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Local weather


The Observatory can accommodate up to 9 people in two dormitories, you need to bring your own sleeping bags and it is self-catering. As well as Birdwatchers, we welcome people from many areas of interest including Moths, Butterflies, Bugs and Beetles or just a general interest in Nature and the local environment. Please forward any Dungeness recording area records to the Warden.
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31st May

Another cold, very windy and occasionally wet day restricted any serious observations to the sea and the Patch again. The first-summer Herring x Glaucous Gull was present all day and was joined by two Caspian Gulls (a first-summer and a second-summer) in the afternoon. The same Arctic Skua as yesterday, three Mediterranean Gulls, three Little Terns and two Black Terns were also feeding there along with 800 Common Terns

A Grey Seal was also seen.

30th May

A day of strong north-west winds limited observations on both the land and at sea. The Patch was the most productive area with the first-summer white-winged gull showing again (which having seen it again today I think is more than likely an Iceland Gull rather than a Glaucous Gull as previously reported). Also feeding here were five Mediterranean Gulls, a Yellow-legged Gull and two Black Terns of interest. An Arctic Skua was also chasing terns offshore and a Great Skua flew east.

In addition, 180 Swifts also arrived from the south.

Two Porpoises and a Grey Seal were seen offshore.

Iceland Gull Larus glaucoides   first-summer   Dungeness   30th May 2016

29th May

The first-summer Glaucous Gull was seen at the Patch again during the morning but there was very little else to report on a very breezy day.

A family party of Stoats was seen in the trapping area again and a Brown Hare was seen at the entrance to the estate.

Single of Grizzled Skipper and Brown Argus were the only butterflies of note.

28th May

A very quiet morning in the trapping area was enlivened from 0800hrs by the finding of a superb red Common Rosefinch. It then showed on and off for most of the day either at the south-western corner of the trapping area or in the moat and was frequently singing. This is the 12th Observatory record and the first since 2010. Little else was noted other than a Black Tern at the Patch and a Cuckoo..

Three Grizzled Skippers and a Brown Argus were also seen.

Click here for a bit of shaky video of the Common Rosefinch.

Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus   Dungeness   28th May 2016
I have also just received some nice images of the Laughing Gull from Keith Gabriel - one of which is shown below.

Laughing Gull and admirers   Dungeness    26th May 2016 (Keith Gabriel)

27th May

The Patch continues to provide most of the interest with the unusual record of a first-summer Glaucous Gull present throughout the morning as well as three Mediterranean Gulls, a Yellow-legged Gull, a Little Tern and three Black Terns.
A Jay was heard in the trapping area.

A Porpoise and a Grey Seal were seen.

Butterflies seen during the day included nine Grizzled Skippers and a Brown Argus.

Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus   first-summer   Dungeness   27th May 2016

26th May

Virtually all of the days interest was in the Laughing Gull first seen yesterday at Hastings which duly arrived at the Patch this morning. It remained throughout the day and occasionally gave fantastic views. This is the sixth Observatory record of this American gull. There were also six Mediterranean Gulls feeding at the Patch during the day.
The only birds of note in the trapping area were a couple of migrant Reed Warblers.

Click here for a video of the Laughing Gull.

Four Grizzled Skippers were seen in the area along with good numbers of Common Blues and Small Heaths.

Laughing Gull Larus atricilla   adult   Dungeness   26th May 2016

25th May

Very little to report. A Mediterranean Gull and a Yellow-legged Gull were seen at the Patch and a Corn Bunting flew over the Observatory.

One Grizzled Skipper was seen.

Late in the afternoon we heard about an adult Laughing Gull on the beach at Hastings so a quick visit was made to see it. We had fantastic views of this beauty for about ten minutes before it disappeared whilst we were distracted rescuing some Herring Gulls from an enclosed sports court. Perhaps it will find its way to the Patch in the next day or so.

Laughing Gull Larus atricilla   adult   Hastings   25th May 2016

24th May

Very quiet. A Buzzard and a Hobby overhead and a Garden Warbler and two Spotted Flycatchers in the bushes were about the only birds worth mentioning on the land whilst the only bird of note at the Patch was the adult hybrid Black-headed x Mediterranean Gull. (See below).

Black-headed Gull x Mediterranean Gull Larus ridibundus x melanocephalus hybrid   adult   Dungeness   240516 

Butterflies included two Brown Argus, three Grizzled Skippers and a big increase in the number of Large Whites in the area.

23rd May

Frequent torrential downpours made for difficult conditions but there was no sign of any migrants on the land. There were plenty of birds feeding at the Patch again including four Mediterranean Gulls and three Yellow-legged Gulls (all second-summers).

One Porpoise was seen.

There was no sign of yesterdays Gull-billed Tern.

22nd May

A Pomarine Skua and a Great Skua flew east this morning and a first-summer Mediterranean Gull was feeding at the Patch but very little else was seen offshore.
A Spotted Flycatcher was seen on the land.

No question about the bird of the day though when a Gull-billed Tern was found in the early afternoon on Burrowes Pit on the RSPB Reserve. It then gave excellent views until around 1900hrs when it flew north. The views were just a bit distant for really good photographs but a selection of some reasonable shots are shown below.

Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica    Burrowes Pit, RSPB   22nd May 2016

21st May

Another very quiet day. Large numbers of gulls and terns were feeding at the Patch and included a second-summer Yellow-legged Gull but very little else was seen.

Three Brown Hares were seen near the fishing boats.

Only two Grizzled Skippers could be found but conditions were far from ideal for looking for them.

20th May

Seawatching was very slow but did produce a Great Northern Diver whilst large numbers of birds feeding at the Patch included a first-summer Mediterranean Gull and four Yellow-legged Gull and a first-summer individual among around 400 Common Terns.
A Garden Warbler was singing in the area.

If its is possible to have a favourite Cormorant then the individual shown below is it. It was colour-ringed with 8E3 as a chick at a nest in Denmark in June 2000. It is therefore a sinensis bird and has been seen in most years at Dungeness since 2006.

Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo sinensis   8E3   Dungeness   20th May 2016
A family party of Stoats gave some fantastic entertainment at the southern end of the trapping area.

Stoat Mustela erminea   Dungeness   20th May 2016
Click here for video of the Stoats: (It was a bit windy - you may want to turn the volume down).

More checking of the butterflies produced a Holly Blue in the trapping area and another variant Small Copper in the moat.

Holly Blue Celastrina argiolus and Small Copper Lycaeana phlaeas   Dungeness   20th May 2016
Note the larger than normal black spotting on the forewing.

19th May

Very little to report today. There were large numbers of Common Terns feeding at the Patch and an easterly movement of Gannets during the morning and also two Shovelers and five Little Terns but very little else to be seen. 

Two Porpoises were feeding offshore.

18th May

With a fresh southerly breeze most of the interest was offshore this morning before a band of rain arrived and the wind veered south-westerly and virtually ended any movement. A total of 7.5 hrs of seawatching produced seven Pomarine Skuas and two Great Northern Divers of note along with a Velvet Scoter, a Black-throated Diver, 22 Fulmars, a Manx Shearwater, 50 Sanderlings, eight Arctic Skuas, three Great Skuas and five Little Terns.

Very little on the land other than a steady trickle of Swallows arriving during the morning.

Three Porpoises were feeding offshore.

17th May

Another very quiet day at Dungeness but the morning's seawatching produced a Pomarine Skua and an adult Black-headed Gull x Mediterranean Gull hybrid as well as three typical Mediterranean Gulls feeding offshore. An Arctic Skua flew west this evening. There was nothing of note in the bushes.

Black-headed x Mediterranean Gull Larus ridibundus x melanocephalus   hybrid   adult   Dungeness   17th May 2016    

Butterflies continue to provide plenty of interest with this superb aberrant form of Small Copper var radiata and at least 17 Grizzled Skippers.
A Dark Swordgrass was caught in the moth trap last night.
Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas var radiata   Dungeness   17th May 2016
The third year in sucession that this rare aberration has been seen at Dungeness

Six Porpoises were feeding offshore this evening and two Brown Hares were seen during the day.

16th May

A trickle of birds flew east during the day with a drake Garganey, 22 Sanderlings, two Great Skuas, two Little Terns and a Black Tern of note. It was very quiet on the land but a Firecrest in the lighthouse garden was a new arrival and a Hobby, two Yellow Wagtails and a Corn Bunting flew over.

On the butterfly front, both Brown Argus and Common Blue were new for the year and a count of 20 Grizzled Skippers was particularly noteworthy. 

Brown Argus Aricia agestis and Grizzled Skipper Pyrgus malvae   Dungeness   16th May 20th
The more one looks at Small Coppers the greater the variation/aberrations that one finds. Three of the more distinctive ones seen today are shown below.

Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas    Dungeness   16th May 2016
The first individual shows the forewings diistinctly paler than the orange in the hindwing, In the second note the blue spots and short dagger -like intrusions from the orange hindwing band into the mid-section of the wing in the first and the extensive intrusions into the mid-wing on the third individual. 
Two Porpoises were seen offshore.

Another of Dungeness' nationally scarce plants, Yellow Vetch Vicia lutea, has just come into flower close to the Observatory.

Yellow Vetch Vicia lutea    Dungeness   16th May 2016

15th May

A singing Firecrest in the trapping area and a couple of Hobbies and a Grey Wagtail, a Siskin and two Corn Buntings overhead were about the only birds of any note today.

A Holly Blue and nine Grizzled Skippers were seen in the trapping area.

14th May

A Black Tern was feeding offshore and a Garden Warbler and a Spotted Flycatcher in the bushes were the only birds of note on a very quiet day.

Five Porpoises were feeding offshore.

13th May

Another day with very few migrants on the land but they did include some quality with a Serin, a Hen Harrier, four Marsh Harriers, two Red Kites and a Hobby and three Spotted Flycatchers.
The sea was also quiet with just two Manx Shearwaters, an Arctic Skua, a Pomarine Skua and two Spotted Flycatchers of interest.

Serin Serinus serinus   Dungeness   13th May 2016 (David Campbell)

Six Porpoises were feeding offshore.

Butterflies seen during the day included a Brimstone, the first Painted Lady of the year and seven Grizzled Skippers.

The two Red-eared Terrapins were seen again at the Long Pits.

Following on from the Bearded Iris shown earlier another Iris was found in flower at the Long Pits. This one is Dutch Iris and appears to be another new species for the area.

Dutch Iris Iris hollandicus   Dungeness   13th May 2016

12th May

A very small arrival of migrants this morning included a Firecrest, 12 Chiffchaffs, two Garden Warblers and a Spotted Flycatcher whilst birds passing overhead included a Hobby, 63 Swallows and two Corn Buntings.
The sea was very quiet with just 36 Whimbrels, two Arctic Skuas and a Black Tern of note.

Nine Porpoises and a Grey Seal were seen offshore and a Stoat and a Brown Hare were seen on the land.

A Brimstone butterfly was seen  at the Point.

11th May

A foggy day, especially along the shoreline, which made observations at sea very difficult but in the occasional breaks there were clearly good numbers of Common Terns still moving through along with 17 Sanderlings, a Pomarine Skua, at least six Mediterranean Gulls, six Black Terns and 11 Little Terns.
There was a very small arrival of migrants on the land with a Common Sandpiper, a Turtle Dove (see image below), a Sedge Warbler and three Spotted Flycatchers of particular note. A Buzzard flew over the area.

Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur   Dungeness  11th May 2016 (David Campbell)
In addition, I have just received the ringing details from the BTO of a Belgian-ringed Coal Tit which we caught at Dungeness on 1st October 2015. It was originally ringed at Jonkershove, West-Vlaanderen just four days before on 27th September 2015. This individual is shown below.
Coal Tit Periparus ater ater   Dungeness   1st October 2015 14263889    

There were at least 12 Porpoises feeding offshore along with singles of Common Seal and Grey Seal.

This slightly odd-looking Small Copper was also seen. It would appear to be outside the normal range of variation but not sure if it is a named aberration.

Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas  variant   Dungeness   11th May 2016  

The Early Purple Orchids are still in pretty good condition.
Early Purple Orchid Orchis mascula   Dungeness   11th May 2016

Not rare and clearly a garden escape, nevertheless there are several patches of Bearded Iris growing around the Point and they make for a spectacular splash of colour.

Bearded Iris Iris germanica   Dungeness   11th May 2016