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.

  • 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, 8 Rock Pipits, one Tree Pipit, 41 Alba Wagtails, 24 Swallows, two Tree Sparrows, 31 Reed Buntings, 4 Yellowhammers. Four groups of Hawfinches were seen, two singles, and 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) […]

  • 11th October 2017
    by Jack Chantler on October 11, 2017 at 7:42 pm

    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 café 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.    &nbs […]

  • 10th October 2017
    by Brendan Ryan on October 10, 2017 at 6:10 pm

    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)&nbs […]

  • 8th October 2017
    by Brendan Ryan on October 8, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    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)&nbs […]

  • 7th October 2017
    by Jack Chantler on October 7, 2017 at 2:01 pm

    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. […]

  • 6th October 2017
    by Brendan Ryan on October 6, 2017 at 6:21 pm

    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)&nbs […]

  • 4th October 2017
    by Brendan Ryan on October 4, 2017 at 7:13 pm

    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)&nbs […]

  • 3rd October 2017
    by Brendan Ryan on October 3, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    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) […]

  • 2nd October 2017
    by Richard Heading on October 2, 2017 at 6:02 pm

    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. […]

  • 1st October 2017
    by Nigel J on October 1, 2017 at 7:49 pm

    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. […]

  • 30th September 2017
    by Brendan Ryan on September 30, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    The last few days has seen a steady decline in the number of warblers,  with only a handful noted yesterday. It was therefore obvious this morning that there had been a big overnight arrival of new birds. We managed to notch up 184 Chiffchaffs, 103 Blackcaps, single Grasshopper and Reed Warblers, Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat and 4 Firecrests.Overhead there were at least 3 Redpolls (1st of autumn), 30 Siskins, a Brambling, Common Snipe, Golden Plover, 3 Grey Wagtails, 45 Alba Wagtails and 20 Reed Buntings. Meanwhile the Turtle Dove and Short-eared Owl remain in the Hope Point area. There was a Wheatear in the Big Field and a Redstart in The Rough.Chiffchaff - Hope Point ( Brendan Ryan)Blackcap - Hope Point (Brendan Ryan)&nbs […]

  • 29th September 2017
    by Brendan Ryan on September 30, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    On the land it was a fairly quiet day with very few migrants. However after the initial early morning rain cleared there was a spectacular movement of hirundines, initially predominantly Swallows but then House Martins too over big time. We estimate around 100,000 House Martins and 10,000 Swallows passed through up until mid day, when it started to rain and the passage dried up ( and/or we went home!)The previous day (28th ) had been quiet with 4 Firecrests being the highlight, along with two late Yellow Wagtails along Reach Road ( part of the Greater Bockhill area!)Yellow Wagtail ( Brendan Ryan)&nbs […]

  • 27th September 2017
    by Brendan Ryan on September 27, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    Early morning was dogged by fog and it wasn't until mid morning when it cleared and the sun came out that we saw some action in the form of a juvenile Honey-buzzard by the monument. It seemed reluctant to depart over the channel and was in view for about 15 minutes. A little earlier, Mike Puxley saw it fly out of the Farm Wood, where it had presumably roosted overnight. It is possible that it was the bird seen at Sandwich the previous afternoon. It eventually gained height and headed off over the Channel.Honey Buzzard ( Brendan Ryan)As Jack and I walked up from Hope Point early afternoon, a second Buzzard came across the Big Field and headed out to sea before eventually turning north and heading off towards Kingsdown. initially we thought this was another Honey-buzzard but it proved to be a juvenile Common BuzzardCommon Buzzard ( Brendan Ryan) The only other birds of note were three Stonechats, a Wheatear, four Firecrests, 35 Chiffchaffs, four Blackcaps and a Reed Warbler. Overhead around 650 Starlings arrived and about 35 Swallows headed south. […]

  • 26th September 2017
    by Brendan Ryan on September 26, 2017 at 6:27 pm

    A fairly quiet day, with a Turtle Dove at Hope Point being the highlight. Most of yesterday's Firecrests seemed to have moved on with only three recorded along with 15 Goldcrests. At least 26 Chiffchaffs were present, along with 13 Blackcaps, 3 Whitethroates and 2 Lesser Whitethroats. Overhead there was 30 Swallows, 6 Reed Buntings, 4 Grey Wagtails, 85 Starlings, a Grey Heron and a Greenshank. The two Stonechats remain on the clifftop near the cafe. […]

  • 24th September 2017
    by Richard Heading on September 25, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    A very slight SE initially didn't enthuse the four of us who were out across the area, but we stuck with it and got a little bit of reward. With some visiting birders finding a Pied Flycatcher in the Farm Wood we hung around a bit and gave it a good looking at. Brendan briefly heard a Yellow-browed Warbler and shortly after Nigel picked it up on the edge of the wood where it gave good but brief views. A Spotted Flycatcher in the Freedown and a Hobby across the Gun Emplacement were the other highlights. Around the area we also had two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 61 Chiffchaffs, ten Long-tailed Tits, 33 Blackcaps, a Firecrest, 13 Goldcrests, three Grey Wagtails, two Lesser Whitethroats, a Whitethroat, a Yellow Wagtail, two Reed Buntings, 12 Grey Partridges, 15 Yellowhammers, 3 Wheatears and 3 Stonechats. […]

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