Dungeness Bird Observatory would like to wish all our Friends and supporters a very Happy Christmas and Best Wishes for 2018
Any Friends in the area are invited to Mince Pies and Mulled Wine on Saturday 16th December between 3.00 and 4.00pm


10th Dec

A day of awful weather with Force 8-9 winds at times and frequent heavy rain through the morning (although no snow). Coverage was mostly limited to a brief seawatch which produced a single Great Skua. A first-winter Caspian Gull was also seen on the beach.

More gull-watching on the RSPB Reserve eventually produced a total of seven Caspian Gulls.

9th Dec

A bitterly cold morning and very little to be seen offshore or in the bushes.

Efforts were in part concentrated on the RSPB Reserve where the gull roost continues to provide plenty of interest with several Caspian Gulls seen and including this colour-ringed bird. It was originally ringed at Lviv in Ukraine as a nestling in 2015 and was first seen at Dungeness later in that year. Nice evidence of a returning wintering individual.

Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans   third-winter   RSPB Reserve   9th December 2017
Yellow with black code HCL23  - a Ukranian-ringed bird.

8th Dec

A 1.5hrs seawatch this morning produced 333 Red-throated Divers and three Great Skuas of note and three Merlins also flew through. A check of the Patch saw many thousands of feeding gulls and included three Caspian Gulls and a Yellow-legged Gull. One of the Caspian Gulls, a second-winter bird, was bearing a yellow colour ring, and this bird appeared later on the RSPB Reserve where it could be read.
Very quiet on the land although a Dartford Warbler was seen again at the Point. 

7th Dec

A very wet and windy day making observations almost impossible. The best of a two-hour seawatch were just 12 Fulmars and a Mediterranean Gull. An adult Yellow-legged Gull was in the gull roost.

A Porpoise was seen offshore.

Seven Caspian Gulls and three Yellow-legged Gulls came into the roost on the RSPB Reserve this evening.

6th Dec

There were plenty of birds offshore this morning with three Great Skuas of note along with good numbers of Red-throated Diver, Gannets and Guillemots and a check of the Patch produced a third-winter Caspian Gull.
Two Grey Wagtails made a brief stop at the power station sewage treatment unit and a Firecrest and a Bullfinch were seen in the trapping area.

Two Porpoises were also seen offshore.

There was another excellent roost of gulls on Burrowes Pit this evening with at least ten Caspian Gulls and five Yellow-legged Gulls being seen.

5th Dec

There was a bit of movement offshore this morning with a Velvet Scoter, two Shags, six Great Skuas and a Sandwich Tern of note along with good numbers of Red-throated Divers, Gannets and auks.

Two Porpoises were feeding offshore.

The new islands in front of Firth Hide on the RSPB Reserve are providing plenty of opportunities to study gulls. Today there were at least seven Caspian Gulls, an adult Yellow-legged Gull and a Herring Gull which had been ringed on Hornoya Island in the Varanger Fjord and almost as far north as you can get in Europe. Weather conditions were not great for photography but a selection are shown below.


Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans   adult and first-winter   RSPB Reserve   5th December 2017
Herring Gull Larus argentatus spp argentatus   3rd winter   RSPB Reserve   5th December 2017
This colour-ringed bird (JU651) was ringed at Hornoya Island at the entrance to Varanger Fjord in northern Norway

A Larus League of Nations.   RSPB Reserve   5th December 2017
In this image is a Caspian Gull, a Yellow-legged Gull and the norwegian-ringed Herring Gull amongst Lesser Black-backed Gulls, more typical Herring Gulls and Great Back-backed Gulls.



4th Dec

Very quiet. A Dartford Warbler and a Merlin were seen at the Point again but there was barely any movement offshore and nothing of note in the trapping area.

A Grey Seal was feeding offshore.

Elsewhere, the Cattle Egret was feeding in the fields near Boulderwall Farm and a Long-eared Owl returned to the regular roost site behind the Dipping Pond on the RSPB Reserve. 

3rd Dec

Very quiet. A Dartford Warbler and a Merlin were seen at the Point again but there was barely any movement offshore and nothing of note in the trapping area.

A Grey Seal was feeding offshore again.

The Cattle Egret was still feeding in the fields at Boulderwall and a Long-eared Owl has reappeared in its roost site behind the Dipping Pond.  

2nd Dec

There was a bit of movement offshore this morning which included 72 Wigeon, 105 Teal, two Shovelers and a Red-breasted Merganser and 155 Red-throated Divers whilst a Great Skua, 27 Kittiwakes and a Mediterranean Gull were loitering. In addition, an adult Yellow-legged Gull was in the roost at the Point.
A check of the land was fairly unproductive but 250 Starlings arrived and a Bullfinch was seen again in the trapping area.

3rd Dec

Little to report. A Velvet Scoter and a few Red-throated Divers passed west and a late Sandwich Tern was seen. A Merlin was hunting around the beach again. 

A Grey Seal was also seen.

1st Dec

Another wintry morning with a cold NW wind and frequent heavy, sleety showers passing through. This induced a small movement of birds coming in including 48 Fieldfares, 18 Redwings and a Reed Bunting. A Merlin was also hunting along the beach. There was also a bit of movement offshore with 42 Wigeon, 113 Teal, 14 Shovelers, four Great Skuas and a Mediterranean Gull of note.
The bird of the day though was a Rough-legged Buzzard which flew north over the Long Pits this afternoon and continued on its way past Lade and eventually out of sight. 

Elsewhere, the Cattle Egret was still feeding in the fields south of Boulderwall Farm and a Black-necked Grebe, a Spotted Redshank and an adult Caspian Gull were seen on Burrowes.

30th Nov

A bitterly cold day with light snow during the morning and an increasing, biting wind in the afternoon. The cold weather seemed to induce a few birds to move with a Snipe, 35 Fieldfares, 17 Redwings and 40 Blackbirds arriving. Two Firecrests and four Bullfinches were also seen in the bushes and a Merlin was hunting along the beach.
A check of the Patch in the afternoon produced three Mediterranean Gulls.

Snow at Dungeness this morning.
Not much to be seen in all honesty but even this small amount is fairly significant in comparison to most recent years.

29th Nov

A very cold morning produced a few birds on the land with two Fieldfares, seven Redwings, five Bramblings and the first Snow Bunting of the autumn/winter passing overhead. The Bullfinch was seen in the trapping area again.
There was very little movement offshore but a Great Skua and a Mediterranean Gull were lingering. Three Merlins were also seen hunting around the beach.  

28th Nov

A quiet day. Seawatching produced a Little Egret, three Great Skuas and a Mediterranean Gull of note whilst a Chiffchaff and a Bullfinch were seen in the trapping area.

The Cattle Egret continues to be seen on the RSPB Reserve.

27th Nov

A miserable day of wind and rain and not much to be seen although coverage was very limited. The only bird of note was a Great Skua which flew west this morning.

The Cattle Egret was still showing well along the access road to the RSPB Reserve and at least seven Caspian Gulls were seen on Burrowes Pit this afternoon.here 

26th Nov

Over 1200 Gannets passed west this morning and this afternoon there were 200 Kittiwakes, two Caspian Gulls and singles of Mediterranean and Yellow-legged Gulls feeding at the fishing boats.
Quiet on the land with just a Chiffchaff and a Bullfinch in the trapping area and 37 Goldfinches passing overhead of note. 

A late Red Admiral was also seen.

Elsewhere, the Cattle Egret was still being seen around Boulderwall Farm on the RSPB Reserve..

25th Nov

Another day with a few bits and pieces to be seen. Seawatching produced a Great Northern Diver, a party of three Goosanders, a Shag, a Great Skua and two Mediterranean Gulls of note. There was also a bit of movement overhead with 550 Starlings, four Bramblings, 70 Chaffinches and 12 Siskin counted whilst a Woodcock and two Firecrests were seen in the trapping area. A Dartford Warbler was seen in the broom and gorse near the Fish Hut.

Common Darters continue to be seen.

24th Nov

A few bits and pieces were seen including a Velvet Scoter, two Merlins, a Great Skua offshore, the two regular Dartford Warblers around the Point and a Brambling overhead.

The Cattle Egret was still showing very well around the cattle at Boulderwall Farm.

23rd Nov

Very quiet in stormy conditions. A first-winter Caspian Gull among the throng at the Patch was the only bird of note.

The Cattle Egret was showing very well in the field just south of Boulderwall Farm on the RSPB Reserve and four Caspian Gulls were found in the evening roost on Burrowes Pit.

22nd Nov

An increasingly windy day making observations difficult. Seawatching produced a Velvet Scoter, 400 Gannets and nine Great Northern Divers (one flock) whilst three Caspian Gulls, an adult and two first-winters, were feeding at the Patch. Land birds were few and far between but a Rock Pipit was feeding among the rocks behind the Patch Hide.

A Grey Seal was feeding offshore and there were still good numbers of Common Darters on the wing in the sheltered sunny spots.

The rough conditions brought huge numbers of gulls on to Burrowes Pit to roost this evening and included eight Caspian Gulls and seven Yellow-legged Gulls and a remarkable total of at least 5000 Great Black-backed Gulls.

21st Nov

A Pomarine Skua, three Great Skuas and a late Sandwich Tern flew west this morning and a Little Gull was feeding at the Patch.
Dartford Warblers were seen at the north end of the recording area and near the Britannia Pub and a Bullfinch was seen in the trapping area. A Grey Wagtail and five Siskins also flew over.

20th Nov

The only bird of note that I have heard of was a Blackcap in the garden of Southview Cottage.

19th Nov

The best bird of the day was a Great White Egret which came in from the east this morning. Two Firecrests were also seen on otherwise quiet day but also with reduced coverage.

18th Nov

A very quiet morning on the land although two Common Redpolls flew over and a Bullfinch was seen in the trapping area.
The sea was also very quiet this morning but two Caspian Gulls were seen at the fishing boats in the afternoon.

Elsewhere, two Cattle Egrets were seen with the cattle at Dengemarsh.

17th Nov


The two Dartford Warblers were still showing around the Point and a Bullfinch was in the trapping area but there was very little else to be seen today. Birds passing overhead included four Skylarks, ten Fieldfares, a Rock Pipit, seven Bramblings, eight Redpolls and three Siskins.
The sea was very quiet except for good numbers of feeding Gannets.




Dartford Warbler Sylvia undata   Dungeness   17th November 2017
Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus   Dungeness   17th November 2017
This was also hunting around the Point but seemed more interested in Starlings than Dartford Warblers.

There were only five moths in the trap but did they did include the pyralid Palpita vitrealis and a Common Darter dragonfly was still on the wing.

A Brown Hare was also seen.

Elsewhere, the Cattle Egret and 18 Great White Egrets came in to roost at the ARC Pit this evening.

16th Nov

Not a great deal in the way of migrants in the bushes with just ten Fieldfares, four Redwings, a Brambling and a few Redpolls and Siskins passing overhead. Two Merlins were also hunting in the area and five Ravens were also seen.
There was also very little movement offshore with just a Great Skua in the morning of note. In the afternoon there were plenty of birds feeding offshore including 200 Kittiwakes and seven Mediterranean Gulls.

The moth-trap produced an interesting diving beetle - Dytiscus semisulcatus. This is quite a rare beetle on the marsh although it is described as common nationally but perhaps preferring more acidic habitats.


Dytiscus semisulcatus   Dungeness   16th November 2017

15th Nov

A pretty quiet day with just six Bullfinches in the trapping area, 12 Siskins overhead and the two regular Dartford Warblers of note on the land.
Seawatching produced just a Great Skua and four Mediterranean Gulls of interest.

A Scarce Umber was caught overnight in the moth trap and is only the third Observatory record along with a Udea ferrugalis and a ridiculously late Dark Arches.
A Small Copper was also seen.
Scarce Umber Agriopis aurantiarina   Dungeness   15th November 2017

14th Nov

Most of the days interest was offshore. Nearly five hours of watching (mostly from first light) produced 18 Shelduck, two Velvet Scoters, an Eider, six Red-breasted Mergansers, 11 Great Skuas, three Sandwich Terns and seven Mediterranean Gulls while passerines coming in included two Skylarks, 3220 Starlings and 193 Chaffinches. A Bullfinch was seen in the trapping area and a Grey Wagtail also flew over.


Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca and Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator
Dungeness   14th November 2017

A Grey Seal was also seen.

13th Nov

Another decent November day. There was a fair bit offshore (although mostly lingering) with 200 Gannets, three Sandwich Terns, 68 Mediterranean Gulls and 350 Kittiwakes but with a Velvet Scoter,  an Eider and two Great Skuas passing through. A Purple Sandpiper also flew west but this was presumably the bird found on the groyne at Dengemarsh Gully later in the day.
There were at least two Dartford Warblers in the broom and gorse around the Point along with five Stonechats, one of which looked odd but was presumably a spp rubicola. Other bits passing through included a Grey Plover, two Lapwings, 1500 Starlings, 28 Fieldfares, two Grey Wagtails and two Bramblings. A Woodcock was also flushed from the moat and two Buzzards were hunting at the north end of the Long Pits.

A Common Seal was also feeding offshore and two Red Admirals were seen despite the cold conditions. 



Dartford Warbler Sylvia undata   Dungeness   13th November 2017
This bird was even singing at times this afternoon





Stonechat Saxicola rubicola rubicola   first-winter male  Dungeness   13th November 2017
Another odd-looking Stonechat. At times the rump looked unstreaked but photos clearly show otherwise and therefore presumably eliminates Siberian Stonechat as does the pattern of the underwing coverts.

12th Nov

A quieter morning on the sea but still with a few duck including 16 Red-breasted Mergansers, singles of Arctic and Great Skuas, three Sandwich Terns, two Little Gulls and two Mediterranean Gulls and the Grey Phalarope still present. 
Five Bullfinches were of note in the trapping area and over 1000 Starlings and four Fieldfares also came in.

Three Porpoises and a Grey Seal were seen again. 

11th Nov

A dank, dreary day but with a fair bit of activity offshore and a few birds on the land. 
The Grey Phalarope was still present and other notable birds at sea included two Sooty Shearwaters east, two Great Northern Divers (both together on the sea), two Shags, 1000+ Gannets, a Great Skua, a Little Gull and ten Mediterranean Gulls.
At least two Dartford Warblers were found around the Point whilst a Firecrest was seen at the north end of the Long Pits along with a Blackcap, eight Redwings and a Bullfinch.

Two Porpoises and a Grey Seal were also seen offshore.

Elsewhere, a Cattle Egret reappeared in the fields at Boulderwall Farm on the RSPB Reserve.

10th Nov

A much quieter day today with just a trickle of birds passing overhead, very few birds in the bushes and barely any movement offshore.
The Grey Phalarope was still feeding offshore between the two hides and five Mediterranean Gulls were also lingering around the Patch. Two Bullfinches in the bushes and seven Brambling overhead were about the best on the land.

Several Red Admirals and plenty of Common Darter dragonflies were still on the wing.

9th Nov

Yesterday afternoon a single call was heard on seven occasions at various locations between the Pumphouse and the middle of the trapping area which was thought to be that of a Hume's Warbler and eventually the briefest of views of a dull-looking "yellow-browed warbler" was had. Despite three of us then searching the trapping area until dark there were no further calls or sightings and it looked like it would be one that got away. 
However, after opening the last of the regular nets this morning the same distinctive call was heard and a brief but reasonable view of the bird was had. A few minutes later the bird found its way into a net when it was now possible to confirm its identity as a Humes's Warbler.







Hume's Warbler Phylloscopus humei   Dungeness   9th November 2017
After ringing, taking notes and photographing the bird it was released back into the trapping area. It was heard calling at 1130 but was not seen again This is the third Observatory (and the first to be caught) and ninth Kent record.

Other migrants on the ground and overhead were very scarce with just two Firecrests, 25 Goldcrests, two Chiffchaffs, two Bramblings, a Bullfinch and 35 Redpolls of any interest.

The Grey Phalarope was feeding offshore between the Patch and the Point this afternoon but the sea was otherwise very quiet with just a Velvet Scoter, two Red-breasted Mergansers, a Sandwich Tern and nine Mediterranean Gulls west and four more lingering of note.


8th Nov

A Yellow-browed Warbler in the trapping area and the Grey Phalarope still present offshore were the highlights of the day. There was also a small arrival of migrants on the land with six Firecrests, a Ring Ouzel, 40 Blackbirds and three Bullfinches of note. A seawatch in the morning produced three Eider, four Sandwich Terns, a late Common Tern, a Little Gull and seven Mediterranean Gulls.

7th Nov

A very interesting day with a sizable and varied movement offshore and a scatter of migrants arriving on the land.

A Yellow-browed Warbler was found in the afternoon in the garden of Southview Cottage and a Woodcock was caught in the moat. A few thrushes also arrived, two Firecrests and a Bullfinch were seen in the trapping area and 5930 Starlings passed through.

Coverage of the sea for most of the day produced a decent movement of ducks and waders and several unusual birds. The highlight was a Grey Phalarope but also of note were a very late Black Tern along with 12 Sandwich Terns and 20 Mediterranean Gulls. Ducks seen included 156 Wigeon, two Gadwall, 152 Teal, 92 Pintail and eight Red-breasted Mergansers and a Grey Plover, 110 Dunlins, a Redshank, a Snipe and a Great Skua were also seen. Two Yellow-legged Gulls were also lingering offshore. 

Grey Phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius   Dungeness  7th November 2017
Mediterranean Gulls Larus melanocephalus   Dungeness   7th November 2017

Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis   Dungeness   7th November 2017
Teal Anas crecca   Dungeness   7th November 2017
A Grey Seal was feeding offshore and a Brown Hare was seen on the beach.

6th Nov

The coldest morning of the autumn so far with clear skies and a heavy frost overnight resulted in a light passage of birds overhead including 15 Skylarks, 36 Fieldfares, five Song Thrushes, a Grey Wagtail, a Rock Pipit, ten Bramblings and a few Chaffinches, Siskins and Redpolls. A Woodcock and three Snipe also arrived.
At least two Dartford Warblers were still present and following Stonechats around, a Bullfinch was seen in the trapping area and a party of 12 Long-tailed Tits (migrants?) dropped into the moat.
The local pair of Ravens were around again and appear to be re-establishing their breeding territory. 
Very quiet offshore with a just a single Eider of interest. 
 


Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus   Dungeness   6th November 2017 (Gill Hollamby) 


Dartford Warbler Sylvia undata   Dungeness   6th November 2017
Three Red Admirals and a Small Copper were still on the wing.

Elsewhere, the Dotterel was seen again at both Scotney and at ARC and at least 17 Great White Egrets came into the evening roost at ARC.