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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 Oct

A very quiet day with just small numbers of birds in the bushes and very little in the way of offshore movement.
The highlights on the land were three Swallows, a Ring Ouzel, two Firecrests, a Rock Pipit, 12 Bramblings, 40 Redpolls, 540 Goldfinches and 65 Siskins while the best of the little bit at sea were an adult Pomarine Skua and 47 Mediterranean Gulls along with 16 Sandwich Terns were lingering offshore.

Two Porpoises were also seen.

Last night and this morning we had a visit from Neil McCarthy from BBC Radio 4 who was recording a piece about Dungeness at night and including a thread about moths and moth trapping at the Observatory. 

30th Oct

A strong NW wind was blowing again this morning and there were relatively few birds to be seen. The best of the morning's seawatch were a Tufted Duck, four Mediterranean Gulls, three Little Gulls and nine Sandwich Terns. It was even quieter in the afternoon but a first-winter Caspian Gull and an adult Yellow-legged Gull came to the offerings of bread. A Rough-legged Buzzard was seen from the RSPB reserve as it flew out to sea over the Lifeboat Station.
Very quiet on the land in difficult conditions.

Two Porpoises were feeding offshore and a Brown Hare was seen along the roadside.

29th Oct

A total of six hours of seawatching produced some good totals and unusual species but is still not yielding any really significant seabirds. Of particular note were five Velvet Scoters, a Long-tailed Duck, 17 Little Gulls, nearly 400 Mediterranean Gulls and a Hen Harrier which flew out to sea. Other bits and pieces included 196 Brent Geese, 33 Shelduck, 50 Wigeon, a Pintail, 20 Teal, 34 Dunlin, a Knot, and 18 Sandwich Terns.

Although most of the interest was offshore a few birds were seen on the land and included this fine Ring Ouzel seen at very close range in a private garden on the Point and two Dartford Warblers were also nearby. Starlings continued to arrive with 765 birds seen to come in from the east.




Two Porpoises were feeding offshore.

28th Oct

With strong NE winds and plenty of seabirds been seen along the English east coast yesterday it was hoped for something here but despite plenty of movement there were no real notable seabirds to be seen. Coverage throughout most of the day did produce 1530 Brent Geese, 46 Shelducks, 63 Wigeon, two Gadwall, nine Red-breasted Mergansers, an Avocet, 12 Knot, 89 Dunlin, 165 Mediterranean Gulls, a Little Gull and nine Sandwich Terns of interest. Two Caspian Gulls were on the beach in the afternoon and a German-ringed Great Black-backed Gull was also seen. A few passerines also came in with a Woodlark and 520 Starlings of note.




Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans   first-winter   Dungeness   28th October 2018



Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans   second-winter   Dungeness   28th October 2018

Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus   first-winter   Dungeness   28th October 2018
Ringed with Green H103 - probably a german-ringed bird.aption
Coverage of the land was more limited in the difficult conditions but two Woodcocks, three Firecrests and three Bramblings were of note. A Barn Owl was seen after dark.

One Porpoise was feeding offshore.

27th Oct

Very cold with strong NW winds. There was a very small passage of birds overhead with three Fieldfares, three Bramblings and ten Siskins of note. There was also some movement offshore with 394 Brent Geese, two Gadwall, 17 Wigeon, four Velvet Scoters and 90 Common Scoters along with a Pomarine Skua, 50 Mediterranean Gulls, 100 Kittiwakes and 40 Sandwich Terns lingering. 
Brambling Fringilla montifringilla   Dungeness   27th October 2018
This bird spent most of the day feeding around the Observatory.
Two Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

26th Oct

A cold day with fresh NW winds, some rain and not much to be seen. Seawatching continues to provide good numbers of Mediterranean Gull and Sandwich Terns along with single Great and Arctic Skuas and a few Brent Geese and auks passing through. A third-year Yellow-legged Gull was also on the beach at the fishing boats.
Very quiet on the land except for 30 Goldcrests in the trapping area and 15 Redpolls overhead.

Two Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

Elsewhere, Cattle Egrets and Great White Egrets continue to be seen in good around the Reserve and coming in to roost at ARC each evening. Caspian Gulls and Yellow-legged Gulls are appearing in the evening roost on Burrowes. A few Ring Ouzels have been seen around the Reserve and in Lydd and several Dartford Warblers have appeared across the peninsula this week.

25th Oct

A quiet morning with very little in the way of grounded migrants and just a trickle of birds overhead. The best of the birds on the ground was a Dartford Warbler. Of those passing overhead, a Golden Plover, 39 Fieldfares, 12 Bramblings, 20 Redpolls, 30 Siskins and three Crossbills were the most significant. 

24th Oct

Most of the birding interest was in a steady visible migration which produced 45 Stock Dove, seven Swallows, a Woodlark, 15 Skylarks, two Mistle Thrushes, five Fieldfares, five Tree Sparrows, four Rock Pipits, 22 Bramblings, 305 Chaffinches, 60 Siskins, 26 Redpolls, four Crossbills and 29 Reed Buntings. Grounded migrants included a late Wheatear and three Firecrests and two Dartford Warblers were seen in the Desert again.
There was very little offshore movement but 500 Mediterranean Gulls were still present.

Three Porpoises were feeding offshore.

The moth trap was almost devoid of moths but two Hummingbird Hawkmoths were seen around the Observatory and a good variety of butterflies were noted including 25 Red Admirals and late Common Blue, Speckled Wood and Small Heath. The insect highlight however was a male Vagrant Emperor which spent about 45 minutes around the Moat this afternoon. This is the first Observatory record of this rare visitor.

Vagrant Emperor Anax ephipper   Dungeness   24th October 2018

23rd Oct

A fresh, clear day which began quite cold and generally uneventful. Mediterranean Gulls continued to dominate offshore with 270 birds this afternoon along with at least 54 Sandwich Terns.
Very quiet on the land and the best of the visible migration were two Merlins, two Rock Pipits, 22 Redpolls and 12 Siskins.

A Porpoise and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

The afternoon saw a steady arrival of Red Admirals coming in from the east.

The day, however, ended with a spectacular sunset.

This evening's sunset

22nd Oct

With a fresh and cold NW wind blowing migration was at a very low ebb with just a handful of finches passing through and very little else of interest. 
The sea was also quiet with the exception of around 1500 Mediterranean Gulls still feeding offshore and with a couple of Arctic Skuas in attendance.

Despite the cold night the moth traps were surprisingly productive again with two Vestals and a Delicate of some note.

21st Oct

A bright and sunny morning produced a decent bit of visible migration with a Buzzard, 40 Skylarks, seven Swallows, three House Martins, 4000 Starlings, three Grey Wagtails, two Rock Pipits, seven Bramblings, 120 Redpolls, ten Crossbills, 70 Siskins and 25 Reed Buntings and also three Great White Egret which flew west along the shore. Grounded migrants were limited to a few Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests
Offshore passage was also fairly limited in the calm conditions with three Arctic Skuas and a Great Skua seen in the afternoon when the huge flock of around 2000 Mediterranean Gulls was still feeding offshore.

Three Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

Despite the cold conditions overnight three Vestals and a Scarce Bordered Straw were caught in the moth traps.

A Brown Argus and very fresh Small Coppers and Common Blues were seen today. 

20th Oct

Another morning with decent numbers of migrants to be seen, The most numerous species were 50 Chiffchaffs, nine Blackcaps and 40 Goldcrests and less usual birds included a Ring Ouzel and two Fieldfares.  A Wheatear was also seen near the New Lighthouse and a Tree Sparrow was in the Old Lighthouse Garden. Visible migrant was also fairly good with 17 Skylarks, 1600 Starlings, four Grey Wagtails, two Rock Pipits, 23 Bramblings, 50 Lesser Redpolls, three Crossbills, 100 Siskin and 20 Reed Buntings.

The main feature for seawatchers was the continuing presence of huge numbers of Mediterranean Gulls offshore and a new record day count of 2050 birds. A Great Skua was also hunting them down. Actual passage though was almost non-existent.

At least six Porpoises were feeding offshore.

A Clouded Yellow was seen in the Moat.  

19th Oct

Today saw the first large arrival of Goldcrests of the autumn with at least 120 birds around the area as well as 30 Chiffchaffs, four Firecrests, a Ring Ouzel and 30 Song Thrushes and also a Yellow-browed Warbler. Overhead passage was also reasonable with a Woodlark, 25 Skylarks, three Rock Pipits, 14 Bramblings, 45 Lesser Redpolls, four Crossbills, 300 Goldfinches, 120 Siskins and 30 Reed Buntings.
Seawatching was fairly slow but 300 Mediterranean Gulls were counted as they fed offshore this afternoon.

Yellow-browed Warbler Phyllosopus inornatus   Dungeness   19th October 2018
Lesser Redpoll Acanthis cabaret   Dungeness   19th October 2018
A Belgian-ringed bird.

A Delicate was trapped overnight.   

18th Oct

The day was dominated by two species. Seawatching this morning was quiet for passage but there were a record-breaking 1900 Mediterranean Gulls feeding offshore while the afternoon brought another autumn record with a total of 6200 Brent Geese moving west. Other bits on the sea included four Eiders, three Great Skuas and 200 Kittiwakes.
The land was fairly slow going with just a few Chiffchaffs in the bushes and a Wheatear in the Desert. Overhead passage consisted of a few Skylarks, two Fieldfares, pipits and finches with a Rock Pipit and five Bramblings and 50 Siskins of note.

A Common Seal, two Grey Seals and two Porpoises were feeding offshore.

Cold and fresh winds overnight limited the moth catch but two Green-brindled Crescents were of some note. 

17th Oct

A few grounded migrants were present with the autumn's best total so far of Goldcrests (only eight), 30 Chiffchaffs, five Blackcaps, 25 Song Thrushes, nine Redwings and a brief Yellow-browed Warbler in the Lighthouse Garden.
Visible migration was also full of interest with five Great White Egrets coming in from the East, a Hobby, 73 Jackdaws, two Wood Larks, two Grey Wagtails, seven Rock Pipits, two Bramblings, seven Redpolls, 210 Siskins and 63 Reed Buntings.

The early morning seawatch produced over 1200 Gannets west along with a Great Skua and six Arctic Skuas whilst 320 Mediterranean Gulls were lingering offshore. Two Merlins flew out to sea.

With the warm weather continuing there was a good scattering of butterflies to be seen with four Clouded Yellows and a Brown Argus of note.

The excellent moth trapping continued again overnight with the obvious highlight being our second Beautiful Marbled of the year and an excellent supporting cast of a Gem, five Vestals, four Delicates, two Dark Sword-grass, a Turnip, one Udea ferrugalis and an exceptional total of six Palpita vitrealis.
Two Hummingbird Hawkmoths were also seen. 


Beautiful Marbled Eublemma purpurina   Dungeness   17th October 2018
Our second record of the autumn.

Gem Orthonama obstipata   Dungeness   17th October 2018



Vestals Rhodometra sacraria   Dungeness   17th October 2018
Three different individuals showing variation in colours.

16th Oct

A fine, warm morning with a few grounded migrants including two Yellow-browed Warblers of note (one in the Lighthouse Garden and one near the Pumphouse at the Long Pits) along with five Firecrests, five Goldcrests, 13 Redwings and eight Song Thrushes. There was a steady stream of Siskins and Goldfinches overhead which was joined by a Wood Lark, a Grey Wagtail, two Rock Pipits, two Crossbills and 22 Reed Buntings.

Seawatching was very quiet although 16 Mediterranean Gulls were around this afternoon.

Two Porpoises were feeding offshore.

The moth traps proved extremely productive overnight although most of the good stuff was actually taken off the wall during the previous evening rather than from the traps when entered. The highlights were two pyralids, Hellula undalis which was new for the trap and the fifth area record and a Spodalea recurvalis, the second observatory and sixth area record. In addition two Palpita vitrealis were also of note. Four Hummingbird Hawkmoths were seen during the day.
Hellula undalis   Dungeness   16th October 2018
The first Observatory record of this very scarce migrant

Spoladea recurvalis   Dungeness   16th October 2018
The second Observatory record of this migrant but part of a remarkable arrival across southern Britain overnight.
Also clinging to the side of the moth trap this morning was a Western Conifer Seed Bug.   

The continuing very warm weather is also prolonging the flight periods of some of our butterflies with two very freshly emerged Meadow Browns seen today and at least 70 Red Admirals on the wing.

For the second day running there was no sign of any Asian Hornets on the ivy in the Lighthouse Garden so it may be that the previous individuals were migrants rather than attending an undiscovered nest. 

15th Oct

It was another day of relatively few birds on the land but it was good in quality with three Yellow-browed Warblers being the stars of the show. One was found and later caught in the trapping area, one was in the garden of Southview Cottage and one was at the top end of the Long Pits. Two Firecrests, 18 Redwings, 15 Song Thrushes, three Wheatears and eight Black Redstarts were also noteworthy. Overhead movement consisted mainly of a few Goldfinches and Siskins along with a Hobby, a Grey Wagtail, a Rock Pipit, a Brambling, a Crossbill and 65 Reed Buntings.
Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus   Dungeness   15th October 2018
Offshore passage was very limited but 66 Mediterranean Gulls with three Arctic Skuas in attendance were seen. Two Great Skuas also flew west.

Three Porpoises were seen offshore and a party of three Brown Hares were seen near the Sanctuary.

Moth-trapping was very disappointing with just a Clancy's Rustic of any note.

There was no sign of any Asian Hornets today and yesterdays individual has been taken away for genetic analysis. Several Ivy Bees were feeding on the Ivy flowers in the Lighthouse Garden.

14th Oct

It was fairly quiet for grounded migrants with two Merlins, a Firecrest, a Mistle Thrush and a few Song Thrushes and Blackbirds being about the best to be seen although the Wryneck made another brief appearance in the Desert. Visible migration was much more noticeable with 65 Skylarks, a Grey Wagtail, two Rock Pipits, two Bramblings,1300 Goldfinches, 780 Siskins and 56 Reed Buntings.
It was also a strange day offshore with a massive arrival of over 1000 Mediterranean Gulls into the area along with large numbers of Kittiwakes and Sandwich Terns and ten or so Arctic Skuas in attendance.


Mediterranean Gulls Icthyaetus melanocephalus   Dungeness   14th October 2018
Just part of the huge flock of Mediterranean Gulls and Kittiwakes feeding offshore today

Three Porpoises and a Grey Seal were also feeding offshore.

The event of the day on the insect front was the finding and capturing of another Asian Hornet Vespa vetulina as it fed on Ivy flowers at the Lighthouse Garden and what a stunner it is. Sadly as it is considered a very harmful invasive pest species and it cannot be released back into the wild.


Asian Hornet Vespa velutina    Dungeness   14th October 2018
In the field shots.

Admiring the Asian Wasp - the first wasp to be twitched in Britain?




Asian Hornet Vespa velutina   Dungeness   14th October 2018
A few close-up shots 
With a mass arrival of migrant moths across the country as a whole our moth traps were actually fairly disappointing with just the pyralid Palpita vitrealis of note but it was very windy so we were probably lucky to get this, A Blair's Shoulder-knot was also caught - only the 12th Observatory record.

Later in the day a Western Conifer Seed Bug was found at the Observatory. 
Western Conifer Seed Bug Leptoglossus occidentalis   Dungeness   14th October 2018

13th Oct

With the strong but very warm winds still blowing seawatching was the order of the day. Nearly eight hours of observations produced a Pintail, 2000 Gannets, four Great Skuas, 36 Arctic Skuas, 474 Mediterranean Gulls, 410 Kittiwakes, 225 Sandwich Terns and two late Black Terns of note, mostly passing westwards.
A first-winter Caspian Gull was seen on the beach at the fishing boats this afternoon.

A few Song Thrushes were seen in the bushes and 1700 Goldfinches and 250 Linnets passed through.

Two Porpoises and a Grey Seal were seen offshore.

The moth traps were very quiet in the windy conditions but a Hummingbird Hawkmoth was seen in the field and the caterpillar that was found on Sep.12th also hatched out.
Hummingbird Hawkmoth Macroglossom stellatarum   emerged from pupa    13th October 2018

The saga of the Asian Hornet continues with a male seen in a private garden and then it/or another individual was trapped not far away in the lighthouse garden.
Asian Hornet Vespa vetulina   male   Dungeness    13th October 2018   (D.Bunney)

12th Oct

Another very windy day which made observations on the land very difficult whilst the sea was disappointingly quiet again.
Gannets and Sandwich Terns continued to push through but 4.5 hours of watching produced just two Shovelers, two Great Skuas, maybe 15 Arctic Skuas, 52 Kittiwakes and seven Mediterranean Gulls of additional interest.
A few Goldfinches flew south, a Little Owl was found in the Desert and a Firecrest was still present in the lighthouse garden. A couple of late Sand Martins were also seen.
Seawatching at dawn   Dungeness   12th October 2018
Two Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

Overnight moth trapping produced a Delicate, a Scarce Bordered Straw and a Clancy's Rustic of note.

Ivy Bees were feeding in good numbers in the Lighthouse Garden but the disturbing news on the insect front was that David Bunney videoed an Asian Hornet Vespa velutina in his garden yesterday. Despite searching it was not seen today.
Asian Hornet Vespa vetulina  11th October 2018  (D.Bunney))
This wasp was first seen in Europe in France in 2004 and has since spread rapidly from there across much of western Europe and was first recorded in Britain in 2016. It is considered one of the most harmful of all the invasive species listed by European Union  and is of particular concern because of its likely impact on the European Honeybee Apis mellifera. Please report any confirmed sightings to the Observatory or direct to the GB Non-native Species Secretariat.

11th Oct

A day with strong SSE winds and most of the interest offshore. Nearly seven hours seawatching produced five Sooty Shearwaters, 150 Mediterranean Gulls, an Arctic Tern and five Great Skuas of note along with a few wildfowl including 61 Brent Geese, six Shoveler, six Pintail, an Eider and three Red-breasted Mergansers. At least three Arctic Skuas were also lingering offshore.
It was very quiet on the land with just 17 Skylarks and a few Goldfinches heading out to sea, a Firecrest in the Lighthouse Garden and 12 Song Thrushes scattered around the Point.

Two Grey Seals were feeding offshore.

10th Oct

A few grounded migrants were present this with a Firecrest, ten Chiffchaffs, six Blackcaps, four Redwings, four Song Thrushes, four Wheatears and three Bearded Tits were in the reedbed at the Long Pits. The Wryneck was still present but continued to be fairly elusive. 
Visible migration also picked up a bit with a Buzzard, 45 Chaffinch, 250 Goldfinch, 230 Siskins and 20 Reed Buntings and also a flock of 20 Crossbills of note. 

The sea was very quiet with just two Mediterranean Gulls, 53 Sandwich Terns and two Arctic Skuas of interest.

A Delicate was the best of the overnight trapping and two Hummingbird Hawkmoths were seen during the day.

9th Oct

Although there was very little in the way of new grounded migrants there was still plenty of interest with the Wryneck showing again in the Desert and a Yellow-browed Warbler showing well at times in the trapping area. Other grounded migrants included 15 Chiffchaffs, 14 Redwings, six Song Thrushes, a Whinchat and two Wheatears.
There was also bit of visible migration with 150 Siskins of note along with a Merlin, two Yellow Wagtails, seven Grey Wagtails. six Bramblings, 75 Goldfinches and 25 Reed Buntings.
There was no signs of passage offshore but 28 Mediterranean Gulls were feeding off the fishing boats were of note.

One Porpoise was seen.

The moth traps turned up a goodie in the form of a Porter's Rustic. Not the most stunning of moths to look at but it is very rare in Britain and a new species for the Observatory traps. A Barred Yellow and a Beaded Chestnut were also trapped and three Hummingbird Hawkmoths were feeding in the Red Valerian around the Observatory.
Porter's Rustic Proxenus hospes   Dungeness   9th October 2018

8th Oct

A calm morning resulted in an interesting day on the land. With Yellow-browed Warblers turning up in numbers elsewhere it was not unexpected that one would turn up here but when it did it was extremely elusive and seen by only one person. Also very elusive were a Long-eared Owl at the Long Pits and a Wryneck in the Desert. The most spectacular sight of the day was probably a flock of nine Great White Egrets which came in low from the south east and headed steadily inland. 
Other grounded migrants included 30 Chiffchaffs, ten Blackcaps, two Fieldfares, 18 Redwings, 12 Song Thrushes, a Mistle Thrush, a Whinchat and a Wheatear while a Green Sandpiper, seven Grey Wagtails, five Bramblings, 60 Siskins and 20 Reed Buntings passed overhead.
The sea was very quiet with just two Mediterranean Gulls of interest.

Four Porpoises were feeding offshore.

A Hummingbird Hawkmoth was seen feeding at the Red Valerian near the Observatory.

Elsewhere, a co-ordinated roost count from Burrowes and ARC (by MC) produced a total of 23 Great White Egrets and five Cattle Egrets. The former equals the recent record count but omits the nine birds which came in earlier in the day and which presumably flew straight through.

7th Oct

After a wet and very windy night the day began with fresh northerly winds and clear skies which resulted in a decent amount of movement on both the land and sea.
Grounded migrants included a Firecrest, 25 Chiffchaffs, a Ring Ouzel, ten Song Thrushes, 16 Redwings, a Fieldfare a Redstart and a Wheatear. Overhead passage also provided some interest with five Grey Herons, two Buzzards, a Marsh Harrier, five Sparrowhawks, six Grey Wagtails, four Rock Pipits, 45 Chaffinches, eight Bramblings, 75 Goldfinches and 60 Siskins.
There were also plenty of birds moving in both directions offshore including a party of four distant Barnacle Geese heading west, 425 Brent Geese, 12 Pintail, six Teal, over 560 Gannets, 134 Mediterranean Gulls, 74 Sandwich Terns, five Arctic Skuas and a juvenile Pomarine Skua.

Two Porpoises and single Grey and Common Seals were feeding offshore.

6th Oct

A calm and sunny morning saw more Chiffchaffs arriving but very little else in the way of grounded migrants other than 15 Blackcaps and 10 Song Thrushes. Overhead passage was rarely busy but by the end of the morning a Mistle Thrush, three Tree Sparrows, nine Grey Wagtails, two Rock Pipits, a Brambling, 30 Goldfinches,150 Siskins and 75 Reed Buntings had flown through.
Very quiet offshore with just three Arctic Skuas and three Mediterranean Gulls of interest before the weather closed in in the afternoon.

Four Porpoises were feeding offshore.

Moth trapping produced a Hummingbird Hawkmoth and a Delicate.

5th Oct

With clear skies and almost no wind it was very quiet on the land with just a handful of Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps in the bushes and single Wheatear and Rock Pipit on the ground. Visible migration was limited to a party of six Buzzards, a Tree Sparrow, two Grey Wagtails, 40 Siskins and 30 Reed Buntings.
Passage offshore was also fairly slow and limited mainly to Sandwich Terns during the morning. However, there was a notable influx of at least 102 Mediterranean Gulls on the sea and beach. A Great Northern Diver and a Great Skua also flew west and a Manx Shearwater flew east and at least five Arctic Skuas were lingering.  


Mediterranean Gulls Ichthyaetus melanocephalus   Dungeness   5th October 2018
Two colour-ringed birds were among a group of birds on the beach.
Three Porpoises were feeding offshore. A Badger was running around the moat as we opened the nets in the morning.

The moth trap was quiet for migrants but in the afternoon a Convolvulus Hawkmoth larva was found and brought to the Observatory. We provided it with a pot of compost and it promptly buried itself and began to pupate.

Convolvulus Hawkmoth Agrion convolvuli   larva   Dungeness    5th October 2018
A Spiked Shieldbug was also found.
 
Spiked Shieldbug Picromerus bidens   Dungeness   5th October 2018

Elsewhere, six Cattle Egrets and 14 Great White Egrets came in to roost at the ARC Pit.