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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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29th Sep

With the wind veering into the west it was not surprising that it was a day of "After the Lord Mayor's Show". Four hours of seawatching produced 20 Mediterranean Gulls and 37 Arctic Skuas but not much else. Two Merlins arrived and three Grey Wagtails passed through.

Three Porpoises, three Grey Seals and a Common Seal were feeding offshore.

28th Sep

A fresh SSW wind with occasional showers passing through offshore saw a considerable movement of seabirds with the highlight being a new day count record of 161 Balearic Shearwaters and smashing the previous record of 92. Other, notable sightings were four Sooty Shearwaters, a Manx Shearwater, 1344 Gannets, 148 Kittiwakes, seven Mediterranean Gulls, 600 Sandwich Terns, ten Great Skuas and 58 Arctic SkuasA Merlin, 750 Swallows and two Grey Wagtails were also of note.

Five Porpoise and a Grey Seal were feeding close inshore at the fishing boats.

27th Sep

The wind increased overnight and with rain from the early hours the only option for the morning was seawatching. It turned out to be one of the best days for seabirds of the autumn with coverage for most of the day bringing 72 Brent Geese, seven Teal, a Leach's Petrel (seen from the fishing boats), seven Sooty Shearwaters, 40 Balearic Shearwaters, two Manx Shearwaters, seven Ringed Plovers, 370 Kittiwakes, nine Mediterranean Gulls, 540 Sandwich Terns, 50 Common Terns, 11 Great Skuas and 93 Arctic Skuas of note,

Three Porpoises and singles of Common and Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

26th Sep

Several hours of seawatching during the day produced 63 Common Scoters, two Sooty and two Manx Shearwaters, a Balearic Shearwater, 17 Mediterranean Gulls, 389 Sandwich Terns, three Arctic Skuas and 200 lingering Kittiwakes. The dearth of migrants in the bushes continues and overhead passage this morning was very light with just three Grey Wagtails and a Tree Pipit of interest.

A Delicate and another Palpita vitrealis were caught overnight. 

Also in the moth trap was a picture-winged fly named Tephritis divisa. This species was recorded as new for Britain in 2014 and has since spread but this is a new species for the Dungeness area.

Tephritis divisa   Dungeness   26th September 2021

The Daubenton's Bat which was taken into care last Saturday was released back into the wild at the Observatory this evening. A Badger was seen along the Observatory access track in the evening. 

25th Sep

A murky morning saw the arrival of a few more Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps and a trickle of birds overhead including two Grey Wagtails, two Tree Pipits and five Reed Buntings. A Kingfisher was also seen at the Long Pits. It remains quiet offshore with just ten Sanderlings, three Mediterranean Gulls and two Arctic Skuas of note.

Three Porpoises, a Common Seal and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

The moth traps were quiet in terms of numbers but did include a Palpita vitrealis, a Delicate and a first for Dungeness in the form of this tiny Cosmopterix pulchrimella.

Cosmopterix pulchrimella   Dungeness   25th September 2021
This species was first found in Britain in 2001 and the larva feeds on Pelitory-of-the-Wall

Also found in the moth trap was this example of the very local and very large diving-beetle Dytiscus dimidiatus.

Dytiscus dimidiatus   Dungeness   25th September 2021

24th Sep

Coverage was a bit limited today but migrants were clearly fairly scarce with just a few Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps in the bushes and three Grey Wagtails passing overhead.

A Badger was seen along the track to the Observatory in the evening.

23rd Sep

Clear skies this morning resulted in very few grounded migrants and very little movement offshore with just a Red-throated Diver, two Grey Plovers, two Mediterranean Gulls and four Arctic Skuas of note. Another two MOTUS tags were fitted to Blackcaps this morning.

Four Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

The moth traps were very quiet but did have a Boxworm Moth inside.

22nd Sep

A misty start to the day then bright, warm and sunny. There was a decent arrival of Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps and some heavy movement of Swallows and House Martins along with 14 Yellow Wagtails, four Grey Wagtails and a Siskin overhead. Offshore, a Pintail and a Mediterranean Gull flew west and at least six Arctic Skuas were harassing terns offshore. The most unlikely bird of the day was a Black Swan which flew west offshore.

In addition, Lucy Mitchell joined us at the Observatory for the first of three morning to fit MOTUS radio tags to Blackcaps as part of a pilot project aimed at assessing the possibility of extending to the MOTUS netowokr to other ringing stations across the country. 

Lucy Mitchell and our first radio-tagged Blackcaps

Two Porpoises and two Grey Seals were feeding offshore.

Another visit to the Trapping Area after dusk produced six Large Coneheads and 14 Sickle-bearing Bush-crickets and including a pair seen mating.
Sickle-bearing Bush-cricket Phaneroptera falcata   Dungeness   22nd September 2021
A rarely seen mating pair.
Four Clouded Yellows were also seen.this .

21st Sep

A clear, moonlit night did little for grounded migrants in the morning with just a few Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps and two Wheatears being seen. Early morning vis-mig was also light but did include six Grey Wagtails and 17 Reed Bunting. with warmer conditions from late morning there were large numbers of Buzzards in the air with at least 21 being counted along with six Sparrowhawks. A Little Egret was also of note.

Seawatching was very slow with just a couple of Mediterranean Gulls seen this evening.

Two Porpoises and two Grey Seals were feeding offshore.

Elsewhere, there was no sign of yesterday's White-winged Tern but the Glossy Ibis and nine Cattle Egrets were still present on the Reserve. 

20th Sep

A cool and damp morning with very little in the way of grounded migrants and just a trickle of bird overhead which included six Grey Wagtails, a Tree Pipit, the first two Rock Pipits of the autumn and a Siskin. The sea was also fairly quiet but nearly five hours of watching eventually produced 145 Brent Geese, 17 Wigeon, 21 Teal, two Sooty Shearwaters, six Grey Plover and 11 Arctic Skuas of note.

At least eight Porpoises and a Grey Seal were seen offshore.

The moth traps produced a handful of migrants with Palpita vitrealis and The Gem new for the year along with a Vestal, a Delicate and a Peary Underwing of note.

The Gem Orthonama obstipata   Dungeness   20th September 2021

Palpita vitrealis   Dungeness   20th September 2021

A Southern Oak Bush-cricket was found on the kitchen window and four Hawthorn Shield-bug nymphs were seen in the Trapping Area.

Hawthorn Shieldbug Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale nymphs   Dungeness   20th September 2021

Elsewhere, a first-year White-winged Tern was found on Burrowes Pit in the afternoon and nine Cattle Egrets were feeding amongst the cattle in the fields at Boulderwall. The Glossy Ibis was also seen in the same area. 

White-winged Tern Chlidonias leucopterus   first-year   Burrowes, RSPB   20th September 2021
Fairly distant views and in failing light.

19th Sep

There was a trickle of birds overhead and passing offshore and also a small number of grounded migrants. The highlights from the sea were two Sooty Shearwaters, 34 Teal, 403 Gannets, a Red-throated Diver, a Great Skua and 17 Arctic Skuas. Birds passing overhead included a Common Sandpiper, a Buzzard, 12 Yellow Wagtails, seven Grey Wagtails and 13 Reed Buntings. A handful of Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps were seen in the bushes.

Six Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

18th Sep

Another slow day despite the seemingly fairly decent conditions. Five Teal, 205 Kittiwakes, a Great Skua and 21 Arctic Skuas were seen offshore during the day.. Very little to report from the land except for a Kingfisher at the Long Pits, seven Yellow Wagtails and the first Siskin of the autumn.

Two Porpoises were feeding  offshore and a Daubenton's Bat was found roosting in the open on a fence on the seaward side of the power station.

One Sickle-bearing Bush-cricket was seen during the day, two Clouded Yellows were seen in the Desert and the mothtrap produced just two Box-worm Moths of note. 

Box-worm Moth Cydalima perspectalis   Dungeness  18th September 2021
A melanic example of this species.

17th Sep

Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps arrived in reasonable numbers again this morning while other grounded migrants included eight Wheatears and three Whinchats. Birds passed overhead in small numbers with a Tree Pipit of note along with higher numbers of Swallows and House Martins. It was also more of the same at sea with at least 28 Arctic Skuas patrolling offshore along with two Great Skuas. A few ducks also passed through with 24 Pintail and 11 Teal.

Five Porpoise and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

Moth trapping produced another two Hoary Footman and a Delicate while further scrutiny of the butterflies produced another Small Copper ab,radiata and a stunning Common Blue aberration which may be ab.apicata-caeruleacuneata.

Common Blue Polyomattus icarus ab.apicata-caeruleacuneata   Dungeness   17th September 2021

Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas ab.radiata   Dungeness   17th September 2021

A Southern Oak Bush-cricket was found in the Observatory garden and two Fire Bugs were found in the Moat.

16th Sep

At long last there was a nice arrival of Chiffchaffs this morning along with a few Blackcaps although admittedly not a great deal else in the bushes. Birds passing overhead included two Marsh Harriers which flew over the Observatory and out at the Point shortly after first light, 750 House Martins, 200 Swallows, a Tree Sparrow, ten Yellow Wagtails, four Grey Wagtails and two Tree Pipits. There was very little movement offshore but six Arctic Skuas continued to pester the feeding Sandwich Terns.

Nine Porpoise and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

The moth traps were fairly quiet but another two Hoary Footman were noteworthy along with a single Delicate and Bulrush Wainscot.

15th Sep

A little bit more around on the land this morning with a Hobby, ten Chiffchaffs, the first Firecrest of the autumn in the Moat and four Tree Sparrows in the Observatory garden and 20 Yellow Wagtails, two Grey Wagtails and a Tree Pipit overhead. In the late afternoon a Honey Buzzard flew over the Point.

There were hundreds of Sandwich Terns and 120 Kittiwakes feeding offshore and these in turn were attracting some excellent numbers of Arctic Skuas with at least 30 lingering and chasing them. Genuine passage remains slow but did include two Balearic Shearwaters and 18 Whimbrel.

At least 15 Porpoises and four Grey Seals were feeding close inshore.

More searching through the Small Coppers produced another aberrant individual - this one appearing to be a better example of ab.radiata. A Clouded Yellow was also seen in the Moat.

Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas ab.radiata   Dungeness   15th September 2021

Moth numbers in the traps were not great but included our first Vestal of the year, another Delicate and a Pearly Underwing of note.

A late afternoon visit to the Trapping Area produced two Sickle-bearing Bush-crickets.

14th Sep

Birds passing through during the day included 500 Swallows and a Grey Wagtail whilst grounded migrants included 20 Blackcaps

Offshore passage was very slow with the first two two Red-throated Divers of the autumn and a Balearic Shearwater passing through of note but there were excellent numbers of skuas loitering with around 20 Arctic Skuas and a Great Skua.

In the evening a large flock of gulls including 100 Mediterranean Gulls descended on the Point to feed on flying ants.

Six Porpoises and two Grey Seals were seen offshore.

Another nocturnal visit to the Trapping Area for orthoptera produced six Large Coneheads and nine Sickle-bearing Bush-crickets.


13th Sep

A Great Skua and 18 Arctic Skuas were seen offshore but the startling lack of birds on the land continues with just four Wheatears and a Grey Wagtail of any note at all.

Six Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

The moth trap produced a fairly small catch but it did include this Convolvulus Hawkmoth which is in much better condition than yesterdays individual.

Convolvulus Hawkmoth Agrion convolvuli   Dungeness   13th September 2021

More searching through the masses of Small Copper butterflies around the Observatory produced another aberration which looks to be somewhere along the gradient between ab.radiata and ab.obsoleta

Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas ab.radiata-obsoleta   Dungeness   13th September 2021

12th Sep

The lack of  migrants continues despite another decent feeling morning and seawatching was also hard work but a Sooty Shearwater was seen along with a few Arctic Skuas and 34 Kittiwakes. The few migrants on the land included a Buzzard, a Merlin, ten Willow Warblers, four Wheatears, 20 Tree Sparrows, 18 Yellow Wagtails, five Grey Wagtails and two Tree Pipits. However, a White Stork was seen flying over the RSPB Reserve in the late morning and was easily visible from the Moat. This was then eclipsed by a remarkable flock of 45 birds which circled over the peninsula in the late afternoon for about 40 minutes before heading away in a NE direction. It appears that these were birds from the introduction project at Knepp.

The fine and hot afternoon saw vast numbers of Small Coppers on the wing with at least 600 at the front of the Observatory alone and including an aberrant form believed to be fuscae. A Clouded Yellow, plenty of Small Heath and two Brown Argus were also seen.

Small Coppers Lycaena phlaeas   Dungeness   12th September 2021

Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas ab fuscae   Dungeness   12th September 2021 

Brown Argus Aricia agestis   Dungeness   12th September 2021

The moth traps produced a few goodies including a very worn Convolvulus Hawkmoth, a Cypress Pug, our third Hoary Footman of the autumn and a Delicate.
Hoary Footman Eilema caniola   Dungeness   12th September 2021
The fifth Observatory record and the third this autumn.

Another evening visit was made to look for Orthoptera, Despite the decent conditions there was very little singing but cold searching still produced three Large Coneheads including the first two females of the season and 19 Sickle-bearing Bush-crickets with 12 being found at new stations for this species.

Large Conehead Ruspolia nitidula   female   Dungeness   12th September 2021

11th Sep

It remains incredibly quiet on the land with just three Grey Wagtails passing through being the only birds of note. It was also slow going offshore as well with a party of three Little Terns feeding close inshore and 12 Arctic Skuas passing west during the day being the highlights.

A White-speck and a Delicate were the best from the moth traps.

White Speck Mythimna unipuncta   Dungeness   11th September 2021

An evening visit to the Trapping Area was productive with seven Large Coneheads and eight Sickle-bearing Bush-crickets seen but the surprise sighting was that of a Common Toad

Large Conehead Ruspolia nitidula   Dungeness   11th September 2021

Sickle-bearing Bush-cricket  Phaneroptera falcata   Dungeness   11th September 2021

Commo Toad Bufo bufo   Dungeness   11th September 2021

10th Sep

Another ideal morning for a few migrants to arrive but yet again there was barely a grounded migrant to be seen and just a trickle of birds passing overhead. The best on offer were a paltry Common Sandpiper, nine Grey Wagtails and a Tree Pipit. The sea also continues to disappoint with just two Mediterranean Gulls, 168 Sandwich Terns and three Arctic Skuas of any note.

Two Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

The moth traps were not as busy as the previous night but the catch did include our second-ever Marsh Mallow Moth

Marsh Mallow Moth Hydraecia osseola   Dungeness   10th September 2021

9th Sep

Conditions seemed ideal for a few migrants to drop in this morning but it was not to be with the pitiful numbers of common migrants continuing. The only birds of note on  the land were singles of Merlin, Hobby, Spotted Flycatcher and Whinchat and 17 Wheatears. The sea was also pretty devoid of birds with just a couple of Arctic Skuas of note.

The overnight conditions did however make for a very decent catch in the moth traps with singles of the pyralids, Nephopteryx angustella (11th Obs record), Anania verbascalis (12th Obs record), and Cydalima perspectalis (3rd Obs record), two Cypress Pugs, a Narrow-winged Pug (4th Obs record), a Dusky Thorn and two Hoary Footman (3rd and 4th Obs records).

Anania verbascalis, Nephopteryx angustella, Narrow-winged Pug Eupithecia nanata and Hoary Footman Eilema caniola   
Dungeness   9th September 2021

8th Sep

Very quiet on the land with just six Willow Warblers, three Spotted Flycatchers, a Pied Flycatcher, two Redstarts, a Whinchat and 20 Yellow Wagtails of note. Singles of Mediterranean Gull, Great Skua and Arctic Skuas were the best of the meagre offerings offshore. 

Although the area was not checked for crickets this evening the Tree Crickets were clearly audible from the Observatory, a distance of around 400metres.

Elsewhere, three Spoonbills were new in on the Reserve and the three Cattle Egrets and a Glossy Ibis continue their stay there. Three Garganey were present and the first first-calendar Caspian Gull of the autumn was seen.

7th Sep

Grounded migrants continue to be scarce but ten Willow Warblers, a Spotted Flycatcher, two Pied Flycatchers, two Redstarts and two Whinchats were of interest while birds passing overhead included 100 Swallows, 30 Yellow Wagtails, 12 Grey Wagtails and a Tree Pipit. One Arctic Skua was seen offshore.

Another evening visit for Orthoptera was very successful with nine Large Coneheads and six Sickle-bearing Bush-crickets found and thousands of Tree Crickets creating an incredible chorus even audible from the Observatory garden. Earlier in the day a single Southern Oak Bush-cricket was found.

6th Sep

What was a pretty quiet day for grounded migrants saw the first really big push of departing Swallows through the Point with at least 6,000 in the area along with a 1,000 House and 180 Sand Martins. During the morning two Buzzards, 25 Yellow Wagtails, six Grey Wagtails and three Tree Pipits passed overhead and an adult male Merlin was chasing Swallows this afternoon. A party of four Ravens were also seen.

The best on offer from the moth traps were two Rest Harrows.

Another two Fire Bugs were seen this morning and an evening check for orthoptera produced seven Large Coneheads and eight Sickle-bearing Bush-crickets and an impressive chorus from the Tree Crickets.

The other highlight of today was the resurfacing of the access road to the Observatory.

A nice new surface for the Observatory road.

5th Sep

The wind finally dropped but with clear skies overnight most of the odd bits that had been lingering (including the Wryneck) appeared to have departed. Two Pied Flycatchers and a Spotted Flycatcher were new arrivals while four Whinchats and 20 Wheatears were also seen.

The sea continues to be slow-going with just two each of Great and Arctic Skuas and six Mediterranean Gulls being seen.

A Badger came into the garden in the early hours of the morning.

Butterfly observations today were dominated by Small Coppers with hundreds on the wing and a single Holly Blue.

4th Sep

Almost a repeat of the last few days although the Wryneck was much more visible today in the slightly improved conditions. There was a steady trickle of Swallows and Sand Martins moving through along with a Grey Wagtail and eight Yellow Wagtails. Two Whinchats and two Redstarts were also seen. A Black-tailed Godwit flew over the Point and two Arctic Skuas were lingering offshore.

The unlikely highlight on the mammal front was a Grey Squirrel on the beach behind the Patch Hide this morning. A Brown Hare was also seen.

Two adult Fire Bugs were found in the Moat.

Road repairs.

  The road from the red and white gate to the Obs is being resurfaced this week. The road will be closed to all traffic from 8am to 5pm on Monday and Tuesday. Visitors will have to park and walk in. 🚧

3rd Sep

Nothing much changed with the odd decent birds appearing to be the same "long-staying" birds including the Wryneck, a Redstart and two Whinchats still around the south-eastern corner of the Trapping Area. A Spotted Flycatcher on the power station was one of the few new migrants present. Two Mediterranean Gulls were feeding at the Patch and two Great Skuas and two Arctic Skuas were loitering offshore.

2nd Sep

Not a great deal of change as the cold northerly wind and cloudy conditions continue. The Wryneck was still present and marginally more visible today but the only other significant migrants were two Whinchats, a Redstart, 25 Wheatears and a Tree Pipit while three Egyptian Geese and single Golden Plover and Green Sandpiper flew over the area.

Wryneck Jynx torquilla   Dungeness   2nd September 2021

1st Sep

The Wryneck was still present but remains incredibly elusive and two Pied Flycatchers and a Redstart were also noteworthy but other migrants were thin on the ground other than at least 40 Wheatears and 70 Yellow Wagtails. Three Tree Sparrows flew over and two Whinchats were also seen in the Desert. A juvenile Hobby was seen on the beach.

Seawatching remains very slow going with over three hours of observation producing just three Mediterranean Gulls and three Arctic Skuas of note.

Four Porpoises and a Grey Seal were seen offshore.