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Ongoing Excavation Works.

Please be aware that there are extensive ongoing excavation works around the Observatory until after Christmas. Please be very careful driving over the moat and note that parking may be difficult. We are, however, open for business and welcome anyone interested in winter birding around Dungeness.

31st Mar

A change in the weather this morning with a cold North east breeze blowing from first light. Very little was recorded on the land with only three Chiffchaffs, two Wheatear and a Blackcap of note, a Ring Ouzel was also photographed by the Lifeboat Station.

The sea fared much better with a steady stream of waterfowl throughout the day. A total of 609 Brent Geese, 579 Common Scoter, six Red-breasted Mergansers, six Teal, three Shoveler, two Pintail, a Garganey, a Shelduck and a single female Eider flew west. Other species of note were two Grey Plover, two Dunlin, 73 Sandwich Terns as well as the first Common Terns of the year, with ten being noted.

A single Merlin was seen going out early this afternoon.

A Grey Seal was seen offshore, along with 13 Porpoise.

30th Mar

A few more migrants around this morning. A total of 12 Chiffchaffs were recorded today along with six Wheatear, six Firecrest, five Black Redstarts, two Blackcaps and a Willow Warbler. A Ring Ouzel was recorded by the New Lighthouse, a Crossbill was seen in the trapping area and a Little Egret passed north over the area this morning.

The sea was very productive today with a total of 1006 Common Scoter, a single Velvet Scoter, 678 Brent Geese, 26 Wigeon, 17 Red-throated Meganser, 16 Garganey, six Teal and four Shelduck. A single Black-throated Diver was seen with 42 Red-throated Divers. 132 Sandwich terns moved east along with 21 Little Gulls.

Three Brown Hares were seen on the Estate and at least 15 Porpoise were present on the sea.

29th Mar

A frosty clear start to the day, rapidly changing to thick fog but clearing by mid-morning which produced very few migrants, a single Blackcap was trapped in the moat whilst only four Chiffchaffs were recorded. Three Black Redstarts and two Wheatears were also recorded in the trapping area. The undoubted highlight for one observer was a Serin feeding with a Linnet flock close to the Old Lighthouse and identified from photographs this evening.

The sea produced a single female Eider floating towards the patch this morning although little other waterfowl was recorded with only two Shoveler, seven Red-breasted Mergansers and 13 Common Scoter all moving east. A single Great Skua was also noted.

A Weasel was seen close to the old lighthouse. Singles of both Common and Grey Seal along with at least ten Porpoise were also recorded on the sea.

The warm weather this afternoon also brought out several butterflies with the Large Tortoiseshell again being seen in the trapping area. A Hummingbird Hawkmoth was also noted.

28th Mar

A still and cloudy day with few migrants but a couple of notable records. A total of 11 Chiffchaffs were present in the recording area along with one Blackcap, two Wheatear and three Firecrests. A Great White Egret flew out to sea, two Egyptian Geese and a Water Rail dropped into the Moat.

A small passage of wildfowl was recorded on the sea with 41 Brent Geese passing north along with 33 Scoter, five Red-breasted Merganser, three Shelduck, three Garganey and an Arctic Skua.

A single Brown Hare was seen in the Desert and 35 Porpoise were recorded from the Fishing Boats.

27th Mar

A surprisingly quiet day today considering the still and cloudy conditions. At least two Willow Warblers were present in the moat along with a single Firecrest.

A scattering of migrants were seen across the recording area including 25 Chiffchaffs, four Wheatears, two Black Redstarts, three Ravens, three Siskins, a Rock Pipit, a Swallow and a single Brambling.

Seawatching today produced 57 Sandwich Tern, 651 Brent Geese, five Wigeon, six Red-breasted Merganser and a Teal.


Also present on the sea were 20 Porpoise and a Grey Seal.

26th Mar

Another quiet day for land migrants with 22 Chiffchaff, 13 Wheatear and two Black Redstarts being the only spring migrants noted. Two Snipe and two Woodcock were also noted in the recording area.

The sea was again quiet with 58 Brent Geese, 110 Sandwich Tern, 40 Oystercatchers and five Bar-tailed Godwit recorded throughout the day.

Ten Porpoise were also seen on the sea.

The highlight of the day for one lucky observer was again the Large Tortoiseshell being seen within the same area of the trapping area.

25th Mar

Another fairly quiet day on the bird front, a small number of spring migrants were noted including nine Wheatear, four Black Redstarts, 15 Chiffchaffs, a Willow Warbler and a Firecrest. Also of note were a total of five Bramblings which were seen in several locations in the recording area.

The sea was also quiet with the only birds of note being a total of 202 Brent Geese.

Three Harbour Porpoise were also seen.

Two Light Orange Underwing moths were seen at the Long Pits.

24th Mar

Fairly quiet on the bird front but not without interest with a Garganey east offshore, a Redshank and a Swallow over the Long Pits and a Willow Warbler in the trapping area all new species for the year. In addition, 18 Chiffchaffs, three Black Redstarts, eight Wheatears, a White Wagtail and a Siskin were also seen.

The highlight of the day for one lucky observer though was a Large Tortoiseshell watched for several minutes in the trapping area just before mid-day. What was presumably a second individual was being watched at more or less the same time at Kerton Road just north of our recording area.
Large Tortoiseshell Aglais polychloros   Dungeness   24th March 2019   (James Dee)
Also of great note elsewher, a Kentish Plover was found on the beach at Greatstone. At least three Cattle Egrets were still feeding in the fields between Lydd and Boulderwall.




23rd Mar

Last night produced one of the best movements of nocturnal migrants for a long time with huge numbers of Redwings and Fieldfares providing the bulk of the calling birds but also flocks of Wigeon, Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwits, Snipe, Dunlin, Blackbirds and a few Song Thrush being noted.
As is often the case the numbers of grounded migrants this morning did not really reflect the night movement but a Woodcock and two Snipe, 45 Chiffchaffs, a Blackcap, seven Goldcrests, 40 Redwings, 11 Black Redstarts, three Wheatears, a Brambling, six Siskins and a minor rarity in the form of a Yellowhammer were scattered around the Point or passed overhead. A Pheasant was also seen in the trapping area.
The sea was quiet for the first few hours but from mid-morning a small movement of wildfowl developed with 307 Brent Geese, 26 Shovelers, six Mallard and three Red-breasted Mergansers along with 17 Grey Plovers, six Mediterranean Gulls, a Little Gull, 179 Sandwich Terns and an Arctic Skua of note.

Three Porpoises were also seen. 

22nd Mar

Typical early spring migrants continued to trickle through with 50 Chiffchaffs, two Blackcaps, a Fieldfare, 11 Redwings, seven Black Redstarts and ten Wheatears of note. Overhead, at least 500 Chaffinches passed through (many more heard but unseen as they were above the low cloud) and five Siskins visited the feeding station in the trapping area.
A few Brent Geese and Common Scoters moved up-channel and a Great Skua flew west.

Six Porpoises and a Common Seal were feeding offshore. 

21st Mar

Another decent arrival of migrants in calm and cloudy conditions with 43 Chiffchaffs, the first Blackcap of the spring, five Firecrests, five Black Redstarts, 15 Wheatears and 45 Redwings of note.
Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochrurus   Dungeness   21st March 2019
Offshore passage was almost non-existent although a couple of Great Skuas were seen.

A Mink seen at the Long Pits was a rare but unwelcome sighting and two Porpoises were feeding offshore.

20th Mar

A damp start to the day encouraged a decent arrival of early migrants through the day with a Woodcock, 35 Chiffchaffs, four Firecrests, 75 Redwings and 13 Wheatears on the ground. Great Tits were also very noticeable with several very pale (continental?) birds among them. 
It was pretty quiet offshore although several hours of watching produced 98 Red-throated Divers, a Mediterranean Gull and an Arctic Skua of note.



Great Tit Parus major   Dungeness   20th March 2019
Several migrant birds appeared to be moving through the area this morning. Five birds were trapped in the Moat and
were noticeably paler yellow below than usual and the upperparts were very grey.

Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe   Dungeness   20th March 2019
 

19th Mar

A bright and sunny day with light SW winds. Not a great deal of change with a Buzzard, 18 Chiffchaffs, six Firecrests, two Wheatears and a Bullfinch of note.

Firecrest Regulus ignicapilla   Dungeness   19th March 2019

Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis   Dungeness   19th March 2019
This is always a scarce visitor to the back garden feeders.
At least 50 Sandwich Terns and a Mediterranean Gull passed eastwards.

The first Small White butterfly of the year was seen. 

A Stoat and a Brown Hare were seen.

18th Mar

A calm morning at last but just a handful of migrants on the land and very little movement offshore.
Eight Firecrests, ten Chiffchaffs, a Wheatear, and a Brambling were of note on the land. A party of four Buzzards also flew over.
A Velvet Scoter, 32 Sandwich Terns and a Great Skua were of note offshore.

Firecrest Regulus ignicapilla   Dungeness   18th March 2019


Two Porpoises were feeding offshore and a Brown Hare was seen near the railway station.

17th Mar

Brighter conditions than of late although still with a cold wind resulted in a small arrival of migrants  with two Woodcock, four Wheatears, 20 Chiffchaffs and eight Firecrests of note. At least three Black Redstarts and ten Stonechats were also present.
Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe   Dungeness   17th March 2019

Stonechat Saxicola rubicola    Dungeness   17th March 2019
Although not as distinctive as some individuals this bird may well be of the continental subspecies rubicola.
Very quiet offshore other than an early movement of scoters with 176 Commons and three Velvet Scoters and also a Great Skua of note.

Two Porpoises were feeding offshore.

The recording areas only patch of Primrose is now in full flower in the trapping area.
Promrose Primula vulgaris   Dungeness   17th March 2019

16th Mar

Another very windy and occasionally wet day. Seawatching was the main feature again with 4.5hrs of observations producing 612 Brent Geese up-channel and a Shelduck, two Mallard, 164 Fulmars, 305 Gannets and seven Great Skuas. The Czech-ringed Caspian Gull and three Yellow-legged Gulls were among the masses of gulls feeding along the shoreline.


Great Skua Stercorarius skua   Dungeness   16th December 2019
T
The land was barely covered in the poor conditions but a Merlin and a White Wagtail were seen near the Lifeboat Station.

There was an obvious increase in Porpoise numbers with at least ten feeding off the fishing boats. A Common Seal was also present.

I have also just received details of one of our Lesser Redpolls ringed here on 28th October 2017 and seen again at Whitehead, Antrim, Northern Ireland on 20th February 2019. A duration of 480 days and a distance travelled of 619km.

15th Mar

The run of dismal weather continues and induced a bit of offshore movement although it was mostly down-channel with eight Wigeon, 256 Fulmars and 634 Gannets of note while 184 Brent Geese flew up-channel. Large numbers of gulls continue to feed along the shoreline with two Caspian Gulls and two Yellow-legged Gulls of note.
A Snipe, six Chiffchaffs and two Firecrests were of note on the land.
Caspian Gull Larus cachinanns   Dungeness   15th March 2019
The Czech-ringed bird was first seen at Dungeness on 5th December 2018
Two Porpoises were feeding close inshore.

14th Mar

A wet and windy start to the day but sunny in the afternoon. Most of the interest was among the large numbers of gulls feeding on the masses of sealife being washed up onto the beach. The highlights were four Caspian Gull (all first-winter and including a Czech colour-ringed individual which had been seen here previously on 5th December last year. Also in the melee were four Mediterranean Gulls and four Yellow-legged Gulls. There was little sign of any movement offshore with just 26 Fulmars of any note.

A Woodcock was seen in the trapping area and six Chiffchaffs, two Firecrests and five Goldcrests were scattered across the area.

Two Porpoises were feeding offshore.

13th Mar

Another very quiet day with fresh to strong, cold NW winds. A Snipe and a Firecrest were the only birds of note.

12th Mar

The wet and very windy weather continues. There was a decent movement of birds offshore this morning with 849 Brent Geese, five Gadwall, seven Pintails, two Mediterranean Gulls and six Great Skuas of note but limited observations on the land to a Firecrest and a Chiffchaff.

One Porpoise was seen offshore.

11th Mar

Another pretty quiet day with the continuing strong and cold NW wind. Two Chiffchaffs were seen at the Long Pits and a Firecrest was seen in the trapping area.

Two Porpoises were feeding offshore.

10th Mar

Very little to be seen on a very windy day. There was a small arrival of thrushes with six Fieldfare and 14 Redwings around the Point. The sea was very quiet.

9th Mar

Very quiet. A Great Skua passing west was probably about the best on offer today. 

8th Mar

Another quiet day. The best of the birds on the land were four Firecrests and three Siskins. There was very little movement offshore but two Eiders and two Mediterranean Gulls passed through and another individual was feeding at the Patch.

Two Porpoises were feeding offshore and two Brown Hares were seen on the land.

Elsewhere, on the RSPB Reserve, the drake Smew continues to be seen on New Excavations and a Black-necked Grebe can be seen from Christmas Dell. The two Whooper Swans are still with the Mute Swans between Cockles Bridge and Lydd and the four Cattle Egret can be seen in the small horse paddock on the north side of the Lydd to Dungeness Road. The occasional Swallow and House Martin have also been on the Reserve. 

7th Mar

The obvious event of the day was the arrival of the first Wheatear of the year - a male around the cottages near the Lifeboat Station. Three Firecrests and seven Stonechats were also seen.

Two Brown Hares were seen.

6th Mar

Almost all the interest was offshore today in fresh to strong SSW winds and frequent heavy showers. Over seven hours of watching produced a mainly easterly movement of 2130 Brent Goose, 13 Teal, two Eiders, a Velvet Scoter, 381 Common Scoters, four Red-breasted Mergansers, 149 Red-throated Divers, 45 Fulmars, 537 Gannets, five Curlews, 108 Kittiwakes and two Mediterranean Gulls. One Great Skua flew west.
Very quiet on the land although a Wood Lark came in off the sea and just a Chiffchaff, a Firecrest and a few Reed Buntings were also of note.

5th Mar

A quiet day. Seawatching produced 400 Brent Geese and an adult Caspian Gull was seen at the fishing boats. Two Firecrests were seen on the land and three Siskins flew over.

A Brown Hare was seen by the railway station and a Porpoise was feeding offshore.

4th Mar

A wet and windy day with not a great deal to be seen. Two Firecrests in the trapping area were about the best of the birds in the bushes. Over 4.5 hrs of seawatching produced 275 Brent Geese, a Mediterranean Gull, 13 Sandwich Terns and a Great Skua of note. Two Merlins also came in.

A Porpoise and a Grey Seal were seen offshore. 

3rd Mar

A wet and windy day which produced a little bit of movement offshore but not a great deal on the land to get excited about. Nearly four hours of seawatching produced 310 Brent Geese, a Great Skua and 26 Sandwich Terns of note. The best the land could offer was two Firecrests.

An unusual find in the trapping area was this Harvest Mouse winter nest.

Harvest Mouse nest   Dungeness   3rd March 2019

2nd Mar

A bit of movement included 270 Brent Geese, 47 Red-throated Diver, a Black-throated Diver and 20 Sandwich Terns. There was also a bit of interest on the land with a Jack Snipe of note along with three Red-legged Partridges, a Marsh Harrier, a Woodcock, a Merlin, four Chiffchaffs (at the Long Pits), two Firecrests and two Siskins.

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

Also of interest, a Convolvulus Hawkmoth caterpillar found in a garden on the estate last October promptly pupated when put in a pot of compost. It has been kept in the common room since then and today it emerged as a superb moth.

Convolvulus Hawkmoth Agrion convolvuli   ex larva   Dungeness   2nd March 2019

1st Mar

A dank, dreary day with frequent spells of light rain resulted in a bit of passage overhead and a few grounded migrants including four Firecrests, 240 Chaffinches, 11 Siskins and 14 Reed Buntings and also a Woodlark which flew in and landed in the Desert.
The sea was very quiet with just 92 Brent Geese passing through.
Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus   Dungeness   1st March 2019
One of eight birds ringed during the day.
Three Porpoises were feeding offshore.

Elsewhere, the drake Smew can still be found on the RSPB reserve although it seems to be very mobile, the two Whooper Swans are still feeding with the Mute Swans in the fields between Boulderwall and Lydd and the four Cattle Egret continue to feed around the cattle at Boulderwall Farm.

28th Feb

With a bit of drizzle this morning and generally cooler, windier conditions there was a steady offshore passage including 826 Brent Geese, four Red-breasted Mergansers, 13 Fulmars, 900 Gannets, 119 Kittiwakes, a Mediterranean Gull and 59 Sandwich Terns.
There was little to report from the land except for a Chiffchaff at the Long Pits, two Firecrests and 65 Chaffinches.

Three Porpoises were feeding offshore.

We have also received some interesting ringing details from the BTO of two birds which we caught at the Observatory last autumn.

The first of these was a Chiffchaff ringed at Woolston Eyes, Warrington as a juvenile bird on 20th July 2018 and caught here on 27th September 2018.

The second was a Meadow Pipit ringed at Foveran Links, Newburgh, Aberdeenshire on 4th September 2018 as a first-winter bird and caught here on 30th September 2018.