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 July 2017
    by Richard Heading on July 20, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    The easterly bias of wind had changed to a gusty south west, so Jack and I decided on a seawatch in St. Margaret's Bay between 09.00 and 12.50. We had our first Balearic Shearwater of the year going down channel at 11.03, a Great and Arctic Skua, eight Auk sp., three Mediterranean Gulls, two juvenile Shags, 25 Whimbrel down channel, 21 Common Scoter and, what is a scarce bird for us, a Common Sandpiper. A large movement of Swifts were heading into the wind, we counted 1400 between 09.00 and 11.00. […]

  • 16th July 2017
    by Jack Chantler on July 16, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    Another poor day with little about apart from 50 plus Swallows feeding over the Rough and the same 100 or so Carrion Crows in the fields. […]

  • 15 July 2017
    by Jack Chantler on July 15, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    Richard, Phil and I walked around the area this morning and had very little of note apart from a small movement of Swifts and Sand Martins going SW and quite large numbers of Swallows and House Martins feeding over the newly harvested fields. There were also 121 Carrion Crows in the large field and at the Monument 2 very young Stonechats. […]

  • 4th July 2017
    by Richard Heading on July 4, 2017 at 6:44 pm

    A Bee-eater flew over the house in Kingsdown calling at 6.55 this evening and appeared to drift off in a SE direction. Other than that pretty quiet really. […]

  • 1st July 2017
    by Jack Chantler on July 1, 2017 at 9:15 pm

    Phil and I met by the Monument and walked to Hope Point via the Farm Wood. We had 57 Sand Martins, 261 Swifts and a Hobby moving N into the wind. At the Freedown we flushed a bird off the path onto the hedge and to our amazement we saw a female Common Rosefinch which gave us good but brief views before flying off towards Kingsdown. We followed as far as Hope Point but were unable to relocate the bird.&nbs […]

  • 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. […]

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