Bockhill 2017

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Welcome to the Bockhill and Kingsdown Home page. You will find photos of this season’s birds and Diary pages which inform you of what has been seen each day.

Bockhill is an area of National Trust farmland to the north of St. Margaret’s village, and the cliff top stretching from The Leas to Kingsdown beach. Very few birds are actually resident here and therefore more or less all are migrants. The area by the Monument is best for visible migration but anywhere on the cliff top can be good for birds arriving or leaving the country.

The fields attract Pipits, Larks and the occasional wader whilst the farm wood or any of the hedgerows can be excellent for warblers especially in the autumn. Birding started seriously in 1994. Ten years later, in autumn 2004, 242 species had been recorded.

Bockhill is also very good for moths, butterflies, dragonflies and other insects as well as being excellent for much chalkland flora. Parking is available at the Monument and refreshments can be had at the cafe there or at the kiosk in the Bay car park.

Please note: all photos of birds on this site will be or have been submitted to the relevant records committee for consideration where necessary.

Bockhill Diary 2017










Bockhill Diary Wildlife sightings from the Bockhill area. We are a small group of East Kent birders who have been enjoying wildlife in the St. Margaret's Bay and Kingsdown area of the White Cliffs since October 1994. Here you will find a record of the fauna and flora of this region of Kent.

  • 20th June 2017
    by Richard Heading on June 20, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    Just a post to prove we are still here really. Jack and I were out in the brisk NNE wind which kept the temperature a little more palatable but we didn't see much between 10.30 and 13.00. 50 Swifts were moving into the wind and a couple of Gannet offshore.At the weekend Phil had a Reed Warbler singing at Bockhill and there have been a few Hummingbird Hawk-moths across the area. Tawny Owls are vocal at night in Kingsdown and the Pyramidal Orchids have been out for a while. Roll on August! […]

  • 8th June 2017
    by Richard Heading on June 8, 2017 at 7:57 pm

    Following a phone call from Brendan it was off to Deal Pier today to look at more European Storm Petrels. Brendan had already had 12 sightings including four together before Jack and I turned up at 10.00. Between then and 12.00 we managed to see four more, two Little Terns and seven Manx Shearwaters.European Storm Petrels - Gerald Segelbacher&nbs […]

  • 7th June 2017
    by Richard Heading on June 7, 2017 at 11:32 am

    Following the strong WSW winds and rain of yesterday, the wind was still strong, the waves were quite high and it was no surprise that in a quick visit to St. Margaret's Bay 10.30 - 11.00 there were 2 European Storm Petrels, including one lingering quite close and seven Manx Shearwaters down channel. A Common Scoter was in The Bay also. These were our first 'stormies' since similar conditions in 2006.Brendan and Julian continued to watch in The Bay until 13.30 and added two more European Storm Petrels, 24 Manx Shearwaters and a Black Tern.Nigel looked from the beach in Kingsdown in the afternoon and had another European Storm Petrel. […]

  • 6th June 2017
    by Richard Heading on June 6, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    Very strong WSW winds with heavy rain and showers made it an unpleasant morning. Between 06.00 and 10.00 Nigel in Kingsdown, Jack and I in The Bay estimated 700 Swifts moving into the wind. Offshore there were 30 Gannets but visibility was very poor. […]

  • 4 June 2017
    by Nigel J on June 4, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    A walk in the sunshine from Kingsdown to Hope Point for Jack, Phil, Richard and Nigel. We didn't get close to matching yesterday. In a strengthening westerly there were three Red Kites early on over the golf course, four Ravens and 30 Swifts. It was the insects that provided the highlights with Small Blues, Adonis Blues and a Red-veined Darter of most interest. Small Blue - Nigel JarmanAdonis Blue - Nigel JarmanRed-veined Darter (female) - Nigel Jarman […]

  • 3rd June 2017
    by Richard Heading on June 3, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    Phil and I took a walk along the cliff top to Kingsdown Leas early this morning in a light W to WNW wind. We started with a Hobby over The Paddock, two Mediterranean Gulls out to sea and four Ravens on the fence along the cliff top field. Whilst watching a group of 10 House Martins and 20 Swifts in front of Ship House a juvenile Stonechat flew past us, alighted briefly and carried on towards Kingsdown. At 7.30 the Herring Gulls started calling, alerting us that there may be a raptor above us. 15 minutes later Phil picked up a Black Kite being mobbed by gulls over The Rough and we watched it for the next 10 minutes as it slowly gained height and drifted west. Later there were two Red Kites over the golf course and the morning finished with four Buzzards over Kingsdown and another Hobby.Mid-afternoon between Nigel on Kingsdown Beach and Gerald in Walmer there were 15 Red Kites moving. Then at 15.58 in Kingsdown, whilst in his garden, Nigel had a Red-rumped Swallow over heading west. A pretty good start to the summer!Red Kite - Nigel JarmanThe area around The Bluebird Tea Room was looking a little different today with a film crew in residence. They wouldn't tell us what was being filmed.We thought we did well for Red Kites until Bob Gomes rang and told us that from 14:20 - 15:54 he had 104 W whilst sitting in his garden at Graveney. […]

  • 29th May 2017
    by Richard Heading on May 31, 2017 at 11:47 am

    Another very quiet day with 1 Grey Plover and 17 Swifts for our efforts.2 Harbour Porpoises offshore. […]

  • 28th May 2017
    by Richard Heading on May 31, 2017 at 11:46 am

    Standing at the vis-mig spot in sunny, cyclonic weather, Jack, Richard, Nigel & Phil had very little!One Red Kite, Sparrowhawk, and 2 Buzzards were the highlight, with 7 Swifts and a Sand Martin moving down channel. 2 Harbour Porpoises entertained us and this newly-emerged Emperor dried itself in the grass. Emperor - Nigel Jarman […]

  • 25 May 2017
    by Nigel J on May 25, 2017 at 6:28 pm

    Another day, another Red Kite. This one over the house at 0710, drifting South. […]

  • 24th May 2017
    by Richard Heading on May 24, 2017 at 7:47 am

    Looks like it could be a raptor day. 12 Red Kites came in at Kingsdown, drifted over the school and headed out towards Bockhill just after 08.00. Shortly after they joined another group and there were approximately 25 over The Monument, although distant when watching from Kingsdown, that appeared to head out towards Dover.The photo below was taken with my iPhone and shows 11 of the initial 12. […]

  • 23 May 2017
    by Nigel J on May 23, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    A Red Kite flew north over Kingsdown at 1000 with 2 Buzzards. […]

  • 22nd May 2017
    by Richard Heading on May 22, 2017 at 8:53 pm

    A Hornet flew around the house in Kingsdown this afternoon. No birds, but at least it's warm. […]

  • 21st May 2017
    by Jack Chantler on May 21, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    For a couple of hours Malcolm and I stood on the cliff-top and had nothing of note apart from a female Marsh Harrier in off the sea, 2 Shelduck upchannel and a steady trickle of Swallows SW. […]

  • 20th May 2017
    by Richard Heading on May 20, 2017 at 7:58 pm

    Phil and I decided to get out at dawn and see if the birds would join us. We stood on the cliff top for five and a half hours in a light SW, which veered to WNW and strengthened. Jack joined us early in the morning. We were rewarded shortly after we started with a female Hen Harrier which came in at the Monument and headed off north. It's a less than annual species for us. Also passing through were a Hobby, a Spotted Flycatcher, a Marsh Harrier, 2 Yellow Wagtails and a Painted Lady. A couple of Bullfinches were in the area and out at sea there were 20 Common Scoters and 25 Gannets. Down in the Bay a Green Hairstreak briefly alighted. […]

  • 7 May 2017
    by Jack Chantler on May 7, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    From 09:00 to 10:30hrs Richard and I stood on the blockhouse and had 3 Eiders, 1 Shelduck, 21 Common Scoters, 16 Dunlins, 2 Turnstones, 7 Grey Plovers, 12 Whimbrels, 43 Bar-tailed Godwits and 4 Guillemots.At 09:42 a single Pomarine Skua flew N followed by 2 more at 10:00.Terns were moving most of the time and totalled 89 Commics and 7 Sandwich. […]

  • 6 May 2017
    by Nigel J on May 6, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    A one hour seawatch from 0615 in very poor visibility and NE winds produced 2 Shoveler, 1 Guillemot and 3 Sandwich Terns upchannel for Nigel, Jack and Phil. A long and chilly walk around the whole area also gave little reward with 1 Ring Ouzel, 2 Yellow Wagtails, 1 Hobby and 4 leucorhoa Wheatears for our efforts. […]

  • 5 May 2017
    by Jack Chantler on May 6, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    Richard and I did an hours seawatching before the lack of birds and the bitterly cold NE wind made us give up and retire to the café for coffee. There was a small movement upchannel of 17 Bar-tailed Godwits, 8 Whimbrel, 3 Dunlin, 1 Sanderling and 5 Turnstone. Apart from waders there was a Red-throated Diver, 6 Auk sp.(of which 2 were Razorbills) and 31 Gannets. […]

  • 1 May 2017
    by Nigel J on May 1, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    Another seawatch this morning for Nigel, Jack and Phil in cold fresh SE winds. Visibility was good but the birds were poor. The best we could manage in 3 hours - 3 Pomarine Skuas at 0720 plus 4 Arctic Skuas, 3 Knot, 1 Black-th Diver, 111 Common Scoter and 2 Whimbrel moving upchannel. […]

  • 30 April 2017
    by Nigel J on April 30, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    With a fresh ESE wind predicted, we thought the birds might be few in number but perhaps close inshore. With this in mind, Nigel, Gerald, Jack, Phil and Richard gathered in St Margaret's Bay for our best seawatch of the spring. Between 0545 and 1130 we recorded 72 Pomarine Skuas (many very close, some with "spoons"), 12 Great Skuas, 17 Arctic Skuas, 1 Black-throated Diver, 2 Velvet Scoter, 6 Pintail, 260 Common Scoter, 22 Grey Plover, 13 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Dunlin, 5 Whimbrel, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 10 Med Gulls, plus Common and Sandwich Terns, Kittiwakes and Gannets all moving upchannel. Pomarine Skuas (Nigel Jarman) […]

  • 29th April 2017
    by Richard Heading on April 29, 2017 at 8:08 am

    A change in the weather, warmer conditions with a light SSW wind, and Phil was out not long after dawn. Early highlights were a Hobby, a Common Swift, 2 Tree Pipits and 2 Ring Ouzels.After spending seven hours in the field, with the wind increasing slightly, 65 warblers were recorded, mainly Whitethroats and, notable for us, a Garden Warbler. We also had two Whinchats and a Great Skua sitting on the rocks at Hope Point. Elsewhere were 31Wheatears which, we thought, at least 25 were of the Greenland race. […]

  • 23rd April 2017
    by Richard Heading on April 23, 2017 at 9:04 pm

    It was a much quieter morning than yesterday. The highlight being a Turtle Dove seen by Gerald which could well be the first and last record of the year. With flat calm conditions in the Straits of Dover, we picked out a couple of Harbour Porpoises.In the afternoon, supplemented by light SSE winds, Pomarine Skuas were being seen from various sites in West and East Sussex. When news came through from Dungeness, Jack, Nigel and I went down to St. Margaret's Bay to try and pick up a few. Visibility was was very good, the coast of France unobstructed. Approximately an hour and a half after passing Dungeness, our first 3 Pomarine Skuas came past. Over the next couple of hours we recorded 13. None of which were particularly close, just as well visibility was favourable, but the views were sufficient enough that we could pick out the 'spoon' like tail feathers on some birds and a couple of beautiful dark morphs as well. Also in The Bay we saw 2 Mediterranean Gulls, 5 Sandwich Terns, 7 Arctic/Common Terns and a Common Seal. […]

  • 22nd April 2017
    by Richard Heading on April 22, 2017 at 7:45 pm

    Jack and Phil walked the entire area today and in a light northerly wind they recorded an impressive haul of 112 warblers. 26 Whitethroats, 15 Lesser Whitethroats, 24 Willow Warblers, 24 Chiffchaffs and 22 Blackcaps. In addition there were 10 Swallows, 2 House Martins, 6 Alba Wagtails (of which 2 were White Wagtails), 5 Whimbrels flying up channel and a Grey Plover. […]

  • 17th April 2017
    by Nigel J on April 18, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    A 2 hour seawatch in chilly NE conditions gave us 12 Whimbrel, 72 Common Scoter, 2 Red-throated Divers, 28 Dunlin and 2 Velvet Scoter, all moving up channel. […]

  • 16th April 2017
    by Richard Heading on April 16, 2017 at 8:07 pm

    The run of good form continued today and the honour of best bird of the year changed again when Phil picked up an Alpine Swift at 10.00 distantly over the golf course. Brendan and I got onto it and we watched it for 10 minutes feeding high then lost it heading north towards Deal. Shortly after it was seen over Worth Marshes and Sandwich Bay. This was the first in the area since 2014 and the 7th overall since we started birding here in 1994.Around the area and watching from the vis mig point in a light to moderate NW we also recorded 49 Swallows, 7 House Martins, 4 Sand Martins, Siskin, Willow Warbler, 2 Whitethroats, Lesser Whitethroat, 5 Sparrowhawks, 8 Buzzards, 2 Ravens, Yellow Wagtail and 60 Linnets. Out at sea 4 Whimbrels flew up channel. […]

  • 15th April 2017
    by Richard Heading on April 15, 2017 at 9:31 pm

    The highlight of the day and arguably the year so far was discovered by Jack and Phil in the Hope Point area today. A Yellow-browed Warbler was calling and seen briefly around 10.15. Having been birding the area for 23 years now, there are not many days when something new happens. Although a Yellow-browed Warbler is an expected scarce migrant in the Autumn, we have never had one so early in the year. Indeed we believe this is one of only a handful of Spring records in Kent, but perhaps its an indication of how the status of this bird has changed in recent years.In a light NW we also recorded 3 House Martins, 5 Swallows, a Short-eared Owl in off the sea, 2 Whitethroats, 4 Lesser Whitethroats, 5 Blackcaps, 3 Willow Warblers, 2 Yellow Wagtails and 5 White Wagtails.On the sea a Red-throated Diver, a Black-throated Diver and 4 Shags all headed up channel. […]

January 2017

January 8th

Walked around the entire area and saw little of note apart from 4 Stonechats, 2 Goldcrests and at least 16 pairs of Fulmars around the cliffs at Kingsdown. NLJ,JRC.

January 7th

Only 2 Stonechats on the cliff top today and a Little Owl being ‘mobbed’ at the Gun Emplacement. PJC,JRC.

January 6th
This morning Richard and I did an hour and a half seawatching and had 345 Cormorants feeding offshore, 8 Red-throated Divers moving north and 2 Sanderling and a Raven flying south. RNH,JRC.
January 2nd
A walk around the area this morning produced two Sparrowhawks,  four Stonechats and up to ten Song Thrushes.NLJ,JRC.

Stonechats at Bockhill

Given the topical nature of Eastern Stonechats we think it instructive to re-post pictures of the two Bockhill birds. The first bird 30/10/2008 – 2/11/2008 seems an obvious maura. Since the details of the Portland bird 24/10/2012 were published it became apparent that our second bird 24/10/2009 – 25/10/2009 showed features of stejnegeri. As it seems likely that BBRC will review previous records of all forms we have sent these photos forward to form part of that review.

Bird present 30/10/2008 until 2/11/2008.

Bird present 24/10/2009


Jack Chantler