Tuesday, 31 October 2017

31st October 2017

A sea watch from 09:30-11:00 produced 450 Gannets feeding off shore, 187 Mediterranean Gulls sitting on the sea in the Bay and 384 Auks moving up channel. Other than that one Red-throated Diver and two Shelducks flew NE and 11 Brent Geese, 17 Common Scoters and nine Wigeon flew SW. (Richard, Jack)

Saturday, 28 October 2017

28th October 2017

With a stiff W wind forecast, the clifftop seemed a good bet and so I spent 4 hours with Gary Howard vis-migging with the following results: 272 Redwings, 30 Blackbirds, 21 Song Thrushes, 3 Redpoll, 4 Brambling, 1255 Chaffinches, 15 Siskins, 52 Goldfinches and 1 Woodlark, all coming in.
A wander round the area yielded few grounded birds - 5 Chiffchaffs, 3 Stonechats, 3 Blackcaps and 1 Firecrest. As we arrived back at the Monument 3 Great White Egrets flew NE towards Hope Point. (Nigel, Gary Howard).

Firecrest (Nigel Jarman)

Great White Egrets (Nigel Jarman)

This White Coral Fungus (Clavulina cristata) was found in the Freedown.

Friday, 27 October 2017

27th October 2017

Less visible migration today with only 1276 Starlings, 87 Goldfinches, 26 Redpoll, 340 Wood Pigeons, 15 Alba Wagtails and 11 Rock Pipits. Around the area were far fewer thrushes only four Ring Ouzels, two Mistle Thrushes and two Fieldfares, our first for the autumn. Other  birds included seven Buzzards moving W, one Wheatear, five Stonechats, 23 Chiffchaffs, 33 Goldcrests and five Bullfinches. (Brendan, Nigel, Phil, Jack)

26th October 2017

Visible migration continued today with 5872 Starlings, 1036 Chaffinches, four Brambling and 34 Stock Doves flying mainly in a northerly direction. In the area were good numbers of thrushes with 18 Ring Ouzels, 53 Blackbirds, 77 Song Thrushes and three Mistle Thrushes. Other notable birds included one Marsh Harrier, one Short-Eared Owl, nine Stonechats, two Blackcaps, 18 Chiffchaffs, 41 Goldcrests, four Firecrests, eight Jays and 41 Yellowhammers.
On the sea 110 Brent Geese moved downchannel. (Julian, Brendan, Nigel, Phil, Jack)

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

25th October 2017

A good morning for visible migration with 2172 Chaffinches and 814 Starlings  coming in off the sea and flying N whilst 13 Swallows, seven House Martins, 250 Goldfinches, one Hawfinch, three Bullfinches and six Reed Buntings all moved SW. Elsewhere around the fields were 86 Skylarks, one Ring Ouzel, seven Stonechats, 76 Yellowhammers and a juvenile Dotterel, flushed from the big field, flew off SW. In the wood and hedges were a Blackcap, 14 Chiffchaffs, three Firecrests and 66 Goldcrests.
There were  many insects, butterflies included four Speckled Wood,up to 50 Red Admirals and 20 Large Whites. Also had a Hornet and many Ivy Bees. ( Phil. Jack )

Monday, 23 October 2017

23rd October 2017

With Storm Brian having safely past, it was safe to leave the shelter of Kingsdown and bird "up top" again. The lighter SW winds encouraged a significant movement of birds, mostly SW along the coast. Overhead there were 1,357 Chaffinches, 555 Goldfinches, 113 Linnets, 40 Redpolls, six Bramblings, four Bullfinches, 178 meadow Pipits, eight Rock Pipits, one Tree Pipit, 41 Alba Wagtails, 24 Swallows, two Tree Sparrows, 31 Reed Buntings, four Yellowhammers. Nine Hawfinches were seen, two singles and two groups of three and four.

On the ground there were five Ring Ouzels, 25 Song Thrushes, one Wheatear, 34 Goldcrests, 21 Chiffchaffs ( a big increase on recent days) , one Blackcap, seven Stonechats.

A single Goosander flew down channel

(Jack, Phil, Richard, Brendan & Gideon )

Sunday, 22 October 2017

22nd October 2017

Today the five of us split up and did Kingsdown, The Undercliff, Oldstairs Road, The Rough and the fields north of Otty Bottom. We did quite well with most notably two Stonechats, a Wheatear, three Ring Ouzels, 39 Chiffchaffs, 76 Goldcrests, four Firecrests, and Phil had 29 Hawfinches of which 27 were in a single flock that flew into a wood just north of Otty Bottom. Other than these we had four Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 28 Stock Doves, 43 Swallows, two House Martins, 33 Alba Wagtails, 50 Blackbirds, two Tree Sparrows, 20 Siskins, 35 Redpoll and seven Reed Buntings. Brendan, Nigel, Phil,Richard,Jack.

Ring Ouzel - Nigel Jarman

Saturday, 21 October 2017

21st October 2017

Birding was impossible at Bockhill with the SW gale so when Phil called, saying he had two Yellow-Browed Warblers at Oldstairs road, Richard and I went to meet him. Where it was calm there were quite a few birds with seven Chiffchaffs, 21 Goldcrests and 15 Long-Tailed Tits.
Overhead, moving into the wind, were 45 Swallows, 20 House Martins, a Sand Martin, 20 Alba Wagtails, 60 Siskins, 300 Goldfinches, 42 Redpolls and two Reed Buntings. At sea were 521 Black-Headed Gulls and 85 Mediterranean Gulls.

Friday, 20 October 2017

20th October 2017

Birding up on the cliffs was impractical so the only option was to seawatch, even this was difficult with such rough seas.The only notable birds were the Gannets, probably up to 650 pouring south from 09:15 - 10:00 and 50 sitting on the sea no more than 150 metres out.
There were also two Harbour Porpoises even closer.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

19th October 2017 (Part 2)

In the first 10 years of Bockhill birding, Radde's Warblers seemed to be fairly regular with six records during that period. However sightings dried up and there have been no records since 2005.  So finding one in the Farm Wood was a welcome return for this Bockhill specialty. Jack, Nigel and Richard were able to get there fairly quickly to enjoy some untypically good views for a Radde's. After doing the circuit to Hope Point I returned early afternoon and heard it again a few times. Others  (Dave Brown et al) apparently saw it again later.

Other than this bit of excitement, it was very quiet. Yesterday's easterlies seem to have had their usual effect and cleared things out. Chiffchaffs were down to just three, (plus seven more seen by Richard in the Oldstairs area), three Firecrests were seen along with 23 Goldcrests, two Swallows, 20+ Song Thrushes, three Reed Buntings and four Stonechats. A Black Redstart was seen by @SeaWatcher_Deal (via twitter)

19th October 2017 (Part 1)

Radde’s Warbler at Bockhill Farm (Brendan Ryan)
Brendan found this Radde’s Warbler in the Farm Wood this morning. The first here for 12 years. Fantastic.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

18th October 2018

We have often thought at Bockhill that easterlies rarely bring much good to our corner of Kent and so it proved again today with the wind finally swinging east after what seems like weeks of westerlies.

Somewhat inevitably birds seemed to have moved on with only 6 Chiffchaffs and a single Blackcap in the warbler line. We did manage 4 Firecrests and 20 Goldcrests, 1 Brambling, 3 Reed Buntings and 4 Swallows.

Some hope that tomorrow may be better came when 2 Black Redstarts & 2 Stonechats arrived at the Monument in murky conditions as we were about to leave just after midday. ( Brendan, John Cantelo)

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

17th October 2017

Light winds, overcast and the middle of October. All the ingredients to find a good bird. Sadly this never happened and the birds were as quiet as the weather. There was a reasonable overhead movement early on with over 40 Redpolls, 3 Reed Buntings, 130 Swallows & 30 House Martins. On the ground only 22 Chiffchaffs were seen but no other warbler species were encountered. There was a single Firecrest in the Freedown and across the area there were at least 18 Goldcrests. 6 Stonechats were encountered all bar one at Hope Point. There seemed to be a small arrival of Song Thrushes with around 27 seen including a flock of 8 over Hope Point. Things can only get better! ( Brendan & Jack)

Late news from Sunday (15th). Yellow-browed Warbler along Hotel Road.

Firecrest- Freedown  (Brendan Ryan) 

Saturday, 14 October 2017

14th October 2017

Today, in past years, has been our best for autumn rarities but it did not live up to expectations this year. We did however have a couple of Yellow- browed Warblers outside of Bert's garden.
Other notable birds around the area were four Stonechats, a Black Redstart, two Blackcaps, 107 Chiffchaffs, 109 Goldcrests, a Little Owl, four Great-spotted Woodpeckers and a Hobby chasing the moving finches over the Leas.
Overhead most of the morning there was a steady SW movement of birds consisting of 65 Swallows, 12 Alba and one Grey Wagtail, three Rock Pipits, five Brambling, 142 Chaffinches, 92 Siskins, 13 Redpolls, four Reed Buntings and a single Snow Bunting.
Butterflies included many Red Admirals, a Common Blue, a small Copper and three Clouded Yellows. Julian,Malcolm,Nigel,Phil,Simon,Steve,Richard,Jack.  
Little Owl - Nigel Jarman

Friday, 13 October 2017

13th October 2017

In a week dominated by westerlies and with relatively few migrants, Yellow-broweds continue to get through with another new bird this morning on the Droveway behind McSwiggan's. Photo below. Couldn't find the Paddock bird but the Farm Wood bird was present early morning but couldn't be re-found later.

4th Yellow-browed Warbler of the week (Brendan Ryan)

Thursday, 12 October 2017

12th October 2017

Winds were still unhelpfully in the westerly quarter but it was calmer than in recent days making it easier to observe the lack of migrants! The day started with a bang when a Great White Egret leisurely flew south over the Paddock. This is the second record for the Greater Bockhill area with a previous record from Nigel and Heather's bathroom in Kingsdown.

The Paddock Yellow-browed Warbler was still present in exactly the same spot as Tuesday (in the hedge behind the last house on Granville Road by the stile. Then Tuesday's Farm Wood bird reappeared in the same clump of Elders by the barn/grain store.

Yellow-browed Warbler- Farm Wood (Brendan Ryan)
It was all fairly routine thereafter with 35 Chiffchaffs, 4 Blackcaps, 2 Firecrests and 1 Stonechat. There is a healthy (and increasing) Yellowhammer flock in the Freedown and adjacent stubble fields with over 30 birds. I spent some time scrutinising the flock for something a little more exciting but only managed 4 Reed Buntings, a Corn Bunting and and 6 Greenfinches.

In my limited time this morning I only got as far as the Empty Wood, though Richard covered the area from Kingsdown to Hope Point. There were a few more birds at that end of the area but none of the good stuff! 94 Chiffchaffs, 30 Goldcrests, five Blackcaps, seven Stonechats, a Little Egret, two Ravens and a Clouded Yellow. Two Firecrests were in a big mixed flock of birds and one of them, as you can see from the photo below, had a ring on it's right leg. Unfortunately the camera and indeed the binoculars are not powerful enough to read it!

Firecrest (Richard Heading)
Dave Brown had a Bearded Tit fly over the Farm Wood at midday. This is as far as we are aware only the second Bockhill record, the first having been seen by Andy Hamby, many years ago.

One of 30 Yellowhammers in the Freedown (Brendan Ryan)

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

11th October 2017

With the wind a strong south westerly a walk around the Paddock produced only a handfull of Chiffchaffs, a couple of Goldcrests and 15 Magpies and when Richard arrived we decided to go to the Bay and do a seawatch. This was not the best of ideas as in two hours we had 20 Gannets, six Common Scoters, three Auks, five Mediterranean Gulls and two Arctic Skuas. The cafĂ© called us, a Hobby flew over us and landed where we had been seawatching and we ended the morning drinking coffee and talking with Jean and Pauline about birds we had seen in the past.  

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

10th October 2017

A fairly stiff SW wind didn't inspire much confidence but there was some early encouragement when a Yellow-browed Warbler was heard in the SE corner of the Paddock. It showed briefly in a mixed group of Chiffchaffs and crests (photo below). Surprisingly another appeared in the elders in the Farm Wood a little later and then in the early afternoon, Richard found a third bird at Oldstairs.

Yellow-browed Warbler- Paddock (Brendan Ryan)

Other birds recorded today included 3 Firecrests, 21 Goldcrests, 7 Blackcaps, 14 Stonechats, 2 Whinchats,  while overhead the first Snow Bunting of the Autumn was recorded along with 2 Reed Buntings, a Yellow Wagtail, 3 Tree Sparrows, 180 House Martins and 25 Swallows.

One of 14 Stonechats recorded today ( Brendan Ryan) 

Sunday, 8 October 2017

8th October 2017

Lighter NW winds encouraged a good turn out this morning but the results were not radically different from the previous few days. There was good overhead movement early morning with 1,300 Goldfinches, 2 Brambling, 24 Redpolls, 7 Tree Sparrows, 127 Siskins, 44 Alba Wagtails, 10 Reed Buntings. Stonechat numbers increased with at least 9, along with a single Whinchat on the cliffftop and later at Hope Bay Studios ( Friday's bird?). Chiffchaff numbers were down (41) and only 2 Blackcaps were recorded. In a brief look at the sea from the Clifftop while viz migging early morning 2 Bonxie and 4 Med Gulls were seen along with a few Harbour Porpoises. (Jack, Phil, Gerald, Richard, Simon,  Brendan et al)

One of today's nine Stonechats (Brendan Ryan)

Whinchat (Brendan Ryan) 

Saturday, 7 October 2017

7th October 2017

In a strong SW wind it was difficult to find places where one could see any birds, however in the few calm spots there were 69 Chiffchaffs, 20 or so Crests of which one was a Firecrest and a couple of Blackcaps. Other birds included 50 House Martins feeding in the lee of the Farm Wood, four Grey Partridges and a Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Friday, 6 October 2017

6th October 2017

Oh for some warblers that aren't Chiffchaffs and Backcaps, which numbered 52 and two respectively today. Another day of hard work in a brisk NW wind. There was some evidence of overhead movement with regular parties of Siskins, mostly unseen against bright blue skies, and at least 14  Redpolls, seven Reed Buntings, one Grey Wagtail, and 400 Goldfinches. A small group (seven) of Song Thrushes and a Great Spotted Woodpecker were seen arriving in over the sea. Other birds of interest included a juvenile Hobby, a Tree Pipit, a Firecrest, three Stonechats and a Whinchat in the Freedown and presumably the same bird on the clifftop later. (Jack, Richard and Brendan).

Whinchat (Brendan Ryan) 

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

4th October 2017

A fresh arrival of Chiffchaffs was evident with small groups throughout the area and many on the clifftop at Hope Point. We eventually logged 129 along with 16 Blackcaps. Other notable birds including a Merlin over the Big Field and a Woodlark, picked up by Richard as it flew north over Hope Point. Overhead passage included around 600 Chaffinches heading straight in and four Redpolls, one Brambling, 15 Siskins and six Alba Wagtails. 3 Stonechats were at Hope Point (Jack, Richard and Brendan).

Whilst enjoying a coffee in St. Margaret’s Bay we looked up to see eight Ravens heading east along the cliff top, a larger amount than is usual. A Firecrest was still present in Kingsdown at the corner of Granville/Oldstairs Road in the evening.

Chiffchaff (Brendan Ryan) 

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

3rd October 2017

Knowing that the area had received limited coverage in the last couple of days, I was keen to get out into the field despite of a brisk WNW wind which promised little but hard graft.

The day started well with a Ring Ouzel in the Paddock and there was a good movement overhead in the first couple of hours including 700 House Martins, 250 Swallows,  130 Starlings, 120 Meadow Pipits 14 Alba Wagtails, 10+ Siskins, two Reed Buntings, three Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a Golden Plover and five parties of House Sparrows (27  in total).

Chiffchaffs remained numerous (55), along with Blackcaps 17.  A single Lesser Whitethroat showed briefly in the Freedown. A Stonechat and a Wheatear were at Hope Point. At this point I gave up and went to Oare!

Wheatear- Hope Point ( Brendan Ryan)

Monday, 2 October 2017

2nd October 2017

A walk in the rain this evening around Kingsdown was quiet and damp! Four Firecrests were at the corner of Granville/Oldstairs Road and 80 Siskins went over. Hopefully a bit more will be seen tomorrow.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

1st October 2017

A 2 hour seawatch in the gloom from 1515 on Kingsdown Rifle Butts did not produce the hoped-for seabirds, with 100+ Gannets offshore, 4 Med Gulls, 1 Great Skua, 6 Sandwich Terns and 1 Black Tern all moving down channel. However, the mood brightened when an Alpine Swift was watched powering towards the shore before heading north at 1542. It was not picked up either in the village or further up the coast in Deal.