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

Bockhill Photo: Michael Bennett



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.

  • 11th January 2018
    by Jack Chantler on January 11, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    Although there was no wind and the sea extremely calm, Richard and I had a seawatch from 09:45 - 11:00 which proved to be quite successful. Moving SW were 79 Red-throated Divers, 830 Cormorants, moving NE were 21 Brent Geese and offshore were 50 Gannets, 30 Great Crested Grebes, 3 Shags, 2 Great Skuas and 1500 Auks of which 90% were Guillemots. […]

  • 30th December 2017
    by Jack Chantler on December 31, 2017 at 10:21 am

    In an hour from 09:45-10:45 Phil and I had, moving down Channel, 15 Red-throated Divers, a Black-throated Diver, 160 Gannets, 430 Cormorants, 7 Curlews, 8 Great Skuas (6 down and 2 up), 1200 Auks (mainly Razorbills) and 700 Kittiwakes. […]

  • 15th November 2017
    by Jack Chantler on November 15, 2017 at 8:51 pm

    A walk around the area produced nothing, the only notable record today was early this morning when Richard had 3 Hawfinches fly over his garden at Kingsdown. […]

  • 12th November 2017
    by Jack Chantler on November 12, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    Very little apart from 7 Grey Partridges, 2 Snow Buntings and 70 Yellowhammers. (Phil,Jack) […]

  • 11th November 2017
    by Jack Chantler on November 12, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    Phil walked the area this morning and had our first autumn Woodcock, 180 Fieldfares, 30 Redwings,3 Stonechats, 2 Snow Buntings and 124 Yellowhammers. […]

  • 9th November 2017
    by Jack Chantler on November 12, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    On a cold and beautifully clear morning there was a small overhead migration of Starlings, Goldfinches, Redpolls of which at least three were Common, a single House Martin and a male Hen Harrier that came in at Hope Point and moved off W.Elwsewhere in the area were good numbers of thrushes with 112 Blackbirds, 38 Song Thrushes, 4 Redwings and 4 Mistle Thrushes. Other notable birds were 150 Skylarks, 2 Stonechats, 7 Bullfinches and a Snow Bunting.On the sea in the Bay were 70 Mediterranean Gulls. […]

  • 5th November 2017
    by Jack Chantler on November 5, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    Very little today, the only notable birds being two Sparrowhawks, two Buzzards and singles of Woodlark, Stonechat, Chiffchaff and Firecrest. (Phil, Richard, Jack) […]

  • 4th November 2017
    by Nigel J on November 4, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    A walk in the gloom and showers was brightened up with the discovery of a Pallas's Warbler in the bushes near the toilet block at Kingsdown at 7.30. It was with 12 Long-tailed Tits and 2 Goldcrests, but unfortunately could not be relocated. Also in the area were 2 Firecrests, 2 Ravens and a flock of 350 Starlings in off. (Nigel)Phil walked the area at Bockhill and had 140 Skylarks, 70 Yellowhammers, 11 Grey and two Red-Legged Partridges in the big field, 40 Redwings, five Fieldfares and 60 Blackbirds in the Freedown, and 20 Goldcrests around the Farm.There were also 540 Starlings in off the sea. (Phil) &nbs […]

  • 3rd November 2017
    by Jack Chantler on November 3, 2017 at 8:27 pm

    On a very pleasant afternoon Phil and I walked around the area, on the cliff-top we had two Stonechats and  flyovers of Raven and Brambling. In the stubble field were 120 Skylarks and a male Snow Bunting, in the Free Down was a Little Owl and a Long-Eared Owl, and around the Farm a Chiffchaff and a Firecrest.Richard had a Ring Ouzel at Kingsdown. […]

  • 31st October 2017
    by Jack Chantler on October 31, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    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) […]

  • 28th October 2017
    by Nigel J on October 28, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    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. […]

  • 27th October 2017
    by Jack Chantler on October 27, 2017 at 9:40 pm

    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
    by Jack Chantler on October 27, 2017 at 9:17 pm

    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) […]

  • 25th October 2017
    by Jack Chantler on October 25, 2017 at 5:10 pm

    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 ) […]

  • 23rd October 2017
    by Brendan Ryan on October 23, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    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 ) […]

  • 22nd October 2017
    by Jack Chantler on October 22, 2017 at 6:53 pm

    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 […]

  • 21st October 2017
    by Jack Chantler on October 21, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    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. […]

  • 20th October 2017
    by Jack Chantler on October 20, 2017 at 11:54 am

    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. […]

  • 19th October 2017 (Part 2)
    by Brendan Ryan on October 19, 2017 at 7:22 pm

    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)
    by Richard Heading on October 19, 2017 at 8:53 am

    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. […]

  • 18th October 2018
    by Brendan Ryan on October 18, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    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) […]

  • 17th October 2017
    by Brendan Ryan on October 17, 2017 at 6:38 pm

    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)&nbs […]

  • 14th October 2017
    by Jack Chantler on October 14, 2017 at 6:14 pm

    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 […]

  • 13th October 2017
    by Brendan Ryan on October 13, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    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) […]

  • 12th October 2017
    by Brendan Ryan on October 12, 2017 at 7:33 pm

    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) […]

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