Sunday, 30 November 2014

The return of Monsieur Richard

Top day at the rugger on Saturday, minutes applause in memory of Phil Hughes, quality game, England win, nice. Meanwhile back at the patch... Geoff has re-found the Richards' Pipit he first found on the 6th in the same field, great find! Sunday morning therefore was an early start, dawn on Horse-eye with Matt Eade for company along with a couple of early morning Shorties which soon moved off and not a lot else until I wandered off to check some of the other fields, when a shout from Matt got me running back to find monsieur Richard walking through the grass at the back of the field. We watched the bird for a few minutes before it walked out of sight and then put the news out that the bird was still present. This resulted in a minor twitch as illustrated below.
I am almost ashamed to post the heavily cropped shot of the bird on the right however have done so purely on the basis that it does portray the size of the bill and the supercilium, and no it is not a Redwing! To be honest the bird was a complete b****r all day disappearring for quite long spells and only showing at distances down to about 100 yards, although well enough through a scope. I only heard it call on a couple of occassions and I was on site all day bar an hour or so though not always by the birds field. The day got even better when Gordon Beck rocked up and mentioned that he had just seen a Dartford Warbler back down the road in the brambles by Lookers' Cottage. A quick mosy down quickly produced the harsh "chzzzzh" of a Dartford followed by it perching up on the brambles, and it later posed for the below average picture above.
Other sightings for the day comprised 8 Golden Plover, 3+ Marsh Harrier, 3+ Buzzard, 5+ SEO which as usual provided a quality performance towards the end of the day, ringtail Hen Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Raven, Kingfisher, Cettis', Water Rail, and numerous Kestrel, Fieldfare, and Redwing.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Steady as she goes

Little to report over the past week or so. Mothing has dried up this month, as expected, with warm temperatures on the 19th failing to produce any at all. I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that until such time as I invest in a Robinson trap and an MV lamp winter mothing is not worth the electricity! On the bird front the Rough-leg remains at Jevington today (28th) and was hunting non-stop while I was present early afternoon. On Horse-eye and Down a flock of 70+ Wigeon on the 21st was hopefully a harbinger of a better winter for duck than last year, and 300+ Fieldfare were stripping the hawthorns on the same day. A Black Redstart was watched at Belle Tout on the 20th. 

Friday, 14 November 2014

Raptor and Owl fest

Taking advantage of the fine weather this afternoon I dropped in at Jevington where the Rough-leg put in an exemplary performance flying overhead and hunting over the game crop. Having watched the boy disappear into the copse at the back of the fields, presumably to rest up, I headed across to Horse-eye where I met up with Geoff Gowlett. No sooner had Geoff arrived than a couple of Common Buzzard drifted across, quickly followed by a couple of cream-cap Marsh Harrier and a ring-tail Hen Harrier. Three Short-eared Owl were watched quartering, occassionally flushing Snipe and dropping into the grass, and 5-6 Kestrel were scattered across the level. A smattering of Fieldfare, heard Redwing and Water Rail, rounded off a good afternoon in the field.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Rough-legged Buzzard tops off a what if's, buts, and maybe's week

Well that was the week that was... There are times in your life when no matter how much you may wish/ want/ need to get away from work you cannot, and the past month has seen more than its fair share of those days for me such as Tuesday when Andy Grace found a Red-flanked Bluetail in Hastings 3 miles from my office and even worse Thursday when Geoff Gowlett found a Dick's Pipit on Horse-eye. Regrettably neither hung around for anyone other than Andy and Geoff but I was still champing at the bit to get out and dig around for some late autumn goodies.
Since my last posting despite the frustrations listed above there have been a few positives on the birding front. Last Saturday (1/11) I finally caught up with a Yellow-browed while walking with Sharon that had been found by Bob Edgar in Horseshoe plantation (Thanks DC!!). This showed reasonably well (eventually) though was not very vocal. The same evening my first visit to check on roosting raptors on Horse-eye turned up a single Jack Snipe as well as a (just) sub-adult male Marsh Harrier.
So to today - WEBS count day - up bright and early to squelch through the mud and sheep detritus on Down Level. Nothing startling to report but a typical selection for the time of year with 2 Marsh Harrier, including the same sub-adult male mentioned above, Kingfisher, Water Rail, 4 Gadwall, 6 Little Egret, 2 Raven, 500+ Starling, and a smattering of Fieldfare. A wander around Norman's Bay/ Cooden Beach hunting for Black Reds, Desert Wheatear, or Little Auk was unproductive with the exception of a flock of 7 Common Scoter heading dungewards. So homeward bound to fulfil family obligations by way of running the lady wife and eldest daughter into Eastbourne for some shopping. However once home it seemed that it would be a shame to trudge around the monotony of the Arndale centre on such a nice day so I suggested I take the dog and walk into Eastbourne from Birling while they shopped, which would give me the option of checking Holywell for phyllosc's.
So it transpired that just after midday I was driving through Jevington heading towards East Dean when I noticed a large raptor hovering over the game-strips to the south of the village. I see lots of Buzzards on the levels. I have seen lots of Buzzards near Jevington. The jizz of this birds hovering was screaming Rough-leg and my hands were on the steering wheel...
Fortunately at the south end of the village there is a pull in so I stopped the car, grabbed my bins (no scope - #unprepared), and ran across the road to find the bird still hunting. Quick look through bins, white tail with broad black terminal band, looking good for a juv RLB (moult usually takes place in summer of second calendar year per BWP). Bird circles, prominent carpal patches and dark belly with rest of underwing very pale. Rack brains as I am not the worlds greatest birder but I can't see any reason why this isn't a Rough-leg, but cannot remember all the features so send a few texts as 90% certain (astonishing as reception between Beachy and Polegate is dreadful) and give Ian Whitcomb and Geoff Gowlett a ring. Ian mentions the bend at the carpal joint which I had completely forgotten but is clearly visible in some of the pictures and Geoff comes out to have a look (# cheers mate). Fortunately the bird is still hunting the game strips intermittently, I reckon it caught 3 voles while I was watching it. Geoff is on it at once, gets much better pics than me, and is happy enough. Descriptions are for committees and not blogs but one of the most striking things about this bird was its size compared to Common Buzzard when one of the resident pair came in and mobbed it (# get off my turf) - much bigger and much longer winged. All in all a perfect end to the week as RLB is a self-find tick of which I don't get many these days.The birding week rounded off with another late afternoon visit to Horse-eye where Geoff's 2 SEO of this morning were seen along with a single cream cap.
On the moth and socialising front it has also been a quality week. Although I have been unable to add to my macro year list the night of the 28th October produced two new micro's, the best of which was the immigrant Palpita vitrealis pictured below.
This Mediterranean moth possesses translucent wings which are almost irridescent and was a real late autumn bonus. While on the subject of bonuses it was great to have old friends Paul and Judith Chapman visit for dinner on the evening of the 8th, not least because Paul is an expert in micro id and was able to sift through some problematic images for me and provide some very useful advice resulting in 5 new ticks!