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Local weather


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29th Oct

Yet more wind and rain with virtually all observations restricted to the sea. Five hours of watching produced the highlight of a juvenile Sabine's Gull in the afternoon along with 22 Common Scoters, 25 Kittiwakes, 28 Little Gulls, two Mediterranean Gulls, 48 Sandwich Terns, two Great Skuas, an Arctic Skua, two Balearic Shearwaters and 2,033 Gannets. A Rock Pipit actually on the beach (rather than flying over) behind the fishing boats (rather than a dark dot flying over) was unusual.

Rock Pipit Anthus petrosus   Dungeness   29th October 2023

One Porpoise was feeding offshore.

28th Oct

With more wind and rain it was another day dominated by seawatching. Over 5.75 hours of gazing offshore produced 563 Brent Geese, two Shelduck, a drake Red-breasted Merganser, 40 Dunlin, 100 Kittiwakes, 41 Little Gulls, three Mediterranean Gulls, 18 Sandwich Terns, three Arctic Skuas, 863 Razorbills, seven Red-throated Divers and 2304 Gannet. A Woodcock was also seen at the Long Pits.

One Porpoise was seen offshore and a Water Shrew was seen at the Long Pits.

27th Oct

The first couple of hours of daylight saw a westerly movement of 100 Brent Geese, eight Wigeon, six Sanderlings, 40 Dunlin, 25 Kittiwakes, 26 Little Gulls, 24 Mediterranean Gulls and 1620 Razorbills. A Rock Pipit was the only bird of note on the land.

Two Porpoise were seen offshore.

Despite the poor conditions overnight the moth traps still produced three Gems, four Vestals and a Palpita vitrealis of note. Two Mediterranean Stick-insects were found in the Observatory garden.

26th Oct

Offshore passage included 210 Brent Geese, nine Wigeon, six Sanderlings, six Little Gulls, four Sandwich Terns, two Great Skuas (east) and 342 Razorbills. Migrants on the ground and overhead  included a Merlin, nine Swallows, seven Chiffchaffs, 25 Chaffinches, two Bramblings, 70 Redpolls and 50 Siskins.

Two each of Porpoise and Grey Seal were feeding offshore but the highlight was at least two Tuna feeding at some distance off the fishing boats in the afternoon..

The moth traps continue to provide plenty of interest with a Palpita vitrealis, a Gem, a Vestal, a Delicate and a Green Brindled Crescent. A Mediterranean Stick-insect was also seen in the Observatory garden.

25th Oct

An unexpectedly dry and sunny day but sadly still fairly quiet on the migration front. Overhead passage included a Buzzard, 12 Skylarks, three Fieldfares, five Redwings, two Tree Sparrows, a Brambling, 800 Goldfinches, 30 Siskins and ten Reed Buntings while eight Chiffchaffs and a Firecrest were amongst the few grounded migrants seen. A male Pheasant was also seen. It was very quiet offshore but a total of forty Mediterranean Gulls was of note.

Five Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

The moth traps produced two Gems and a Delicate.  

24th Oct

Fresh westerly winds saw a trickle of birds moving west offshore and birds moving overhead but still very little in the bushes. The best of the birds on the land were 35 Stock Doves, two Short-eared Owls, a Woodlark, 35 Skylarks, 25 Swallows, four Chiffchaffs, ten Goldcrests, eight Redwings, two Tree Sparrows, three Bramblings, 50 Redpolls and 70 Siskins. Nearly eight hours of seawatching produced just 15 Knot, three Little Gulls, 13 Mediterranean Gulls, an Arctic Tern, two Arctic Skuas, a Black-throated Diver and 810 Gannets.

A Grey Seal was feeding offshore.

Another decent night of moth-trapping produced four Palpita vitrealis, six Gems, two Red-green Carpets, a Scarce Bordered Straw and another Cosmopolitan.

Red-green Carpet Chloroclysta siterata   Dungeness   24th October 2023

23rd Oct

With a light south-easterly at first light it was hoped that there would be a decent seawatch but apart from 34 Little Gulls, an excellent total of 314 Mediterranean Gulls and 38 Sandwich Terns there was not much else moving. Other bits and pieces included 36 Brent Geese, six Shelduck, a Common Tern, an Arctic Skua, ten Red-throated Divers and 392 Gannets.

It was also quiet on the land with a Merlin, 16 Skylarks, 26 Swallows, seven Chiffchaffs, four Blackcaps, four Song Thrushes, a late Whinchat, two Wheatears, four Bramblings, 11 Greenfinches, 321 Redpolls, 300 Goldfinches and 75 Siskins of interest.

A Porpoise, three Grey Seal and a distant unidentified dolphin were feeding offshore.

The moth traps continue to produce some decent catches with three Palpita vitrealis,  three Gems, a Vestal, a Radford's Flame Shoulder and a Delicate of note.

A Western Conifer Seed-bug was also attracted to the lights.

Radford's Flame Shoulder Ochropleura leucogaster   Dungeness   23rd October 2023

Western Conifer Seed Bug Leptoglossus occidentalis   Dungeness   23rd October 2023

22nd Oct

With a light westerly breeze and clear skies grounded migrations were fairly few and far between. A Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Merlin, two Woodlarks, ten Chiffchaffs and eight Goldcrests were of note. There was also a steady trickle of birds passing overhead including 65 Skylarks, 50 Swallows, 70 House Martins, a Fieldfare, ten Tree Sparrows, a Rock Pipit, 18 Bramblings, three Bullfinches, 85 Redpolls, 500 Goldfinches, 100 Siskins and 30 Reed Buntings

Seawatching was also fairly slow-going with nearly three hours of watching eventually producing nine Little Gulls, 230 Mediterranean Gulls, an Arctic Skua, 161 Razorbills, eight Red-throated Divers and 1011 Gannets.

Three Porpoises were feeding offshore.

A Cosmopolitan and a Vestal were of note from the moth traps.

Cosmopolitan Leucania loreyi   Dungeness   22nd October 2023

21st Oct

Light southerly winds overnight increased rapidly to gale force during the morning meant that most observations came from the sea but even here it was pretty disappointing with just five Little Gulls, a Mediterranean Gull, two Sandwich Terns and 2,232 Gannets of any interest. Fifteen Swallows and 300 Goldfinches also passed through.

It was very warm overnight which resulted in an excellent arrival of migrant moths with singles of Palpita vitrealis, Gem, Vestal and Scarce Bordered Straw and the clear highlight of the second Observatory record of the pyralid moth Antigastra catalaunalis.

Antigastra catalaunalis   Dungeness   21st October 2023

20th Oct

A Yellow-browed Warbler was seen briefly in the Lighthouse Garden this morning while the thin scatter of grounded migrants included seven Chiffchaffs, two Firecrests, 12 Goldcrests and eight Song Thrushes. Good numbers of birds also passed overhead during the morning with a Rock Pipit, two Bramblings, 150 Lesser Redpolls, 1500 Goldfinches and 560 Siskins. Fifty Mediterranean Gulls were feeding offshore this morning.

There was also great excitement when we discovered that a Motus-tagged Yellow-browed Warbler had been picked up on our receiver between 0100-0200hrs on Wednesday (18th) morning. It was originally tagged on the Dutch island of Vlieland on the 8th October.   

Two Grey Seals were feeding offshore.

The moth traps produced three Palpita vitrealis, two Gems, a Scarce Bordered Straw and another Delicate. Three Mediterranean Stick-insects were seen in the Observatory garden and two Mottled Shieldbugs were seen in the Old Lighthouse garden.

19th Oct

Despite the seemingly ideal conditions the sea was very slow going with over fours of watching producing only an Eider, three Little Gulls, 19 Mediterranean Gulls, two Arctic Terns and an Arctic Skua of note.

A Porpoise and a Grey Seal were seen feeding.

18th Oct

There were a few migrants in the bushes and flying overhead with 16 Skylarks, ten Swallows, five Chiffchaffs, four Firecrests, six Goldcrests, six Bramblings, 250 Goldfinches and 12 Siskins of note. The sea was very disappointing with just 11 Teal, 56 Mediterranean Gulls, nine Sandwich Terns and two Arctic Skuas in 2.5hrs of watching.

One Porpoise and one Grey Seal were seen.

17th Oct

A return to normality today with a Short-eared Owl and just three Chiffchaffs and two Firecrests of note on the land and 1229 Brent Geese, 15 Wigeon, a Red-breasted Merganser, 14 Mediterranean Gulls, 17 Sandwich Terns and an adult Pomarine Skua of note offshore.

Five Porpoise and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore. 

16th Oct

A switch to strong easterly winds brought an instant return with the finding and subsequent catching of a Short-toed Treecreeper in the Trapping Area. A handful of other migrants on the land included six Chiffchaffs and a Ring Ouzel. Seawatching was slow with 884 Brent Geese, 35 Kittiwakes, eight Little Gulls, 14 Sandwich Terns and two Arctic Terns of note.

Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla   Dungeness   16th October 2023
(Images by Martin Casemore).

Two Porpoise and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

A Long-tailed Blue was found at the north end of the recording area.

15th Oct

A bright but frosty morning saw just 14 Stock Doves, ten Chiffchaffs and 60 Siskins on the land and four Little Gulls west offshore.

Five Mottled Shieldbugs were seen in the Lighthouse garden and three Mediterranean Stick-insects were found around the Observatory garden.

14th Oct

Bright, cold and clear weather resulted in a decent movement of birds overhead but very little in the way of grounded migrants and a very quiet sea. Of note among the birds passing overhead were a Short-eared Owl, a Woodlark, 12 Skylarks, a Rock Pipit, 30 Chaffinches, three Bramblings, 30 Redpolls, a Crossbill, 150 Goldfinches, 360 Siskins and 36 Reed Buntings. Just nine Chiffchaffs and a Dartford Warbler were of note on the ground. Seawatching produced just 12 Little Gulls, 27 Mediterranean Gulls and nine Arctic Skuas of interest.

A few Mottled Shieldbugs were seen in the Lighthouse garden.

Elsewhere, the Pallid Harrier was seen around Dengemarsh again. 

13th Oct

Strong to gale force westerly winds with lots of rain meant that all the interest was offshore. Over 9.5hours of seawatching produced seven Teal, 128 Common Scoters, seven Golden Plovers, three Bar-tailed Godwits, 54 Little Gulls, 87 Mediterranean Gulls, a Yellow-legged Gull, 299 Sandwich Terns, 11 Common Terns, nine Arctic Terns, two Great Skuas, a Pomarine Skua, 44 Arctic Skuas, 5408 Razorbills, an excellent total of 17 Sooty Shearwaters, singles of Manx and Balearic Shearwaters and 1324 Gannets.

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

Four Delicates were trapped overnight.

12th Oct

A wet and breezy day saw most of the observations coming from seawatching. Five hours of coverage produced 12 Teal, ten Little Gulls, 251 Mediterranean Gulls, five Arctic Skuas, 1,731 Razorbills and 766 Gannets.

Six Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

The moth traps were interesting with two Palpita vitrealis, a Box-tree Moth, two Vestals, 14 Delicates and two Scarce Bordered Straws of note.

11th Oct

A miserable morning with strong westerly winds and frequent drizzle brought a big movement of birds offshore including 710 Kittiwakes, 14 Little Gulls, 159 Mediterranean Gulls, 62 Sandwich Terns, 13 Arctic Skuas, 3,000 Razorbills, ten Red-throated Divers and 1287 Gannets. It was very quiet on the land.

Four Porpoises and two Grey Seals were seen offshore.

The moth traps were surprisingly productive despite the poor weather with a Vestal, a Gem, five Delicates and a Scarce Bordered Straw.

The Pallid Harrier was still showing at Dengemarsh.

10th Oct

A much quieter day, both on the land and at sea. The highlight of the day was a party of three Ring Ouzels at the north end of the Desert. Two Grey Wagtails, three Rock Pipits and 40 Siskins flew over.

The moth traps continue to produce plenty of interest with three Palpita vitrealis, nine Box-tree Moths, three Vestals, 56 Delicates and another Radford's Flame Shoulder.

The Pallid Harrier was seen again at Dengemarsh or at Lydd Airport.

9th Oct

A handful of birds on the land included a Merlin, 20 Chiffchaffs, a flyover Ring Ouzel, a Tree Sparrow, three Grey Wagtails, 90 Redpolls, 75 Siskins and 14 Reed Buntings. Large numbers of seabirds were feeding offshore again with at least 500 Kittiwakes, 500 Mediterranean Gulls, four Arctic Skuas and 500 Gannets.

A Common Frog was seen in the garden this evening. 

The most traps were very productive again with another Dialectica scalariella and Musotima nitidalis, two Box-tree Moths, five Vestals, a Convolvulus Hawkmoth, 44 Delicates, a Brick and a Barred Sallow. Two Mediterranean Stick-insects were seen at the Observatory and a Southern Oak Bush-cricket was found in the Trapping Area

The Pallid Harrier showed well at Dengemarsh again and a Black Stork was also seen flying around the general area.

8th Oct

Another fairly quiet day on the land with just a Rock Pipit, 25 Siskins and 12 Reed Buntings of any interest. The first Redwings of the autumn were passing heard overhead after dusk. It was also quiet offshore until mid-afternoon when a massive of influx of feeding seabirds appeared with conservative totals of 400 Mediterranean Gulls, 150 Sandwich Terns, two Arctic Terns, 13 Arctic Skuas, 500 Razorbills and 700 Gannets. A total of 360 Brent Geese, ten Shovelers, 65 Common Scoters and 19 Little Gulls also flew west and a first-year Caspian Gull made a brief appearance on the beach.

At least 12 Porpoises, four Grey Seals and a Common Seal were also feeding offshore.

The moth traps were very productive this morning with a Palpita vitrealis, a Box-tree Moth, a Gem, five Pearly Underwing and a new record count of 55 Delicates. A Clouded Yellow was also seen and a Western Conifer Seed-bug was found on the frame of the Heligoland Trap. An evening search for the rarer Orthoptera produced two Large Coneheads, two Sickle-bearing Bush-crickets and 100's of singing Tree Crickets. Four Mediterranean Stick-insects were also found.

Large Conehead   Ruspolia nitidula   male   Dungeness   8th October 2023

The Pallid Harrier was still making occasional appearances at Dengemarsh.

7th Oct

Quiet on the land with a flock of four Egyptian Geese being the dubious highlight. Offshore, a Leach's Petrel heading west was a nice surprise along with a Tufted Duck east and 51 Mediterranean Gulls, two Arctic Skuas and 383 Gannets

Seven Porpoises, two Grey Seals and a Common Seal were seen offshore.

The moth traps produced a remarkable total of 25 Delicates and a new species for the Observatory in the form of a Matthew's Wainscot. A Southern Oak Bush-cricket and four Mediterranean Stick-insects were seen in the brambles growing against the Observatory building.

The Pallid Harrier continues to show well at times at Dengemarsh with mid-afternoon seemingly becoming the best time to see it. .

6th Oct

Six Wigeon, 105 Mediterranean Gulls, five Arctic Skuas, a Manx Shearwater and 502 Gannets were of note offshore. Very quiet on the land.

Four Porpoises and two Grey Seals were seen offshore.

The moth traps were quiet except for three Delicates

The Pallid Harrier continues to be seen around the Dengemarsh area.

5th Oct

A very quiet day with just three Arctic Skuas and 301 Gannets seen offshore and 30 Chiffchaffs and 40 Siskins on the land.

Nine Porpoises, three Grey Seals and a Common Seal were feeding offshore and a very distant pod of unidentified dolphins was seen bow-riding a westbound cargo ship.

The moths provided plenty of interest with a Brindled Green (a new species for the Observatory) along with three Vestals, a Radford's Flame Shoulder and five Delicates of note.

Brindled Green Dryobotodes eremita   Dungeness   5th October 2023

Elsewhere, the Pallid Harrier was seen around Dengemarsh on several occasions during the day.

4th Oct

A few grounded migrants included a Merlin, 30 Chiffchaffs and two Wheatears while five Skylarks, 1,000 Swallows, 700 House Martins, a Grey Wagtail, a Rock Pipit, 80 Goldfinches, 30 Siskins, 20 Reed Buntings and a Lapland Bunting passed overhead. There was a steady westerly passage of birds offshore with four Gadwall, five Teal, 45 Kittiwakes, 13 Little Gulls, 24 Mediterranean Gulls, three Black Terns, five Arctic Skuas and 356 Gannets during three hours of watching.

Three Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.  

The Pallid Harrier was seen again around Dengemarsh on several occasions but was generally elusive.

3rd Oct

Strong westerly winds reduced any signs of migration on the land with just a Merlin, 20 Chiffchaffs and three Goldcrests in the bushes and a Grey Wagtail, 40 Siskins and 30 Reed Buntings of note overhead. The sea was a little better with the morning watch producing ten Gadwall east and three Little Gulls, 26 Mediterranean Gulls, a Great Skua, seven Arctic Skuas and 228 Gannets of interest.

Despite the strong winds the moth traps were productive again with singles of Palpita vitrealis, Box-tree Moth, Delicate and Radford's Flame Shoulder of note as well as a Western Conifer Seed-bug.

Attentions were somewhat deflected away from the Point though with the presence of a very mobile ringtail Pallid Harrier in the Dengemarsh area. 

2nd Oct

A reasonable morning with an arrival of 70 Chiffchaffs, 55 Blackcaps, five Song Thrushes and three Wheatear on the land and some overhead passage including 1,000 Swallows, 100 House Martins and 50 Siskins. The sea was very quiet day with just 17 Mediterranean Gulls feeding offshore of interest.

A Brown Hare was seen in the Desert.

The moth traps continue to provide plenty of interest and todays star moth was the very diminutive Dialectica scalariella. This extremely rare moth was added to the area list last year when it was found to be breeding in the recording area last autumn. Adults were subsequently reared through from larvae in October but this is the first one to be caught as a wild adult. The larvae feed on Viper's Bugloss.

Dialectica scalariella   Dungeness   2nd October 2023

Other moths of great interest interest included two Palpita vitrealis, four Vestals, a Gem, five Delicates and a Radford's Flame Shoulder.

Checking of the Small Coppers found this named aberration - ab.extensa.

Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas ab.extensa   Dungeness   2nd October 2023

Two Mediterranean Stick-insects were found in the Observatory garden.


1st Oct

It was much quieter on the land after yesterdays fall of migrants with just 20 Chiffchaffs and six Blackcaps in the bushes and a Buzzard, three Sand Martins, 1,000 Swallows, two Yellow Wagtails and 12 Reed Buntings passing overhead of interest The Dartford Warbler was seen in the Desert again. A quiet sea produced 12 Mediterranean Gulls, a Great Skua and eight Arctic Skuas of note.

Two Porpoises were feeding offshore.

The moth traps produced another two Palpita vitrealis, our seventh Convolvulus Hawkmoth of the autumn, a Vestal and two Delicates. Two Southern Oak Bush-crickets were found in the Observatory garden,

30th Sep

A calm morning produced a surprisingly large arrival of grounded migrants with 300 Chiffchaffs, 160 Blackcaps, a Dartford Warbler, a Spotted Flycatcher and a Whinchat of note. There was also a large movement of birds overhead with a Hobby, a Woodlark, 5,000 Swallows, 1,000 House Martins, four Tree Sparrows, three Yellow Wagtails, three Grey Wagtails, four Lesser Redpolls, 425 Siskins and 26 Reed Buntings. The sea was uninspiring with just four Mediterranean Gulls and four Arctic Skuas of interest.

The moth traps provided plenty of excitement with six Palpita vitrealis, a Box-tree Moth, eight Delicates, a Scarce Bordered Straw and a major rarity in the form of a Grass Webworm Herpetogramma licarsisalis. This is only the second area and county record of this migrant.

Grass Webworm Herpetogramma licarsisalis   Dungeness   30th September 2023

Four adult Mottled Shieldbugs were found in the Moat.

29th Sep

Strong SW winds for most of the day meant most of the coverage was offshore but even here it was very quiet with just ten Little Gulls, eight Mediterranean Gulls and three Arctic Skuas of any note. The best on offer on the land was just a fairly late Swift.

Two Porpoises were feeding offshore.

A male Southern Oak Bush-cricket, three Palpita vitrealis and five Delicates and were all attracted to the moth lights and three Mediterranean Stick-insects were seen in the Observatory garden.