Monday, 19 October 2020

Old Vic Autumn Moths

Spent the day with the family while waiting for the wind to switch to the south east and then I headed off to the south coast to look for migrant moths. I'm currently campervaning on the Selsey Peninsula with an actinic up on the beach. I really should have the MV trap out but I was too tight to buy a generator yet. The migrant lepidoptera facebook group have called this wind the 'Canary Islands Corridor' with warmish southerlies sweeping up across the Atlantic and over Iberia with migrants expected over the next day or two. I'm also hoping it might bring in the odd Pallid Swift or other Iberian/ North African bird vagrant so will be on the look out for that too. 

I've missed the odd blog post recently because a lot been going on. I did Beddington on Saturday morning- not too much but a bit of vis mig. Ebird list HERE

The MV at the Old Vic last night was quite interesting with my first appearance of 'winter moths', presumably November moths and after my first Merveille du Jour last week, there were three of the beauties this morning. Also a nice selection of other classic autumn leaf coloured moths including Sallow, Barred Sallow, Brick, Beaded Chestnut, Chestnut and Yellow-lined Quakers. 

November moth (agg) - winter is coming! 
Merveille du Jour- took years to get my first one and now four in one week 
Brick (above), Yellow-lined Quaker (below) and Chestnut (below that). A nice comparison of relatively similar looking autumn moths. 

Heath trap out on the beach. I hope it doesn't get blown over- it's pretty blustery tonight 

Sunday, 18 October 2020

Dotterel! Oakley Airfield.

I'm on a bit of roll. Had this Dotterel flying over Oakley Airfield this morning, walking distance from Holly's. Presumably it broke from the Golden Plover flock that is present in the area (I had over 350 today).  Vis mig and migrant Ebird list HERE

A bit of a Fieldfare day with 151 counted. Not so many migrants on the ground today- a big reduction in Skylark and Linnet numbers but an increase in Meadow Pipits.

Saturday, 17 October 2020

Dusky Warbler!

I had an excellent day yesterday at South Foreland valley. Ebird list HERE. The undoubted high light was finding my all time WP and World bogey bird- a Dusky Warbler, a self found lifer (2923rd species), I don't get many of those in the UK nowadays. The supporting cast was also good with a Yellow-browed Warbler, 3 Ring Ouzel and some amazing vis mig including 1506 Goldfinch, 237 Siskin, 202 Lesser Redpoll, 11 Brambling, 81 Chaffinch, 99 Linnet, 3 Yellowhammer, 2 Tree Sparrow and 15 Crossbill. 

10 hours in the field literally from dawn to dusk- absolutely brilliant. Not been a bad week with self found Dusky Warbler, Pallas's and Yellow-browed Warbler. Just what I was hoping for this autumn (my big October) and still only half way through. The winds shift to the south next week so I'm hoping to target southern vagrants and moths. Will see how I get on. 

Dusky Warbler, typically elusive, keeping low in dark areas and calling often. Call and sonogram on Ebird HERE . The third record for South Foreland Valley in 43 years. South Foreland Valley birding website HERE

Most migrants were going overhead today so good to get a record shot of a Brambling on the deck
Goldfinches over the Channel (France in background) 

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Sheppey Day Two

It was an interesting night in the van on the sea front with the strong winds and rain storms. I got up at 530 to do some pre-dawn noc-migging but not much was calling in the conditions (just a few Redwings). I spent the morning at Leysdown Coastal Park, the highlight was about 30+ Goldcrests, many of them very tame and gleaning on the edge of most areas of bushes. 

Once again there was very little in the way of vis mig (just a few Redpolls, Siskins, Chaffinch, Skylarks and 3 late Swallows) . I met up with Josh Jones in the afternoon who had been at Langdon (south east Kent) in the morning where there was significant visible migration. Yesterday there was over 3000 Chaffinch over Leith Hill back in Surrey, while I had very little moving over North Kent. Presumably the conditions were such that migrants were crossing the sea at the closer part from the continent (nearer Dover) as there was clearly heavy passage going on but not across the Thames Estuary.

I spent the early afternoon at Shellness, highlights there were 5 Short-eared Owls (four coming in off the Swale and flying to the south side of the Swale), a few Common Scoters, Kittiwake, a Red-breasted Merganser, 2 Arctic Skua and more Goldcrests some feeding out on the salt marsh and the tamarisks by the boat houses. I must have had at least 50 Goldcrest today along this section of coast.

Ebird lists for today HERE and HERE.

Bird of the day was Goldcrest (above and below) - approximately 50 of these along this stretch of coast 

A few Chiffchaffs still about
A handful of Redwings and Fieldfares still around, presumably grounded in the rather blustery conditions 
Five Short-eared Owls today, four over the Swale and this one on the saltmarsh
A rogue Barnacle Goose, first in with the Brents and later flying around on it's own
Female Stonechat
Camping site for the night 

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Last Knockings Pallas's

Spent the day in North Kent looking for an eastern vagrant. I spent most of the day at Grain , Ebird list HERE but it was pretty disappointing. I was expecting the bushes to be dripping with Thrushes and Goldcrests (considering the large movements recently on the east coast and today's north easterly wind) but I only had 3 Redwings, 1 Fieldfare and a handful of Goldcrests. There was a Ring Ouzel about but I couldn't even find that. The sea and estuary was a bit more interesting with Kittiwake, Arctic Tern, Arctic Skuas, Gannets, Guillemot, Pintails, Wigeons, Brents and good numbers of Shelduck. 

I decided to throw the towel in at about 3pm and head to my overnight on Sheppey. When I got to the campsite it was shut so I'm wild camper-vanning tonight. The day was not turning out as hoped. I decided to have a look around Leysdown Coastal Park. It was more like it with good numbers of Redwings, Blackbirds and Goldcrests. Not sure why Grain was so poor when just a few miles away there was clearly a lot more migrants. Presumably Shellness/Leysdown is more North Sea facing. Ebird list HERE.

Anyway it was getting dark so I was heading back to the van when in the last minutes of light a small warbler hopped up onto some old Hemlock a few feet away. At last a Yellow-browed I thought so I took a couple of photos and then noticed a central crown stripe and as it flew a beautiful lemon rump- very nice indeed, my first self-found Pallas's. Saved the day at the very last minute.


This grainy shot would have been more apt if I was still on the Isle of Grain. There was this Barn Owl (below) flying around behind me at the same time, so I actually did quite well to get this record shot - the sun had already set. 

Not quite the thrush spectacle photos I've been seeing on the internet over the last few days but it was encouraging to see good numbers of thrushes at Leysdown.
Pintails and Wigeon (above ) and Brents (below) at Grain 

I was here last week and only saw one or two Shelducks- over 200 today. Presumably moving back in from their moulting grounds.
Adult Kittiwake (above) and first-winter Arctic Tern (below)- a couple of distant birds in the Thames

I missed a couple of days blog posts as its been hectic with me having to go back to catch up with work while trying to get it on the big thrush and vis mig movements in the last couple of days. Redwings were streaming over everywhere on Monday, thousands over South London (and across the whole country), and the gardens I was quoting in. I managed a couple of hours at Beddington before work yesterday morning- more vis mig going on, notably Chaffinches. Ebird list HERE. I was supposed to join Jaffa (Chris Townend) on Scilly for this week but work got in the way. We were supposed to be staying on St. Martins so Jaffa went alone this morning and within minutes of arriving on the island found a Radde's Warbler. Last week he found a REV and last year he found Grosbeak and a Buff-bellied Pipit there. I'm not sure how our Kent versus Scilly week is going to go but so far: Radde's versus Pallas's on day one. Game on. 

Juvenile Shelduck and Pintails at Beddington Farmlands

Sunday, 11 October 2020

Oakley Airfield

Spent the last couple of days doing Oakley Airfield. Pretty impressive number of birds up there, Ebird list and some vis mig sound recordings too HERE. Highlights included a Lapland Bunting yesterday (no photos or sounds recordings despite 5 hours trying to relocate it, so I won't be submitting it),  8 Corn Bunting, 2 Yellowhammer, 4 Reed Bunting, 100+ Skylarks, 30+ Meadow Pipits, 1 Brambling,  the odd Redpoll and Siskin, 15 Redwing, 2 Snipe, the Golden Plover flock is now 200+, at least 200 Linnet up there and the whole lot were being hunted by a Merlin and a Peregrine. Also 26! Grey Partridge up there. It's a pretty impressive site.  

A few new for years in the Old Vicarage moth trap. 

Golden Plovers 
Snipe- presumably the airfield has the potential to attract other waders too (e.g. Davidstow Airfield) especially considering there are already 200 Golden Plover and a couple of Snipe up there. Can easily imagine Ruff or Dotterel there and even other waders stopping off. 
Grey Partridge (above and below) - a covey of 20 and another of 6 including young birds

Red-line Quaker 
Closest I can get is Pine Carpet 
Brindled Green
Blair's Shoulder Knot 

Friday, 9 October 2020

Figure of Eight, the Old Vicarage

If I'm not mistaken, I've had another moth lifer at the Old Vicarage today- a Figure of Eight. I mistook it for a Figure of Eighty at first and almost didn't get a photo. Also a couple new for years, Red Green Carpet and Green Brindled Crescent.

I spent most of the day sorting out the mini-farm, harvesting what ever food was left and preparing the beds for the next planting. 

There was a steady trickle of overhead passage going on throughout the day, Siskins, Redpolls, Chaffinch, Meadow Pipits, a couple of Song Thrush and on two occasions I thought I heard a Yellow-browed calling although couldn't rule out a distant Coal Tit for sure. Tawny Owls were very vocal last night. 

Looks like we are going to get some serious easterlies next week from Wednesday onwards. I need to plan carefully- don't want to miss this one. I have to work two days next week as we are so busy so I moved those days to Monday and Tuesday (we skilfully moved 24 appointments ahead of the vagrant payload) . Restrictions are increasing in Scotland at the moment so not sure if I want to risk the Northern Isles but one way or another it looks like I'll be heading north next week (restrictions permitting). 

Figure of Eight 
Red-green Carpet
Green-brindled Crescent 
Mini farm before (above ) and after (below) 

Harvest mini-festival
Forecast for mid-week next week- I'll be moving on this if this forecast remains the same