Saturday, 18 August 2018

Bird Fair 2018

Did Bird Fair today and got myself a copy of the new Handbook of Western Palearctic Birds. Good to catch up with friends. It was Jacob's first bird fair so another mile stone reached for him.

Got a few plans in the pipeline including a trip to Azerbaijan, a road trip to the Baltic States and Belarus next spring, purchasing a plot of land on the Black Sea Coast, pushing the Azores Nature trips a bit more and escalating the campaign for Beddington Farmlands so was good to speak and plot with various friends.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Nature Friendly LIDL

Cheap nature friendly shopping at LIDL - no excuses anymore.  

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Hit the G-Spot

I've been hoping for my first Gold Spot after Steve Gale had one in a local trap and today I literally hit the Gold Spot. 

 Gold Spot- the second record for Beddington Farmlands following one in 1994 caught by Derek 
 Even more rare than the Gold Spot this Ancylosis oblitella  is a first for the farmlands 
 Also had the remains of this in the trap- an Indian Meal Moth- another local scarcity
 Lesser Waxmoth (bottom) and Wax Moth (top) 
 Setaceous Hebrew Character- a real harbinger of autumn. Soon the trap will be full of these- the first of the year today.  Only 33 species in the trap this morning but quality rather than quantity. 
 Had a walk round the farmlands this evening- highlights included 5 Green Sandpiper, 6 Snipe, 3 Common Sandpiper, 3 juv Shelduck, 2 Willow Warbler (above), 3 Chiffchaff, 4 Blackcap, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Reed Warbler and 6 Swift
Jim's Pit on 100 acre is one of the few decent areas left on the farmlands- most waders are concentrating on there. Just to torture myself I was looking through the archives of what August used to be like at Beddington. I remember August 1987 well. We had 98 species that month including up to 29 Greenshank (in one flock feeding on the large enclosed bed), 5 Spotted Redshank on 100 acre, over 100+ Common Terns moving through during the month, 2 Black Tern, 3 Sandwich and 1 Arctic Tern, Kittiwake, Grey Plover, Oystercatcher, 6 Curlews and 6 Whimbrel, 2 Little Stint, several Ruff, Dunlins present throughout, Ringed and Little Ringed Plover, Wood Sandpiper, up to 9 Green Sandpiper, a max of 17 Common Sandpiper, a flock of 170+ Lapwing through the month, juvenile Cuckoos throughout, up to 30 Yellow Wagtails throughout, 2 Turtle Doves, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, 8 records of Spotted Flycatcher and up to 7 Wheatear and 8 Whinchat.  It really was a mega site- particularly considering it's in an inland urban area.  

Oxfordshire Weekend

Steve (business partner) is back from his five week trip so pressure is off at work now so did my weekend plus one at Holly's. Did some work at the Old Vic on Saturday, visited Farmoor with Jacob on Sunday and on Monday visited a new site, Cuttle Brook Nature Reserve in Thame where I failed to find a Pied Fly despite them seemingly being everywhere at the moment. Also did a couple of hours at Staines Res on way home. 

 Juvenile Common Sandpiper at Farmoor 
 Red-crested Pochard- presumably an adult female. A male in eclipse would have a red eye and a juvenile would not be moulting this time of year. 
Not completely sure of the age and sex of this Gadwall but the speckled belly points it to being a juvenile. Seems fresh with a full set of fresh primaries too which supports that. 
 Being a bit new to reservoir birding - interesting to see big flocks of Tufted Duck at both Farmoor and Staines. Had 200+ at Farmoor and about 400+ at Staines. Seemed to be a majority of adult males in eclipse at Farmoor. Presumably post breeding/ primary moult flocks. Interesting to see female Tufted Ducks elsewhere are still tending broods and a lot of young have only just hatched.  Also flocks of Great Crested Grebe at both sites and big numbers of Great Cormorants at Farmoor too- presumably all post breeding related gatherings. Last week Kojak and I failed to find a Shelduck on the Swale Ramsar site and only got it for the day when we had three juvs at Beddington. Also saw a lone juv Shelduck at Staines yesterday. Shelduck are famous for all (adults) migrating to key sites such as Bridgewater Bay in Somerset and parts of the Netherlands to stage a mass primary moult gathering. 
 Didn't know what to make of it this (Farmoor)- looks Scaup like but yellow eye suggests an adult so white blaze too restricted, bill shape and extent of black on tip/nail looks too restricted for Tufted Duck- a hybrid? Maybe a just a female Tufted Duck that has moulted it's tuft and bill darkened in summer? 
 Adult winter Yellow-legged Gull at Farmoor- quite a hooded appearance on this bird. Had four adults and a second calender year at Farmoor. Yellow-legged Gulls do sometimes like to be the only large gulls during the day at certain reservoirs at certain times of year-  I remember also seeing that at Queen Mary in London. 
 Adult Yellow-legged Gull (adult) and Second-calender year (first-summer) below (Farmoor) 

 Presumably these are all Continental Cormorants (sinensis) ? (Farmoor) Could not be arsed to get the protractor out. 
 Jacob enjoying the walk round Farmoor 
 Southern Hawker at the Old Vicarage (new for site). Also had Water Mint and Orange Swift this weekend. 
 The Old Vic Wildflower meadow is coming along- needs a lot more work as some of the seed mixes have not taken at all 
 Cuttle Brook Nature Reserve- bang in the middle of Thame- looks perfect for an inland passerine vagrant- will keep an eye on this in October 

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Another good moth week

With a return to some warm evenings earlier in the week and some changeable conditions it's proven to be pretty interesting on the moth front. A few highlights pictured below including some first records for Beddington Farmlands. Had a peak of 45 species on one night. 

 Garden Tiger- two of these together one evening. Also up to 7 Jersey Tigers
 Poplar Hawkmoth- not a common moth locally 
 Red Underwing- the first for year 
 Small Ranunculus (with Vine's Rustic)  - becoming more regular here. One of the few times we've had two together. 
 Canary Shouldered Thorn- a good year for these 
 Cypress Pug- the first for year 
 I believe this is Turnip Moth, although Heart and Club and Garden Dart can be similar
 Cydia fagiglandana- if correct id a first for the farmlands
 Lathronnympha strigana- a first for the farmlands 
Nephopterix angustella- another first for the farmlands 

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Going for a ton

Kojak and I did a day in North Kent yesterday trying to do a 100 species in a day. Kojak's account here We failed. Got to 91 and we got so desperate we even did Beddington Farmlands in the evening to get a few extra species. It was a pitiful scene. However a very enjoyable day and some good birds. Highlights included Red-necked Phalarope, Bonaparte's Gull, Spotted Redshank, Curlew Sandpiper and Wood Sandpiper at Oare Marshes (also a single Southern Migrant Hawker) and at the Swale NNR we had good numbers of waders, Sandwich and Little Terns and also some scenes from the local nudist beach that unfortunately we can never un-see. Also popped into Harty Ferry. 

EBird list for Oare HERE
Swale NNR and Shellness list HERE

 Adult male and female Bearded Tit 
 Juvenile Bearded Tit - aged on dark lores and black back (pics above and below) . Male and female here, sexed on bill colour- black on juv female and yellow on juv male.
The black on the sides of the tail is also a juv feature 
 The usual adult Bonaparte's Gull steadily getting through it's moult 
 Wood Sandpiper - a nice fresh juvenile 
 Shellness- the whole Swale NNR and Shellness complex is pretty impressive. Considering we have been exiled from our local patch at Beddington Farmalnds (due to it being so shit- thanks to Viridor) planning on doing more away days this autumn.  Planning on focusing more on this area through this autumn. Hoping to do some over nighters in the camper doing moth trapping and then covering Shellness, Elmley (on bike) and Oare. Did a bit of a recee of the Shellness area and located a few patches of bushes and trees which could be good for migrants. Also looks like Shellness point could be a good little seawatching spot with stuff being pushed into the Swale in a decent blow.
 First summer Mediterranean Gull moulting into second winter 
 So we ended up at Beddington despite our efforts to escape. So much potential on this site but so much local political corruption. The enclosed beds are currently being infilled and the drought is making things even worst. So we have lost even more habitat- it really is shit over there.  I'm concentrating on bring a legal challenge on our council while diverting birding efforts elsewhere
 Had this Adult Yellow-legged Gull on 100 acre at the farmlands (it is still good for gulls thanks to the delays in finishing off the incinerator) 
 Ringed Plover on Jim's Pit. These seem to have started moving over the last week or so, noticed there has been an influx at Portland and also more at Oare this week too. 
Jim's Pit is one of the few bits of decent habitat left at Beddington- six species of wader on there last night 

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Not the right Hawker

Went over of what's left of Beddington Farmlands this afternoon looking for Southern Migrant Hawker.  Just visited the Northern and Southern Lake which are actually decent bits of habitat. There had been an arrival of Hawkers but unfortunately they were just Migrant Hawkers- 3 were on the causeway. Did have a lifer though- Small China Mark, a moth common around water and has been caught during water edge moth trapping sessions at the farmlands but one which has never visited the obs moth trap. So on the Southern and Northern Lakes this afternoon highlights included:

On the bird front:
3 Snipe, 1 Green Sandpiper, 2 Shoveler, 1 Teal, 4 broods of Tufted Duck, 1 Common Buzzard, 10 Swift

On the odonata front:
3 Migrant Hawker, 3 Black-tailed Skimmer, 1 Emperor, 8 Small Red-eye, 2 Common Blue-tail, 2 Common Darter, 1 Ruddy Darter 

On the butterfly front:
15+ Meadow Brown, 3 Gatekeeper, 10 Common Blue, 1 Brown Argus, 

Dayflying moths:
1 Small China Mark, 1 Burnet Companion, 2 Agriphila tristella, 

 On a side view the large brown areas on the sides of thorax eliminate the possibility of Southern Migrant Hawker. Migrant Hawker (above and below) and Southern Migrant Hawker for comparison below that. 

Southern Migrant Hawker- on a side view the thorax is mainly blue. 
 Black-tailed Skimmer 
 Ruddy Darter 
 Small Red-eye
 Common Bluetail 
 Small China Mark- a lifer 
 Agriphila tristella.  Surprisingly very few Garden Grass Veneer Chrysotecuchia culmella this year  on the mounds. Probably too dry but usually an abundant moth. Not many day flying moths up on the mound at all this year. The majority of butterflies and moths are around the lakes.