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.

  • 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 Goldcrests

  • 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)

  • 23rd September
    by Brendan Ryan on September 23, 2020 at 7:01 pm

     A rain interrupted visit which produced 63 Chiffchaffs, 51 Blackcaps,  a single Whitethroat,  two Firecrest two Sparrowhawks and a Hobby. An impressive early morning movement of hirundines and Siskins including over 400 of the latter. Not much else of note seen. Weather for the next few days doesn't look promising. Chiffchaff (BR)

  • 22nd September
    by Brendan Ryan on September 22, 2020 at 7:44 pm

     A short visit today without time to carry out any systematic counts although the usual suspects were still moving overhead namely Siskins, Meadow Pipits, Swallows and House Martins. Of note were single Tree Pipits, Redstart, Stonechat and Whinchat plus a Firecrest in the Farm Wood in addition to the two local birds at Oldstairs. There had clearly been a notable arrival of Chiffchaffs with 50 around the Paddock and Farm Wood. Common Stonechat (BR)

  • 21st September
    by Brendan Ryan on September 21, 2020 at 4:16 pm

     Inspired by yesterday's injury time finds at the Kingsdown end, that's where today's birding commenced. Yesterday's Pied Flycatcher was still present but there was no sign of the Yellow-browed Warbler. Notable arrivals included Robins, up to 64 and a single Redwing, the first of the autumn. Robin (BR)Warblers remained thin on the ground with only 29 Chiffchaffs and nine Blackcaps, although the latter is undoubtedly a huge under estimate. Overhead passage was again worth while with many sizable groups of Siskins moving NW. At least 270 passed through. Meadow Pipits were also moving again with 255 recorded. 330 Swallows passed mostly going NW. Other birds of note included two Firecrests, five Stonechats, one Redpoll and two Little Egrets. Phil Smith had four Redstarts. Full totals Redwing- Ship House (BR)Firecrest- Ship House (BR)

  • 20th September
    by Brendan Ryan on September 20, 2020 at 7:42 pm

     The continuing NE winds again made it hard work again today but the day was saved late on with Gerald finding the first Yellow-browed Warbler of the autumn, along with a Pied Flycatcher in Oldstairs. Yellow-browed Warbler (GS)Prior to that the main focus of the day had been a steady overhead movement including 350 Swallows, three Sand Martins, 300 Meadow Pipits. five Grey Wagtails, three Yellow Wagtail, 150 Siskins and three Crossbills. On the ground there were 34 Chiffchafffs 16 Blackcaps, two Lesser Whitethroats, one Whitethroat, five Stonechats, two Redstarts, two Firecrests, one Goldcrest and a single Tree Sparrow. Pied Flycatcher (GS)Redstart (BR)

  • 19th September
    by Brendan Ryan on September 19, 2020 at 9:12 pm

     A brisk NE wind again made for difficult viewing conditions. Only limited coverage of the area today with little of significant note. A single Spotted Flycatcher was at the Gun Emplacement, presumably one of yesterday's birds. Three Firecrests were seen including two migrants in the Farm Wood. Other birds included 36 Chiffchaffs, 24 Blackcaps and two Stonechats. A few Siskins, Swallows and Meadow Pipits were moving north. One of several Yellowhammers at the Gun Emplacement (BR)

  • 18th September
    by Brendan Ryan on September 18, 2020 at 9:19 pm

     240 Siskins were seen to go north during the first hour of day light along with five Grey Wagtails, about 40 Meadow Pipits and 23 Swallows. However as the wind picked up all overhead movement ceased.One the ground highlights included a fine male redstart in the Paddock, a male Black Redstart at Hope Point, two Spotted Flycatchers in the Gun Emplacement and two Stonechats.The only warblers seen were 34 Chiffchaffs and six Blackcaps. Spotted Flycatcher (BR)

  • 17th September
    by Brendan Ryan on September 17, 2020 at 3:21 pm

     Most of the area was exposed to a brisk NE wind which made birding difficult. Nothing was going overhead, not even Siskins!One the ground there were still small groups of Chiffchaffs in sheltered areas but only 34 were counted, with eight Blackcpas, one Lesser Whitethroat and two Firecrest. The Rough was the most productive area as the wind eased producing single Wheatear, Whinchat and the first Pied Flycatcher of the month.Pied Flycatcher (BR)Wheatear (BR)Wheatear (BR)

  • 16th September
    by Brendan Ryan on September 16, 2020 at 12:03 pm

    Light northery wind, high cloud coverA little overhead movement with a change in wind this morning. Small groups of Meadow Pipits were passing throughout the morning ( 230 counted), plus two Grey Wagtails, one Yellow Wagtail, one alba Wagtail,eight Redpoll, three Crossbills and the inevitable and inestimably number of Siskins.grounded migrants included 52 Chiffchaffs, 51 Blackcaps, two Lesser Whitethroats, one Goldcrest and the first two Reed Buntings of the season.

  • 15th September
    by Brendan Ryan on September 16, 2020 at 11:52 am

    A hot cloudless morning with light winds was inevitably fairly quite. Overhead there were a few hirundines early morning (40 Swallows and 30 House Martins) plus eight Grey Wagtails, two alba Wagtails, a single Tree Pipit and the first Redpoll of the autumn. Siskins were still going through but not quite in the same numbers as the last few days. The heat sapped our enthusiasm so coverage wasn't that extensive with only 43 Chiffchaffs, one Willow Warbler, 15 Blackcaps and three Stonechats. Two Goldcrests and a single Mistle Thrush were signs that the autumn is progressing. Stonechat 

  • 14th September
    by Brendan Ryan on September 14, 2020 at 11:12 am

     It was already shorts and T shirt weather at sunrise this morning with clear skies and a light ESE wind. These conditions saw some viz mig early on with at least 1,200 Swallows and 900 House Martins moving out into the channel in the first hour. Other birds moving in the first couple of hours included  60 Meadow Pipits, three Tree Pipits, four Grey Wagtails, two alba Wagtails and two Yellow Wagtails. Meanwhile the audible migration continued again this morning with a steady stream of mostly unseen Siskins going north. There was little change on the deck with 94 Chiffchaffs, 47 Blackcaps, four Lesser Whitethroats, two Common Whitethroats and a single Reed Warbler. Six Stonechats and a single Whinchat were the only other birds of noteChiffchaff (BR)

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