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.

  • 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. […]

  • 14th April 2017
    by Richard Heading on April 15, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    A light NW wind and with Brendan, Jack, Nigel and Phil walking the area between Kingsdown and Bockhill, Richard joining them up at the vis mig point with coffee and biscuits, the migrants continued to be seen. A single House Martin, c50 Swallows, 3 Ring Ouzels, Wheatear, Yellow Wagtail, 3 White Wagtails, Whitethroat, 3 Lesser Whitethroats, 8 Blackcaps, 10 Chiffchaffs, Raven and 2 Sparrowhawks.Ring Ouzel (Nigel Jarman) […]

  • 13th April 2017
    by Richard Heading on April 14, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    Brendan was out this morning around Bockhill on a sunny day with a few patchy clouds in a light NW and was rewarded with a Water Pipit on the cliff top, a Red Kite heading north, 2 Lesser Whitethroats at Hope Point, a Whitethroat at Hope Bay Studio, 5 Willow Warblers, 6 Blackcaps, 8 Chiffchaffs and 2 Grey Partridges.Water Pipit (Brendan Ryan)Red Kite (Brendan Ryan)                                                                Whitethroat                                                                 Lesser Whitethroat […]

  • 7th April 2017
    by Jack Chantler on April 7, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    Another sunny, but chilly, day with a light NW breeze  brought in 7 Swallows, 9 Common Buzzards, 5 Sparrowhawks and a Red Kite. Other birds included 15 Siskins moving N, 2 White Wagtails and 2 Chiffchaffs singing in the Paddock. […]

  • 6th April 2017
    by Jack Chantler on April 6, 2017 at 8:09 pm

    Today Phil and I walked around the entire area and had 1 Swallow, 2 Grey Partridges, 13 Blackcaps and 15 Chiffchaffs. The movement of Red Kites continued with 2 flying north at 10:30am. […]

  • 5th April 2017
    by Jack Chantler on April 6, 2017 at 7:57 pm

    Very few birds of note apart from 3 Swallows, 3 Blackcaps, 4 Chiffchaffs and a Bullfinch. […]

  • 3rd April 2017
    by Richard Heading on April 3, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    In a light southerly wind a Red Kite passed north over Kingsdown in the early afternoon and at least 5 Buzzards were causing the Herring Gulls some significant upset. […]

  • 2nd April 2017
    by Jack Chantler on April 2, 2017 at 7:34 pm

    This morning Phil, Richard and I stood on the cliff-top and had a movement in a NW direction of 6 Sparrowhawks, 3 Red Kites and 24 Buzzards, and in a NE direction 108 Chaffinches, 30 Goldfinches, 4 Siskins, 8 Alba Wagtails ( of which 5 were White Wagtails), 3 Swallows and 2 Woodlarks. Elsewhere around the area were 3 Ravens, 3 Shags, 2 Whimbrels and a Willow Warbler.In the afternoon a walk along Ottey Bottom produced 6 Blackcaps and 10 Chiffchaffs. […]

  • 1st April 2017
    by Richard Heading on April 1, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    In sunny conditions with a light to moderate south-west wind a Red Kite headed west over Kingsdown at 13.20.Elsewhere in the area were a Raven and a couple of Blackcaps.In the evening a pair of Tawny Owls were calling  in Kingsdown. […]

  • 31st March 2017
    by Richard Heading on March 31, 2017 at 6:12 pm

    On a breezy but warm day a Swallow passed through Kingsdown in the late afternoon. There are many Chiffchaffs singing now and a handful of Blackcaps dotted over the area. […]

  • 30th March 2017
    by Jack Chantler on March 30, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    Very little of note apart from 4 Ravens flying north. […]

  • 28th March 2017
    by Richard Heading on March 29, 2017 at 10:55 am

    3 Red Kites came in from the south, drifted over Kingsdown briefly and then headed off N in the early afternoon. 20 Brent Geese were on the sea just off Kingsdown. […]

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