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Local weather


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29th April

A pretty quiet day with just a trickle of birds offshore and not a great deal on the land. Two Hobbies came in off the sea in the morning and three Arctic Skuas and a Great Skua flew east this afternoon. A few Swifts and hirundines passed through and a Ring Ouzel was the best of the birds on the land. 

During the week there was not a great deal happening around the rest of the peninsula. There were some decent numbers of Swallows and a few Swifts over the pits when the weather was poor and Black-necked Grebes continue to be seen on New Diggings and the Tundra Bean Goose was still being seen around the Dengemarsh area.

A couple of Porpoises were feeding offshore.

28th April

A calm and cold morning brought another small arrival of migrants on the land with the obvious highlight for one observer of an adult Purple Heron in the Long Pits reed-bed. A Hobby, a Buzzard, 17 Willow Warblers, 13 Blackcaps, a Garden Warbler, two Redstarts seven Yellow Wagtails and a Redpoll were also of note. 

The morning seawatch was extremely quiet but three Arctic Skuas were seen this afternoon as the wind began to increase again.

A Brown Hare and two Porpoises were seen and a Speckled Wood butterfly was the first of the year.

Another of the Dungeness plant specialties is Shepherd's Cress which is now showing at its best in large spreads across the open shingle. The regular colony of Early Purple Orchids near the Observatory is also coming to its best.

Shepherd's Cress Teesdalia nudicaulus   Dungeness   28th April 2016

Early Purple Orchid Orchis mascula   Dungeness   28th April 2016

27th April

Still quite wintry but with less wind today there was a very small arrival of migrants on the land. A Common Sandpiper at the Long Pits and three Swifts and a Tree Pipit overhead were all new species for the year whilst single Redstart and Whinchat, two Ring Ouzels and 15 Yellow Wagtails were of interest.
The sea was very quiet with just two Arctic Skuas of note.

A Stoat was seen transporting its young from one burrow to another, presumably after being disturbed from its original burrow site. Three Porpoises were feeding offshore.

A Green-veined White butterfly was the first of the year.

26th April

The cold north by west wind continues and even brought snow and hail with it today. Offshore, ten Whimbrel and a couple of Great Skuas flew through and what was presumably the local Tundra Bean Goose flew around again. Very quiet on the land with just a handful of Chiffchaffs and a Ring Ouzel in the bushes and a couple of Yellow Wagtails overhead.

At least seven Porpoises were feeding offshore.

25th April

The cold weather continues and is actually looking set for a good few days yet. There was a very small arrival of migrants on the land with two Snipe, ten Chiffchaffs, nine Willow Warblers and eight Blackcaps whilst a fly-through Hobby was new for the year. 

There were at least three fledged Ravens at the Power Station. 

A total of eight hours of seawatching produced just 285 Brent Geese, a Great Northern Diver, a Manx Shearwater, eight Great Skuas, a Little Gull and three Mediterranean Gulls of interest.

The sea also produced the mammalian highlight of the day with a party of three White-beaked Dolphins showing near the Bouy for a short time during the morning.  Five Porpoises were also seen.

24th April

Another cold day and very little in the way of new migrants on the land but a steady trickle of birds east offshore. Over eight hours of seawatching eventually resulted in some decent totals with three Eiders, a Manx Shearwater, 27 Whimbrel, three Pomarine Skuas, four Arctic Skuas, 12 Great Skuas, two Mediterranean Gulls and a Black Tern of note.

An unexpected sighting over the land was of a party of two Barnacle Geese and a Tundra Bean Geese which flew out to the Point before returning inland and followed later in the day by a further party of four Barnacle Geese. A Grey Wagtail was also an unusual record at this time of year.

At least ten Porpoises were feeding offshore.

One of the botanical features of Dungeness at this time of year is the prostrate form of Blackthorn Prunus spinosa which is now flowering and forming spiky carpets of white..
Prostrate form of Blackthorn at the Long Pits 24th April 2016

23rd April

A fresh northerly wind this morning meant even fewer migrants on the land and less passage offshore today. Even so, seawatching was not without its interest with 6.25hrs of observation producing a Great Northern Diver west, a 'Blue' Fulmar, 26 Whimbrels, four Arctic Skuas, a very unusual sighting of a second-summer Pomarine Skua, four Great Skuas, 638 Common Terns east with a further 350 feeding at the Patch and a Black Tern.
Two Ring Ouzels and the highest day total of Swallows of the spring so far were about the best the land had to offer.

At least 18 Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

22nd April

Another cold and breezy day meant more seawatching but not much to be seen on the land other than two Ring Ouzels. Over six hours of observations from the hides produced four Teal, four Shovelers, ten Red-breasted Mergansers, a Manx Shearwater, five Arctic Skuas, a Pomarine Skua, three Great Skuas and four Mediterranean Gulls of note.

At least ten Porpoises were feeding offshore.

Elsewhere around the peninsula many of the summer migrants have now made an appearance with a few Common Sandpipers, Swifts and Cuckoos now being seen at the Reserve where the Tundra Bean Goose remains and has been joined by a Bar-headed Goose. A Red-crested Pochard was at Dengemarsh this morning. At least two each of both Slavonian and Black-necked Grebes can be seen at ARC or New Diggings. The wader passage has also been a feature on the Reserve with a steady flow of Bar-tailed Godwits and Whimbrels moving through along with small numbers of Greenshanks.

21st April

With strong NE winds again most of the interest was offshore. Two Pomarine Skuas passed through at 1315hrs but a party of nine tracked along the Sussex coastline failed to appear. Bar-tailed Godwits and Whimbrels passed throughout the day with a peak in the afternoon and final totals of 756 and 200 respectively. A couple of parties, 22 birds, of Little Gulls also flew east whilst other bits included seven Shovelers, 13 Red-breasted Mergansers, two Black-throated Divers, 12 Grey Plovers, four Knot, a Great Skua and a steady trickle of Sandwich and Common Terns. A Manx Shearwater flew west.

Very little to report from the land.

At least 18 Porpoises were feeding offshore during the afternoon.

20th April

A clear and sunny day but with a strong and increasing, cold easterly wind making conditions difficult. A total of 6.5hrs of seawatching resulted in just 14 Shovelers, four Red-breasted Mergansers, a Black-throated Diver, a Manx Shearwater, 39 Whimbrels, 35 Bar-tailed Godwits, two Arctic Skuas, three Great Skuas and a Little Tern of interest.

Most of the "migrant"  birds on the land actually seemed to be territory-holding although two Coal Tits and a Ring Ouzel were seen in the bushes and 15 Swallows, a House Martin and a Yellow Wagtail flew through.

A couple of Porpoise were seen although viewing conditions were far from ideal.

19th April

With the wind dropping overnight and some cloud cover this morning there was a decent arrival of migrants on the land. Willow Warblers dominated the arrival but other bits and pieces included two "Continental" Coal Tits, 15 Blackcaps, the first Garden Warbler of the year, two Redstarts and a Ring Ouzel in the bushes and 12 Yellow Wagtails overhead.

The sea was very quiet although several hours of watching eventually produced two Grey Plovers, 19 Whimbrels, two Arctic Skuas and a Little Tern passing east.

A Stoat was seen, a Grizzled Skipper was seen in the trapping area and the Common Dog-violets are starting to put on a pretty good display of colour. 

Grizzled Skipper Pyrgus malvae and Common Dog-Violet Viola riviniana   Dungeness   19th April 2016

18th April

A White Stork which flew low over the power station before heading off in a north-westerly direction at 0955hrs was the obvious highlight of the day. Grounded migrants were fairly scarce again but did include our first Whinchat of the year, a Redstart in the Lighthouse Garden, a Ring Ouzel in the trapping area and two Bramblings at the Long Pits. A few birds also passed overhead including eight Yellow Wagtails, a Rock Pipit, 24 Goldfinches and two Siskins.

The sea was very quiet.

Eight Porpoises were feeding offshore and a Brown Hare and a Weasel were seen in the land.

17th April

Bird of the day was a very brief stopping second-winter Iceland Gull at the Patch where several Mediterranean Gulls and a Black Tern were also present. Seawatching for the most part was very poor but 24 Whimbrels and a Great Skua flew east during the day.

It was pretty quiet on the land with most migrants seemingly lingering from recent days but did include a singing Firecrest, a Coal Tit, the first Reed Warbler of the year, two Ring Ouzels, a Redstart and ten Wheatears
A few bits also passed overhead including 12 Swallows, six Yellow Wagtails and a Rock Pipit.

At least eight Porpoises were feeding offshore again.

16th April

Two Black Terns feeding at the Patch and four Ring Ouzels around the Desert were about the best on offer on a pretty quiet day. Other bits and pieces included a single Great Skua flying east, five Mediterranean Gulls offshore, two Yellow Wagtails and two Redpolls overhead and an increase in Wheatear numbers with 19 seen.

At least 12 Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

15th April

Not a great deal to report from the land in increasingly miserable weather. Small numbers of Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and Lesser Whitethroats were present and four Swallows and a Yellow Wagtail flew over.

The first couple of hours of seawatching this morning were fairly productive with four Gadwall, nine Arctic Skuas (another late in the day), three Great Skuas, a Little Gull, 351 Sandwich Terns and 477 Common Terns passing east were of note but things quickly eased down and the afternoon was very quiet.

Five Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.   

It has been a fairly quiet week around the rest of Dungeness. Black-necked and Slavonian Grebes continue to be seen on New Diggings and one or two Great White Egrets are still around the area. The Tundra Bean Goose is still been seen occasionally at Dengemarsh and a pair of Garganey were on Burrowes Pit on Wednesday.

14th April

The day began with a shallow but dense layer of fog and very few new birds in the bushes. The best on offer were two Ring Ouzels, eight Blackcaps and three Lesser Whitethroats whilst 11 Swallows and a Yellow Wagtail flew over.

Seawatching was more productive with significant totals of 521 Common Scoters, 80 Whimbrel, 44 Bar-tailed Godwits, 15 Arctic Skuas, 45 Little Gulls, 861 Sandwich Terns and 1400 Common Terns east and more unusual birds in the form of a flock of eight Garganey, eight Red-breasted Mergansers, a Black-throated Diver, a Manx Shearwater, 15 Mediterranean Gulls.and three Little Terns.

There were plenty of Porpoises on show again with at least 15 feeding offshore.

The first Small Copper butterfly was seen.

A small overnight catch of moths included a Streamer which is less than annual here. 

Streamer Anticlea derivata   Dungeness   14th April 2016

Sunrise scenes this morning at Dungeness

13th April

Another decent day with a good scattering of migrants on the land and a steady easterly movement of birds offshore.

Five Lesser Whitethroats, a Sedge Warbler and a Ring Ouzel were all new for the year and a male Redstart was also seen along with small numbers of Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs and five Whitethroats. A Brambling, a Redpoll and seven Swallows also flew over and two Sand Martins departed to the south.

The sea was watched for 7.5 hours and though rarely busy produced a few decent birds including two Black-throated Divers, four Whimbrel, 87 Bar-tailed Godwits, 14 Arctic Skuas, two Great Skuas, five Mediterranean Gulls, two Little Gulls and a Little Tern. Numbers were provided by 106 Curlews, 640 Sandwich Terns and 764 Common Terns.  

At least 38 Porpoise were feeding offshore - just one short of the day record. A Weasel was also noted.

The first Grizzled Skipper of the spring was seen at the northern end of the recording area.

12th April

A nice little of arrival of migrants with the first Grasshopper Warbler and Nightingale of the spring being the highlights (neither were recorded last year) and some decent numbers of commoner species including 30 Willow Warblers, 45 Chiffchaffs, 24 Blackcaps, two Whitethroats, four Redstarts and 16 Wheatears.

Grasshopper Warbler Locustella naevia   Dungeness   12th April 2016
The sea was watched for most of the day and although fairly quiet eventually produced good totals of 15 Shovelers, 573 Common Scoters, a Goldeneye, 15 Red-breasted Mergansers, five Black-throated Divers, three Whimbrels, ten Arctic Skuas, three Great Skuas, 26 Little Gulls and ten Arctic Terns.

At least 13 Porpoises were feeding in the flat calm waters this evening.

11th April

With murky and breezy conditions the sea was the place to be today where there was a strong easterly passage which increased in the afternoon. There were some excellent numbers and plenty of variety with the former including 339 Brent Geese, 2047 Common Scoters, 519 Gannets, 77 Little Gulls, 964 Sandwich Terns and 311 Common Terns whilst variety included 14 Gadwall, eight Teal, six Pintails, 23 Shovelers and 67 Red-breasted Mergansers, 66 Red-throated Divers, two Black-throated Divers, 19 Manx Shearwaters (all in the afternoon), 26 Arctic Skuas (also all in the afternoon) and a Great Skua, 50 Kittiwakes, eight Mediterranean Gulls, a Little Tern and two Arctic Terns. A handful of waders also passed by including six Grey Plovers, eight Knot, seven Bar-tailed Godwits and 11 Whimbrels.

A first-winter Iceland Gull flew through the Patch this morning and then made a brief reappearance in the afternoon. There were also 80 Common Terns feeding there this evening.

Most of the bits of interest on the land actually seemed to be birds remaining from yesterday with the male Pied Flycatcher and a male Redstart still at the Long Pits, three 'Continental' Coal Tits still in a private garden and two Firecrests. A female Bullfinch was a new bird at the Long Pits and a problematic Chiffchaff in the moat may prove to be a Siberian tristis. A Marsh Harrier and a Yellow Wagtail also arrived from the south.

There appeared to be an influx of Porpoises into the area with at least 15 feeding offshore and also a Grey Seal present.

10th April

Most of the day was spent seawatching where there was a pretty good easterly movement of birds for several hours. The dominant species in terms of numbers were 939 Brent Goose, 1439 Common Scoters, 1200 Sandwich Terns and 223 Common Terns whilst two Little Terns and seven Arctic Terns were new for the year. Other significant birds included seven Pintails, 31 Shovelers, two Velvet Scoters, singles of Black-throated and Great Northern Divers, a Knot, four Whimbrel, five Arctic Skuas and ten Mediterranean Gulls.
Dark-bellied Brent Geese Branta bernicula   Dungeness   10th April 2016
There was also a surprising occurrence when a flock of Brent Geese passed so close to the shore that one managed to catch itself on a fishing line. A dash down the beach rescued the bird no damage done so it was ringed and then released 

Dark-bellied Brent Goose   Branta bernicula   Dungeness   10th April 2016

The numbers of birds on the land were generally very low but not without quality with a male Pied Flycatcher and two Redstarts at the Long Pits, at least six Blackcaps and three 'Continental' Coal Tits being seen.

Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca   Dungeness   10th April 2016   
Seven Porpoises were feeding offshore and a Stoat was seen at the Long Pits.

News also came through in the afternoon of a White Stork which flew over the RSPB Reserve and headed away in a westerly direction.

9th April

A day of pretty miserable weather meant that nearly all the interest was offshore where 6.75hrs of seawatching produced an easterly movement which included 456 Brent Geese, three Velvet Scoters, a Red-breasted Mergansers, two Black-throated Divers, two Sooty Shearwaters (very unusual at this time of year), two Manx Shearwaters, 26 Fulmars, 198 Gannets, five Arctic and 15 Great Skuas, 441 Sandwich Terns and 21 Common Terns

Five Porpoises and a Brown Hare were also seen. 

8th April

A bright and sunny day with just a small number of migrants on the land and overhead and very little on the sea. Two Buzzards, five Swallows, a Sand Martin, 125 Linnets and six Siskins flew through whilst four Firecrests, 12 Willow Warblers, four Blackcaps and the first Whitethroat of the year were of note in the bushes.
An evening seawatch produced two Great Skuas but not much else was seen offshore during the day.

At least seven Porpoises were feeding offshore but sadly another individual was found dead on the beach at the Midrips - the third to be found in less than two weeks.

Elsewhere, there has been very little change around the pits this week. The Black-necked and Slavonian Grebes continue to show ell on New Diggings and the odd Great White Egret is still lingering. A juvenile/first-winter Iceland Gull was seen at Scotney on 5th. Two Smew continue to be seen on one of the pools next to the entrance the RSPB Reserve. A few Sedge Warblers and Yellow Wagtails can be seen around the peninsula.

7th April

Another cold and breezy morning with very little moving on the sea and small numbers of migrants on the land although a Hooded Crow was seen with the Carrion Crows on the beach. Of the few other bits that were around another 'Continental' Coal Tit, four Firecrests, nine Willow Warblers and three Blackcaps were of note. Three Mediterranean Gulls were feeding at the Patch and another two birds flew east.

At least two Porpoises were feeding offshore but sadly another freshly dead individual was was washed up on the beach this morning. This is the second to do so in the last ten days. A Weasel was also seen at the Long Pits.

6th April

With a strong and cold westerly wind blowing for much of the day there was very little to be seen. A handful of Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers and a couple of Firecrests were seen in the bushes. 

5th April

After a fairly slow start birds seemed to arrive throughout the morning with decent finals total including ten Firecrests, 20 Goldcrests, 70 Willow Warblers, 40 Chiffchaffs, four Blackcaps and four Redstarts. A Serin was heard as it flew over the Observatory and raptors were much in evidence with a Red Kite, four Buzzards and at least one non-resident Peregrine Falcon in the area. A Yellow Wagtail and two Sand Martins were also new for the year and a Great Spotted Woodpecker and two 'Continental' Coal Tits were seen briefly in the Old Lighthouse garden.

Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus   Dungeness    5th April 2016

The sea was very disappointing with just two Little Gulls, a Mediterranean Gull and 106 Sandwich Terns of interest..

Moth trapping provided 15 individuals of five species including this Twin-spotted Quaker. Although generally widespread and common we do not catch this speecies very often.
Twin-spotted Quaker   Orthosia munda    Dungeness    5th April 2016

4th April

After a night of thunderstorms it was hoped there might be a few grounded migrants about and by the end of the day some reasonable totals had been seen including 15 Firecrests, 26 Goldcrests and 18 Chiffchaffs along with a Willow Warbler and three Blackcaps. A party of five 'Continental' Coal Tits also flew through along with four Siskins and 90 Linnets.

Offshore passage was pretty good during the morning but had more or less finished by mid-morning. There were notable counts of 1100 Brent Geese, three Eiders, 829 Common Scoters, 17 Red-breasted Mergansers, 125 Red-throated and two Black-throated Divers, the first two Whimbrels of the year, three Arctic Skuas, 56 Little Gulls, nine Mediterranean Gulls and 307 Sandwich Terns

Five Porpoises and a Grey Seal were also seen.

3rd April

Most of the interest was offshore again where eight hours of watching produced 737 Brent Geese, nine Pintails, 14 Shovelers, three Eiders, 484 Common Scoters and 20 Red-breasted Mergansers, 62 Red-throated and seven Black-throated Divers, seven Arctic and three Great Skuas, 90 Little Gulls, eight Mediterranean Gulls, 490 Sandwich Terns and 23 Common Terns of note.

The bushes were fairly quiet with just four Firecrests, 13 Goldcrests, nine Chiffchaffs and a Willow Warbler whilst a Buzzard was the best of the few birds flying overhead.

Continuing the recent theme of birds of dubious origin, a Ring-necked Parakeet was also seen.

At least four Porpoises were feeding offshore.

2nd April

With a fresh southerly breeze blowing from first light there was a decent movement of birds moving mainly east offshore. Over seven hours of coverage through the day produced good totals of 654 Brent Geese, 913 Common Scoters, 22 Red-breasted Mergansers, 81 Red-throated Divers, 215 Gannets , 545 Sandwich Terns and 45 Common Terns whilst quality was provided by 14 Velvet Scoters, six Black-throated and two Great Northern Divers, a Manx Shearwater, four Arctic and four Great Skuas, 90 Little Gulls and eight Mediterranean Gulls.

There was a small arrival of migrants on the land with 33 Goldcrest, 16 Firecrests and four Willow Warblers in the bushes  Four Wheatears were seen on the beach between the road and the fishing boats

At least five Porpoises were feeding offshore.

1st April

After all the Firecrests of the last few days a total of 18 today seemed very small - in a normal year this would have been an above-average spring peak! Other grounded migrants were pretty scarce in the very clear conditions but three new 'Continental' Coal Tits were ringed and nine Goldcrests were also seen. There was a trickle of overhead passage with a Swallow, five Bramblings and five Siskins of note. 

'Continental' Coal Tit Periparus ater ater   Dungeness   1st April 2016
Seawatching was also extremely quiet but a juvenile/first-winter Iceland Gull was seen at the Patch this evening.

Eight Porpoises were feeding offshore.

Elsewhere, during the week a Tundra Bean Goose was seen at Dengemarsh, up to six Smew have been seen on the Boulderwall Pools and the two Black-necked and two Slavonian Grebes have been regularly seen on New Diggings. Of the migrants there have been a few Swallows around the various pits, the first Yellow Wagtails have been seen at Scotney and a Sedge Warbler has been singing near the Dengemarsh Hide.