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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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30th Apr

A Turtle Dove was the best bird that could be found on the land although nowadays this could almost count as a major rarity. A Firecrest and a Tree Pipit were also seen.
With a fresh south-easterly blowing the shore was the place to be and it didn't disappoint with a superb movement of Pomarine Skuas and lots of back up as well.
After 13.5hrs of watching the final total for Pomarine Skuas was 129 - the fourth best-ever day total. In addition there were plenty of other skuas with 44 Arctic and 19 Great Skuas. Large numbers of Common Scoters (1284) moved through with 20 Velvet Scoters mixed in with them and other ducks included a Pintail, six Shoveler, ten Gadwall, an Eider and three Red-breasted Mergansers. Good numbers of waders also move through wih 151 Grey Plovers, 121 Sanderlings, 76 Knot, 160 Bar-tailed Godwits and 48 Whimbrels and along with 31 Little Gulls. Terns were also a major feature of the watch with 54 Little Terns, 34 Black Terns and large numbers of Sandwich (233) and Common./Arctic Terns(1200). A few other notable bits and pieces seen during included five Black-throated Divers and a flock of five Avocets. A Peregrine Falcon and a Hobby were also seen offshore.

Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta   Dungeness 30th April 2017

Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus   Dungeness   30th April 2017

Pomarine Skua Stercorarius pomarinus   Dungeness   30th April 2017

Dungeness Skua Festival

A Brown Hare was seen at the north end of the recording area and singles of Grey and Common Seals and five Porpoises were feeding offshore. This Fox spent most of the day foraging along thetideline and was even hunting out fisherman for titbits.

Fox Vulpes vulpes   Dungeness   30th April 2017

29th Apr

The wind stayed in the south for most of the day and produced an excellent movement of birds offshore with coverage from dark till almost dark. Notable totals included 1267 Common Scoters, 614 Bar-tailed Godwits, 48 Whimbrels, an excellent 84 Great Skuas, 25 Arctic Skuas and a near record day count of 9416 Common/Arctic Terns. Less usual bits and pieces included seven Velvet Scoters, four Black-throated Divers, a Shag, a Little Egret, 25 Grey Plovers, nine Knot, a Common Sandpiper, a Greenshank and nine Mediterranean Gulls. Perhaps surprisingly given the overall numbers of terns passing there were only 15 Little Terns and three Black Terns seen and only 13 Little Gulls.

It was a bit disappointing on the land but a Spotted Flycatcher at the Long Pits was new for the year and two Buzzards also flew over and even spent some displaying over the area.

The warm weather brought out a few butterflies with at least six Grizzled Skippers being found. It was also the first decent day for dragonflies with the first Blue-tailed and Red-eyed Damselflies being seen at the Long Pits for the first time this year.

Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura elegans   Dungeness   29th April 2017

Red-eyed Damselfly Erythromma najas   Dungeness   29th April 2017

Offshore, six Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding whilst a Weasel was watched at the Long Pits where in the space of 20 minutes or so it manged to catch and presumably eat three Common Lizards.
Weasel Mustela nivalis   Dungeness   29th April 2017 (Gill Hollamby)

28th Apr

Another cold morning but with a bit of a cloud around there was a small arrival of migrants. In the afternoon the wind backed into the south and almost immediately induced a decent movement of birds offshore.

The scatter of migrants on the land was dominated by Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs as expected but other bits and pieces included a Nightingale in a private garden and two Ring Ouzels at the north end of the recording area. Two Tree Pipits, three Yellow Wagtails and a Redpoll also flew over.

Nightingale Luscinia megarynchos   Dungeness   28th April 2017 (David Bunney)
The morning seawatch was very quiet but things improved considerably in the afternoon as the breeze went into the south and by the end of the afternoon over 5500 "commic" Terns moved through along with 12 Arctic Skuas and six Great Skuas. Also of note were 16 Mediterranean Gulls and the first-winter Iceland Gulls was still at the Patch.

A Grey Seal and six Porpoises were seen offshore.

One Grizzled Skipper was seen.

Elsewhere around Dungeness, the drake Ring-necked Duck remains on Burrowes Pit, Hobbies are being seen regularly at ARC and Dengemarsh and at least one summer-plumaged Slavonian Grebe remains on New Diggings.

27th Apr

A very cold morning with heavy frost and clear skies resulted in another day with very little passage. On the land, a Hobby and two House Martins were new for the year and the seven Ring Ouzels were still on the east side of the Long Pits.Three Yellow Wagtails, a Tree Pipit and five Siskins also flew over.
The sea was almost devoid of any movement other than a Great Skua and three Mediterranean Gulls. The Iceland Gull was still at the Patch and two Arctic Terns made a brief visit.

Offshore, the Grey Seal killed and devoured another Porpoise calf and six living Porpoise were also seen.

One Grizzled Skipper was seen.

26th Apr

Another cold and breezy day with not a great deal to be seen and the highlight on the land of seven Ring Ouzels. Almost no movement offshore but Common Terns numbers built up at the Patch where the first-winter Iceland Gull was still present and clocked up its 101st day in the area.

Five Porpoises and a Grey Seal were seen offshore and three Brown Hares were seen on the land.

25th Apr

A cold day with clear skies saw mainly small numbers of migrants on the land but seven Ring Ouzels, a Whinchat and 57 Wheatears were particularly noteworthy whilst two Egyptian Geese and a Buzzard flew over the area.
There was virtually no movement offshore but the first-winter Iceland Gull and two Mediterranean Gulls were feeding at the Patch.

A Brown Hare, a Stoat and three Porpoises were seen and butterflies included a couple of Grizzled Skippers

24th Apr

There was a thin scatter of migrants across the Point today with a Short-eared Owl at the Long Pits, a Grasshopper Warbler in the trapping area and a Pied Flycatcher at Southview Cottage of note whilst 17 Yellow Wagtails and 40 Swallows also passed overhead.
The sea was generally quiet but two Pomarine Skuas and five Arctic Skuas were of note and the Iceland Gull was still feeding at the Patch..

23rd Apr

Migrants were thinly scattered across the Point this morning and included a flock of five Ring Ouzels at the Long Pits and at least ten Blackcaps and 20 Wheatears.
Birds were moving upchannel throughout the day with 9.5hrs of watching producing notable records of two Garganey, 19 Velvet Scoters, six Black-throated Divers, 235 Bar-tailed Godwits, 36 Whimbrel, 12 Arctic Skuas, 34 Great Skuas, 15 Little Terns, a Black Tern, 53 Mediterranean Gulls and 55 Little Gulls, During the afternoon session an excellent total of  23 Pomarine Skuas also passed through.

The first-winter Iceland Gull and two Mediterranean Gulls were feeding at the Patch.

At least eight Porpoises along with a Grey Seal and a Common Seal were feeding offshore.

Elsewhere, the Lesser Yellowlegs was seen again on the Reserve but flew off  in the late morning. The drake Ring-necked Duck remains on site but seems to have moved and is now usually seen on Burrowes Pit.

22nd Apr

Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps continue to appear in reasonable numbers along with a Ring Ouzel, seven Song Thrushes, six Redstarts, two Whinchats, 20 Wheatears, a Grey Wagtail and a Tree Pipit.
Over seven hours of seawatching produced a Garganey, 640 Common Scoters, 19 Grey Plovers, 144 Whimbrels, 16 Bar-tailed Godwits, two Knot, five Arctic Skuas, five Great Skuas, the first Black Tern of the year and 12 Mediterranean Gulls.

Moth trapping produced an Oak Nycteoline of note.
Oak Nycteoline Nycteola revayana   Dungeness   22nd April 2017
Six Porpoises and the Grey Seal were seen offshore.

However, the obvious highlight of the day was the finding of a Lesser Yellowlegs on Burrowes Pit on the RSPB Reserve. This is the fourth Dungeness record following two birds in 1995 on 5th May and 29th August and one in 1997 between 22nd July and 8th August.

21st Apr

The day started very slowly but after a couple of hours migrants suddenly started appearing all over the place. As would be expected the numbers were dominated by Willow Warblers with about 140 birds but some scarcer birds included a singing Wood Warbler at the Long Pits and at least one Grasshopper Warbler singing in the trapping area. Our first three Garden Warblers and four Whinchats of the year were also noteworthy along with nine Blackcaps, eight Redstarts, 45 Wheatears (many of them "greenlands") and 12 Chiffchaffs.
Seawatching was generally very quiet but a Black-throated Diver and three Great Skuas passed through and the first-winter Iceland Gull was feeding at the Patch again where a Little Egret was also seen.

A Grizzled Skipper, two Brown Hares and a Grey Seal were also seen.

20th Apr

A calm, cold and clear morning meant there were very few migrants in the bushes or overhead so it was a bit of a surprise when a Serin flew over the Observatory this morning.
Seawatching was also fairly slow but birds of note included three Black-throated Divers, 11 Whimbrel, four Arctic Skuas, a Great Skua and eight Mediterranean Gulls. The first-winter Iceland Gull was still at the Patch.

Butterflies included six Grizzled Skippers and a Hairy Dragonfly was also seen.

Grizzled Skipper Pyrgus malvae   Dungeness   20th April 2017
The colony of Early Purple Orchids have done well this year and are looking very nice at the moment alongside the access road to the Observatory. 

Early Purple Orchids Orchis mascula   Dungeness   20th April 2017
Five Porpoises and "the" Grey Seal were seen.

19th Apr

A strong NE wind and clear skies again limited any passage on the land but did encourage a bit of movement on the sea.
A first-winter Glaucous Gull was seen flying towards the Patch but could not be found later in the day and the first-winter Iceland Gull was still there. Over seven hours of seawatching eventually produced seven Red-breasted Mergansers, a Black-throated Diver, ten Fulmars, 48 Bar-tailed Godwits, 127 Whimbrel, ten Arctic Skuas, eight Great Skuas and 40 Arctic Terns of note.

Four Porpoises and a Grey Seal were seen offshore with the latter being seen to kill and then eat a Porpoise calf.

Butterflies included five Grizzled Skippers and a Holly Blue.
Holly Blue Celastrina argiolus   Dungeness   19th April 2017

18th Apr

After a calm start the wind quickly increased from the NW and then veered NNE in the afternoon and becoming very cold.
There was a small arrival of Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs and single new Redstart and Pied Flycatchers (both in the Old Lighthouse Garden) were found and a Yellow Wagtail flew over.
The morning seawatch was very quiet but things improved in the afternoon as the wind changed with four Pintails, 153 Whimbrel, 111 Bar-tailed Godwits, five Mediterranean Gulls and 22 Common Terns of note. The first-winter Iceland Gull was still at the Patch.

At least eight Porpoises were feeding offshore. 

17th Apr

Very few birds on the land but they did include a fine male Pied Flycatcher in the gorse between the Observatory and Old Lighthouse, a male Redstart behind the Patch hide and a male "Greenland" Wheatear,
The first-winter Iceland Gull and three Mediterranean Gulls and 25 Common Terns were feeding at the Patch. Two Arctic Skuas and two Great Skuas passed through.

Pied Flycatcher
Ficedula hypoleuca   Dungeness    17th April 2017

"Greenland" Wheatear Oenanthe oenantheleuchoroa   Dungeness   17th April 2017 
 Five Porpoises were feeding offshore.

16th Apr

A fairly quiet day. Very little in the way of new arrivals in the bushes and not a great deal passing offshore with just a Great Northern Diver, two Arctic Skuas, three Great Skuas and a Little Tern of note being seen. At least five Mediterranean Gulls and the first-winter Iceland Gull was feeding at the Patch. A visiting male Peregrine Falcon was quickly evicted from the area by the resident male. A new rubicola male Stonechat was seen in the moat. 

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

15th Apr

Another small arrival of Willow Warblers occurred today but not much else was seen on the land. Seawatching was also slow with several hours of watching producing just three each of Arctic and Great Skua. Three Mediterranean Gulls and the first-winter Iceland Gull were among the gulls feeding offshore. 

At least three Porpoises were feeding offshore and Brown Hare was seen on the land.

14th Apr

The first cloudy morning for a few days encouraged a small arrival of migrants with 50 Willow Warblers, 12 Chiffchaffs, nine Blackcaps, five Whitethroats, and singles of Redstart and a briefly seen Ring Ouzel at the Long Pits. A Common (Mealy) Redpoll also made a brief appearance in the Moat this morning. 
The first-winter Iceland Gull was feeding at the Patch again but seawatching was fairly quiet with over four hours of observations producing just four Shovelers, 136 Common Scoters, two Red-breasted Mergansers, five Whimbrel, an Arctic Skua, two Great Skuas, three Little Terns and 30 Common Terns of note.

A Red-eared Terrapin was seen at the Long Pits.

13th Apr

Very quiet on both land and sea. A Greenshank flew over the Observatory and was presumably the same bird seen on the RSPB Reserve later in the day. Two Yellow Wagtails and a Tree Pipit also flew over. A Great Skua flew east and the first-winter Iceland Gull and three Mediterranean Gulls were feeding at the Patch.

Four Porpoises were seen.

12th Apr

There were a few Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs and a couple of Whitethroats on the land but not much else to be seen. The sea was very quiet with just a trickle of Common Scoters passing through and the Iceland Gull was feeding at the Patch again.

Six Porpoises were seen offshore.

11th Apr

It quickly became apparent this morning that there was not going to be a repeat of yesterdays arrival of migrants but there were still a few bits and pieces in the bushes with two Ring Ouzels at the Long Pits of particular note. Three Whitethroats were new arrivals along with a few Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers. A trickle of birds passing overhead included singles of Yellow Wagtail and Tree Pipit.
The sea was very quiet but a check of the Patch in the evening refound one of the first-winter Iceland Gulls and also a first-winter Caspian Gull and four Mediterranean Gulls.

Three Porpoises were seen.

A Red-eared Terrapin was seen a the Long Pits.

A Seraphim was an unusual capture in the moth trap and a Grizzled Skipper was seen in the trapping area.

10th Apr

The light breeze had veered into the NW overnight and induced a decent arrival of migrants on the land. As is typical at this stage of the spring the arrival was dominated by Willow Warblers with at least 180 birds seen along with 20 each of Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps and our first Whitethroat and two Redstarts of the year.
The sea was very quiet with just six Common Terns and three Mediterranean Gulls feeding offshore of note.

9th Apr

Virtually all the interest today was offshore where a very light SE breeze encouraged a decent movement of birds. Most of the movement was during the morning and by the end of the day there were good totals of 885 Brent Geese, 19 Shelduck, 33 Teal, 25 Shovelers, 1709 Common Scoters, 18 Whimbrel, two Arctic and seven Great Skuas, 19 Common Terns, eight Little Gulls and nine Mediterranean Gulls. Scarcer bits and pieces included two Gadwall, six Scaup, 36 Velvet Scoters, four Goldeneye, eight Black-throated and three Great Northern Divers and the first Little Tern of the year, A first-winter Glaucous Gull also spent some at the Patch during the morning.

Very little change on the land with just a continuing trickle of Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers and Blackcaps and our first Sedge Warbler of the year.

A minimum of eight Porpoises were feeding offshore.

The first Grizzled Skipper and Green-veined Whites of the year were seen.

8th Apr

The wind had veered into the south by daybreak and induced a steady movement of birds offshore but it remains fairly quiet on the land. The best of seven hours of seawatching included 257 Brent Geese, 23 Shelducks, 25 Shovelers, 16 Pintails, 348 Common Scoters and 11 Red-breasted Mergansers, the first Whimbrel of the year, four Arctic Skuas, three Great Skuas, seven Mediterranean Gulls, a Little Gull and 11 Common Terns.
A few Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers and Blackcaps continue to trickle through on the land. The male rubicola Stonechat remains on its territory.

A Light Orange Underwing was seen  at the Long Pits.

At least eight Porpoises were seen offshore.

7th April

More of the same with a small arrival of Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers and a trickle of birds overhead which included our first Tree Pipit of the year, a Rock Pipit, a Yellow Wagtail, a Tree Sparrow, 16 Goldfinches and a Redpoll. A pair of Stonechats appear to have taken up breeding territory in the area and the male (at least) is of the race rubicola.

Stonechat Saxicola torquatus rubicola   Dungeness   7th April 2017
Seawatching was very quiet but there was a small selection of waders on the beach and two Mediterranean Gulls flew west.

Dunlin Caliddris alpina, Sanderling Calidris alba and Turnstone Arenaria imterpres    Dungeness   7th April 2017

Five Porpoises were feeding offshore.

Large White and Speckled Wood were new butterflies for the year.

Elsewhere around Dungeness both the drake Ring-necked Duck and Hooded Merganser can still be seen on the RSPB Reserve and the Black-necked Grebes and Slavonian Grebe remain on New Diggings. Of the spring migrants Sedge Warblers have arrived in good numbers along with a few Reed Warblers. Little Ringed Plovers have been seen at Dengemarsh during the week.

6th Apr

The morning was forecast to be overcast but this never materialised and neither did the migrants with just a handful each of Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers and six Blackcaps although the latter even this early seems likely to include some of our breeding birds. There was a steady trickle of Goldfinches passing overhead along with two Swallows and a Siskin
Very little to report from the sea other than a Common Tern feeding at the Patch.

Four Porpoises were feeding offshore.

A Holly Blue was a new butterfly for the year and three Light Orange Underwing moths were seen at the Long Pits.

Holly Blue Celastrina argiolus   Dungeness   6th April 2017

5th Apr

Another very small arrival of Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers and Blackcaps and also a Firecrest and 16 Redwings. A few birds passing overhead included four Siskins.
Three Mediterranean Gulls were seen offshore and a Common Tern was feeding at the Patch.

In the flat calm conditions this evening at least 11 Porpoises were feeding close inshore. A Brown Hare was seen in the Desert.

The number of moths coming to the trap remain very low but did include a Dark Sword-grass whilst butterflies included a couple of scarcer species for us in the form of a Brimstone and an Orange-tip. After further checking it appears that our last record of Orange-tip was in 1999!  
Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni   Dungeness   5th April 2017

4th Apr

Another calm but murky morning but this time there was a small arrival of migrants with 22 Chiffchaffs, 25 Willow Warblers and two Blackcaps in the bushes and a few finches overhead including 32 Goldfinches and three Siskins. A Swallow, a Fieldfare and four Wheatears were also seen. .
Offshore passage very slight but a Great White Egret flew east over the Seawatch Hide and a party of five Little Gulls passed through.

3rd Apr

The day was dominated by almost constant very thick fog which severely limited observation. A single Firecrest was seen near the Britannia and two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a Blackcap, six Chiffchaffs and a Wheatear were also seen. Seawatching was impossible but a check of the Patch produced a Common Tern and one of the Iceland Gulls and a second-winter Yellow-legged Gull were seen at the fishing boats.

Moths at the Observatory have been fairly limited but elsewhere a couple of White-marked have been trapped, the second and third Dungeness area records.
White-marked Cerastis leucographa   Littlestone  3rd April 2017

2nd Apr

Thick fog during the morning and again for a time in the afternoon limited observations at times. Even so it was obvious that migrants were going to be thin on the ground and all that could be found were a Willow Warbler, two Blackcaps and two Bullfinches of note. A Sand Martin and two Siskins passed overhead and there was a huge increase in Carrion Crow numbers with at least 150 birds in the area. There was very little movement offshore with a Black-throated Diver west and an Eider and five Mediterranean Gulls east in an hour during the morning. At least one of the Iceland Gulls was still feeding at the Patch where the first Common Tern of the year was also feeding.

A Red-eared Terrapin was seen at the Long Pits.

A brief spell of sunny conditions brought a nice showing of flowering Coltsfoot Tussilago farfara.

1st Apr

There was a handful of migrants in the bushes with a Firecrest, a Willow Warbler, two Blackcaps and five Chiffchaffs whilst our first three Yellow Wagtails and seven Siskins passed through.
Seawatching was very quiet but two Velvet Scoters and five Mediterranean Gulls flew east and the two Iceland Gulls and another Mediterranean Gull were feeding at the Patch.

Another small catch of moths overnight included this Blossom Underwing Orthosia miniosa This is generally considered as a migrant species at Dungeness and interestingly individuals were also at Bawdsey and Landguard Bird Observatory in Suffolk and at Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory and is very rare at all of these stations. It is only the fourth DBO record.
Blossom Underwing Orthisia miniosa   Dungeness   1st April 2017
A walk around the Long Pits also produced a cluster of this mushroom. I think it is probably Common Ink-cap Coprinopsis atramentarius and if so, appears to be a new species for the Observatory recording area.  

Common Ink-cap Coprinopsis atramentarius   Dungeness   1st April 2017