Friday 26 August 2011

A Red Tailed Reward Or Two

Yesterday, I had a spare couple of hours late morning/early afternoon, so nipped over to Beer and set up a single 30 foot net up.

This proved well worthwhile, as by the end of this session I had ringed seven birds. They were four

Including this lovely first year male, with hints of brown still flecked amongst the black crown feathers

One Blue Tit (whooopee!), and...... TWO REDSTARTS! There were three in the area in all, and it was two females that ended up gaining a little bit of metal....

Simply stunning!

They really are beautiful in the hand, they are so soft to handle too - cracking birds. It's just a pity the male that was also around didn't end up in my net!

Other birds I saw/heard during this short session included a couple of
Tree Pipits and Yellow Wags over.

Tuesday 23 August 2011

All Gulls And Waders

A look along the Estuary mid morning showed that a bit of duff weather does indeed entice Gulls in. We always have a much higher number of Black-backed Gulls around when the weather is a bit pants, in fact almost the entire flock of large Gulls by the tram sheds were of the Black-backed varieties...

Sadly though nothing rarer... Kelp Gull one day!

I counted a total of 38 Lesser Black-backed Gulls of mixed ages and mixed mantle shades, and one of these was colour-ringed - I will inform all when I get the history back. It actually proved an excellent day for colour-ringed Gulls, as I also had two colour-ringed Great Black-backs and this colour-ringed adult Med...

Again, I will inform all of the life history of this bird when I hear back

Now to waders, and today's top wader was a Sanderling north of Coronation Corner early afternoon with 35 Ringed Plover and half-a-dozen Dunlin. On the Estuary there were also ten Blackwits, I'd forgotten just how stunning juv Blackwits are - so beautifully marked...

Six of the flock looked like this

Over on Black Hole Marsh it was the same as it has been, with three Wood Sands, three Greenshanks, two Lapwing and the Knot being the most notable birds.

Not in keeping with the post title were the 4+ Yellow Wags that flew over the river opposite the Tower Hide.

Monday 22 August 2011

Tree Pipit In The Bag

I went up to the Beer Cemetery fields this morning, with three nets...

It was immediately obvious there were migrants about, as a Redstart called and flicked off a hedgerow I was walking past even before it was light! A few Yellow Wags flew over and a couple of Tree Pipit calls filled the air.... exciting stuff!

As I set my final net up, suddenly Tree Pipits were calling from everywhere and a group of about 12 flew in, heading for the same field they were in the other day... I wandered away, then on my first net round ten minutes later was thrilled to find two of them in the bottom shelf! A new species for my hand...

Interestingly they both had very little fat on them, indicating they may not be going anywhere quite yet!

The other migrants I caught were two Whitethroats, three Blackcaps and this Willow Warbler...

Surprisingly the first I've ringed here!

As well as the Redstart, Yellow Wags and Tree Pipits, other migrants I saw included a Spot Fly, 10+ Whitethroats and 6+ Blackcaps.

I am totally knakered now, and have an evening of work ahead of me...all worthwhile though :-)

Saturday 20 August 2011

Autumn Migration In Full Swing

I've had a couple of very enjoyable days - with lots of birds!

Yesterday, I spent four hours in the morning in Beer at my regular haunt of late - the fields above the Cemetery.

Without a doubt the highlight was the
Tree Pipits. I'd had three or four go over, with a couple perched up in a large dead tree. I then had a walk through a field of long grass, and nine flew up and perched up in nearby bushes. I walked away and came back fifteen minutes later, and this time an incredible 14 Tree Pipits took off (in ones, twos and threes) from the same area. This is by far the most Tree Pipits I have ever seen together anywhere - let alone on the patch! They didn't show on the ground because the grass was so long, only when they were perched up...

...just a pity none of them ended up in my nets!

Other birds I saw during this visit included; 1 Spot Fly, 2 Yellow Wags, 1 Nuthatch, 7 Whitethroat, 1 Garden Warbler, 6 Blackcap, 3 Willow Warbler, 6 Chiffchaff and a Reed Bunting - the latter a real surprise as I don't normally see migrant Reed Bunts until much later in the autumn. Ringing wise, somehow I only caught one migrant bird (although a juv Coal Tit may just qualify as a second?)...

Another Whitethroat

Which did this to my hand!

Today, I spent another couple of hours up there late afternoon, hoping to catch one or all of the three Garden Warblers that were lurking in the bushes - no luck at all. I caught absolutely nothing, but saw about eight Blackcaps and a couple of Whitethroats.

Earlier today, after helping with the 'Moth Breakfast' which was part of the Wet and Wild Weekend, a look over Black Hole Marsh was very enjoyable indeed. Four Wood Sands, two Common Sands, five Greenshank and 25 Dunlin were on show - some venturing quite close to the hide...

Wood Sandpipers


And both!

Ok, time for a little bit of moth news now. I had a trap out in the garden last night as usual, and there were two highlights amongst the modest catch...

Four-spotted Footman - my first ever female!

A very worn and faded Crescent Dart

And finally - some family news; I'm an uncle! My sister-in-law gave birth to the beautiful Lily Waite last Tuesday, both mother and daughter are well.

I have already bought her her first pair of binoculars....and I'm not even joking!

Thursday 18 August 2011

One Hundred Thousand... the land mark number of hits this blog reached between this and the last post. I would just like to thank all readers, regular, occasional or one-off, for looking at this blog. I'm sorry it's not being updated as regularly as it used to be, and I know it isn't the most comical or well written birding blog on the internet - but I enjoy writing it so I hope there's at least one person out there who enjoys reading it!!

This morning, the heavy rain enticed me out. I started at Black Hole Marsh, then had a beach wander. Later on I had a look along the Estuary and from the farm gate. My totals are;

45 Ringed Plover (10 BHM, 12 on beach and were then joined by another 23 that had flown in off the sea, all 35 then flew up river), 1 Knot (juv Coly Scrape), 8 Dunlin, 6 Common Sands, 4 Green Sands (Coly Scrape), 2 Wood Sands (BHM), 1 Greenshank (Coly Scrape), 1 Whimbrel and 11 Blackwits. There were also two Common Scoters on the sea (one drake), a Yellow Wagtail on the Tesco site and at least six Swifts feeding low over the town.

Later on I had a wander around the fields behind Beer Cem. It was just the usual couple of Whitethroats and Chiffchaffs and six plus Blackcaps...but then a lovely Garden Warbler hopped out in front of me....

...a patch year tick yes, but a Melodious would have been better!!

Monday 15 August 2011

Lots Of Larvae, Waders, And Ringing...

This morning I had two net sets up at my most promising ringing site - the fields behind Beer Cem. Ringing wise, it was rather quiet - although this Whitethroat made all the effort worthwhile....

My first ringed as a 'solo' ringer :-)

There were another couple of Whitethroats arounds calling, along with 5+ Blackcaps, 4+ Willow Warblers, and over head I had seven sightings of a single Tree Pipit during the time I was here. I don't think they were seven different Tree Pipits, but at the same time I don't think it was just one!

I have got quite a bit to mention from Saturday now, when I spent the morning at Black Hole Marsh/Colyford Common.

There had been three Wood Sands in the area which were found the previous morning by Ian M, but this doubled to six right in front of my eyes as they flew up and down the valley calling loudly - a record high count for me - anywhere!!! A Little Stint was new in too, a juvenile on Black Hole Marsh which is still there today. A Hobby flew low south and looked like it was going...

Caterpillars were rather popular too on this morning, as seven Eyed and two Poplar Hawkmoth larvae were showing on the willow 'thing' that's just by the entrance to the Field Studies Base on Stafford Marsh....

Eyed Hawkmoth

Poplar Hawkmoth

Thursday 11 August 2011

Moths, Migrants and More Yellow-legged Gulls

This morning I was with the local EDDC team going through a couple of moth traps that were out on the marsh last night. This was part of an orgainsed event known as a 'moth breakfast'...the bacon roll was the breakfast bit - not the moths obviously!

There wasn't that much in the traps, probably due to the wind strength during the night. Four Dog's Tooth were notable though, and the Saltern Ear was a new species for me...

Saltern Ear; a marshland speciality

After this I had a look at the fields behind Beer Cemetery - two Tree Pipits, two Willow Warblers, three Chiffchaffs and six Blackcaps were here. Yesterday a quick look here revealed very little, but the day before (Tuesday) there were six Willow Warblers, ten Chiffchaffs, ten Blackcaps, three Whitethroats, a Sedge Warbler and a Tree Pipit.

Back to this morning, and after Beer Cem I had a look along the Estuary. I was gutted that I had left my digi scoping camera at home because there were two juv Yellow-legged Gulls off Coronation Corner. Well I say juv, but both had started moulting to first-winter plumage.

Although I didn't have my Nikon with me, one of the YLG was just about close enough for my Lumix super zoom...

A real corker of a Yellow-legged Gull was this one :-)

Tuesday 9 August 2011

Two Moth Nights

Well it is certainly about time I got round to writing this post!

My Friday night mothing continues, although the week before last I had to trap on the Thursday night (28th) - with excellent results, but it was certainly a case of quantity and not quality. In total there were 350 moths of 55 species;

91 Dark Arches
46 Riband Wave
20 Large Yellow Underwing
16 Heart and Dart
16 Uncertain
14 Common Rustic
11 Willow Beauty
10 Bright-line Brown-eye
9 Rustic
9 Clay
7 Shuttle-shaped Dart
7 Dingy Footman
6 Common Footman
5 Jersey Tiger
5 Rosy Footman
4 Double-square Spot
4 Brussels Lace
3 Magpie
3 Common Carpet
3 Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing
3 July Highflyer
3 Scalloped Oak
3 Fanfoot
3 Small Fan-footed Wave
3 V-Pug
2 Peach Blossom
2 Pug sp.
2 Single-dotted Wave
2 Dunbar
2 Ruby Tiger
2 Buff Ermine
2 Poplar Hawkmoth
2 Early Thorn
2 Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing
2 Light Arches
2 Coronet
2 Spectacle
2 Nut-tree Tussock
2 Small Fanfoot
1 Common Marbled Carpet
1 Scorched Carpet
1 Flame Carpet
1 Swallowtail
1 Brimstone
1 Barred Straw
1 Buff Arches
1 Pebble Prominent
1 Iron Prominent
1 Lesser Yellow Underwing
1 Knot Grass
1 Sycamore
1 Marbled Green
1 Bordered Sallow
1 Mottled Rustic
1 Rosy Minor

And here's a few pics....

I always know it's been a good moth night when the adjacent wall to the trap looks like the above!

Marbled Green

Ruby Tiger

Rosy Footman

Peach Blossom

Bordered Sallow

Two very different Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing

And then there was the following week, Friday 5th. Much few moths about with 172 of 36 species;

33 Dark Arches
22 Willow Beauty
14 Common Rustic
13 Shuttle-shaped Dart
11 Rustic
10 Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing
7 Riband Wave
5 Single-dotted Wave
5 Heart and Dart
5 Nut-tree Tussock
4 Early Thorn
4 Jersey Tiger
3 Small Fan-footed Wave
3 Common Carpet
3 Common Footman
3 Buff Ermine
3 Clay
2 Small Waved Umber
2 Minor sp.
2 Spectacle
1 Maiden's Blush
1 Phoenix
1 July Highflyer
1 Poplar Hawkmoth
1 Sallow Kitten
1 Pebble Prominent
1 Swallow Prominent
1 Lesser Swallow Prominent
1 Rosy Footman
1 Buff Footman
1 Dingy Footman
1 Pebble Hook-tip
1 Dunbar
1 Crescent Dart
1 Setaceous Hebrew Character
1 Bright-line Brown-eye
1 Uncertain

And here's some more pictures...

Maiden's Blush

Magpie Moth

Sallow Kitten

Pebble Prominent

Swallow Prominent (I think - or is it a faded Lesser?)

Lesser Swallow Prominent

Now I think I deserve a nap - I was in Beer before 6am this morning! To find out how I got on ringing/birding, you will just have to check back here whenever I get round to writing the post...