Friday, 25 June 2010

A Night Of Pure Pleasure

No this is not an 'adult' post... but if you love Storm Petrels as much as I do, then this is pretty hardcore stuff!!

On Wednesday I finished work as usual at 22:15, but instead of driving home, having a beer then going to sleep, I drove northwards...

At 00:20 (now Thursday) I rolled up at Hartland Point, north Devon. Here, after my little Peugeot 106 had it's 4x4 abilities tested to the max driving through various fields, I met up with two of north Devon's finest ringers. Up until when I arrived, the full moon ensured the night had started quiet, but thankfully a bank of cloud moved over from the north and it got dark proper.

We sat back, supping red wine, listening to the speaker blasting out a fine mix of Storm Petrel calls. Within half an hour, I had one of these super critters in my hand....WOW! We had the nets up and 'tunes' playing until 3:30am, in which time we caught six Stormies. Five of these were 'fresh' birds (un-ringed) and one a control. I had the pleasure of being able to ring four of the five, and I processed the control. I can't thank Jon and Patrick enough... thankyou SO MUCH!

When I saw the first dark blob nestled in one of the top shelfs of a mist net I nearly screamed with excitement!

Storm Petrel is without doubt the best bird in the hand EVER! They are so small, their feathers so soft, yet they are so tough! They have the most amazing smell, and the oil on their feathers leave your hands feeling like they've been working in a fish mongers all morning!

Anyway here's a few pics of the first bird, they are just soooooo brilliant....

A thing of absolute beauty

For their size they are so long winged. I guess they have to be!!

Sooooooooooooo cute!

And look at those tiny webbed feet!

At 4am I crawled into the tent Jon had kindly set up for me and was just falling to sleep as the first Skylark began to sing!!! I was up again at 7am, and not only has this experience got me hooked on Stormie ringing, it has got me hooked on camping too! Waking up with Yellowhammers, Skylarks, Whitethroats and a single Gropper singing is just incredible. Love it!

It was nice to see the ringing site in the daylight, and I was surprised how high up we were. This is the view from where we had the nets set...

100 foot cliff face down below!!

Base camp

My bedroom!

I left Hartland at 10am, and was home by 12:15. I checked the contents of the moth trap I'd left out in the garden, and then grabbed a few hours kip before I had to go to work.

It was hard work, it was tiring, but I would do it again tonight! I am in love with Storm Petrels and I'm not afraid to show it!

So, now to moths, and I had a single trap out last night and Stormie night, and have had three firsts to show for it!

Wednesday night's new moth was this stonker...

Green Silver-lines, nice!!!

And last night I got these two new'uns...

Broom Moth

Small Seraphim; it really is small!

Wednesday night saw 83 moths of 30 species; 23 Heart and Dart, 5 Willow Beauty, 5 Heart and Club, 5 Bright-line Brown-eye, 5 Flame, 3 Common Marbled Carpet, 3 Elephant Hawkmoth, 3 Small Square-spot, 3 Flame Shoulder, 2 Light Emerald, 2 Foxglove Pug, 2 Setacous Hebrew Character, 2 Grey Dagger, 2 Large Yellow Underwing, 2 Uncertain, 2 Straw Dot and singles of: Buff Arches, Common Swift, Riband Wave, Flame Carpet, Pine Carpet, Double-striped Pug, Clouded Silver, White Ermine, Vine's Rustic, Ingrailed Clay, Dark Arches, Minor sp., Small Fanfoot and the Green Silver-lines.

Last night offered 99 moths of 34 species; 24 Heart and Dart, 13 Heart and Club, 6 Uncertain, 5 Flame, 4 Willow Beauty, 4 Flame Shoulder, 4 Minor sp., 3 Buff Ermine, 3 Grey Dagger, 3 Ingrailed Clay, 2 Figure of Eighty, 2 Pug sp., 2 Small Square-spot, 2 Bright-line Brown-eye, 2 Spectacle and singles of: Buff-tip, Riband Wave, Common Marbled Carpet, Flame Carpet, Foxglove Pug, Double-striped Pug, Clouded Silver, Brimstone, Elephant Hawkmoth, Swallow Prominent, Rustic, Vine's Rustic, Dark Arches, Small Angle Shades, Lychnis, Common Wainscot, Straw Dot plus the Broom Moth and Small Seraphim.

This morning I enjoyed a bit more ringing, which included four young Spotted Flycatchers and four young Song Thrushes. I hope all fledge and live long...but it's unlikely!


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