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Migration Time.

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. This was then joined later in the day by a Roseate Tern. At times it was possible to photograph birds in the same view. (Photos to follow).










19th May

Very quiet on the land with just a single Spotted Flycatcher in the moat, a late Fieldfare and five Corn Buntings of note.
The sea wasn't much better with several hours of watching producing just 523 Common Scoters, four Eider, seven Mediterranean Gulls, seven Little Terns and an Arctic Skua of note.

Three Grey Seals and ten Porpoises were feeding offshore.
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus   Dungeness   19th May 2019
Brown Argus and Grizzled Skippers continue to be seen in good numbers.
Grizzled Skipper Pyrgus malvae   Dungeness   19th May 2019
The Serin was still singing and showing well at times at Littlestone.


 with the fo

18th May

A Spotted Flycatcher in the trapping area and a flock of 19 Corn Buntings in the Sanctuary area were about the best on offer on the land.
Seawatching was also fairly slow going but over nine hours of watching eventually produced 13 Manx Shearwaters, three Mediterranean Gulls, 209 Sandwich Terns, 15 Little Terns, 11 Black Terns, a Great Skua, a Pomarine Skua and two Arctic Skuas of note.

At least ten Porpoises were feeding offshore along with a Grey Seal.

A Holly Blue was seen in the trapping area.

The Serin continues to show very well at Littlestone.





Serin Serinus serinus   Littlestone   18th May 2019



17th May

The north-easterly breeze continues and with short spells of heavy drizzle in the morning.
There was no sign of any grounded migrants but a party of eight Corn Buntings were feeding in the Broom at the Point again and a singing Red-legged Partridge was only the second record of the year.
The morning seawatch produced another 17 Pomarine Skua (with another bird in the evening) along with 60 Sanderling, a Little Tern, over 1200 "Commic" Terns, 136 Arctic Terns and 61 Black Terns.

Eight Porpoise and singles of both Grey and Common Seals were feeding offshore.

Elsewhere, the Serin was still showing well at times at Littlestone.

16th May

Another quiet day on the land but even so a Tree Pipit was an unusual capture and 20 Corn Buntings were feeding in the Broom bushes around the Britannia and Sanctuary area.
Seawatching was fairly uneventful in the morning with just a single Pomarine Skua of note but passage increased notably from mid-afternoon with another 25 Pomarine Skuas along with 16 Arctic Skuas, three Mediterranean Gulls, 1500 "commic" Terns, four Little Terns, 21 Knot and 38 Sanderling.
Pomarine Skua Stercorarius pomarinus   Dungeness   16th May 2019
And click here for a short video of one of the flocks at it passes by.

Ten Porpoise were feeding offshore and two Brown Hares were seen on the land.

Not so long ago the Brown Argus was a fairly scarce butterfly at Dungeness but numbers have increased considerably in recent years. Today, in less than perfect conditions, at least 25 individuals were seen. A Holly Blue was seen at the Sycamore in the trapping area again.
Brown Argus Aricia agestis   Dungeness    16th May 2019

15th May

Another quiet day with the only bird of note on the land being a male Redstart. The best the sea could offer were four Grey Plover, 15 Sanderling and a single Arctic Skua.
Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus   male   Dungeness   15th May 2019
The first Common Blues of the year were seen along with eight Grizzled Skippers, a Holly Blue and five Brown Argus

The uncommon Slender Leather Bug Ceraleptus lividus was also found in the sycamore in the trapping area.
Slender Leatherbug Sehirus lividus   Dungeness   15th May 2019
In addition a couple of scarce birds were seen in the area with a Purple Heron on the RSPB Reserve and a smart Serin seen singing at Littlestone.


Serin Serinus serinus)  Littlestone   15th May 2019



14th May

Another slow day with over three hours pf seawatching producing just two Eider, 36 Grey Plover, a Mediterranean Gull, 409 "Commic" Tern, a Black Tern, two Great Skuas and an Arctic Skua of note.

13th May

Another cold and clear day which produced a trickle of birds offshore but very little on the land.
The best from over five hours of seawatching were two Velvet Scoters, singles of Black-throated and Great Northern Divers, 75 Grey Plover, ten Whimbrel, 46 Knot, four Little Gulls, 775 Common Terns and two Great Skuas

12th May

Migrants were few and far between again but there was a notable highlight in the form of a Honey Buzzard which came in from the sea this morning, flew over the Observatory and eventually headed off westwards. A flock of 36 Corn Buntings on the Point was also noteworthy.
There was barely any movement offshore but a Black-throated Diver flew east. 

Butterflies seen today included nine Grizzled Skippers and two Brown Argus.

11th May

Very quiet with two Little Gulls at the Patch, six Whimbrel through and a single Corn Bunting on the Point being about the only birds worth mentioning.

Six Porpoise were feeding offshore.

10th May

There was a thin scatter of migrants across the Point with a Hobby, 58 Swallows, eight Willow Warblers. three Garden Warblers, a Sedge Warbler, two Redstarts, a Whinchat, two Yellow Wagtails and 17 Corn Buntings of note.The sea was very quiet though with just 12 Fulmars, two Arctic Skuas and a few Common Terns of any significance.

Four Porpoise and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

Four Brown Argus and plenty of Small Coppers were the best of butterflies on show. 


9th May

Very few birds were present in the trapping area but a Nightingale and a Firecrest were nice captures. A Yellowhammer was also singing in the trapping area. The sea was also very quiet with over four hours of watching producing just one Black-throated Diver, three Mediterranean Gulls, a Great Skua and six Arctic Skuas of note.

Nightingale Luscinia megarynchos   Dungeness   9th May 2019
Firecrest Regulus ignicapilla   Dungeness   9th May 2019
Five Porpoises were seen offshore and a Brown Hare was seen on the land.

A couple of Smooth Newts were seen in a quickly drying pool in the trapping area.

The first Brassica Bugs Eurydema oleracea of the spring were found among the Hoary Cress in the moat. A Painted Nomad Bee Nomada fucata was found at the Sycamore tree in the trapping area.
Nomada fucata   Dungeness   9th May 2019

8th May

Strong southerly winds with heavy rain this morning produced an excellent movement of seabirds. Over 11 hours of watching resulted in a Black-throated Diver, 22 Manx Shearwaters, eight Knot, 13 Little Terns, 2600 "Commic" Terns, a brilliant total of 92 Black Terns, six Great Skuas, six Pomarine Skuas and ten Arctic Skuas of note.
Elsewhere in the area, a superb Grey Plover, a Common Sandpiper and two first-summer Yellow-legged Gulls were seen at the fishing boats, a Mediterranean Gull was feeding at the Patch and another Common Sandpiper was seen at the Long Pits. 
Small birds were in very short supply but a Firecrest was singing in the trapping area and a Spotted Flycatcher was also seen at the Long Pits.
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola   Dungeness   8th May 2019

Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis   first-summer   Dungeness   8th May 2019
A Grey Seal and a Porpoise were feeding offshore.

The movement of Black Terns was not restricted to the sea with at least 67 birds feeding over Burrowes Pit on the RSPB Reserve where the following images were taken.



Black Tern Chlidonias niger   RSPB Reserve   8th May 2019





7th May

The highlight of the day for a handful of fortunate observers was a Kentish Plover which landed briefly on the beach at the fishing boats this afternoon before heading off west. This is only the third modern-day Observatory record (since 1952) with the previous record being on Aug.1st 1969.
Seawatching also provided most of the other interest during the day with 13.5 hours of watching producing two Garganey, two Tufted Duck, 644 Common Scoters, three Black-throated Divers, 21 Whimbrel, one Little Gull, 16 Little Terns, over 2200 "Commic" Terns, 16 Black Terns, six Great Skuas, a Pomarine Skua and eight Arctic Skuas.
Very quiet on the land although a Common Sandpiper at the Long Pits and a party of 18 Corn Buntings near the Sanctuary were noteworthy. 

Seventeen Porpoise and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore and four Brown Hares were seen on the land.

Three Grizzled Skippers were of note among a few butterflies seen.

6th May

With a drop in the wind and slightly warmer conditions there was a small arrival of migrants on the land with our first three Spotted Flycatchers of the year and 35 Willow Warblers of note along with three Hobbies, a Buzzard, four Yellow Wagtails and the Wood Warbler again.
The sea remained fairly quiet although several hours of watching eventually produced six Tufted Duck, a Little Egret coming in, 65 Whimbrel, 17 Sanderling, two Knot, six Little Terns, two Black Terns, four Great Skuas and five Arctic Skuas

Five Porpoises were feeding offshore.

Five Grizzled Skippers were seen in the trapping area and a Brown Argus was seen in the moat.

5th May

Still very quiet on the land and just a trickle of birds moving offshore in the cold northerly conditions.
The best of the seawatching were a Shag, eight Little Gulls, 17 Little Terns, three Great Skuas, a Pomarine Skua and three Arctic Skuas.
A Firecrest was seen in the Old Lighthouse Garden.

Five Porpoises were feeding offshore.

4th May

A cold day with an increasing northerly wind bringing frequent hail showers and even sleet at one point - is it really May?.
Birds on the land were hard to come by but a couple of Hobbies were seen and a Pheasant was calling in the trapping area. A few Swifts, Swallows and 44 House Martins also moved around the various showers.
The sea was also fairly slow but over eight hours of watching produced a Velvet Scoter, a Black-throated Diver, six Avocets, four Mediterranean Gulls, 476 Sandwich Terns, 21 Arctic Terns, four Black Terns, a Great Skua and six Arctic Skuas of interest.

At least 24 Porpoises were counted as they fed offshore along with a Grey Seal and two Brown Hares were seen on the beach by the fishing boats.

3rd May

There was a small arrival of migrants this morning with two Wood Warblers, two Redstarts and a Pied Flycatcher being the highlights. Other bits and pieces included a Hobby and a Corn Bunting.
Seawatching was not very inspiring during the morning although 22 Little Gulls and two Great Skuas did pass through but it picked up a bit in the afternoon when another six Great Skuas, five Pomarine Skuas and four Arctic Skuas were seen.

A few flowers are starting to appear now and a couple of nice sights at the moment are a patch of Rock Soapwort growing at the Lifeboat Station and a good showing of Early Purple Orchids alongside the track to the Observatory.


Rock Soapwort Saponaria ocymoides   Dungeness

Early Purple Orchid Orchis mascula   Dungeness




2nd May

A few notable birds were seen on the land with at least two singing Wood Warblers, 30 Willow Warblers, a "continental" Coal Tit, a Jay and a Tree Pipit of note. A Red Kite, at least four Buzzards, two Hobbies, 30 Swallows and six Yellow Wagtails flew over. A female Pheasant was also seen.
It was generally quiet offshore but five hours of watching produced three Eiders, a Black-throated Diver, a Great Northern Diver, 21 Whimbrel, three Little Terns, two Great Skuas and four Arctic Skuas of note.
Six Porpoise were feeding offshore. A "large" bat species came in off the sea.

Butterflies provided plenty of interest today with a male Orange-tip in the trapping area and the first Brown Argus of the spring being seen. The first dragonflies have also started to appear with Azure Damselfly and several Hairy Dragonfly being found.

Also of great interest was the finding of the very rare beetle Hister quadrimaculatus in the moat. As far as I know this is the fourth British record of this beetle with three of these coming from within 200metres of each other at Dungeness.

Hister quadrimaculatus   Dungeness   2nd May 2019 (Paul Hogben)





1st May

There was a small arrival of migrants on the land with the obvious highlight of a singing Wood Warbler in the trapping area. A Common Sandpiper at the Long Pits and a Jay in the trapping area were also noteworthy.

Seawatching was fairly slow but picked up again in the afternoon when three Pomarine Skuas were noted. Also seen during the day were 678 Common Scoters, a Black-throated Diver, 11 Whimbrel, 724 Bar-tailed Godwits, six Little Gulls, two Mediterranean Gulls, seven Little Terns, eight Black Terns. a Great Skua and 13 Arctic Skuas

At least 16 Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

A Holly Blue was seen in the Lighthouse Garden.