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
    by Brendan Ryan on October 23, 2021 at 7:56 pm

     Very light SW, overcast with sunny spellsHighlight today was the first Ring Ouzel of the autumn, a cracking male in the Freedown which then flew to Orchid Bottom and the Empty Wood. There was a scattering other other thrushes with at least 11 Song Thrushes, 10 Redwings, 17 Blackbirds and single Mistle Thrush and Fieldfare. Chiffchaffs just about struggled into double figures with 11, while two Blackcaps remain. Last week's Cetti's Warbler remains at the Gun Emplacement but is very elusive. There was a steady overhead passage with around 80 Meadow Pipits, 14 alba wagtails, nine Bramblings, one Lesser Redpoll, eight Reed Buntings.The absence of any crests this late in the autumn is odd but a fair reflection of how poor this autumn is. A single Goldcrest was found late afternoon at the Gun Emplacement might have qualified for bird of the day had it not been for the ouzel. As ever- tomorrow look good. Brendan, Nigel, Simon, and Richard

  • 17 October 2021
    by Nigel on October 17, 2021 at 7:28 pm

    The southerly wind and overcast condition promised more than it delivered, although the sites 3rd Cetti's Warbler was heard in the Gun Emplacement by Julian and Steve. Otherwise, 2 Stonechat, 7 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap and a Merlin were the most notable birds .Overhead there were 338 Goldfinch, 10 alba Wags, 1 Reed Bunting, 16 Siskin, 16 Chaffinch, 16 Linnet, 2 Brambling, 2 Swallow, 1 House Martin moving south and nearly 1000 Starling in off.Nigel, Simon, Julian Russell, Steve Clinch

  • 16th October 2021
    by Brendan Ryan on October 16, 2021 at 7:44 pm

     A case of one that got away ( from most that were present) A mid-morning panic when Simon found a Radde's Warbler on the path to the Gun Emplacement. Unfortunately it disappeared after giving only brief views and could not be re-found when the rest of us on site arrived.  Up until that point it had been a fairly routine morning with a reasonable but light viz mig; 27 Barn Swallows, 50 House Martins, 30 Alba Wagtails, 175 Meadow Pipits six Bramblings, 499 Goldfinches, six Greenfinches, eight Siskins, one Lesser Redpoll,  860 Starlings and 13 Reed BuntingsChiffchaffs numbers had plummeted with only five being recorded along with four Blackcaps. Also seen one Hobby, single Firecrest and Goldcrest, one Fieldfare, seven Redwings, six Song Thrushes and three Stonechats.A short seawatch around midday by Simon produced two Velvet Scoter, and an Arctic SkuaStarlings- in off Best count of Reed Buntings so far this autumnSimon Warry, Nigel, Gerald, Brendan and Richard 

  • 15 October 2021
    by Nigel on October 15, 2021 at 7:13 pm

    Another NW, another day with little to show for the effort.A steady movement of Goldfinch with 592 noted during the morning, together with 2 Brambling, 13 Chaffinch, 9 Siskin, 2 Reed Bunting, 2 Grey Wags, 13 alba Wags, 26 Swallows and 75 House Martins, all moving up channel.Grounded migrants were limited to 34 Chiffchaff, 7 Blackcap and 3 Stonechat.Brendan, Nigel

  • 13th October 2021
    by Brendan Ryan on October 13, 2021 at 8:30 pm

     Light NW sunny Very cold early morning with slight frost. A rather uneventful day with a little overhead movement of finches including four Bramblings, eight Siskins and two Redpolls. Finch of the day was however two Greenfinches in the Paddock.  Redwings which were being reported in large numbers elsewhere during the morning were conspicuously absent with just a single bird, although 11 Song Thrushes and one Mistle Thrush was recorded. Other migrants included 26 Chiffchaffs, four Blackcaps, a Firecrest and seven Stonechats. BrendanReed BuntingMeadow Pipit Buzzard and friend 

  • 11th October 2021
    by Jack Chantler on October 11, 2021 at 6:36 pm

     NW cold breeze easing slightly during the morning.There was a small movement NE of six Swallows, 30 Alba Wagtails, 34 Meadow Pipits, two Redpolls, 46 Chaffinches, 173 Goldfinches, two Bramblings, seven Siskins and a Reed Bunting.Grounded migrants included a Redstart, three Stonechats, five Blackcaps, 33 Chiffchaffs and a Firecrest.In the fields were six Ravens, a Rook (rare for us), 50 Carrion Crows and 65 Skylarks whilst overhead three Kestrels, four Buzzards and a Peregrine annoyed them all.Nigel. Jack.

  • 10th October 2021
    by Brendan Ryan on October 10, 2021 at 6:18 pm

    Thick fog early morning produced a Bluethroat and Redstart on the clifftop. Sadly the bluethroat quickly disappeared before other observers could arrive to enjoy only our third record of the species. Other birds seen once the fog lifted included four Stonechats, one Wheatear, 37 Chiffchaffs, nine Blackcaps and two Firecrests, Jack, Nigel, Brendan, Richard, Simon, John CanteloRedstart (NJ)

  • 9th October 2021
    by Jack Chantler on October 9, 2021 at 3:07 pm

     A very calm day with little overhead movement apart from 124 Starlings, 14 alba and three Grey Wagtails, 60 Skylarks, six Siskins, nine Reed Buntings and a Ring-necked Parakeet.Thrushes have built up and have become more noticeable with 16 Blackbirds, 15 Song Thrushes, five Mistle Thrushes and three Redwings. There has also been an increase of 22 Jays, 28 Magpies, 21 Robins and nine Dunnocks.Other grounded migrants included one Whinchat, four Stonechats, one Wheatear,  24 Blackcaps, 59 Chiffchaffs, eight Firecrests and two Brambling.Brendan, Nigel, Richard, Jack.

  • 8th October 2021
    by Brendan Ryan on October 9, 2021 at 5:30 am

    Highlights today included a Yellow-browed Warbler at the Gun Emplacement,  a significant movements of  65 Jays and an influx of at least 140 Skylarks. There was a small arrival of thrushes at dawn including five Redwings and four Song Thrushes. Also seen today one Wheatear, six Stonechats, two Firecrests. There was a steady overhead passage throughout the morning including 200 Meadow Pipits, 4 Rock Pipits 18 alba Wagtails, 120 Starlings, 40 Swallows, 10 House Martins and a late Sand Martin. A confiding Wheatear at the Gun Emplacement (BR)

  • 7th October 2021
    by Brendan Ryan on October 7, 2021 at 7:46 pm

     Light SW increasing slightly during the morning. Overcast with heavy drizzle around midday.The 7th Oct is the best day at Bockhill for Yellow-browed Warblers, so inevitably two were found in the Paddock shortly after dawn. One was seen around mid-morning at McSwiggan and is presumed to have been one of the same.  Other than that there were few grounded migrants although Chiffchaffs reached 57 and Blackcaps 13. There was a reasonable overhead movement with the first Bramblings of the autumn (4),  two Siskins five Mistle Thrushes, 160 Swallows and 35 House Martins.  Meadow Pipits were moving throughout the day with 260 recorded but this is likely to be a gross under-estimate as small groups were still heading south late afternoon. Other birds of note included two stonechats, two Golden Plovers, a Hobby, four Brent Geese and one Bonxie. Brendan and Barry Wright Yellow-browed Warbler- Paddock (BR)

  • Yellow-browed and Pallas's Warblers in October
    by Brendan Ryan on October 5, 2021 at 7:40 pm

     Based on records since we first watched the site in 1994, the table below shows new arrivals of Yellow-browed and Pallas's Warblers at Bockhill during October. The 7th & 8th clearly are the dates to find a Yellow-browed while the 23rd is the best bet for Pallas's. However 2021 is looking like an exceptionally poor year for Yellow-browed Warblers in southern Britain. As ever at Bockhill we remain unrealistically optimistic. 

  • 4th October 2021
    by Jack Chantler on October 4, 2021 at 2:43 pm

    A walk around the Paddock and Farm in a strong S wind before getting soaked and giving up, produced 18 Chiffchaffs and a flock of 75 Goldfinches being chased by two young Kestrels.Jack 

  • 3rd October 2021
    by Brendan Ryan on October 3, 2021 at 7:53 pm

     In contrast to yesterday, today dawned with no wind and heavy overcast skies. So a bit of bush bashing and field walking was the order of the day. Chiffchaffs (42) and Blackcaps (28) were the only warblers seen but a Firecrest at the Monument was new in as was probably a Song Thrush in the Paddock.  The best area was the big field which hosted eight Wheatears and good numbers of Skylarks, alba Wagtails and Meadow Pipits. Also along the Clifftop there were six Stonechats. There seemed to be a small arrival of Dunnocks with over 20 being recorded. At least 18 Jays were seen including an group of 15 at Hope Point. A small group of 20 Swallows and a similar number of House Martins seemed to be feeding over the area most of the morning. There was no overhead movement until the wind picked up mid morning and a few Meadow Pipits started to move south along with a single Yellow Wagtail and Reed Bunting. An enjoyable mornings birding but we would hope for more in early October. Nigel, Brendan & John CanteloOne of eight Wheatears in the Big field (BR)Kestrel Droveway (BR)

  • 2nd October 2021
    by Brendan Ryan on October 2, 2021 at 8:09 pm

     Strong SSW winds, Overcast occasional rain.Three strategies played out today. Nigel and Brendan opted for a morning sea watching in the Bay, while Richard persevered "up top" walking from Kingsdown to the Monument. The third strategy was to stay home, an option that some regulars wisely took.  There was constant action at sea throughout the morning, mostly Gannets (960) and Mediterranean Gulls (84) but it meant that there was an incentive to hang on in there and as a result produced eight Balearic Shearwaters, six Arctic Skuas, five Bonxies, 28 Sandwich Terns, single Arctic and Common Terns, four Red-throated Divers, and seven Common Scoters. In the meantime Richard get very wet and managed three Wheatears, two Yellow and one Grey wagtails, 450 Meadow Pipits and 40 ChiffchaffsBrendan, Nigel and Richard 

  • 30th September 2021
    by Brendan Ryan on September 30, 2021 at 9:16 pm

     Light SW overcast with rain shower mid morning. Wind strengthening by late morning.Meadow Pipit was the species of the day with a steady southerly passage for most on the morning with around 1,420 being recorded. However not much else was moving overhead apart from nine alba Wagtails, one Grey Wagtail,  one Reed Bunting, 170 Swallows and 40 House Martins. 47 Chiffchaffs were noted including around 20 at Hope Point. Other warblers included five Blackcaps and a single Lesser Whitethroat. A Grey Plover was probably the most unusual sighting in Bockhill  terms.A short hour long sea-watch from the bay between 12 and 1.00 produced 2 Sooty Shearwaters, seven Sandwich Terns, 35 Brent Geese, three red-throated Divers single Arctic Skua, razorbill and Guillemot and 33 Med gulls.BrendanRecord shots of Arctic Skua going down channel (BR)

  • 28th September 2021
    by Brendan Ryan on September 28, 2021 at 2:15 pm

     Another blustery day with strong southerly winds and the occasional shower.Again coverage of the area was limited, (Paddock, Freedown and Farm Wood) producing 26 Chiffchaffs, three Blackcaps and not a lot else. Overhead meadow Pipits were again on the move with at least 140 and there was a steady trickle of Swallows along with a couple of House Martins and a single Sand Martin. An hours sea watching late morning produced six Balearic Shearwaters, one Sooty Shearwater, a Bonxie, 34 Med Gulls, two Red-throated Divers, two Shags, two Common Scoter  and 40 GannetsBrendanChiffchaff numbers have declined over the last couple of days (BR)

  • 27th September 2021
    by Brendan Ryan on September 28, 2021 at 2:08 pm

     Heavy rain and strong Southerly winds limited birding in the morning. Clearing in the afternoonWith only limited coverage of the area it was difficult to drawn any conclusions about warbler numbers although there seemed to be a general decline.The sea which has been very quiet all autumn had plenty of birds, mainly Gannets and Kittiwakes. A short sea watch late afternoon produced a single Balearic Shearwater, 220 Kittiwakes, a Shag, 55 Med Gulls, four Common Terns and eight Sanderlings.Brendan & Nigel 

  • 26th September 2021
    by Jack Chantler on September 26, 2021 at 11:50 am

    Sunny with strong SSW breeze becoming overcast by 09:30.As usual migrants were mainly in the Paddock and around the Oldstairs to Hope Point area where warblers again predominated, We had seven Blackcaps, three Lesser Whitethroats, three Whitethroats and 103 Chiffchaffs.  Other grounded birds included a Spotted Flycatcher, a Wheatear, and to proove that autmn birding had really arrived, 12 Stonechats and two Reed Buntings. Overhead moving SW were 11 Alba, one Grey and one yellow Wagtail, 57 Meadow Pipits, six Skylarks and a steady movement of hirundines that included four Sand Martins, 65 Swallows and 358 House Martins.Brendan, Nigel, Richard, Jack(NJ)

  • 25th September
    by Brendan Ryan on September 25, 2021 at 6:48 pm

     Light SSW strengthening during the morning. Fog first thing.Not too much change to report with lots of Chiffchaffs (130), one Willow Warbler, three Whitethroats, three Lesser Whitethroats, 18 Blackcaps, five Stonechats and one Spotted Flycatcher.Overhead there was a steady trickle of Meadow Pipits throughout the morning (140) plus 73 Swallows, six House Martins and a Sand Martin.Undeterred we will no doubt try again tomorrow.Jack, Nigel and BrendanSpotted Flycatcher - Paddock (BR)

  • 24th September 2021
    by Jack Chantler on September 25, 2021 at 12:39 pm

     SW brisk breeze.As usual most grounded birds were warblers and found in the Paddock although a small number are now being seen in and around the Farm. The totals were 11 Blackcaps, one Whitethroat and 71 Chiffchaffs. Other notable species included two Spotted Flycatchers, two Stonechats and two Great Spotted Woodpeckers/Feeding overhead were probably  c.1000 hirundines of which 700 were Swallows and the rest House Martins. Jack

  • 22nd September 2021
    by Brendan Ryan on September 22, 2021 at 8:43 pm

     Light WSW, clear and sunnyChiffchaffs again dominated today's proceedings with at least 187 recorded again mostly in the Paddock. The other main feature of the day was a heavy northerly movement of House Martins. A rough estimate was of around 4,500 birds although in the light of counts from Sandwich Bay this is almost certainly a gross under estimate.Other birds of note today included two Spotted Flycatchers, one Willow Warbler, 62 Blackcaps, Three Whitethroats, five Lesser Whitethroats, five Stonechats, one Wheatear, two Yellow Wagtails, two Grey Wagtails and four Reed BuntingsBrendanChiffchaffChiffchaffWillow Warbler

  • 21st September 2021
    by Brendan Ryan on September 21, 2021 at 11:57 am

     A light westerly wind becoming NW during the morning. Clear, sunny and warm.A fairly busy sky this morning with around 2,650 Swallows moving NW up the coast and a steady stream of Meadow Pipits (240) coming in and moving NW.  Also overhead seven Skylarks in off, two Reed Buntings, three Tree pipits, three Yellow Wagtails and four Grey Wagtails.Good numbers of warblers on the deck including 92 Chiffchaffs, one Willow Warbler, 39 Blackcaps, one Whitethroat, 10 Lesser Whitethroats. Again the Paddock was the warbler hot spot but there were 25 Chiffchaffs in the Farm Wood, another sign of and advancing autumn. Other birds of note included a Spotted Flycatcher on the Leas, four Stonechats and a single Goldcrest. BrendanSpotted Flycatcher - LeasChiffchaff- Paddock 

  • 20th September 2021
    by Jack Chantler on September 20, 2021 at 6:27 pm

    A wander around the Paddock and Farm this afternoon produced very little apart from two Whitethroats, a Blackcap and 11 Chiffchaffs. Birds were outnumbered by Red Admiral and Peacock Butterflies.Jack 

  • 19th September 2021
    by Jack Chantler on September 19, 2021 at 6:31 pm

     Very calm today, even the flag on the old Coastguard lookout post was not moving.Today grounded birds included a Spotted Flycatcher, a Stonechat and, as usual with warblers predominating, 19 Blackcaps, three Lesser Whitethroats, six Whitethroats and 44 Chiffchaffs.Other birds of note were a flock of 28 Great Black-Backed Gulls flying upchannel, three Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a Swift and two Ravens being bullied by the local Jackdaws.Many Peacock Butterflies and a Clouded Yellow in the Paddock.John, Nigel, Richard, Simon, Jack.

  • 18th September 2021
    by Brendan Ryan on September 19, 2021 at 5:42 pm

    With seven of us out it was disappointing that there were very few birds today, warblers were again mainly in the Paddock with seven Blackcaps, one Lesser Whitethroat, three Whitethroats, two Willow Warblers and 35 Chiffchaffs. Grounded elsewhere there were two Stonechats and a Wheatear. Overhead moving SW were 40 Meadow Pipits and singles of Grey and Yellow Wagtails.Brendan, Gerald, Julian, Nigel, Phil, Steve, Jack. 

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