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Local weather


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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

20th Aug

Very quiet on the land except for a Kingfisher at the Long Pits and a Pied Flycatcher in the Lighthouse Garden but there was a decent bit of passage on the sea with the obvious highlight of 29 Balearic Shearwaters along with a Great Skua and eight Arctic Skuas. A Little Gull was feeding at the Patch. 

Ten Porpoises and four Grey Seals were feeding offshore.

An evening visit to the Desert produced an excellent total of eight Sickle-bearing Bush-crickets (seven adults and one late-stage nymph). The Tree Cricket chorus was fantastic again and several Ectobius montanus were also seen.

Sickle-bearing Bush-cricket Phanoptera falcata   Dungeness   20th August 2020.

Tree Cricket Oecanthus pellucens   Dungeness   20th August 2020.

19th Aug

Seawatching throughout most of the day eventually produced an excellent total of 12 Balearic Shearwaters and two Sooty Shearwaters and a Manx Shearwater of note along with two Little Terns, a Black Tern, five Arctic Skuas and two Great Skuas.
Very quiet on the land although two Cetti's Warbler were caught and ringed.
Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti   Dungeness   19th August 2020
Six Porpoises, a Grey Seal and a Common Seal were seen offshore this afternoon..

18th Aug

A very quiet day. There was a trickle of westbound Sandwich and Common Terns but very little else to be seen offshore and barely a migrant to be seen on the land.

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

17th Aug

A few migrants on the land included 30 Willow Warblers, three Reed Warblers, two Redstarts and a Whinchat of note.

A juvenile Caspian Gull was seen at the fishing boats and four Little Terns flew west.

At least 12 Porpoise were feeding offshore.

Moth numbers were also well down on recent nights with just the tortrix Cydia amplana of note. 
Also of interest, a stick-insect nymph was found on the wall of the Observatory this afternoon. It appears to be a Mediterranean Stick-insect Bacillus rossius and is a potential immigrant to this country. However, it happens to be of the same species as that which were kept at the Observatory last year and this seems a more likely source for this individual.
Cydia amplana   Dungeness   13th August 2020.

Mediterranean Stick-insect Bacillus rossius    Dungeness   17th August 2020.

16th Aug

There was a reasonable movement of waders overnight and during the morning with minimum totals of four Golden Plover, two Grey Plovers, 35 Ringed Plovers, four Turnstones, a Knot, eight Dunlin, a Snipe, three Common Sandpipers, a Green Sandpiper and a large flock of Redshanks. Grounded migrants included 40 Willow Warblers, six Pied Flycatchers, a Redstart, two Whinchats and 20 Wheatears. A total of 36 Yellow Wagtails also passed overhead.

At least one Porpoise was feeding offshore.

The moth traps produced another three Beautiful Marbled and also another Golden Twin-spot, a Cypress Pug and two Tree-lichen Beauty's of note.
Beautiful Marbled Eublemma purpurina   Dungeness   16th August 2020
Painted Ladies have been very scarce this year so a count of four was of note.

15th Aug

Heavy rain for a time from just after first light grounded a large number of migrants with 15 Pied Flycatchers, four Spotted Flycatchers, two Redstarts and four Whinchats of particular note along with 36 Willow Warblers, three Garden Warblers, 25 Lesser Whitethroats and 90 Whitethroats. The Wood Warbler from yesterday was also seen again. 
Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca   Dungeness   15th August 2020.
During the course of the day four Pied Flycatchers were ringed and unusually included this adult bird.
Seawatching produced a Little Tern and six Arctic Skuas of note.

At least 16 Porpoises were feeding offshore.

The moth traps continue to provide some exciting records with last nights highlights including a Beautiful Marbled, a Dark Crimson Underwing (third Observatory record), a Large Emerald, two Rosy Waves, a Jersey Tiger, 36 Tree-lichen Beauty's and our third-ever Metalampra italica.

Beautiful Marbled Eublemma purpurina and Dark Crimson Underwing Catocala sponsa
Dungeness   15th August 2020
A thorough search of the "new ground" in front of the Observatory mainly by Tim Inskipp was also very productive with two new fleabanes, Guernsey and Bilbao, for the area, Green Bristle-grass and Pale Galingale of particular note.

In addition, a couple more shots of yesterdays superb Antlion.

Antlion Eurolean nostras   Greastone   14th August 2020.

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14th Aug

There was a decent little arrival of migrants today in murky but very warm and muggy conditions. The highlights were a Wood Warbler in one of the private gardens along with ten Pied Flycatchers whilst commoner migrants included 35 Willow Warblers, a Spotted Flycatcher, two Whinchats and a Redstart. A Corn Bunting in the Desert was also an unusual record and a Green Sandpiper also flew over.

Wood Warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix   Dungeness   14th August 2020
There was also a bit of movement offshore, mainly in the afternoon, with 4.5 hours of watching producing 828 Common Terns, nine Black Terns, four Little Terns and five Arctic Skuas. Four juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls were also seen.

At least 12 Porpoise and two Grey Seals were feeding offshore and in the early hours of the morning a Common Pipistrelle bat made a couple of passes around the Observatory.

It was another interesting night in the moth traps with four Golden Twin-spots and a Palpita vitrealis of note.

An evening visit to survey the rarer crickets of the area produced four Sickle-bearing Bush-crickets, another excellent chorus from the Tree Crickets which certainly seem to be increasing their numbers and range and at least 30 Ectobius montanus.
Sickle-bearing Bush-cricket Phanoptera falcata   Dungeness   14t August 2020

Tree Cricket Oecanthus pellucens   Dungeness   14th August 2020
Elsewhere, there was a clear insect highlight in the form of an Antlion Eurolean nostras which came to Barry Banson's mothtrap at Greatstone. There are a handful of previous records of this species.
Eurolean nostras   Greatstone    14th August 2020.

13th Aug

After a thunderstorm which arrived at 0130hrs it was hoped that a few migrants might be dropped but in the end only a Pied Flycatcher, a Whinchat, 12 Willow Warblers and six Wheatears were all that could be found of any note. Overhead passage was limited to a Little Ringed Plover, a Grey Wagtail and 15 Yellow Wagtails.

There was a slight improvement in the numbers of birds feeding offshore with a Sooty Shearwater, three juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls, four Little Terns and 17 Black Terns of interest.

The numbers of moths coming to the light-traps remains fairly low but did include only our third-ever Clouded Buff, an increasingly scarce Lesser Swallow Prominent, four Tree-lichen Beauty's and another Jersey Tiger. A Holly Blue butterfly was also of note.

Clouded Buff Diacrissia sanno, Jersey Tiger Euplagia quadripunctaria and a Lesser Swallow Prominent Pheosia gnomaon
At least 20 Porpoises were feeding in a flat calm sea this evening along with four Grey Seals.

12th Aug

Hot and very humid again today but relieved by a brief spell of heavy rain which dropped in a few migrants including three Whinchats, a Redstart and a Pied Flycatcher whilst a Tree Pipit, a Grey Wagtail and 23 Yellow Wagtails passed overhead.
Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca   Dugeness   12th August 2020

A Manx Shearwater flew east this morning and a juvenile Caspian Gull was found at the fishing boats in the afternoon.

The three moth traps were very productive last night with a Beautiful Marbled, a remarkable 17 Tree-lichen Beauty's, two Golden Twin-spots and a Jersey Tiger of great note. Four Holly Blue butterflies and a Lesser Emperor dragonfly were also seen today.

Beautiful Marbled Eublemma purpurina,,  Golden Twin-spot   Chrysodeixis chalcites and
Jersey Tiger Euplagia quadripunctaria   Dungeness   12th August 2020 
Two Grey Seals were also seen

11th Aug

A small arrival of migrants occurred today with 19 Willow Warblers, a Pied Flycatcher and a Whinchat of note. Thirteen Mediterranean Gulls were feeding offshore.

A busier moth trap than of late produced two Oak Processionary's of note along with a Black Arches, a Scorched Carpet and a Rosy Footman. A Holly Blue was seen in the moat and seven Small Red-eyed Damselflies were seen at the Long Pits.

Black Arches Limantria dispar and Oak Processionary Thaumetopoea processionea 
 Dungeness   11th August 2020