Finally got round to seeing the White Stork, GB35 at Beddington Farmlands today. A Knepp re-introduction bird with more details in the Inside Croydon and embedded Facebook post below.
Thursday, 29 October 2020
Wednesday, 28 October 2020
I've been based at Holly's since the weekend. I almost headed west to Cornwall for a few days but decided instead to focus locally so I visited Oakley Airfield Ebird list here and Farmoor Reservoir Ebird list here. Highlights at Oakley were the Merlin again, the Golden Plover flock has increased to about 700 and I finally found Stonechats (3) in this area (a Wormingall area tick- 104 now). Farmoor was very quiet again, highlight was a county tick for me, a Treecreeper (now on 150 for Oxfordshire).
It's been either too wet or too cold to bother putting the moth trap out but I had a few at Beddington before I headed this way including a few October specialities like Large Wainscot and Mallow.
Tuesday, 27 October 2020
Saturday, 24 October 2020
All this Stonechat talk reminded me of a lifer I had last year in Uganda which got a bit lost in all the tropical specialities. Here's our trip report: UGANDA TRIP REPORT. According to IOC and also Shirihai and Svensson, African Stonechat is a separate species to Siberian, Stejgneger's and European Stonechat. African Stonechat occurs in the Greater Western Palearctic on the Arabian Peninsula (of the race felix) and is widely distributed on the African continent with up to 13 sub-species. Perhaps it's a potential vagrant to the Western Palearctic?
As far as I can work out a bird in Uganda is either albofasciatus or axillaris. On the limited information I have the pair we saw in Uganada fits the description of axillaris; deep red confined to upper and central breast, very contrasting (almost black and white) and clean white rump. A striking bird in adult male plumage but presumably a lot trickier in immature and female plumages.
Friday, 23 October 2020
Mark Avery updated on this on his blog recently SEE HERE and here is the latest corporate video from Viridor.
Thursday, 22 October 2020
In between work today I've been reading and talking about Stonechats inspired by both recent experiences and also Steve Gale found a pale Stonechat on Little Woodcote yesterday evening so I met him there this morning. Steve's full account of that bird HERE which contains some lovely videos and good discussion.
There's certainly a lot of complexity surrounding Stonechat identification and taxonomy. In short, in a vagrant context in the UK there are several taxa to consider including:
a) two 'European Stonechats' -Atlantic Stonechat (hibernans) and Continental Stonechat (rubicola)
b) three 'Eastern Stonechats'- Siberian Stonechat (maurus), Stejneger's Stonechat (Stejnegeri) and Caspian Stonechat (Hemprichii)
According to IOC taxonomy there are three species involved: European Stonechat (including hibernans and rubicola), Siberian Stonechat (maurus and hemprichii) and Stejnegner's Stonechat (stejnegeri).
Atlantic Stonechat (our default resident taxon) is generally richer toned and darker than Continental Stonechat but there is a lot of variation (and intergradation). Continental Stonechat has not officially been recorded in the UK but it is a suspected (but yet unproven) migrant.
Eastern Stonechats differ from European Stonechats in generally having paler rumps, darker underwing coverts and overall paler in all plumages. In first-winter plumage (the most likely plumage a vagrant will be) Siberian Stonechat is peachy toned, with a contrasting white throat, pale wing panel and peachy wrap around rump and clear flanks. Stejneger's Stonechat is generally darker than Siberian overall with a chestnut rump (with 60 percent of birds have streaks on the upper tail coverts) and has a broader bill base. Caspian Stonechat is similar to other Easterns but the critical feature is the white at the base of the tail feathers which in extreme cases can resemble the tail of a Black-eared Wheatear.
The official BBRC line at the moment for the acceptance of either Siberian or Stejneger's is that the plumage and DNA evidence need to support each other with the majority of records being classified as Siberian/Stejneger's (over 400 historical records). Basically DNA evidence is essential to separate the two.
So that's it in a nutshell (for UK - there's more to it but that's all we need to know in a UK context). Here's a few shots of a mix of Stonechats from recent birds and a few other relevant birds that have featured on this blog in the past.
Wednesday, 21 October 2020
Luckily the Eastern Stonechat was still there today at Medmerry Rspb and got some better shots that support the initial impressions yesterday. Thanks to Josh Jones, Ed Stubbs and Chris Townend for discussions on this bird. Matt Eades has managed to collect a faecal sample so hopefully we can get some DNA information. Phenotypically the chestnut coloured unmarked rump and rather brown tones (variable in different lights) look good for Stejneger's so will be very interesting to see whether or not the DNA results support these impressions.
The purpose of my visit to the Selsey Peninsula was to look for migrant moths and look out for an Iberian-North African bird vagrant in the warm southerly airflow, I wasn't expecting a Sibe! In birding for as long as you've got a plan and target, that is all that matters- it gets you out in the field and you often find something that wasn't even on the radar.
The moth trap blew over again on the coast but luckily I caught a few migrants at the campsite MV.
Tuesday, 20 October 2020
My moth trapping attempt failed epically last night because the wind blew the trap over. I've got an MV up at campsite and a heath trap on the coast so hoping for some moth migrants tonight- its a warm southerly and 15 C tonight and immigrant moths have already been recorded elsewhere along the south coast today.
I birded the morning at Pagham (Ebird list HERE ) and the afternoon at Medmerry (list HERE ). Highlights included a Firecrest, Merlin and Wheatear at Pagham and Ring Ouzel and at least 8 Dartford Warblers at Medmerry. Also at Medmerry was at least 30 Stonechats along about a mile stretch including a very interesting bird showing features of Siberian/Stejneger's Stonechat. It was getting dark when I first came across it so the photos are a bit grainy to be certain - hope it's still there tomorrow.
Monday, 19 October 2020
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.
Sunday, 18 October 2020
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.
The Dotterel is only the 8th record for Bucks and the first in 24 years.
Saturday, 17 October 2020
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.