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Migration Time.

Spring is here. Why not come and stay at the Obs and get up close and personal with the birds as they travel back to Britain.

25th Apr

Strong south by south-east winds resulted in another day of continuous seawatching. The highlights were 18 Velvet Scoters, 1422 Common Scoters, eight Black-throated Divers, 81 Manx Shearwaters, 101 Bar-tailed Godwits, 46 Great Skuas, nine Pomarine Skuas (including a flock of five birds), 65 Arctic Skuas (the equal third best-ever spring day total), 114 Little Gulls, eight Mediterranean Gulls, five Black Terns, 11 Little Terns and 49 Arctic Terns.
However the undoubted surprise of the day was the finding of a Yellow-browed Warbler in the Heligoland Trap this afternoon.

Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus   Dungeness   25th April 2019
Ten Porpoises and a pod of ten unidentified dolphins were feeding offshore along with a Grey Seal.




24th Apr

Another day with nearly all of the interest offshore. Eleven hours of seawatching produced a Black-throated Diver, a Great Northern Diver, four Manx Shearwaters, 22 Mediterranean Gulls,  27 Great Skuas, four Pomarine Skuas and 22 Arctic Skuas and two Black Terns of note although overall numbers of waders and terns were generally low.
A Ring Ouzel was the only bird of note on the land.

Ten Porpoises were feeding offshore.

The moth traps produced a Pine Beauty - only the second Observatory record.
Pine Beauty Panolis flammea   Dungeness   24th April 2019

23rd Apr

A day of seawatching which produced good numbers of waders, skuas and terns. Of note were three Pintail, a Garganey, five Velvet Scoters, two Manx Shearwaters, 38 Grey Plover, 77 Whimbrel, 1134 Bar-tailed Godwits, 33 Knot, 27 Little Gulls, 20 Mediterranean Gulls, two Black Terns, 28 Little Terns, 860 Sandwich Terns, 1643 Common Terns, 1227 Arctic Terns, 529 "commic" Terns, four Great Skuas, one Pomarine Skua and 26 Arctic Skuas during 13.5hrs of watching.
Although it was pretty quiet on the land a "continental" Coal Tit and a Ring Ouzel were seen and a Marsh Harrier arrived from the south.

A Grey Seal and at least 20 Porpoises were feeding offshore.

22nd Apr

With a light north-easterly breeze and mostly sunny conditions virtually all the interest was offshore. Just over 13 hours of watching produced 214 Brent Geese, five Garganey, two Gadwall, ten Velvet Scoters, 3,025 Common Scoters, seven Red-breasted Mergansers, 14 Black-throated Divers and a Manx Shearwater. Waders included five Avocets, 117 Whimbrel, 437 Bar-tailed Godwits, 16 Knot and 28 Sanderling whilst skuas were represented by 35 Greats, 26 Arctic and our first spring migrant Pomarine Skuas with 13 in total. Gulls of note were 51 Little Gulls and 30 Mediterranean Gulls while terns included 51 Little Terns, 652 Sandwich Terns and 124 Arctic Terns.

At least 25 Porpoises were feeding offshore this evening.

21st Apr

The clear skies are limiting the number of migrants arriving on the land but today they did include two Short-eared Owls, two Whinchats, six Yellow Wagtails and a Siskin of note and the local breeding populations of Whitethroats and Reed Warbler are now increasing.

The sea was very quiet during the morning but picked up in the afternoon and produced the first two Pomarine Skuas of the spring along with two Black-throated Divers, 48 Bar-tailed Godwits, 52 Mediterranean Gulls, 15 Little Gulls, 390 Common Terns and 73 Arctic Terns.

At least ten Porpoises and singles of Grey and Common Seal were feeding offshore.

A small catch of moths in the traps this included our fifth-ever Brindled Beauty.


20th Apr

A mostly quiet day on land and at sea but with the highlight of a Red Kite flying around the Point during the morning. A Buzzard, a Merlin, a Redstart, the first Whinchat of the year and four Yellow Wagtails were also seen.
Over 4.5hrs of seawatching produced just four Red-breasted Mergansers, two Great Skuas, 43 Mediterranean Gulls, 12 Little Gulls and three Little Terns of note. 

Red Kite Milvus milvus   Dungeness 20th April 2019
Six Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore and a Stoat was seen on the land.

Elsewhere, the obvious highlight was a pair of Black-winged Stilts which were initially very mobile but eventually settled at the southern end of ARC Pit in the evening. The Crane and five Cattle Egrets remained at Dengemarsh and six Spoonbills dropped in at Scotney.




Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus   ARC   20th April 2019

19th Apr

Light NE winds with plenty of sun and getting warmer. Six hours of seawatching produced ten Shoveler, 22 Teal, four Red-breasted Mergansers, ten Sanderling, 59 Whimbrel, 62 Bar-tailed Godwits, 21 Little Gulls, a Great Skua, three Arctic Skuas and an excellent total of 120 Mediterranean Gulls all moving east.

Rather quiet on the land although the first Reed Warblers in the Observatory area were seen, Lesser Whitethroats increased to four and a Buzzard, a Merlin, 25 Swallows, two Yellow Wagtails, a Brambling and a Corn Bunting flew over. 

At least ten Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore.

Butterflies numbers have increased in the warm weather with at least 30 Small Coppers of interest and including one example of the named aberration oblitera.
Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas ab oblitera   Dungeness   19th April 2019
The moth trap failed to produce a single moth. 

Elsewhere, the three Cattle Egrets remain in the Boulderwall/Cockles Bridge area, the Crane continues to be seen at Dengemarsh (albeit mostly distantly), a Spoonbill dropped in briefly on the RSPB Reserve and five Garganey were also showing.

18th Apr

A pretty quiet day on the land although a Garden Warbler was new for the year and two Lesser Whitethroats were also seen. 
Seawatching was a bit better but still fairly slow with eight hours of observation producing 11 Shovelers, two Gadwall, 20 Grey Plover, 169 Whimbrel, 45 Mediterranean Gulls, 198 Sandwich Terns and two Arctic Skuas of note.

At least ten Porpoises and a Grey Seal were feeding offshore and a Pygmy Shrew was seen on the land.

17th April

There was an unexpected drop of Willow Warblers this morning with at least 70 birds arriving and centred around the Moat. Other migrants included a Buzzard, 15 Chiffchaffs, a Sedge Warbler, a Ring Ouzel, three Fieldfares, two Yellow Wagtails and a Brambling. Three Egyptian Geese also flew around the Point.

Seawatching was also very good although the murky conditions hindered observations with a flock of nine Garganey, a Black-throated Diver, a Manx Shearwater, a Shag, seven Little Gulls, 12 Mediterranean Gulls, ten Great Skuas, 26 Arctic Skuas and another Puffin of note. Numbers were provided by 416 Brent Geese, 914 Common Scoters, 88 Whimbrels, 13 Bar-tailed Godwits, 413 Sandwich Terns and 505 Common Terns

Nocturnal migration recording, nocmig, gives an interesting insight into what birds and animals are moving about at night. We are just starting so our recordings aren't perfect but we are working on it. Putting the recorder outside last night resulted in some interesting night calls among the gulls and crows, including DunlinMediterranean Gull, Redwing, Song Thrush, Fieldfare and Fox. We also recorded a flock of Common Scoter passing overhead, listen here, and Sandwich Terns moving through the night, listen here. You can hear them get closer, pass overhead and move away.

At least twenty Porpoise were feeding offshore.