Saturday, 21 October 2017

Immigrant moths, dirty twitching, and Greenland Wheatear

Where to start... October as always, has been busy, with lots of birding, mothing, and general mooching going on. The levels have been very quiet on the bird front with the WEBS highlight being 15 Snipe and 2 Water Rails, and the first Hen Harrier survey count of the winter producing just a couple of Marsh Harrier. To be fair I didn't expect any skydancers this early in the winter but patchwork can be tough at this time of year when stuff is turning up all over the place!
So without going too much out of my way, I have taken in a few bits and pieces further afield. On the 8th I spent a few very pleasant hours at Oare marshes where the Wilsons Phalarope (top pic) and Long-billed Dowitcher both put in appearrances, the former all whirligig mania and the latter frantic sewing machine action. Also at Oare were stacks of other waders including at least 6 Curlew Sandpiper and 10+ Little Stint, the former pictured below. The 11th saw me paying a flying visit to the folks in Devon and a flying detour to Lodmoor where the Lesser Yellowlegs put in a brief appearance enabling the record shot above left. A walk along the Otter estuary in the afternoon with Dad produced no birds of note but a few Grey Mullet were watched under the bridge there.
On Saturday the 14th Al Redman and I decided to pay a visit to Dunge where we mooched about with little to show for it other than a Merlin in off the sea before we "lucked in" bigtime with a Raddes' Warbler found by Dave Bunney in his garden. Big thanks to Dave for once again allowing access to his garden and, although it took several hours to get really good views, eventually the bird started to show regularly in the buddleia. Dunge tick in the bag, and my DB garden list is now up to about 6 with the other highlights being the Acadian Flycatcher and Dark-eyed Junco!
This week though proper madness took over with news of a Two-barred Greenish Warbler near Worth Matravers in Dorset. TBG is a bird I have always wanted to see so I took a day off work on the 18th and after sorting the moth traps headed west where this stunning little gem showed at close range feeding in Field Maple, Ash, and Sycamore on a number of occasions as the weather brightened up a bit, on what was generally a misty old day. Other bits and pieces included several Firecrest around the TBG quarry, and after sating my appetite in phylloscopus heaven I wandered over to Middlebere Farm on Arne, where a couple of Dartford Warbler, Water Rail, Green Sandpiper, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, and the juvenile Stilt Sandpiper were seen. The latter appears to be missing a leg however since it was my first since the Cliffe bird in the late eighties it was still very welcome. Also at Middlebere farm was a herd of 8 Sika deer including the 2 pictured below.
Todays' birding (20th) was again local and turned up a small gem, of what I am as sure as I can be without a ringers licence, was a Northern Wheatear of the Greenland race leucorhoa at Normans Bay along the fence line where the Desert Wheatear was first found last year. There are 3 images of this bird below, one perched on the fence where the extent of the brisk westerly is evident by its posture, although the picture captures the full extent of the apricot underparts. The other two are on the deck where the birds upright stance, Issy jiz, broad super, and long wings with 7 visible primary tips, are all evident. Also it was a big beast! I know this id is subjective, so if you have any other opinion please let me know.

On the moth front it has been a busy old month as well with national moth night over the weekend of the 13-15th and some warm airflows producing a few immigrants in the garden traps, and although nothing super rare, there were notable records for home. Delicates' get recorded in numbers along the coast at some sites but the ones I trapped on the 8th and 14th were only the 2nd and 3rd records for the garden, the latter is pictured above left. Other notable immigrants for the garden were a delightfully pink Vestal on the night of the 17th (6th garden record) and on the same night a Scarce Bordered Straw (15th garden record but the first since 2006), both pictured below.

More expected autumn residents were Merveille de Jour on the nights of the 9th, 13th, 14th, and 18th (2), Red-line Quaker on 8th, 15th, 17th, and 18th, an astonishing 6 Large Wainscot on the 17th, and only the 2nd garden record of Kent Black Arches on the night of the 13th. The obligatory autumn picture of a stunning Merveille below.
Finally to other insects and 3 Ophion obscuratus turned up in the garden moth traps, a single on the 12th, and 2 on the 17th. At this time of year I often come across moribund Bumble-bees. It only takes a drop of honey to revive them as it did with the queen Buff-tailed Bumble pictured below, refreshed she promptly flew off straight into a spiders web where she had to be rescued for a second time! Stay safe.