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Migration Time.

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.

Project Yellow-browed at Dungeness

Our first reciever array has been installed and is now LIVE on the Motus website. It's an exciting time in the development of technology to further our ongoing scientific research. For more details and information click here. 





18th Oct

And so it goes on - more wind, lots more rain and few birds. Four hours of seawatching produced two Red-breasted Mergansers, 850 Gannets, a Marsh Harrier arriving from the east, a Grey Plover, two Mediterranean Gulls, 27 Little Gulls, 141 Sandwich Terns, three Great Skuas and 11 Arctic Skuas. The German colour-ringed Caspian Gull was seen again at the fishing boats.
Twenty Chiffchaffs, a Firecrest, a Ring Ouzel and a Wheatear where among the few grounded migrants whilst a Brambling, 400 Goldfinches, 21 Siskins and six Redpolls flew over.

Two Porpoises and a Common Seal were feeding offshore.

17th Oct

A calm but wet start to the day saw lots of birds moving overhead and a few birds in the bushes while seawatching improved as the wind increased in the afternoon. Highlights of the overhead migration were two Woodlarks, two Bearded Tits and 15 Tree Sparrows and numbers were provided by 68 Stock Dove, 54 Skylarks, 230 Swallows, two Grey Wagtails, 250 Meadow Pipits, two Rock Pipits, two Bramblings, a Bullfinch, an excellent total of 2400 Goldfinch, 41 Siskin and 38 Reed Buntings.
Grounded migrants included two Short-eared Owls, 40 Chiffchaffs, 25 Blackcaps, three Whitethroats, two Firecrests, eight Ring Ouzels, a Fieldfare, 40 Song Thrushes and two Wheatears.
Five hours of seawatching produced a Sooty Shearwater, 65 Little Gulls, 614 Sandwich Terns, four Great Skuas and 32 Arctic Skuas of note. The two first-winter Caspian Gulls were seen at the fishing boats again.

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

A Western Conifer Seed-bug was found this evening at Southview Cottage.

16th Oct

Its getting repetitive now but yet another wet and windy day making seawatching the best option. Over seven hours of watching produced a Manx Shearwater, 733 Gannets, a Black-throated Diver, 123 Little Gulls, 24 Mediterranean Gulls, two Great Skuas and 23 Arctic Skuas. The German-ringed Caspian Gull was still present along with three Yellow-legged Gulls.
Visible migration totals were dominated by 2370 Swallows along with three Rock Pipits of note. A Ring Ouzel was seen in the trapping area.

Two Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

15th Oct

Another stormy night and wet morning produced a big movement of birds overhead and a few birds offshore but grounded migrants were fairly low in numbers. The highlights of the visible migrants were a Woodlark, a Serin and a Lapland Bunting along with 63 Skylarks, 1100 Swallows, 86 House Martins, three Grey Wagtails, 850 Meadow Pipits, four Rock Pipits, 160 Chaffinches, six Bramblings, 1435 Goldfinches, 26 Siskins and 11 Reed Buntings. Grounded migrants included a Jay, two Firecrests, five Ring Ouzels, 13 Redwings, 23 Song Thrushes, and three Wheatears.
Five hours of seawatching produced 14 Wigeon, two Teal, 251 Common Scoters, three Red-breasted Mergansers, a Sooty Shearwater, six Grey Herons, 28 Sanderlings, 11 Little Gulls, 54 Mediterranean Gulls, 122 Sandwich Terns, six Arctic Skuas and 61 Razorbills. The colour-ringed Caspian Gull (X86C) was seen at the fishing boats again.

I also ran the Audiomoth last night and recorded 19 Song Thrushes, two Redwings, a Fieldfare and a brief series of Little Owl calls.

Two Porpoises and singles of Common and Grey Seal were feeding offshore and a Weasel was of note on the land.

A Clouded Yellow was seen in the trapping area and a Hummingbird Hawkmoth came in at the fishing boats. 

14th Oct

Another wet day but with mainly light winds. Most of the interest was on the shore again with 4.5 hours of watching producing a Sooty Shearwater, 120 Mediterranean Gulls, seven Little Gulls, a Pomarine Skua and best of all, a Grey Phalarope. Two first-year Caspian Gulls, the bird bearing a colour ring X86C and a new individual, also came to bread at the fishing boats.
Grounded migrants included 80 Chiffchaffs, 14 Blackcaps and four Ring Ouzels and good numbers of finches also passed overhead with five Bramblings, 29 Siskins and 420 Goldfinches of note.

13th Oct

With a fresh southerly breeze this morning and more damp conditions there was a decent movement of birds offshore and passing overhead but still very little to be seen on the land. Prolonged coverage of the sea produced the highlight of a Leach's Petrel at 1000hrs along with eight Sooty Shearwaters, a Balearic Shearwater, three Manx Shearwaters, 920 Gannets, two Little Egrets, a party of 22 Golden Plovers, 49 Little Gulls, 40 Kittiwakes and 14 Mediterranean Gulls, seven Great Skuas, 14 Arctic Skuas and 320 Razorbills.
Birds passing overhead included a Hobby, 152 Swallows, five Grey Wagtails, a Rock Pipit, 420 Linnets, 1500 Goldfinches and 40 Siskins, Grounded migrants were very scarce but did include three Ring Ouzels and a late Willow Warbler.

Two Porpoises, a large bull Grey Seal and a Common Seal were feeding offshore.

The moth traps were surprisingly good last night and included a fine Dewick's Plusia (only the fifth Observatory record), a Delicate and two Palpita vitrealis.

Dewick's Plusia  Macdunnoughia confusa   Dungeness   13th October 2019

Palpita vitrealis   Dungeness   23th October 2019

12th Oct

Another miserable day with almost continuous rain making observations difficult. The best of the birds on the land were seven Ring Ouzels and a Firecrest whilst early morning seawatching produced 13 Arctic Skuas and a Mediterranean Gull but little else after mid-morning.

Four Porpoises were feeding offshore.

11th Oct

Yet another wet and windy day with observations again restricted mainly to the sea where three Sooty Shearwaters, a Little Gull, 1100 Sandwich Terns, two Great Skuas, 42 Arctic Skuas and 61 Razorbills were of note.
The best of some very limited coverage of the land were two Merlins.

Two Porpoises, a Common Seal and a Grey Seal.were feeding offshore.

10th Oct

Several hours of seawatching produced two Grey Plovers, 24 Mediterranean Gulls, 201 Sandwich Terns, three Great Skuas and 47 Arctic Skuas of interest.
Three Ring Ouzels were the best of the birds in the bushes along with 30 Chiffchaffs and two Firecrests whilst birds flying overhead included two Marsh Harriers, 19 Stock Doves, six Collared Doves, two Merlins, two Grey Wagtails, five Bramblings, 20 Siskin and 12 Reed Buntings.   
Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochrurus   Dungeness   10th October 2019 (James Dee)
Four Porpoise were feeding offshore.

I have also finally worked my way through the Audiomoth recording made on the night of 5th/6th October. Birds passed through all night long and produced the following totals:
Dunlin 1
Snipe 1
Blackbird 1
Redwing 180
Song Thrush 884 




9th Oct

The Wryneck was seen again but remains elusive with just two observers seeing it today. Other notable birds on the land included 75 Chiffchaffs, four Ring Ouzels, two Grey Wagtails and 100 Goldfinches.
The sea was more productive with 6.5 hours of watching producing three Grey Plovers, two Little Gulls, 28 Mediterranean Gulls, 759 Sandwich Terns, two Great Skuas, 22 Arctic Skuas and 72 Razorbills.

Ten Porpoise and two Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

8th Oct

A slightly breezy and overcast start to the morning with the wind gradually picking up throughout the day.

The Wryneck was seen again in the Desert this morning but proved elusive. Seven Ring Ouzels were also seen in the scrub south of the trapping area. A Snipe and a Merlin were also seen.

In the trapping area 25 Chiffchaffs, three Blackcaps and two Firecrests were seen in the recording area today with one at the Feeding Station and another present in the Moat.

On the sea five Brent Geese, six Shelduck and a Red-breasted Merganser headed west. A total of six Arctic Skuas were seen along with 27 Mediterranean Gulls and three Common Terns were also seen.

Seven Porpoise were also noted on the sea and a Weasel was seen in the Desert.

7th Oct

A pleasant and still start to the morning, with the wind gradually picking up throughout the day.

The highlight of the day was a Wryneck seen by a single observer, south of the trapping area. The numbers of thrushes present on the point were much lower than the previous day with only 40 Song Thrushes, seven Ring Ouzel and six Blackbirds reported throughout the day. The trapping area held a minimum of five Firecrests, 26 Goldcrests, 90 Chiffchaffs, ten Blackcaps and a Whitethroat.

At least 2000 House Martins and 200 Swallows headed south this morning, a Woodlark headed north. 240 Linnets, 110 Goldfinch, five Siskin, one Greenfinch, 75 Meadow Pipit and singles of Rock Pipit and Tree Pipit were recorded today.

Passage on the sea was rather limited with 467 Gannets heading west. Three Brent Geese, seven Shelduck, five Teal, a Tufted Duck and nine Arctic Skua were also seen throughout the day.

Two Porpoise were seen offshore this morning and a Clouded Yellow was seen along the Power Station Wall.

6th Oct

There was a huge movement of Song Thrushes and Redwings during the night and this continued through the morning when at least 1000 of the former and 200 of the latter were seen along with a superb total of 30 Ring Ouzels. Other interesting bits included 50 Skylarks, 300 House Martins, a few Chiffchaffs, two Firecrests, a Wheatear, a Tree Pipit, 100 Chaffinch, two Siskins and ten Reed Buntings

The moths traps were very productive with our first-ever record of the rare migrant Radford's Flame Shoulder along with the pyralid Palpita vitrealis, another Beaded Chestnut and five Delicates.


Radford's  Flame Shoulder Ochropleura leucogaster    Dungeness   6th October 2019