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.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Just like buses...

Things have been a bit hectic lately but the moth trap produced a newby for the garden on the 24th with the Grass Rivulet pictured above. Better was to come overnight last night though with two newbys'  - Pale Pinion pictured above and Grey Arches below!
The levels are full on with breeding activity at the moment and regular Hobby, Cuckoo, Redshank, and Tufted Duck. Recent highlight for me though was a new Hoverfly on the 29th while walking across White Dyke with Al Redman in the shape of the Long Hoverfly Sphaerophoria scripta pictured below. Choose Love.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Birds in mans world

It never fails to amaze me how birds will utilise any available niche to their benefit, whilst sitting at the Normans' Bay traffic lights the other day I noticed a pair of Starlings actively feeding young at their nest which was in a signal!
Lots of birding but no scarce or rare action to report, best of todays' (14th) WEBS was my first Lapwing chick of the year, only a day or so old, on Mappins. A walk around Wrens Warren on Ashdown Forest with Richard and Hazel was accompanied by the bell like song of Woodlark and the somewhat scratchier Dartfords.
Insect action has been quiet with the best of the garden moths being Scorched Carpet and Maidens' Blush on the 12th and the best of the butterflies being a Painted Lady on White Dyke on the 6th.
The Green-veined, or winged dependent on the vernacular you prefer, orchid pictured below was among the many flowering on Horse-eye on the 9th. Take care.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Anyone for racquets?

Racquet tails that is. Pom Sunday (30th) saw me at Birling for a sea-watch stint in the company of Al Redman, Lawrence Pitcher, John and Doreen Cooper, Roger Haggar, Roger Charlwood, Richard Butler et al for a quality 5 hours. I managed 41 Poms, as well as 7 Bonxies, 10 Arctics, 10 Velvet Scoter, and a miscellany of waders, Common Scoter, Gannets etc. There really is nothing better than watching Poms chugging up channel or loafing around on the sea like a flock of avian hyenas. A mid afternoon walk at Normans' Bay turfed up a Little Tern, along with a handful of Arctics.
The previous day (29th) I did my early season BBS visit to the patch. Survey work is always interesting as it involves a different mindset, and with the BBS you note absolutely everything on the transects of "your" square. The most noteworthy birds during my transects were a singing Grasshopper Warbler (second year running), and my first Hobby and Cuckoo of the year on the patch.
Elsewhere on the patch were another Hobby today (1st), and a singing Lesser Whitethroat on White Dyke. There were also 5 Barwit and 3 Whimbrel down Sluice lane and a Northern Wheatear showing Greenland characteristics near Lookers cottage. The Whimbrel pictured above was on the dam at Arlington reservoir on Thursday (28th) when, after a protracted wait, the rumper was seen. Also at Arlington a Little Owl near Chilverbridge house.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Bits and bobs

A pleasant evening stroll along White Dyke this evening (25th) was brightened by the Small Copper pictured above sunning itself on a bramble. Also a sub-adult male Marsh Harrier on Horse-eye, pairs of both Shelduck and Redshank on Mappins', and a female Sparrowhawk on prey on Down level.
Sunday (23rd) had a good selection of waders on show with Greenshank, LRP, Green Sandpiper, Redshank, Snipe, and a sp Dunlin all on Mappins. Elsewhere an early evening walk at Arlington on the 24th produced the goods with my first Osprey of the year (presumably the same bird as one seen earlier in the day that I was unaware of, this bird was missing a secondary) hunting over the res before drifting off north west. Also at the res was a Peregrine and a smattering of House and Sand Martins amongst the 100 or so Swallow.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Thick and fast

Never a phrase that could be applied to me, well certainly not the fast part, however that is the pace that the last week has taken with summer migrant arrivals, and not before time! This evening (18th) on Mappins' a cracking male Little Ringed Plover and a Golden Plover, along with a pair of Shoveler, half a dozen Teal, Swallow, and Yellow Wagtail. Reed and Sedge Warblers were chuntering away pretty much constantly despite the cold wind and my first Lesser Whitethroat of the year was singing behind the factory in Lower Dicker today. The weekend was pretty quiet however a pair of Wheatear on the 16th and yesterdays summer plumaged Red Necked Grebe found by Jake Everitt at Arlington reservoir helped to smarten up the year list as did House Martin at Brick Farm on the 17th whilst fishing with Rich. The Red Necked was the first summer plumage bird I have seen since three displaying at Weirwood reservoir in the early eighties, well worth the walk.
On the moth front the cold nights have resulted in low counts however the 9th was notable with singles of Chocolate Tip, Lunar Marbled Brown, and Streamer, the former two pictured below.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Wags, Whimbrel, WEBS, and getting lucky with a Cettis'

Friday afternoon and glorious weather found me back on the levels along with one of my top ten levels birds, Yellow Wagtail, with my first for the year singing on Down Level. Little else of note on Friday. The picture above is of one seen during Sundays' WEBS when 2 were singing and feeding around the scrapes and ditches.
The WEBS count was predictably quiet with the vast majority of duck having cleared out, the exception being a pair of Tufted Duck on Spoonbill scrape. Walking back to White Dyke a close burst of Cettis' song from a Blackthorn bush was hardly unexpected however the bird deciding to put in an appearance was, as was my ability to get a couple of pictures! Not the greatest I know, but they are my first of this species which I never fail to encounter on the patch.

A single Redshank by Mappins' will hopefully hang around for the summer whilst an influx of Sedge Warbler has clearly taken place since Friday with 4 holding territory along White Dyke. The Meadow Pipit pictured was also along White Dyke and returning to White Dyke farm in glorious warm sunshine butterfly activity began to pick up with half a dozen or so Peacock and, at Clegg corner, my first Speckled Wood of the year (pictured below).Whilst walking I had been cogitating on the fact that one of the features of the spring so far has been the general absence of waders, probably due to the generally fine weather. Sure enough this triggered the inevitable Whimbrel in a sheep field moment, so another year tick in the bag. Finally, to round off my morning, and a little later than my usual first date, a single Swallow hawking insects at White Dyke farm. Enjoy the sunshine.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Beachy Blue Rock

A mid morning text from Al Redman followed by a phone call set me heading straight out of work for a cracking male Blue Rock Thrush he had found at Belle Tout lighthouse. On arrival the bird was immediately performing, regularly catching and dismembering Bumble bees, prior to consuming them. Bizzarely the birds left wing was drooping slightly in some poses leading to speculation by some that this may be the same bird as that seen at Stow on the Wold throughout the winter. In any event it was an absolute cracker and a mega find for Al.
Elsewhere I saw the pair of Cattle Egrets in Litlington by accident on Tuesday night, and enjoyed a very pleasant pint of Long Man in the Plough and Harrow.
Tuesday night moth trapping produced firsts for the year in the form of Angle Shades and Nut Tree Tussock.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Stilts and warblers

Midweek temptation was just too much so I wandered down the Cuckmere on Wednesday evening to take in the rather obliging Black-winged Stilt (above), a species the levels are well suited for but I have yet to taste there! Good to catch up with Les Bird and Bob Self and had a dose of scope envy with the latters very impressive Kowa looking at a 1st cy Glaucous Gull near the visitors centre on near enough 100x magnification.
Moth trapping overnight on 28th produced Early Thorn and Clouded Drab, the latter a scarcity in the garden, and on the 29th Hebrew Character, 2 Small Quaker (pictured below), 8 Common Quaker, Early Grey, 3 Double-striped Pug, LBAM, & 3 Common Plume.
Thursday evening (30th) back on the levels produced a stunning close Short-eared Owl over White Dyke but still no "true" summer migrants. So to today and a chance to carry out my first Cettis' warbler survey of the year on Horse-eye - 5 territories identified including a nice intersection with 3 singing males. Not a lot else to report other than a single Snipe, 4 Shoveler, and 2 Teal on Down, until Mike Mullis texted me he had had a Reed Warbler Rickney side. A quick stop at Horse-eye Green on the way round the back yielded my first proper summer migrant - not one but two Reed Warblers singing from the Reed bed and a cracking Sedge Warbler belting it out from the top of a bramble. Summer is almost here....

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Cattle, Water, and Kite

Hard going today (26th) but worth the effort. The Water Pipit that was on Mappins' on Friday was still present and showing periodically well as it weaved its way in and out of the vegetation on the edge of the pool, albeit distantly. Nice to be able to watch one properly for a change! Still 2 Redshank, this time on Down, along with 4 Shoveler. The Cattle Egret was located among a flock of 8 Little Egret in roadside fields between Downash and Rickney, the same bird as seen last weekend based on the plumage although the image above doesn't do it justice...
Back at home a Red Kite drifted east over the garden at 13.15.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Buts and Pips

Spring is happening, today (24th) the Peacock above was sunning itself along White Dyke, and another over-winterer was seen, albeit a very battered one, in the shape of a Small Tortoiseshell.
Highlight of the afternoon walk was a Water Pipit, moulting into summer plumage, on Mappins which I wouldn't have seen unless I had been indulging myself watching a pair of Redshank and a Dunlin which were feeding around the muddy fringes. A pair of Shelduck were also on Mappins and, somewhat surprisingly, a single Russian White-front was loitering with the goose flock, as was a Barnacle Goose of (probably) more suspect origin. On Down Level two pairs of Shoveler and a single Shelduck, while White Dyke produced the usual Cettis' along with Great Spotted Woodpecker and a couple of pairs of Stockies prospecting.
Overnight moth trapping produced only a solitary micro - Common Plume.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Cattle Egret

A Cattle Egret this lunchtime along White Dyke in the sheep fields, loosely consorting with a Little Egret. On Down Level 12 Gadwall, 7 Shoveler, single drake Shelduck, and a cream cap Marsh Harrier.