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Migration Time.

10th Nov

Seawatching in the fresh easterly breeze produced a surprising total of 86 Sandwich Terns heading into the wind this morning along with a Black-throated Diver, 109 Kiittiwakes and three Great Skuas while a Great Northern Diver flew west in the afternoon.
A briefly seen Long-eared Owl was the best of a handful of birds seen on the land which also included a Marsh Harrier and five Firecrests.  

9th Nov

Seawatching produced a few interesting bits and pieces with a Long-tailed Duck, a Black-throated Diver, 18 Sandwich Terns and a Great Skua of note.
Very quiet on the land with just 19 Stock Doves, a Firecrest, a few Blackbirds, a Fieldfare and a Brambling of interest.

A Weasel was seen.

A late Painted Lady was also seen.

8th Nov

Limited coverage today with just a Blackcap and two Firecrests of note.

7th Nov

The morning seawatch produced five Teal, two Mediterranean Gulls, two Sandwich Terns and two Great Skuas and later in the day, a drake Goosander of note while five Swallows, a Firecrest, 20 Redwing and a Rock Pipit were the best on offer on the land.

Two Porpoises and singles of Grey and Common Seal were feeding offshore.

6th Nov

There was a trickle of birds overhead and offshore but very little in the way of grounded migrants. Highlights on the land included a Great White Egret (feeding in the flood waters in the Desert), three Marsh Harriers, a Buzzard, a Woodcock, four Merlins, five Bramblings, five Rock Pipits and six Redpolls of note. The Shore Lark was still at the fishing boats.
Four hours of seawatching produced a female Goosander, 327 Kittiwakes, three Little Gulls, two Mediterranean Gulls, 12 Sandwich Terns, a Great and an Arctic Skua and best of all, a lone Little Auk in the afternoon. 

5th Nov

After heavy overnight rain the day itself was very pleasant but generally quiet for birds. The Shore Lark continues to show very well around the puddles at the fishing boats and five Firecrests and two Blackcaps were seen in the bushes. Seven Swallows, three Bramblings and a handful of Siskins and Redpolls flew over.
Very quiet offshore other than a steady passage of Razorbills

Shore Lark Eremophila alpestris   Dungeness   2nd (top) and 5th (bottom) November 2019
Quite a contrast in its appearance during the storm conditions of last Saturday and today.
The feeding station in the trapping area was stocked with food for the first time this autumn having been abandoned since April. It was interesting to see just how quickly the Great and Blue Tits and Chaffinches discovered the food with five minutes between walking away from the feeders and the first visits by birds. 
Feeding Station

4th Nov

A calm and dry first few hours but then extremely wet for most of the rest of the day. There were a few migrants in the bushes with 70 Goldcrests, 11 Firecrests, ten Chiffchaffs, two Blackcaps, two Bullfinches and the highlight of a Yellow-browed Warbler at the Long Pits. The Shore Lark was still feeding around the puddles at the fishing boats. There was also some visible migration including 28 Skylarks, four Swallows, three Bramblings, 28 Redpolls and 11 Siskins

A White-speck moth was trapped overnight.
White-speck Mythimna unipuncta   Dungeness   4th November 2019
A Brown Hare was seen in the Desert.

3rd Nov

A pleasant morning after yesterdays storm with a decent movement of birds both offshore and overhead and a few birds in the bushes.
The morning seawatching produced ten Egyptian Geese, two Velvet Scoters, 39 Mediterranean Gulls, 22 Sandwich Terns, two Great Skuas, a juvenile Pomarine Skua and 483 Razorbills of note.
The Shore Lark was still feeding at the fishing boats while the bushes held at least ten Chiffchaffs, 17 Firecrests and 120 Goldcrests. Birds moving overhead included seven Sparrowhawks, a flock of 400 Golden Plovers, 128 Skylarks, four Swallows, 78 Chaffinches, two Bramblings, 16 Siskins and 48 Redpolls.

Two Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore and a Stoat was seen on the land.

2nd Nov

A dismal day once the weather closed in with storm force winds and prolonged rain. Very little of interest with the Shore Lark and the long-staying colour-ringed Caspian Gull still on the beach for much of the day and a couple of Firecrests in the moat.

1st Nov

A day with almost constant rain and fresh to strong southerly winds. There were large numbers of 'crests including 10 Firecrests and a handful of Chiffchaffs, Blackbirds and Black Redstarts. The Shore Lark was still feeding around the puddles at the fishing boats. A few birds were also moving offshore with three Pintails, four Red-breasted Mergansers, three Mediterranean and four Little Gulls, 36 Sandwich Terns and singles of Great and Arctic Skuas of note.

One Porpoise was feeding offshore.

31st Oct

A day of oddities rather than large numbers (except for 1000 Goldfinches) and the Shore Lark still present on the beach at the fishing boats. The oddities included a Woodcock, a Little Owl in the trapping area, a Dartford Warbler in the Desert, 15 Firecrests and flyover Bearded Tit, Twite (two), and Lapland Bunting.





Shore Lark Eremophila alpestris   Dungeness   31st October 2019
A Grey Seal was seen offshore.

A late Hummingbird Hawkmoth was seen at the Lighthouse Garden.

Finally, today saw the end of two seasons work by Jacques Turner-Moss as Assistant Warden. A big thank-you to Jacques for all the hard work he has put in collecting data and ringing birds for the Observatory, helping to welcome guests and day visitors, sharing the Observatory work with them and representing the Observatory in many other ways.

Staying at the Observatory

Autumn migration is here. As well as birds there are moths and crickets to enjoy. Why not join us for a few nights and experience it for yourself. Spaces available, just check out the website for details. 

30th Oct

Strong easterly winds and heavy cloud this morning produced another small arrival of birds with 20 Firecrests, six Mistle Thrushes and a few Blackbirds and the highlight of a "lesser whitethroat" which showed all the features of one of the eastern races. At this stage it seems likely to be a 'Central Asian Lesser Whitethroat" Sylvia curruca halimondendri rather than the more expected blythi. Features which support this identification include the sandy brown upperparts extending over the nape and on to the crown, extensive pure white in the outer tail feathers, a short wing measurement of 63mm, a short 2nd primary falling between primaries 7 and 8 and a short primary extension. This subspecies was added to the British list in the latest report of the British Birds Rarities Committee with details of just eight records. A few feathers were dislodged during the handling process and DNA analysis of these will hopefully provide conclusive proof so watch this space. 

 




Central Asian Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca halimondendri   Dungeness   30th October 2019
In addition, the Shore Lark had returned to its feeding site at the fishing boats where it was also trapped and ringed this evening.





Shore Lark Eremophila alpestris   Dungeness   30th October 2019
A few looks atthe sea were generally disappointing but three Sandwich Terns were still lingering offshore.

29th Oct

A cold and strong N wind veering easterly during the day made for difficult viewing conditions but there were a few birds in the bushes and plenty offshore. The highlight of the day was a Shore Lark which spent about 30 minutes on the beach at the fishing boats before it was flushed and flew off to the north - the first Observatory record of this species since 2005.




Shore Lark Eremophila alpestris   Dungeness   29th October 2019
Other notable birds on the land included a Wood Lark, 11 Swallows, eight Long-tailed Tits, 14 Firecrests, 45 Goldcrests and 14 Mistle Thrushes.
There were lots of birds moving offshore but many were very distant making identification difficult. The surprise here was a Snow Goose among a flock of Brent Geese of which 2900 passed through. Other decent bits and pieces included 30 Shelduck, 144 Wigeon, two Gadwall, 13 Shovelers, 12 Red-breasted Mergansers, a Black-throated Diver, nine Little Gulls, six Mediterranean Gulls and a Great Skua.

I also ran the Audiomoth nocturnal migration (NOCMIG) recorder last night with some excellent results. Thrushes dominated as would be expected with 61 Blackbirds, 982 Redwings, 176 Song Thrushes and five Fieldfares while Dunlin and Snipe were also recorded along with what sounds like a Stone-curlew.

A Grey Seal and two Porpoises were feeding offshore.

Of note elsewhere (and perhaps relating to the above) a Stone-curlew was found this afternoon on the open shingle to the north of the ARC Pit.





28th Oct

A cold, calm morning produced a few birds in the bushes and flying overhead but the sea was very quiet. The highlights of the day were a Yellow-browed Warbler and a Siberian Chiffchaff along with two Woodcocks, a large arrival of Blue Tits, seven Firecrests, 60 Goldcrests, a Mistle Thrush, a Grey Wagtail, a Rock Pipit, 12 Bramblings, a male Bullfinch, 14 Redpolls and 15 Siskins.
Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus   Dungeness   28th October 2019





Siberian Chiffchaff Phylloscopus colybitta (tristis)   28th October 2019
 A Brown Hare was also seen.

27th Oct

A calm and sunny but cold morning for a change. There were a few migrants on the land with nine Chiffchaffs, a Dartford Warbler at the Station Gorse again, four Firecrests, ten Black Redstarts, a late Whinchat and two Wheatears. A few birds also flew over including 14 Bramblings, 20 Lesser Redpolls, seven Siskins and ten Reed Buntings.
The colour-ringed first-winter Caspian Gull was still at the fishing boats but it was quiet offshore with just a Gadwall and 14 Mediterranean Gulls of note.

A Brown Hare was seen.

26th Oct

A wet and very windy day. The first couple of hours saw a bit of movement offshore with two Velvet Scoters, 1058 Gannets, 46 Kittiwakes, four Mediterranean Gulls, 52 Sandwich Terns, two Great and one Arctic Skua and 49 Razorbills of note.
Very quiet on the land in the miserable weather.

A Brown Hare was seen on the shingle at the fishing boats.

25th Oct

A much quieter morning with fewer birds in the bushes and limited overhead passage. The best of the birds on the land were a Jay, two Firecrests, two Ring Ouzels, two Dartford Warblers in the Station Gorse, 17 Black Redstarts and a late Wheatear whilst seven Swallows, two Bramblings and 600 Goldfinches flew through.
"Greenland" Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe   Dungeness   25th October 2019
There was a bit of movement offshore with 3.5 hrs of seawatching producing 785 Gannets, 250 Kittiwakes, a Little Gull, 50 Mediterranean Gulls, 40 Sandwich Terns, a Great Skua, six Arctic Skuas and 70 Razorbills. There were two first-winter Caspian Gulls and a first-winter Yellow-legged Gull at the fishing boats.
Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans   crX86C   Dungeness   25th October 2019
The regular German colour-ringed bird
.

24th Oct

A day of more of the same with eight Swallows, 15 Chiffchaffs, two Blackcaps, 18 Firecrests, 90 Goldcrests, two Fieldfares, 35 Song Thrushes, a Mistle Thrush, 11 Black Redstarts, two Grey Wagtails, a Rock Pipit, ten Bramblings, 14 Redpolls and 30 Siskins of note. 
The early morning seawatch produced a Pintail, a Red-breasted Merganser, 620 Gannets, 11 Knot, five Mediterranean Gulls, 27 Sandwich Terns and three Arctic Skuas of interest in two hours. An afternoon watch added 11 Mediterranean Gulls and 24 Sandwich Terns.

I have been playing the Audiomoth sound recorder for the last two nights and have recorded some large movements of thrushes with 420 and 234 Redwings, 180 and 261 Song Thrushes and 32 and 42 Blackbirds over both sessions. Also recorded were a Ring Ouzel and nine Black Redstarts on the 22nd/23rd and a Golden Plover and a single Black Redstart on 24th.

Two Brown Hares were seen near the Sanctuary and a Weasel was also seen.

23rd Oct

A strange day with a fresh easterly blowing which produced nine Firecrests and 22 Black Redstarts but not a great deal else in the way of grounded migrants other than a few Goldcrests and Song Thrushes. Visible migration was dominated by Goldfinches with 1800 seen but again very little in the way of a supporting cast other than a Grey Wagtail, two Bramblings and six Redpolls.
A drake Eider flew west close in along the beach, ten Mediterranean Gulls were feeding offshore and the regular colour-ringed Caspian Gull was still coming in to bathe in the puddles by the fishing boats.

22nd Oct

The day began with clear skies and low-level mist but this quickly developed into thick fog for most of the morning. Once this cleared it was a lovely sunny afternoon.
The foggy conditions encouraged a few migrants to pass through with a Short-eared Owl, two Wood Larks, 14 Chiffchaffs, a Reed Warbler, three Firecrests, 40 Goldcrests, two Ring Ouzels, 18 Song Thrushes, four Wheatears, eight Bramblings and 25 Reed Buntings and a minor rarity in the form of a Yellowhammer of note.
The sea was fairly quiet but a Black-throated Diver flew east and 120 Golden Plovers flew west and three Little Gulls and six Mediterranean Gulls were feeding offshore. The german-ringed Caspian Gull was seen at the fishing boats again and was joined for a time by a new second-winter bird.

At least 12 Porpoises were feeding offshore.

21st Oct

An interesting day with fresh northerly winds bringing heavy skies and occasional rain. There was a good variety of migrants in the bushes with highlights including two Woodcocks, a Green Sandpiper, three Merlins, a late Willow Warbler, a Firecrest, 25 Goldcrests, 20 Ring Ouzels, 70 Song Thrushes, two Mistle Thrushes. Visible migration was also of interest with 145 Fieldfares, two Rock Pipits, 120 Chaffinches, 19 Bramblings and five Siskins.

One of the Merlins found its way into the wheelhouse of one of the fishing boats and enabled us to catch and ring it. It was noticeably large in the hand and when measured it had a wing length of 238mm which puts it right on the extreme top end of the range of the larger Icelandic race Falco columbarius subaesalon.





Merlin Falco columbarius ssp subaesalon  Dungeness   21st October 2019

Ring Ouzel Turdus torquatus  adult female   Dungeness   21st October 2019
The juvenile Sabine's Gull was still present and even made a visit to the rainwater pools at the fishing boats this afternoon where the regular colour-ringed (X86C) Caspian Gull and a first-winter Yellow-legged Gull were also present. Additional Caspian and Yellow-legged Gulls were also seen at the Patch.
Sabine's Gull Xema sabini   juvenile   Dungeness   21st October 2019
Sewatching produced six Barnacle Geese (wild birds?), 112 Brent Geese, a Shoveler, 20 Wigeon, three Tufted Ducks, three Eiders, 30 Mediterranean Gulls, three Great Skuas and three Arctic Skuas.

One Porpoise was feeding offshore.

A Red-green Carpet (only the sixth Observatory record), a Satellite and a Delicate were the highlights from a couple of very soggy mothtraps.


20th Oct

The highlight of the morning was the catching of a Yellow-browed Warbler in the moat while other grounded migrants included 20 Chiffchaffs , two Firecrests, 15 Goldcrests, a Ring Ouzel, 15 Blackbirds and a Bullfinch. There were a good number of birds passing overhead as well with 430 Stock Doves, a Wood Lark, 3000 Starlings, three Grey Wagtails, five Rock Pipits, three Bramblings, 11 Redpolls, 28 Siskin and 50 Reed Buntings of note.


Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus   Dungeness   20th October 2019
The Sabine's Gull was feeding  at the Patch and the regular colour-ringed Caspian Gull was roosting on the Point again. Around 30 Mediterranean Gulls and eight Arctic Skuas were loitering offshore.

19th Oct

Grounded migrants were scarce but there was an excellent diurnal migration and a very good offshore movement. the clear highlight of the day was a super juvenile Sabine's Gull which appeared around midday and spent the rest of the day feeding along the beach between the fishing boats and the boardwalk. Other notable seabirds included a Velvet Scoter, 958 Gannets, 29 Little Gulls, ten Mediterranean Gulls, 510 Sandwich Terns, 11 Great Skuas and 29 Arctic Skuas and 42 Razorbills.
The visible migration was dominated by 7700 Goldfinches along with two Marsh Harriers, 47 Stock Doves. a Wood Lark, 34 Skylarks, 370 Swallows, a Rock Pipit, a Grey Wagtail, six Siskins and eight Reed Buntings.

Sabine's Gull Xema sabini   juvenile   Dungeness   19th October 2019

A Grey Seal was feeding offshore.