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Corona Virus Update

Due to ongoing advice about the Corona Virus we have taken the decision to close the Observatory building to visitors for the foreseeable future. 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
The Trustees.

Coved-19 and Dungeness

Dungeness has been effectively locked down by the landowners (EDF) and any unnecessary visitors are being very much discouraged from coming onto the estate. All the car parks are blocked off and gatherings of more than two people are currently banned. We will continue to try and keep people updated. Please DO NOT come down over the weekend or for the foreseeable future.  Thank you

8th Apr

A Red Kite flew south over the Observatory this morning and the first Whitethroat of the year was seen but it was otherwise very quiet on the land. Four Mediterranean Gulls, 55 Sandwich Terns and a Great Skua flew east offshore.

The calm conditions made for an excellent count of 31 Porpoises feeding offshore.

The non-avian highlight was the finding of the nationally very rare beetle Hister quadrimaculatus. Many of the earlier British records were also from Dungeness and it remains the stronghold for this species.although more records/sites have come to light in recent years.
Hister quadrimaculatus    Dungeness   8th April 2020

7th Apr

A calm and sunny day but lacking in birds. The early morning seawatch was very quiet with just 56 Sandwich Terns of note while passing overhead included four Buzzards, 162 Wood Pigeons, three Swallows and our first Tree Pipit of the spring. Grounded migrants were very scarce with just five Blackcaps, a Willow Warbler and four Wheatears of any note.

At least eight Porpoise were feeding offshore.

A bit of time was spent looking for insects with some exciting results. A small, black shieldbug was found in the moat which appears to Geotomus petiti This is the same species as that found by Gill Hollamby and myself on the RSPB Reserve last autumn when they were the first British records. This was followed by the catching of a bee which I think is a female Nomada zonata. This is a species that was first seen in Britain in 2016 but has spread a bit since then. The first Small Copper of the year was also seen.

Geotomus petiti   Dungeness   7th April 2020

Nomada zonata   female   Dungeness   7th April 2020
When I found the shieldbug I was actually taking pictures of a couple of our scarcer plants which are now in flower in the Moat. 
Spring Vetch   Vicia lathyroides  Dungeness   7th April 2020

Upright Chickweed Moechia erecta
Both of these planta are scarce in Kent and pretty much restricted to the Dungeness and Sandwich Bay areas.

6th Apr

The morning seawatch produced two Shovelers, two Eiders, 190 Common Scoters, three Mediterranean Gulls, two Little Gulls, 202 Sandwich Terns, seven Common Terns and two Arctic Skuas of note. A Little Egret also flew east and a second-winter Caspian Gull was on the beach at the fishing boats.
Although there seemed to be a few more migrants in the general area it was still fairly quiet in the immediate Observatory area with just six Willow Warblers, eight Chiffchaffs, seven Blackcaps and four Wheatears of interest whilst 420 Wood Pigeons, a Grey Wagtail and 15 Goldinches passed overhead.

The "noc-mig" kit was out again last night and recorded one flock of Common Scoters, four Redwings and a Song Thrush.

One Porpoise was feeding offshore.

Two Red Admirals were the first of the year and a few early flowering plants are starting to appear.

Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta   Dungeness   6th April 2020
Field Pansy Viola arvensis   Dungeness   6th April 2020
One of my favourite early flowering plants.

Early Forget-me not   Myotis ramossissima  Dungeness   6th April 2020

5th Apr

Most of the coverage today involved seawatching where a fresh SE wind resulted in an excellent easterly movement of birds. Of note were 237 Brent Geese, three Gadwall, 111 Shovelers, four Pintails, 72 Teal, six Tufted Ducks, 1356 Common Scoters, five Red-breasted Mergansers, 561 Gannets, nine Avocets, 27 Whimbrel, 12 Little Gulls, 13 Mediterranean Gulls, 745 Sandwich Terns, 26 Common Terns and six Arctic Skuas.
A Firecrest in the moat was the only bird of note on the land.
Dark-bellied Brent Geese Branta bernicla   Dungeness   5th April 2020
Shoveler Anas clypeata   Dungeness   5th April 2020
Gannet Morus bassanus   Dungeness   5th April 2020
The "noc-mig" recorder was out again last night and although it was very quiet there were still three flocks of Common Scoters which passed over the Observatory.

At least ten Porpoises were feeding offshore and a Common Seal was also seen.

4th Apr

The early morning hopes of a decent seawatch were quickly dashed by fog rolling in at 0700hrs and then lingering into the afternoon. The sea did however produce 302 Common Scoters, three Black-throated Divers, 147 Sandwich Terns and a Common Tern of note.
There was little to be seen in the way of grounded migrants with just six Chiffchaffs and four Firecrests of note. A flock of four Buzzards also flew over.

We ran two "noc-mig" recorders with some very interesting results. The highlights were a couple more recordings of Stone-curlew along with one flock of Wigeon, ten flocks of Common Scoters, two Mediterranean Gulls and 62 Redwings

At least ten Porpoises were feeding offshore and a Grey Seal was hauled out on the beach. A Weasel was seen in the trapping area.

Five Peacocks and a Comma butterfly were seen and a Painted Nomad Bee was also found.

Some of the Blackthorn bushes are in full flower and attracting a few bees including this Painted Nomad Bee Nomada fucata.

3rd Apr

A calm and cloudy morning produced a few bits and pieces on both land and sea. The highlights of the morning exercise walk and scanning from the Moat were a Red Kite, a Marsh Harrier, a Swallow, three Willow Warblers, two Blackcaps and four Firecrests although for the hardened observatory patch worker a male Pheasant and a Red-legged Partridge were sadly almost as significant. A Great Crested Grebe was also seen on the Long Pits.
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus    Long Pits   3rd April 2020

The early morning seawatch also produced some goodies in the form of a Great White Egret north along the shore, a Mediterranean Gull, 15 Sandwich Terns and the first Arctic Skua of the spring.

We also recorded another "Noc Mig" session and this really came up trumps with a Stone-curlew calling at 0017hrs (listen below) as well as four flocks of Teal and one flock of Common Scoters at 0235hrs. Most of the night was quiet for Redwings but in the early hours passage increased considerably with 208 calls counted.

Two Porpoises were feeding offshore and a Stoat was also seen. 

These images taken today may also be of interest.

Shepherd's Cress Teesdalia nudicaulus   Dungeness   3rd April 2020
One of the special plants of Dungeness is in flower at the moment.
Comma Polygonia c-album   Dungeness   3rd April 2020
Its been a fairly slow start for butterflies so nice to see three of these today
Slow Worm Anguis fragilkis   Dungeness   3rd April 2020

2nd Apr

Firstly an apology to all but Dungeness has been effectively locked down by the landowners (EDF) and any unnecessary visitors are being very much discouraged from coming onto the estate. All the car parks are blocked off and given that gatherings of more than two people are currently banned it was impossible for us to put news of our bird of the day out to the general public. However, I have had numerous requests to continue to put sightings and photographs on the webpage even though visits cannot be made. I trust that you will all understand and appreciate that this is a difficult situation for us but we want to continue to keep everyone informed as much as possible. Please DO NOT come down tomorrow, over the weekend or for the foreseeable future otherwise we will have to review this policy.

Anyway, to the birds which was headed by the finding of our second Short-toed Treecreeper of the year this morning. Other migrants continue to be fairly thin on the ground but did include our first Willow Warbler of the spring along with 150 Wood Pigeons, ten Chiffchaffs and singles of Blackcap, Firecrest, Rock Pipit and Corn Bunting. Large numbers of corvids were present and included a Carrion x Hooded Crow hybrid. A Marsh Harrier and a Merlin were also seen.

Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla    Dungeness   2nd April 2020
The early morning seawatch was also productive with ten Wigeon, five Shoveler, four Gadwall, two Pintail, four Teal, an Eider, 158 Common Scoters, two Red-breasted Mergansers, a Red-necked Grebe, two Mediterranean Gulls and 26 Sandwich Terns.

We also deployed two "noc mig" recorders last night which between them produced a good selection of birds including three flocks of Wigeon, two flocks of Teal, two flocks of Common Scoters, a Grey Plover, a Dunlin, two Snipe, eight Blackbirds, a Song Thrush, a Fieldfare and 446 Redwings.

Ten Porpoises were feeding offshore.

1st Apr

The wind finally dropped overnight although it made for a cold start to the days proceedings. The highlight of the day was a Serin seen by one observer this morning. Migrants on the land were otherwise thinly spread with three Snipe, seven Chiffchaffs, a Firecrest and three Bullfinches of note while a dribble of birds passing overhead included a Buzzard and five Siskins.
The sea was also quiet with just four Red-breasted Mergansers, 63 Red-throated Divers, two Bar-tailed Godwits and 27 Sandwich Terns seen in the morning and a few Brent Geese passing through in the afternoon.

Two Porpoises were feeding offshore.

A day-flying Light Orange Underwing moth was seen in the trapping area.

A quick search for bees this afternoon produced a Yellow-shouldered Nomad Bee Nomada ferruginata. This is a pretty scarce bee at a national level and the only "recent" records for Kent appear to be from Dungeness.

Nomada ferruginata   Dungeness   1st April 2020
Elsewhere, the big news was another pass over New Romney by an immature White-tailed Eagle but which again proved impossible to see from Dungeness given the distance and heat haze at the time. In addition the first Swallows and Sedge Warblers of the year were seen.

31st Mar

Another day with strong and cold NE winds. A few birds passed overhead including 200 Wood Pigeons and 145 Chaffinches but it was quiet in the bushes with just six Chiffchaffs, three Firecrests, two Song Thrushes and six Redwings of note. It was also quiet offshore where the early morning produced just a Black-throated Diver, three Mediterranean Gulls and 12 Sandwich Terns of note.

The "noc-mig" recorder was deployed last night with a Teal, two Moorhens, a Sandwich Tern, a Skylark and nine Redwings registered.

Two Porpoises were feeding offshore.of note. 

30th Mar

Not a great deal to be seen in the Observatory area. A one hour seawatch this morning produced an Eider, 154 Red-throated Divers and two Sandwich Terns.
Eight Chiffchaffs, four Firecrests, four Black Redstarts and two Wheatears were seen and an interesting looking Great Spotted Woodpecker came to the feeders in the trapping area.

Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopus major   Dungeness   30th March 2020
Note the very white, pinkish washed underparts and white outer tail feathers with very narrow black bars.on
the inner webs. This features suggest ithat this might be a bird of the more northern subspecies. major.
Two Porpoises and a Grey Seal were seen offshore and two Brown Hares were seen on the land.

However, the "big" news today was an immature White-tailed Eagle which flew over the northern end of the greater recording area and was seen by several lucky observers before it headed off in a north-easterly direction and was then seen later over Hythe as it continued its way along the coast. Sadly, we failed to see it from the Observatory.

29th Mar

A very cold gale-force NE wind with frequent hail severely limited observations. The only birds of note were two Sandwich Terns and a Merlin.

28th Mar

The very cold north-east wind was even stronger today and limited observations even more. A Jack Snipe flying along the beach was the surprise of the morning seawatch and the juvenile Glaucous Gull was still around. Two Grey Plovers, two Mediterranean Gulls and 13 Sandwich Terns were also seen. Migrants on the land were very limited but did include two Marsh Harriers, a Short-eared Owl, a Fieldfare, a Firecrest, a Grey Wagtail, 200 Chaffinches and five Siskins.

Four Porpoise were feeding offshore.

27th Mar

The weather remains the same with fresh and cold NE winds and clear skies limiting grounded migrants but encouraging a bit of visible migration. The highlights of this mornings exercise walks were a Serin followed by a Crossbill and a Corn Bunting along with a Buzzard, six Snipe, 85 Wood Pigeons, a Grey Wagtail, 35 Chaffinches and six Siskins. Four Chiffchaffs, two Firecrests and eight Black Redstarts and a White Wagtail were also seen on the land.

The juvenile Glaucous Gull was still on the beach but offshore passage was very slow with just nine Wigeon, three Shovelers and four Sandwich Terns of interest.

The nights "nocmig" recording produced a flock of Common Scoter, five Moorhens, a Snipe and 73 Redwings.

A Porpoise and a Brown Hare were also seen.

Four Peacock butterflies were also seen in the Trapping Area.

26th Mar

Not a great deal in the bushes other than four Chiffchaffs and a Firecrest but a decent movement overhead with a Marsh Harrier, 430 Wood Pigeons and 130 Chaffinches seen. 
The sea was also quiet with just six Teal, seven Fulmars, two Mediterranean Gulls, a Little Gull and seven Sandwich Terns of note.

A 3.33hr "nocmig" session recorded a Grey Heron, two Mallard, two Teal and 38 Redwings.

Two Porpoises were seen offshore.

25th Mar

A day of quality rather than quantity. The highlights on the land were a Red Kite, two Buzzards, a Marsh Harrier, a Wood Lark and a Serin along with five Firecrests in the trapping area and the first Yellow Wagtail of the spring also flew east along the beach. Seawatching produced 401 Brent Goose, a Garganey, 12 Shoveler, six Pintails, six Eider, a Little Gull, two Mediterranean Gulls and 12 Sandwich Terns. The Glaucous Gull also gave brilliant views.

We also ran the "nocmig" recorder last night. The number of registrations was very small but did include a Teal and two Coot of note.

Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus   juvenile   Dungeness   25th March 2020
Four Porpoises were feeding offshore.

24th Mar

The first day of full Coronavirus lockdown and the Dungeness estate has been officially closed to visitors by EDF. Needless to say it was very quiet. Hopefully I'll be allowed back in if I have to cross the line.

This means that for the next few weeks coverage is going to be rather different to the level that we have got used to in recent years. Officially we are restricted to one "exercise" walk a day. My walk is therefore quite long but as there are virtually no visitors it is easy to avoid contact with anyone else. Between us we are endeavoring to cover at least an early morning seawatch and a good check of the land.

Another effect of the lockdown is that the building work inside the Observatory has been abandoned for the time being and means that we have no idea when we will be able to offer accommodation again even when the restrictions have been lifted.

Seawatching today produced 1000 Brent Geese, five Shelducks, 20 Shovelers, 567 Common Scoters, five Red-breasted Mergansers, five Little Gulls, 163 Sandwich Terns and the first three Common Terns of the spring. The juvenile Glaucous Gull was also still present. 

The check of the land revealed two Common Snipe, a Redshank, six Chiffchaffs, a Firecrest, six Black Redstarts, six Stonechats and two Wheatears.

Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochrurus   Dungeness   24th March 2020

Stonechat  Saxicola rubicola   Dungeness   24th March 2020
Two Porpoises were feeding offshore.

The "micro-moth" Esperia sulphurella was found in the Observatory garden.
Esperia sulphurella   Dungeness   24th March 2020

23rd Mar

There was a trickle of birds of moving east offshore with four Garganey of particular note and back up provided by 13 Shovelers, 48 Red-throated Divers, four Grey Plovers, six Ringed Plovers, four Mediterranean Gulls and three Sandwich Terns.
There was also a handful of migrants on the land with a Jack Snipe, four Common Snipe, five Chiffchaffs, a Long-tailed Tit, four Firecrests, ten Redwings and a Mistle Thrush of note.

Four Porpoises were feeding offshore. 

The next few weeks look like being fairly difficult times for us. The Dungeness Estate will be effectively locked down and for the most part will only be covered by three or four observers and that limited to "exercise walks". Obviously the Observatory will be completely out of bounds to visitors for the time being.

22nd Mar

A handful of migrants on the land included a Jack Snipe, five Chiffchaffs and ten Redwings. The juvenile Glaucous Gull was still feeding offshore but movement included seven Shoveler, seven Black-tailed Godwit and just two Sandwich Terns.

One Porpoise was seen offshore.

21st Mar

A cold and windy day. The juvenile Glaucous Gull was still present and three Firecrests were seen in the bushes. The sea was very quiet although 18 Shovelers, 13 Red-breasted Mergansers and 293 Gannets did pass east in the morning.

Elsewhere, a Yellow Wagtail and 14 White Wagtails were seen at the dung heap along Dengemarsh Road, several Sand Martins were seen around the area and two Cattle Egrets were seen around Pigwell Farm.

20th Mar

A miserable day of cold, strong NE winds and fairly constant rain. The Short-toed Treecreeper was reportedly seen in the early morning but I am not aware of any sightings later in the day. The Glaucous Gull was also feeding along the surf line again. Commoner migrants included a Firecrest, two Wheatears and a White Wagtail.
The "nocmig" recorder produced 63 Redwings.

Two Porpoises were feeding offshore and two Brown Hares were seen at the fishing boats.

19th Mar

A very elusive Short-toed Treecreeper was found this morning in the Old Lighthouse Garden. It is unclear whether it was a different individual to the bird seen on 17th March but there was plenty of movement overnight and also during the morning so it may well be a new bird. Other migrants included 28 Chiffchaffs, ten Firecrests, two Fieldfares, 85 Redwings, four Song Thrushes, seven Black Redstarts, three Wheatears and 150 Meadow Pipits

Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla   Dungeness   19th March 2020
Two Porpoises were feeding offshore and a Brown Hare was seen in the Desert.

18th Mar

A quiet day on both land and at sea. Eleven Chiffchaffs, four Firecrests and a White Wagtail were about the best to be seen on the land and the juvenile Glaucous Gull was still feeding at the fishing boats.

17th Mar

The highlight of the day was a Short-toed Treecreeper which spent an hour or so in the garden of Southview Cottage before it departed low across the broom in a south westerly direction. Other migrants were generally thinly spread but included seven Chiffchaffs, six Firecrests, four Wheatears, four White Wagtails and a Brambling.

Seawatching was very slow with just four Sandwich Terns of note. The juvenile Glaucous Gull was feeding at the fishing boats again.

Another night of "nocmig" recording was carried out and while fairly quiet did produce two Wigeon, a Little Grebe, two Moorhens, a Dunlin and 17 Redwings.
Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla   Dungeness   17th March 2020
A true "record shot"
A Brown Hare was seen.

16th Mar

A fine morning saw the first arrival of spring migrants of any real significance with 50 Chiffchaffs, three Blackcaps, 12 Firecrests, a Mistle Thrush, four Black Redstarts and seven Wheatears. Two Buzzards and three Siskins also flew over.
Seawatching was fairly quiet but did include two Shelducks, 14 Mediterranean Gulls and 12 Sandwich Terns

Last nights "nocmig" recordings resulted in lots of Redwings (1875 calls) along with three Grey Herons, three Moorhens, an Oystercatcher, a Snipe, a Mediterranean Gull, 25 Blackbirds, eight Fieldfares and a Song Thrush. To give an idea of a busy night on the recorder here is a small sample of some of the Redwings.

There was a surprising increase in the numbers of Porpoise with at least 27 feeding offshore.

A Hummingbird Hawkmoth was seen in a private garden and five Peacocks, two Small Tortoiseshells and two Commas were also seen.

15th Mar

The main feature of the day was an excellent movement of Brent Geese with just under 3500 birds passing east up until early afternoon. Other species were generally scarce but did include three Teal, three Curlew, 49 Red-throated Divers and four Mediterranean Gulls. The juvenile Glaucous Gull was also still feeding offshore.
On the land, the highlight was the arrival of our first Wheatear of the spring but other migrants were very sparse.

The Audiomoth was recording again last night and in ten hours produced two Moorhens, a Golden Plover, a Curlew, a Redshank, six Blackbirds and 415 Redwings

Four Porpoises were feeding offshore.

14th Mar

With the wind blowing from the south and moderate rain this morning there was an excellent up-channel movement of birds. This included 2051 Brent Geese, 62 Shelducks, 18 Shoveler, two Gadwall, 27 Wigeon, 45 Pintail, two Teal, five Pochard, four Red-breasted Mergansers, two Curlews, four Mediterranean Gulls, and three Sandwich Terns. The juvenile Glaucous Gull was seen anywhere between the Patch and the Lifeboat Station and a Great Skua flew west.
There wasn't a great deal to report from the land other than a Merlin, five Chiffchaffs, two Firecrests and a Black Redstart.

The Audiomoth recorded a few birds overnight with two Curlew, two Blackbirds and 31 Redwings counted.

Three Porpoises were also feeding offshore.

13th Mar

A Merlin, eight Chiffchaffs, three Firecrests and a male Black Redstart were seen on the land while the juvenile Glaucous Gull and two first-winter Caspian Gulls were seen at the Patch this morning.

One Porpoise was feeding offshore.

12th Mar

Another hard day with strong cold winds and occasional wintry showers. The juvenile Glaucous Gull was still at the fishing boats, a first-winter Yellow-legged Gull was seen at the Patch and a Firecrest was seen in the trapping area but very little else was noted.

The Audiomoth recorder was deployed again last night with a Water Rail, 14 Blackbirds and 514 Redwings recorded.

A single Porpoise was feeding offshore.

11th Mar

The first movement of Brent Geese for some time occurred this morning with 710 birds moving through although there was little else on the move. The juvenile Glaucous Gull was showing well at the fishing boats and three Mediterranean Gulls were also seen.
A Firecrest and ten Chiffchaffs were seen in the area.

We also played the Audiomoth recorder last night and was full of Redwings with 2136 calls noted along with just seven Blackbirds.

Two Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus   juvenile   Dungeness   11th March 2020

10th Mar

Another miserable day with fog, mist, rain and strong winds throughout. The juvenile Glaucous Gull was at the fishing boats again, two Firecrests were seen in the trapping area and two Long-tailed Tits visited the feeders.

9th Mar

The Glaucous Gull continued to show well at the fishing boats and a first-winter Caspian Gull was seen but any offshore movement was almost non-existent.

Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus   juvenile   Dungeness   9th March 2020
A trickle of birds on the land included a Merlin, a Firecrest and four Grey Wagtails.
Firecrest Regulus ignicapilla   Dungeness   9th March 2020
We also played the Audiomoth NocMig recorder last with some interesting results including a Canada Goose, a Grey Heron, a Water Rail and a few Redwings.

One Porpoise was seen offshore.

8th Mar

The juvenile Glaucous Gull was showing well at the fishing boats for most of the day along with a new, tailless first-winter Caspian Gull and three Mediterranean Gulls. A Sandwich Tern and a "spanish-ringed" Lesser Black-backed Gull were also seen.

Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus   juvenile   Dungeness   8th March 2020

Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans   first-winter   Dungeness   8th March 2020

Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus   adult   Dungeness   8th March 2020
A "spanish-ringed" bird - details are awaited.
Still very quiet on the land but with two Chiffchaffs and four Firecrests of note.

Two Porpoises were feeding offshore.