Friday, 25 February 2011

The Mothing Year Has Begun

(birders don't worry, there is bird news in this post - just bear with me!)

So, as I said in my last post, Wednesday night the front garden looked like this...

The Robinson is out - and still working I'm pleased to report!

Thursday morning, I had myself six moths to look at - YEAH! These six included a new species for the garden, two of them...

Dotted Border

As this was my first catch of the year, I'm sorry but I got a little snappy-happy! I also had three of these...

Common Quaker

And the sixth was a fairly early...

Early Grey; a nice pinkie one too

I even snapped the bumblebee that was in amongst the egg cartons in the trap...

A big 'un it was too!

Moth enthusiasts - don't switch off just yet! I put the trap out again last night in the back garden, and guess what... DOUBLE FIGURES!!! I didn't get this until 9th April last year - so a result and a half!

This catch of 11 moths included another new species for the garden...

Early Moth - exciting yeah!??

The other ten moths were: 7 Common Quaker, 2 Hebrew Characters and another Dotted Border. I am so looking forward to the mothing year ahead!

OK birders, despair no more!

I've had a few looks along the Estuary today, the weather conditions have been pretty good for 'gulling'. The best I could muster though (so far anyway!) were two Med Gulls, including presumably the same first-winter as the other day...

Which photo is more exciting - this one of the one of the Early Moth above!???

Have also noted c200 Common and 26 Lesser Black-backed Gulls (one or two looking quite black-backed, but also one very pale second-winter bird).

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The Seasons Are Changing

I've got a fair bit of survey work to do before the end of this month, and this morning it was the woodland near Colyton that I survey on a monthly basis that had me stomping through it! Normally I don't enjoy woods much, but this morning I did - the colours were just gorgeous...

Autumnal colours on the ground, spring green colours up above

It is definitely still winter, as I had 14 sightings of at least nine Woodcock - some excellent flight views and a really good number. Five Lesser Redpolls were also good to see.

Spring is in the air though, with Great Spotted Woodpeckers drumming and many other species of bird in full song - including two male Marsh Tits. And it's not just the birds that are hinting the change in seasons...

What a warm feeling these images give me - it is nearly time!!!

Later on in the day, a quick look out over the sea showed the 12 Velvet Scoters still, all fairly close in - which was nice!

A little later again, a look through the Gulls on the Estuary showed a decent (for this year anyway!) count of five Meds. Four were adults - one in spanking full summer plumage, two part way there, and one in full winter wear. The fifth bird was a first-winter, which is certainly the first non-adult Med I've seen this year on the Axe, possibly even this winter!! Also c120 Common and 15 Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

With the first few immigrants about, and the mild weather, tonight is the first night of 2011 that my garden looks like an airfield from above! Oh yes - the moth trap is out! This year I am taking part in the Garden Moth Scheme (see HERE) so thought I'd best warm myself up for the start of it Friday week.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Post Work 'Gulling!'

After a long day at work, a look along the Estuary at around 5pm revealed good numbers of Gulls - though no Ring-billed or white winger still.

On the 5th Feb I counted 452 Common Gulls in about an hour on the Estuary, but ever since then Gull numbers (especially of the smaller species) have dropped noticeably. I thought the main passage had passed, but this afternoon gave me some encouragement that there are more to come.

Med Gulls
have been rather scarce over the past couple of weeks (well all winter really!) - so four adults together this afternoon were great to see - Gull passage is ON! There were about 160 Common Gulls and 12 Lesser Black-backed Gulls too. Also a colour ringed Herring Gull by the tram sheds, an individual I've not seen before.

The Blackwit flock put a smile on my face, with one of the birds showing obvious rusty red flecks on its breast. And whilst talking about this species, I saw this bird yesterday...

GOR (Green Orange Red); Yellow Red Yellow is the Axe Estuary's combination - all Blackwits colour-ringed here have the latter combination.

This is the first colour-ringed Blackwit I've seen on the Estuary since the turn of the year. I took the above photo of GOR last March (on the 6th), I wonder where he/she has been inbetween?

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Gotcha!

Nipped over to Radipole this morning for a bit more ringing, always good fun!

Lightning Luke wasn't around today, meaning a big catch was never on the cards. Considering this then, four birds wasn't too bad at all. Three of them were...

At last a photo that shows a Coot's true personality!

The fourth was very special to me, very special indeed...

A first-winter female Tufted Duck in my lap

I have ringed a couple of Tufties at Radipole, but this baby was special because I caught her! My first self-caught Tuftie :-)

I could see her flashing her unringed legs at me, so when she drifted a little closer I always kept one eye on her. She started to dive, and evey time she popped up she was always quite close. She went down again so I followed the bubbles, waited 'til they came right below me, nudged a couple of Mute Swans out the way, then 'splashed and grabbed!'. Well worth the wet arm :-)

I was hoping the adult Ring-billed Gull from last week was still knocking about around the Visitor Centre but no luck. The best I could find were a few of these...

Not far off full summer plumage that one on the right

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Today Is The Day

...that spring has sprung! From BirdGuides:

Beer Head here we come!!!

Today is also the day I fear the view from the farm gate will be a little different forever more...

I think the life expectancy of those remaining trees/bushes has suddenly become very short! That's where I was going to find a roosting LEO one day too :-(

I was hoping for a massive collection of Gulls on the river early this afternoon, but other than a few small groups of big'uns, there was very little! 17 Lesser Black-backed Gulls I suppose was notable though considering the overall poor showing of Laridae.

I did discover a year tick though, feeding with a lone Blackwit just above Coronation Corner. Can you tell what it is...

It was raining too hard to get out of the car, so only pointed my Lumix at it. After all it is only a...

...Barwit! Had it been a Hudsonian Godwit I may have made more of an effort! :-)

Lastly, I would just like to say how pleased I am not to be the owner of no. 41, The Leys, Chipping Norton!

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Waiting For Spring...

...is very much how I'm feeling at the moment!! Sometimes late Jan/Feb can see some exciting birding on patch - but not this year, well not so far anyway!

The Bewick's Swan and Greylag Goose remain opposite Stedcombe Vale, but that's as exciting as it gets from me! I've recently spent a lot of time looking through the mid afternoon gull flocks on the Estuary, but apart from a daily helping of one of two Meds, it's been rather - well very - fruitless.

And that is why this blog has been so quiet of late. I'm not snowed under with County Recorder work, I've not been suffering from a bed-ridden bug, and I've not been working every hour god sends (although a 13 hour shift yesterday was rather tiring!), it has just been very quiet on the bird front!

To prevent this boring post from being even more boring, this was the view from the Farm Gate (Axmouth) this afternoon...

rather spring-like I'd say :-)