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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.

23rd Sep

A quiet day with a trickle of birds passing overhead during the morning and a handful of birds in the bushes. Five Gadwall and two Shovelers on the Long Pits were unusual records.

Still quiet offshore except for 1200 Sandwich Terns moving west in 4.5hrs of watching and three lingering Arctic Skuas.

Five Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

22nd Sep

Plenty of Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps in the bushes along with seven Willow Warblers, a Garden Warbler and a Spotted Flycatcher and a Kingfisher was seen  at the Long Pits. Good numbers of Swallows, House Martins and Meadow Pipits passed through along with six Grey Wagtails, a Tree Pipit, 12 Crossbills and 150 Siskins

The sea was very quiet yet again with just a trickle of Sandwich Terns heading west and three Arctic Skuas lingering offshore.

In the flat calm conditions a small group of unidentified dolphins moved west and a few Porpoises were seen offshore .

The moth traps held singles of the the pyrale Palpita vitrealis, Vestal, Golden Twinspot, Delicate and Scarce Bordered Straw.

The evening visit to the trapping area for the rarer orthoptera produced five Large Coneheads, a female Sickle-bearing Bush-cricket and a good chorus from the Tree Crickets.

21st Sep

A calm but very foggy start to the day resulted in a small arrival of migrants in the bushes and some overhead passage. Of note in the bushes were 90 Chiffchaffs, 30 Blackcaps, 30 Stonechats and eight Wheatears while ten Skylarks, two Tree Sparrows, eight Yellow Wagtails, three Grey Wagtails, three Crossbills and 11 Reed Buntings flew over. Siskins were probably the most abundant migrant with birds calling throughout the morning but most proving impossible to see against the bright blue sky.

The sea was very quiet with just 98 Brent Geese, 15 Wigeon, a Red-throated Diver and an Arctic Skua of note.

Two Clouded Yellows were seen but the moths traps were very quiet.

20th Sep

The wind had dropped this morning resulting in a small arrival of migrants in the bushes and an increase in visible migration. Numbers were provided by 35 Chiffchaffs, 13 Blackcaps and 15 Wheatears while a Kingfisher was seen at the Long Pits and a Merlin was hunting in the Desert. Overhead, 210 Swallows, five Grey Wagtails, a Tree Pipit, a Rock Pipit, six Redpolls, 525 Siskins and 24 Reed Buntings passed through.

It was quiet morning for the seawatchers with just 39 Brent Geese, four Teal, four Grey Plovers, five Mediterranean Gulls and two Great Skuas of interest.

Three Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore and a Brown Hare was seen in the Desert. A small, Pipstrelle-type bat flew around the moat in the morning.

Two Large Coneheads were singing this evening. 

19th Sep

More strong north-easterly winds with the sea providing most of the interest  Over five hours of watching produced five Teal, two Pintails, a Shoveler, a Sooty Shearwater, two Golden Plover, seven Knot, ten Mediterranean Gulls, 1015 Sandwich Terns, two Great Skuas and ten Arctic Skuas.

A new colour-ringed first-winter Caspian Gull was at the fishing boats for a short time around mid-day as was a first-winter Yellow-legged Gull.


Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans   first-winter   colour-ringed   Dungeness   19th September 2020

A Great White Egret at the Long Pits was an unusual record for the Observatory recording area and 155 Swallows, two Grey Wagtails, a Rock Pipit and 15 Siskin also flew over.

A Porpoise and a Grey Seal were feeding ofshore and a Brown Hare was seen in the Desert.

Five male Large Coneheads were seen this evening.

18th Sep

Another hard day in strong NE winds which continue to produce very little. There were several spells of seawatching but all they could come up with were a handful of lingering Arctic Skuas and three Mediterranean Gulls. Landbirds were very few and far between with just a Whinchat, eight Wheatears, three Tree Sparrows and a Grey Wagtail of note.

Four Porpoise and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore and a Brown Hare was seen in the Desert.

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