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....