31st January

After a damp and dreary start it eventually cleared a bit but as it did so the wind also increased. It was fairly quiet offshore during the morning but in the afternoon there were lots more birds offshore with large numbers of gulls, 50 Wigeon, around 2000 auks and a second-winter Mediterranean Gull whilst the regular first-winter Caspian Gull was seen at various times during the day.

A Grey Seal was seen offshore but unfortunately there are reports of a Porpoise being washed up in a fishing net at Lade and also "several" healthy-looking individuals being stranded and dying on the beach near the Lifeboat Station after the storms two nights ago.

30th January

A check of the land revealed a Hen Harrier hunting over the Desert and Long Pits for a short time before drifting away NW and a Firecrest in the trapping area.

At the sea it was more of the same with lots of Gannets, Kittiwakes and auks passing west, two Mediterranean Gulls feeding offshore and the first-winter Glaucous Gull still loafing around the Point and often on its own.

Porpoise was also seen.

Click here or on the image below for a short video of the Glaucous Gull.



Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus   first-winter    Dungeness   30th January 2016






29th January

Another gloomy day with increasingly strong winds and then rain limited any serious observations to the sea where there were thousands of gulls again. Birds passing west included a new first-winter Caspian Gull and seven Mediterranean Gulls along with a Red-breasted Merganser and 13 Fulmars whilst a new third-winter Caspian Gull came into the "puddles" on the beach in the afternoon. The regular first-winter Caspian and Glaucous Gulls were still present and showing well.

A Grey Seal and a Porpoise were also seen.

28th January

A new second-winter Caspian Gull was on the beach at the Patch this morning along with seven Mediterranean Gulls. The first-winter Glaucous Gull was also still present.
A Firecrest was seen in the trapping area and a Black Redstart was feeding around Westbeach.

A Grey and a Common Seal were also seen.

27th January

Another day of strong winds and frequent rain which produced a spectacular movement of gulls. Two sessions of watching totaling 6.25hrs resulted in massive totals of 38,000 Black-headed Gulls, seven Mediterranean Gulls, 9,000 Common Gulls, 3,500 Herring Gulls, two Yellow-legged Gulls and 3,816 Kittiwakes passing west. Other bits and pieces included five Gadwall, a Teal, 75 Wigeon, 25 Fulmars, 137 Gannets and a Great Skua. In addition, 43 Brent Geese flew east against the flow. The regular first-winter Caspian and Glaucous Gulls were still present but it was perhaps something of a surprise that no other rarer gulls were found.

A Common Seal and two Grey Seals were showing very well offshore.

26th January

Not a great deal to report on another very windy day except for lots of gulls offshore. The first-winter Caspian and Glaucous Gulls were still present and were joined by two Mediterranean Gulls with another eight birds and 3000 Common Gulls passing west.

Two Grey Seals were also feeding offshore.

25th January

Limited coverage as I had a day off in Holland twitching the superb Siberian Rubythroat. However, I have had reports that the sea was fairly quiet with just a few Brent Geese, three Mediterranean Gulls and a Little Gull moving east feeding offshore, another three Mediterranean Gulls feeding along the tideline and the first-winter Glaucous Gull still present. A Skylark was seen at the boats.
A Brown Hare was seen in the car headlights on the way out early this morning.



24th January

Very little change from recent days with a steady westward passage of Kittiwakes and Razorbills and the regular first-winter Caspian and Glaucous Gulls still showing well at the fishing boats.

Elsewhere, a Penduline Tit was showing well at times in the reeds at Hookers Pit.

23rd January

A damp and dreary day with most of the interest on the shore and offshore again. Large numbers of Gannets, Kittiwakes and Razorbills flew west whilst the regular Glaucous and Caspian Gulls were giving superb views on the beach. A Little Gull was also feeding offshore and a Black-throated Diver and five Gadwall flew west.
A Woodcock was flushed from the trapping area.
Glaucous and Caspian Gull 
Glaucous Gull shows quite well





Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus   first-winter  Dungeness   23rd January 2016


22nd January

A two-hour seawatch this morning was notable for a significant westerly passage of Razorbills with 3740 counted along with a few Guillemots. Good numbers of Gannets and Kittiwakes and a Pintail also flew west. The first-winter Glaucous Gull made several passes along the shoreline as we watched. However heavy rain arrived at around 0930hrs and this effectively brought an end to any passage.
The first-winter Caspian Gull was still showing well and was joined by a new third-winter bird for a few minutes in the afternoon. 
A check of the flooded areas to the east of the Long Pits produced a Jack Snipe and 14 Common Snipe.

Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans    third-winter   Dungeness   22nd January 2016
Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus   first-winter   Dungeness   22nd January 2015

21st January

With the wind freshening from the south from early morning most of the interest was offshore where four hours of watching produced two Great Skuas, 77 Kittiwakes, two Mediterranean Gulls, a Little Gull and nearly 1900 auks of which 1476 were identified as Razorbills all moving west. In addition 67 Brent Geese flew east. The first-winter Glaucous and Caspian Gulls were still present. 

A Woodcock was caught in the moat in the afternoon.  

A Grey Seal was also feeding offshore.



Woodcock Scolopax rusticola   Dungeness   21st January 2016
The Bird Observatories Council has just published its second annual newsletter with illustrated summaries of the 2015 season from all the British Bird Observatories. It is a great read and gives an insight into the rich variety of wildlife being seen and the varied work being carried out by all the different observatories across the country. It is freely available here 

20th January

Another very cold night with lots of ice around this morning. A search for snipe produced 14 Commons but no Jacks today. Three Firecrests were seen in the bushes and two Redpolls flew over.
Very quiet offshore in the flat calm conditions but the first-winter Glaucous Gull and the regular Caspian Gull were both seen.

A Common Seal was also seen.

19th January

A bright and sunny but very cold day and with much of the Long Pits and flooded areas covered in a thick layer of ice.
A couple of checks of the bushes produced two Jack Snipe, ten Common Snipe and two Woodcock whilst a Slavonian Grebe on the southern Long Pit was a very unusual sighting for the Observatory (most birds are usually seen offshore). A flock of c50 White-fronted Geese also flew SE over the area and quickly out to sea.
The first-winter Caspian Gull and Glaucous Gulls were both showing well on the beach at the Point and an adult Little Gull was feeding offshore as were large numbers of Guillemots and a few Razorbills.



Slavonian Grebe Podiceps auritus   Long Pits, Dungeness   19th January 2016

18th January

A 2.25hr seawatch this morning in a fresh SE wind produced two Red-breasted Mergansers, three Fulmars, 25 Dunlin, 58 Kittiwakes west, a Sandwich Tern and good numbers of auks including 955 Razorbills. Another watch later in the day produced 14 Mediterranean Gulls west. The first-winter Caspian Gull and Glaucous Gull were both also seen during the day.
Three Woodcocks were seen in the bushes at the Long Pits.

A Grey Seal was also seen.

Also of interest, a "Friend" of the Observatory has an almost complete set of Birding World's which he would like to give away. If you are interested in receiving them email me at dungenessobs@vfast.co.uk and I will pass on the relevant details to the current owner.

17th January

A Little Owl was seen on the power station fence at 0400hrs this morning!
Both the first-winter Caspian and Glaucous Gulls were seen at more sensible times during the day.

16th January

A very cold but bright and sunny day was relatively uneventful with decent numbers of Gannets, Great Crested Grebes and Guillemots feeding offshore and the regular first-winter Caspian Gull still present the only birds of note.
Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans   first-winter   Dungeness
I wonder if this might be the most photographed individual gull in the world?

15th January

Most of the interest was with the gulls again. The first-winter Glaucous Gull was still present and showing very well along with the the first-winter Caspian Gull. An adult Little Gull and two Mediterranean Gulls were feeding offshore. A Long-tailed Duck offshore was also of note.

The Patch was quite busy this morning!

Glaucous Gull Larus hyperborseu    juvenile/first-winter    Dungeness    15th January 2016 (Simon Davies)

Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla    adult   Dungeness   15th January 2016 (Simon Davies)

On the Reserve, the Penduline Tits were seen at Hookers but are still generally elusive.

14th January

Two Firecrests and a Chiffchaff were seen in the trapping area but it was really the gulls that stole the show today. Three adult Little Gulls were feeding at the Patch in the morning and the first-winter Caspian Gull was around the fishing boats or the "Fish Hut" all day. However, around mid-day a first-winter Glaucous Gull was found on the beach only to be joined by a second-winter bird later in the afternoon. Both were very approachable as the following series of photographs illustrates.







Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus   First-winter   Dungeness    14th January 2016





Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus    second-winter   Dungeness   14th January 2016
Elsewhere, the two Penduline Tits were seen again at Hookers on the RSPB Reserve but they remain very elusive.



13th January

The first-winter Caspian Gull remains around the "Fish Hut" whilst three Mediterranean and two adult Little Gulls were feeding at the Patch. A Shag and 270 Great Crested Grebes were seen off the fishing boats. Two Black Redstarts feeding around Westbeach Cottage were the first of the year and two Stonechats were also seen.

Large numbers of Barrel Jellyfish were being left by the falling tide on the beach at Greatstone.


Barrel Jellyfish   Greatstone Beach

12th January

A bright and cold morning for a change encouraged a check of the bushes but this proved disappointing with just a single Firecrest of interest. Very quiet offshore although a Merlin was seen and the first-winter Caspian Gull was present as usual.

After all the rain of recent days the Desert so longer looks like one.
A very wet Desert


11th January

More wind and rain for most of the day. The morning seawatch produced 203 Gannets, a Great Skua, 16 Little Gulls and 109 Kittiwakes whilst the first-winter Caspian Gull was still present and two Little Gulls were feeding at the Patch in the afternoon.

Every time I see this bird I say to myself enough is enough, I am not going to take any more pictures, but it is hard to resist when it shows so well.

Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans   first-winter    Dungeness   11th January 2016

10th January

Not much to report today on yet another day of strong winds and frequent torrential rain. A Little Gull flew west and the usual first-winter Caspian Gull was still at the Point.

A Grey Seal was seen.

Elsewhere, the two Penduline Tits showed again at Hookers but remained generally elusive.

9th January


A return to the windy conditions limited observations to the beach again where a three hour watch this morning saw an interesting movement of birds including an Eider, three Red-breasted Mergansers, 29 Red-throated Diver, another Great Northern Diver, 106 Gannets, three Great Skuas, 23 Little Gulls and 72 Razorbills whilst a Velvet Scoter and an Arctic Skua were lingering offshore. In the afternoon another Great Skua came onto the beach to partake of the offerings put out to attract the gulls. It was oiled and clearly not 100% but feeding well enough and able to keep Great Black-backed Gulls at bay so hopefully it will survive. A Pintail also flew west in the afternoon and the regular first-winter Caspian Gull was present throughout the day. 

A Grey Seal was also seen.




Great Skua Stercorarius skua   Dungeness   9th January 2016
Elsewhere, at least one of the Penduline Tits was seen again from the viewing ramp at Hookers Pit on the RSPB Reserve.

8th January

The morning seawatch produced a Velvet Scoter, two Great Northern Divers, four Little Gulls, 67 Kittiwakes, 377 Guillemots and 146 Razorbills of note in 3.5hrs.
The first-winter Caspian Gull was still present.

There is plenty of interest around the pits with the Reserve holding a few Smew including a drake, a mobile Slavonian Grebe, up to three Shags on Burrowes Pit, the Long-eared Owl still showing well behind the dipping pond and up to two Penduline Tits seen from the viewing ramp at Hookers on two days during the week. The very large goose flock at Scotney includes a Tundra Bean Goose and up to 25 White-fronted Geese and a Black-necked Grebe can be seen at the northern end of the pit. A minimum of five Great White Egrets are present across the area.

7th January

A three-hour seawatch this morning resulted in a nice movement of Little Gulls with 120 birds passing west close inshore which ended almost as soon as soon as the weather cleared and the wind veered into the west. Interestingly only one of them was a first-year bird, the rest all being adults. A single Great Skua, a Red-breasted Merganser, 58 Kittiwakes and a few Gannets and auks also flew west whilst 31 Teal, 124 Oystercatchers, a Knot and four Mediterranean Gulls flew east.
The regular first-winter Caspian Gull was showing very well again and despite my better judgement I couldn't resist taking yet more pictures of it.
Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans   first-winter   Dungeness   7th January 2016
Whilst watching the Caspian Gull this Great Black-backed Gull also came to the offering of bread. Most of the black/white colour-ringed birds we see here come from southern Norway or Denmark but this one was ringed on 21st July 2014 well north of the Arctic Circle at Orndalen, Tromso, Norway.
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus   2nd winter   Dungeness   7th January 2016
Elsewhere, and surprisingly given the strong winds and heavy rain, one of the Penduline Tits was seen again from the viewing ramp at Hookers Pit this morning.