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Local weather


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31st Mar

Another very warm and sunny day but a bit less going on than yesterday. A three-hour seawatch this morning produced three Shelduck, four Pintail, six Velvet Scoters, nine Red-breasted Mergansers, 396 Gannets, three Little Gulls and 104 Sandwich Terns of note. There was no sign of any white-winged gulls at the Patch.

A few birds on the land included two Willow Warblers, a Blackcap, 14 Wheatears, a Siskin, a Redpoll and 12 Goldfinches of interest.

There was a minimum of 44 Porpoises and also a Common Seal feeding offshore.

30th Mar

After a cold, misty start it turned into a lovely, warm spring day and with a good deal of interest on both land and at sea. The first Willow Warblers and three Blackcaps of the year were seen along with three Firecrests and 14 Wheatears. A Red Kite also flew over and other raptors seen during the day included a Buzzard, a Marsh Harrier, two Merlins and at least one interloping male Peregrine Falcon which was quickly sent packing by the resident pair.

I also ran the AudioMoth last night and whilst it was very quiet with just Canada Goose, Greylag Goose and four Coot it was well worth it in the end with a very close Stone Curlew calling at 0255hrs.  

A 3.5 hour seawatch from first light was quite busy although most of the birds passing through were very distant. Of note were two Shelduck, 19 Shovelers, 770 Common Scoters, two Red-breasted Mergansers and 58 Sandwich Terns. A second calendar year Glaucous Gull joined the regular Iceland Gull at the Patch and two Mediterranean Gulls were also feeding offshore.

At least 25 Porpoise were feeding offshore throughout the day.

The warm weather induced a few butterflies onto the wing with ten Peacocks, four Small Tortoiseshells and a Small White being seen.

There was also plenty to be seen elsewhere around Dungeness with a drake Garganey at Dengemarsh, the Glossy Ibis at Boulderwall, three Black-necked Grebes on New Diggings, at least two more Red Kites, three singing Sedge Warblers and at 12 Yellow Wagtails at Scotney.  

29th Mar

Two Spoonbills flew over the northern end of the recording area and the first ten Sand Martins and eight Swallows of the year were seen but migration on the land was otherwise slow-going with just three Chiffchaffs, seven Wheatears and a couple of Siskin of note. The sea was fairly quiet but did produce 38 Eiders and 56 Sandwich Terns.

A Brown Hare was seen at the Point.

28th Mar

A Slavonian Grebe and five Ruff were the highlights of the morning seawatch with other bits and pieces including four Shelduck, four Eider, three Red-breasted Mergansers, ten Fulmars and 122 Sandwich Terns. The Iceland Gull was still at the Patch. It is still hard work in the strong wind on the land with just a Firecrest in the Moat of interest.

Five Porpoise were seen.

27th Mar

A quiet day in cold, breezy conditions. The unlikely highlight was another sighting of a Grey Partridge this time at the Long Pits along with two Wheatears at the fishing boats and a Buzzard and a Marsh Harrier overhead. Virtually birdless offshore with just an Eider and 11 Sandwich Terns of interest.

Four Porpoise were feeding offshore. 

The clear highlight for a handful of local observers was an immature White-tailed Eagle which flew over NE over the ARC Pit and Lade and out of site towards Hythe but was not seen from the Observatory recording area.

26th Mar

With a fresh SW wind this morning most of the interest was offshore with over five hours of watching producing 154 Brent Geese, four Pintail, 11 Teal, 144 Common Scoters, 156 Red-throated Divers, a Black-throated Diver, 26 Fulmars, the first Manx Shearwater of the year, 706 Gannets, 82 Kittiwakes, six Mediterranean Gulls, a Glaucous Gull and 42 Sandwich Terns.

Very little to report from the land except for the unusual sighting of a male Pheasant strutting around the fishing boats. 

A Porpoise and a Common Seal were also seen offshore.

25th Mar

A nice sunny morning which proved fairly disappointing on the bird front with just a Wheatear and four Black Redstarts of any real note on the land.

The sea was also fairly quiet with 2.25hrs of watching produced just a Shoveler, a Pintail, two Mediterranean Gulls and 29 Sandwich Terns of note.

Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros   Dungeness   25th March 2021

Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe   Dungeness   25th March 2021

And both together

Eight Porpoises were also seen.


24th Mar

There was a substantial movement of birds offshore this morning with a 4.5hr seawatch producing three Tufted Ducks, four Eiders, 25 Little Gulls and two Mediterranean Gulls of note and numbers provided by 1204 Brent Geese, 11 Teal, 295 Common Scoters, 166 Red-throated Divers, 771 Gannets and 22 Sandwich Terns.

There was also a very small arrival of migrants on the land with three Firecrests and five Black Redstarts of note and probably the surprise of the day in the form of a Grey Partridge in the Moat whilst two Marsh Harriers, a Buzzard and six Siskins passed overhead.

It was also an unusual night on the Audiomoth recorder with very few calls recorded but high on quality with three flocks each of Brent Goose and Common Scoter and a Little Ringed Plover

Two Porpoises were feeding offshore and a Brown Hare was also seen..

23rd Mar

Seawatching was hampered this morning by thick fog for a time but once it cleared 486 Brent Geese, two Eiders, two Red-breasted Mergansers and a Red-necked Grebe of note.

A handful of migrants were grounded and included 25 Chiffchaff, five Goldcrests, a Black Redstart and a Wheatear.

Eight Porpoise were feeding offshore.

One plant species was also added to the area list with the finding of a Hart's-tongue Fern in the trapping area.

Hart's-tongue Fern Phyllitis scolopendrium   Dungeness   23rd March 2021

22nd Mar

At long last there was a small arrival on the land with 25 Chiffchaffs, seven Goldcrests and our first (but very late) Wheatear of the spring. Two Egyptian Geese flew over the area and a Red-legged Partridge was also seen.

There was also a bit of interest offshore with 780 Brent Geese, six Teal, a Great Northern Diver, three Knot and 93 Sandwich Terns

A total of 19 Porpoise were counted this morning.

A Peacock butterfly was also seen.

21st Mar

Still very quiet on the land with just a Grey Wagtail of note. Seawatching was not a great deal better either despite over five hours of watching which eventually produced 471 Brent Geese, seven Shelduck, four Shovelers, four Red-breasted Mergansers, two Mediterranean Gulls and 37 Sandwich Terns.

However, the Audiomoth "noc mig" recorder was extremely busy. Despite losing two hours of recording due to a glitch the six hours I did get gave some super totals including three flocks of Brent Geese, single flocks of Wigeon and Common Scoter, a Little Grebe, nine Coot, a Water Rail, three flocks of Grey Plover, at least 18 Snipe (98 calls), 277 Blackbird calls, 26 Fieldfare calls, 57 Song Thrush calls and 3282 Redwing calls.

Four Porpoise and a Common Seal were seen offshore and a Brown Hare was at the Point at dusk

20th Mar

A handful of birds on the land today with a female Bullfinch probably the highlight (note there were no records in 2020), along with a Buzzard, a Jack Snipe, five Common Snipe, three Firecrests, 21 Goldfinches and two Siskins.

It continues to be slow going offshore as well with just three Teal, 165 Red-throated Divers, a Mediterranean Gull and 11 Sandwich Terns although the Iceland Gull was seen at the Patch again this morning.

Only 12 Redwing calls were counted on the Audiomoth last night but tonight it is already very busy for calling birds so hopefully there will be some decent recordings to go through tomorrow.

At least 14 Porpoise were feeding offshore.

19th Mar

A quiet day on the land which produced a Jack Snipe, nine Common Snipe, just two Chiffchaffs, a Brambling, 80 Chaffinches and a Siskin. It was also slow going offshore with the morning seawatch producing just 13 Wigeon, three Fulmars, two Grey Plovers and five Sandwich Terns of interest.

The main event though was recorded overnight on the Audiomoth with a massive movement of thrushes. Call counts included 5465 Redwings, 763 Blackbirds, 88 Song Thrushes and seven Fieldfares along with a Coot and three Snipe.

Two Porpoises were feeding offshore.  

18th Mar

The Iceland Gull reappeared at the Patch but overall numbers of gulls were well down on recent days. Several stints of seawatching during the day produced 96 Brent Geese, three Canada Geese, four Shelduck, 18 Shovelers, four Pintails and 30 Sandwich Tern and 400 Great Crested Grebes were feeding offshore.

There was a considerable increase in the numbers of Porpoise with at least 40 individuals feeding offshore.

A Hummingbird Hawkmoth was found in the Patch hide.

17th Mar

Another fairly slow day with limited movement offshore involving 105 Brent Geese, a Red-breasted Merganser, a Mediterranean Gull and 19 Sandwich Terns of interest. There were lots of gulls again but all that could be found amongst them was single first-winter Caspian Gull and Yellow-legged Gulls and a leucistic Herring Gull which also turned out to be yesterdays Glaucous Gull.

It was very quiet on the land with just a Fieldfare and 65 Chaffinches of interest.

Despite the lack of migrants on the land there was some "NocMig" with the Audiomoth recording 273 Redwings and 31 Song Thrushes and also a flock of Bar-tailed Godwits of note.

Six Porpoises were feeding offshore

16th Mar

A new third calendar year Glaucous Gull and at least five Caspian Gulls were seen around the Point but offshore movement was limited to just four Sandwich Terns of interest. A Merlin arrived, a Firecrest was seen in a private garden and Chaffinches were passing overhead in large numbers but unseen due to the low cloud. 

The Audiomoth was recording from midnight and proved interesting. The highlight was a Little Ringed  Plover and 207 Redwing calls were counted. Skylarks were singing from 0430hrs and Peregrine Falcons were heard alarm calling on several occasions.

Ten Porpoises were feeding offshore.

15th Mar

Most of the day was spent along the shoreline checking through the thousands of gulls. In the end this produced the Glaucous Gull again and four Caspian Gulls (one adult and three first-winters), along with a Yellow-legged Gull and two Mediterranean Gulls. Offshore movement was fairly limited again but 350 Brent Geese, a Canada Goose, the Eider again, a Black-throated Diver and nine Sandwich Terns. Three Merlins were also seen.

Four Porpoise and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans   first-winter   Dungeness   15th March 2021

14th Mar

A Merlin, a Woodlark and a Rock Pipit came in from the south while a Jack Snipe, seven Snipe, seven Chiffchaffs and a Firecrest were of note on the land. The sea was very quiet with just 85 Brent Geese and an Eider of note and nothing could be found among the gulls.

One Porpoise was seen offshore.

13th Mar

The strong winds continue and the rough sea is now washing up masses of clams, cockles and starfish and was attracting thousands of gulls to the feast. The obvious highlight was a beast of a second calendar year Glaucous Gull. A first-winter Caspian Gull and a Mediterranean Gull were also among the hoards. Offshore passage was poor with just a Pintail, an Eider, 24 Fulmars and 18 Knot of note. 

Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus   Dungeness   13th March 2021

Although it certainly didn't feel like it a party of Ringed Plovers at the Point seemed to think it was spring and were displaying intensely.

Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula    displaying birds   Dungeness   13th March 2021

A Brown Hare leveret was also seen at the fishing boats.

12th Mar

Very windy conditions again and seawatching more or less the only option but even here it was pretty slow going. The best from several hours of watching were 203 Brent Geese, two Red-breasted Mergansers, nine Fulmars, five Mediterranean Gulls, a Sandwich Tern and a Great Skua.

Some late news concerns a very distinctive second calendar year gull which was present at the Patch between Feb.15th and 25th. Unfortunately due to the obvious problems with covid-restrictions and more specifically that the Dungeness Estate was closed to the general public it was felt that it was impossible to report on the presence of this bird at the time.

Given a past history with these things (for those with a long memory I am referring to way back in 1992) I was initially wary of putting a name to this bird but the more the literature and internet was checked it became clear that this bird shows many, if not all, of the features required of a Thayer's Gull. It is clearly an Iceland Gull-type and could be a Kumlein's Gull but the extensively solidly dark tail and contrasting darker and unmarked centres to the tertials, the venetian-blind appearance of the outer wing with smoky brown outer webs and pale inner webs, pale fringes to the wing-tip and a slightly contrasting dark secondary bar all seem to indicate that this is a Thayer's Gull. Structurally it was slightly heavier in build than a typical Iceland Gull, the bill was quite stout and looked dark at any distance but was actually dark purple at the base and the legs were bubble-gum pink. 

Thayer's Gull Larus thayeri  Dungeness
Images taken over several days between Feb.15th and 25th.
Note in the last image the typical Iceland Gull also in the view.

11th Mar

A pretty grim day of gale force winds made birding very difficult. Seawatching was very slow going with just 102 Fulmars and a couple of Sandwich Terns of note. A Red-legged Partridge and four Chiffchaffs were seen on the land.

10th Mar

A murky and windy morning which got steadily worse and was virtually unbirdable by early afternoon. All the interest was at the Point where there was a sizable up-channel movement of birds in the first few hours with 2000 Brent Geese, five White-fronted Geese, six Shoveler, four Pintail, two Velvet Scoters, 98 Red-throated Divers and a Mediterranean Gull of interest. The gull roost held three first-winter Caspian Gulls and two Yellow-legged Gulls for a time.

Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans   first-winter   Dungeness   10th March 2021
A german colour-ringed bird - ringing details are awaited.

9th Mar

The morning seawatch produced 260 Brent Geese, seven Shelduck, an Eider, three Red-breasted Mergansers, 126 Red-throated Divers, 13 Sandwich Terns and 1200 auks. Two Chiffchaffs were seen in the Trapping Area and a Siskin flew over.

Two Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore. 

8th Mar

The morning seawatching produced 210 Common Scoters, a Red-breasted Merganser, 290 Red-throated Divers, 500 Gannets and 11 Sandwich Terns passing eastwards and at least 800 Guillemots were sitting on the sea. The Iceland Gull was back at the Patch this afternoon  

A Firecrest was seen at the Long Pits.

At least 20 Porpoises were also seen in the flat calm conditions. 

7th Mar

A Woodcock, four Firecrests and five Chiffchaffs were the best on offer on the land but the sea was very quiet.

6th Mar

There were two Caspian Gulls and three Yellow-legged Gulls at the Patch this morning whilst the morning seawatch produced an Eider, two Red-breasted Mergansers, 91 Kittiwakes, seven Sandwich Terns and nearly 1400 auks.

Three Snipe, a Chiffchaff and a Firecrest were seen on the land.

Four Porpoises were feeding offshore. 

5th Mar

The Patch was back in action today and with it came the return of the Iceland Gull along with two first-winter Caspian Gulls, an adult Yellow-legged Gull and a second-winter Mediterranean Gull.

The sea was fairly quiet except for large numbers of Gannets and two Pintails moving east and a drake Eider passing west.

Two Porpoises were feeding offshore.

4th Mar

There were a handful of new birds on the land including a Mistle Thrush, four Rock Pipits, a Siskin, and best of all, a Wood Lark which was caught in the Heligoland trap this afternoon and only the sixth to be ringed.

Woodlark Lullula arborea   Dungeness   4th March 2021 

With slightly better visibility today there was also a bit of mainly easterly movement offshore with 570 Brent Geese, two Shoveler, 271 Red-throated Divers and a Great Northern Diver of note.

There was also noticeable increase in Porpoise numbers with at least ten feeding offshore along with a Grey Seal.

3rd Mar

Limited coverage again due to thick fog through the morning and Skype meetings. A Black Redstart was seen in the Moat, 20 Redwings in the Trapping Area and 100 Brent Geese east in the afternoon.

A flock of Brent Geese also flew over the Observatory at 0220hrs and picked up on the Audiomoth recorder.

2nd Mar

A dull, very murky morning limited observations but after things cleared a bit there was a small easterly movement of birds offshore with 17 Teal, 85 Shoveler, three Pintail and a Sandwich Tern of note. There was little sign of any migration on the land other than a single Chiffchaff at the Old Lighthouse garden. The Grey Wagtail remains inside the power station compound and spent much of the morning singing.

1st Mar

The best of a handful of new birds on the land was a singing Dartford Warbler in the gorse just south of the trapping area. A Woodcock, a Merlin, three Goldcrests, three Fieldfares and three Siskins were also new migrants. Two Firecrests were seen in the Trapping Area although they were probably the birds that have been present for some time.

A morning seawatch produced a surprising movement of Pintail with 237 passing east in a couple of hours although other species were barely represented with just two Shovelers, six Wigeon and a Mediterranean Gull of interest.

Two Porpoises were feeding offshore.