Saturday, 2 June 2018

Rose-coloured Starling

Sometimes the stars are aligned and circumstances slot into place for a perfect storm. So it was on Monday the 28th of May when I took the opportunity of a bank holiday to do my second BBS transect of the spring. I had spent a couple of hours the previous evening searching the greater levels area for Starling flocks in the hope of finding a Rosy Pastor, due to the significant influx that has been taking place on the continent, with no joy. Ever since getting a copy of Thorburns' birds for my 12th birthday I have dreamt of finding one of these in spring so, as on commencing my transect it was obvious that there were plenty of Starlings around, I already had Rosy in the back of my mind... Then, as I scanned through a flock of around 200 Starling near Horse-eye farm, Bobs' your uncle a Rosy pops up on top of the bush. Cue instant gratification, reality from fantasy, find tick, patch tick etc!
 At this point the bird was quite distant so I decided to abort my BBS to spend some proper time with the bird and, whilst walking up the hill too the birds location, phone the news out. The flock is actively feeding so I see the bird in flight a few times, characteristically losing its place in the flock, but frustratingly not on the ground where the grass is longer. Then the bird decides to move into one of the bushes along the hedgerow where I manage some digiscoped images and get a proper look at it for the first time. Whilst clearly a stunning bird it is not an adult male and appears to be either an adult female or second calendar year bird. The mantle in particular has greyish feather centres and the head and wings while glossy black, lack the purple green sheen and obvious crest of an adult male. On close inspection the wings have very narrow brownish fringes. The underparts however are bright pink, as is the rump, and the legs and bill are also bright pink, the latter with a black base. Geoff has arrived by now and sees the bird as well, so I head off to complete my BBS. Later in the morning I watched the bird feeding in the sheepfields nearby but it was not seen from late afternoon. An extrememely rewarding morning!
On the moth front the past week has seen a quality return from the garden trap with several new species for the garden and lots of variety. The undoubted highlight was the Shore Wainscot pictured below on the night of the 31st. An Nb species, in Sussex it is restricted to the dunes of Camber and the Witterings, so was a bit of a surprise to put it mildly.

On the same night a Grey birch was also new for the garden, the previous night had produced new for the garden Obscure Wainscot, and the 28th had produced new for the garden Rustic Shoulder-knot. All in all a bit of a purple patch, the latter two moths are pictured below.

Finally a few butterfly pictures from nearby and further afield. Firstly Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary from the 26th at Park Corner and finally Duke of Burgundy from Mill Hill on the 16th. Keep it real.

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