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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.

30th Sep

After what seems like days of wind and rain today dawned calm and meant a slow seawatch but plenty of birds on the land and passing overhead. Highlights on the land included a Turtle Dove, a flyover Wood Lark and a late Spotted Flycatcher whilst numbers of grounded migrants included 60 Chiffchaffs, ten Blackcaps, a Firecrest, 11 Goldcrests, a Whinchat, three Wheatears. Birds passing overhead included a Hobby, 100 Sand Martins, 1400 Swallows, 400 House Martins, eight Grey Wagtail, 350 Meadow Pipits, a Rock Pipit, 55 Chaffinches, 40 Goldfinches, the first two Siskins of the autumn and 13 Reed Buntings
The highlights of the seawatching were four Mediterranean Gulls, a Great Skua and nine Arctic Skuas.

A male Red-veined Darter was seen in the Desert and a Hornet and 50+ Ivy Bees were feeding at Ivy in the Lighthouse Garden.

Elsewhere, the Common Tern showing many (if not all) the features of the Siberian race longipennis. Some more images taken today are shown below.





Common Tern Sterna hirundo ssp longipennis   RSPB   30th September 2019

29th Sep

More wind, more rain and more seawatching. Six hours of recording produced an Eider, three Balearic Shearwaters, ten (including a flock of seven) Sooty Shearwaters, 220 Gannets, five Golden Plovers, another Grey Phalarope, 1700 Sandwich Terns, a Great Skua, 79 Arctic Skuas and 47 Razorbills. An adult Yellow-legged Gull was feeding along the beach and two Merlins and 79 Swallows were also seen.

Two Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

Goose Barnacles are washing ashore on floating debris in large numbers.

The Common Tern showing features of the Siberian race longipennis was still present on the RSPB Reserve but managed to disappear for long periods. The best places to look for it are from the Hanson Hide at ARC or from Dennis's Hide looking towards the causeway between Burrowes and New Diggings. Mike Buckland managed to get some excellent photos of the bird in flight and four are reproduced here. Check out his blog at    https://travellingbirder.blogspot.com/  for lots more images.




Common Tern Sterna hirundo possibly of the Siberian subspecies longipennis   
RSPB Reserve   29th September 2019  (Many thanks to Mike Buckland for use of these images) 

28th Sep

Another breezy day with the wind more westerly than previously offshore was reduced and had virtually ceased by mid-morning. The best of the passage were two Balearic Shearwaters and 37 Arctic Skuas
There was a steady overhead passage of Swallows and Meadow Pipits during the morning as well as four Grey Wagtails of note. Seven Chiffchaffs, a Lesser Whitethroat and a two Firecrests were the best on offer in the bushes.

Four Porpoises and two Grey Seals were feeding offshore. 

Elsewhere, among a small selection of Little Gulls and terns feeding at ARC was this interesting looking Common Tern showing many features of the Siberian race longipennis - notably shorter and deeper all-black bill, slightly dusky underparts and brownish-red legs.

Common Tern Sterna hirundo   adult   ARC   28th September 2019
(Thanks to Colin Turley for the digiscoped image.)

27th Sep

With more wind and rain it was yet another day dominated by seawatching. Watching for 7.5 hrs produced 566 Gannets, 20 Balearic Shearwaters, a Sooty Shearwater, five Mediterranean Gulls, 894 Sandwich Terns, two Great Skuas and 95 Arctic Skuas and a couple of rarities in the form of two fly-by Grey Phalaropes. Four Yellow-legged Gulls were also seen on the beach. There was a considerable diurnal movement of birds during the morning including a Merlin, 450 Swallows, two Yellow Wagtails, 14 Grey Wagtails, 46 'alba' Wagtails, 950 Meadow Pipits and 550 Linnets. Two Rock Pipits were also seen including one trapped for ringing. Two Firecrests were seen in the moat.



Rock Pipit Anthus littoralis   Dungeness   27th September 2019
Four Porpoises and two Grey Seals were feeding offshore.

26th Sep

With more wind and rain it was another day dominated by seawatching. Almost ten hours of watching produced 281 Gannets, our second best-ever day total of 57 Balearic Shearwaters, 794 Sandwich Terns, two Black Terns, five Great Skuas and 120 Arctic Skuas. A Yellow-legged Gulls were also seen on the beach. Limited coverage of the bushes produced four Firecrests and three Wheatears were seen at the fishing boats while a Swift, 650 Swallows, 150 House Martins and 330 Meadow Pipits flew south.

Four Porpoises and two Grey Seals were feeding offshore.

Despite the poor weather conditions overnight the moth trap produced two Delicates and a Scarce Bordered Straw of note.

25th Sep

With more wind and rain it was another day dominated by seawatching. Over eight hours of watching produced 793 Gannets, two Sooty and eight Balearic Shearwaters, 1052 Sandwich Terns, 11 Great Skuas and 73 Arctic Skuas. Three Yellow-legged Gulls were also seen on the beach. Limited coverage of the bushes produced three Firecrests.

Two Porpoises and two Grey Seals were feeding offshore.

24th Sep

A day dominated by wind and rain. A check of the bushes was hard work and produced just a Firecrest of note. The sea was watched for most of the day and final totals included five Balearic Shearwaters, two Manx Shearwaters, 1250 Sandwich Terns, five Great Skuas, an adult Pomarine Skua and 34 Arctic Skuas of note.

Four Porpoises and a male Grey Seal were feeding offshore and a Brown Hare was seen on the land.

23rd Sep

A Balearic Shearwater, 23 Mediterranean Gulls, 858 Sandwich Terns, three Great Skuas and 22 Arctic Skuas were seen during four hours of watching during the day.
A check of the bushes produced the bird of the day in the form of a Treecreeper at the Long Pits along with 31 Chiffchaffs, six Blackcaps, five Firecrests, nine Goldcrests and five Wheatears. A few hirundines, a Yellow Wagtail, five Grey Wagtails, two Tree Pipits and 13 Reed Buntings passed overhead. A Pheasant was also seen.

Four Porpoises were feeding offshore.

Three Delicates were the highlight of a small overnight catch of moths.

An evening search for crickets produced good numbers of Tree Crickets still singing but no sign of any Sickle-bearing Bush-crickets. 

22nd Sep

With fresh south-easterly breezes and occasional light rain there were some hopes of a few birds around but in the end it was an ultimately disappointing day. Grounded migrants were pretty scarce but they did include 30 Chiffchaffs, ten Blackcaps, 15 Goldcrrests and 11 Firecrests whilst birds passing overhead included a Marsh Harrier, a Buzzard,  3250 Swallows, 300 House Martins, two Grey Wagtails and 650 Meadow Pipits.
Six hours of seawatching produced 135 Mediterranean Gulls, 2217 Sandwich Terns, 11 Great Skuas and 31 Arctic Skuas.

Ten Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore as was an unidentified dolphin sp. 

There was a large increase in the number of moths in the traps overnight with highlights including a Dusky Thorn, an L-album Wainscot, a Clancy's Rustic and a Golden Twin-spot.

21st Sep

Seawatching produced some decent totals including 713 Gannets, 38 Mediterranean Gulls, five Great Skuas and 20 Arctic Skuas.
Two Marsh Harriers, 46 Sand Martins, 360 Swallows and seven Grey Wagtails flew over and 28 Chiffchaffs, three Firecrests, five Goldcrests and five Wheatears were seen on the land.

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

An evening search produced plenty of Tree Crickets but no Sickle-bearing Bush-crickets were found.

20th Sep

With a fresh easterly wind blowing there was a bit of interest offshore with the highlights being two Sooty Shearwaters, 20 Mediterranean Gulls, two Great Skuas, eight Arctic Skuas and at least 650 Sandwich Terns but it was virtually birdless on the land.

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

19th Sep

Huge numbers of Sandwich Terns (2350) moved west into Rye Bay this morning with some returning back into Lade Bay during the day. In addition, 25 Mediterranean Gulls, six Arctic Skuas and a Great Skua, seven Brent Geese, the first Red-throated Diver of the autumn and a Sooty Shearwater were also seen.
Very quiet on the land although a Hen Harrier and a Merlin flew through along with five Grey Wagtails, two Yellow Wagtails and a Rock Pipit and around 20 Blackcaps were seen in the bushes.

Six Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

Elsewhere, the Pectoral Sandpiper was seen again at ARC.

18th Sep

Although there were very few migrants in the bushes there was still some interest with the highlights being a ringtail Hen Harrier flying NW over the area and a Little Owl in the Moat. Five Grey Wagtails, five Yellow Wagtails and 12 Reed Buntings also flew over.
There was very little movement offshore but 15 or so Arctic Skuas and ten Mediterranean Gulls were feeding in the bay.

Six Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

This interesting Small Copper was seen in the Moat. It appears not to be due to wear or mutation and may have a pathogenic cause.


Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas   Dungeness   18th September 2019

17th Sep

A quiet day with just a handful of commoner migrants including 40 Chiffchaffs, a Sedge Warbler, 12 Blackcaps, a Firecrest, a Spotted Flycatcher and six Wheatears and two Grey Wagtails and 25 Reed Buntings overhead.
Very little to report from the sea other than loitering birds with a Great Skua, two Arctic Skuas and 20 Mediterranean Gulls of interest.

There wasn't a great deal in the moth traps but a female Southern Oak Bush-cricket was significant.
Southern Oak Bush-cricket Meconema meridionale   Dungeness   17th September 2019

Two Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

Elsewhere, a Pectoral Sandpiper was found at ARC and at least one Cattle Egret remains in the area along with at least nine Great White Egrets. Three Caspian Gulls came in to roost on Burrowes this evening.

16th Sep

A calm, overcast morning resulted in another small arrival of migrants with 80 Chiffchaffs and 25 Blackcaps present. A Garden Warbler, four Goldcrests, a Whinchat and six Wheatears were also of interest. Birds passing overhead during the morning included three Buzzards, five Yellow Wagtails and two Grey Wagtails.
The sea was very quiet although a sudden huge influx of "anting" gulls in the late afternoon included 1000 Mediterranean Gulls. Four Arctic Skuas flew east and a Little Tern was also feeding offshore.

Six Porpoises were seen offshore.

A Scarce Bordered Straw was caught overnight.

15th Sep

Another reasonable arrival of migrants on the land with 55 Chiffchaffs, 30 Blackcaps, a Firecrest, a Spotted Flycatcher and four Whinchats,  There was probably a good movement of hirundines overhead as calling birds could be heard throughout the morning but they were flying so high that they were virtually invisible. At least 600 Swallows and 120 House Martins were seen during the day but this was certainly a gross underestimate. A late Swift, 28 Yellow Wagtails and three Grey Wagtails also flew over. 
Quiet offshore except for 576 Sandwich Terns passing west and six Arctic Skuas and two Great Skuas flying east.
Just after dark a calling bird flew south-east over the trapping area and towards the Point which sounded very much like a Night Heron although it could not be seen. It called about 15 times as it passed over and Owen Leyshon was quick with his phone and managed to get one call recorded. Click hear to listen You can also hear the Tree Crickets in the background.

Four Porpoises were feeding offshore.

A search after dark this evening found a single Sickle-bearing Bush-cricket and large numbers of singing Tree Crickets

14th Sep

There was a decent arrival of migrants on the land with 90 Chiffchaffs, 125 Blackcaps, 20 Lesser Whitethroats and 50 Whitethroats providing the numbers and variety in the form of a Garden Warbler, two Spotted Flycatchers and three Whinchats. Overhead passage included four Buzzards, a Snipe, 11 Yellow Wagtails, seven Grey Wagtails and five Reed Buntings

Very little movement offshore with just a Great Skua and two Arctic Skuas of interest.

Five Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

The moth traps were extremely quiet with a grand total of seven "macro" moths but a Convolvulus Hawkmoth was found in the Heligoland Trap.

13th Sep

There was a good movement of birds offshore today with two Manx Shearwaters, two Mediterranean Gulls, over 1400 Sandwich Terns, 38 Arctic Skuas and four Great Skuas of note.
Very quiet in the bushes with 36 Chiffchaffs, two Spotted Flycatchers and three Whinchats of note but there was a decent bit of overhead passage which included 250 Sand Martins, 400 Swallows, eight Grey Wagtails, two Tree Pipits and 11 Reed Buntings.

Four Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

12th Sep

A calm morning which saw an increase in migration overhead and a few birds in the bushes but little movement offshore. Visible migrants included a Redshank, 250 Sand Martins, 750 Swallows and 100 House Martins, eight Grey Wagtails, a Tree Pipit and eight Reed Buntings. A Spotted Flycatcher, two Redstarts, three Whinchats and 15 Wheatears were of note on the land.
A first-winter Caspian Gull was seen at the fishing boats and three Arctic Skuas were chasing terns offshore.

Seven Porpoises and three Grey Seals were feeding offshore.


11th Sep

A day of heavy cloud and a fresh westerly breeze resulted in very few birds on the land but a constant westerly movement of Sandwich Terns and a few other bits offshore. Seven hours of watching produced 1100 Sandwich Terns and 25 Arctic Skuas as well as a Grey Plover, a Knot, two Black Terns, singles of Arctic and Little Terns. Two first-year Caspian Gulls and five Yellow-legged Gulls were also seen on the beach.

Caspian Gulls Larus cachinnans   juvenile/first-winter   Dungeness   11th September 2019
Two Porpoise and a Grey Seal were also feeding offshore. 

The highlight of a very quiet night for moths was another Scarce Bordered Straw.

10th Sep

A decent morning with a few birds in the bushes including 20 Chiffchaffs, 15 Blackcaps,12 Lesser Whitethroats, a Firecrest, a Spotted Flycatcher, a Redstart, three Whinchats and eight Wheatears while a Wood Sandpiper, ten Yellow Wagtails, seven Grey Wagtails and five Tree Pipits passed overhead.
Large numbers of birds were feeding offshore but actual passage was limited again. Two first-year Caspian Gulls and three first-year Yellow-legged Gulls were feeding at the fishing boats. 

Two Porpoises and a Common Seal were seen offshore.

After yesterdays dragonfly excitement it was followed up today with a superb Blue-eyed Hawker - the second Observatory area record.
Blue-eyed Hawker Aeshna affinis   Dungeness   10th September 2019
It was pretty cold overnight and very few moths were trapped but remarkably they included a Convolvulus Hawkmoth. Three Hummingbird Hawkmoths and four Clouded Yellows were also seen during the day along with large numbers of Painted Ladies and Red Admirals.
Convolvulus Hawkmoth Agrius convolvuli   Dungeness   11th September 2019

9th Sep

Fairly quiet on the land with just 20 Chiffchaffs, ten Willow Warblers, three Spotted Flycatchers and a Whinchat of note.

Lots of birds were feeding offshore again with eight Mediterranean Gulls, 1400 Sandwich Terns, four Little Terns, two Black Terns and at least nine Arctic Skuas along with lots of Gannets and Herring Gulls.

At least ten Porpoise and two Grey Seals were feeding offshore.

A long awaited addition to the area dragonfly list was Willow Emerald with one found in the moat this afternoon.

Willow Emerald Chalcolstes viridus   Dungeness   7th September 2019
A Clouded Yellow was also seen at the Observatory.

8th Sep

Another quiet day on the land in cold and clear conditions although a Grasshopper Warbler was a nice surprise from the nets. Other migrants on the land were fairly thin spread with around 40 Chiffchaffs, a Whinchat, a Grey Wagtail and three Tree Pipits of note.
There were lots of birds feeding offshore although relatively little in the way of obvious passage. Two Whimbrel, two Redshank, at least five Mediterranean Gulls, a Little Gull and a minimum of ten Arctic Skuas were noteworthy.
Grasshopper Warbler Locustella naevia   Dungeness   8th September 2019
At least ten Porpoises, two Grey Seals and a Common Seal were also feeding offshore.

7th Sep

A cold and clear morning with not a great deal to be seen in the bushes so it was bit of a surprise to catch a Eurasian Treecreeper in the moat. Other migrants included a Hobby coming in from the sea, 40 Chiffchaffs, a Grey Wagtail and three Tree Pipits of note.
It was also very quiet offshore with just a Manx Shearwater, four Mediterranean Gulls, two Black Terns and 15 Arctic Skuas of note.



Eurasian Treecreeper Certhia familiaris   Dungeness   7th September 2019
Four Porpoises and three Grey Seals were feeding offshore.

Despite low numbers of moths in the traps overnight there were some decent migrants with a Vestal and a Pearly Underwing of note.

6th Sep

Slightly limited coverage today with most of it involving looking at the sea. The best of over five hours seawatching were two Redshanks, 22 Mediterranean Gulls, a Little Gull, 759 Sandwich Terns, four Black Terns, an Arctic Tern, two Arctic Skuas and a Great Skua.
A Redstart and two Grey Wagtails were the only significant migrants on the land.

At least 22 Porpoises and three Grey Seals were feeding offshore.

Tree Crickets were singing again tonight.

A Scarce Bordered Straw and two Dark Swordgrass were the best from the moth traps.

5th Sep

A few bits and pieces offshore but overall a generally quiet day. Over five hours of looking at the sea produced two Teal, 40 Bar-tailed Godwits, four Mediterranean Gulls, 350 Sandwich Terns, a Little Tern and seven Arctic Skuas and seven Grey Wagtails and a Rock Pipit flying south.
Very quiet in the bushes with just 13 Chiffchaffs, a Goldcrest, a Redstart and a Tree Pipit of note.

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

4th Sep

A windy day with rain for a fair part of the morning produced a few birds offshore but very little on the land. Over eight hours of seawatching resulted in totals of seven Teal, 15 Fulmars, 280 Gannets, three Mediterranean Gulls, 867 Sandwich Terns, 11 Black Terns, 11 Arctic Skuas and a Great Skua.

Four Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

A Hummingbird Hawkmoth and two Scarce Bordered Straws were the highlights of a fairly quiet moth trap.


3rd Sep

Not a great deal to be seen on the land but 15 Chiffchaffs and two Grey Wagtails were of interest. 
Eight hours of seawatching produced a Little Gull, a Mediterranean Gull, 1046 Sandwich Terns, four Little Terns, 17 Black Terns and four Arctic Skuas.




Black Tern Chlidonias niger   Dungeness   3rd September 2019
At least eight Porpoises, two Grey Seals and a Common Seal were feeding offshore.

A fairly quiet night for moths as well but there was one very nice surprise in the traps with our first record of Portland Ribbon Wave.
Portland Ribbon Wave Idaea degeneraria   Dungeness   2nd September 2019

2nd Sep

It is something of an indictment of the times when the bird of the day was probably a Turtle Dove seen in the trapping area this morning. Other birds seen on the land of interest included a Buzzard, three Swifts, two Pied Flycatchers, two Whinchats, two Tree Sparrows, a Grey Wagtail and three Tree Pipits.
There was a westerly trickle of birds at sea including 16 Bar-tailed Godwits, two Little Gulls, eight Mediterranean Gulls, 750 Sandwich Terns, two Little Terns, an excellent total of 26 Black Terns and six Arctic Skuas.

A Brown Hare was seen in the area. 

There were not many moths in the traps again but they did include the first Vestal of the year and another Scarce Bordered Straw
Vestal Rhodometra sacraria   Dungeness   2nd September 2019

1st Sep

There were a few birds on the land with 40 Willow Warblers, three Spotted Flycatchers, three Whinchats, 20 Yellow Wagtails and a Tree Pipit. Overhead, an Osprey flying out to sea was noteworthy along with six Buzzards, three Golden Plovers, two Bar-tailed Godwits and 20 Yellow Wagtails.
I also ran the the Audiomoth/NocMig recorder last night which produced 21 passing groups of Sandwich Terns and two flocks of Dunlins.
Highlights from over 4.5hrs of seawatching included a Sooty Shearwater, three Manx Shearwaters, eight Mediterranean Gulls, 709 Sandwich Terns, a Black Tern, eight Arctic Skuas and a Pomarine Skua.

Six Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

Two Clouded Yellows were seen,

The best from the moth traps were a Delicate and a Scarce Bordered Straw.

Delicate Mythimna vitellina and Scarce Bordered Straw Helicoverpa armigera   Dungeness   1st September 2019

31st August


A quiet end to the month. The best of the birds on the land were three Marsh Harriers, a Common Sandpiper, 580 Swallows, 11 Chiffchaffs, a Pied Flycatcher, three Whinchats, a Grey Wagtail and a Tree Pipit. At sea, two Tufted Ducks, 30 Knot, six Mediterranean Gulls, two Black Terns and two Arctic Skuas were seen during three hours of watching.

Six Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

Another evening visit for orthoptera produced five Sickle-bearing Bush-crickets and an excellent chorus from the Tree Crickets.