A great day out at Shellness and Swale NNR today in bright sunshine and mild conditions. Unfortunately no early migrants but great to see masses of wintering birds in comfortable summer like conditions- Ebird list HERE. Highlights included 10 Short-eared Owls, 1 Pale-bellied Brent Goose and 1 Pink-footed Goose with 350+ Russian White-fronted Geese and over 2000 Dark-bellied Brents.
Been writing up my Ghana trip since I got back last week as life went on back here. Luckily it's been a quiet week so not too much to report on. The main developments have been plenty of restoration action occurring at the farmlands including some good lake edge profiling carried out on the Southern Lake and a decent bit of meadow management work on the Southern Mound. Work seems to have stopped on the wet grassland (because it is too wet apparently) but planning permission has also gone in for hides and the cycle path. So it could be forgiven for actually thinking that there is some real progress being made by Viridor (just waiting for the negative bomb shell to hit!) .
On the birding front at the farmlands the best of the dead spell was a Greylag and a Great Crested Grebe last week (NFYs) and a couple of moths included a Buttoned Snout (a local scarcity).
Have been at the Oxford base this weekend and visited Otmoor a couple of times. Ebird list HERE. Nothing particularly rare but a pretty incredible spectacle of migratory restless flocks of Golden Plovers , good numbers of waterfowl and some first signs of Spring including singing Skylarks , a displaying Curlew and a couple of Redshanks in the starting blocks. Unfortunately despite a scattering of summer migrants (and moth migrants) across the country in the recent southerly airflow and annual 'Fools Spring' - I couldn't find any migrants in our searches.
Back in Olde Engerland
Great Spotted Woodpecker at Otmoor
Restless flocks of Golden Plover and Lapwing circling over Otmoor- presumably preparing to migrate back
Still good numbers of Wigeon- also 4 Pintail on Big Otmoor
Part of the Greylag x Barnacle Goose family (also 4 pure Barnacle Geese)
Greylag x Canada Goose (second from left). There's always an odd mix of Cat C Geese on Otmoor, in fact there is some serious Cat C Waterfowl phenomenon in Oxfordshire overall with 60 Snow Geese on the loose, Barnacle Geese, fields full of Canada Geese, feral White-fronts and Pink-feet at Port Meadow, stacks of Red-crested Pochards at Standlake Pits and loads of hybrid Geese and genetically mutated 'farmyard-type' Greyalgs chucked into the mix also with a dollop of hybrid Aythya ducks and a leucisitc Pochard. Also least we forget that Greylag Goose originally occurred over Southern England before it was hunted out so the re-introduced birds now are arguably Cat A birds that have been returned to their natural range. All adds up to create a rather bizarre wildfowl landscape with flocks of overhead V-formations and geese feeding in stubble echoing wild and romantic scenes from the past but instead of the players being wild pedigree Arctic wanderers - they are plastic and mongrel counterfeits of the Anthropocene.
Meanwhile Back in the Crack
Lake edge profiling has involved removal of brambles, grubbing out of willot and gentle grading of the edge- it is already attracting grazing waterfowl including the odd Wigeon.
Oak Beauty and Buttoned Snout from the Beddington trap (nothing at all in the Oxford trap)
Here's a few enigmatic sounds of the Ghanian Rain Forest. The Soundscape is a 2 minute sample of the incredible forest chorus (how many species can you identify- I'm still working on it) .
An out of range indiviudal which we picked up on call
In order Little Green Bulbul, Tambourine Dove, Common Bulbul, Blue-spotted Wood Dove, Green Hylia, Grey-backed Camaroptera, Yellow-throated Tinkerbird, Deidric Cuckoo, Pied Crow, Red-rumped Tinkerbird,
We did a bit of moth trapping on this trip but mainly concentrated on birds and butterflies, mainly because we don't have many resources to identify the moths. However got a few here to try and identify to get us started. I've been recommended this website by Martin Honey AFRICAN MOTHS so will try and make a start.
We had approx 110 species of butterfly in the week. Here's a few of the most photogenic ones and most of the other species are in the album (below). Some great names in there - Policemans, Playboys, Pansys, Jokers and Wagglewings.