Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Bairds' revisited

 I couldn't resist seconds of this classy and confiding yank wader so took an early evening stroll with Rich and Hazel down to the meanders.
A European Corn borer was in the Heath trap on the night of the 4th - pictured below.


Sunday, 3 September 2017

Bairds' Sandpiper

Sunday morning plans were put to one side when Al phoned to tell me Andy Whitcomb had found a juvenile Bairds' Sandpiper on the meanders at Cuckmere Haven. Within forty minutes a long overdue Sussex tick was safely UTB as the bird performed obligingly on the first meander, a real classic "weetabix on legs".
An early morning meander across the levels with Hazel produced little other than a Wheatear on Down Level although there was a lot of Raven activity with 4 birds "cronking" around including the individual pictured above. There were also 3 Hobby hawking dragons, and a smattering of Yellow Wags, but otherwise it was pretty quiet. Best of midweek were a couple of Blackwit on Down on Thursday evening. Elsewhere I put in an appearance at Staines Reservoir on Friday afternoon, not twitching but dodging the rush hour traffic having dropped Rachael in High Wycombe. I failed to see the Pec, or Curlew Sand, amongst the distant wader flocks which included numerous Greenshank, Blackwit, several Ruff, a couple of LRP, numerous Ringed Plover, many Dunlin, a couple of Common Sand, and a single Green Sand. I also had stunning views of a couple of Black-necked Grebe, one of which was still immaculate in summer plumage, and several Yellow Wags.
Moth trapping has been quietening down again with the night of the 2nd producing a single Canary-shouldered Thorn, the best moth of the week. The Common Darter pictured above was flying sorties in the garden today. Keep it real.

Monday, 28 August 2017

August bank holidays' and the Queen of Spain

Just for a change the past week has seen warm weather and a bit of activity on the bird and insect front. A walk across White Dyke with Rich on the 27th produced the sub adult male Marsh Harrier, several Hobby hawking low level dragons in the cooler morning air, and a Green Sandpiper along Swan Lane. Earlier in the week I managed to catch up with the Beachy melody on the evening of the 24th and the Cuckmere Hoopoe found by Matt on the afternoon of the 25th, both sites also held numbers of commoner migrants including Whinchats, Spot Flys', and Wheatears.
With the warmer weather there has also been a pick up in the moth trap numbers. One or two White-points have been caught on the nights of 21st, 23rd, 25th, and 26th. A Hoary Footman was a welcome find on the night of the 21st, Sharp-angled Peacock on the 23rd, and a Toadflax Brocade on the 25th. From the micro corner there were Palpita vitrealis on the nights of the 16th and 26th, as well as 2 new micros' for the garden in the shape of Clavigesta purdey (Pine leaf-mining moth) on the night of 25th and Nephopterix angustella on the night of the 26th, all micros' are pictured below.

Away from birds and moths I managed a new insect for the garden in the form of a Figwort Sawfly (pictured below) on the Brambles on the 22nd.
And so to today, the 28th, Bank holiday Monday when I would usually stay put and not venture out! However with news breaking of several Queen of Spain Fritillary at Piddinghoe I decided to brave the roads and spend a short time on a butterfly twitch. I managed to see 2 males during the short time I was on site, and thanks to Ian Barnard who looked after Hazel, I managed to get the pictures at the top and bottom of this piece. Take care and watch out for unusual haze....

Friday, 18 August 2017


For those that are not aware BP are planning to drill near the Amazon Reef - For more details look here:
Please do all you can to lobby against this potential endangerment of this unique environment.

Dog Days

The lack of sultry weather seems to be pushing moth numbers down with the trap generally being pretty quiet. The only new moth recently has been the Saltern Ear pictured above trapped on the night of the of the 27th July.
Similarly birding has been quiet with the WEBS count on the 13th being particularly so. Normans Bay has been a little busier with regular parties of up to 40 Sandwich Terns including the group above on the 12th August.
The Grey Seal pictured above has been seen regularly fishing in Normans Bay and a single Brown Hare was on Down Level on the 13th.
Finally the impressive Hornet hoverfly pictured above was in the garden on the 30th July.

Sunday, 23 July 2017


Family holidays are always a compromise and generally everyone gets a little time to themselves as well as having some joint activities and ours was no different. We took a holiday let of a converted barn a couple of miles outside Rothbury in the Northumberland National Park for a week which, whilst not long enough for me, provided plenty of good birds and a ready made excuse to return as I was unable to get across to the Farnes!
Birding was limited to an hour or two on most days so the nearest I got to any islands was this view of Coquet Island on the 19th just outside Amble. Whilst most were distant I did manage many Puffin both on the island and fishing in the channel between the mainland as well as Common, Sandwich, Arctic, and Roseate terns, Gannet, Razorbill, and Guillemot.

Our let held fishing rights for a mile on the river Coquet however it was near the town centre on the
18th that I saw the Dipper pictured above and right as well as the Grey Wagtail below. Dipper has to be one of my favourite birds with their ceaseless search for water invertebrates in fast flowing water.
A family wander around the coastline on the 20th included a brief stop at Seahouses. This enabled me to wander down to the harbour where the inevitable Eider creche clocked me before I had even wandered down the slipway. These sea duck really are quite enchanting and incredibly confiding!

The same evening I took a wander up to the top of the beacon above Simonside with Hazel and along with an unexpected Cuckoo managed to see a couple of coveys of Red Grouse, a 3 and a 7, including the bird pictured below.
Other sightings around Simonside over the week included Tawny Owl, Spotted Flycatcher, Crossbill, numerous Siskin and Redpoll, Bullfinches, Treecreeper, Coal Tit, Goldcrest, and Raven. More worryingly given the recent highly publicised failures of the Crown Prosecution Service to do their civic duty in bringing cases to court, was the almost complete absence of raptors. My only sighting of a bird of prey across the entire week was of a single Buzzard on the evening of the 18th near Simonside. In case anyone is unaware the address below will demonstrate the exact level of corruption / incompetence / disinterest that the CPS clearly places on raptor persecution.
As I mentioned earlier family holidays are a compromise so I compromised on the amount of clothes I took to enable me to fit a portable Heath trap (supplied by ALS) in my rucksack! I managed to run the trap for 3 nights and as a result picked up 4 macro ticks and 3 micro ticks. Nothing startling with probably the most desired of the macros' being the Antler moth pictured above although the Plain (?) Golden Y below was also very attractive.
In all my trapping sessions produced a total of 125 macros of 23 species and 12 micros of 12 of 12 species, the most attractive of the new micros for me being Ypsophola dentella.
A variety of other insects seen included the hoverfly Volucella pelluscens (Great Pied Hoverfly) pictured above. Mammals were limited to Brown Hare, Roe Deer, and Stoat. Take care.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Eats Bees and Breeds

It would have been rude not to take in the Bee-eaters at East Leake in Nottinghamshire on the 14th since I had tickets for the first two days of the Trent Bridge test match. As a result Amber had to endure a slightly earlier than scheduled start in order to humour me by paying a visit to the site, about twenty minutes from the ground, before play. The birds put on an exemplary display feeding on bees and other insects from their favoured perches around the quarry, often calling as they flew short sorties for prey items.
News has subsequently been released that the birds have nested and that at least 2 young are being reared, not totally surprising given that we witnessed courtship / pair bonding behaviour (pictured above) where one of the birds is offering a bumble bee to another, and the location and the length of time the birds have been present.
The cricket was very enjoyable albeit that England were hammered by a strongly motivated Proteas' side. Joe Root pictured below on the way to a cameo fifty.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

M is for Meds' and Macros'

The early part of July has continued with warm sunny weather which has, in turn, resulted in plenty of moths. Birds on the other hand remain quiet with the highlights being 5 ad Med Gulls in Normans' bay on the 9th and an Osprey over Hankham level today (11th).
So too the moths. I have been trapping regularly in the garden since 2005 and, whilst I have a period from 2007 to 2009 where I have lost the records, I cannot remember a week with 5 new macros' for the garden since those very early days. Pride of place has to go to the two Nb species, the male Festoon trapped overnight on the 6th pictured above, and the Kent Black Arches trapped overnight on the 8th pictured below.
The macro list for the UK, while larger, bears some comparison to the bird list in terms of overall numbers so to get 5 ticks in my garden in a week really is surprising! What is even more surprising is that 3 were on the night of the 8th, Large Emerald and Shaded Broad-bar the extra 2, and the other was also on the night of the 10th in the shape of a long wanted species, Blackneck.
In addition the night of the 9th July supplied a new micro, Phycitodes binaevella, pictured above. Keep it real!

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Grapholita lobarzewskii

This moderately attractive micro was trapped overnight on the 18th June. It is very rare that I am entirely comfortable with micro ids', especially when the status says anything other than common, so it was kind of Colin Pratt to confirm my suspicions.
The same night produced another 2 new micros' for the garden, Gypsonoma dealbana and Agapeta hamana, along with a new macro in the shape of the female Ghost moth pictured below. A real red letter night!
Birding has, as is typical at this time of year, dropped off a bit. The best of a motley assortment being an adult Med gull in Normans bay on the evening of the 18th and a Red Kite drifting over the garden on the afternoon of the 22nd.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Hot Hawks

The last week has been a tad on the warm side however this has resulted in some new emergences on the moth front, notably overnight on the 16th when the 8 Elephant Hawks above were in the garden traps. On the same date a new micro for the garden was trapped in the shape of Aleimma loeflingiana pictured below.
The levels remain busy with breeding birds and the male Whinchat remains holding territory, record shot below, although his appears to be an unrequited love. Other levels specialities on varying days over the week included Hobby, Peregrine, and the saffron dazzliness of Yellow Wags.
Another positive of the heat has been the addition of a new fly and a new wasp species to the pan garden list. These are pictured below - the digger wasp Ectemnius ruficornis on the 17th and the wasp mimic fly Myathropa florea on the 18th.

Finally just a couple of pics - L-album Wainscot trapped in the garden overnight on the 16th and Kestrel at Rickney on the same date.

Sunday, 11 June 2017


"If you confuse this dinner dance, with elegance". So go the immortal words of the Prefab Sprout track of the same name and its been a pretty tense 18 hours or so from news of the Elegant Tern at Pags breaking and my connecting with it this morning in the company of Al Redman.
Its been a very busy week with my second BBS visit on the 4th producing an unusual highlight in the shape of a singing male Whinchat holding territory near Horse-eye Green (still present this weekend). One of those moments where you don't recognise a song immediately so have to start scanning! Other goodies on the BBS were Yellow Wagtails and Stonechat. The Hairy Dragonfly (pictured above) was seen on one of my transects as was the Drinker caterpillar (top picture) seen walking across the path at Horse-eye Green.
Midweek moth trapping produced the stunning Eyed Hawk moth pictured overnight on the 5th. Having got my dates skewed in my diary I had to do an early WEBS count on the 10th in the company of Richard and Hazel. This went pretty much as expected as things are quieter from a waterfowl perspective in the summer although the pair of Tufted Duck are still present and the Coots (pictured top) formed a family group of 6.

And so to today and the Elegant Tern which we connected with before it made its first sorty out of the harbour - good to have another real quality rare to get to grips with and to bump into Stuart Reed who I hadn't seen since the Devon Long-billed Murrelet! Also very useful since Stuart pointed us in the right direction for the nationally rare plant Childing Pink Petrorhagia nateulii (pictured below) which is only found at a couple of sites. Other birds at Pags included the Peregrines, Little Terns, and as many Med Gulls as you like, their mewing calls pretty much ever present. Al and I moved on to Ambersham Common where a reptile search was pretty poor only resulting in a single Common Lizard. The Six-spotted Tiger Beetles pictured above were seen on a few occasions and birds included singing Woodlark, Stonechat, Grey Wagtail, Willow Warbler, Tree Pipit, Yellowhammer, and Buzzard.
Our final stop of the day was Frensham Common for the 1st summer male Red-footed Falcon pictured above which gave excellent scope views as it hunted from dead tree branches rounding off an excellent day in good company.