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.

  • 13th August 2018
    by Jack Chantler on August 13, 2018 at 6:47 pm

    Phil and I walked the area today and had a reasonable count of migrants with seven Reed Warblers, two Blackcaps, 21 Whitethroats, eight Lesser Whitethroats, nine Willow Warblers, a Chiffchaff and a Whinchat. Overhead, moving W, were 186 Swifts, 40 Swallows and a Sand Martin. Other notable birds were singles of Green  and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, two Ravens, eight Bullfinches and 10 Yellowhammers. […]

  • 10th August 2018
    by Brendan Ryan on August 10, 2018 at 12:10 pm

    A Wheatear was around the monument when we arrived today raising hopes of an arrival. However it was all downhill from there with a selection of birds similar to yesterday including 26 Whitethroats, five Lesser Whitethroats, four Willow Warblers and single Reed Warbler and Whinchat. 13 Swifts past south and a flock of around 40 House Sparrows in Amy's Field was the largest gathering that any of us could recall for a number of years. Jack, John Cantelo and Brendan. […]

  • 9th August 2018
    by Brendan Ryan on August 9, 2018 at 11:15 am

    My first visit of the autumn to Bockhill produced 34 Whitethroats, 18 Lesser Whitethroats, three Blackcaps, eight Willow Warblers and single Reed Warbler and Whinchat. […]

  • 8th August 2018
    by Jack Chantler on August 8, 2018 at 6:53 pm

    Around the area Richard and I had quite a good number of warblers today. We recorded 45 Common Whitethroats, 23 Lesser Whitethroats, a Reed Warbler and eight Willow Warblers. In addition to these we had six Grey Partridges, a Turtle Dove, three Whinchats and three Wheatears.Seawatching, however, was pitiful with only two Little Egrets, a Whimbrel, 11 Mediterranean Gulls (all of them juveniles) and a Kittiwake moving down channel. […]

  • 4th August 2018
    by Richard Heading on August 4, 2018 at 4:29 pm

    It was a beautiful sunrise this morning looking out over The Channel towards France. Unfortunately I didn’t manage very much at all, just the usual breeding families of Sylvia Warblers in Kingsdown. Jack, however, had a Spotted Flycatcher, five Willow Warblers, 13 Whitethroats, three Blackcaps and at least 15 Long-tailed Tits at The Gun Emplacement. […]

  • 3rd August 2018
    by Richard Heading on August 3, 2018 at 7:52 pm

    Jack covered Bockhill this morning and had three Pied Flycatchers, eight Whitethroats, three Willow Warblers and a Blackcap. He also counted 84 Herring Gulls on the ground in The Paddock. This is almost certainly the highest count of Herring Gulls on the ground in The Paddock on 3rd August 2018!In Kingsdown there was a Reed Warbler feeding in my garden first thing this morning. Later in the day two Pied Flycatchers were in and around the garden, with a Willow Warbler, a Lesser Whitethroat and 200 Swifts over late afternoon. Three Humming-bird Hawk-Moths were feeding on Buddleia this evening.Yesterday 200+ Mediterranean Gulls flew S over Telegraph Hill in Deal. […]

  • 30 July 2018
    by Jack Chantler on July 31, 2018 at 8:04 am

    From 08:00 - 10:00 a seawatch in the Bay produced 194 Gannets down channel, two Whimbrel, four Mediterranean Gulls and 15 Swifts. After being joined by Phil we walked around the area but had no migrants apart from one Reed Warbler. […]

  • 29th July 2018
    by Jack Chantler on July 29, 2018 at 12:22 pm

    Nigel and I did a seawatch from 09:45 - 11:00 this morning and had 134 Gannets and a Balearic Shearwater moving down channel, other than that there were very few birds apart from four Mediterranean Gulls on the rocks and a Shag fishing close into the beach. […]

  • 28th July 2018
    by Richard Heading on July 28, 2018 at 2:06 pm

    Early morning conditions were very different to most days in the last few weeks. Much breezier from the SW and significantly cooler. Five Willow Warblers, four Lesser Whitethroats and eight Whitethroats across the golf course. Little else was across the area and the wind was increasing so Phil, Jack and I descended to St. Margaret’s Bay.Two of the first birds we saw at 09.50 were Balearic Shearwaters which moved extremely rapidly up channel. Over the next three hours we had seven Common Scoters and a Whimbrel down channel, 19 Mediterranean Gulls, including a colour ringed individual, two Gadwall and two Shags. Overhead and out to sea Swifts were moving. We were up to 1 404 by the time we left. As I sit and write this now at 1500, they are still going in small numbers. A Common Seal and a Grey Seal were also present in The Bay.This colour ringed juvenile Mediterranean Gull is from a Belgian ringing scheme. The bird was ringed in Antwerp on 9th June and seen at Thames Barrier Park on 16th July (Richard Heading) […]

  • 25th July 2018
    by Richard Heading on July 27, 2018 at 8:13 am

    Willow Warblers are starting to come through in small numbers now. 15 were at the bottom of Queensdown Road throughout the afternoon and a Garden Warbler was also present. On the Golf Course a Turtle Dove was singing early in the morning and a Hobby flew over. […]

  • 19th July 2018
    by Richard Heading on July 19, 2018 at 8:39 am

    The early morning mist was hanging in the dip between Kingsdown and St Margaret’s this morning. This week has seen the first signs of autumn migration. A pair of Turtle Doves were near The Rough for a couple of days but appear to have departed now. A Cuckoo was on the golf course along Granville Road and a few Willow Warblers have been in the area. Hopefully we will have another post in less than a month’s time! […]

  • 20th June 2018
    by Richard Heading on June 21, 2018 at 9:48 am

    Jack, Jay and I took the 'Gary Ann' out of Deal along the coast to Dover Harbour to survey breeding seabirds on the cliffs today. It provided a very different view of the area and was probably most notable for the alarming lack of breeding birds! The paucity of species appears to follow a nationwide declining trend. What was quite apparent though was the scarcity of potential nest sites with much of the cliff face being sheer with hardly any suitable ledges. The amount of cliff falls that have occurred being very noticeable.That apart, I though my experience of working in The English Channel for many years would stand me in good stead for the rather bumpy ride, but studying the cliffs whilst bobbing up and down quickly became a rather unpleasant experience for both Jack and I. Thank goodness Jay was least affected and continued to keep watching for us!Anyway the numbers were derisory with only Fulmar and Herring Gull noted as breeding. We did have two Shags, a handful of Gannets and a Grey Seal along the way. […]

  • 14th June 2018
    by Richard Heading on June 21, 2018 at 9:35 am

    A Honey-buzzard flew over the top of the High Street in Kingsdown this afternoon, mobbed by Jackdaws. […]

  • 25th May 2018
    by Richard Heading on May 26, 2018 at 7:30 am

    John Cantelo and Brendan started at Oldstairs where there was no sign of last night's Red-rumped Swallows and walked to Bockhill Farm Wood and back. It was predictably quiet with the highlights being, three Grey Partridge, two Swifts, 9 House Martins and 11 Swallows. […]

  • 24th May 2018
    by Richard Heading on May 26, 2018 at 7:28 am

    A Hobby flew past the house around 16.00, then about half an hour later a flock of hirundines started feedingover the area between Northcote Road and Oldstairs Road. Given the paucity of House Martins this Spring it was remarkable enough that they comprised of approximately 40 of this species, but then a Red-rumped Swallow came into view. As other birders arrived to enjoy it, one became two and they stayed in the area until 20.45 when the flock headed off towards Deal. I know it's not a really rare bird, but we don't often have things that stick around and are twitchable!In the evening, Nigel and Gerald managed to see an adult Long-tailed Skua which was tracked off the Kent coast from Dungeness eastwards.Red-rumped Swallow (Gerald Segelbacher) […]

  • 21st May 2018
    by Brendan Ryan on May 21, 2018 at 9:24 pm

    Not only is this an exceptionally poor Spring, but it is getting late for large numbers of migrants and the wind has been consistently from the North for several days. So I was not overly optimistic when I set out this morning. However a Spotted Flycatcher in the Paddock closely followed by five fly over Crossbills was encouraging. There was little else to get excited about as I walked the clifftop to Little Green apart from 11 Swallows heading North. Returning past Hope Point I picked up a singing Marsh Warbler, which only gave three brief glimpses in the two hours I spent with it. No photos sadly but I managed a couple of sound recordings on my phone. Other birds noted two House Martins at Hope Point, 14 Whitethroats holding territory, four singing Chiffchaffs, two Lesser Whitethroats […]

  • 16th May 2018
    by Brendan Ryan on May 16, 2018 at 7:17 pm

    A brisk northerly wind didn't offer much hope but inspired by the arrival of new rarities in the north, I mistakenly thought it was worth a visit to Bockhill. An early morning sea watch produced a single dark phase Arctic Skua but nothing else. "Up top" produced nine Whitethroats, four Chiffchaffs, and three Blackcaps, all presumably local breeding birds. Highlight was a Turtle Dove which flew North past the empty wood and a grant total of seven Swallows going North. Returning to the sea with Chris Cox, produced two Common Scoters, 17 Sandwich Terns, a Whimbel and three Sanderling […]

  • 6th May 2018
    by Nigel J on May 6, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    Well, it's been a bit disappointing to be honest for May. 1 Hobby & 1 Yellow Wagtail were today's highlights, although our first Green Hairstreak and Small Copper were welcome distractions. Some of the Early Spider Orchids are still going strong. Jack & Nigel (photos) […]

  • 29th April 2018
    by Nigel J on April 29, 2018 at 2:41 pm

    An early morning seawatch from 0540-0800 was somewhat disappointing with 328 Sandwich Terns, 24 Common Terns, 20 Arctic Terns, 1 Black Tern, 10 Shag, 5 Red-th Divers, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Whimbrel, 2 Com Scoter and a pale phase Arctic Skua all heading up channel. With a natural lull in proceedings, we headed up top, where there were also very few birds; namely 4 Chiffs, 4 Willow Warblers, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 6 Whitethroats and a Swallow. The day was salvaged however by this male Pied Flycatcher in the Farm Wood (a very rare bird in the spring here). With rain arriving, we decided to head back to the sea, where we saw a further 47 Com Scoter, 45 Bar-tailed Godwits and 4 Whimbrel. Brendan, Gerald, Nigel (photos). […]

  • 28th April 2018
    by Jack Chantler on April 28, 2018 at 6:47 pm

    We met at the Monument about 7:30 with the weather cold, quite misty and becoming increasingly horrible. However although we didn't see lots of birds what we saw was quite good.We had 9 Whitethroats, 6 Lesser Whitethroats, a Chiffchaff and 3 Willow Warblers, nearly all of which were singing. Overhead were a steady trickle of Swallows, 50 Linnets and 3 Siskins all moving SW, also had 3 Hobbys in off the sea. In one of the gardens at Hope Point were the first Early Spider Orchids and as we started back up the hill we had 2 White Wagtails on the path. Overhead the first 'big gathering' of 80 plus House Martins and 10 Swifts moved N. At sea was a Great Skua, an Arctic Skua and 14 Sandwich Terns moving NE. Standing at the Monument we had  several Common Carder Bees and to finish the morning a Manx Shearwater moved SW down Channel. Nigel (photos), Phil, Simon, Jack. […]

  • 27th April 2018
    by Richard Heading on April 27, 2018 at 8:27 pm

    It’s the end of April, winds were a light SE, there was excellent visibility for a morning in St. Margaret’s Bay, surely all the pieces were fitting together for our first Pomarine Skua passage of the year. Clearly not whilst I was watching! I spent three and a half hours from mid morning and had a steady movement of the following all up channel: Six Red-throated Divers, seven Razorbills, four Guillemots, two Shelducks, a Common Tern, 112 Sandwich Terns, 234 Common Scoters, 68 Gannets, two Whimbrel, a Black Tern, two Great Skuas and a Brent Goose. Two ‘Greenland’ Wheatears were also present, one of them joining me on the seawatch platform for a while.‘Greenland’ Wheatear (Richard Heading) […]

  • 22nd April 2018
    by Richard Heading on April 22, 2018 at 6:51 pm

    Gerald, Nigel, Phil, Jack and I were out this morning but it was a couple of visiting birders that found a Wryneck in the Paddock. This is an almost exclusively autumnal bird for us and rounds off a pretty good week. Needless to say we couldn't relocate it, a bit of a theme here!Also recorded were a Red Kite, 25 Swallows, a House Martin, seven Yellow Wagtails, a Blue-headed Wagtail, two White Wagtails, a 'Greenland' Wheatear, a Siskin, 46 Linnets and 42 Chaffinches, the finches flying SW into the breeze.On the sea we didn't manage to have any of the skuas seen past Dungeness, the light was pretty terrible, but we did see nine Mute Swans (scarce here), two Whimbrels, nine Shelducks and four Brent Geese all moving NE.Blue-headed Wagtail (Richard Heading) […]

  • 21st April 2017
    by Richard Heading on April 21, 2018 at 8:55 pm

    Highlight of the day was a male Serin seen by Tony Swandale, John Cantelo and Jack around the Monument at 08.10 which eventually flew off NE. Other highlights were a Ring Ouzel in the Freedown and 17 Red Kites which were around the area from 09.35 before eventually heading off NE.We also recorded a Firecrest, 24 Swallows, a Sand Martin, 11 Blackcaps, 14 Lesser Whitethroats, 12 Whitethroats, a Willow Warbler, eight Chiffchaffs, two Red-legged Partridges, two Grey Partridges, seven Bullfinches and at sea a Whimbrel, two Red-throated Divers and a Great Skua all up channel. […]

  • 20th April 2018
    by Richard Heading on April 20, 2018 at 10:16 pm

    I was about 15 minutes late for the dog walk this morning. Not only that but I got talking to the next door neighbour whilst still on the driveway when a Hoopoe flew past. All the family, possibly even the dog, managed to see it but it didn't stop. Despite looking in all the horse paddocks along Oldstairs Road and over the golf course, it was not relocated. Coupled with Jack's Great Spotted Cuckoo and the weather it has a very Mediterranean feel this week! From memory I think that's the fourth record for the area.There was a Firecrest singing along Granville Road by the golf course, 2 Red Kites were over St. Margaret's village, 12 Lesser Whitethroats and 11 Whitethroats along Kingsdown Leas and the golf course.In the afternoon Paul Holt had a stunning Whinchat, three Lesser Whitethroats and three Wheatears at Bockhill. […]

  • 19th April 2018
    by Jack Chantler on April 19, 2018 at 1:50 pm

    Richard and I walked the area this morning and had 13 Buzzards and a Red Kite in the air together moving W. Elsewhere there were 3 Swallows, a Tree Pipit, a Wheatear, 4 Whitethroats, 5 Lesser Whitethroats, 6 Blackcaps and a Chiffchaff. […]

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