler which showed briefly in his garden but could not be relocated after the initial sighting. The only other birds of note on the land were a Jay, a few Swallows, a migrant Reed Warbler and aTree Sparrow.
Elsewhere during the week there were very few new birds to be seen in the mostly very windy conditions. A Great White Egret remains on the RSPB Reserve and aMontagu's Harrier flew north over Littlestone yesterday.
9thWith strong winds and some rain during the morning it was another day where the sea seemed like the option but yet again it failed to deliver. Over seven hours of watching produced just one Manx Shearwater, six Arctic and five Great Skuas, twoMediterranean Gulls and six Little Terns of interest.It was very quiet on the land although a Pied Flycatcher was seen n a private garden and 185 Swallows and 31 House Martins passed overhead.
10thA calm morning for a change resulted in a very small arrival of migrants with twoSpotted Flycatchers, a Redstart and two Lesser Whitethroats of note in the bushes whilst Swallows passed through all day. A Tree Pipit and Siskin also flew over.The sea was very quiet with just a Mediterranean Gull, a Black Tern and 15 Little Terns of any note.
On the insect front, the Senetti in the back garden continues to attract butterflies and today included this variant Small Copper.
Small Copper Lyceana phlaeas variant   Dungeness   10th May 2015
11thA trickle of birds offshore in the early morning included two Velvet Scoters, aPomarine, three Arctic and one Great Skua moving east. A first-summerMediterranean Gull flew west this evening.A handful of migrants on the land included the first two Turtle Doves of the spring, fourJays and a Spotted Flycatcher.
The highlight of a small overnight catch of moths was this Ni Moth - only the 4th Observatory record of this scarce migrant species.
Ni Moth Trichoplusia ni  Dungeness  11th May 2015
12thExtremely quiet on both land and sea with two Jays and a Siskin being about the best on offer.
13thA fine and sunny day but still quiet on the bird front. Two Eider, an Arctic Skua and three Little Terns were the only things of note offshore and four Buzzards, aWhinchat and 130 Swallows were about the best the land could offer.
14thThere was a decent seawatch this morning before the rain arrived and washed out most of the rest of the day. Highlights included a drake Garganey, two Black-throated Divers, six Arctic Skuas, 1450 'commic' Terns, 450 Sandwich Terns and a Roseate Tern.However, birds of the day were two White-winged Terns which arrived on Burrowes Pit in late-morning and then showed well for the rest of the day.
15thAnother generally quiet day. The first few hours of the morning saw more Sandwichand Common Terns along with two Arctic Skuas and five Little Terns and a Little Egret and two Hobbies came in.The only migrants of note on the land were 100 Swallows and a Tree Pipit.
The White-winged Terns were still present on the Reserve, showing on either Burrowes Pit or at Dengemarsh.
Also seen elsewhere during the week was a Purple Heron on Burrowes and a Golden Oriole at the Water Tower Pits on 13th. A Great White Egret was seen on the Reserve on 14th and small numbers of Hobbies continue to feed in the general area.
16thThe first Cuckoo of the year (very late for us) was seen at the Long Pits but far more interesting was a very strong and unusual, mainly southerly movement of 1200Swallows along with a Hobby, three Greenshanks and a Siskin. Six Blackcaps and three Lesser Whitethroats were also singing at the Long Pits although these may well be territory-holding birds.There was no sign of the White-winged Terns on the Reserve today but they were replaced this evening by a short-staying adult Bonaparte's Gull on Burrowes at 1720hrs. This is the third Dungeness record.


Bonaparte's Gull Larus philadelphia   Dungeness RSPB Reserve   16th May 2015 (Steve Gale)
17thA very quiet day with no obviously fresh migrants in the bushes and just two Hobbiesoverhead of interest. Also very quiet offshore.
18thA dismal day with very strong winds and also rain for a good part of it and with absolutely nothing worth mentioning being seen.
19thAnother wild and windy day with very little to be seen. There was a second-summerYellow-legged Gull at the Patch and a few Fulmars moved west at long range as the wind dropped in the evening.
20thA strange day with very few birds but with some surprises. The most notable was aNuthatch which landed briefly on a telegraph pole before heading quickly north and only the second Observatory area record. A Short-eared Owl and a Spotted Flycatcher were also seen in the trapping area and two Jays were seen at the northern end of the recording area.There was barely any discernible movement offshore but a Hobby arrived and sevenMediterranean Gulls and 230 Common Terns were feeding at the Patch.
21stAnother thin scatter of migrants included a Redstart in the Old Lighthouse Garden, a singing Reed Warbler in the moat, a few Swallows and Chiffchaffs, a Jay arriving from the east and six Mediterranean Gulls offshore. However, the avian highlight was this superb Red Kite found roosting in the trapping area this morning.We approached it carefully and got to what we thought was a safe distance so as not to flush it and took several hundred photographs including the first two below.


Then a dog walker crossed between us and the bird! Neither seemed to notice the other.

So we approached a bit closer.

It eventually took flight as the air warmed up and spent twenty minutes or so circling the Point before heading off westwards.


Red Kite Milvus milvus   Dungeness   21st May 2015
However the most unexpected find was this male Downy Emerald dragonfly patrolling the rides through the bushes in the moat. This is the first record for Dungeness - we think the nearest known breeding site is Castle Water at Rye Harbour




Downy Emerald Cordulia aenea   Dungeneness  21st May 2015
22ndVery little of interest seen today. Three first-summer Mediterranean Gulls were feeding at the Patch and an Arctic Skua was harassing terns off the fishing boats this evening.A nymph Southern Oak Bush-cricket was found in the Observatory garden. The few previous records have all involved adults in late autumn so this is the first real evidence of them as a breeding species.
23rdA thin scatter of migrants during the day included singles of Grey PloverSpotted FlycatcherYellow Wagtail and Tree Pipit and 40 Chaffinches of note.A first-summer Mediterranean Gull was feeding at the Patch.
24thVery quiet.Of interest, I have just been made aware that a second Downy Emerald dragonfly was seen and photographed at the Water Tower Pits on May 22nd.
25thAnother very quiet day with about the only migrant being a single Spotted Flycatcherin the trapping area.
26thLittle Tern was feeding along the beach this morning and a Corn Bunting flew south along the coast but it was otherwise very quiet again.
27thSpotted Flycatcher and a Siskin were the only obvious migrants of another quiet day.
28thTwo Arctic Skuas flew east and a first-summer Mediterranean Gull was feeding at the Patch but little else was seen.Bordered Straw was caught in the moth trap overnight.
29thJust what has happened to the spring. A thoroughly unpleasant day with a strong and cold wind eventually bringing some very heavy rain with it and little in the way of birds. Several attempts at seawatching produced just one Arctic Skua of note whilst an adultMediterranean Gull was feeding at the Patch.  It was pretty quiet elsewhere on Dungeness during the week. A Spoonbill was seen at Scotney on 24th, two Great White Egret flew over Lade on 29th and large numbers ofHobbies (up to 25) were seen on and around the RSPB Reserve. Large numbers ofSwifts were also feeding over the pits when the weather was poor.
30thTwo Willow Warblers singing in the trapping area and a Spotted Flycatcher in the moat were new arrivals and a first-summer Mediterranean Gull was feeding at the Patch.
31stYet another day of strong winds and heavy rain at times. Little coverage but there was a steady trickle of Gannets flying west through the day.