Friday 31 July 2015

Unseasonal Ducks...

Well I say unseasonal, but in recent years July has proved a good month for wandering wildfowl. I once had a flock of Pochard fly in off the sea during a heavy rain shower in this month - and they are a true patch rarity.

Anyway today's oddities were two Gadwall at Lower Bruckland Ponds, and then these that dropped in out of nowhere...

Tufted Ducks

They only stayed for about 30 seconds, before flying off back west. In this brief post I must also mention the Little Ringed Plover on Black Hole Marsh early yesterday morning, as amazingly it was my first of the autumn!

Thursday 23 July 2015

Two More Yellow-legged Gulls

Had another lovely juv Yellow-legged Gull on the Estuary yesterday, along with my first juv Lesser Black-backed of the summer and a juv Med Gull.  Sadly, just like my first, it remained distant...

Just right of centre, compare with the juv Herring Gull in the bottom left of the photo - it was a hefty thing.

I had another one this afternoon as well, offshore amongst c200 large gulls following one of the boats from Beer.  Don't get me wrong I am glad I've seen three, but I really wouldn't mind a close one soon!!

Later on along the Estuary I saw my first Common Gull of the summer, an adult, and a juv Water Rail which nicely confirms successful breeding here yet again.  Also heard there was a Sanderling on Black Hole Marsh, but I didn't get round to seeing it.

Monday 20 July 2015

Small Red-eyes and Colour-ringed Med Gull

I never did get round to posting these few dragonfly pics last week, so here you go...

It was great to see Small Red-eyed Damselflies out again at Lower Bruckland Ponds last week, I saw them on four of the ponds - basically where ever there's surface vegetation (whether it's lily pads or algae/weeds)...

Also this lovely Golden-ringed Dragonfly, one of my favourites...

As always Camille Duponcheel has replied in ultra quick time regarding the colour-ringed first-summer Med Gull pictured in my last post, Green RU15.  It was ringed as a pullus last June in a colony at Barbâtre, Polder de Sebastopol, Vendée, FRANCE - which is here:

After fledging it spent autumn and the first half of winter in Cornwall, mostly on the Camel and Hayle Estuary, but it then flew back over the channel and was in Northern France by Feb of this year. It returned to the Hayle in late April and this was the last sighting before I saw it on Black Hole Marsh last week. Many thanks Camille.

Thursday 16 July 2015

Many Meds

I've only seen a couple of Med Gulls so far this summer, despite excellent numbers of Black-headed Gulls about. So I was pleased to seen ten on Black Hole Marsh this morning; five juvs, single first and second-summers and three adults...

Two adults flanked by two juveniles
Colour-ringed first-summer
A gorgeous juvenile
Same juvenile back on, they are subtly beautiful

And now for a quiz pic. How many Meds? And what ages are they...

I know many don't find gulls interesting or attractive, but I don't think there's many birds smarter than an adult summer Med Gull.

Also on Black Hole today was my first Shoveler of the 'autumn', three Teal and waders included 12 Blackwits, 9 Common Sands, 6 Dunlin (my first juv) and a Green Sand.

Yesterday I had a rather nice and spectacular surprise during a mist netting session. Although I've been a C ringer for four years, this was the first time one of these have flown into my nets (and stayed there until extracted, big birds often 'bounce' straight out of mist nets)...


What fierce eyes! They really have nailed the 'death stare' to perfection.  This bird was a '5 male', which means it's a male that was born in the previous calender year (2014).  It showed a remarkable moult with a seemingly random mix of first-year (brown) and adult (blue-grey) feathers...

The fact the adult feathers are blueish say its a male, as did its small wing size

I say the moult looked random, but clearly it isn't and this is obviously how Sparrowhawks do it so that they remain in good enough condition to continue to hunt.  It still looked very 'juvenile' on its front...

So glad James M was with me at this time, enabling me to get these photos.

Also of note was this juvenile Whitethroat, notable because they don't breed on site so it has clearly travelled some distance - although probably not that far...

Whitethroat age code 3

Monday 13 July 2015

Juv Yellow-legged Gull, Insects And An Anniversary

There's a bit of everything in this blog post, so I hope you see something that interests you!

I'll start with not everyones favourite, but one of mine - my first juvenile Yellow-legged Gull of the year.  Large gull numbers have been low so far this July on the Axe, with the Exe having had Yellow-legs since the 1st of the month.  I had my first juvenile large gulls on the Estuary on Saturday, but frustratingly they were both Herring Gulls. Yesterday though I had a feeling the damp and dreary conditions would produce the goods, and it did...

What a beaut!  As you can see it was distant (425 metres to be precise!), but it was such a strikingly pale bird that this really didn't matter when it came to the identification.  I'd say this is probably as pale as they come and many are darker (see THIS BIRD Tim Worfolk had yesterday on the Exe), but I really love the ones like this, they are almost Great Black-backed like. In early July juv Herring Gulls are at their darkest, so a bird this pale needs closer inspection.  But it's not just the paleness that makes this a Yellow-legged, notice the dark eye mask, hefty size, long wings, plain dark tertials with white tips and the overall dark chocolate brown colour to the mantle/scapular feathers (usually more grey-brown or grey in Herring). This latter feature isn't often spoken about but I find it very useful, although juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gulls can be the same colour so beware!

In other bird news I bumped into some more Crossbills last Thursday with Richard Phillips, a nice flock of ten at Trinity Hill.  And this morning I gave Black Hole Marsh a quick look over, plenty of birds but nothing special; 450+ Black-headed Gull, 34 Little Egret, nine Lapwing, six Common Sandpiper, three Dunlin, three Kingfisher and two Teal.

Now for insects, and I had an excellent catch of 244 moths of 54 species last Friday. There was a lovely variety, and some excellent numbers including an impressive 33 Elephant Hawkmoths!  Only one immigrant though, but it was quite a rare one...

Clancy's Rustic - my fourth here but all the previous have been during the month of October.

 Some of the other notables included...

Scallop Shell


L-album Wainscot

Privet Hawkmoth - don't catch many of these here.

With my wedding ring on full show in the above photo, I must just mention that unbelievably it is already our one year wedding anniversary! Can't believe how quick that's gone, I do hope life slows down a bit so I can savour it some more. I mean crikey I'm 30 later this year...

Back to insects, and here's a couple more pics to complete this post...

Mating Large Red Damselflies

One of five Glow Worms Bun managed to track down on patch last week, I saw this one on Friday night.

Friday 3 July 2015

A New Moth For The Garden

Sadly it is not a very exciting one though! In fact its a very common and rather drab moth, and I have no idea how I haven't managed to catch one here before now. The Common Lutestring was one of 76 moths of 35 species in the trap on Monday night...

Some of the smarter moths included...

Crescent Dart - a local speciality



Burnished Brass

There's a few more birds turning up locally now, with a few waders on Black Hole Marsh and Black-headed Gull numbers increasing by the day (including my first juvs a few days ago).  I keep bumping into Crossbills locally too, with at least two this morning feeding high up in conifers at Bovey Down amongst a large mixed flock of birds.