Trip reports

St Margaret's/Bockhill (Leader Sue Carter)

St Margaret's/Bockhill (Leader Sue Carter)
Swallow []

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Ahead of the predicted gale force winds in the wake of hurricane Ophelia, nine regulars met up at the Dover Patrol Monument at Bockhill and welcomed newcomer Chris from Folkestone.

Introductions over we set off on the circuit on a dry and balmy day with a stiffening breeze. Migration was in evidence with small parties of swallows, goldfinches, chaffinches and siskins passing overhead and as we walked around the paddock area we saw six redwings fly by. This area also produced a stonechat, green woodpecker, blackcap, robin, jay, jackdaw and linnet.

We then followed the back lane along to the Bockhill farm copse where other birders were assembled in the hope of spotting the previous day's yellow-browed warbler. Apparently, they had seen a showy firecrest but neither bird appeared for us. As compensation Steve did find and photograph an as yet unidentified moth basking in the sunshine.

We heard buzzards, crests and a great-spots calling but couldn't located them. Plenty of grain had been spilt near the farm and this was attracting lots of chaffinches. We also added wren and dunnock here.

Next, we set off across the field towards Walmer and Kingsdown golf course. In the scrubby areas, where sheep were grazing, we saw more chaffinches, a blackcap and stonechat and several colourful yellowhammers. Over the field we were serenaded by skylarks, fooled into singing on the wing by the unseasonably warm and sunny weather, or just happy to be alive!

As we headed to the cliff top near Hope Point for lunch and a sea watch, Chris heard a pair of ravens cronking and we all caught sight of a kestrel. Apart from distant gannets, the sea was very unproductive, although various large gulls flew alongside us at cliff top level eagerly eyeing our sandwiches!

As we headed back towards the Monument Steve spotted a peregrine circling above it before going into a stoop over the cliff next to the coastguards building, but with hindsight (and a report from the Bockhill Birders) it could have been a hobby chasing swallows. It was a long way off!

Another very enjoyable morning and thanks to all who took part. The bird list was 32 seen plus three heard only. Butterflies identified were red admiral, large white, tortoiseshell, peacock, small copper and speckled wood.

Sue Carter