Wednesday 29 August 2018

A day in Kent

The plan today was to get up early, do Grove Ferry, than onto Oare for high tide, then cross the Swale to Shellness for the dropping tide and then finish off at Elmley. Well with rain stopping play and then bumping into Steve from Beddington all I managed was Oare and a quick cycle down to the hides at Elmley only to find out that the wader scrapes are dry/being worked on.

Oare Ebird list HERE- highlights were 4 Little Stints and a flock of 17 Green Sandpiper. 

Had 2 Wood Sands on the approach road to Elmley, also 6 Marsh Harrier, 50+ Curlew and loads of Brown Hares. Also 1 Whinchat and 1 Wheatear and 1 Hobby. 

 Since my last visit to Oare, the juvenile Dunlins have arrived, also now numbers of Ringed Plover, the first Pintails of the autumn, more Greenshank, juvenile Ruffs, Little Stints and more Golden Plovers (below). 

 Adult Little Stint and Ringed Plover 
 Good to see large numbers of Curlews at Elmley 
 Juvenile Cuckoo at Oare 
Wood Sands at Elmley (calling below) 

Monday 27 August 2018

Butterfly and Moth Highlights Summer 2018

Scarce Fritillary, Slovenia 

With attention now turning to autumn bird vagrants here's an album of some of the butterfly and moth highlights from this summer. 

Sunday 26 August 2018

A few bits

Rain has stopped play today. I was planning on visiting Farmoor with Jacob but it's literally hammering it down- the only comfort is that its also hammering down on the Pope's out door mass-mass in Ireland today. 

Visited North Otmoor yesterday to do the butterfly survey. Pretty quiet- more Migrant and Southern Hawkers than there were butterflies. A few migrants- Blackcaps, Whitethroat and a passage of 80+ House Martin. Had a juvenile Yellowhammer and a couple of Yellow Wagtails going over too.

Been steady in the moth trap back at the Beddington obs- highlight was a Dark Sword Grass and Rosy Rustic- both new for year. There's been Little Stint, Wood Warbler and Marsh Harrier recorded from the farmlands this weekend- so not a bad bit of local birding.

I popped into see the interesting patch of Medicago at Epsom Downs when doing my quotes on Thursday. More from Steve Gale on this HERE

 Juvenile Yellowhammer at North Otmoor
 Dark Sword Grass at the Beddington obs
 Rosy Rustic
Sand Lucerne and Sickle Medick at Epsom Downs- more on this HERE

Friday 24 August 2018

Wednesday 22 August 2018

More migrants

Seems to be some good visible migration going on at the moment. NocMiggers on the South Coast reported good movement, there were 7 Ortolans over Brussels and 1 over Poole last night and a visit to Beddington this morning in overcast skies and a light west to northwest wind revealed there had been a small arrival of migrants there too. 

Today's total include 1 Common Tern, 1 Tree Pipit, 2 Wheatear, 5 Willow Warbler, 8 Chiffchaff, 3 Blackcap, 8 Whitethroat, 50 Swift, 10 Sand Martin, 1 Swallow, 6 Teal, 5 Shoveler, 5 Green Sandpiper, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 juvenile Yellow-legged Gull and 2 Little Egret. 

Been more action in the moth trap over the last two nights too with warm evenings producing good catches with 47 species last night. 

Nothing of note yet on the nocturnal recording except for the Barn Owls. 

 First-winter Wheatear
 Adult winter Wheatear
 Willow Warbler eating a Box Tree moth 
 Whitethroat on the mound
 Juvenile Yellow-legged Gull (on left) 
 Common Tern (presumed adult due to primary moult) 
 Sallow- the first one of the autumn. This autumn leaf mimic is a real harbinger of autumn. 
 I'm going for Acrobasis consociella on this. A species not recorded on the 2013 Systematic List for Beddington
 Yellow-barred Brindle
 I went for Dusky Thorn on this one 
Single Dotted Wave- the first of the year 
Getting large numbers of the beetle Bradycellus verbasci over last few nights- being recorded elsewhere too- at least north to Oxon/Bucks, 

Monday 20 August 2018

A few migrants

There was a bit of vis mig going on at the farmlands this morning; 1 first-winter Wheatear, 9 Yellow Wagtails (6+3), 41 Swift going through, 4 Barn Swallow, 2 Hobby appeared over the lake hunting Starlings and there were at least 15 Chiffchaff along the railway and we caught a Sedge Warbler by the lake. Also 1 Kingfisher, 9 Green Sandpiper, 3 Common Sandpiper, 2 Buzzard, 2 Sprawk,, 2 Little Egret and about 2000 Starling around too.

Been busy on the moth front again- loads of Vine's Rustics now and also up to 20 Box Tree Moths (a local record). 

 Juvenile Sedge Warbler
 First-winter Wheatear
 Juvenile Starlings moulting to winter plumage 
 Small Heath 
  A couple of Knothorns- Rhodophaea formosa (above) and Euzophera pinguis (below) 

 A couple of Cabbage moths showing some variation 

Up to 20 Box Tree Moths in recent evenings 

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