Sunday, 27 April 2014

What's your flava?

Spent some time this morning watching this Yellow Wagtail on Down Level.  As with all subspecies, types, forms, it is difficult to be absolutely certain as to the genetic make up of individual birds however this individual was very striking in the field with a pale blue grey cast to the head and ear coverts and a white supercilium and chin. It seems to exhibit some flava characteristics, however could just as easily be flavissima or an intergrade - any comments welcome.

Apart from the wagtail pretty much bulk standard really with Teal, Gadwall, Little Egrets, Swallows, Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat, Stockies, etc all on show.
Yesterdays highlight was my first Swift of the year over White Dyke along with a female Peregrine on a kill on Horse-eye. On the wader front things were really abysmal with only a single Greenshank alongside the resident Lapwing and Redshank. A fragment of Lapwing egg shell was seen on Down Level though I am yet to see any young Lapwing.

Finally for anyone visiting there is a herd of Balwen Welsh Mountain Sheep at the Hailsham end of Down Level - These are quite striking and easy to pick out as the picture below illustrates!

Friday, 25 April 2014

Gloom and Greenshank

A flock of 10 Greenshank amidst the gloom and then rain on Down this afternoon.  Also 30 Swallow, 2 Sand Martin, 3 pairs of Yellow Wagtail, Cuckoo, Teal, 4 Gadwall et al.
Overnight mothing extremely disappointing with only a single Red Twin-spot Carpet trapped and that bolted for it as soon as I opened the trap!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Keep 'em coming

New moths for the year galore last night with Flame Shoulder, Shuttle-shaped Dart, Streamer, and Yellow-barred Brindle all putting in there first appearance of the year. The last named nearly always foxes me when I trap it for the first time in a year as it is not yellow when freshly emerged - Perhaps I am finally getting the hang of moths! Also 2 Brindled Pug and a single Light-brown Apple Moth in the trap this morning.

Out on the levels today 3 Garganey (2 stunning drakes and a duck) and 2 Greenshank were seen.

Monday, 21 April 2014

D is for...

Dipper, but not on the levels unfortunately!  Easter Sunday was spent with the family in Devon which gave me the opportunity to get out for a bit of birding in the Dart Valley with my father. Several Dipper were seen in the extremely inclement conditions including the one pictured above. These birds are always absolute stars with there buzzing nasal calls, whirring wings, bobbing and swimming, what is there not to like?  Also along the Dart were a pair of Goosander, drake Mandarin, Grey Wagtail, and numerous singing Blackcap and Chiffchaff.  A brief visit to Topsham later in the day was largely uneventful, highlights comprised a mixed flock of 100 or so hirundines split evenly between Swallow & Sand Martin with a single House Martin thrown in for good measure, 2 Greenshank, Wigeon, Shoveler, & Cetti's warbler.
Back on the levels this morning and spring felt like it was in full swing.  Garganey, 6 Gadwall, Shoveler, 2 Raven, Yellow Wagtails, Reed & Sedge Warblers, Whitethroat, Stonechat, Little Owl, Redshank, all in their expected places.  On the mammal front a single Brown Hare was seen lolloping across Down Level.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

and about time too

Garganey are one of those birds that I always look forward to seeing in the spring and never tire of, even when they go into eclipse, so they are always eagerly anticipated through the dark days of winter and enjoyed when they finally arrive.  The pair seen today were later than usual by way of my first for the year - no pics though (just in case) because they are a schedule 1 species! Elsewhere much the same as yesterday with the first brood of ducklings comprising 6 Mallard on Down Level where yesterdays Greenshank was also still present.  

Friday, 18 April 2014

I'm just mad about Saffron...

... Yellow Wagtails that is.  Plenty of these vibrant stunners about this morning with several pairs scattered across Down, Horse-eye, and White Dyke.  In fact spring migrants were in much evidence with at least half a dozen singing Sedge Warbler, singing Reed Warbler, Whitethroat, Swallows, all around Down this morning.  On the wader front my first Greenshank of the year was on Down along with more standard fare comprising 2 Buzzard, 9 Gadwall, and a single drake Shoveler all on Down Level.
Further south on the levels a quick look at Rickney produced the resident Mistle Thrush and a singing Lesser Whitethroat before a walk across Hankham Level where another singing Lesser Whitethroat was heard.  Lots of Common Water Crowfoot in flower at Hankham  as well - a sure sign spring is well under way.
On the moth front it has been a very quiet week due to the low overnight temperatures with the best total last nights paltry 5 moths of 4 species, still at least there were 2 new moths for the year in the form of singles of Chinese Character (pictured) and Brimstone alongside the more expected 2 Hebrew Character and single Brindled Pug.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Bits and bobs

Down and Horse-eye this morning produced a few year ticks the best of which were the Cuckoo calling on Horse-eye and the male Yellow Wagtail on down.  Also 3 singing Sedge Warbler scattered around between Down and Lookers', 2 Ruff over Down, and 2 Swallow at White Dyke. Usual suspects included 7 Gadwall, 6 Teal, 2 Redshank, 3 Little Egret, singing Cettis, Blackcaps, and Chiffchaffs, 3 pairs of Bullfinch, and the Little Owls doing what Little Owls do.
Since my last posting I have seen a few bits and bobs including Golden Plover and Grey Wagtail on Down on the 6th when I also had my first Swallow of the year scoot through the garden.  A Herald moth was seen at work in St Leonards on the 7th, my first Orange Tips were seen in St Leonards on the 9th, my first Whitethroat of the year was singing in its usual place (the scrub behind my office window in St Leonards) on the 11th, and my first Willow Warbler of the year was singing near Birling Gap during an early morning walk on the 12th.
Moth trapping has been very quiet during the week with the overnight temperatures falling away under clear(ish) skies with a bright moon - last night producing just singles of Early Grey and Common Quaker.
Finally a thought.  Just because you know something is right in your head doesn't mean it is right in your heart.  Keep faith.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

From one extreme...

It has been a week of contrasts on the birding front.  The levels have been slow on the migrant front but it was good to finally get a "proper" spring migrant in the form of a male Wheatear on Down Level this morning.  Also on Down & Horse-eye this morning were 13 Wigeon, 11 Gadwall, a drake Shoveler, and 4 Dunlin, along with the resident Shelduck, Raven, Buzzard, and Redshank.

On the moth front things are slowly picking up with some new species for the year over the course of the week.  Best of these was the Oak Beauty (pictured above) which was in the trap this morning along with another Clouded Drab, Small Quaker, Hebrew Character (3), & Common Quaker (3).  Earlier in the week the Brindled Pug and Small Quaker (also pictured) were trapped overnight on the 1st.
However my highlight of the week has to be the Fen Drayton Baikal Teal.  I don't twitch much nowadays but every now and then I get the urge to have an away day.  So earlier this week I took some time in lieu and headed for Fen Drayton to look at some quackage.  Now I am very very sceptical about ducks in general (in terms of their provenance), however this boy was so stunning that it was worth seeing even if it had leapt out of a pen!  Not that I am implying it did I hasten to add...
The Teal aside there was plenty of activity on the duck front with approximately 40 Goldeneye scattered around the reserves lakes, many of them displaying, along with numerous Teal, Wigeon, Gadwall, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Shoveler, and a single drake Scaup.  Also seen were a pair of Egyptian Geese, Avocet, Redshank, Dabchick, 2 singing Blackcap, Stock Dove, several Little Egret, and the fella pictured below - probably my favourite mammal.