Monday, 27 October 2014

RBF, Heralds a new benchmark

Hard graft all round is the motto of the month, unfortunately for me this has meant spending a lot of the past two weeks gainfully employed in a new computer system project at work with little time for birding or other natural history pursuits. Nonetheless I have managed a few hours in the field and indeed a whole day at Dungeness on the 10th just prior to the work storm.
Highlight of the period has to be the adult male Red-breasted Flycatcher at Beachy Head from the 22nd which is still present at the time of posting. Its certainly the first adult male I can remember in the county and necessitated a brief absence from the work project on the 22nd and another drop in pre-work when the clocks went back on Sunday the 26th.
Unfortunately visits to the levels have been few and far between since my sojourn for WEBS on the 12th. The afore-mentioned day at Dunge was relatively productive with the highlights comprising Cattle Egret, Glossy Ibis, and Great White Egret (although the latter is now resident here), and a supporting cast of Ring Ouzel, Ruff, Bearded Tit, and Kingfisher. Also of note at Dungeness was the Clouded Yellow pictured above. Butterflies still on the wing included Peacock and 2 Speckled Wood on my lunchtime walk in St Leonards today (27th).
On the moth front things have also reduced to a trickle, which is to be expected, however the late autumn makes up for what it lacks in quantity with the quality of the species which turn up which include some real stunners. One of my favorites is the Herald pictured left, which adorns the spine of Waring, so it was rather apt that this species should be the one which took my macro list for the garden to 187 for the year - a new PB - on the night of the 26th. Also trapped last night was Yellow-line Quaker, which stretched my PB even further. Realistically the dizzy heights of 190 are now in reach with a few species still possible and a promising forecast for tomorrow night! Other new macros for the year since last posting have been Chestnut on the night of the 22nd and Red-green Carpet on the night of the 19th. Micro's have been even fewer in number and apart from a few Light-brown Apple moths and the odd Common Plume have been limited to a Rusty Dot Pearl last night and an as yet unidentified tortrix. With the clocks going back this weekend I am anticipating finally identifying some of the by-trap that I have photographed through the summer along with some of the micro's that defeated me on first inspection. This should all help me on my pan listing quest for the garden of which more in due course... 

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Prize of the day... the literal translation of Merveille du jour, one of which was hiding within the moth trap this morning (17th) and is, in my humble opinion, the most handsome moth on the UK list.
The past week has seen the best of the late emergers with Barred Sallow (7th), Red-line Quaker (7th and 15th), Black Rustic (13th), Large Wainscot (13th), Sallow (13th), Green-brindled Crescent (13th and 15th), and Feathered Ranunculus (13th) all putting in appearrances and brightening up a pretty indifferent week weatherwise.

Birding locally at this time of year rarely hits the high notes found in the far north, east, and west. Local highlight was without doubt the 1st year Tawny Pipit which was present at Newhaven Tidemills until the 11th when I finally got round to paying a visit.
Away from the levels a Firecrest at Birling on the evening of the 10th was the best I could drum up while the 12ths WEBS count on Down Level produced two Marsh Harrier, jill Merlin, Kingfisher, 25 Snipe, 7 Wigeon, & 4 Teal.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Four-spotted Footman... ...ahead of the apocalypse?

The prolonged blocking weather pattern continues to produce temperatures into the low twenties and the glorious sunshine that was with us throughout September but all that is set to come to an end, Huzzah! Some proper autumn weather (and hopefully birds) is on the way this week with rain and low pressure forecast from the west. I guess that means the shorts will have to be put into cold storage for the winter and last nights catch of just 3 macro's suggest the moth trap will not have too much work to do either. Still there have been a few notable catches since my last posting including new for the year Spruce Carpet on the night of the 29th September, Cypress Carpet on 1st October, and Black Rustic on 4th October. These were all bested though by my first Four-spotted Footman for the garden on the night of the 2nd. The lack of spots on this individual identified it as a male and it was a pleasant surprise given that I broke with my usual rule of not running on consecutive nights due to the inclement forecasts that are imminent.
Dragons remain limited to double figures of Migrant Hawkers and Common Darter around White Dyke and the ditches on Down and Horse-eye on the very warm afternoon of the 3rd when the male Migrant Hawker pictured right was photographed. Similarly while still visible in numbers, butterfly species were restricted to Peacock, Red Admiral, and Small White on the same afternoon while further afield a couple of Clouded Yellow were seen at Birling Gap on the morning of the 5th.
The highlight of the week on the mammal front was a Grey Seal off Birling Gap on the morning of the 5th.
Birding has been quiet too, since we are not blessed to be in the northern isles and Sussex seems to miss out on the autumn treats generally having to wait until October for a few Yellow-broweds or Pallas's. However the levels remain one of the strongholds in Sussex for Tree Sparrows and there have been a few around White Dyke this week which has been a bonus as I was unable to find any evidence of breeding on the patch this year (hopefully these birds have successfully bred elsewhere). The 27th of September was the busiest day of the period with 100+ Reed Bunting, 50+ Chaffinch, 11 Snipe, 5 Stonechat, 2 Kingfisher, Whinchat, & Wheatear. The 3rd October produced  Whinchat, 4 Wheatear, Marsh Harrier, 2 Buzzard, & 20 Swallows. Elsewhere my first SEO of the autumn was at Birling on the morning of the 5th.