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Corona Virus Update

Following discussions with other Observatories and taking advice from the RSPB we are not allowed to open the hides yet to visitors as we cannot put in place the necessary protocols to keep staff and visitors safe. We will have to remain closed to overnight visitors for the foreseeable future. Day visitors are welcome to call into the garden, as long as Covid-19 protocols are observed. We are still operating our monitoring programme. Please think carefully about Social Distancing before approaching our Wardens. Please forward any Dungeness records to the Warden.
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Thank You for your understanding in these dificult times.
The Trustees.

17th Sep

With a strong NE wind blowing all day it was hard going on the land and the sea continues to disappoint although two Pintails, 75 Wigeon, 25 Teal, two Avocets and two Arctic Skuas were of note. A colour-ringed first-winter Caspian Gull spent some time at the Point.

Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans   first-winter   Dungeness   17th September 2020
A bird wearing a colour-ring probably from one of the Polish projects.

Four Porpoise and two Grey Seals were feeding offshore.

16th Sep

The highlight of the day was two Dotterel which flew over the Observatory in the early morning. There were a few grounded migrants including 50 Chiffchaffs, 35 Blackcaps, a Spotted Flycatcher and two Redstarts. A few birds also flew over with two Marsh Harriers, eight Yellow Wagtails, eight Grey Wagtails, two Redpolls and 100 Siskins of note.

The sea remains very quiet but extensive watching eventually produced three Balearic Shearwaters, 32 Mediterranean Gulls and three Arctic Skuas of note. 

Three Grey Seals and six Porpoises were feeding offshore.

The moth traps were very productive this morning with a new (though expected) moth species for the Observatory trap with a Box Moth along with a superb Convolvulus Hawkmoth, a Golden Twin-spot, a Beautiful Marbled and our second Oak Hook-tip of the season.

Golden Twin-spot Chrysodeixis chalcites, Beautiful Marbled Eublemma purpurina,
Box Moth Cydalina perspicalis and Convolvulus Hawkmoth Agrion convolvuli

An evening visit for the rarer orthoptera was difficult in the very windy conditions but eventually five Large Coneheads and a single Sickle-bearing Bush-cricket were found.

15th Sep

Not a great deal on the land with a juvenile Cuckoo, just nine Grey Wagtails (two caught), 53 Siskins and three Lesser Redpolls of note.
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea   Dungeness   15th SEptember 2020
It also remains quiet offshore although a Balearic Shearwater, a Little Gull, a Little Tern and five Arctic Skuas flew west and a first-winter Yellow-legged Gull was on the beach.

Three Porpoises and two Grey Seals were feeding offshore.

A late morning search for Large Coneheads produced one female.
Large Conehead Ruspolia nitidula    female   Dungeness   15th September 2020
Another small catch of moths was high on quality with a Golden Twin-spot and our first record of Box Moth trapped. Four Clouded Yellow were seen.
Golden Twin-spot Chrysodeixus chalcites   Dungeness   15th September 2020

14th Sep

Clear skies and mist in the early morning rarely produce large numbers of birds and today was no exceptions although Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps continue to move through in small numbers. Other bits of note included a Hobby, a juvenile  Cuckoo, a Spotted Flycatcher, a Redstart, seven Grey Wagtails, three Tree Pipits and 90 Siskins.
The sea was also quiet with the early morning seawatch producing just a Greenshank, a Black Tern and three Arctic Skuas of note.

The moth catch remains small but today included a Cypress Pug and a Delicate.

Three Large Coneheads were heard in the trapping area this evening along with a Sickle-bearing Bush-cricket and good numbers of Tree Crickets.

Two Brown Hares were also of note on the land.

13th Sep

A White Stork flew over Point before heading west this morning. Unfortunately this individual was colour-ringed which showed that it was a Knepp reintroduction bird and therefore of captive origins. Other than the stork it was a fairly quiet day with just small numbers of migrants in the bushes including 25 Chiffchaffs and a Garden Warbler and six Grey Wagtails and 15 Siskins overhead.

Seawatching produced a few waders, 772 Sandwich Terns, two Little Terns and 19 Arctic Skuas.

Fourteen Porpoises and two Grey Seals were also seen feeding offshore.

12th Sep

There were a few birds of note on the land including a juvenile Cuckoo, 200 House Martins, 25 Chiffchaffs, 12 Blackcaps, a Redstart, six Grey Wagtails and 40 Siskins.
We were able to catch three Grey Wagtails in the Crow Trap with images of two of them below.

Grey Wagtails Motacilla cinerea   Dungeness   12th September 2020
Two of the three birds ringed today. Previously only five birds had been ringed by the Observatory.
There was a decent movement of birds offshore during the day with 600 Gannets, 1272 Sandwich Terns, a Little Tern, two Great Skuas and 45 Arctic Skuas of note.

A small moth catch still produced two Delicates of note.

A Common Toad was found in the garden of one of the RNSSS Cottages.

Another evening foray into the trapping area produced ten Large Coneheads, three Sickle-bearing Bush-crickets and a good numbers of singing Tree Crickets. On our return to the Observatory a female Southern Oak Bush-cricket was also found.  

11th Sep

Calm conditions resulted in another decent arrival of Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps in the bushes and a large overhead movement of Siskins with at least 230 birds counted. Swallows and House Martins also flew through in small numbers.

Still very quiet offshore with just a first-winter Yellow-legged Gull and an Arctic Skua seen.

At least 39 Porpoises were seen offshore this morning in flat calm conditions.

A female Southern Oak Bush-cricket was found in the Observatory Garden.
Southern Oak Bush-cricket Meconema meridionale   female   Dungeness   11th September 2020

10th Sep

It was quieter today but there were still a few nice records including a flock of 19 Common Buzzards over the Observatory and a Short-eared Owl in the Desert, a Kingfisher at the Long Pits, a Spotted Flycatcher in the Moat, a Tree Pipit and 50 Yellow Wagtails. Numbers were provided by 12 Willow Warblers, 25 Chiffchaffs, 25 Blackcaps and 100 Meadow Pipits.
Butterflies seen today included two Clouded Yellows on the beach whilst an Oak Hooktip and a Delicate were caught at the Observatory.
Oak Hooktip Watsonalla binaria   Dungeness   10th September 2020

9th Sep

There was a decent arrival today with a Short-eared Owl, 15 Willow Warblers, 55 Chiffchaffs, 60 Blackcaps, 20 Lesser Whitethroats, 50 Whitethroats, two Spotted Flycatchers, a Redstart, two Whinchats, 13 Wheatears, 50 Yellow Wagtails, 70 Meadow Pipits, a Rock Pipit and ten Siskins of note. A Green Sandpiper flew over the area after dark.
There was a slight improvement in the birds seen offshore with a Balearic Shearwater, two juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls and five Arctic Skuas of note.

Five Porpoises and two Grey Seals were seen offshore and a Brown Hare was seen on the land. The evening visit to the trapping area produced contacts on the Bat Detector with Nathusius's  and Common Pipistrelles.

Nocturnal surveying for orthoptera continues to be very productive with 12 Large Coneheads and eight Sickle-bearing Bush-crickets along with an excellent chorus from the Tree Crickets. Two Southern Oak Bush-crickets were seen at the Observatory. 

8th Sep

A decent little arrival of migrants this morning with a Cuckoo, 15 Chiffchaffs, two Sedge Warblers, 16 Blackcaps, a Redstart and eight Wheatears with an additional four Grey Wagtails and 65 Siskins passed overhead. 
The days highlight though came late in proceedings with a Nightjar flying around the Trapping Area at dusk.

Quiet offshore yet again with just 60 Dunlin and 364 Sandwich Tern flying west.

The now regular nocturnal visit to the trapping area produced 11 Large Coneheads (including an ovipositing female) and 12 Sickle-bearing Bush-crickets. Three Southern Oak Bush-crickets were found in the Observatory garden and the Mediterranean Stick-insect population increased to four.
Sickle-bearing Bush-cricket Phaneroptera falcata   Dungeness   8th September 2020
An ovipositing female.- the first time i have seen occur.

7th Sep

Another morning with plenty of birds around although with nothing particularly unusual. The best of the grounded migrants were a Redstart, three Whinchats and a Pied Flycatcher in the moat along with a few commoner warblers, 30 Blackcaps, 575 Swallows, 100 House Martins, 120 Yellow Wagtails and a Tree Pipit.
Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus   first-winter female   Dungeness   7th September 2020
An evening search for orthoptera produced 12 Large Coneheads and two Sickle-bearing Bush-crickets.

Today was notable for the chance to meet up with Jim Flegg for a meal at the Britannia. Until his recent retirement Jim Flegg was the Observatory's longest serving Trustee at 68 years and a small  presentation was made to acknowledge his involvement with the Observatory from when it was in its infancy until the present day. 
Jim Flegg Presentation   (Images by Caroline Flegg and David Walker)

6th Sep

More of the same today with grounded migrants including 18 Chiffchaffs, 40 Blackcaps, four Lesser Whitethroats, 26 Whitethroats, the first two Song Thrushes of the autumn, two Spotted Flycatchers, 11 Wheatears, six Yellow Wagtails and also a Crossbill of note. There was some overhead passage with 200 Swallows, 25 House Martins, two Tree Pipits and 11 Siskins.

The sea was very quiet although another 806 Sandwich Tern flew west during the morning. 

There was more interest in the "rare" orthoptera today. During the course of the afternoon and evening at least ten Large Coneheads were noted with eight males heard and one of the two females seen ovipositing. It is becoming clear that the Sickle-bearing Bush-cricket population is doing much better than in the last couple of years with at least 14 individuals seen this evening and including a mating pair. It was a warmer night than of late and there was much better chorus from the Tree Crickets. In addition, two Southern Oak Bush-crickets were found in the front garden of the Observatory. 
Sickle-bearing Bush-crickets Phaneroptera falcata   Dungeness   6th September 2020
This is the first time I have actually seen any individuals engaged in mating behaviour.
Whilst out at night a Badger was seen in the Moat and the Bat Detectors picked up calls from both Common and Soprano Pipistrelles.

5th Sep

There was a nice arrival of migrants on the land today with the highlight of a Wood Warbler seen at the top of the Long Pits in the afternoon. Other less common migrants included a juvenile Cuckoo in the moat, three Swifts, seven Sedge Warblers, three Garden Warblers, a Spotted Flycatcher, three Redstarts, five Whinchats, a Tree Sparrow, 25 Yellow Wagtails, a Tree Pipit and the first Rock Pipit of the autumn. Numbers were provided by 150 Swallows, 20 Willow Warblers, ten Chiffchaffs, 15 Lesser Whitethroats, 20 Whitethroats, 21 Wheatears and 15 Siskins.

The sea was quiet except for a large flurry of Sandwich Terns in the the 45 minutes of daylight with 524 heading west.

Five Large Coneheads including one male were seen as well as ten Sickle-bearing Bush-crickets but it was quite cold in the evening and very few Tree Crickets were singing..

Two Clouded Yellows (including one of the white form helice) were noted. It has been a very poor year so far for this species. The best the moth traps could offer was a single Red Underwing. A European Hornet was also a very unusual sighting for the Point.

4th Sep

 A decent spread of commoner migrants on the land but nothing out of the ordinary except for three Garden Warblers, seven Whinchats and a Redstart. A few birds also passed overhead including nine Grey Wagtails, four Tree Pipits and 40 Siskin.

Three Great Skuas and two Arctic Skuas flew west during the early morning seawatch.

A Grey Seal and a Porpoise were feeding offshore and there were several passes over the Observatory of a Common Pipistrelle bat in the evening..

The clear highlight of a small catch of moths overnight was a Convolvulus Hawk-moth.

Eight male Large Coneheads were singing this evening with seven in the trapping area and one found in the Observatory Car Park. One Sickle-bearing Bush-cricket was also seen.


3rd Sep

A day of strong SW winds and cold, murky conditions. It was very quiet on the land except for large numbers of Swallows and Sand Martins heading south. Seawatching was also fairly slow going but over five hours of watching eventually produced a Balearic Shearwater, four Arctic Skuas, two Great Skuas, a Mediterranean Gull and large numbers of Sandwich Terns. The highlight though was a first-winter Caspian Gull on the beach at the fishing boats this afternoon.

Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans   juvenile/first winter   Dungeness   3rd September 2020
Three Porpoises were feeding offshore.

2nd Sep

A nice little spread of migrants arrived this morning with 30 Blackcaps, a Spotted Flycatcher and two Pied Flycatchers of note. Overhead passage also improved with the highlight of an Osprey along with five Buzzards, a late Swift, 175 Swallows, a Tree Sparrow, five Grey Wagtails and 20 Siskins.

It remains very quiet offshore.

A Grey Seal and at least four Porpoises were feeding offshore.

1st Sep

A juvenile Cuckoo was feeding in the moat, 14 Blackcaps were ringed and three Whinchats were also seen while a Green Sandpiper, two Greenshanks, three Grey Wagtails and two Tree Pipits flew overhead 

Another quiet day offshore but with two Balearic Shearwaters and four Arctic Skuas of note and a juvenile Caspian Gull was seen at the fishing boats in the evening.

A lone Porpoise was feeding offshore and a Brown Hare was also seen near the fishing boats. 

Another evening visit to the trapping area proved successful with six Large Coneheads and five Sickle-bearing Bush-crickets and a decent chorus from the Tree Crickets.

31st Aug

The first calm morning for a few days produced a small arrival of commoner migrants and the clear highlight of a Wryneck which was caught in the moat. Other bits and pieces on the land included a Merlin, 24 Willow Warblers, five Chiffchaffs, 20 Blackcaps, a Garden Warbler, three Whinchats, 90 Yellow Wagtails, 15 Grey Wagtails and four Tree Pipits.

Wryneck Jynx torquilla   Dungeness  31st August 2020.
The first to be ringed since 2007.
It was extremely quiet offshore.

A short visit to the trapping area around mid-day was notable for finding two Large Coneheads whilst the now regular nocturnal visit produced four individuals and six Sickle-bearing Bush-crickets.
Large Conehead Ruspolia nitidula   Dungeness   31st August 2020

30th Aug

Another cold, windy day with very little on the land and several hours looking at a fairly empty sea.

The best the sea could offer were four Pintail, eight Teal, 15 Turnstones, a party of five Snipe in off, 24 Mediterranean Gulls east, four Great Skuas and 17 Arctic Skuas in over 5.5 hours of watching.

A Grey Seal and a Porpoise were seen offshore and a Common Pipistrelle in the trapping area was picked up on the Bat Detector.

The wind finally dropped just in time for another foray after dark into the trapping area for rare orthoptera and proved to be an excellent night with eight Large Coneheads (seven females) and 12 Sickle-bearing Bush-crickets including two nymphs. Earlier in the day a female Southern Oak Bush-cricket was found in the front garden of the observatory.

Large Conehead Ruspolia nitidula and Southern Oak Bush-cricket Meconema meridionale 
Dungeness   30th August 2020

29th Aug

A cold day with a strong NW wind blowing made observations on the land difficult and seawatching not unexpectedly disappointing despite the numbers being reported from the north Kent coast.

The best the sea could provide was a party of three Grey Herons moving west, a few Gannets and terns, 14 Knot and seven Arctic Skuas. Three Yellow-legged Gulls were seen among the gulls gathered at the fishing boats.
Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis   juvenile/first-winter   Dungeness   29th August 2020
A Hobby, a Greenshank, a Common Sandpiper and two Swifts flew over the area but grounded migrants were almost non-existent.

Four Grey Seals and four Porpoise were seen offshore and a Common Pipistrelle was heard on the Bat Detector this evening.

Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus   Dungeness   29th August 2020
However, the highlight of the day came at dawn when a look round the corner of the Observatory to the moth trap revealed a superb Clifden Nonpareil sitting on the wall above the light. The only other moth of note was a Pearly Underwing.
Clifden Nonpareil Catocala fraxini   Dungeness   29th August 2020
Another nocturnal visit to the trapping area in far from ideal conditions produced a female Large Conehead and three Sickle-bearing Bush-crickets but the Tree Cricket chorus was very subdued. 

28th Aug

There were a few migrants about today including 17 Willow Warblers, a Garden Warbler, 21 Wheatears, 75 Yellow Wagtails and four Grey Wagtails. The sea was fairly quiet although ten Arctic Skuas were seen in three hours this morning and a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull was seen at the fishing boats.

27th Aug

With a drop in the wind there was a nice little arrival of migrants on the land this morning with a Kingfisher, three Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 50 Willow Warblers, 15 Blackcaps, 20 Whitethroats, a Redstart, five Whinchats, 12 Wheatears and the days highlight of a Grasshopper Warbler. There was also a bit passing overhead including 31 Ringed Plovers, 95 Yellow Wagtails, eight Grey Wagtails and three Tree Pipits
Grasshopper Warbler Locustella naevia   Dungeness   27th August 2020
A Little Gull was feeding at the Patch but passage was very slow with just 18 Turnstone, 31 Dunlin and 334 Sandwich Terns going though and five Arctic Skuas feeding offshore.

Three Porpoise and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore and a Brown Hare was seen on the land.

A fairly small catch of moths included a Scarce Bordered Straw and a Delicate of note.

It was also pleasing to find a Wasp Spider in the new ground to the front of the Observatory. It was feared that our small population may have been lost after all the groundwork here this spring.
Wasp Spider Argiope brunnechii   Dungeness   27th August 2020

26th Aug

After the riches of yesterday the seawatchihg was very slow with just two Sooty Shearwaters, 50 Bar-tailed Godwits, 95 Sanderlings, 91 Dunlin. three Little Terns and a Black Tern of note from over five hours of observations.
It was also quiet on the land with just four Willow Warblers in the bushes and a Greenshank and 46 Yellow Wagtails passing overhead.

One Porpoise was seen offshore and a Common Pipistrelle was picked up on the bat detector in the evening. 

Another Southern Oak Bush-cricket was found inside the Observatory and several Tree Crickets were seen in daylight while the evening ritual in the trapping area produced three Large Coneheads and six Sickle-bearing Bush-crickets.  An adult Hawthorn Shieldbug and a nymph Green Shieldbug were also found.
Southern Oak Bush-cricket Meconema meridionale   Duungeness   26th August 2020

Tree Cricket Oecanthus pelluscens   Dungeness   26th August 2020

25th Aug

Today was all about seawatching with the day starting with a fresh southerly wind which rapidly increased and eventually swung into the west and brought an end to proceedings. The morning saw a quite a few "proper" seabirds pass through but the afternoon saw a massive movement of waders and terns as the tide rose and birds were presumably being flushed from feeding area to the north.
Final totals included 36 Fulmars, six Sooty Shearwaters, five Manx Shearwaters, five Balearic Shearwaters, 840 Gannets, seven Great Skuas and 60 Arctic Skuas. But it was the spectacular movement of waders and terns which really stole the show in the afternoon with 253 Grey Plovers, 185 Whimbrel, 4248 Bar-tailed Godwits, 1413 Knot, 327 Sanderling, 497 Dunlin, five Snipe, five Greenshank and 120 Redshank, 306 Sandwich Terns, 16 Little Terns, 2106 Common Terns, an Arctic Tern and 51 Black Terns and many of these passing close in along the beach. There was also an Observatory rarity in the form of a group of five Curlew Sandpipers. In addition, a late movement of Swifts saw 45 birds go south. (Hopefully some images to follow later).

Four Porpoises and a Grey Seal were also seen.

In the evening a Southern Oak Bush-cricket was found inside the Observatory continuing the run of exciting orthoptera being recorded at the moment.

24th Aug

There was a small arrival of migrants this morning with the highlights including a Sedge Warbler, three Garden Warblers, a Whinchat, six Wheatears and a Pied Flycatcher whilst numbers were provided by 30 Willow Warblers. Birds passing overhead during the morning included 30 Yellow Wagtails, two Grey Wagtails and three Tree Pipits but the highlight was saved until the afternoon when an Osprey flew through.
Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca   Dungeness   24th August 2020
It was fairly hard-going offshore with just a trickle of terns and a couple of Arctic Skuas of note. A Mediterranean Gull and a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull were also seen.

Two Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

Another evening search for orthoptera with Peter Sutton proved highly successful with the finding of 12 Large Coneheads and including a rare brown form, three Sickle-bearing Bush-crickets, lots of Tree Crickets in the trapping area and then a superb mature Mediterranean Stick-insect at the Observatory.

Large Conehead Ruspolia nitidula   Dungeness   24th August 2020
A vrare brown form above and a typical form below.

Mediterranean Stick-insect Bacillus rossius   Dungeness   24th August 2020

23rd Aug

Strong westerly winds saw a reduced passage offshore with just singles of Balearic and Manx Shearwaters, three Bar-tailed Godwits, eight Little Terns, 373 Sandwich Terns and two Arctic Skuas of note. Overhead passage included 15 Swifts, 40 Yellow Wagtails, a Grey Wagtail and a Tree Pipit but the bushes were almost devoid of migrants.

The rough seas made observing sea mammals difficult but two Porpoises and a Grey Seal were seen and in the evening the kids in the block found a grounded and very weak Whiskered Bat and which has now been taken into care.

The highlight of a handful of moths in the traps overnight was another Golden Twin-spot but the real excitement occurred this evening when it became apparent that a Large Conehead had been seen earlier in the day in the moat. Searching after dark proved astonishingly successful with the finding of another three individuals in close proximity in the trapping area along with eight Sickle-bearing Bush-crickets and another deafening chorus from the Tree Crickets.

Large Conehead Ruspolia nitidula   female   Dungeness   23rd August 2020
I am not sure how many Britiish records there have been
 but there are very few and most of them are from the Scilly Isles.

22nd Aug

With more strong winds most of the days interest was offshore with 9.25hrs of watching producing a Teal, eight Fulmars, 11 Balearic and two Sooty Shearwaters, 21 Kittiwakes, a Mediterranean Gull, four Little Terns, 615 Sandwich Terns, 185 Common Terns and four Arctic Skuas. The only birds of note on the land were three Swifts and a Whinchat.

Four Porpoises and a Grey Seal were also feeding offshore.

Three Hummingbird Hawk-moths were noted.

Elsewhere, the Glossy Ibis was still present at the ARC Pit.

21st Aug

After a stormy night there was a good movement of birds offshore with an excellent total of 46 Balearic Shearwaters and a Sooty Shearwater being the highlights along with a Manx Shearwater, 17 Fulmars, 339 Gannets, 84 Kittiwakes, 741 Sandwich Terns, 15 Little Terns, six Black Terns, two Great Skuas and four Arctic Skuas.
Seven Swifts flew out to sea and a Spotted Flycatcher was feeding in the Observatory front garden.

Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata   Dungeness   21st August 2020
Four Porpoises and two Grey Seals were feeding offshore.

Hopes for the moth traps were not very high given the strong winds so it was a great surprise to find an Oak Processionary, a Vestal, two Delicates and a Scarce Bordered Straw among the small catch. 

Oak Processionary Thaumetopoea processionea   Dungeness   21st August 2020

Delicate Mythimna vitellina   Dungeness   21st August 2020

Scarce Bordered Straw Helicoverpa armigera   Dungeness   21st August 2020