Juvenile Robin - John Buckingham
Juvenile Robin – John Buckingham


Tuesday 30th June

A very warm, sunny day with good numbers of juvenile birds about – 24 new birds processed and 3 re-traps, most of which were young birds dispersing from natal sites. 2 Chiffchaffs, 6 Blackcaps, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 7 Blue Tits, 1 Chaffinch, 3 Robins, 3 Great Tits and 1 Dunnock.



Saturday 27th June

32 Starlings, 1 Collared Dove and 2 Jackdaws were ringed today.


Bee-eater - John Buckingham
Bee-eater – John Buckingham



If you are interested in joining us on any of our Observatory run BIRDWATCHING & WILDLIFE HOLIDAYS visit our ACTIVITIES page and look at Day trips & Holidays. You will find details of up-coming trips and a trip report with lots of photographs from our recent holiday to Bulgaria.


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Friday 26th June

Even more young birds about at the moment and all those processed today were juveniles. New birds were 1 Blackbird, 1 Wren, 1 Song Thrush, 5 Blackcaps, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Great Tit, 1 House Sparrow and 1 Whitethroat plus 4 re-traps. 

It is especially good to see lots of fledged Blackcaps. This reflects the apparent increase of this species as a summer visitor and a local breeding bird.


Blue Tit juv. - John Buckingham
Blue Tit juv. – John Buckingham

Wednesday 24th June

House Sparrow juv, - John Buckingham
House Sparrow juvenile male – John Buckingham

A very busy day with not only a reasonable mix of birds in the nets and box and crow traps but also a number of nest boxes around the estate were checked and 2 broods of House Sparrows ringed. Corvids featured well with another new Carrion Crow which must have been hanging around with the bird ringed on Saturday. This ‘dopey’ bird was re-trapped today along with a Rook! Many of the birds we are catching for the first time are juveniles not long out of the nest, some of which are re-traps of pulli recently ringed in nearby nest boxes.

New birds were 1 Blackcap, 2 Blue Tits, 1 Carrion Crow, 4 Chaffinches, 1 Dunnock, 1 Great Tit, 6 House Sparrows (5 of which were pulli), 4 Jackdaws, 1 Robin, 13 Starlings and 1 Woodpigeon. That was 35 new birds and 7 re-traps. 


Swallow - John Buckingham
Female Swallow – John Buckingham

Tuesday 23rd June

A quiet day today as we initially waited for the unexpected rain to stop and there were then lots of people around the Obs. New birds were 1 House Sparrow, 1 Chaffinch, 1 Dunnock, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Swallow and 1 Robin. 3 pulli House Sparrows and 5 pulli House Martins were ringed nearby later on.

The Swallow was an adult male and a new bird for the year. They seem to be in short supply along with a few other species this year and although some already have young hatched, others are only just starting to breed. It is worthwhile remembering, when you are next admiring their aerobatics, how far our Swallows travel to and from their breeding grounds here in the UK. Their winter destination is shown through many ring-recoveries to be Cape Province and Kwa Zulu Natal in South Africa – an enormous distance!


Saturday 20th June

Carrion Crow - John Buckingham
Carrion Crow – John Buckingham


We are ringing a bigger mix of birds by using more catching methods at the moment and also there are lots of juveniles on the move, having fledged from local nests. Many adults are starting second broods, with Blackcaps, Whitethroats and Chiffchaffs very active. There is of course very little Garden Warbler habitat around the Obs., but in West Kent where we have suitable hedges fringing the meadows, plus dense thorn scrub, nettles and open scrubby woodland, there is currently masses of song and activity, probably more than in recent years.

New birds ringed today: 3 Rooks, 1 Bullfinch, 1 Carrion Crow, 3 Starlings, 2 Chaffinches, 1 Greenfinch, 1 House Sparrow, 1 Robin, 1 Wren, 1 Great Tit and 1 Whitethroat, plus 10 re-traps. The Carrion Crow is the first to be processed since 2012 and a re-trapped Chaffinch was ringed as a probable adult in 2010. Although we use what we call ‘crow traps’, we catch very few corvids in them and Carrion Crows are especially very wary and wily birds, so it is always an achievement to catch one!


Ringed Plover nesting near The Point, photographed 1975 - John Buckingham
Female Ringed Plover nesting near The Point, photographed 1975 – John Buckingham

Wednesday 17th June

Checking nest boxes today plus a walk along the beach looking for breeding Ringed Plovers. Our walk found just one pair that were merely looking interested in a stretch of beach above the high tide line. Promising so worth a further check.

Last year only 3 nest sites were located (4 the previous year) – all failing to produce young, almost certainly due to disturbance by fast-growing and never-ending hordes of dogs, from soon after dawn till dusk, most of them out of control and infesting the entire potential breeding area of these now very rare little waders. They seem to have no chance and this year looks worse than ever.

A reasonable number of nest boxes around the Obs. and the Estate have produced young, from Blue and Great Tits, to House Sparrows, Starlings and Jackdaws. Today we expected to find empty boxes, but were delighted to ring 2 Starling pulli in a box on the Obs. and to find House sparrows with 3 young just hatched. A Robin is incubating 5 eggs in a tit-box with an enlarged entrance in the Elms and best of all  * * * * FANFARE * * * *   a female Great Tit ringed as a juvenile on 3rd July 2007 (so 8 YEARS OLD and in her eighth breeding seasonhas 2 newly hatched chicks and 4 warm eggs. This is very late, so she has probably either lost a clutch or brood and has replaced them, or better still, as an experienced bird she is on a second brood.  How many eggs has she laid during her life?

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Not much in the way of photos today, so these Little Owl pulli were ringed earlier this week elsewhere in Kent - John Buckingham
Not much in the way of photos today, so these Little Owl pulli were ringed earlier this week elsewhere in Kent – John Buckingham


Tuesday 16th June

With hardly any food in the Whitehouse feeders, a pretty quiet start but building up to a final flourish with 5 Jackdaws and 2 Collared Doves in the Obs. box traps. 42 birds in total with 27 new and 15 re-traps. New birds were: 1 Stock Dove, 2 Collared Doves, 2 Dunnocks, 3 Robins, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Blackcap, 1 Chiffchaff, 5 Jackdaws, 3 Starlings, 1 House Sparrow, 4 Chaffinches, 1 Greenfinch and 2 Goldfinches.

Some of the re-trapped House Sparrows and Collared Doves had not been colour-ringed, so these were done alongside the 3 new birds. Feeders filled up to the brim ready for the rest of the week.


Sunday 14th June

Quite a good day but with one ‘star attraction’ and a first for the Observatory – a Ring-necked Parakeet! New birds were 2 Great Tits, 1 Blue Tit, 2 Starlings, 1 Blackcap, 2 Chaffinches, 2 Robins, 5 Collared Doves, 1 Dunnock, 1 Jackdaw, 1 Magpie, 1 Goldfinch, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Ring-necked Parakeet and 1 Wren plus 11 re-traps

Ring-necked Parakeet using nest box NW Kent - John Buckingham
Ring-necked Parakeet using nest box NW Kent – John Buckingham

Ring-necked Parakeets aren’t everybody’s ‘cup of tea’. It is, of course, an Asiatic species deliberately introduced into the UK, breeding for the first time in Kent in 1969. A survey in 2012 recorded 8,600 pairs or c.30,000 individuals post breeding, and the population is almost certainly much higher in 2015 in view of their huge continuing success. At first, it was thought that they would not survive here but although they are from Asia, they breed for instance in India, as far north as the Himalayan foothills, so our climate is obviously not a problem.

Their distribution is currently recorded mostly in Greater London and the South East with a well- known cluster here in East Kent. Otherwise they have now been recorded in almost every English county and they have reached Wales and the Scottish Borders. They are found mostly in urban and suburban areas, in parks and gardens with a good food supply and plenty of nesting sites, which come in the form of natural tree holes. Here lies the major problem to our British avifauna, they nest early in the year and are first to take over these natural sites competing heavily with and to the detriment of birds such as Tawny and Little Owls, Jackdaws, Stock Doves and Woodpeckers.


Male Chaffinch - John Buckingham
Male Chaffinch – John Buckingham


Friday 12th June


At last, a chance to do some ringing after continuous strong winds this week prevented us getting nets up. A very heavy downpour ‘stopped play’ for a while today, however 23 new birds were: 11 Starlings, 3 Chaffinches, 2 Robins, 1 Blackbird, 2 Dunnocks, 1 Goldfinch, 1 Greenfinch, 1 Jackdaw and 1 Whitethroat + 15 re-traps.



Jackdaw - John Buckingham
Jackdaw – John Buckingham

Wednesday 10th June

Far too windy again to put nets up, so working hard to use other catching methods, we failed to catch any Swallows with ‘flick nets’ but ringed 5 late Great Tit pulli in an Obs. nest box and 7 Starlings, 2 Blackbirds, 1 Dunnock, 1 Jackdaw and 1 Magpie from crow traps, box traps and the Heligoland. Re-traps were a Starling and a Jackdaw.



Time to enjoy the Lizard Orchids - Becky Johnson
Time to enjoy the Lizard Orchids – Becky Johnson

Tuesday 9th June


The wind was so strong today that we were unable to get any of our planned ringing done. 11 Starlings, 2 Collared Doves and a re-trap Starling were from the crow traps.


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Nest box House Martin pulli - Becky Johnson
Nest box House Martin pulli – Becky Johnson

Sunday 7th June

Just nets up today with 10 new birds and 12 re-traps. New birds were 5 Chaffinches and 1 Robin, Great Tit, Green Woodpecker, Blackbird and Collared Dove.

Not recorded last week were 8 House Martin pulli ringed in 2 local nest boxes.



Magpie - John Buckingham
Magpie – John Buckingham

Wednesday 3rd June

A very busy day’s ringing with 55 new birds ringed and 20 re-traps. New birds were: 37 Starlings, 1 Blackcap, 1 Woodpigeon plus nest box pulli (young birds ringed in nest) – 1 Starling, 3 House Sparrows, 4 Great Tits and 8 Blue Tits. The Starlings were from a large flock feeding locally and included both juveniles and adults. House Sparrows were colour-ringed and several re-trapped Starlings had been ringed around the Obs. as pulli.

There are still active nest boxes on the estate with young birds too young to ring today but which will be ready next week, which continues to bring our nest box success with Blue and Great Tits up to what we hope will be a reasonable number this year. It could be that some pairs are replacing losses by nesting again.