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Local weather


The Observatory can accommodate up to 9 people in two dormitories, you need to bring your own sleeping bags and it is self-catering. As well as Birdwatchers, we welcome people from many areas of interest including Moths, Butterflies, Bugs and Beetles or just a general interest in Nature and the local environment. Please forward any Dungeness recording area records to the Warden.
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31st May

Despite hours spent in the field there was barely a bird of interest to be seen. A single Mediterranean Gull was feeding offshore and a Siskin flew over.

Three Porpoises were feeding offshore.

Five Holly Blues were seen in the Old Lighthouse Garden but the insect highlight of the day was the finding of another Mottled Shieldbug in the Trapping Area - the third record for Dungeness and all this year. This species was first seen in Britain in London during 2010 and has spread rapidly from there. 
Mottled Shieldbug Rhaphigaster nebulosa   Dungeness   31st May 2020

Some news from yesterday concerns the finding of the rare Spotted Dark Bee, Stelis ornatula, which also appears to be another new species for Dungeness. A second individual was also found today.

Spotted Dark Bee Stelis ornatula   Dungeness   30th May 2020


30th May

Very clear and windy again and few birds to be seen. Three Mediterranean Gulls were feeding offshore.

Elsewhere, a Serin was singing for a few minutes this morning in a private garden at Greatstone.

Two Porpoises were feeding offshore.

A single Variable Damselfly was seen at the Long Pits as was the first Large Skipper butterfly of the year.

29th May

A Long-eared Owl seen in the Trapping Area was a nice surprise and a Redpoll flew over. There were 22 Mediterranean Gulls at the Patch and a flock of eight Shovelers flew east.

Four Porpoises were feeding offshore but the most unexpected sighting of the day was of a Grey Squirrel found on the peanut feeder in the Observatory garden. 

Grey Squirrel Sciurus carolinensis   Dungeness   29th May 2020
Three Holly Blues were seen in the Trapping Area.

28th May

A bright and sunny day but with a strong NE wind. Birding was fairly hard going in the strong winds but a female Montagu's Harrier flew out to sea at 1100hrs and single Buzzard and Marsh Harrier were also seen during the day.

Two Porpoises were feeding offshore and a Brown Hare was seen  at the Fishing Boats.

The first Emperor Dragonfly of the year was seen.
Emperor Dragonfly Anax imperator   Dungeness   28th May 2020.

The Covid-19 lockdown of the estate will be lifted at 0900hrs tomorrow morning. However, the Bird Observatory and the hides will have to remain shut for a while longer yet. Visitors should still follow the social distancing rules.
The last day of the Covid-19 lockdown of the estate.


27th May

A single Buzzard overhead was about the only bird of note seen today.

A couple of just-emerged Rest Harrow moths were seen in the area.

Rest Harrow Aplasta ononaria   Dungeness   27th May 2020.

26th May

Very quiet again with just two Buzzards over, a Redshank on the beach and three Mediterranean Gulls at the Patch of note.

Two Porpoise and a Grey Seal were seen offshore while Common Pipistrelle bats were picked up on the bat detector this evening.

A decent enough catch of moths in terms of numbers overnight but the only scarcer individuals were an Oak-tree Pug and a Treble Lines.
Treble Lines Charanyca trigrammmica
Only the eight Observatory record.

25th May

There was the smallest of arrivals of migrants with six Willow Warblers and a Mistle Thrush in the area of some note while birds passing overhead including a Buzzard, two Lapwings, 16 House Martin and two Yellow Wagtails
There was a single first-summer Mediterranean Gull at the Patch this evening and a Shag flew east during the morning.

Seven Porpoises were feeding offshore in the flat calm sea.

Three Grizzled Skippers were seen during the day and a decent catch of moths included only our second record of Caloptilia alchimiella.
Caloptilia alchimiella    Dungeness   25th May 2020
This is only the second observatory record of this oak-feeding moth..

Yellow-wort Blackstonia perfiolata   Dungeness   25th May 2020
A recent addition to the  flora of the recording area but now in large amounts near Lloyds Cottage
and inside the perimeter fence of the power station.

24th May

Very quiet with just a Buzzard seen in the Trapping Area and an Arctic Skua passing east offshore.

Four Brown Hares were seen in the evening and singles of Porpoise and Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

The first Black-tailed Skimmer of the year was seen and four Grizzled Skippers and three Brown Argus were also seen.

23rd May

Very strong winds made observations difficult but a "booming" Bittern was heard and a Spotted Flycatcher was seen at the Long Pits. The Turtle Dove was seen in the Trapping Area again but remains very elusive and five Chiffchaffs were scattered across the recording area. 

22nd May

Very quiet in windy conditions. Three Mediterranean Gulls were feeding at the Patch and the Turtle Dove was seen in the Trapping Area again.

One Porpoise was feeding offshore.

A Clouded Yellow butterfly was seen but the moth trap was a bit disappointing with the best being this Oak-tree Pug - only the fourth record for the Observatory trap.
Oak-tree Pug Eupithecia dodoneata   Dungeness   22nd August 2020
In addition, some exciting news just in regarding a cockroach found at Dungeness. I first became aware of them in August 2015 while looking for Tree Crickets when I saw and caught some individuals which I could not satisfactorily identify. I posted a few images on our (old) website asking for help but they generated very little interest and the story sort of ended there for a while. However, I have continued to see occasional individuals each autumn since then but they have been difficult to see, let alone catch. The problem of their identity has nagged away at me though and on October 9th 2018 I discovered one on the wall of the Observatory presumably attracted to the moth trap light. I potted it up and to cut a long story short the specimen ended up with Professer Horst Bohn at the University of Munich. He has now identified it as Ectobius montanus and is a new species for Britain. Even more remarkably it is previously not known to occur outside of Italy. Obviously many thanks to Horst and also Bjorn Beckman and Judith Marshall for their help along the way. 

Ectobius montanus   male   Dungeness   October 9th 2018
And images of the 2015 individuals.
Ectobius montanus   male   August 22nd 2015
Ectobius montanus   male  August 23rd 2015

Ecobius montanus   female   August 23rd 2015

21st May

A Crossbill seen briefly at the Long Pits and the Turtle Dove in the Trapping Area again were about the best on offer on the land. The sea remains very slow-going with just an eastward trickle of Common Scoters and four Mediterranean Gulls and two Yellow-legged Gulls of interest.

A Porpoise and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

Four Grizzled Skippers and five Brown Argus were seen and a search for shieldbugs produced several Bishop's Mitres and Tortoise Bugs and a single Slender Leatherbug.

20th May

A male Hen Harrier came in from the south over the Power Station and continued inland and a Little Egret flew over the trapping area. A single Willow Warbler was the only other obvious migrant on the land while a flock of 18 Sanderlings and eight Mediterranean Gulls were of note offshore.

Seven Porpoises and a Common Seal were feeding offshore.

The moth trap provided a good number of moths even though variety was still low and included the catching of an Ochreous Pug - only the second trap record with the previous one on June 11th 2008.
Ochreous Pug Eupithecia indigata   Dungeness   20th May 2020
Three Grizzled Skippers and two Brown Argus were seen and two Geotomus petiti shieldbugs were found in the usual spot in the Moat.  

19th May

Another very quiet day with just a Spotted Flycatcher and a flock of 32 Corn Buntings of note.

One Porpoise was seen offshore.

Four Variable Damselflies were seen at the northern end of the Long Pits and another Box Bug was found in the trapping area.
Variable Damselfly Coenagrion pulchellum   Dungeness   19th May 2020

18th May

Very little to report on the bird front. The Turtle Dove was seen in the trapping area again and five Mediterranean Gulls were feeding at the Patch.

A Common Seal was seen on the beach and there was a report of at least six White-beaked Dolphins following a fishing boat about 4.5miles offshore this morning.

A check of the Geotomus petiti site produced a single individual.

A check of a few flower locations produced a few niceties including Thrift, Rock Soapwort and Hairy Garlic.
Hairy Garlic Allium subhirsutum   Dungeness   18th May 2020
These plants were first found in 2014 but i havent seen them in flower again until today.

Rock Soapwort Saponaris ocymoides   Dungeness   18th May 2020

Thrift Armeria maritima   Dungeness   18th May 2020

17th May

Very little moving now. Three Buzzards and a Yellow Wagtail passed overhead and a Mediterranean Gull and two Yellow-legged Gulls were seen  at the Patch. A Little Ringed Plover flew over just after dark.

Twenty Porpoises were feeding offshore.

One Grizzled Skipper and two Brown Argus were seen. A Rhombic Shieldbug and a Green Tiger Beetle were also seen. 

The first flowering Yellow Vetch was seen in the Moat.
Yellow Vetch vicea lutea   Dungeness   17th May 2020

16th May

A handful of migrants on the land included singles of Willow Warbler, Garden Warbler, Sedge Warbler and a Yellow Wagtail. There was very little movement offshore but a Black-throated Diver, 20 Whimbrel, seven Sanderling and four Mediterranean Gulls passed through and two Yellow-legged Gulls were seen at the Patch.

Ten Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

Three Tree Bumblebees were seen.

And some good news concerning the Geotomus shieldbugs which have now been confirmed (as expected) as petiti

15th May

The dearth of migrants continues on the land but there was another Turtle Dove of note along with a Lapwing, 25 Swallows and singles of House and Sand Martin. The sea was a bit more productive than of late with a Black-throated Diver, a handful of waders, three Arctic Skuas and a trickle of terns with the latter including a single flock of 52 Black Terns

Three Porpoises were feeding offshore.

Three Variable Damselflies were seen at the north end of the Long Pits.

The sunnier conditions brought out a few bees with several Tree Bumblebees in the trapping area and at the Observatory. A mining-bee trapped yesterday was confirmed as Andrena labialis and was released today. The patch of new vegetation in front of the Observatory is also proving to be a good source of bees with what I think must be Nomada lathburiana caught there this morning. One Geotomus shieldbug was also seen in the usual spot in the moat.
A bit of late news from yesterday involves the finding of a early stage nymph Great Green Bush-cricket. This species is surprisingly rare in the Observatory area given how common they are just a bit inland and this may well be the first record of a nymph.  

Andrena labialis   Dungeness   15th May 2020

Nomada lathburiana   Dungeness   15th May 2020
Neither the NBN Atlas or the Kent Atlas show any records for Dungeness.

Tree Bumblebee Bombus hypnorum   Dungeness   15th May 2020
Great Green Bush-cricket Tettigonia viridissima  early-stage nymph   Dungeness   14th May 2020

14th May

A Turtle Dove in the trapping area was about the only obvious migrant on the land. An evening seawatch produced a Sanderling, 435 Common and "commic" Terns and four Little Terns and also the most unlikely record of the day when a flock of three Black Swans flew out to the south.

Two Porpoises were feeding offshore.

Three Grizzled Skippers and a Holly Blue were seen in the trapping area and another Box Bug was also found. Three Tree Bumblebees were visiting a flowering Hawthorn.

13th May

Strong and cold north-east winds again and not many birds. Two Egyptian Geese flew over the area as did a Buzzard, 24 Swallows, a Yellow Wagtail and a Tree Pipit. The sea was very quiet until a small evening movement of Common Terns developed.

Two Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

Moth trapping produced a Maiden's Blush and a Spruce Carpet of interest.

12th May

The wind had dropped and it was actually a nice day but not a great deal of change in the birds. Eight Buzzards, three Hobbies and a Yellow Wagtail flew over and two Corn Buntings were seen near the Britannia Inn. A Mediterranean Gull and a Yellow-legged Gull were seen at the Patch. 

Meadow Pipits are busy feeding young in the nest and a few juvenile Stonechats are starting to appear.

Meadow Pipt Anthis pratensis   Dungeness  12th May 2020
Four Porpoises and singles of Grey and Common Seal were feeding offshore and two Brown Hares were seen on the land.

With the calm and sunny conditions there was plenty of insects to look at. A Box Bug was an unusual find in the Trapping Area and a Rhombic Leatherbug was found in the Observatory garden. A Wasp Beetle was a smart looking beetle found on Hawthorn blossom in the Trapping Area and a Celery Fly was also of note. Three Grizzled Skippers were also seen.
Box Bug Gonocerus acuteangulatus   12th May 2020
I think this is only the second record for the Observatory area.

Rhombic Leatherbug Syromastes rhombeus   Dungeness   12th May 2020

Wasp Beetle Clytus arietis   Dungeness   12th May 2020

Celery Fly Euleia heraclei   Dungeness   12th May 2020
This may well be a new species for the area.
A colony of Common Twayblades discovered last year appears to be doing well with at least 43 plants although many of these are just leaves.
Common Twayblade Lestera ovata   Dungeness   12th May 2020
The views across the Channel this evening were superb with France so near but so seemingly so far away.

Elsewhere, the fourth Black Kite of the spring was seen on the RSPB Reserve but was not seen from the Observatory and a Glossy Ibis also appeared.

11th May

A tough day with a gale force, very cold NE blowing throughout and very little to be seen.

Two Porpoises were feeding offshore.

There has been a bit of interest recently in a new species of moth to Britain which appears to have been hiding in plain sight for a number of years. What was thought to be just one species, The Fern Horisme tersata, has now been discovered to be two species with the second been given the English name Cryptic Fern Horisme radicaria, alluding to its hidden status. Today I thought I would search my archive of moth images for Ferns and the first one I found appears to show the correct features for Cryptic Fern although the identification features are clouded in uncertainty so whether any will be accepted without genital determination remains to be seen. 
Possible Cryptic Fern Horisme radicaria   Dungeness   17th August 2015

10th May

Heavy, damp cloud this morning produced a male Blue-headed Wagtail. four Yellow Wagtails, a Tree Pipit and a Crossbill. Very quiet offshore with just a 3cy Yellow-legged Gull at the Patch of interest and a Manx Shearwater and three Mediterranean Gulls passed through.

Two Porpoises were feeding offshore and a Brown Hare was seen in the Desert.

A Clay Triple-lines was trapped overnight.
Clay Triple-lines Cyclophora linearia   Dungeness   10th May 2020
The third Black Kite of the spring for the area was seen on the RSPB Reserve and was just about visible from the Observatory.

9th May

The lack of grounded common migrants continues but overhead movement was superb with a Black Kite and eight Red Kites during the morning and also a Serin.
The best of a very quiet sea was a Pomarine Skua whilst two Caspian Gulls and three Yellow-legged Gulls were feeding at the Patch. A Common Sandpiper was also seen on the beach at the Patch.

Black Kite Milvus migrans   Dungeness   9th May 2020

Red Kite Milvus milvus   Dungeness   9th March 2020
Ten Porpoise were feeding offshore and a Brown Hare was seen on the land.

A Grizzled Skipper and a Hairy Dragonfly were seen.

Hairy Dragonfly Brachytron pratense   Dungeness   9th May 2020
Very small numbers are on the wing