Monday, 30 June 2014

Autumn Starts Early

Between bird surveying, and having to be home for the Honey Monster, I squeezed in an early morning visit to Black Hole Marsh today.

Here there were several signs of the autumn migration having moved up a notch, with our first juvenile Little Ringed Plover of the year near the far viewing platform. 

Don't see many in June, July is when they tend to start moving through

A summer plumaged Black-tailed Godwit, three Common Sandpipers and six Teal were also on show.

Local breeding birds were present in good numbers too, both in the bushes and on the lagoon. Shelduck really seem to have had a good breeding season, and both Oystercatcher broods are doing well.

Great little birds

Hopefully the good breeding season means we are in for a good autumn...


Monday, 23 June 2014

Busy Busy Busy...

Am falling behind with just about everything at the moment - the blog is low on the list of priorities but here's a quick one.... 

I'm pleased to say, and blimey has it jumped up on us, the wedding is coming up soon. So we are busy rushing around finalising details and emptying our bank accounts to pay for the last few bits.  Who's idea was the chocolate fountain?

Then of course there's this little lady - who has already grown considerably...

Honey looking like butter wouldn't melt in her mouth!

She's certainly taking up some time, but we are really impressed with so many aspects of her - especially sleeping so well at night and staying dry.  Still not impressed with the lawn digging though!  Not being able to take her for walkies yet is incredibly frustrating but hopefully the next four weeks will fly by...

I do have a few bits of bird news, with first returning waders (I presume) seen over the last few weeks including Greenshank, Green Sand, Lapwing (three) and Bar-tailed Godwit. I missed a summer plumage Grey Plover sadly but pleased with what I've seen never-the-less.  Black-headed Gull numbers are also ever increasing, sadly no Ross's, Bonaparte's or even Little, but a first-summer Med Gull circled over the house a few days ago.

Also from the garden, have seen three Red Kites in the past two weeks. They really are loving this high pressure!

Haven't been ringing for a few weeks, frustrating as I know how many unringed Siskins are waiting for me at one of my sites...


Some of the last birds I did ring included this lovely House Martin...


And this even lovelier young (3J) Skylark...


Saturday, 14 June 2014

The Garden Is Done!

Well it's about time I revealed this exciting news.  The garden is compete - all thanks to Phil and his family who spent several days up here grafting. 

So, this is what we started with (as you all should know by now!)...



First step was to remove all the decking and patio - and all the wood that came with it.  I've shown this done in previous posts, this took a couple of weeks. Next step was the new patio and the surround to what would be our lawn...



Then came the top soil...



Which was followed by a morning of James Mc help (a pro gardener), who helped prepare the soil...



And then later, turf it!  Here's me laying the first bit of turf (along with customary bacon roll)...



And here I am laying the final piece (with customary builders bum!)...



So by the end of the day it looked like this...



What a transformation!  A week later and the grass has taken well, and is really growing. This is how it looked at just after 6 this morning...



Oh, did I forget to mention something!?

Yes, as of yesterday there's an addition to our family. Meet Honey our 8 week old extremely adorable Golden Retriever...

 


Honey absolutely loves the garden - although she is doing the best she can to undo all the work James and I did laying the lawn....

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Back Home For The Day

Long-term readers of this blog will probably have noticed a lack of moth-related posts so far this year. Is that a good or a bad thing? Well for me a bad thing, but I'm sure some of you are pleased about it!

Throughout the spring I kept reading on Twitter about disappointing number of moths across the UK, so just didn't bother. Recently though I've been seeing plenty of moth photos about, that coupled with promising looking conditions (little wind, plenty of cloud cover and night-time temps in double figures) on Sunday night had me digging out my Robinsons at Mum and Dads. Really pleased I did too!

On Monday morning I had 72 moths of 27 species. Heart and Dart was the most numerous species (12) and a Silver Y the only immigrant. Some of the rest looked like this...

Puss Moth - only the second I've ever caught in the garden, a big and stunning moth.
Peach Blossom - I always go 'wow' when I see one!
Green Carpet
Buff-tip - not doing a very good job of blending in though!
Purple Bar
Scalloped Hazel
Treble Lines, the usual 'classic' form on the left and a example of the obscura form on the right

Whilst I was up Mum and Dads, I put a net up in the front garden too.  Two more Bullfinches ringed made it 43 trapped and ringed here now, although this was only the second time I've netted here in the 12 months.  I only ringed one Bullfinch here in 2013, ten in 2012 and an amazing 30 in 2011!   The best bird ringed though was this beautiful just fledged Coal Tit....

Such lose juvenile body feathers - I love a nice fresh '3J'!

Must just mention that I learnt more about Bee-eater sightings after my last post.  James M had the one past Charmouth at 09:20, but a message came out the next morning that four flew past here almost at the same time.  The bird James saw looked to be on its own, so the four must have taken a different route or gone through just before he got there - so it looks like it was a four and a single that joined up here on patch.  There's currently five lurking in Hampshire somewhere, so possibly after they flew off on Sunday afternoon, they dropped down into the valley and then followed it inland before turning back east?

If whoever saw the four over Charmouth reads this, olease drop us a email or comment as it would be good to learn more....

Monday, 2 June 2014

Bee-eater!

Well yesterday was a very exciting day, and I can't tell you how lucky I feel.

Every Sunday I always work 6am to 4:15pm. But yesterday, not only was it the start of new Sunday hours for me (now working until 7pm), because I had to go in for an early morning meeting, I had a couple of hours off in the middle of the day.... this was vital.

The first hint of Bee-eater action was former patch birder James Mc who had one fly west along the cliff-edge at Charmouth, which isn't far from our patch at all.  Bun reacted to this news by heading up to Axe Cliff, which is the western edge of the Undercliff and the most likely spot to see a coast-hugging migrant.  I think it was towards the end of his walk when he heard Bee-eater calling, and at the same time Karen saw one briefly by the parking area. But as soon as they saw it, it was off, and flew west.

Phil was at my place, and after hearing this news we debated heading to the coast, but thought standing in the garden would give us as good a chance. But then we had another phone call from Bun (many thanks mate, always good at keeping others informed) to say the Bee-eater was circling over the golf course in the distance. I bundled Phil into my car and we went off.

The next bit of news was less than hopeful though, as Bun said it seemed to continue west and flew off from the golf course. Oh bugger. We stopped along the Estuary to have a listen, nothing. I then thought maybe it was still worth popping up to the golf course as Bun and Karen were viewing from quite some distance away. We walked onto the golf course and within a minute Phil said "What's that on there?" (he didn't have any bins on him!)...

Patch tick! Probably the most colourful bird on my patch list!



Incredible!!!! Then ensued numerous texts and phone calls as we watched the Bee-eater sit motionless. Bun and Karen arrived, as did Tim Wright, but just before the next wave of local birders got to us, a Crow flew in and flushed it. I could have taken some photos of it in flight, but decided to record that lovely call. It's not just the Bee-eater you can hear though, I apologise for the language I use as I realise the bird was flying off. I was just really disappointed that it didn't stay put for a bit longer...



Thankfully for some, the Bee-eater was relocated further up towards Rousdon, along with four more! But sadly yet again they didn't hang around, and soon all five flew off west never to be seen again.  Bee-eater is a mega Devon bird, they just don't hang around.  So it really was a great shame that the Axe couldn't be the place many people added this beautiful species to their county lists.

This was my third UK Bee-eater, having found two singles fly through at Spurn. This was my first perched UK bird though, and what a delight to see. So happy!  And as for Phil, well it wasn't just a patch tick for him, but a UK first too! I hear he was jumping up and down in excitement for the rest of the day...