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2016 Report

Our 2016 Report is now available from the Observatory for £8.00 plus P&P if needed. Please contact the Warden: dungenessobs@vfast.co.uk

31st Mar

A cold morning with a fresh westerly breeze produced a trickle of birds offshore with 305 Common Scoters, a Velvet Scoter, a Great Skua, five Little Gulls and 86 Sandwich Terns. A juvenile/first-winter Glaucous Gull spent some time roosting at the Point.
Two Wheatears were seen on the beach between the road and fishing boats.



Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus   juvenile/first-winter   Dungeness   31st March 2018
Some late news involves three first-winter Caspian Gulls at the fishing boats in the afternoon.

A Porpoise was feeding offshore and two Brown Hares were seen from the road.

30th Mar

The day began with a fresh easterly breeze and a decent movement of birds offshore but this came to an abrupt halt when rain arrived from 1100hrs and then continued for much of the day. A 3.5hr seawatch before the rain came produced a number of wildfowl including 99 Brent Geese, 22 Shovelers, 26 Teal, eight Eiders, 978 Common Scoters and a Velvet Scoter. Gannets moved through in large numbers with 410 counted and other notable bits included 26 Sanderling, three Arctic Skuas, three Mediterranean Gulls, 26 Little Gulls, 100 Sandwich Terns and the first four Common Terns of the spring.


Common Eider Somateria mollissima   Dungeness   30th March 2018
At least six Porpoises were feeding offshore.

29th Mar

With a light onshore breeze this morning there was a bit of easterly movement with 934 Brent Geese, an Arctic Skua and 77 Sandwich Terns of note. In the afternoon, a new first-winter Glaucous Gull was found  at the Patch.
It is still pretty quiet on the land with just six Firecrests dotted around the Point and two Bramblings and six Siskins of note. A Ring-necked Parakeet also flew over the area.



Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus   juvenile/first-winter   Dungeness   29th March 2018
A new bird at the Patch.
Four Porpoises were also seen.

28th Mar

Rain and flat calm throughout the morning made for a fairly uneventful days birding. The best of the migrants on the land were a Mistle Thrush, four Redwings, eight Firecrests and 20 Chaffinches. There was virtually no movement offshore and very few gulls at the Patch although they did include a first-winter Caspian Gull

27th Mar

A wet and breezy morning produced a bit of offshore movement which included two Shoveler, four Pintail, a Great Skua, two Arctic Skuas, 41 Kittiwakes and 137 Sandwich Terns. The Glaucous Gull was roosting at the fishing boats in the afternoon.
Very little to report from the land other than six Firecrests and a Black Redstart.

26th Mar

There was a small increase in the numbers of early migrants on the land with a Marsh Harrier, a Buzzard, seven Firecrests, 37 Redwings, ten Black Redstarts, six Stonechats, 35 Chaffinches, nine Bramblings and three Siskins of note.
Offshore passage was very light with just four Shovelers, nine Red-breasted Mergansers, a Mediterranean Gull and 68 Sandwich Terns of any interest. 

Two Bottle-nose Dolphins were feeding offshore this morning along with four Porpoises.

Six Peacocks and a Small Tortoiseshell were also on the wing in the sunny conditions. 

25th Mar

There was an easterly trickle of birds offshore during the day with a party of four Scaup, two Arctic Skuas and 168 Sandwich Terns of note while there were three Caspian Gulls (two first-winters and a third-winter) at the Patch.
A pair of Egyptian Geese flew around the area in the morning and was an unusual sighting for the Observatory recording area record. Passerines remain very scarce but did include 19 Jackdaws, four Chiffchaffs, five Firecrests, six Black Redstarts, three Siskins and 20 Reed Buntings.

Six Porpoises were feeding offshore and two Brown Hares and a Bank Vole were seen on the land.

24th Mar

Most of the interest today involved a steady up channel movement of birds offshore and feeding at the Patch. Over nine hours of watching produced 2600 Brent Geese, 12 Teal, 24 Pintail, 77 Shovelers, two Gadwall, 372 Common Scoters, six Eiders, nine Avocets, 41 Knot, an Arctic Skua, 46 Kittiwakes, 28 Little Gulls and 170 Sandwich Terns. A first-winter Caspian Gull joined the throng at the Patch where the Glaucous Gull was also seen.

It remains quiet on the land with just three Black Redstarts, one Wheatear and five Firecrests of note.

At least eight Porpoises were feeding offshore and two Brown Hares were seen in the Desert.

Elsewhere, the male White-spotted Bluethroat continues to give superb views at Dengemarsh Gully.







White-spotted Bluethroat Luscinia svecica cyanecula   Dengemarsh Gully, RSPB   24th March 2018

23rd Mar

With a light onshore breeze most of the interest today was at sea where there there was a big movement of Brent Geese with over 2300 passing through. Variety was otherwise fairly limited with just 11 Teal, nine Shovelers, 64 Common Scoters, 18 Fulmars, 250 Gannets, a Mediterranean Gull, seven Little Gulls and 11 Sandwich Terns of note. The Glaucous Gull was still in the area and a third-winter Yellow-legged Gull was feeding at the Patch.
It remains very quiet on the land with just eight Firecrests scattered across the area of note.

Al least six Porpoise were feeding offshore.

22nd Mar

There is still only a trickle of birds passing through but an Osprey which came in from the south at 1210hrs was particularly noteworthy. The Glaucous Gull and a Little Gull were feeding at the Patch again. Brent Geese trickled through with 383 seen along with an Eider and 74 Sandwich Terns.
The best of the migrants in the bushes were 20 Firecrests and a Dartford Warbler was also seen near the fishing boats. A Grey Wagtail, two Bramblings and 100 Chaffinches also passed overhead.

Four Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore and a Brown Hare was also seen.

At Dengemarsh Gully one of the Bluethroats was still present but it sounds as if it has become much more elusive than previously.

21st Mar

A thin scatter of migrants on the land and signs of a bit of movement offshore. The best on offer on the land were two Snipe, a Woodcock, a Merlin, seven Firecrests, two Chiffchaffs and a Wheatear. Seawatching this afternoon produced an excellent total of 84 Little Gulls moving up channel while a Great Skua, a Mediterranean Gull and 1500 auks during the day were also noteworthy.

At least seven Porpoises were seen offshore. Sadly a Brown Hare fell victim to traffic this morning.

20th Mar

Not a great deal of change in the birds but the weather showed signs of improving. The Glaucous Gull and a Little Gull were feeding at the Patch and 270 Brent Geese and 26 Sandwich Terns flew east. Four Firecrests, a Chiffchaff, a Black Redstart and two Wheatears were of note on the land.

A Common Seal and four Porpoises were feeding offshore and a Brown Hare was seen on the land.

19th March

Still very wintry and very little sign of any migrants in the area except for two Woodcocks in the trapping area and four Firecrests scattered across the Point.   
A first-winter Caspian Gull flew east past the seawatch hide while the regular Glaucous Gull and a Little Gull were seen at the Patch and 32 Sandwich Terns flew east during the morning.

Three Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore and a Weasel was seen in the trapping area.

Elsewhere, the White-spotted Bluethroats continue to entertain at Dengemarsh Gully and with suggestions that there might be as many as four birds present today.

18th March

A return to wintry weather with frequent light snow showers in a cold and strong easterly wind. There was not much to report from the area with a drake Scaup passing the Point, the regular Glaucous Gull and two Mediterranean Gulls at the Patch and two Firecrests and a Mistle Thrush on the land.

One Porpoise was seen offshore.

The biggest surprise of the day was at Dengemarsh Gully where not one but two male White-spotted Bluethroats were found and often gave outstanding views to their admirers. 

17th Mar

A complete change in the weather today, compared to what we have become used to recently. It was a rather quiet sea watch this morning, the highlights being 54 Sandwich Terns, four Bar-tailed Godwit and four Fulmar. It also produced no Brent Geese, although by the afternoon they had once again started moving, with a total of 510 seen. 51 of these geese settled briefly on the beach by the fishing boats. Surprisingly, one of the birds was colour-ringed! So hopefully it won't be too long until we get the details.

Brent Geese Branta bernicla  Dungeness 17th March 2018 (Jacques Turner-Moss)
On the land, the bad weather meant that many of the birds were hunkered down in bushes. The Wheatear was still up by the Lifeboat Station this morning. Two Black Redstarts were seen today, one is frequenting the area around the Lifeboat Station and the other was along the Power Station Fence. Only three Firecrest were seen today, with one heard in the trapping area and two being particularly showy by the Lighthouse Garden, often being very confiding and coming within a few feet.

Three Porpoise were also seen this morning in front of the Power Station.

16th Mar

It was a clear and warm day today, causing considerable haze to form over the shingle. The Brent Geese were again moving in number, with 636 passing during a two hour sea watch this morning. The counts of other species passing were much lower than yesterday. Only 31 Gannets, 15 Common Scoter, 13 Auks and three Sandwich Terns were counted with low numbers of other common species.

A Merlin was seen at the Fishing Boats early this morning, where the Glaucous Gull was also seen later in the morning in the gull flock. Two Sandwich Terns also flew noisily overhead.

There were still large numbers of Firecrests about, with at least four in the Old Lighthouse Garden. Several could be seen in patches of gorse towards the observatory and five in the Moat along with a single Goldcrest and two Chiffchaffs. There were also good numbers of Black Redstarts seen today. Three were present at the Old lighthouse and four were seen at the Lifeboat Station, along with the single but still present Wheatear.

Three Porpoise were also seen offshore this morning in front of the Power Station.


15th Mar

The first couple of hours of this mornings were comparatively quiet compared with yesterday. It started with only large numbers of Gannets, Auks and Red-Throated Divers seen but by 10 am the Brent Geese had started moving again with 421 noted. Common Scoter were slightly down on yesterdays count with 101 counted. Good numbers of Eider were seen with 31 this morning as well as 12 Shelduck and two Pintail. Also of note were 23 Sandwich Terns, a single Little Gull and a Razorbill in a flock of Guillemots. 

The Glaucous Gull was seen flying east and settled at the Fishing Boats joining the Gull flock there.

The real star bird was the first Wheatear of the year which was down by the Lifeboat Station. A male Black Redstart was also frequenting the gorse bushes nearby. A pair were also seen at the Experimental Station. Firecrests were again seen in high numbers and could be seen in many of the gorse thickets on the point. Five were present in the Old Lighthouse Garden and two were seen in the Observatory garden with a pair of Goldcrests. Chiffchaffs were fewer in number today, with a single bird seen in the trapping area and several birds singing up at the end of the Long Pits. 

14th Mar

The fine weather and south east winds continued the movement of Brent Geese up the coast today, with 752 counted over a three hour period. Other waterfowl were also on the move with counts of 255 Common Scoter,  28 Shoveler, 19 Teal, 18 Wigeon, four Pintail and single Mallard and Shelduck.

Also moving offshore were 52 Kittiwakes, 27 Sandwich Terns and a small number of Fulmar and Mediterranean Gulls. The Glaucous Gull was also seen this afternoon from the point.

Plenty of Firecrests were present today with up to five within the Lighthouse Garden, four around the observatory and three feeding on flies in the Aspen at the end of the Long Pits with  two Goldcrests and seven Chiffchaffs. Black Redstarts could be seen in the usual spots with a male by the Lifeboat Station and another along the Power Station fence.

13th Mar

The Brent Geese were continuing to move today despite the north west winds. A total of 486 passed east in a two hour period this morning including a single pale bellied bird in one of skeins.

A few other ducks were also moving up the coast including low numbers of Pintail, Shoveler, Teal, WigeonEider and Mergansers. 15 Sandwich Terns also flew east. The Glaucous Gull was again seen flying towards the Patch and three Merlins were also seen flying in off the sea.

On land there were good numbers of migrants. Up to six Firecrests and a Chiffchaff were seen in the Lighthouse Garden and a single Firecrest was regularly seen in the Observatory garden. Up at the end of the Long Pits there were good numbers of  Chiffchaffs singing in the willows and a few Goldcrests and Firecrests. 

A pair of Black Redstarts were seen at the Lifeboat Station and a single bird was seen along the Power Station fence.

12th Mar

A rather wet and blustery day today with the wind blowing from the south east this morning. Which provided a good opportunity for some sea watching, even if visibility was a tad poor from time to time.

A total of 648 Brent Geese passed east this morning, along with 72 Common Scoter, 126 Gannets, 18 Fulmar and 6 Sandwich Terns. Notable highlights included a single Slavonian Grebe and an Arctic Skua heading east offshore. The Iceland Gull also made an appearance again this morning, as did a Glaucous Gull, both were heading towards the Patch.

Onshore seven Firecrests were seen today, most of which were near the Lighthouse Garden and two were in a private garden at the point.

A single Porpoise was seen from the point and a Brown Hare was seen in the Desert this afternoon.

11th Mar

The two Glaucous Gulls were seen again today, together offshore at the fishing boats. A good offshore passage of Brent Geese with 694 recorded.

On land migration is still a little slow with just three Black Redstarts being seen today.

Three Porpoises were also seen just offshore from the Fishing Boats this morning.

10th Mar

A day of mixed weather but producing some good gulls. At least two first year Glaucous Gulls were present today, the regular bird was seen at the Patch and a darker bird at the fishing boats. Two Caspian Gulls, an adult and a 2nd winter along with a 3rd winter Yellow-legged Gull were also at the fishing boats. Six Sandwich Terns and 367 Brent Geese were also noted.

A Black Redstart was present opposite the Lifeboat Station and a single Chiffchaff was singing in a private garden at the point.

Seven Porpoise were also seen offshore.

9th Mar

Still quiet but the Glaucous Gull was present at the fishing boats this afternoon. An adult Mediterranean Gull was on the beach at the Patch with large numbers of Great Crested Grebes, Guillemots and Cormorants feeding offshore.

A handful of birds passing overhead included 35 Chaffinches and two Siskins. A Dartford Warbler was seen in a private garden at the Point.

8th Mar

Very little to report. The regular Glaucous Gull was back in situ around the front of the power station but there was no sign of any movement offshore.

A Porpoise was seen offshore.

7th Mar

The Iceland Gull was seen at the Patch this morning and then gave very good views during the afternoon at the fishing boats. A Glaucous Gull also flew west over the Long Pits and four Mediterranean Gulls were seen offshore.





Iceland Gull Larus glaucoides   Dungeness   7th March 2018
Two Porpoises were feeding offshore and a Brown Hare was also seen..

6th Mar

Very little movement offshore with just a trickle of Brent Geese and Kittiwakes passing through. There were fewer gulls at the Patch than yesterday but the Iceland Gull was still present and an adult Mediterranean Gull was also seen. Very little to report from the land.

Two Porpoises and a Grey Seal were seen offshore.

A Hummingbird Hawk-moth was seen at Southview Cottage and a nocturnal walk through the trapping area produced a few Dotted Border moths.

Also of interest are details of a colour-ringed Mediterranean Gull seen at the Patch yesterday. This bird was originally ringed as a nestling in a colony at Zandvlietsluis, Antwerp, Belgium on 15th June 2002 thus making it over 15 years old. There is a long list of previous sightings, mostly from Folkestone and the Low Countries but on 1st November 2017 it was seen at Santa Cruz, La Coruna, Spain.

5th Mar

There was a bit of offshore movement during the day with 208 Brent Geese, a Shoveler, six Eider (all males), 124 Red-throated Divers, 460 Kittiwakes and three Little Gulls of note. There were also very large numbers of gulls feeding at the Patch with the highlight being a juvenile/first-winter Iceland Gull along with at least 22 Mediterranean Gulls, an adult Yellow-legged Gull and around 100 Lesser Black-backed Gulls.
Eider Somateria mollissima   Dungeness   5th March 2018

Gulls   Dungeness   5th March 2018

Iceland Gull Larus glaucoides   Dungeness   5th March 2018
A Brown Hare and a Porpoise were also seen.

4th Mar

With the wind dropping and the temperature rising there was a bit of a spring feel to the day and this was reflected offshore where there there was a decent up-channel of birds during the day.
The highlights were seven Eider, 18 Red-breasted Mergansers, 400 Red-throated Divers, a Great Skua, 372 Kittiwakes, 11 Little Gulls and the first three Sandwich Terns of the year and the regular Glaucous Gull on the beach or feeding within the power station grounds.
A Fieldfare and four Reed Buntings were also seen.

Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus   Dungeness   4th March 2018
In addition, a strikingly small and very dark adult "Lesser Black-backed Gull" was seen at the Patch and appeared to be a good candidate for a Baltic Gull Larus fuscus. Unfortunately the main identification feature required for acceptance, a Finnish colour-ring, was missing.



Small and very dark adult Lesser Black-backed or Baltic Gull.
Dungeness   4th March 2018
Porpoise was feeding offshore.

3rd Mar

Big numbers of gulls at the Patch included the regular Glaucous Gull, two adult Yellow-legged Gulls, two Little Gulls and at least four Mediterranean Gulls and 129 Brent Geese, three Shovelers and 198 Kittiwakes flew east. 
On the land, a Bewick's Swan flying over the trapping area was an unusual record whilst a Woodcock and two Snipe were also of note.

2nd Mar

The winter weather continues and in fact more snow fell and settled today than on any other day in this spell of severe weather.
It was very quite on the land but the Patch was very busy thousands of gulls present including the regular Glaucous Gull, four Mediterranean Gulls and an adult Yellow-legged Gull. A flock of 11 Pintail and three Wigeon flew east as well as a Grey Plover and 15 Bar-tailed Godwit.
Thousands of gulls at the Patch   2nd March 2018
Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus   Dungeness   2nd March 2018
In the afternoon a freshly dead (still warm) second-winter Common Gull was found at the Long Pits. A check of primary and tail patterns appear to suggest that it is of the race heinei. Note in particular the presence of a black spot on Primary 3 and a complete band across the tip of Primary 4. Unfortunately whilst the measurements, especially winglength, fit heinei better they seem to fall in the broad overlap zone and the head looks a bit too extensively marked but again not impossible for heinei.
Common Gull Larus canus ssp   second-winter   Dungeness   2nd March 2018

Primary 9 and 10  Left wing,  P9 appears to be a moulted adult feather. if so,this also indicates heinei

Primary 9 and 10 Right wing

Primaries 3 and 4   Note the spot on P3 and the complete band on P4 both strongly indicate heinei

Primary 4   Note complete band which seems to strongly indicate heinei

Dark markings in tail suggest heinei




1st Mar

Another day of fierce and very cold winds and odd flurries of snow. There were a few signs of cold-weather movement with a Gadwall on the Long Pits, eight Red-breasted Mergansers passing offshore and two Lapwings and four Snipes on the ground. Large number of gulls at the Patch included the regular Glaucous Gull and an adult Yellow-legged Gull.
The severe weather is taking its toll on the Observatory buildings with various water pipes freezing up overnight. Thanks to Chris Philpott and Gill Hollamby for coming to our rescue with help repairing the burst pipes, getting the water flowing again and bringing in extra heaters and emergency supplies of water. However, until this spell of cold weather ends the toilet facilities remain out of order.
Today also saw Jacques Turner-Moss taking up his position as Assistant Warden for the coming year.