Friday 30 July 2010

A Few Last Minute Lines

I really am about to go, but thought I should just mention the two Crossbills that flew east over my back garden earlier this morning. Always nice to see (and hear!).

An omission from yesterday's post...because they are trash....was the flock of 32 Canada Geese on Colyford Marsh. 27 of them flew off SW, but I'm sad to say, an hour later they came back!!!

Thursday 29 July 2010

A Quick One Before I Go...

Tomorrow morning I will be leaving the patch for a few days, so you won't find any updates on this blog until Monday at the earliest.

Before I go though, I have some birdie and mothing news to tell.

This morning Blackhole Marsh proved worthy of a look as this fine Ruff was feeding in the middle of the marsh...

The first of the 'autumn'

Also here were two juv Little Ringed Plovers, nine Common Sandpipers and singles of Dunlin and Black-tailed Godwit. There were four Green Sandpipers on Colyford Common.

The only other notable bird sighting I have to mention since my last post is of a juvenile Med Gull on the Estuary a couple of days ago.

The last time I had my moth trap out was Monday night, it was the best catch I've had for a few weeks with 117 moths of 38 species captured.

This included one first for the garden, a Satin Beauty...

A female - note how wings are held unlike any other 'Beauty'

The rest of the catch looked like this: 12 Riband Wave, 10 Bright-line Brown-eye, 8 Rosy Footman, 7 Willow Beauty, 7 Common Footman, 7 Large Yellow Underwing, 6 Common Rustic, 5 Lesser Yellow Underwing, 5 Dark Arches, 4 Shuttle-shaped Dart, 4 Nut-tree Tussock, 3 minor sp., 3 Pug sp., 3 Buff Ermine, 3 Dingy Footman, 3 Heart and Dart, 3 Flame Shoulder, 3 Double Square-spot, 2 Early Thorn, 2 V-Pug, 2 Uncertain, 2 Beautiful Hook-tip and singles of: Buff Arches, Yellow-tail, Single-dotted Wave, Common Carpet, Garden Carpet, Brussels Lace, Common Pug, Wormwood Pug, Elephant Hawkmoth, Pale Prominent, Magpie, Grey Dagger, Clay, Snout and Spectacle. There were also two moths too worn and battered to even hazard a guess at identifying!

So, I'll just get tonights work shift out the way, and then I'm off for a weekend of bird ringing....

Monday 26 July 2010

The Vapourer

I was hoping a morning tour of the local patch would show lots of waders as it is full moon time...but no! A Whimbrel and a few Common Sandpipers being all I could muster. There had been a small arrival of duck though, with nine Shoveler and a Teal on the river north of Coronation Corner with the flock of moulting Mallards.

Mothing last night got me a vey attractive first for the garden...

The Vapourer

In the trap were 68 moths of 33 species. Although not a good count, there was a nice selection; 10 Bright-line Brown-eye, 6 Dark Arches, 4 Ruby Tiger, 3 Common Footman, 3 Heart and Dart, 3 Cabbage Moth, 3 Large Yellow Underwing, 3 Silver Y, 2 Small Fan-footed Wave, 2 Red Twin-spot Carpet, 2 Early Thorn, 2 Poplar Hawkmoth, 2 Elephant Hawkmoth, 2 Dingy Footman, 2 Uncertain and singles of: Buff Arches, Common Emerald, Riband Wave, Wormwood Pug, V-Pug, Willow Beauty, Buff Ermine, Four-spotted Footman (male), Rosy Footman, Shuttle-shaped Dart, Double Square-spot, Lesser Yellow Underwing, Common Rustic, Grey Dagger, Coronet and Snout.

Will have the trap out again tonight, but that will probably be it for a week as I have a few days and nights of camping ahead of me....

Saturday 24 July 2010

Big And Small

Thursday night gave me an over-due first for the garden, with my sixth species of Hawkmoth here...

Privet Hawkmoth - the largest resident moth in the UK

And 'The Small', was this tiny immigrant micro moth that I caught last night...

Diamond-backed Moth

I'll bore you all with the full lists for both these catches, but don't worry they aint that big at all! And there's bird news afterwards...

Thursday night I caught 59 moths of 31 species; 10 Common Footman, 7 Bright-line Brown-eye, 3 Single-dotted Wave, 3 Buff Ermine, 3 Clay, 3 Uncertain, 2 Buff Arches, 2 Riband Wave, 2 Dingy Footman, 2 Grey Dagger, 2 Spectacle and singles of: Lackey, Small Blood-vein, Sandy Carpet, Small Rivulet, Brussels Lace, Willow Beauty, Brimstone, Peppered Moth, Poplar Hawkmoth, Privet Hawkmoth, Pebble Prominent, Rosy Footman, Heart and Dart, Crescent Dart (pictured below), Flame Shoulder, Flame, Large Yellow Underwing, Poplar Grey, Common Rustic and Silver Y.

My third of the year

Friday night I caught 63 moths of 30 species; 8 Riband Wave, 7 Bright-line Brown-eye, 6 Common Footman, 5 Dark Arches, 4 Common Rustic, 3 Flame, 2 Early Thorn, 2 Buff Ermine, 2 Shuttle-shaped Dart, 2 Uncertain and singles of: Pebble Hook-tip, Lackey, V-Pug, Brussels Lace, Scalloped Oak, Pebble Prominent, Buff Footman, Dingy Footman, Large Yellow Underwing, Lesser Yellow Underwing, Double Square-spot, Smoky Wainscot, Nut-tree Tussock, Silver Y, Spectacle, Beautiful Hook-tip and Fanfoot. Also five Rush Veener and the Diamond-backed Moth pictured above.

Ok, it is bird time now...

I have to say, I'm highly gripped by the juvenile Caspian Gull just west of us. The number of Gulling-hours I've put in during the last few weeks, and haven't had anything to show for it! Oh well, I'll keep trying....

The only Gull worth mentioning was a colour-ringed Herring Gull a couple of days ago; orange M6GT.

This bird was ringed by the North Thames Gull Group on 9th Jan 2009 at a landfil site in Pitsea, Essex. This is the third sighting of the bird since it was ringed, and guess where the other two were!? HERE! Gav saw it on the Axe in March and April 2009, see HERE and HERE.

On Tuesday, 14 Common Sandpipers on the lower Estuary was a good count, and I'm sure there were more on Blackhole Marsh and further up river. Today nine Dunlin, two Whimbrel and two Blackwits were on the Esturay, then a look at Blackhole Marsh showed seven Common Sands and this juvenile Little Ringed Plover...

I was going to snap it with my Nikon, but it flew and landed much further away as I was attaching camera to scope! Bugger!

Have done a bit of ringing during the last few days, with sessions in Shute and near Waggs Plot. By the end of the second session my hands were in agony, as I rung eight of these...

All but one were juvs

Whilst netting in Kilmington, a Hobby and a couple of Siskins flew over.


Someone somewhere read my moanings further up this post and gave me a nice reward during another scan of the Estuary late afternoon. North of Coronation Corner an adult Yellow-legged Gull looked very smart amongst the local riff raff. It was distant though so any photo was always going to be a rubbish one, see....

You can make out its yellow legs if you enlarge the photo

Wednesday 21 July 2010

A Quiet Few Days

Everything has seemed to have eased back a couple of gears in the bird and moth world over the past few days here.

Blackhole Marsh is looking superb for waders at the moment, but yesterday there were only seven Dunlin and four Common Sandpipers here.

A (early returning!?)
White Wagtail was a bit of a surprise, and a Hobby - a species that has been very scarce on patch this summer - was fantastic to watch hunting hirundines overhead. Talking of hirundines, it was nice to see at least 60 Sand Martins, with smaller numbers of House Martins and Swallows feeding over the marsh.

White Wag

On Monday morning, a twenty minute sea watch mid morning revealed a surprisingly good passage of Common Scoters, with 70 past in three flocks. Four more were sat on the sea.

I've had had the moth trap out on only two nights recently, pimarily because of the rain threat. Saturday night offered 53 moths of 27 species and Sunday night gave me 58 moths of 37 species. Two very poor catches for this time of year really.

There were no new species for the garden in the two catches, but new moths for the year included: Small Blood-vein, Wormwood Pug, Lesser Yellow Underwing, Common Rustic, Brown-tail, Smoky Wainscot and Dingy Footman. Singles of Cresent Dart and L-abum Wainscot were also notable, as were single Rush Veeners on each night.

I'll finish with a couple of miscellaneous photos...

Fraser having a go on something he doesn't normally drive!

Mum and one of the young of the Little Grebe family at Lower Bruckland Ponds, there are three chicks in all

Saturday 17 July 2010

All About Gulls

All I had time for today was an evening sweep of the Estuary. As I love Gulls it was well worth it.... for the non Gull-lover it would have been a disappointment!

Brown is beautiful, it is official...

What a cutey!

Yes my first juvenile Med Gull of the year greeted me half way up, I just love them!

At Coronation Corner, I was very surprised to see 'The White One' again, it hasn't been seen for months! It looks much the same though, but only offered very distant views... crap light too!

Mind you, it behaved better than the juvenile Yellow-legged Gull I plucked out of the flock. At first it just slept in the open, and on awaking immediately flew and landed in the middle of a mass of Gulls. I did see its head, several times, but my camera didn't...

It's the one bowing!

This one was another 'classic' individual, but it was larger than the 'classic' one I saw on Wednesday.

I found a second bird, which I just couldn't make my mind up on! It wasn't that big at all, and I never saw its tail or open wing. I took some photos, looked away, looked back and it had gone!! Anyway, this is what it looked like at rest...


Away from Gulls, I saw eight Dunlin, four Common Sandpipers, a Whimbrel and a juvi Redshank.

The moth trap is out tonight, it feels like an age since my last good catch! I look forward to the morning...

Friday 16 July 2010

A Rapid Response

I already have the details back of the white colour-ringed Herring Gull I saw at Seaton Hole a couple of days ago...

'White O.AX2' was caught and ringed just 50 days ago at Chouet Landfill in Guernsey, which is 138km from where I saw him. He is a third calander year bird (aged as a 7 when captured).

Paul's website 'Guernsey Gulls' is a good read - White O.AX2 was one of 824 Herring Gulls (along with 184 Lesser Black-backed Gulls) caught within a 48 hour period.

I've been out birding for a few hours this afternoon. Blackhole Marsh was very was the Estuary. The only notable sighting being two Whimbrel.

Thursday 15 July 2010

The Wait Is Over

Sleep much? No I didn't think so, just tooooo excited about seeing the answer to yesterday's quiz.

Karen - I am pleased to say you have found the stonking pale juvenile Yellow-legged Gull.

Now the funny thing is, when I took the photo I thought that was the only
Yellow-legged Gull in the frame, but it wasn't! The darker and larger juvenile had sneaked in to the bottom right hand corner!

Brett - one of Dorset's finest Gull experts (when the others are out of the county anyway ;-)) - got it 100%. He emailed me this....

Nice one :-)

Here's the promised slightly better photo of the paler bird...

Just to the right of that Mallard

From the angle of this photo it's hard to make out the pristine fresh juvenile wing feathers, so you may mistake it for a first-summer bird in this pic. Anyway, did you get it right? Did you care!?

This morning, I was stupid and got up at 5am! I am mad....and bloody knakered!! I sea watched 05:30 - 07:45. It was nice to have some company - thanks Bun - it really helps during the slow bits, or in this case - the whole watch!

Four Balearic Shearwaters flew west within a five minute period from 06:30; two together then two singletons. Other than that I noted the following: 17 Common Scoters (8E, 3W and 6 on sea), 48 Gannets, 54 Manxies (4 east), 6 Sandwich Terns, 2 Kittiwakes and 2 auk sp. A very brief possible Storm Petrel was incredibly annoying!

Blackhole Marsh a little later showed a single Ringed Plover with four Dunlin (water levels very high here), and on Colyford Marsh two Med Gulls (an adult and second summer) and another Dunlin.

Lastly there's a couple of Gull-related things I accidently left out of yesterday's post. An adult Common Gull at Colyford Marsh, and a white colour-ringed Herring Gull at Seaton Hole. I will post details of it on here when I hear back.

Wednesday 14 July 2010

Time For A Quiz.... you are excited with that prospect!!??

I'll come to it in a bit, first off I should mention this adult Med Gull on the Estuary yesterday afternoon...

It was wearing a red ring - but I just couldn't read it as it had been slightly damaged (the ring not the bird!)

Quiz time now......? NOPE!

Time to mention my sea watch this morning. I was on the beach for 05:55, and stayed here until 07:30. It wasn't as good as I was hoping...but I guess it is mid July and not mid August! Also the wind was blowing in directly from the south, we always need a bit of west in it to be good here. I'm hopeful for tomorrow as the wind is swinging round a little...maybe I shouldn't be!?

The highlight was my first Balearic Shearwater of the year which flew west at 06:25. Very welcome it was too!!! The rest of today's page in my notebook reads "20 Common Scoter (11 east), 31 Gannet, 17 Manxies, 2 Med Gulls (both adults east), 4 Sandwich Terns, 1 Common Tern and 8 auk sp." Asume all of the above flew west unless stated otherwise.

It really wasn't busy and it got quite boring. In fact I became so bored that I ended up taking a photo of a Crow...

Dramatic back drop I thought!!

After my sea watch and some breakfast, a tour of Blackhole and Colyford Marshes with Karen produced; 3 Little Ringed Plovers (2 ad), 5 Dunlin, 1 Whimbrel (my first of the autumn), 1 Green Sand, 5 Common Sands and an adult Med Gull. Later on the Estuary produced five summer plumaged Blackwits.

"Later on the Estuary" brings me nicely on to QUIZ TIME!!! But it is time to totally squish any slight excitement you may have possibly had (though I really don't believe anyone has that dull a life!).... GULLS!

A look along the river mid afternoon quickly found me parked up in the gate way north of Axmouth as this is where most of the big Gulls could be seen from - although distant. It wasn't long 'til I picked out a stonking juvenile Yellow-legged Gull, a really pale one too! As it was the first of the year I sent out a text or two.

Just before Ian Mclean arrived, it flew and landed out of sight. But a few minutes later a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull appeared in view.... but hang on minute... this one was darker, and a real brute of a bird. That makes two!!! About ten minutes later 'the pale one' re-appeared to confirm this.

I tried a few photos, but because of the vast distance I knew they were always going to be rubbish...hence the quiz opportunity! So folks...

Can YOU spot the Yellow-legged Gull(s)....

One or two? And where....??

Click on the photo to enlarge it - you really do need to. If you care that much about this, please post your answer. If you don't....which I'm sure no one does....then you can wake up again now!

I'll be posting the answer, and a slightly better photo tomorrow.

Tuesday 13 July 2010

Raining LRP's

Some really enjoyable birding this morning - autumn is certainly here!

As I arrived at Blackhole Marsh gateway at about 8am, two adult Little Ringed Plovers landed on the near shore - excellent - our first of the 'autumn'. They flew off towards the north west corner of the marsh, so I followed....

I soon relocated them, plus another...and another...and ANOTHER! I was watching FIVE
Little Ringed Plovers; three adults and two juveniles! Excellent!!

I didn't have my Nikon with me, but tried to get all five in one frame with my never happened! One was always either too far to the left, or too far to the right! Still, here's some poor pics showing one of each age...


Cute juvi - I wonder if it was born locally(ish)?

This wasn't the only wader excitement of this morning, also on Blackhole Marsh the first Dunlin of the 'autumn' - a nice summer plumage bird, eight Common Sands and on Stafford Marsh two Green Sands.

From the farm gate a little later, it was great to see this...

See WHAT?!?? I hear you scream!!

Well...... water in Colyford Scrape! It has been bone dry for weeks and weeks and weeks, but this morning it had lots of the wet stuff in it! :-)

And this has had an instant impact, as two adult Greenshank were charging about on it doing their usual 'mental' feeding frenzies! Also two Lapwing and plenty of Redshank.

On the Estuary four Teal were my first for some time.

Several times this morning I've seen two juvenile Peregrines causing havoc in the skies above the river valley, which is great news as I presume these are local stock??

One of the two - distant!

I last had the moth trap out on Saturday night, and caught 105 moths of 32 species. One of these was new for the garden...

Minor Shoulder-knot....yeah not that exciting!!

The rest were: 17 Heart and Dart, 12 Flame, 8 Common Footman, 8 Bright-line Brown-eye, 7 Dark Arches, 5 Buff Arches, 5 Uncertain, 4 Flame Shoulder, 3 Buff Ermine, 3 Coronet, 2 Common Emerald, 2 Pug sp., 2 Willow Beauty, 2 Elephant Hawkmoth, 2 Swallow-tail, 2 Clouded Border, 2 Grey Dagger, 2 Sycamore, 2 Spectacle, 2 Fanfoot and singles of: Riband Wave, Small Emerald, Common Carpet, Phoenix, Eyed Hawkmoth, Peppered Moth, Double Square-spot, Dusky Brocade, Lychnis, Clay and Snout.

Doesn't look like I'll be doing much - if any - mothing this week, so this may actually be a birding blog for a short time!!!

Friday 9 July 2010

That's More Like It!

I'm bloody knakered! This 'football phase' I'm going through doesn't go well with mothing!!

It was a much better catch last night as the wind had finally dropped with plenty of cloud cover. My two traps gave 283 moths of 62 species. This included two new species for the garden...

Scarce Silver-lines; what a moth!!


The rest of the catch looked like this: 34 Dark Arches, 24 Flame, 21 Heart and Dart, 18 Bright-line Brown-eye, 15 Riband Wave, 11 Uncertain, 10 Willow Beauty, 9 Buff Ermine, 9 Minor sp., 9 Coronet, 8 Buff Arches, 8 Common Footman, 7 Flame-shoulder, 7 Sycamore, 6 Elephant Hawkmoth, 5 Double Square-spot, 4 Buff-tip, 4 Spectacle, 4 Fanfoot, 3 Swallow-tail, 3 Pug sp., 3 Clouded Silver, 3 Grey Dagger, 3 Clay, 2 Lackey, 2 Peach Blossom, 2 Light Emerald, 2 Single-dotted Wave, 2 Scorched Wing, 2 Sharp-angled Peacock, 2 Dot Moth, 2 Mottled Rustic, 2 Small Clouded-brindle, 2 Snout and singles of: Common Emerald, Small Emerald, Small Fan-footed Wave, Small Yellow Wave, Ruddy Carpet, Common Carpet, Sandy Carpet, Common Marbled Carpet, Small Seraphim, V-pug, Foxglove Pug, Scorched Pug, Yellow Shell, Fern, Clouded Border, Poplar Hawkmoth, Eyed Hawkmoth, White Ermine, Brimstone, Small Angle Shades, Miller, Silver Y, Burnished Brass, Beautiful Hook-tip and Small Fan-foot.

I won't list the small catches over the previous nights, but a True Lover's Knot was new for the year on Wednesday night.

I'll finish this post with a couple more photos from today...

Only my second ever Ruddy Carpet

The Fern

Wednesday 7 July 2010

Not Worthy Of A Blog Post...

....doesn't stop me though!!!

My moth catches have been much smaller over the past couple of nights, I blame the wind!! On Monday I did have one first though...

This Small Yellow Wave

Med Gulls must really be moving at the moment - in force too! Whenever I look out over the sea I see one (or more!). Yesterday morning was no exception, when what was literally a glance over the sea showed a stunning adult flying west.... yummy!!!

Ringing this morning on Colyford Common was rather quiet, although we had another decent control. It was another Reed Warbler - this one wearing a Jersey ring!

On the Estuary, an adult Ringed Plover was nice to see, with five Common Sands and four Blackwits.

So, was this worthy of a blog post?.... no not really!! Although in a last ditch attempt, this may just appeal to some Odonata fans....

Male Black-tailed Skimmer