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Local weather


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31st Mar

A remarkably quiet day despite the seemingly decent conditions with hardly a migrant on the land and very little passage offshore.
Seven Chiffchaffs were seen in the bushes whilst seven Shovelers, an Eider and six Mediterranean Gulls flew east. One of the regular Iceland Gulls was seen at the Patch. 

30th Mar

There was a small arrival of early migrants on the land with seven Firecrests, 20 Chiffchaffs, three Willow Warblers and three Wheatears of note.
A steady easterly flow of birds on the sea during the day included two Gadwall, 11 Pintail, ten Shovelers, 315 Common and two Velvet Scoters, 118 Red-throated Divers, a Great Northern Diver, two Arctic Skuas, a Great Skua, nine Little Gulls, four Mediterranean Gulls and 340 Sandwich Terns and also an Osprey passing east a long way out to sea.this morning.
The two regular Iceland Gulls were still feeding at the Patch.

Three Porpoises were seen offshore.

Four species of butterfly were seen including the first Red Admiral of the year and several Light Orange Underwings were seen flying around Aspens at the Long Pits again.

Light Orange Underwing Archiearis notha   Long Pits   30th March 2017

29th Mar

A generally quiet day on both land and sea.

The first Sand Martin of the year was seen along with a Swallow, two Firecrests, 11 Chiffchaffs, three Song Thrushes, four Wheatears and a Siskin

The best of the seawatching were just six Pintails, five Velvet Scoters and 100 Red-throated DiversThe two Iceland Gulls and two Mediterranean Gulls were feeding at the Patch again but the most striking bird there was this aberrant first-winter Common Gull

Common Gull Larus canus   firstiwnter  abb   Dungeness   29th March 2017
Some ppor quality shots taken at long range in poor light over the Patch but they do show how distinctive this individual was.
A Grey Seal was seen.

A handful of moths trapped overnight included this Red Chestnut. A Hummingbird Hawk-moth also made a brief appearance in the Observatory garden.

Red Chestnut  Ceratis rubricosa   Dungeness   29th March 2017

28th Mar

Thick fog hampered the mornings proceedings but once it cleared there was a decent upchannel movement of bird and a very small arrival of birds on the land with ten Chiffchaffs, five Black Redstarts (four ringed) and a Yellowhammer of note.
Nearly five hours of seawatching produced 1980 Brent Geese, nine Pintails, 1100 Common Scoters, an excellent total of 32 Velvet Scoters, an Eider and nine Red-breasted Mergansers, 228 Red-throated and one Black-throated Diver, a Great Skua, 14 Mediterranean Gulls, 31 Little Gulls and 180 Sandwich Terns of note. The two first-winter Iceland Gulls were still feeding at the Patch and in the evening a first-winter Glaucous Gull came to the fish scraps offered on the beach below the fishing boats.

Glaucous Gull   Larus hyperboreus   1w   Dungeness   28th March 2017
Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros   Dungeness    28th March 2017
Seven Porpoises were also seen.

27th Mar

The wind finally dropped and allowed the temperature to rise a bit during the afternoon.
The morning's seawatch was good for variety rather than overall numbers with 722 Brent Geese, 33 Teal, 26 Pintails, 23 Shovelers, five Tufted Ducks, 110 Common Scoters and seven Red-breasted Mergansers, a party of four Avocets, two Great Skuas and three Mediterranean Gulls of note. The two Iceland Gulls remained  at the Patch.
A thorough search of the land produced the first Willow Warbler of the spring and also 13 Firecrests and ten Chiffchaffs of note whilst birds passing overhead included 20 Jackdaws, 60 Meadow Pipits, 50 Chaffinches and 25 Siskins.

Seven Porpoises were seen offshore whilst the warmer weather brought out a few insects with good numbers of Gorse Shieldbugs, at least 22 Peacock butterflies and the first Light Orange Underwing moths and Clark's Mining Bee Andrena clarkella of the spring. 

26th Mar

The clocks may have changed today but there was no change in the strong and cold NE wind. Migration on the land was limited to 13 Firecrests and a handful of Meadow Pipits whilst a 2.5hr seawatch in the morning produced ten Pintails, 44 Shovelers, a Black-throated Diver, a Grey Plover, 11 Bar-tailed Godwits, three Great Skuas, two Little Gulls and 50 or so toing and froing Sandwich Terns
The two regular Iceland Gulls remained at the Patch along with two Mediterranean Gulls - one of which bore a red colour-ring and is likely to have been ringed in Hungary (details awaited).  

Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus   first-winter   Dungeness   26th March 2017
with red colour ring H9V7 and from the Hungarian ringing scheme

Iceland Gull Larus glaucoides   first-winter   Dungeness   26th March 2017

Iceland Gulls Larus glaucoides   Dungeness   26th March 2017
One of the rare occasions when I have been able to get the two birds in the same shot
Two Porpoises and a Grass Snake were also seen.

25th Mar

The strong and cold NE continued to blow all day. The morning seawatch was fairly slow but did produce eight Pintails, five Tufted Ducks, the first Arctic Skua of the spring, a Mediterranean Gull and 53 Sandwich Terns. Three Swallows also flew east. The two first-winter Iceland Gulls were feeding at the Patch again along with three Mediterranean Gulls, an adult hybrid Mediterranean x Black-headed Gull and a third-winter Caspian Gull.
Still very slow on the land with just seven Firecrests and four Chiffchaffs of note.

Mediterranean Gull x Black-headed Gull hybrid   Dungeness   25th March 2017
Some poor shots taken at long range of the bird as it fed over the Patch.

Four Porpoises were seen offshore. 

24th Mar

The strong and cold north-easterly wind continued and induced a good variety of ducks and waders to move up channel. A four hour watch produced 23 Teal, 20 Pintails, 42 Shovelers, three Tufted Ducks, 104 Common Scoters, 14 Grey Plovers, 14 Knot, 13 Bar-tailed and five Black-tailed Godwits, a Mediterranean Gull and 104 Sandwich Terns. One of the regular Iceland Gulls was feeding at the Patch and a first-winter Caspian Gull flew west past the fishing boats.
The bushes were hard work in the windy conditions but three Firecrests and eight Chiffchaffs were found.

Three Porpoises were feeding offshore.

On the Reserve, both the Ring-necked Duck and Hooded Merganser are still present and three Black-necked Grebes and a Slavonian Grebe have been seen on New Diggings. Small numbers of Swallows, Sand Martins and House Martins have been seen over the last two days. 

Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris   RSPB Reserve   23rd March 2017

23rd Mar

A fierce easterly wind which backed and strengthened through the day brought a decent arrival of Firecrests with at least 23 being found along with eight Chiffchaffs, six Wheatears and a male Black Redstart in the Desert.
There was very little sea passage except for an early morning rush of Sandwich Terns along with a Little Gull and two Mediterranean Gulls whilst the two Iceland Gulls, a first-winter Caspian Gull and another Mediterranean Gull were feeding at the Patch.

Four Porpoises were also seen.

22nd Mar

The day dawned clear but with a strong south to south-east blowing which provided the best seawatching conditions for some time. A four-hour stint in the morning followed by nearly three hours in the afternoon produced 638 Brent Geese, 31 Pintails, 13 Shovelers, 394 Common Scoters, a Red-breasted Merganser, 51 Red-throated and two Black-throated Divers, a Great Skua, 251 Gannets, four Little Gulls, seven Mediterranean Gulls and 211 Sandwich Terns moving east. In addition, a Sooty Shearwater passing west was an unusual record and the majority of  the 110 Fulmars seen also moved west. 

The two regular Iceland Gulls and two new Caspian Gulls were feeding at the Patch.

Conditions were not good for finding small birds on the land but there was obviously a small arrival of grounded migrants with seven Firecrests and 19 Chiffchaffs of note.

Five Porpoises were feeding offshore. 

21st Mar

A bright and sunny but still cold and windy day. Very little movement offshore except for the 13 Sandwich Terns and three Mediterranean Gulls moving west (and a further two birds seen during the day) and one of the first-winter Iceland Gulls at the Patch.
A few grounded migrants included three Firecrest, one in the Lighthouse Garden and two in the trapping area, and 25 Chiffchaffs - mostly around the Long Pits. A handful of birds also passed overhead including a few Chaffinches and Linnets and five Siskins.

Three Porpoises were seen.

20th Mar

A thoroughly miserable day of strong, cold winds and almost constant heavy drizzle. The morning seawatch produced 524 Brent Geese east, 22 Fulmars and three Sandwich Terns west whilst three Mediterranean Gulls, a Yellow-legged Gull, two Caspian Gulls and the two regular Iceland Gulls where feeding at the Patch.
A check of the Long Pits produced nine Chiffchaffs and four Wheatears were seen near the Lighthouse Station.

Three Porpoises were also seen.

19th March

A few Fulmars flew west and 287 Brent Geese passed east this morning and the regular two Iceland Gulls and three first-winter Caspian Gulls were seen at the Patch. A first-winter Yellow-legged Gull was seen at the Fishing Boats in the afternoon.
Five Chiffchaffs were seen at the Long Pits.

18th March

An overcast day with a strong cold westerly wind throughout. Three seawatches totalling six hours during the day resulted in just over a thousand Brent Geese and low numbers of common seabirds. This morning's seawatch was slightly curtailed as the Seawatching Hide is being refurbished by local birder and builder Chris Philpot, It was great to see the progress during the day and look forward to trying it out very soon.
A search though the excellent numbers of gulls along the beach produced one Glaucous, one Iceland, three Caspian, two Yellow-legged and one Mediterranean Gull.
Few land migrants were observed with eleven Chiffchaffs and two Wheatears which were presumably birds already present rather than freshly arrived migrants.

Seawatching Hide refurbishment   Dungeness   18th March 2017   (Lee Gregory)

Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus   Dungeness   18th March 2017   (Lee Gregory)
Iceland Gull Larus glaucoides   Dungeness   18th March 2017   (Lee Gregory)

Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans   Dungeness   18th March 2017   (Lee Gregory)
Four Porpoise were feeding offshore.

At the RSPB Reserve one Long-eared Owl was roosting by the Dipping Pool, drake Ring-necked Duck and two Smew on Tanner's Pool plus the escaped drake Hooded Merganser was still present on Hooker's Pit.

17th March

A good arrival of Chiffchaff this morning with a minimum of forty-five birds around the Point and trapping area. The only other migrants were three male Wheatears along the beach.
At the Patch one Iceland Gull and this evening by the Fish Hut two new Caspian Gulls a first and second winter. The sea was pretty quiet with a small movement of Brent Geese, Gannet, Red-throated Diver and a single Great Skua.
Clear skies overnight meant the moth trap contained just two species, mid-morning the wind picked up and turned quite cool the only butterflies recorded were four Small Tortoiseshell.

Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans   Dungeness   17th March 2017   (Lee Gregory)

Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans   Dungeness   17th March 2017   (Lee Gregory)
On the RSPB Reserve on Tanner's Pool were a pair of Smew, pair Garganey, drake Ring-necked Duck, four Great White Egret and five Pintail.

16th March

A day of thick fog which tried to clear several times but failed. It did clear for a while at the Long Pits enough to bring a few Insects out but on the bird front very little of note was seen except six Chiffchaff and one of the Iceland Gulls on the beach opposite the Patch late on.

At the Long Pits good numbers of bumblebees were attracted to Sallow blossom mostly Buff-tailed and one White-tailed. Butterflies recorded were the first Red Admiral of the year and six Small Tortoiseshell. The overnight moth trap caught ten Hebrew Character, three Clouded Drab, Common Quaker and two Agonopterix scopariella.

Buff-tailed Bumblebee Bombus terrestris   Dungeness   16th March 2017   (Lee Gregory)

White-tailed Bumblebee Bombus leucorum   Dungeness   16th March 2017   (Lee Gregory)

Clouded Drab Orthosia incerta   Dungeness   15th March 2016   (Lee Gregory)

Common Quaker Orthosia cerasi   Dungeness   15th March 2016   (Lee Gregory)

Agonopterix scopariella   Dungeness   15th March 2016   (Lee Gregory)
Highlights from the RSPB Reserve were the drake Ring-necked Duck, three Smew, two GoosanderYellow-legged Gull and Long-eared Owl.

15th March

Not a breath of wind first thing so not surprising the seawatch this morning was very quiet. At the Patch the two Iceland Gulls were accompanied by another new 1st winter Caspian Gull and a new 2nd winter Yellow-legged Gull.

A male and female Black Redstart were still around the Old Lighthouse garden and a good increase in Chiffchaff numbers with eleven present including eight around the Long Pits.

With the mild overnight temperature the moth trap fared better too with twelve Hebrew Character, two Clouded Drab, three Common Quaker, Early Grey and Common Plume Moth Emmelina monodactyla. During the day fifteen Peacock Butterfly, nine Small Tortoiseshell and feeding offshore were five Porpoise.

On the RSPB Reserve the drake Ring-necked Duck was displaying to a female Tufted Duck on Tanners Pool, One Long-eared Owl by the Dipping Pool, Three Black-necked and a Slavonian Grebe on New Diggings.

14th March

The highlight of the morning was when a Serin flew out of the Old Lighthouse garden calling then headed inland towards the Observatory but sadly could not be re-found. Few land migrants were in evidence with just a female Black Redstart, male Wheatear and three Chiffchaffs. The sea was particularly quiet too with two Sandwich Tern and a few small groups of Brent Geese heading east. At the Patch numbers of gulls had doubled from yesterday subsequently two new 1st winter Caspian Gulls were found also two Mediterranean Gulls and the regular two Iceland Gulls.
Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans   Dungeness   14th March 2017   (Lee Gregory)
Iceland Gull Larus glaucoides   Dungeness   14th March 2017   (Lee Gregory)

Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans   Dungeness   14th March 2017   (Lee Gregory)
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus   Dungeness   14th March 2017   (Lee Gregory)

Raven Corvus corax   Dungeness   14th March 2017   (Lee Gregory)
Five Porpoise were feeding offshore, on land four Small Tortoiseshell were encountered and the overnight moth trap contained twelve Hebrew Character and a Common Quaker.

On the RSPB Reserve the Two Long-eared Owl were still by the dipping pool, drake Ring-necked Duck on Tanner's Pool, three Black-necked and two Slavonian Grebe on New Diggings.

13th March

A generally slow ninety minute seawatch in a brisk NW breeze produced one Great Skua, Sandwich Tern, Mediterranean Gull plus small numbers of the regular seabird species.
At the Patch yesterday's Caspian Gull was still present keeping the two Iceland Gulls company.
A slight increase in some migrants today with five Black Redstarts, two Wheatears, five Chiffchaffs and three Buzzards in off the sea.
Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans   Dungeness   13th March 2017   (Lee Gregory)

Black Redstart Phoenicuroides ochruros   Dungeness   13th March 2017   (Lee Gregory)

Five Porpoise were feeding offshore and a Stoat was in the Moat! Butterflies put in a good showing in sheltered spots with ten Small Tortoiseshell and an early Small White.

On the RSPB Reserve the first Swallow of the spring was seen, drake Ring-necked Duck Tanners Pool, three Smew Christmas Dell Hide, two Black-necked Grebe on New Diggings and the escaped drake Hooded Merganser was still on Hookers Pit. At Littlestone 6 Buzzard headed NW and at Lade a Red Kite passed north too.

12th March

An hours seawatch just after dawn in almost calm conditions was quiet as expected with just a few wildfowl moving including 25 Brent Geese, 46 Common Scoter and 69 Pintail. Also of note was a Sandwich Tern west and a Caspian Gull east. At the Patch the two Iceland Gulls were still in residence plus an adult Mediterranean Gull and a new Caspian Gull which later relocated to the Fishing Boats and showed well with two Yellow-legged Gulls.
With the very light southerly breeze a small arrival of passerines was witnessed around the Old Lighthouse area including two male Black Redstart, female Wheatear, seven Chiffchaff and in the Trapping/Long Pits area two Firecrests.
After dark a constant stream of Redwing could be heard calling as they migrated north.

Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans   Dungeness   12th March 2017   (Lee Gregory)

Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans   Dungeness   12th March 2017   (Lee Gregory)

Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis   Dungeness   12th March 2017   (Lee Gregory)
Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis   Dungeness   12th March 2017   (Lee Gregory)
With the flat calm sea a good count of seventeen Porpoise was noted, on land a Stoat and Bank Vole were seen, Slow Worm near the Long Pits and surprisingly given the lovely sunny weather a queen White-tailed Bumblebee was the only insect of interest. In the moth trap two Hebrew Character.

On the RSPB Reserve the escaped drake Hooded Merganser was again present on Hookers Pit, three Smew including one drake from Christmas Dell Hide, six Black-necked and two Slavonian Grebe on New Diggings.