Thursday 29 October 2009

The Trap Is Back Out!

It's been ten days since my last moth trapping attempt, for various reasons. So I was pleased to get it out again last night, it was very worthwhile.

I caught 44 moths of 20 species, including three first for the garden. One was this immigrant...

Scarce Bordered Straw

I had two of these....

Red-green Carpet number one

Red-green Carpet number two

And two of these...

November Moth

The rest of the moths were: 8 Common Marbled Carpet, 4 Large Yellow Underwing, 3 Blair's Shoulder-knot, 3 Grey Pine Carpet, 2 Spruce Carpet, 2 Cypress Carpet, 2 Yellow-lined Quaker, 2 Double-striped Pug, 2 L-album Wainscot, 2 Feathered Ranunculus, 2 Angle Shades, 2 Silver Y, and singles of: Dark Sword Grass, Merveille du Jour, Snout, Shuttle-shaped Dart and Black Rustic.

One last photo, one of today's two Cypress Carpet - my second and third for the garden....

Gorgeous thing!

Wednesday 28 October 2009

Ouzel Repellent Still Working Well...

...I gave it another shot though, going up to Beer Head this morning. Looking down the under hooken, one minute the visibility would be fine, the next it would look like this...

Looking west (or trying too anyway!) from the view point

There weren't many migrants about, with not all that much going over. But it was nice to see my first two Black Redstarts of the autumn, both females/immatures. One was down in the under hooken fly catching off the top of small trees and bushes, and the other calling quite frantically from bushes between The Sheepwalk and The Dell before flying in to the caravan park.

A look along the estuary revealed the usual selection of waders; ten Blackwits, one Barwit, four Dunlin, lots of Lapwing, an Avocet... ohhhh... that's not usual! It looked like a juv, running around on the mud north of Coronation Corner. Always nice to see these beauties on our river, wish they were more frequent!

Now, time to talk about my AMAZING sighting yesterday... I was SOOOOO thrilled with this, though am still a bit bummed that I had left my camera in the car!

I'd gone to Seaton Marshes and was walking around the Borrow Pit when I noticed some splashing coming from the water's edge. On raising my bins I was stunned to see two OTTERS!

I watched them for five minutes fighting - they were so in to each other that they didn't notice me! Most of the time they would just roll over and over in the water with their bodies locked together, but now and then they would square up to each other face to face, before trying to bite the other's neck. Then the frantic rolling would continue causing the water to splash around them - at one point I even heard one of them make a short 'yelp'-like noise. The smaller of the two occasionally tried to get away, sometimes diving down under, but on a couple of occasions climbed out on the bank behind. It didn't take long for the slighter larger Otter to jump back on top of him/her though. Eventually they both submerged and disappeared....

This wasn't the last of them though, in the afternoon, Dad watched them for about half an hour 'patrolling' the Borrow Pit.

I feel so privileged to have witnessed this, and it wasn't at the crack of dawn.... but 09:15!!!

Lastly, two comments about my previous post....

I trust everyone noticed the glaring swearing mistake.... instead of replacing the 'i' with a '*', I just stuck a '*' in between the 'i' and the 't'! Wooops! Thanks Tom B : )

Secondly, I said I'd mention what I'd seen on a couple of morning sea watches last week. Well they were both pretty poor; a lone Brent Goose flew west, then east, then came in and flew up river, only to fly back south out of the river five minutes later, before finally heading off west. A single Red-breasted Merganser west was much more direct! And that's that!

Time for work....

Thursday 22 October 2009


Came home from work at 22:30... laptop on... Birdguides up....


Durham: EASTERN CROWNED WARBLER!!! For a photo click HERE

This was the first for Britain I was meant to find though!! Oh well, I'll just have to find Britain's second one!!!

Today's birding highlight for me were three Med Gulls in Seaton Hole late morning; two adults and a first-winter. I tried seawatching this morning and yesterday morning, I'll post full details of these when I've recovered from the heart attack that I've just suffered!!!

Tuesday 20 October 2009

My Bird Of The Year (So Far)

Nice to have some seawatching weather! And what a highlight we had, though it wasn't a Fea's Petrel!

Just before 08:50 Gav called a small Skua heading east towards us along the beach. It was a stunning juv Long-tailed! TOTALLY STUNNING!

It flew past about eight to ten metres in front Gav, Ian and myself. What a teeny bird, and the plumage on it was immaculate. Think it's the closest I've EVER seen any Skua, and I've seen a heck of a lot of Skuas! What a fantastic bird, from the end of it's dark tipped bluish bill to the tip of it's two small and blunt projecting tail-feathers. THRILLED TO BITS!!!!! My second patch
LTS, the first being an awesome spring adult.

Because I'm an IDIOT I didn't have my camera with me, but later I returned to the spot with my camera and asked Gav to take a photo of my impression of the Long-tailed...

Wow - uncanny!

OK - so I look nothing like a Long-tailed Skua! Where I'm stood though is the distance it was, at about the height of my head. What an incredible local patch experience!

About fifteen minutes later, it was in front of us again, but soon drifted off NW over town.... I wonder where it has wound up....

I sea watched 07:40 - 09:30 and again 09:50 - 10:30. I only counted Gannets during my first watch and got up to 176. The other scribbles in my notebook include (east unless stated): 1 Red-throated Diver (landed on sea), 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 Diver sp. (west), 1 Common Scoter, 2 Red-breasted Merganser (west), 2 Great Skua, 23 Common Gull, 2 Med Gull (1w in-off, 2w west), 23 Kittiwake, 1 Common Tern (juv), 3 auk sp. and VERY frustratingly, a distant and brief Petrel sp. (a small dark one, NOT a Fea's!).

I've just noticed on Gav's blog that Red-breasted Merganser was a year-tick for him... I did wonder why when I disagreed with the RBM ID he wrestled me into the shingle and rubbed seaweed in my face until I agreed....

I've found another interesting blog, I heard it being mentioned this morning... Cream Tea Birding. Obviously the frequent mention of cakes makes this blog an instant winner for me, but I was really hooked when I scrolled back to 29th April '09.

There's a photo of the crowed gathered at the Portland
Collared Fly twitch when the blogger was there....and guess what two backwater birders are at the back of the crowd?... Take a look HERE.

Bun certainly gets the 'most relaxed' award, and I'm going for 'best dressed'...

As a footnote, I didn't actually disagree with the RBM ID, in fact I called them....wish I didn't though! Actually, thinking back, they were probably just Mallards....

Monday 19 October 2009

Still No Ouzels For Me

Beer Head first thing was disappointingly quiet, and at about 09:00 a southerly wind started blowing and made the Under Hooken watch point a rather uncomfortable place to be!

A quick look at the sea after this showed that Black-headed Gulls were really on the move, with flock after flock streaming in from the east; some carried on west but most came in and flew up river.

I spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon in the garden, but at about 14:00 had time for a look along the river. Amongst the Gulls I squeezed out three Common and two Meds. The Meds were a first winter and an adult.... this adult in fact....

I always enjoy Med Gulls, they are just soooo smart....

Tonight at Colyford Marsh, amongst the Black-headed Gulls heading down river to roost, there was another first-winter Med and five more Commons.

Had the moth trap out last night, wish I had the same selection that Portland had! Still, in amongst the 21 moths of 11 species, there was a first for the garden. At last Grey Pine Carpet can go on the garden list with certainty...

It was actually very obvious!

Here it is alongside a Pine Carpet

The rest of the catch was made up of: 6 Setaceous Hebrew Character, 4 Blair's Shoulder-knot, 2 Merveille Du Jour, 2 Common Marbled Carpet, and singles of: Large Yellow Underwing, Angle Shades, Feathered Ranunculus, Pine Carpet, Yellow-lined Quaker and Beaded Chestnut.

I'll shall end this post with a photo of my third and fourth 'French-named pretty green one'....

They are soooooo brilliant!

Saturday 17 October 2009

Just A Quickie...

As I said I would, I tried Beer Head again this morning, hoping for Ring Ouzel. I was up there for nearly two hours, and spent almost all of that time looking down into the Under Hooken, but saw no Ouzels! : (

It wasn't all doom and gloom though, not at all! Vis mig was very exciting, but as birds were going in all directions I didn't conduct a full count.

Best was a single flock of 28 Crossbills east at 09:23, chupping all the way. This is the biggest flock I've ever seen on patch, and the biggest single flock I've ever seen on any vis mig session anywhere!

A lone Brambling west was my first of the autumn, and a Lesser Redpoll north and 11 Siskin east added to the list. The most numerous species appeared to be Goldfinch. Although they weren't moving anywhere fast, 40+ House Martins and c10 Swallows were feeding along the cliff edge.

Grounded migrants included 12 Redwing, two Chiffchaff and a Goldcrest.

Off to bed, I have a long day of work ahead of me tomorrow....

Friday 16 October 2009

And Today's Year Tick Was...

Beer Head this morning was rather exciting... In the drizzling rain thrushes were packed into every bush, groups of Meadow Pipits filtered their way along the fence lines, Long-tailed Tit flocks were grilled, and my year tick EIDER!

I'll come back to this later, and keep reading for today's moth news too.

I started today at Axe Cliff, it was rather unpleasant here in the cold and rather strong northerly wind. There wasn't much at all on the move over head, the best being my first Golden Plover of the autumn, eight Swallows and a couple of Siskins. On the ground three Wheatears and a couple of Chiffs were the only migrants.

As I was leaving here, Ian M informed me of a
Ring Ouzel on Beer Head - this text decided my next destination!

I spent over an hour looking down into the Under Hooken where Ian had briefly seen the Ouzel, but no luck. There was plenty of birds here though, loads of Blackbirds and Song Thrushes, a couple of Redwings and my first Fieldfare of the autumn...

Distant and looking the wrong way!

Again, thanks to Ian, I made a sudden retreat from my watch point above the Under Hooken and headed for the Hollow. Ian had got an Eider sat on the sea! By the time I got there it had drifted towards the Head, and was in amongst a group of Shags. A welcome addition to my year list, looked to be a juv male. Also 26 Common Scoter on the sea, with two more and a Teal west.

A little later, a sweep of the estuary showed the two Barwits, two Dunlin, a first-winter Med Gull, two Shoveler and a surprise female Pintail...

Great ducks are Pintail - even the cute females!

The Tufted Duck is still at Lower Bruckland Ponds, and despite grilling all the Chiffchaffs and Long-tailed Tits here, all I saw were Chiffchaffs and Long-tailed Tits...

Now it's time for Moths, and what a brilliant catch I had to sort through this morning! Had two new species for the garden, how's this for beauty....

Merveille du jour...times two!

Here's one up close

And here's the other up close!

And the other first was this...

Yellow-line Quaker

And the second Yellow-line Quaker, had two of these too!

I caught an impressive (for October anyway!) 126 moths of 24 species. Along with the four already mentioned, this included: 50 Setaceous Hebrew Character, 12 Large Yellow Underwing, 11 Common Marbled Carpet, 9 Blair's Shoulder Knot, 6 Barred Sallow, 6 Black Rustic, 5 Feathered Ranunculus, 5 Beaded Chestnut, 4 Angle Shades, 3 Silver Y, 2 Double-striped Pug, 2 Lunar Underwing, 2 Spruce Carpet, 2 Garden Carpet, and singles of: Willow Beauty, Pine Carpet, Snout, Lesser Yellow Underwing, Pearly Underwing, Clancy's Rustic, L-album Wainscot and Straw Dot.

Lastly some updates to yesterday's moth list....

I posted a photo of my first Pale Mottled Willow for the garden. Turns out it wasn't a Pale Mottled Willow, but the much rarer Clancy's Rustic! I re-captured the same moth last night. This species was recorded for the first time in the UK in October 2002....and there was one in my back garden last night!!

Also, I mentioned how I thought one of my two Spruce Carpets may have been a Grey Pine Carpet. It looks like it was indeed a Grey Pine Carpet, another new for the garden....

But what do you think it is? All comments welcome!

Am going to try again for Ring Ouzel in the morning, haven't seen one on patch for too long!

Thursday 15 October 2009

Spot The Gold

In this month, I'm averaging two new moths for the garden a week. Last night I got four!! In all I caught 45 moths of 17 species, the four new ones were...

A rather late but very lovely Gold Spot

Red-line Quaker

I thought this was a Pale Mottled is in fact a Clancy's Rutic!

Spruce Carpet; I had two of these but had hoped the other was going to turn out to be a Grey Pine Carpet....not so!

The rest of the catch was made up of: 12 Blair's Shoulder Knot, 5 Common Marbled Carpet, 5 Setaceous Hebrew Character, 4 Black Rustic, 3 Large Yellow Underwing, 3 Beaded Chestnut, 2 Double-striped Pug, and singles of: Garden Carpet, Willow Beauty, Light Emerald, Barred Sallow, Feathered Ranunculus and Silver Y. Excellent stuff!

Hopefully by the end of play tomorrow I'll have some birdie year-ticks under the belt, I should have quite a bit of time out in the field so fingers crossed....

Wednesday 14 October 2009

The Ultimate Flushing Machine...

I actually had an enjoyable few hours birding this morning, autumn is certainly in full swing! But I'll start with the title...

From the farm gate late morning, this had roughly the same effect as a White-tailed Eagle would as it soared up and down the valley...

It was roughly the same size as a White-tailed Eagle too!

160 Teal, 20 Wigeon, 4 Shoveler, 40 Snipe and everything else within a ten mile diameter went mad when it came over - quite useful really! Also whilst here, two Siskin and 12 Redwing flew through, with another two Redwing in the field behind.

Earlier in the morning, I spent 07:50 - 08:50 stood at the Spot On Kiosk. Over the sea two Shoveler (fems), two Teal, eight Common Scoter, three Common Gull (2 ad, 1 1st wint; first of autumn) one Med Gull (1W), one Sandwich Tern and one Razorbill provided some excitement.

Over the land wasn't too bad either, with the following totals entering my notebook (well, scrap of paper!): 16 Rook, 12 Jackdaw, 4 Redwing, 2 Starling, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker (landed on a telegraph pole in the middle of town!), 18 Skylark, 42 Pied Wags, 3 Grey Wags, 10 Meadow Pipits, 1 Great Tit (!?!) 32 Linnets, 16 Chaffinch, 2 Lesser Redpoll and 2 Reed Bunts. This was enough to give me the vis mig bug again, so be warned....

Lastly at Lower Bruckland Ponds the female Tufted Duck remains. There were several Chiffs here too including one with no trace of yellow or green in it's plumage at for a rainy day!

Am working a day shift tomorrow, but have Friday off....

Tuesday 13 October 2009


"Red-throated Pipit?" I hear you ask.... Afraid not, much more mundane!

About thirty minutes ago whilst in the garden my first
Redwing of the autumn went over. Not surprised by this as they've had big numbers on the east coast today. Check out Bucktonbirder HERE; what an amazing morning! The final Redwing tally for this site today was 32,988! WOW!

Due to various reasons I've had little birding time since my last post. Any time I have had I've spent it looking at the river, but the wading bird situation has been very samey; 30+ Lapwing, 8 Blackwits, 2 Barwits, 1 Knot, 4 Dunlin, 2 Green Sands and 3 Common Sands. Duck numbers remain pretty low, two Shoveler being the best yesterday. There are some NE winds due at end of week, that should bump wildfowl numbers up.

Have had two new moths for the garden over the past week. On 6th a Cypress Carpet was a nice addition, this species has only recently spread into Devon....

Pretty little thing

And today this was one of only eight moths in the trap...

Beaded Chestnut

The night I caught the Cypress Carpet was a good night for moth numbers; bearing in mind my average catch during this month has been about ten per night!

There were 73 moths of 22 species: 15 Setaceous Hebrew Character, 12 Feathered Ranunculus, 7 Common Marbled Carpet, 5 Large Yellow Underwing, 4 Double-striped Pug, 4 Lesser Yellow Underwing, 3 Lunar Underwing, 3 Black Rustic, 2 Blair's Shoulder Knot, 2 Silver Y, 2 Willow Beauty, 2 L-album Wainscot, 2 Barred Sallow, 2 Snout, and singles of: Light Emerald, Brimstone, Pine Carpet, Green Carpet, Cypress Pug, Square-spot Rustic and Shuttle-shaped Dart.

There have been lots of butterflies about of late, including a couple of Clouded Yellows and several Painted Ladies. Here's one that was in the front garden yesterday...

Just like spring!

Hope to do some serious birding in the morning, let's hope I get some rewards...

Monday 5 October 2009

Common But Nice

Had the trap out again last night, it got me 23 moths of 12 species (Setaceous Hebrew Characters are dropping in numbers rapidily!). There were two smart firsts for the gardens in this small collection though...

A stunning Black Rustic

And a colourful Barred Sallow

The rest of the catch consisted of: 7 Feathered Ranunculus, 3 Common Marbled Carpet, 3 Setaceous Hebrew Character, 2 Pine Carpet, and singles of: Light Emerald, Garden Carpet, Willow Beauty, Lunar Underwing, Angle Shades and Large Yellow Underwing.

Now to birds, and it is still all a bit grim! I've given the river valley a good grilling today; 18 Lapwing, 9 Blackwits, 2 Barwits (still!), 3 Ringed Plover, 2 Dunlin and 1 Knot all I have to show for it. At Lower Bruckland Ponds the female Tufted Duck remains and over the centre of town mid afternoon a flock of 14 Siskin flew NE; hopefully a sign of things to come....

Friday 2 October 2009

Is It Really October?

Apart from Meadow Pipits trickling west, it feels like winter! Migration seems to be almost non-existent at the moment! Saying that, a couple of waders tonight made the day knot all that bad...

Blackhole Marsh this morning looked great, the muddy edges just perfect, and the water like a mirror...

But why is it not packed with wading birds!?

There were a few more waders on it this morning than of late, but not that many more; 7 Green Sands and 3 Dunlin. Also c80 Teal. Tonight it was totally different, only one Green Sand, no Dunlin but two Knot. About half hour earlier I had seen these two Knot fly up river from Coronation Corner.

Earlier in the day I noted two Barwits and six Blackwits on the estuary, and a cracking juvenile Hobby performed exceptionally well from the farm gate mid afternoon. I had a good garden bird today too, with a high flying Snipe west mid morning.

Back to yesterday, whilst I was emptying the contents of my moth trap mid morning, vis mig was rather impressive. Most notably alba Wagtails, some decent sized flocks were passing very low NW over the garden, with plenty of Mipits and a few Grey Wags and Skylarks.

Yesterday's moth selection was similar to recent catches; 62 moths of 14 species. I had a first for the garden, Feathered Ranunculus... seven of them!!

Here's three of them - pretty little things aren't they!

The rest of the catch was: 19 Setaceous Hebrew Character, 11 Large Yellow Underwing, 6 Lesser Yellow Underwing, 4 Lunar Underwing, 3 Light Emerald, 3 Common Marbled Carpet, 2 Angle Shades, 2 Snout, and singles of: Silver Y, Dark Spectacle, Flounced Rustic, Shuttle-shaped Dart and Garden Carpet.

I'm working 10 til 7 tomorrow, a month ago that would have given me stacks of birding time - now not so!

Lastly, you have just GOT to click on this link: