Monday, 24 June 2013

A Pre-Breakfast Wander

Actually went birding today! Didn't see anything of note really, but Black Hole Marsh at 05:30 this morning looked STUNNING...

Oooozing peace and tranquility

It was nice to see fledged Blackcaps (two families), Reed Warbler, and the three Oystercatcher chicks still looking good.  Two Sand Martins over the marsh were the first I've seen here for over a month, and a Siskin north over was a bit of an odd one for June!

I checked three new Swallow nests today, two still on eggs and one with really small chicks in.  Another brood of Blue Tits were ringed on Saturday too, and I confirmed the two broods I've already ringed have fledged.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

I-Player Link

Here's the promised link for any who missed it...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/i/b02yx2tc/?t=18m

Friday, 21 June 2013

Moth Overload!

First of all, thanks to all the texts/tweets/phonecalls/emails about yesterday's TV first. If you missed it I will put up a link to the BBC iplayer page, it is worth watching for the stunning Hoopoe footage.

Now if you are a tweeter, you would have seen most of these photos already, so I apologies. And if you really don't like moths, this post won't interest you (but please give it a look!). Also if you are a moth expert there's nothing that's going to set the world alight coming up, but I just get SO MUCH excitement from these critters - I have to share it! Each moth is stunning in its own right (well most of them anyway!) so please just scroll through and enjoy the variety.

I trapped at Mum and Dads on Tuesday and Wednesday night this week. With the muggy and still conditions there's no way I couldn't - perfect moth weather.  The numbers were lower than I expected, but overall I still managed 150 moths of 42 species.

And here's some of the best. Starting with the big guns...

Elephant Hawkmoth

Eyed Hawkmoth

Only the garden's second ever Lime Hawkmoth

The Lime Hawk with a Poplar Hawkmoth (Pop's are HUGE!)

Here's some of my other favourite macro moths that I caught...

Starting with the smallest, this isn't a bird dropping it's a Chinese Character!

Another white one, a Clouded Silver

Cream-spot Tiger, a relation to the Jersey Tiger that is a moth that can often be seen by day around here

Another view of the Cream-spot Tiger - it's a very colourful beast!

There are few distinctive Pugs, but this Foxglove Pug is one of them!

A not very Green, Green Carpet

Pale Tussock

Peppered Moth - black and white always does it for me!

Love the name of this one, Scorched Wing

Small Waved Umber, compare to last week's Waved Umber

White Ermine - Buff Ermine are far more regular for me but I've not had one yet this year

Alder Moth

 I was pleased to get an immigrant species too. No surprise that it was one of these though...

A Silver Y ready to fly!

And although (as yet) I don't really 'do' micro moths, I did notice this - another immigrant species...

Rush Veener

Ok moth-haters/moth-pro's, you can look again now! Post done. 

Thursday, 20 June 2013

One Show Tonight...

Unless I'm on the edit room floor, I should be on the box tonight...


Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Colour-ringed Black-headed Gull

I had forgotten about this colour-ringed Black-headed Gull - well it was nearly a year ago!  I was reminded of it when the below document dropped into my inbox. Polish-ringed small Gulls aren't unusual for us, but check out the time between ringing and re-sighting...

Had the moth trap out last night, and it gave me 49 moths of 22 species. More details (and photos) to follow in another post when I've a bit more time...

Friday, 14 June 2013

Bird Ringing

Since moving into to our new place bird ringing has taken a back seat. Well not even that, it's been somewhere in the back of the trailer! Currently our garden isn't suitable for any form of bird ringing - there are just too many cats about. When I lived at Mum and Dad's, few cats, nice big green garden and lots and lots of birds meant it was ideal for bird ringing.

I can still go up to Mum and Dad's to do bird ringing, but instead of being able to put the nets out for an hour or two between other jobs like I used too, I'd now have to set a morning aside to do nothing but bird ringing. And this year I've just not had the time.

I am pleased to say though (and my Twitter followers will know this already) my ringing pliers have come back out over the past few weeks.  Not the mist nets yet though.

For me, the best thing about ringing pulli (that's nestlings) is that I'm also taking part in the BTO Nest Record Scheme. This is a very important and on going scheme as it is the only accurate way of monitoring the breeding success of birds in the UK. As I'm sure you know, you do not have to be a bird ringer to take part in the Nest Record Scheme - for more details see here: http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/nrs. I am very fortunate to have a ringing permit that enables me to ring the young as well, which adds the chance of another avenue of useful data coming from my nest visits.

Swallows are a keen interest of mine, and currently I am monitoring ten active nests. This total could increase dramatically in a week or so though!  Out of the ten, my first visit to each revealed eight nests of eggs and two nests of young. The young were easily big enough to ring and each of the two nests contained five birds.  One of the nests had really big young in which I thought were just a few days from fledging. A week later though and at least four are still snuggled in there...

You can only see two here, all five may well have been in there but I only saw a max of four.

The other nest of five was exactly the same nest I ringed six in last June. If they are the same parents, they are clearly bloody good parents!

As well as Swallows, I've ringed four broods of Tits. One nest with just two young Great Tits in that have just fledged, a box with six young Blue Tits in which should have just fledged (they looked ready to go two days ago), a box with seven Blue Tits that I ringed just a couple of days ago...

They've probably got about ten days left in the nest before fledging

And best of all, because they are on the Red List, a nest box containing two young Marsh Tits (and a cold egg). They were really quite big, with just a few mm of growth required on their outer primaries before being ready to go...

So nearly a 3J!

A follow up visit to the Marsh Tit nest confirmed they have successfully fledged. Fantastic news!

Expect more bird ringing-related post from now on...

Sunday, 9 June 2013

My Moth Season Begins

There has been nothing in the way of moths or mothing on this blog so far this year. That's because I haven't done any!  Our new house and 'garden' just isn't suitable for a 125W MV bulb!!  Saying that though the first moth made it on to the house/garden list the other night, with a Green Carpet resting on the outside of the back door.

So, any mothing I do manage will be at Mum and Dad's, and this is where I set the trap on two occasions within the past few weeks. Both on very suitable mothing conditions, the evenings of 20th May and 2nd June.

The 20th May, although not a bad selection, was a very long way from what I would have expected considering the date and weather.  The final tally was 27 moths of 17 species. And here's some of them...
Least Black Arches
Clouded Border
Scalloped Hazel
Nut-tree Tussock
Pebble Prominent
Swallow Prominent
Sycamore
Waved Umber
Buff-tip side on
Buff-tip head on!

On the 2nd June there were just 12 moths of 11 species, very disappointing. So, although I have missed a lot of mothing opportunities this year, it would appear that I've probably not missed that much!

Before I sign off for the night, just a quick note to say I could well be on the One Show tomorrow (Monday 10th). There's a chance they may change the contents of the show last minute (apparently this happens quite regularly) but as it stands if you watch BBC1 between 7 and 7:30pm there should be a short piece on about Hoopoes.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Always Birding!

My brain always has birds at the front of it, which means my eyes and ears are always searching for anything bird-related. This often results in spotting ornithological-related errors in day to day life, which really amuses Jess as I always have to make some sort of comment if I see even the smallest mistake or inaccuracy!

It's not just birds, the other day I picked up an Exmoor Guide with a Monach butterfly on the front cover! I guess this is just natural when you have a vested interest in something, whatever it is! Stamps, trains, coins, whatever...

Anyway, back to birds, and check out this Chaffinch on an apron in a shop in Lynton...

 
..to be fair it is mostly not too bad. And the Redpoll below was bang on - a great painting. But what is going on with that belly!!??  Half way through painting did they accidentally flick the page over to Canary?

This was most surprising though. Somewhere in a dark hall way of Dunster Castle was this notice...


 ...one of the species looked like an odd one out to me! An American wading bird amongst UK breeders?? So I tracked them all down...

The Golden Eagle

A cracking Bittern

Chough

The Grebe - a Great Crested Grebe to me precise!

 And the Spotted Sandpiper...

Hmmmmm... Looks like a Ruff to me!!

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Exmoor

Instead of filling all in on what I've been up to since my last post in one mammoth blog post, I thought I should split it up a bit and deal with different topics in different posts. The first post, our trip away to Exmoor...

Last week Jess had her first week off work since Christmas, and my month of sitting behind a laptop had really taken everything out of me, so we were both VERY keen to get away.  We really love Dartmoor and this was an option, but we know the place quite well. Exmoor though, I've only been too twice before, so we thought we'd stay here for a few nights.  So last Monday morning off we went...



We stayed just outside Dulverton, at the fantastic Middle Upcott Farm.  It is a beautiful farm house, with a very cosy living area and check out the views from our private balcony... 



We got up to so much whilst we were up here, including a surprise birthday present for Jess. Last year I treated her to some raptor and owl flying and handling at Yarak bird of prey centre (see HERE). There were several people doing it with her though, and although she loved it, it wasn't just Owls. So for this birthday, I booked her in for an Owl evening at Exmoor Owl and Hawk Centre.  So just Owls, and best of all, just the falconer and us two - which meant I got to do it as well!
When we arrived it was clear which Owls hadn't been fed yet. This is Casper before we got to her...



This is Casper and I...



And this is Casper five minutes after she was put back in her cage...



We also fed and flew an Eagle Owl and a gorgeous old Tawny Owl...



They had plenty of other Owls here too which we didn't fly, with these two being my favourite...

Great Grey Owl

A Snowy Owl

And it wasn't just Owls. When I went to Morocco with the Spurn guys and girl in 2005 we didn't get Tawny Eagle (are they still there?)...



And what else did we get up too? Well the Valley of the Rocks near Lynton was pretty spectacular...

 


We had to pay a visit to Tarr Steps...



And this was my first visit to Dunster Castle. I actually found the gardens more impressive than the Castle! (and no, not just because of the Spotted Flycatcher!)...



A trip to Watersmeet on Thursday provided the birding highlight. The 5.5 mile walk showed 14 Wood Warblers (13 singing males), seven Pied Flies (incl. one male taking food into a nest hole), four Redstarts (incl. one female taking food into a nest hole) and two Dippers.
Forgetting the birds, it is a beautiful place in its own right...



Despite the nice scenery I was very happy when we got to Lynmouth, and some food...



And check out these, ice creams dipped in melted chocolate...



Although be wary. Eating too much food like the above may make you look like this after a steep climb at the end of a 5 mile walk...



During the trip we saw lots or Red Deer, lots and lots, even some from our B and B. One allowed stupidly close approach...


Ok, maybe not. We never got anywhere near any of the wild Red Dear. This is the best picture I managed...



There were plenty of other less wild animals around too, with Exmoor Ponies, Sheep and Cattle scattered about the Moor...



Right, I think that's enough for now. I'll finish this post with two photos showing the beauty of Exmoor. What a place, well worth a visit...