October 2015

1stThe month began where September left off with the Grey Phalarope still offshore, theYellow-browed Warbler still in the Lighthouse Garden and lots of Firecrests and "Continental" Coal Tits. There were also plenty of Goldcrests and a few Chiffchaffsand Blackcaps along with 12 Wheatears, four Stonechats and a WhinchatOf interest among the Coal Tits was this Brussels-ringed bird.
Coal Tit Periparus ater ater   Dungeness   1st October 2015
Firecrest Regulus ignicapillus   Dungeness   1st October 2015 (G.Hollamby)
2nd With the wind finally beginning to drop there was plenty to see on the land where numbers were dominated by Goldcrests with about 150 present along with 15Firecrests and 15 "Continental" Coal Tits and what was probably a new Yellow-browed Warbler. Other migrants included 20 Chiffchaffs, ten Blackcaps, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Whinchat, five Stonechats, 11 Wheatears, two Ring Ouzels, 60Redpolls and 40 Siskins.Other bits and pieces included two Pink-footed Geese, a Marsh Harrier heading out to sea, a Merlin, the Grey Phalarope still feeding offshore and a second-winterMediterranean Gull at the Patch.
However, the big news just received is that the identification of last months Acadian Flycatcher has been further confirmed by an analysis of DNA extracted from a poo sample carried out by Martin Collinson at Aberdeen University. Many thanks for the rapid response,

Just cannot resist another image of this fantastic bird.
Acadian Flycatcher Empidonax virescens   Dungeness   22nd September 2015
3rdVery thick, wet fog seriously hampered recording during the morning but as it cleared a few migrants were located including 50 Goldcrests, four Firecrests, 20 Chiffchaffs, two Lesser Whitethroats, a Reed Warbler,  a Redstart, a Whinchat, four Stonechatsand five Wheatears. Ten "Continental" Coal Tits were lingering in and around the moat. Migrants passing overhead included two Grey Wagtails and  two Rock Pipits,A drake Eider was swimming offshore.
A search for rare crickets this evening produced good numbers of Tree Crickets still active and a single female Sickle-bearing Bush Cricket.
4thThere seemed to be a bit of a clear out of grounded migrants today but a decent spell of overhead passage during the first couple of hours this morning. Numbers were provided 70 Siskins, 20 Redpolls and 40 Reed Buntings whilst more notable records included at least two Crossbills. Other bits and pieces included a Marsh Harrier, a few Blackbirds arriving and three Rock Pipits. A Jay also flew over in the afternoon. The only grounded migrants of any note were 75 Goldcrests, 15 Chiffchaffs and aWheatear.The drake Eider was still present offshore.
Moth trapping overnight produced the first Observatory record of Orange Sallow along with a Scarce Bordered Straw.
5thA miserable day with rain overnight and through most of the day. The only new grounded migrant of note was a Pied Flycatcher in the Lighthouse Gorse. A Whinchatand a couple of Firecrests were also seen and a Grey Wagtail and a Rock Pipit flew over.Movement offshore was a bit disappointing given the conditions but over four hours of observations eventually produced a Manx Shearwater, three Great Skuas, six Arctic Skuas, two Mediterranean Gulls and 162 Sandwich Terns and best of the bunch, aPurple Sandpiper.
6thDespite fresh southerly winds and frequent rain there was very little to get very excited about. Almost four hours of seawatching produced just a late Whimbrel, a Pomarine Skua, a Great Skua and 105 Sandwich Terns passing west and three Arctic Skuasand three Mediterranean Gulls lingering offshore.There were very few birds on the ground with a "Continental" Coal Tit, a Wheatear, 30Goldcrests, yesterdays Pied Flycatcher again and 150 Meadow Pipits being about the best of it whilst another 300 Meadow Pipits, 40 Siskins and seven Reed Buntings flew over.
7thAnother quiet day, A few grounded migrants including a "Continental" Coal Tit, fourFirecrests, seven Blackcaps and Wheatears whilst birds passing overhead included 47 Pied Wagtails, 420 Meadow Pipits, 35 Redpolls and nine Reed Buntings.The sea was also quiet but over five hours of watching eventually produced twoPomarine Skuas and ten Arctic Skuas.
8thA bright and sunny day resulted in a small arrival of passerines in the bushes and a decent overhead movement of migrants. The best of the grounded migrants included aDartford Warbler around the Old Lighthouse and Gorse, a Firecrest, 50 Goldcrests, 100 Chiffchaffs, ten Blackcaps and four Wheatears. Of note amongst the birds passing overhead were six Buzzards, 37 Skylarks, 90 Swallows, a Tree Sparrow, two Grey and 60 Pied Wagtails, 250 Goldfinches, 100 Siskins, 450 Linnets, 220Lesser Redpolls and 35 Reed Buntings.Very little movement offshore but the Pomarine Skua was still present.
9thA bright and sunny day produced a decent arrival of Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests, (mostly centred around the Moat) and ten Blackcaps. Numbers passing overhead were a bit reduced but did include the first Brambling of the autumn along with 24 Skylarks, 270 Starlings arriving, six Grey Wagtails, 130 Meadow Pipits, three Rock Pipits, 20Siskins, 50 Lesser Redpolls and 28 Reed Buntings.In the afternoon a Crane first seen flying over the RSPB reserve just about made it into Observatory airspace before returning to Dengemarsh where it spent the rest of the day.
Very quiet offshore with just the juvenile Pomarine Skua of note.
Clouded Yellow butterfly was seen in the Moat.
10thA morning with birding options slightly limited as I had to stay around the Observatory for much of the morning although several regulars did get out into the trapping area.The best the land had to offer was a few Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs and a couple ofBlackcaps and two Rock Pipits,1200 Goldfinches and 55 Siskins passing overhead.
A check of the fishing boats in the afternoon produced this excellent Ukraine-ringedCaspian Gull whilst a Great Skua and two Mediterranean Gull were feeding offshore.


Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans   first-winter with Kiev scheme ring  Dungeness 10th October 2015

Elsewhere, the Crane was still showing well at Dengemarsh.
11thBird of the day was a very brief Pallas's Warbler seen by just two observers at the northern end of the trapping area where there were also good numbers of Goldcrestsbut not much else to be seen in the bushes.  There was a steady overhead movement of birds mainly flying into the fresh NExE winds including two Rock Pipits, aBrambling, 100 Siskins and 25 Redpolls and best of all, a Woodlark.Two Caspian Gulls (a first-winter and a second-winter) were loafing with the local gulls along with two Yellow-legged Gulls whilst a Little Gull and three Mediterranean Gulls feeding at the Patch. Offshore movement was almost non-existent.
12thOvercast skies and a north-easterly wind resulted in an excellent day with a wide variety of birds dropping in or flying overhead. The first bird taken out of the nets this morning was a Yellow-browed Warbler and this was followed in the afternoon by a super Pallas's Warbler (both shown below). In addition there was the first arrival of thrushes including a spectacular 90 Ring Ouzels, along with 31 Fieldfares, 40 Song Thrushes and 11 Redwings as well as 100 Goldcrests, five Wheatears, 20Chiffchaffs, 20 Blackcaps and a couple of Whitethroats.Finches were very much in evidence with eight Bramblings, 200 Siskins and 150Redpolls of note whilst other diurnal migrants included a Short-eared Owl, 150Swallow, 40 Skylarks and 25 Reed Buntings.
A Mediterranean Gull was feeding at the Patch.

Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus and Pallas's Warbler Phylloscopus proregulus
13thA day very much "After the Lord Mayors Show". Very few grounded migrants in very windy conditions with just three Ring Ouzels of note. The sea remains very quiet with just a Mediterranean Gull and a few Sandwich Terns of interest.
14thAt least two Short-eared Owls, eight Blackcaps, a Lesser Whitethroat, three Ring Ouzels, 30 Song Thrushes, 20 Redwings and a Rock Pipit were seen and a Jack Snipe was a notable find at the Long Pits.A first-winter Caspian Gull and two Mediterranean Gulls were feeding at the Patch and an adult Yellow-legged Gull was roosting at the fishing boats.
15thA damp, overcast and cold morning brought a few grounded migrants including 30Goldcrests, 30 Chiffchaffs, 11 Blackcaps, a late Garden Warbler, singles of Lesserand Common Whitethroat, eight Ring Ouzels, 20 Song Thrushes and 32Redwings.There was also a considerable overhead passage with 12 Skylarks, 150 Swallows, 100 House Martins, 100 Fieldfares, a Rock Pipit, 85 Chaffinches, two Bramblings, 600 Goldfinches, 1000 Siskins and 250 Redpolls.
Two adult Mediterranean Gulls were feeding at the Patch.
16thAnother damp and windy day which produced a decent drop of migrants and more overhead movement but the sea remains quiet.Grounded migrants included 40 Goldcrests, 25 Chiffchaffs, 15 Blackcaps, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Wheatear, 50 Robins, an excellent 19 Ring Ouzels, 165 Fieldfares, 110 Redwings, 60 Song Thrushes. Finches passed overhead in some numbers and including nine Bramblings, 400 Goldfinches, 160 Siskins and 60 Redpolls. TwoMerlins were also seen along with two "continentalCoal Tits, two late Yellow Wagtails and two Crossbills.
The sea produced just a couple of Mediterranean Gulls and an adult Yellow-legged Gull was in the roost on the beach.
17thThe highlights of the day were the number of Short-eared Owls with at least six and also a dead individual in the area and a Dartford Warbler in the Desert. There was also a  Firecrest in the moat, two Ring Ouzels, 16 Fieldfares flew over, threeWheatears, two Tree Sparrows, 54 Chaffinches, 23 Bramblings, 140 Siskins, 40Redpolls and 24 Reed Buntings.A seawatch around midday produced a Sooty Shearwater and three Great Skuasheading west and three Mediterranean Gulls and two adult Yellow-legged Gulls were also present.
18thA cloudy, damp morning with a light northerly breeze resulted in a heavy passage overhead and a good variety of grounded migrants. Of note on the land were twoShort-eared Owls, five "ContinentalCoal Tits, a migrant flock of 18 Long-tailed Tits and 37 Ring Ouzels whilst there was also 90 Goldcrests, 25 Chiffchaffs and  twoMistle Thrush. Birds passing overhead included 450 Swallows, a Grey Wagtail, threeRock Pipits, 100 Chaffinches, 22 Bramblings, 1000 Goldfinches, 220 Siskins, 80Redpolls, a Yellowhammer (ridiculously scarce here in recent years,) and 40 Reed Buntings
"Continental" Coal Tit Periparus ater ssp ater   Dungeness   18th October 2015
19thMore of the same with thrushes and finches passing through all morning and a small arrival of grounded migrants.Grounded migrants included a Jack Snipe, at least five Short-eared Owls, 30Goldcrests, 20 Chiffchaffs and 40+ Ring Ouzels (one flock of 37 birds) whilst overhead passage included 300 Swallows, 1500 Starlings, 72 Fieldfares, two Mistle Thrushes, a Grey Wagtail, eight Bramblings and 55 Siskins.
The sea remains extremely quiet.
Of note elsewhere was a Rough-legged Buzzard at Scotney - feeding over the fields mainly at the Sussex end of the pit.
20thAnother interesting day with plenty of birds passing overhead although fewer grounded migrants were present and a scattering of rarer species.The highlights were a Great Grey Shrike at the north end of the recording area before moving off to the north-west, a Common Treecreeper trapped, a Wood Lark and twoCrossbills over, two "ContinentalCoal Tits in the trapping area, a Jack Snipe at the Long Pits again and a first-winter Caspian Gull roosting at the Point in the evening.
Grounded migrants included five Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 50 Goldcrests and tenChiffchaffs whilst migrants flying over included a Buzzard, 20 Stock Doves, 20Skylarks, 60 Swallows, 35 House Martins, 1000 Starlings, five Rock Pipits, tenBramblings, 500 Goldfinches, 60 Siskins, 45 Redpolls and 14 Reed Buntings.
Offshore, the first Goldeneye and two Red-breasted Mergansers of the autumn were seen and an adult Yellow-legged Gulls was also roosting at the Point.

Treecreeper Certhia familiaris   Dungeness   20th October 2015

Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans   first-winter   Dungeness   20th October 2015
21stA miserable day with rain almost throughout. Very little sign of any real migration although singles of Arctic and Great Skuas flew west in the afternoon and two Short-eared Owls were seen in the Desert in a short dry spell this evening.
22ndA poor morning given the calm and cloudy conditions. A few finches flew over including two Bramblings, 40 Chaffinches, 90 Siskins and 55 Redpolls and also 45 Swallowsbut grounded migrants were few and far between. The Jack Snipe was seen again this afternoon.
23rdAnother very interesting day with the highlights being the trapping of a Barred Warblerand a Norwegian-ringed Dunnock. Two Firecrests were also trapped and good numbers of Goldcrests were present. There was another movement of finches with 42Bramblings of note and three Rock Pipits and a Lapland Bunting also flew over. AShort-eared Owl was seen in the Desert and a Ring Ouzel spent most of the day in the moat.
Just outside the Observatory Recording Area a Great Grey Shrike was seen briefly at Lydd-on-sea (perhaps the bird from the 20th) and the Rough-legged Buzzard was still being seen at Scotney.

Dunnock Prunella modularis ssp modularis   Dungeness   23rd October 2015
A Norwegian-ringed bird caught this morning. This is our first-ever foreign-ringed Dunnock to be controlled and only the third movement between Kent and the continent (two Norwegian and one German). According to the Migration Atlas up to 2002 there had been 12 recorded movements between Britain and Norway. Although it looks just like our own Dunnocks ssp occidentalis there are thought to be slight differences in wing formula with Primary 2 being longer in modularis and this is the case in this individual.

Barred Warbler Sylvia nisoria   Dungeness   23rd October 2015
A very nice surprise in the nets this morning.
24thA quiet day in dull and breezy conditions with just a Merlin, 1000 Starlings, 400Goldfinches and 20 Siskins overhead and a Firecrest of note in the bushes.Seawatchng produced just an Arctic Skua, 365 Kittiwakes and six Little Gullspassing west and a Great Skua east and a first-winter and a second-winter Caspian Gull were seen at the fishing boats.
Further enquiries have revealed that yesterdays Dunnock was originally ringed at Lista Bird Observatory, Norway on 5th October 2015 by Simon Davies who is one of our former Assistant Wardens.
Elsewhere, the Rough-legged Buzzard was still being seen at Scotney and a Great Grey Shrike was showing quite well at Hookers Pit on the RSPB Reserve.
25thA bright and sunny day on which grounded migrants were generally scarce but aDartford Warbler was noteworthy and two Blackcaps, 20 Goldcrests and a Ring Ouzel were also seen. Overhead migrants included 17 Skylarks, two Tree Sparrows, 20 Bramblings, 65 Siskins, 90 Redpolls and 30 Reed Buntings whilst other bits and pieces included a Marsh Harrier, a Merlin, a Little Owl and a Short-eared Owl.A first-winter and a second-winter Caspian Gulls (both different individuals to yesterdays birds) were feeding at the fishing boats in the afternoon.


Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans   first-winter   Dungeness   25th October 2015
Clouded Yellow butterfly and a Hummingbird Hawk-moth were noted. 
26thAn excellent day with plenty of grounded migrants around the Point and the highlight of a very elusive Dusky Warbler. This was first seen along the front of the power station, it then slowly made its way across the Point before being lost amongst the private dwellings near the Sanctuary. In addition, another Great Grey Shrike was seen briefly and a Short-eared Owl was also seen whilst there was a large arrival of Goldcrestsand at least 30 Black Redstarts along with five Firecrests, a Dartford Warbler, twoWheatears, a Ring Ouzel, two Mistle Thrushes and a few Chiffchaffs. There was also some good overhead movement with a Marsh Harrier heading out to sea, 35Skylarks, 13 Swallows, a Tree Pipit, two Bramblings, 200 Siskins, 750Goldfinches, 60 Redpolls, 13 Crossbills and five Reed Buntings.A short-lived seawatch in the morning produced three Sooty Shearwaters, a few duck, two Mediterranean Gulls with another at the Patch and four Sandwich Terns.
Clouded Yellow was seen again in the Moat.
27thPlenty of birds in the bushes this morning including six Firecrests and 70 Goldcrests, a Coal Tit, 11 Chiffchaffs, five Blackcaps and an excellent 19 Black Redstarts.Birds passing overhead included 28 Skylarks, nine Fieldfares, four Mistle Thrushes, 12 Tree Sparrows, two Grey Wagtails, 260 Meadow Pipits, five Bramblings, 600Goldfinches, 130 Siskins and 20 Redpolls.
Eight Mediterranean Gulls and 75 Kittiwakes flew west and a Polish-ringed Caspian Gull was attracted to bread at the fishing boats in the late-afternoon.


Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans   Dungeness   27th October 2015
A Polish-ringed bird.
28thThere was another decent arrival of migrants on the land and overhead but the highlight was the finding of a Dusky Warbler in Broom scrub just north of the New Lighthouse. It seems likely that this was the same individual as that first seen two days ago. An elusive Yellow-browed Warbler was also of note in the Lighthouse Garden.There were large numbers of Goldcrests, eight Blackcaps, 12 Black Redstarts and thrushes and three Woodcocks and four Firecrests in the bushes and birds passing overhead included 20 Skylarks, 40 Tree Sparrows, six Rock Pipits, 300Goldfinches, 50 Siskins and 35 Redpolls. A Ring Ouzel continues to reside in the moat.
A few birds also passed through on the sea including 118 Brent Geese, 37 Wigeon, 146 Teal, 32 Pintail, four Tufted Ducks and 35 Kittiwakes.


Dusky Warbler Phylloscopus fuscatus   Dungeness   28th October 2015
Not the greatest photographs but the best I could manage of a mainly very skulking individual.
29thA dull and cloudy day with an increasing wind produced a decent bit of movement offshore and overhead but the bushes were fairly quiet for new migrants.The Dusky Warbler was still present near the New Lighthouse along with the Ring Ouzel in the moat and a Barn Owl was seen in the trapping area. Birds passing overhead included an excellent total of 2000 Goldfinches as well as a Rock Pipit, 40Chaffinches, a Brambling, 50 Siskins and 30 Redpolls.
Just over five hours of seawatching was dominated by 1209 Gannets and 1246Kittiwakes whilst variety was provided by 15 Pintail, 13 Shoveler, 150 Common Scoters, a Sooty Shearwater,  two Pomarine Skuas, 13 Mediterranean Gulls and 40 Sandwich Terns.
30thWith a strong southerly wind blowing for much of the day most of the interest was at sea although the Dusky Warbler was still present but was very elusive.Nearly six hours of seawatching produced 50 Brent Geese, three Shelduck, twoGadwall, 35 Wigeon, 22 Teal, two Eiders, 342 Common Scoters, a Velvet Scoter, six Red-breasted Mergansers, a Sooty Shearwater, 1218 Gannets, a Shag, twoGreat and an Arctic Skua, nine Mediterranean Gulls, 800 Kittiwakes, 29 Sandwich Terns, 54 Guillemots, 92 Razorbills and 194 auk sp. A Merlin also flew out to sea.
A first-winter Caspian Gull was in the roost at the Point for a few minutes in the early afternoon along with an adult Yellow-legged Gull before the flock was flushed by day trippers.
A few Goldfinches and Linnets also passed overhead, a Firecrest was feeding in the Observatory garden and the regular Ring Ouzel was still in the moat.
31stWith a fresh SE wind blowing during the morning it was actually quite a disappointing day for new arrivals although four Woodcocks,  a Yellow-browed Warbler in the trapping area and two "ContinentalCoal Tits in the Desert were of note. Good numbers of Goldcrests and seven Firecrests and nine Black Redstarts were also seen and presumably included some fresh migrants. There was a steady trickle  passage of finches overhead but nothing in any great numbers. A Jack Snipe was seen in the now-regular damp spot for this bird.The Dusky Warbler continues to be seen in the broom scrub and small gardens at the Point.( Will observers please keep out of the gardens and use the designated car parking areas nearby.)
The sea was very quiet.
Clouded Yellow was seen in the moat.