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.

  • by Jack Chantler on June 12, 2021 at 4:50 pm

     12th June 2021Phil and I stood at the viz mig site from 07.00-10.00 and had very little apart from c.300 starlings in six flocks come in off the sea, (unfortunately no Rose Coloured),There were three Hobbys hunting across the big field and two Ravens sitting on the fence. Many butterflies today, mainly Common, Small and Adonis Blues and an unusual one, for us that is, a Dingy Skipper.Later in the afternoon Nigel had a Honey Buzzard over Kingsdown.

  • by Jack Chantler on June 9, 2021 at 4:42 pm

    9th June 2021From 07.00 - 12.00 we stood at the Monument and had very few birds apart from 41 Red Kites moving west, a Honey Buzzard north west and c. 33 Swifts south west. Unfortunately we missed the Bee-Eaters that were seen no more than a kilometer to the west of us. Brendan, John, Jack.

  • 6th June 2021
    by Richard Heading on June 6, 2021 at 4:29 pm

    Nigel and I were out early covering the Undercliffe to The Monument with a very light westerly. As is fairly typical in recent years at this time Red Kites filled the skies above Kingsdown. We managed to count 42, there were probably more as they were never close and at times widely dispersed. Otherwise fairly quiet. A Shelduck and Shag flew past out to sea, there were 10 Swifts and a Black Redstart.The first Small Blues and Adonis Blues were along the cliff top and Nigel picked out a male and female Red-veined Darter on Kingsdown Leas.

  • 5th June 2021
    by Richard Heading on June 5, 2021 at 12:57 pm

    A passage of 82 Swifts, a Black Redstart and White Wagtail at Hope Point, 45 Common Scoter went through and 3 Red kites were over Kingsdown and then headed off towards Ringwould. Jack, Phil, Brendan and Richard

  • 3rd June 2021
    by Richard Heading on June 5, 2021 at 10:22 am

    We've been away for a little while, sorry. In that time there has been Kent's first Crag Martin at Kingsdown, our first Goshawk and Black Brant, but not a great deal else.Until Richard Bonser and Jamie Partridge picked up a Black Stork at St. Margaret's going out to sea and quickly got the news out. Phil and Jack managed to get on it at The Monument and I watched it from Kingsdown. Fantastic! This is the second record for the area, the first being 17 years ago on 19th September. Jack didn't see that first one, he was suitably impressed this time around! Earlier there was a Marsh Harrier and we also had 10 Red Kites over Kingsdown.Video by Phil Chantler.

  • 10th November
    by Brendan Ryan on November 10, 2020 at 7:33 pm

    Still a few Goldcrests (14) around this morning plus single Blackcap and Chiffchaff. Otherwise fairly quiet with two Stonechats and two Corn Buntings on the clifftop. A few finches including 135 Goldfinches and two Bramblings moving south overhead along with a few Skylarks and Meadow Pipits. Off shore, two Shags. Its getting a bit of a struggle. Goldcrest 

  • 6th November
    by Brendan Ryan on November 8, 2020 at 7:16 am

     First day of the autumn when no warblers were recorded, which was disappointing given that there had clearly been an influx of Goldcrests (77) plus a single Firecrest. The only other birds of note seen today were 10 late Swallows and a single House Martin hawking over the Droveway in the early afternoon.Kestrel, Kingsdown Leas

  • 4th November
    by Brendan Ryan on November 4, 2020 at 8:55 pm

     After several days of persistent and strong SW winds it was nice to be back out in more benign conditions with a light NW and sunshine.. Not a lot of overhead activity although Chaffinches (65) and Skylarks (48) were arriving in-off throughout the morning. Elsewhere highlights included Little Egret, Short-eared Owl, five Swallows, two Stonechats, single Ring Ouzel and Firecrest  plus three Chiffchaffs, three Blackcaps and three Goldcrests.  Two singing Corn Buntings had returned to the clifftop having been absent for most of the autumn. Corn Bunting Firecrest Jay 

  • 26th October
    by Brendan Ryan on October 26, 2020 at 9:50 pm

    The continued W or SW winds continue to make life difficult. Highlights today included a single Ring Ouzel in the Freedown, three Stonechats, six Chiffchaffs, three Blackcaps, five Goldcrests, two swallows and 55 Skylarks. In the more sheltered habitats in the South Foreland Valley, the Nuthatch is still present along with a vocal but elusive Yellow-browed Warbler. Nuthatch- South Foreland Valley.  There has never been a Bockhill records but this one was less than half a mile from the Bockhill recording area. 

  • 24th October
    by Brendan Ryan on October 26, 2020 at 9:47 pm

     A strong SW wind made viewing difficult although there was a reasonable period of viz mig early morning when our first two Lapland Buntings of the year were recorded. Also seen were 50 Swallows, 125 Starlings, 14 alba Wagtails, 110 Linnets and 420 Goldfinches . Pied Wagtail 

  • 22nd October
    by Brendan Ryan on October 22, 2020 at 9:38 pm

     Some good overhead movement in the first coupled of hours with 320 Swallows, 85 House Martins, 34 Skylarks, 26 alba Wagtails, four Bramblings , 105 Linnets, 55 Redpolls, one Crossbill and three Reed Buntings.One the ground there were one Chiffchaff, three Blackcaps, two Ring Ouzels, two Corn Buntings and 19 GoldcrestsKestrel eating earth worm by the Monument 

  • 17th October
    by Brendan Ryan on October 17, 2020 at 9:41 pm

    After yesterday's minor success, today we were well and truly trounced by the the north coast.  A day of great promise was somewhat disrupted when half of the team upped sticks and relocated to Reculver. The loyal remainers managed to dig out a Siberian Chiffchaff at McSwiggans and two Woodlarks over the Leas.Other birds of note, in no particular order     1 Woodcock    105 Goldcrests    22 Chiffchaffs,      9 Blackcaps    3 Ring Ouzels    37 Redwings    24 Fieldfares     300 Starlings     2645 Goldfinches,     210 Redpolls,     43 CrossbillsTristis Chiffchaff (SW) 

  • 16th October
    by Brendan Ryan on October 16, 2020 at 8:44 pm

     Today's highlight was  a Dusky Warbler ( third site record) in the Paddock late morning and again late afternoon, with presumably the same bird being seen on the Leas early afternoon. Other birds seen included a Hawfinch in the Paddock shortly after dawn and six Ring Ouzels. It was another day with good finch movements with Goldfinches leading the way with at least 1,400 through, plus 230 Redpolls and 260 Siskins.Other birds of note included six Ring Ouzels, 68 Fieldfares, 180 Redwings, 12 Chiffchaffs and 105 Goldcrests. Dusky Warbler (BR)

  • 11th October
    by Brendan Ryan on October 11, 2020 at 9:02 pm

    Highlight of the day was thrushes coming in off including 40 Redwings, two Ring Ouzels, a Mistle Thrush and two Fildfares Also seen coming in, three Gt Spotted Woodpeckers, 18 Brambling and  4 Bullfinches. On the ground there were several groups of Chiffchaffs and the final total is likely to be over 50. A Yellow-browed Warbler was found in Granville Road and showed fleetingly over the next hour. Yellow-browed Warbler (GS)Yellow-browed Warbler (BR)

  • 10th October
    by Brendan Ryan on October 11, 2020 at 7:00 pm

     Most unusual bird of the day was a Greylag Goose which was seen flying in off the sea and landed briefly in the field near the Empty Wood.Other than that it was pretty much business as usual with much reduced number of Chiffchaffs. Birds of note included a single Hobby, Tree Pipit, , Ring Ouzel, Brambling, Crossbill and two Tree Sparrows.Sparrowhawk hunting over the clifftop (BR)

  • 9th October
    by Brendan Ryan on October 11, 2020 at 6:54 pm

     Lots of Chiffchaffs and not a lot else!Around 110 Chiffchaffs encountered this morning mostly in small groups of up to 10 birds. Other than that not a lot else was seen. Two Redstarts together including a male that had been present for six days, 21 Stonechats, eight Reed Buntings and a Ring Ouzel at the Monument.In the Bay there was a close Red-throated Diver but no sign of the Wryneck reported two days previousSpecies of the day - Chiffchaff (BR) One of 21 Stonechats present (BR)Red-throated Diver in the Bay (BR)

  • 7th October
    by Brendan Ryan on October 7, 2020 at 6:36 pm

     Another blustery day made viewing difficult at times although thankfully there was no rain today. A new Yellow-browed Warbler was heard calling in the Paddock although it was not possible to see it in the windy conditions.  A second yellow-browed Warbler was seen early afternoon at the Gun Emplacement, presumably the bird first seen on the 5th & 6th. 23 Stonechats were encountered today. This may be a site record.There was plenty of overhead movement early on with Siskins and Redpolls again dominating. However there was an interesting passage south of house Sparrows with around 45 seen during the morning. A Bullfinch was also seen flying over. Although this is a regular species recorded at Bockhill it is not often encountered on a viz mig session. Skylarks continued to arrive and as usual were observed coming straight in off ( as opposed to following the coast as other diurnal migrants tend to do). 43 were counted. Hirdundines included 200 Swallows, 800 House Martins and a single Sand Martin. Warblers were hard to come by with only 17 Chiffchaffs and eight Blackcaps. One Lesser Whitethroat was by the monument in the afternoon. Also seen one Firecrest and eight Goldcrests.Visiting birders reported seeing a Red-rumped Swallow and a Hobby. Also a Wryneck was reported from the Bay.Lesser Whitethroat (BR)Lesser Whitethroat (BR)Firecrest -Hope Point (BR)

  • 6th October
    by Brendan Ryan on October 6, 2020 at 7:58 pm

    With stronger winds with a more westerly element, today was inevitably quieter than recent days and coverage was less extensive, limited to around the Farm Wood, Paddock, Freedown and Gun Emplacement. Highlights included a late Swift, Sand Martin, Whinchat and Firecrest.Also seen 150 Swallows, 75 House Martins, 38 Chiffchaffs,  eight Blackcaps, six Goldcrests, two Wheatears,12 Stonechats, one Reed Bunting. Siskins, Redpolls and a couple of Crossbills were moving overhead but in much smaller numbers than of late. Common Swift (BR)Common Stonechat (BR)

  • 5th October
    by Brendan Ryan on October 5, 2020 at 9:05 pm

    Very busy viz mig early morning with thousands of finches on the move until the skies cleared mid morning and passage came to an abrupt halt. During this period there were 2,100 Siskins, 450 Redpolls, 850 Goldfinches, 570 Linnets, and 17 Crossbills. Also moving were 59 Skylarks, 190 Swallows, 50 House Martins, single Grey and Yellow Wagtails, 18 alba Wagtails, 13 Reed Buntings and one Corn Bunting, the first for several weeks.There was arrival of Song thrushes with 43 counted along with nine Mistle Thrushes, two Ring Ouzels and 52 Robins.It was a good day for warblers with three Lesser Whitethroats, two Common Whitethroats, a late Willow Warbler, 82 Chiffchaffs, 18 Blackcaps and a single Yellow-browed Warbler, presumably one of yesterday's birds. Other birds of note included two Wheatears, two Whinchats, 15 Stonechats, one Redstart, a single Spotted Flycatcher, one Firecrest and eight Goldcrests, a Short-eared Owl and a Merlin.Willow Warbler (BR)Willow Warbler (BR)

  • 4th October
    by Brendan Ryan on October 4, 2020 at 3:53 pm

     A number of late migrants continue to hang on with Redstart, Willow Warbler, two Lesser Whitethroats,  one Common Whitethroat, six Wheatears, two Whinchats one Yellow Wagtail and three Sand Martins seen today. Yesterday's Yellow-browed Warbler was still in Badgers Bottom albeit only seen briefly while another was found late morning at the Gun Emplacement. There was no sign of the Empty Wood bird although it was a little blown out and difficult to see anything in there. Other birds seen today included a Short-eared Owl, 48 Chiffchaffs, 25 Blackcaps, one Firecrest, six Goldcrests,  23 Song Thrushes, one Redwing, two Mistle Thrushes and 17 Stonechats.No sign of the American Golden Plover but eight of its European counterparts were in the fields at Pond Lane. Overhead Redpolls have taken over from Siskins as the dominant species with around 110 recorded this morning. Yellow-browed Warbler Badger's Bottom (BR)Whinchat- Freedown (NJ)

  • 3rd October
    by Brendan Ryan on October 3, 2020 at 8:12 pm

    An excellent all round day started with bang when our Pond Lane correspondent (Phil Chantler) found a American Golden Plover which was enjoyed by the rest of the Bockhill regulars before heavy rain ensured a hasty retreat. It could not be found later in the day.  Also in the field were 10 Ruff which is an amazing Bockhill record in itself. It was the start of an unusual  wader day which included eight Common Snipe, (another notable Bockhill record), eight Lapwings, six Golden Plovers,  a Grey Plover and a late Common Sandpiper. Jack and Simon added five knot and two Curlews while sea watching.It was a good day for late migrants including single Garden Warbler and Willow Warblers,  Common Swift, Sand Martin, Spotted Flycatcher and two Common Redstarts. On the warbler front two Yellow-browed Warblers were the highlight ( Badger's Bottom and the Empty Wood), along with at least 93 Chiffchaffs, 24 Blackcaps and a single Lesser Whitethroat. At least five Firecrests and eight Goldcrests were seen. Chats included around 17 Stonechats, six Wheatears including five that arrived near Hope Point late afternoon with two Whinchats. Overhead movements of finches continued with at least 600 Siskins, 95 Redpolls and 12 Crossbills. Other birds overhead included three Yellow Wagtails,  a Tree Pipit and a Marsh Harrier.Yellow-browed Warbler- Empty Wood (BR)Firecrest Oldstairs (BR)Wheatear - Monument- (BR)American Golden Plover (NJ)

  • 1st October
    by Brendan Ryan on October 1, 2020 at 8:25 pm

     Today's highlights:One Yellow-browed Warbler, Oldstairs, 88 Chiffchaffs, 40 Blackcaps, three Lesser Whitethroats, one Common Whitethroat, six Goldcrests, two Redstarts, 19 Stonechats, one Ring Ouzel, 46 Robins, one Reed Bunting and  one Hobby. Overhead Siskins, Redpolls, Skylarks and Meadow Pipits still moving but in smaller numbers that recent days. A pale looking Wheatear found late in the day in evening sunlight provided an identification challenge but it couldn't be made into anything other than Northern. A Short-eared Owl was found dead near the Freedown. Judging from the location and its injuries, it looked as if it has flown into the electric fence around the Big Field. Record shot of Yellow-browed Warbler Short-eared OwlRing OuzelCommon Redstart (Paddock)Northern Wheatear (BR)

  • 30th September
    by Brendan Ryan on September 30, 2020 at 9:11 pm

     A light SW wind and overcast conditions produced a good overhead passage in the first couple of hours of the day with 6,200 Barn Swallows, 990 House Martins, three Sand Martins, two Swifts, 28 Skylarks, 118 Meadow Pipits, 18 Pied/White Wagtails, 187 Linnets, 65 Redpolls, eight Crossbills, 160 Siskins, three Yellowhammers and seven Reed Buntings. The movement bizarrely included a group of nine ravens going south just after dawn. The wind became more southerly and strengthened and the passage ended abruptly apart from a steady small stream of hirundines during the rest of the morning.On the ground it was hard work with 56 Chiffchaffs, 10 Blackcaps, two Goldcrests, one Firecrest, 10 Stonechats, one Whinchat, two Wheatears and a Short-eared Owl over Hope Point.Richard had a Redstart in his garden at KingsdownShort-eared Owl- Hope Point (BR)Northern Wheatear (BR)Ravens over the Monument (BR)

  • 29th September
    by Brendan Ryan on September 29, 2020 at 7:58 pm

     The day started with a light SW wind and and unpleasant drizzle which lasted until mid morning. It became sunny during the afternoon but the wind picked up. A Ring Ouzel was by the monument first thing, relocating quickly to the Paddock before flying inland. A Tree Pipit also flew over the Paddock early morning. Stonechats were arguably the species of the day with at least 19 being recorded including eight together along the side of the golf course where there were also four Black Redstarts and a single Wheatear. Although no winter thrushes were seen, there had been a small influx of Song Thrushes with at least 15 seen. Around 93 Chiffchaffs were recorded and a Yellow-browed Warbler was found in the Empty Wood although it could not be relocated in the afternoon. The only other warblers were 18 Blackcaps and a single Lesser Whitethroat. After the morning rain cleared some birds begun to move including 24 Skylarks, 115 Meadow Pipits, two Rock Pipits, five alba Wagtails, one Grey Wagtail, 14 Redpolls and 1,100 SwallowsOther birds of note included eight Grey Partridge, 10 Goldcrests, 38 Robins, three Reed Buntings and  three Ravens. 50 species recorded Late news from yesterday- Yellow-browed Warbler at Kingsdown as per Nigel Common Stonechat (BR)

  • 26th September
    by Brendan Ryan on September 26, 2020 at 6:28 pm

     Strong NW winds made birding difficult today althouth there was an impressive movement of finches in the first half of the morning with 960 Siskins, 40 Redpolls, 19 Crossbills, 120 Goldfinches and two, Greenfinches. There was little else moving with just 49 Meadow Pipits, 25 Starlings, five alba and one Grey Wagtail, three House Martins and one Swallow. A Greenshank flew north.On the ground there wee five Firecrests, three Goldcrests, three Stonechats, 42 Chiffchaffs and five Blackcaps.Two sessions looking at the sea produced nothing of note.Chiffchaff - Farm Wood (NJ)

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