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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

30th Apr

A day that felt more like February with very cold and strong NE winds and almost continuous heavy rain made recording conditions very difficult. The only bird of any real note was first-summer Glaucous Gull feeding behind the Fish Shack in the morning.

29th Apr

The weather deteriorated rapidly during the day with increasing wind and rain. Bar-tailed Godwits moved east in large numbers with 828 birds seen during seven hours of watching whilst other birds of note included two Pomarine Skuas, six Arctic Skua, four Great Skuas, a Greenshank and eight Little Terns.
A Hobby was seen in the Desert and 20 Wheatears were seen around the Point while 125 Swallows and two Yellow Wagtails passed overhead.

Offshore, a Grey Seal and at least ten Porpoises were seen, a dead Badger was found on the road and a Brown Hare was also seen.   

28th Apr

A foggy morning produced very little of interest. Migrants on the land were fairly scarce with the first Whinchat of the spring, a Garden Warbler and a Tree Pipit of note. The sea was very slow but over five hours of watching eventually produced two Eiders, a Manx Shearwater, 26 Whimbrel, ten Arctic Skuas and two Little Terns were noted and two Hobbies also came in off the sea.

27th Apr

A mammoth ten-hour seawatching session in what seemed like decent conditions produced a few decent birds with 493 Common Scoters, six Velvet Scoters, 11 Manx Shearwaters, 55 Whimbrel, 103 Bar-tailed Godwit, 11 Great Skuas, 13 Arctic Skuas, two Little Gulls, 804 "commic" Terns and four Little Terns of note.
It was fairly disappointing on the land with the one highlight of a Pied Flycatcher at the Long Pits along with a few "Greenland" Wheatears although there are plenty of Blackcaps, Whitethroats and Lesser Whitethroats in the area.
Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca   Dungeness   27th April 2018
I have also just received details of a Goldfinch (Y527583) ringed here on 29th October 2017 and controlled by another ringer at Thornton, Merseyside on 17th April 2018.

Four Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore and two Brown Hares were seen on the land.

26th Apr

Very quiet on the land with the first Hobby of the spring and the Pheasant and a Firecrest in the trapping area being about the best on offer. The sea was a bit more productive but even here was fairly slow going with over six hours of watching eventually producing three Eiders, seven Manx Shearwaters, 19 Great Skuas and four Arctic Skuas of note while six Mediterranean Gulls and 150 Arctic Terns were feeding at the Patch.

Five Porpoises were feeding offshore.

A Light Orange Underwing moth was seen in the trapping area.

25th Apr

Another cool day with a freshening westerly breeze producing a little bit on the sea with a Velvet Scoter, ten Manx Shearwaters and 11 Great Skuas of particular note.
There was a small arrival of "Greenland" Wheatears and a Redstart was reported from the Long Pits area. A Firecrest was also seen in the trapping area.

Firecrest Regulus ignicapilla   Dungeness   25th Apr.2018
Greenland Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe ssp leucorhoa   male  Dungeness
   25th April 2018 (Jacques Turner-Moss)
At least five Porpoises were feeding offshore.

24th Apr

A nice but cool morning which gave way to fog, rain and wind in the afternoon failed to produce very much of interest.
The highlights of over six hours of seawatching were 23 Manx Shearwaters, seven Great Skuas, four Mediterranean Gulls, four Little Gulls and a Little Tern. There was little to be seen on the land with the best being a Garden Warbler and a Firecrest.

Four Porpoises were feeding offshore and a Brown Hare was seen on the road at the entrance to the Estate..

23rd Apr

It was very quiet offshore and on the land although the Wryneck was seen again briefly this morning and a Ring Ouzel was seen in the power station complex. Swallow passage increased with 40 seen and a Swift and several Reed Warblers were new for the year.
Three Great Skuas were the best of a two-hour seawatch this morning.

The undoubted highlight of the day for three observers was a Large Tortoiseshell Aglais polychloros at the north end of the Long Pits.

Large Tortoiseshell Aglais polychloros   Dungeness   23rd April 2018 (Jacques Turner-Moss)
The Early Purple Orchids Orchis mascula are also putting on a decent showing alongside the Observatory access road.

Early Purple Orchid Orchis mascula   Dungeness   23rd April 2018

22nd Apr

There were very few birds on the land again so a Wryneck found at the Long Pits this morning and relocated again this afternoon was a nice surprise. A Serin also flew over the trapping area and five Bramblings were seen around the feeders again. The male Pheasant was also noted again.
The sea was surprisingly productive with a steady easterly movement of birds and the main highlight of seven relatively early Pomarine Skuas along with 33 Great Skuas and 45 Arctic Skuas. Other bits and pieces included a Velvet Scoter, two Black-throated Divers, 170 Whimbrel, 32 Little Gulls and six Little Terns.


Wryneck Jynx torquilla   Dungeness   22nd April 2018
Brambling Fringilla montifringilla   Dungeness   22nd April 2018
At least 12 Porpoises were feeding offshore again.

A Blossom Underwing was the best of a very small catch of moths overnight.

21st Apr

After the minor riches of yesterday it was a return to few migrants on the land and just a slow trickle of birds passing east on the land. Over six hours of seawatching produced just 16 Red-breasted Mergansers, five Manx Shearwaters, 147 Whimbrel. 15 Great Skuas, 12 Arctic Skuas and 20 Little Gulls of note. The best the land could offer was just nine Lesser Whitethroats, three Bramblings and five Siskins.

At least 20 Porpoise were feeding offshore.

The first Small Coppers of the year were also seen.

20th Apr

There was a small arrival of migrants today with 40 Willow Warbler, 16 Chiffchaffs and 25 Lesser Whitethroats making up the bulk of the numbers whilst the first Sedge and Garden Warblers of the year were seen along with a singing Nightingale and four Firecrests. A Tree Pipit and a Yellow Wagtail also flew over and two Bramblings were also feeding at the seed feeders but the main event of the day occurred in late morning when a flock of 17 Red Kites, a Buzzard and two Sparrowhawks  flew down to the Point before turning and eventually headed off in a northerly direction.


Red Kite Milvis milvus   Dungeness   20th April 2018
Part of a remarkable flock of 17 birds which circled over the Point for a time this morning.
The first few hours also produced a bit of sea passage with 32 Little Gulls and five Great Skuas before it petered out.

Porpoises continue to entertain in the flat calm conditions with at least 40 feeding offshore.

A good range of butterflies were seen today including the first Large White, Painted Lady and Speckled Woods of the year.

The warm weather is encouraging the flowers of the Point to blossom with Common Dog Violet and Blackthorn looking particularly attractive at the moment.
Blackthorn Prunus spinosa    Dungeness   20th April 2018 (Gill Hollamby)

Common Dog Violet Viola riviniana   Dungeness   20th April 2018 (Gill Hollamby)
Of note elsewhere was a Cattle Egret with the cattle at Dengemarsh on the RSPB Reserve.

19th Apr

With clear skies, no wind and very warm it was a day of quality rather than quantity with our first House Martin, four "Continental "Coal Tits, four Firecrests, a Ring Ouzel and two Bramblings being the best on offer on the land whilst a Red Kite and six Buzzards flew over. The sea was watched for most of the day for relatively few birds but they did include four Garganey, 16 Manx Shearwaters,  a Black-throated Diver, five Black-necked Grebes, 66 Whimbrel, four Great and 15 Arctic Skuas, 122 Little Gulls and 32 Arctic Terns. Three Marsh Harriers also came in from the south.

The flat sea provided excellent conditions for watching the Porpoises with a new record of a minimum of 88 being counted.





Harbour Porpoise Pochoena phocena   Dungeness   19th April 2018

A Red-eared Terrapin was seen at the Long Pits were an example of the very rare mining bee Andrena vaga was also found.

18th Apr

A bright and sunny, increasingly warm, day with a light SSE to SW breeze. Seawatching was reasonable for the first couple of hours but passage soon petered out whilst migrants were generally few and far between on the land.
The highlight on the land was a typically brief and flighty Serin and a handful of Willow Warblers were about the only other passage birds.
Nearly eight hours of seawatching produced one Eider, 26 Whimbrel, a Black-throated Diver, a Knot, six Great and ten Arctic Skuas, four Little Gulls, five Little Terns and nine Arctic Terns of note along with a trickle of Sandwich and Common Terns.

At least 20 Porpoise were feeding offshore.

Two Red-eared Terrapins were seen in the Long Pits.

A female Brimstone flew through the Observatory garden. Two Light Orange Underwing moths were seen in the trapping area.

17th Apr

With a light SSE wind which veered to the SSW during the day the beach was the place to be. A mammoth 13 hour seawatching session produced 168 Brent Geese, four Garganey, 15 Eiders, 711 Common and eight Velvet Scoters, seven Red-breasted Mergansers, 80 Red-throated and four Black-throated Divers, 38 Manx Shearwaters, 229 Gannets, 141 Whimbrels, 65 Bar-tailed Godwits, an excellent total of 82 Great Skuas, 28 Arctic Skuas, 125 Little Gulls, 891 Sandwich Terns, 831 "Commic" Terns and 62 identified Arctic Terns
A Merlin was also seen over the sea.

The land was almost totally lacking in any migrants.
Eider Somateria mollissima   Dungeness   17th April 2018
At least ten Porpoise were also feeding offshore and a party of four unidentified dolphins was also seen.

16th Apr

A clearer morning at last but it remains fairly slow on the land but with a steady trickle of birds east offshore throughout the day.
A few migrants in the bushes included just two Firecrests, ten Willow Warblers and three Lesser Whitethroats of note and ten Swallows and two Yellow Wagtails passed overhead. A Cetti's Warbler also trapped.
Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti   Dungeness   16th April 2018
A spring capture is quite unusua herel.
Jackdaw Corvus monedula   Dungeness   16th April 2018
Last year this species bred in the area for the first time since 1966 and this pair are breeding in the same chimney.. 
Over eight hours of seawatching produced five Eiders, 540 Common Scoters, a Manx Shearwater, 22 Great Skuas, nine Arctic Skuas and nine Little Gulls of note but overall numbers were fairly low.

At least 20 Porpoises were feeding offshore.

15th Apr

The place to be this morning (and in fact for most of the day) was on the beach were there was a strong easterly movement of birds. The most significant in terms of numbers were 1273 Brent Geese, 4432 Common Scoters, 110 Red-throated Divers, 481 Gannets, 109 Little Gulls, 449 Sandwich Terns and 407 Common/ic Terns whilst less usual records included two Eiders, 21 Red-breasted Mergansers, three Black-throated Divers, a Black Tern, five Great Skuas and 39 Arctic Skuas. Two Avocets also flew west.
It remains very quiet on the land with just four Willow Warblers, 20 Chiffchaffs, 15 Blackcaps, four Lesser Whitethroats, a Ring Ouzel, a Fieldfare and two Bramblings of interest.

At least 15 Porpoises were feeding offshore and a Brown Hare was seen along the road.

14th Apr

Yet another morning of thick fog and very few birds. Five Whitethroats, a Yellow Wagtail and a Brambling were about the only highlights on the land. A brief spell of clearer weather this afternoon produced a Great Northern Diver sat on the sea and two Great Skuas and three Arctic Skuas passing east of note.
Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto   Dungeness   14th April 2018
Not sure this species has been shown on our web pages before. Has bred in recent years so nothing too surprising about this
record except that it was in the Observatory Back Garden and I think the first time I have seen one in here.
Porpoises were very much in evidence this afternoon and with a fair amount of mating behaviour being seen.

Porpoise Phocoena phocena   Dungeness   14th April 2018
Two Light Orange Underwing moths were seen at the Long Pits.

13th Apr

Another dank, dreary morning with very few migrants around but some nice oddities. A Short-eared Owl appeared to arrive from the SE and headed NW across the area whilst being pursued by the local gull population and an Osprey flew east over the Long Pits having being flushed from the ground at the Oppen Pits. A Wood Lark and at least 15 Bramblings and a Bullfinch were also seen along with a Snipe and Green Sandpiper.
It was generally quiet offshore although not helped by the lack of visibility and where 34 Whimbrels and six Mediterranean Gulls were about the best on offer.

An excellent count of 41 Porpoises feeding close inshore was made. 

12th Apr

The fog continues and migrants remained thin on the ground but did include our first two Lesser Whitethroats of the year, two Firecrests, ten Wheatears, three Ring Ouzels, eight Bramblings and 18 Siskins.

11th Apr

Today was certainly a day of quality rather than quantity. The obvious highlight was a treecreeper which was found in the Lighthouse Garden in mid-morning. It was very elusive and showed itself on about a dozen brief occasions until dusk. Although a confusing individual plumage-wise it would appear to be Short-toed Treecreeper. The large feather of the alula showed a clear white margin, the upperparts were quite dull, greyish-brown, the primaries showed diamond-shaped white tips, the pattern of wingbars and the dull supercilium ending above the eye all support this identification. The call was also much better for Short-toed (quite different to Eurasian Treecreeper), a Dunnock-like or even Siberian Chiffchaff-like, hard, piping monosyllabic "sweee" which to my ear didn't really have the more usual Coal Tit-like quality to it which previous Dungeness birds have had but still very distinctive.  I do have some concerns about the apparent whiteness of the underparts and a slight discrepancy in the wing-tip formula but I think these are probably outweighed by all the pro features. 







Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla   Dungeness   11th April 2018
Despite an overall lack of migrants in any number there was plenty of additional quality with Little Ringed Plover, Yellow Wagtail and Tree Pipit all new for the year, flyover Rock Pipit and Hawfinch, a singing Wood Lark around the Observatory, four Firecrests, a Ring Ouzel, three Bramblings and nine each of both Redpoll and Siskin  

Firecrest Regulus ignicapilla   Dungeness   11th April 2018
At sea, a Manx Shearwater was new for the year and with two Garganeys, an Arctic Skua and four Mediterranean Gulls were the highlights of the days seawatching although the treecreeper and misty conditions combined to limit coverage after mid-morning.

Whilst waiting for the treecreeper to show a Weasel gave some fantastic views as it searched various rabbit burrows for prey.


Weasel Mustla nivalis   Dungeness   11th April 2018
The first Small White butterflies of the year were also seen.

10th Apr

Another day for the most part spoilt by thick fog. When the sea was visible there was a little movement to be seen with three Garganeys, four Red-breasted Mergansers and nine Whimbrel of note. A first-winter Caspian Gull was seen by the Fish Hut this afternoon.
The land remains fairly quiet although a Redstart was seen at the Long Pits and a Bullfinch and two Bramblings were found in the trapping area while more usual migrants included four Swallows, six Willow Warblers, seven Firecrests, nine Blackcaps and 27 Redwings.


Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans   first-winter   Dungeness   10th April 2018
Brambling Fringillia montifringilla   female   Dungeness   10th April 2018

Six Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

9th Apr

A damp, foggy day which provided a few notable birds but still feels lacking in the numbers of common migrants to be seen.
The best of the birds on the land was a Hawfinch which spent the morning flying around the north end of the Long Pits where a Jack Snipe was also flushed. Other unusual records included a party of six Egyptian Geese which flew west over the Observatory and our first two Ring Ouzels of the spring along with eight Firecrests, seven Willow Warblers, 13 Blackcaps, six Bramblings, a Redpoll, six Siskins and a Bullfinch. There were also a few "winter" thrushes about with 30 Fieldfares and 80 Redwings.
It was very quiet offshore with just three Shovelers and a Great Skua heading upchannel of note and the Glaucous Gull seen at the Patch again although visibility was very poor for much of the day.

A small overnight catch of moths included a Satellite.

8th Apr

A wet and calm morning seemed to promise plenty but on the whole failed to deliver. A Wood Lark was found just north of the trapping area and two Crossbills flew SE. Other grounded migrants included a decent total of 20 Firecrests along with 12 Chiffchaffs, three Willow Warblers, nine Blackcaps, a Fieldfare, five Song Thrushes and two Bramblings. A Jack Snipe was also seen near the Pumphouse. The sea was very quiet.
Wood Lark Alauda arvensis   Dungeness   8th April 2018
At least 20 Porpoises and a Common Seal were feeding offshore.

Two Brimstone butterflies were also seen.

7th Apr

Another decent day with light southerly winds and rain during the morning producing a few migrants on the land and a steady easterly passage of birds offshore.
Of note in the bushes were at 18 Firecrests, 18 Chiffchaffs, a Willow Warbler, eight Blackcaps, a Whitehroat, yesterdays Redstart still present and also a White Wagtail at the Power Station Sewage Treatment Unit while three Swallows, two Siskins and a Redpoll flew over. 
Birds of note offshore included two Garganeys, nine Pintails, two Black-throated Divers, the first Whimbrel (seven) and Arctic Tern (three) of  the spring, three Arctic Skuas, 37 Little Gulls and nine Mediterranean Gulls. The Glaucous Gull was still present.

Six Porpoises were feeding offshore.

6th Apr

The wind moved back into the south today and resulted in an excellent seawatch and with 12.5 hrs of coverage. Species of note were five Garganeys, four Pintail, three Scaup, 12 Velvet Scoters, four Black-throated Divers, four Arctic Skuas, 89 Little Gulls and the first two Little Terns of the year while numbers were provided by 56 Shovelers, 28 Teal, 3050 Common Scoters, 503 Gannets, 1747 Sandwich Terns and 649 Common Terns. The Glaucous Gull was also seen again and three Sand Martins came in - also new for the year for us. A ringtail Hen Harrier also flew south.

Small numbers of migrants continue to appear on the land with our first Redstart of the year seen at the Long Pits along with three Willow Warblers and two Firecrests.

Six Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

Elsewhere, the Hoopoe was seen again on various tracks between the Model Aircraft Club Airfield at Midley and Baynham Farm.


Hoopoe Upupa epops   Baynham Farm   6th April 2018
The Hoopoe was more mobile today and in the afternoon it was feeding in the garden of Baynham Farm.

5th Apr

With the wind changing to a north-westerly the offshore passage was virtually non-existent but a few birds continue to appear on the land.

The only birds of significance moving offshore were a Shag, three Little Gulls and three Mediterranean Gulls while the Glaucous Gull was seen at the Patch again along with a couple of Common Terns.

Grounded migrants included a Snipe, eight Firecrests, four Goldcrests, 25 Chiffchaffs and the first Whitethroat of the year. Birds moving overhead included a Rock Pipit, 120 Chaffinches, a Brambling and 12 Siskins.

At least  28 Porpoises were seen feeding offshore this morning.

A Brimstone butterfly was seen in the trapping area. This is a surprisingly scarce butterfly at Dungeness. The first Comma of the year was also seen.

Of great interest from elsewhere in the local area was a Hoopoe found on the track to the west of the drying barns at Midley.


Hoopoe Upupa epops   Midley Cottage   5th April 2018

4th Apr

A similar day to yesterday with a steady stream of birds moving east offshore and a few migrants on the land.

Another nine hours coverage of the sea produced 625 Brent Geese, two Pintails, 16 Eiders (one flock of drakes), 2808 Common Scoters and eight Red-breasted Mergansers, 150 Red-throated and one Black-throated Diver, a Red-necked Grebe, 35 Little Gulls, 12 Mediterranean Gulls, 631 Sandwich Terns, 39 Common Terns, three Great Skuas and seven Arctic Skuas.

Chiffchaffs dominated in terms of numbers in the bushes with a total of 35 birds seen along with a Willow Warbler, a Blackcap and ten Firecrests. At least three Bramblings were visiting the feeders again. 





Bramblings Fringilla montifringilla   Dungeness   4th April 2018
Couldn't resist another go photographing these very smart birds.
It was also a good days for mammals with six Porpoises and a Grey Seal feeding offshore and two Bank Voles, a Brown Hare and a Stoat being seen on the land.
Bank Vole Clethrionomys glareolus   Dungeness   4th April 2018