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Migration Time.

Staying at the Observatory

Autumn migration is nearly here. Why not join us for a few nights so that you can see migration up close and personal. You never know what you might see. Spaces available, just check out the website for details. 

17th July

A quiet but warm day on the shingle today with the interest largely being restricted to the sea again. Two Mediterranean Gulls headed east and a few Sandwich and Common Terns were feeding off the point.

Sand Martins were again on the move with 219 being recorded heading out towards from the point and a further c.100 feeding over the shingle opposite Prospect Cottage. Two Black Redstarts were present along the Power Station Fence.

Six Brown Hares including two leverets were present in the Desert. Three Porpoise and a Grey Seal were present off the Point.

A single Sussex Emerald was the best from two rather quiet moth traps.

16th July

A still warm day with the majority of the interest being restricted to the sea. An afternoon seawatch produced a single Common Scoter, two Mediterranean Gulls headed east and a few Common Terns and Sandwich Terns were feeding off the point.

Sand Martins have started to move with c.250 heading south across the Channel and a futher c.250 roosting on the shingle ridges and telegraph lines. Twelve Yellow Wagtails and Two Whimbrels were also recorded throughout the day.

Four Porpoise and two Grey Seal were also seen from the Fishing Boats.

15th July

There were five Mediterranean Gulls at the Patch this morning and a Marsh Harrier, a Green Sandpiper, 52 Sand Martins, 20 Swallows and 11 Yellow Wagtails flew over.

At least four Porpoise and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

Very poor for moths overnight with cold and breezy conditions.

14th July

Not a great deal to be seen today although coverage was somewhat limited by the televising of the final of the Cricket World Championships. A Garganey passed east offshore with two Common Scoters and four Mediterranean Gulls also flew east.

A Latticed Heath and the two micros, Calybites phasianipenella and Argyresthia goedartella were the highlights form the moth traps.

Three Porpoises were feeding offshore.

The Serin was still singing at Littlestone.


13th July

Very quiet on the bird scene with just a single Mediterranean Gull offshore and 50 Swifts and 11 Yellow Wagtails passing overhead.

A Lesser Emperor dragonfly which found its way into the Heligoland Trap was a very nice surprise.


Lesser Emperor Anax partenope   Dungeness   13th July 2019
The moth traps were very busy again with the highlights being two pyralids with our second record of Anania perlucidalis and a Neophopteryx angustella.

Anania perlucidalis and Neophopteryx angustella   Dungeness   13th July 2019

12th July

A Green Sandpiper was seen at the Long Pits and another was heard after dark at the Observatory, a Buzzard flew over and a Mistle Thrush was seen in the trapping area.
Eleven Mediterranean Gulls were seen offshore.

A search for dragonflies this afternoon at the Long Pits proved highly productive with a(the) male Lesser Emperor, six Small Red-eyed Damselflies, seven Red-veined Darters and two Common Emeralds being found.

The moth traps were also very busy this morning with our first record of Bloxworth Snout being the highlight. Other notable records included our 14th record of Large Emerald, seven Sussex Emeralds, our 19th True Lovers Knot and sixth ever Slender Brindle and also a Yarrow Plume



Bloxworth Snout Hypena obsitalis, Large Emerald Geometra papilionaria, Slender Brindle Apamea scolopacina, True Lovers Knot. Lycophotia porphyrea

A Brown Hare was also seen on the land and 12 Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.


Elsewhere, the Serin was still singing at Littlestone.

11th July

A quiet day on the bird front which produced just a Marsh Harrier, a Buzzard and seven Mediterranean Gulls of note.

Two Porpoises were feeding offshore. 

A Red-eared Terrapin was seen in the southern Long Pit.

There were plenty of moths in the traps this morning with the highlight being this superb Rose Plume. This is only the second Observatory record of this scarce plume having only being added to the list last year.
Rose Plume Cnaemidophous rhododactyla   Dungeness   11th July 2019
An afternoon check of the Long Pits proved worthwhile with the finding of a male Lesser Emperor dragonfly. 

Elsewhere, the Serin was still singing from its regular sites at Littlestone.

10th July

A quiet day on the Point with the only notable records coming from the sea. Two Yellow-legged Gulls and 12 Mediterranean Gulls heading east this afternoon were the best of a quiet sea watch.

At least three Porpoise and a single Grey Seal were also reported from the Fishing Boats.

The moth trap produced a further four fresh looking Sussex Emeralds this morning in what seems to be a good year for them. Also of note was our ninth record of Nut-tree Tussock
Nut-tree Tussock Colocasia coryli   Dungenesss    10th July 2019

9th July

A quiet day in the recording area today with a few Swifts, two Yellow Wagtails and a single Grey Wagtail noted over the Observatory this morning and nine Black Redstarts were seen around the Power Station compound. A single Whimbrel was also seen on the point this evening.

Four Sussex Emeralds were the best from the Moth Trap. 

Weasel was seen around the rabbit warren between West Beach and Lloyds.

In other news, the shieldbug found on the reserve has been identified as Geotomus petiti a new species for Britain! More on this to follow.

8th July

Most of the interest today was in Mediterranean Gulls with at least 74 passing east.

Several recently fledged broods of Black Redstart are a regular site around the perimeter of the power station.

Three Porpoise and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore and a Thresher Shark was also seen breaching.

Three Sussex Emeralds were the best of a poor nights moth trapping. The tachinid fly Tachina grossa was seen at the Long Pits. 


7th July

Birds passing offshore included 24 Mediterranean Gulls and a Little Tern. Very little on the land.

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

The moth traps were very disappointing following a cool night with just a singe Obscure Wainscot of any note.

On the RSPB Reserve, a Temminck's Stint was showing well from Firth Hide and four Wood Sandpipers were seen at the ARC Pit.

6th July

At least 14 Mediterranean Gulls were seen offshore but any other movement at sea was almost non-existent.
It was also very quiet on the land with a just few Swifts passing overhead of note.

Another decent catch of moths included three Sussex Emeralds, a Mottled Beauty (surprisingly scarce here - only the third Observatory record) and an Obscure Wainscot and the pyralid Dioryctria abietella

5th July

A few Swifts and two Yellow Wagtails passed overhead this morning and a juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker was caught in the moat.
Very quiet offshore with just two Mediterranean Gull this evening of note.

Two Porpoises were feeding offshore.

There are some very high numbers of butterflies around the Point at the moment with the populations of Marbled Whites and Small Skippers being particularly noticeable.

4th July

There was a small increase in the numbers of gulls feeding at the Patch and with 25 Mediterranean Gulls of note and another seven passing eastwards this afternoon. Two Grey Herons flew south and out to sea.

Five Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

The first of the second brood Brown Argus butterflies have started to appear.

3rd July

The first juvenile Yellow-legged Gull of the summer was feeding at the Patch and 11 Mediterranean Gulls were also seen offshore. A Little Egret came in from the south and at one point appeared to be trying to land at the Patch.

Six Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore,.

2nd July

Nothing much to report in the bird line with just 40 Swifts and a Yellow Wagtail overhead this morning.

A check of the Long Pits this morning produced four Red-veined Darters (including a mating pair)..


Red-veined Darters Sympetrum fonscolombii   Long Pits    2nd July 2019
Whilst the mothtrap produced our fifth-ever Cypress Carpet it will actually be remembered more for the sheer numbers of the pyralid Synaphe punctalis which came to the lights with a rough estimate of 15,000 individuals being recorded..
A moth trap full of mainly Synaphe punctalis





1st July

A Yellow Wagtail flew over the Observatory this morning and 600 Swifts flew west along the coast this evening.

Seven Mediterranean Gulls were the best from over two hours of seawatching.

The first Sussex Emerald was trapped overnight along with a Sitochroa palealis.

Mammals seen today included four Porpoise and Grey Seal offshore and two Brown Hares in the Deserts 


30th June

A quiet day with a Little Ringed Plover and a few Swifts overhead but not much else to report.


29th June

Very quiet with just nine Mediterranean Gulls and three Little Terns of note.

Two Brown Hare leverets were seen in the Desert and three Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

The Serin was still singing at Littlestone.

28th June

So much for the heatwave? Another day of howling, cold north-easterly winds continued to make observations difficult. Two Yellow Wagtails were the only birds of note.

The first Essex Skipper and Common and Ruddy Darters were seen today.




27th June

Very little to be seen in cold and very windy conditions. Two Mediterranean Gulls were about the best on offer.

Two Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

The Serin was still present at Littlestone.

26th June

Nothing to report on the bird front.

The mothtraps were very productive again with at least 135 species recorded including Pale Oak Beauty and Small Fanfoot - both fourth Observatory records.

Small Fanfoot Herminea grisealis and Pale Oak Beauty Hypomecis punctinalis
Dungeness   26th June 2019
Elsewhere, the Serin was still singing at Littlestone.

25th June

Nothing to report on the bird front but more thunderstorms in the early hours brought a small arrival of migrant moths. Unfortunately the storms also resulted in power cuts which obviously affected the catch but there was one notable highlight in the form of the 4th British record of the superb pyrale Chrysocrambus linetella.
Other bits in the traps included four Dioryctria abietella and our 3rd record of Red-necked Footman
Elsewhere, a Ringed Border was caught at Littlestone - the third area record of this very recent colonist.
Chrysocrambus linetella   Dungeness   25th June 2019

Red-necked Footman Atolmis rubricollis   Dungeness   25th June 2019


Ringed Border Stegania cararia   Littlestone   25th June  2019
Six Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

24th June

The highlight of the day on the bird front was a brief visit to the Point of two Bee-eaters which came in over the New Lighthouse, flew round the Old Lighthouse and then quickly headed north and out of sight this afternoon. Four Yellow Wagtails also passed through during the day. A visit to the Patch produced our first juvenile Mediterranean Gull and Black-headed Gull of the summer.

Despite continuing low numbers of the moths in the traps last nights effort produced some surprising records with only the third Dungeness example of the Common Rock-rose feeding pyralid Hypochalcia ahenella. The last Dungeness record was in 1986. In addition, another pyralid, Dioryctria abietella was also likely to be a migrant. We also had our earliest-ever Langmaid's Yellow Underwing.
Large numbers of Painted Lady butterflies are now starting to arrive.



Hypochalcia ahenella, Dioryctria abietella and Langmaid's Yellow Undering.   Dungeness    24th June 2018


23rd June

Very little to report. A Marsh Harrier was hunting over the Desert.

Three Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore and two Brown Hares were seen in the Desert.  

Butterflies seen today included 40 Painted Ladys but the moth traps were very quiet with just 51 moths caught in two traps and nothing of note.

22nd June

Very quiet with just a Corn Bunting over the Observatory of note on the land.

A Porpoise was seen offshore and a Brown Hare was seen on the beach.

Last night at around midnight there was another impressive but brief display of Noctilucent Clouds.

Another display of Noctilucent Clouds   Dungeness   21/22nd June 2019

21st June

A Mediterranean Gull which flew west was the only bird of note.

Two Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

20th June

Very little change on the bird front.

A Brown Hare was seen in the Desert.

Strong winds continue to hinder butterfly and dragonfly observations but numbers of Painted Lady seemed to increase during the day.

The Serin was singing again at Littlestone.

19th June

Prolonged thunderstorms overnight and at first light produced few new birds with just 27 Swifts of interest.

A Stoat was seen.

The moth traps were not run  and the weather limited butterfly and dragonfly sightings. 

18th June

A Curlew, 31 Swifts and a Grey Wagtail flew over the Observatory this morning and five Mediterranean Gulls were feeding offshore.

Three Porpoises were feeding offshore and a Brown Hare was seen in the Desert.

A Red-eared Terrapin was seen in the Southern Long Pit.

The moth traps were a bit better than of late with a Rest Harrow and a Rosy Wave of note. In addition, another 61 Rest Harrow moths were seen at the three locations around the Long Pits. 

A Marbled White in the Moat was the first of the year.




17th June

A Buzzard, 40 Swifts and a Grey Wagtail flew over.  Five Mediterranean Gulls were seen offshore.

A Porpoise and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

A new colony of Rest Harrow moths was found inside the Power Station perimeter but the moth traps themselves were disappointing.

16th June

Two Yellow-legged Gulls were seen at the Patch this morning and a Mediterranean Gull flew west this evening. Quiet on the land except for 60 Swifts flying over the Observatory this morning.

Three Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

A White Colon was the highlight of another small overnight catch of moths and a Variable Damselfly was seen at the Long Pits.

The long-staying Serin was seen at Littlestone again.

15th June

A Mediterranean Gull was seen offshore and 72 Swifts and a Yellow Wagtail flew over the Observatory.

Two Porpoises were feeding offshore.

The Serin was still singing from its chosen trees at Littlestone.


14th June

Two Manx Shearwaters this morning were about the only birds of note.

A single Porpoise was feeding offshore.

The first Hornet Hoverfly Volucella zonaria of the year was seen in the trapping area.

Volucella zonaria   Dungeness   14th June 2019

13th June

Very little in the way of new migrants but a Cuckoo was a nice capture in the Heligoland Trap in the moat and an Arctic Skua flew east offshore.

Cuckoo Cuculus canorus   Dungeness   13th June 2019
Checking of the moth traps last night showed that there were very few moths on the wing but whilst outside I witnessed as a brief but spectacular display of a rare Noctilucent Clouds.


Noctilucent Clouds at 2300hrs  last night   Dungeness   13th June 2019



12th June

The highlight of the day was a Honey Buzzard which came in and passed over the trapping area before heading off west and over to the RSPB Reserve at around 0935hrs. Other migrants were virtually non-existent.

Late news from yesterday concerns two Great White Egrets which flew out to sea during the morning.

The Serin was still singing in its usual place at Littlestone.

11th June

A much nicer day but still not a great deal to be seen. A Corn Bunting was seen on the power station wall and two Tufted Duck flew west offshore.

The first Small Skippers of the year were seen and two Variable Damselflies were found at the Long Pits.

The Serin was still showing well at Littlestone.

10th June

A thoroughly miserable day of almost constant rain which severely limited any coverage but allowed plenty of administration to be done.

The Serin was still showing itself at Littlestone.

9th June

Another fairly uninteresting day on the bird front with three Mediterranean Gulls offshore and a lone Willow Warbler at the Long Pits. There were lots of young Stonechats and at least two family parties of Black Redstarts in the area.

Three Porpoises were feeding offshore.

The first Rest Harrow moths are starting to appear.
Rest Harrow Aplasta onoraria   Dungeness   9th June 2019

8th June

Another foul morning of high winds and frequent torrential rain produced just ten Manx Shearwaters and an Arctic Skua of note.

One Porpoise was feeding offshore. 

7th June

An increasingly wet and windy day which produced just three Mediterranean Gulls and an Arctic Skua offshore. Very quiet on the land with just 110 Swifts overhead of interest,

Two Porpoise and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

6th June

Three Barnacle Goose flying over the area this morning was the dubious avian highlight of the day.

At least two Brown Hares were seen near the Sanctuary and a Grey Seal was feeding offshore.

The first Large Skippers and Meadow Brown of the year were seen and seven Variable Damselflies were seen at the northern end of the Long Pits.


5th June

A Turtle Dove was singing at the Long Pits and just about manages to scrape itself onto the Observatory area year list. A second-summer Yellow-legged Gull was on the beach at the Patch.

An excellent total of nine Variable Damselfly were seen at the top end of the Long Pits.

Elsewhere, the Serin remains at Lttlestone.

4th June

Bright and sunny at first but quickly turning to rain and then continuing for much of the day and with fog at times.Nothing much to report on the bird front other than a Mediterranean Gull moving east this morning.

Four Porpoises were seen offshore.

A Roseate Tern was seen on Burrowes this afternoon and evening. The Serin continues to sing at Littlestone.

3rd June

Very little to report today. A Spotted Flycatcher in the trapping area and four Mediterranean Gulls at the Patch were about the best on offer.

Two Porpoises were feeding offshore.

Three Hummingbird Hawk-moths (including a mating pair) were seen on the Power Station wall. A worn Grizzled Skipper was the first for a few days.

2nd June

A fresh southerly breeze today resulted in an increase in the numbers of birds offshore with 11 Eiders, 368 Common Scoters, 30 Mediterranean Gulls and three Arctic Skuas passing through of note.
Very quiet on the land.

Four Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

The overnight moth traps produced a couple of minor surprises in the form of our fourth Grass Rivulet and seventh Small Yellow Wave
Grass Rivulet Perizoma albulata   Dungeness   2nd June 2019
Small Yellow Wave Hydrelia flammeolaria   Dungeness   2nd June 2019
Elsewhere, the male Serin continues its vigil at Littestone.

1st June

A Garganey and a Great Skua flew east and three Mediterranean Gulls flew west this morning while an evening watch produced a party of three Pomarine Skuas
Very quiet on the land with just a Corn Bunting of note.

Mammals seen today included a minimum of 21 Porpoises and two Grey Seals offshore and a Weasel and a Brown Hare on the land.

Two Red-eared Terrapins were sunning themselves in the warm weather at the Long Pits.
Spring is here. Why not come and stay at the Obs and get up close and personal with the birds as they travel back to Britain.

31st May

Two Spotted Flycatchers were seen in the bushes and a Grey Wagtail flew over.

The sea was very quiet.

Three Variable Damselflies were seen at the Long Pits.
Variable Damselfly Coenagrion pulchellum   Dungeness  31st May 2019
A month or so ago a colony of Common Twayblade was discovered growing under Sallows at the Long Pits and was a new species for the area. These are now in flower but are deep in shade so a flash was needed to get any sort of decent picture.
Common Twayblade Listera ovata   Dungeness   31st May 2019


30th May

Another very quiet day but the morning seawatch did produce seven Manx Shearwaters, a Shag and three Mediterranean Gulls of note.

Five Variable Damselflies were found at the North end of the Long Pits.

29th May

A very quiet day with nothing in the way of new migrants to report.

A Brown Hare was seen in the Desert.

28th May

Three Spotted Flycatchers were the best of any migrants on the land whilst seawatching produced an Arctic Skua and three Mediterranean Gulls.

Nine Porpoises and singles of Grey and Common Seal were feeding offshore and a Brown Hare was seen at the Point.

Two Variable Damselflies were seen at the north end of the Long Pits. Very small numbers are seen just about annually but are hard to find among the large numbers of Azure Damselflies.
Variable Damselfly Coenagrion pulchellum   Dungeness   28th May 2019
A tiny 'micro-moth' caught on 23rd April has now been identified as Tinagma balteolla. This is a highly range restricted species with Dungeness being an important site for it although it has never been caught in the moth traps at the Observatory.
Tinagma balteolella   Dungeness   23rd April 2019

27th May

Another very quiet day with just a Willow Warbler and a Mistle Thrush of any note on the land. The best the sea had to offer was six Mediterranean Gulls.
One of the Bitterns could be heard calling from the RSPB Reserve again.

A Grey Seal was feeding offshore.

Insects continue to provide plenty of interest with the highlight today being the finding of what appears to be a Privet Sawfly Macrophya punctumalbum. A check of the NBN Atlas which although now a bit out of date suggests that this is something of a rarity in the south-east and may even be a new species for Kent. 
Privet Sawfly Macrophya punctumalbum   Dungeness   27th May 2019n
The Serin continues to sing at the junction of Madeira Road and St. Andrews Road in Littlestone.

26th May

Very little to report today. 

Three Porpoise and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore and a Brown Hare was seen in the Desert.

The Serin continues to sing and show well at Littlestone. 

25th May

Very little to report today. Several hours of seawatching produced just singles of Manx Shearwater and Arctic Skuas and six Mediterranean Gulls of note while the best the land could offer were singles of Mistle Thrush, Spotted Flycatcher and Tree Pipit and two Corn Buntings.

Six Porpoises were feeding offshore.

Elsewhere, the male Serin continues its stay at Littlestone. 

24th May

Thick fog at dawn quickly cleared to a leave bright and sunny day. Very little in the way of migrants to be seen with just a Spotted Flycatcher of note. The sea was also very quiet.

Three Porpoises and a Grey Seal were seen from the shore while the boat fisherman reported a pod of 15-20 White-beaked Dolphins feeding about a mile offshore this morning but out of sight from the mainland due to the fog.

Large numbers of Brown Argus and six Red Admirals were seen.

An interesting looking bug was found in the Observatory garden which initial research suggests it is Beosus maritimus and which appears to be a fairly good record.

Beosus maritimus   Dungeness   24th May 2019

23rd May

The bird of the day was a Bee-eater but as is typical with this species at Dungeness it was only heard as it headed over the Point in an easterly direction. Other bits and pieces included two Marsh Harriers, two Mistle Thrush, a Yellowhammer and two Corn Buntings. It was so cam this morning that it was possible to hear a Bittern calling from the RSPB Reserve.

Three Brown Hares were seen.

Another new plant species for the area was found growing in good numbers in next doors back gardens this morning. It is Common Fiddleneck Amsinckia micrantha and is a non-native plant originating from North American. However, it is not one that you would deliberately plant and has probably not come out of bird seed. It is also still quite a rare plant in Kent

Common Fiddleneck Amsinckia micrantha    Dungeness   23rd May 2019


22nd May

Very few migrants again but a superb male Red-backed Shrike which spent the day in the moat and was trapped in the late afternoon was the obvious highlight. The only other migrants of note were a Hobby, a Whinchat and a Spotted Flycatcher.

Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio   Dungeness   22nd May 2019
Two Brown Hares were seen in the Desert.

Brown Argus continue to be seen in good numbers and are actually the commonest butterfly in the area at present..

21st May

There was a thin scattering of migrants on the land including a Garden Warbler and a Spotted Flycatcher in the moat, a Firecrest in the trapping area and eight Corn Buntings in the Broom around the Point while a Buzzard, three Yellow Wagtails and a Tree Sparrow flew over.
The sea was very quiet with just one Black Tern of note.

A Porpoise and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

Brown Argus continue to be seen in good numbers and a Holly Blue was seen in the trapping area.

The Serin continues to sing in its chosen trees at Littlestone and a Bee-eater was seen flying over Lade Pit

20th May

 Another day with very few birds on the land or at sea but with some surprises. The most unlikely bird of the day was a stunning male Brambling caught in the trapping area whilst other bits included four Grey Herons, a Buzzard, a Spotted Flycatcher, two Yellow Wagtails and a Siskin. Mediterranean Gulls were also seen at the Patch and flying over the Long Pits.
Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata   Dungeness   20th May 2019
Brambling Fringilla montoifringilla   20th May 2019   

A Grey Seal was feeding offshore and two Brown Hares were seen in the Desert..

A couple of plants of the nationally scarce Crimson Clover were found growing in the rough ground in front of the Observatory and is a new species for the area.
Crimson Clover Trifolium incarnatum   Dungeness   20th May 2019
Elsewhere in the area the clear highlight was an adult Whiskered Tern which spent most of the day flying around Burrowes Pit on the RSPB Reserve and the eighth Dungeness record. This was then joined later in the day by a Roseate Tern. At times it was possible to photograph both birds in the same view.





Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida    Dungeness RSPB Reserve   20th May 2019


Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii   Dungeness RSPB Reserve   20th May 2019

Whiskered Tern and Roseate Tern    Dungeness RSPB Reserve   20th May 2019