Monday, 18 October 2021

Autumn 2021- So far, so bad

Since mid- July I have done 34 birding sessions (according to Ebird which is most but not all), usually an average of 4 hours (including some all-dayers and some quickies). So that's approx. 136 hours in the field this autumn so far with concentrated effort in the last two weeks. So far I have found absolutely nothing in the way of description bird species. Got to be one of my worst autumns that I can recall. Seen a few good birds such as Purple Sandpiper, Purple Heron and an influx of Cattle Egret locally and also seen Long-toed Stint and White-tailed Lapwing and found a few little bits like Wood Sand, Great Egret and Whimbrel. What with screwing up my Corvo trip too (and missing Prothonotary and Cape May Warbler there More grippage here ), not being able to travel to Bulgaria and spending literally all day at Beddington yesterday to dip the Penduline Tit there (a first for the farm) , this has to be one of my worst autumns but not sure it tops the 2016 disaster ( HERE). Since I did this post HERE  the most recent autumns have also been pretty good , 2017 was really good for local finds, 2018 was absolutely epic on Corvo, 2019 was  mainly in Eastern Europe and 2020 was excellent British rarity hunting. Still got a few weeks left of the autumn so maybe still time to save the day but so far, so bad.

Luckily I do moths too, which I  started as a way of doubling the chances of finding rarities and also bad weather for birds is good for insects so increases field work efficiency (shift taxon focus depending on weather conditions) and if I add the mothing hours (and a bit of noc-mig) its got to be another 150 hours (2 hours more or less daily) so in total that's near 300 field work hours this autumn. It's been better on this front with a few county rarities and scarcities including Vagrant Piercers (mega for Oxon and less than 10 records for Bucks), a good run of Clifden Nonpariels, a few migrants such as Gem, Olive-tree Pearl and Dark Sword Grass (all good inlanders), jammed in on the UK's biggest night of Radford's Flame Shoulders at Portland (plus saw the other local specialities), a Dark Spruce Knot-horn , Flame Crest and Dotted Fan-foot (goodies for Bucks) and loads of moth lifers (cuz I'm such a moth dude still). 

It's not all sunshine and the inevitable bad autumns have to be endured but basically moths have saved the day.  Anyway its not over yet- still a few weeks to go and more determined than ever to make sure once these annoying covid restrictions are lifted, that lost time is made up for.     

Saturday, 16 October 2021

World of Twigg- Craft Fair Day

Spent today supporting Holly with her World of Twigg brand at the local pub craft fair. Please support small traders and creators this xmas instead of buying shipped shit from billionaires. There are so many equally convenient ways of buying gifts through online platforms such as ETSY, although not ethically perfect,  its better than Amazon. Holly's shop is HERE . So many reasons for supporting local artists and crafts people directly including purchasing unique designs, often personalised and handmade, high quality, most e-cottage industries have small carbon footprints and at the same time not supporting culturally homogenising, environmentally destroying and billionaire making junk culture.   

I've added a World of Twigg gadget down the side bar of this blog. View in web version to see all our products and services including nature friendly tree and garden work, specialist birding and nature trips to the Azores,  World of Twigg cards and crafts,  Thee Bryans music and Bird reports and books. Alternatively view on the Little Oak Group Website HERE

Birding Forecast for this week

I think last week was a good call- I should have been on Corvo HERE and indeed a Prothonotary Warbler and a few other american vagrants were found and the decision to go twitching was also a good one considering not much else was found anywhere else. Also predicting common bird migration in the light westerly windows came good this week with lots of good vis mig. 

So here goes for this week. Tomorrow a period of light westerlies continues so it's back on the vis mig (or twitching Beddington if this local mega is re-found (SEE HERE). From early next week a warm blast of air comes up from the south which could be good for moth migration and southern vagrants so I'm heading to Portland. By the end of the week the wind is coming from the far north so I'll probably be heading indoors for that!

A westerly airflow (but maybe broken) continues to affect the Azores so who knows what can happen out there- the late autumn could bring in later migrating American species. I'm UK bound now due to family commitments so will have to enjoy the show remotely. 

Usual caveats apply- it's October, anything can turn up any time any where and there is a lot more to vagrancy and migration than just weather (See Birdwatch articles HERE and HERE) but weather is one of the concentrating mechanisms that can increase the odds of finding something but as ever and always there is no better method than blanket cover/ carpet bombing with large numbers of observers. 

Friday, 15 October 2021

COP 15

 Press release HERE

More biodiversity targets from the UN. Considering most of the last set of targets were not reached see  HERE and HERE it is only rational to not have much faith in this 'top down' process. There was a bit of somewhat good news in the background of this week's COP15 see HERE  . 

So once all the hyperbole has blown through and the baby is torn to bits by the scavenging for the political and funding capital available, who knows what actual gains to biodiversity there will be?

A citizen/private led biodiversity recovery programme would in many ways compliment and even possibly exceed the potential of the establishment doing anything. The digital tools for cooperation and innovation are lying around everywhere and seemingly few people are picking them up. It would help if we stopped looking to the establishment (they can provide some broad frameworks but not much else), that's just lazy to think that a bunch of head-nodders with a made up title in a some select committee (selected through heavily corporate lobbied hierarchies  for their ability to go with the flow - i.e. down the pan) can do the work that is our responsibility to do. By pretending they are anything else but some old bones to the world is their sin. How can they justify immense salaries if they admit that. If they admit that the money that is hoarded within inequality needs to be used to empower a citizen's global recovery they would need to stand down, to resign. That is exactly what they need to do.  A humility for them to speak out to citizens, to declare their impotence, their subjugation, their enslaved positions is the best thing they could do. When little girls point it out to the world they clap. They clap their own scorning.

A more equal society for nature and people can only be achieved by the abusers taking the knee (through seeing the need to do so themselves) and the abused standing up.

Over the next few months we will begin rolling out the first wave of a campaign to push our small organisation forward to fly some kites on all this.  We are going to stand up. 

The Old Vicarage

At home for the next few days. Did some vis migging, noc-migging and mothing in the garden. A few autumn bits Ebird list here, the highlights being Redwings, Song Thrush and Robin over at night, the usual Tawny Owls which have been vocal again for last few weeks,  a Great Egret over Wheatley Services on the way up north a couple of days ago and today a Woodcock flew over the road on the way to Starbucks. A couple of NFY moths.

Spent most of the day moving into the new Loft Office at the Old Vicarage, getting ready for a new push at work once the autumn is over. 

Large Wainscot NFY
Red-line Quaker- a couple of these recently. Surprisingly very few Sallows this year, not even had a single Common Sallow in the garden (had a few locally at Henry's). Also no Yellow-line Quaker yet. 
After an absence for a while a couple of Vine's Rustic have reappeared recently 
Brick- NFY

Thursday, 14 October 2021

White-tailed Lapwing

Had to be done considering I was already in Yorkshire. Ebird list HERE . Nice to see some other birds we don't get down south with flocks of Pink-footed Geese going back and forth. 

White-tailed Lapwing
Spotted Redshank
Curlew Sandpiper
Barnacle (above) and Pink-footed Geese (below)

This rascal species has been responsible for two of my very few twitching adventures HERE

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Long-toed Stint

Thought I better go and see something as the way this autumn is going it might be my only hope. So I went to see the adult Long-toed Stint at St.Aidan's RSPB Reserve near Leeds. A world tick. 

Typically Long-toed Stint is supposed to be quite an upright bird often with stretched neck, like a small Wood Sandpiper. Not in Yorkshire. This one was hunched up trying to survive the North. Plumage wise it looked a bit like a shrunken Sharp-tailed Sandpiper. A really distinctive little thing, really quite fat and stunted. Also striking big dark scapulars. The legs didn't look very yellow from the distance we were at. Better photo HERE
Long-toed Stint on right with Dunlins 
At one point all the Lapwings and other waders it was with got flushed but instead of spooking it crouched.
The diagnostic trailing legs beyond the tail in flight. Pictured here (bottom bird) with Dunlin. 
A few other waders around including 14 Dunlin, 4 Ruff (above), 3 Black-tailed Godwit (below), 1 Green Sandpiper, 300+ Lapwing and 20+ Snipe. Also had a few 'northern birds' such as a small group of Goosander, a Goldeneye and a Black-necked Grebe (about 12 pairs breed at this reserve). Ebird list HERE . 

So another addition to the 'Birds I've Twitched' list (not including patch twitches,  autumn rarity hunting trips to hotspots or days out birding anyway). I also twitched a Great Knot (at Breydon Water I think), the Long-billed Murrelet at Dawlish, the Cream-coloured Courser on Scilly, the Western Sandpiper at Brownsea Island, a Masked Shrike in Scotland, a Lesser Sand Plover at Rimac and I think that is more or less it.  Might have to do a bit more twitching as get to see new places and do a bit of exploring at same time in addition to getting to see these little feathered superstars.     

The forecast looks awful for rarity hunting (could be some more common bird vis mig in the lighter head wind areas) over the next few days (moderate local westerlies) and next week the theme continues but pulling in air from the south which could be good off the south coast for moths and seabirds- the plan at the moment is to twitch for next day or two, then go home for family stuff for a couple of days and then head to south coast next week. It doesn't look great for Corvo either next week, although there are some westerlies in the region and basically anything can happen out there especially if with ship assisted birds.