Friday, 26 August 2011

August 26th

With heavy overnight rain, I wasn't expecting lots of moths and we only ran one trap instead of the normal two, an hour and half later and 274 moths later we had logged everything and let everything go. The highlight was a Convolvulus Hawkmoth only the second site record, another large addition to the year list was a nice Red Underwing, on a slightly smaller scale Treble Bar was new for the year as well. Birch Mocha was the the first I had seen this year and an interesting shaped tortrix is still to be ID'd. There were 43 species in all this morning. Here are a few of todays moths.

Birch Mocha

Acleris Emargana, I think.

Pyrausta despicata

 On the bird front, I was expecting a few migrants this morning but by the time I had finished with the moths it was all a bit of a rush again. A WILLOW WARBLER was in the car park with the usual SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS at the moment there were 4 this morning, there was no sign of the 'chats' out in the fields unfortunately, especially as a friend of mine, Pete, had come to have a quick look for them for a second time when they decided not be around. We did hear a YELLOW WAGTAIL go over, no doubt an escapee from the Pittswood area :-). The short bit of hedge I did manage to get a look at held 2 SEDGE WARBLERS, 4 WHITETHROATS, YELLOWHAMMER and a WREN, so there certainly were a few bits around, I just didn't have long enough to find them all! Also this morning there were at least 60 SWALLOWS hanging around over the veg garden, a sign of things to come, they were later joined by a good number of HOUSE MARTINS making the total around of around 100 birds in all.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

August 25th

A quick stop in the entrance lane produced a singing CHIFFCHAFF and a BLACKCAP uttering a few phrases. 30 SWALLOWS went over the car park as I got out of the car and there are still some very young SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS around. A couple of GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS posed all to briefly as did various members of the 4 strong NUTHATCH family, there was also a single BULLFINCH calling as I left the car park. The first of 18 HERRING GULLS flew north as I approached the veg garden, they kept coming through in ones and twos apart from one group of six. A couple of WHITETHROATS dived for cover in the hedges then a REED WARBLER showed well for a while in the early sunshine, that was just starting to break through.
Reed Warbler

Reed Warbler take two.

A single SKYLARK called as it came up from the stubble and at least 13 YELLOWHAMMERS flew up from a line of straw waiting to be baled. To my surprise, a scan along the young hedge found the group of three chats, 2 WHINCHAT and a STONECHAT, back in residence after a two day absence, then Stephen text to say he had found a REDSTART where he found one originally a week or so ago. I was distracted as I walked back to the car park by 2 Whitethroats, so much so that a SPARROWHAWK flew off a straw bale only a couple yards in front of me! a missed photo opportunity there I think! When I got to the where Stephen was, he thought maybe the Redstart was a different bird but after I'd gone he got some better views which suggested it was the original bird.
Random Greenfinch!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

August 23rd and 24th - Moth numbers increase

A late start yesterday meant just a half hour visit, mainly in rainy conditions, the highlight was just 5 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS a quick scan of the fields didn't find the 3 Chats that have been around recently.
This morning I recorded the moths and it took getting on for 2 hours! 431 moths (macros only) of 54 species, was a marked increase on recent days. There were a few year ticks, Feathered Gothics emerged for the first time this year with 9 being recorded. A Bulrush Wainscot was a good record here, although can be common elsewhere. The highlight was our second site record of Clay Triple-Lines (as long as I have got the ID right!!). The most numerous moth was Large Yellow Underwing with 60 individuals. Some colour was added to the mornings recording with 8 Light Emerald, 3 Canary Shouldered Thorns and 5 Rosy Footman. Migrant moths were represented by 2 Silver Y's and maybe the White Point. A Peacock was only the second one I had seen this year. I didn't have time to look through the micros but did note 1 Apotomis Betuletana of which there is picture, if anyone could confirm if I've got the ID right, that would be great.
Clay Triple-Lines

Bulrush Wainscot

Orange Swift

Apotomis Betuletana?

Taking so long with the moths, meant I had just 50 minutes birding. A TAWNY OWL called before I started the moths at around 5.30am. Once out walking numbers of birds were low, I only noted 1 YELLOWHAMMER, 1 SKYLARK, 3 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS, there were several WHITETHROATS flying out of the clover into the hedge as I made my way round and 6 REED BUNTINGS were seen. A single LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL flew south west but other than that the skies held 14 SWALLOWS and some distant calling HOUSE MARTINS. My Dad had the best bird of the last couple of days when he found another SEDGE WARBLER. It was poor for photography this morning, so I dropped in again after work to see if I could get a few shots.
A popular pothole!

These pictures tell their own story!
I tried hard to get one side on or at least coming towards me!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

August 22nd

With no patch visit at the weekend to speak of, I was interested to see if much was happening, Pete and I did the moth recording this morning and found a new moth for the site Tree Lichen Beauty a really nice little moth, we also had Purple Bar, 2 White Points and 2 Iron Prominents and an assortment of commoner moths, 219 moths of 45 species.

Tree Lichen Beauty (poor pic, sorry)
I was joined for the birding by Pete as well, there were again good numbers of SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS (10+), a GARDEN WARBLER was with 3 BLACKCAP and BULLFINCH, NUTHATCH, 2 GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKERS and a WILLOW WARBLER were all in the car park.



Spotted Flycatcher
 A KINGFISHER disappeared from view as it followed the path of the moat. The fields were quietish to start with but as we went on there good numbers of buntings again, a CORMORANT flew over as did several HERRING GULLS and 1 LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL. There was also a nice mixed flock of birds in the tree lined bridleway, LONG TAILED TITS, CHIFFCHAFF, WILLOW WARBLER another SPOTTED FLYCATCHER and several WHITETHROATS. A quick scan of the new hedge produced the now longish staying, WHINCHAT x 2 and STONECHAT, I was slightly surprised, as the field they were favouring has now been harvested, lastly a flock of about 15 HOUSE MARTINS had started to get together around the offices. 43 species this morning in about an hour and a half. Thanks to some good friends the photos are back in business!!




Long Tailed Tit

Monday, 22 August 2011

Dungeness - Saturday 20th - A nice find!

I picked up Frank and Vivienne at around 6.30 and we arrived at the Old Lighthouse around 7.15, we were planning a quick seawatch then a look around the trapping area. Heading towards the power station wall there were several WHEATEAR and PIED WAGTAILS, whilst looking at these Vivienne drew my attention to a bird sat out on a bramble about 30 yards away it was a WRYNECK! what a great start to the day, I made a couple of calls and within 20 minutes or so a few people started to arrive.
We never got to the sea! instead, took sometime around the bushes. There were as ever loads of WHITETHROATS, which included 6 LESSER WHITETHROAT, there were several WILLOW WARBLER and YELLOW WAGTAILS were going over regularly, one flock of around 30 being the biggest while we were there. We also had two or three SPARROWHAWK around the trapping area. Moving on to the reserve we had a steady trickle of SAND MARTINS with a few SWALLOWS mixed in. The highlights here included a GREENSHANK and COMMON SAND. (Burrowe's), 1 SPOTTED REDSHANK (Dengemarsh), 2 HOBBIES and a calling WHIMBREL (near Christmas Dell), 3 GARGANEY and the GREAT WHITE EGRET  (also Dengemarsh). When we left the Dengemarsh Hide a LESSER EMPEROR DRAGONFLY whizzed by, my first in this country. We stood at the ramp for a while hoping to glimpse Bearded Tits but unfortunately they were just heard a couple of times. Our last stop was just across the road at ARC pits, we settled down in Hanson hide. The flock of 60 or so GOLDEN PLOVER were there with loads of LAPWINGS on the islands, some of the Golden Plover looking particularly good in their summer get up! Also on the islands were 67 KNOT, 6 DUNLIN and the long staying female GOOSANDER. A longer look around produced 1 LITTLE GULL sitting with a small group of Black Headed, as we were thinking about leaving a PEREGRINE scattered the birds from the islands and gave chase to the Dunlin, it gave up quite quickly and drifted passed the hide, 70 species for the day was a satisfying total. On the way home we spotted a Hare just outside Lydd. All in all a really productive day with some great company, good birds and weather to match.
BREAKING NEWS!!- there maybe photos on this blog again in the near future!!!!!

Friday, 19 August 2011

19th August

It was a really bright morning, SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS were down in number from yesterday, with just 4 seen this morning, BULLFINCH and WILLOW WARBLER were joined by at least 5 BLACKCAPS mostly looking like they were enjoying the sun. For the first time this year I forgot my notebook and was obviously feeling bare without it!! I had a quick look for the Redstart but couldn't locate it. I made my way out to the fields, a GREY WAGTAIL called as it flew high north before dropping down and doing a quick circuit of the veg garden and carrying on it's way, I think this is number 77 or 78 for the month without the notebook, I can't quite remember. Down in the fields the group of 3 'chats', STONECHAT and 2 WHINCHATS, were still present and looking quite settled for possibly their fourth day. COMMON WHITETHROATS were in most of the hedges I walked along today, 7 birds were counted. I reached the barley and a warbler flew up briefly and landed back down about 15ft away, it popped up again and flew into the hedge, GRASSHOPPER WARBLER, probably the same bird as earlier in the week, as it was only about 20 yards from where that one was found. Continuing round, alongside the tree lined bridleway, there were good numbers of REED BUNTINGS and YELLOWHAMMER, Reed Buntings were most numerous with around 15-20 birds and probably 10-15 Yellowhammers, over all a really good flock, probably local birds but it's unusual here to get more Reed Buntings than Yellowhammers. A GOLCREST was also along the bridleway as were 2 more WILLOW WARBLERS and a singing CHIFFCHAFF.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

August 18th

Before I get on to today, I got a text from Stephen at around 5pm last night just as I was leaving work to say the REDSTART was still present. I got there half an hour later and managed to get some better views of the bird and find another WHEATEAR, that was in the new orchard, a really nice visit for just 20mins or so.

This morning it took me about an hour to log the moths, there was nothing new and numbers were low, 111 moths of 30 species.
The car park was again full of SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS, 10 would be a conservative estimate, there were also 2 WILLOW WARBLERS, 4 NUTHATCHES, a BULLFINCH, 5 BLACKCAPS and 1 each of GREEN WOODPECKER and GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER. I headed up to the new orchard, there was no sign of yesterdays Wheatear but in the next field the REDSTART was still favouring the fence line just the other side of the car park, I waited to get some shots the bird wasn't playing ball. I was now running short of time so I thought I'd check to see if there were any chats in the oats (sorry called it a wheat field the other day for some strange reason!), as I approached the 2 WHINCHAT and 1 STONECHAT were still together where I last saw them 2 days ago. Amazingly there was more to come, a flock of around 50 birds caught my eye heading south and quite high up, the other day it turned out to be racing pigeons! today though it was 38 WHIMBREL and 2 BAR-TAILED GODWIT (110)!!! What a really good morning, I was more than happy with the birds that had stayed around but the waders were a more than welcome added bonus. The flock did turn and start going east until they were lost from view.
I did have one bit of a downer while out though, during my visit my camera came up with a CF Error, it said to remove the card so I turned the camera off took the card out and replaced when I turned it back on, the images had all gone for the last few days and as the computer has been out of action none were saved anywhere, I was gutted, especially as last nights Wheatear had posed for what I thought might be one of my best efforts so far with the set up I have and the Painted Lady has gone and so on and so on........As I only started taking photos more at the start of the year I am a complete novice and wondered if anyone out there may know if I could have avoided losing the images when the message appeared? I have a Canon 40D, if that information helps to identify a way round the error message.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

August 16th & 17th

16th August  

(apologies no pics for a day or so again as the computer is being worked on)   :-(
The moth traps were buzzing this morning, unfortunately quite literally, as Wasps were almost as numerous as the moths! There was nothing new for the year but Bordered Beauty, Silver Y and Small Rufous were of note also a single Flounced Rustic was new for the year. 171 moths of 46 species were recorded in all.
I arrived while it was still dark and added TAWNY OWL to the month list, this was accompanied by 2 noisy LITTLE OWLS. It took a while for everything else to get going, when it did WILLOW WARBLER and CHIFFCHAFF calls could be heard for the duration of the walk. I am also starting to wonder when the SPARROWHAWK chicks will stop begging, they were still going strong this morning. The first event of the morning was a couple of buzzing calls as a TREE PIPIT (108) flew south, I've missed at least two of these so far this year, so it was nice to pick this one up. Like yesterdays Grasshopper Warbler, it's pretty much annual but you still need that element of luck as they very rarely land, just call as they head south. The pipit was followed by a small group of HOUSE MARTINS, south, any gulls that went over today were all going in the opposite direction, 10 HERRING and 2 LESSER BLACK BACKED. There were a couple of butterflies around this morning and most pleasing was another Painted Lady that this time did stop just long enough for a photo. A SEDGE WARBLER was in one of the hedges and I came across at least 12 WHITETHROATS with 2 LESSER WHITETHROATS, with a handful of REED BUNTINGS in another hedge. I saw Stephen at the top of the hill, as I was making my way towards him, he rung to say he had 2 WHINCHAT and a STONECHAT together at the top of the field, unfortunately I didn't get very close as the birds stayed together in a group as they fed along one of the younger hedges heading back down the field, today's birds took the month list to 75, again more than I expected to get and there's still a couple of weeks left!

17th August

I was in the car park at 6.50am as the mist was starting to clear, the first thing I heard was a feebly singing WILLOW WARBLER as I opened the door, Stephen pulled up and we walked along opposite edges until we reached the new orchard. In that short time there were at least 6 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS, a YELLOW WAGTAIL called close by but neither of us picked it up as it flew over, also two LITTLE OWLS could be heard from Park Field, 15 SWALLOWS gathered on top of a couple of birch trees, later on the wires, and a charm of 8 or more GOLDFINCHES were at the top of the car park. Stephen carried on and I headed out to the fields the other side of the estate. I didn't see a lot although young GREEN WOODPECKERS were being quite vocal and I did find another SEDGE WARBLER, as the Sedgie disappeared I remembered my phone was on silent, I had a message, Stephen had got a flighty Redstart just above and around the car park! So 10 minutes later than it should have been, I wandered back to the car park, the bird had disappeared. I spent the next half an hour having a look round, there were more WILLOW WARBLERS, several BLACKCAPS, NUTHATCH, GOLDCREST and then a glimpse of what might have been the bird, I edged closer and was lucky to see the COMMON REDSTART (109) as it flew up into a small Oak, in a flash it flicked left and disappeared again, Stephen and the site are on a good run, so hopefully we'll turn up a few more goodies before the end of autumn!

Monday, 15 August 2011

August 12th-15th- A mixed bag!

I've had a pretty varied last few days not much intense bird-watching but certainly a few interesting bits and pieces. Just to rewind very slightly Thursday 11th, I had 1 SWIFT over, I always start making a note of these August birds as September birds are not common here.
The morning of the 12th went without incident a LITTLE OWL, once more in the car park was probably the highlight. The young SPARROWHAWKS were still begging for food and I again only found one WILLOW WARBLER. At lunchtime I headed to a local gravel pit near where I work and found 1 COMMON SANDPIPER and 2 HOBBIES, here again it was relatively quiet.
Saturday was a non event bird wise but I did find a Long horn Beetle whilst walking round the castle with my wife.
Cormorant close to walk
Longhorn Beetle

Saturday in the garden

I set the moth trap up at home Saturday night and had 22 species in the trap Sunday morning the highlight being a Flame Carpet which flew off before I got any photos! The rest of Sunday morning was spent at Dungeness mainly sea watching, hoping for a Shearwater or two. I didn't see any Shearwaters but was pleased with 20 ARCTIC SKUAS  in little over an hour, plus a few COMMON SCOTER, 6 BLACK TERNS, 13 KITTIWAKE, 100+ GANNET a LITTLE TERN and scores of SANDWICH and COMMON TERNS all heading west. There were good numbers of Hirundines and lots of YELLOW WAGTAILS going over. I missed the Glaucous Gull, (I might be the only Kent birder not to see the bird in 2011!!) but did find good numbers of WHEATEAR round the fishing boats.
Wheatear at Dunge

Little Egret at Dunge

Later in the day news reached me, rather belatedly, of a White Rumped Sandpiper at Dungeness, I made a rare excursion but it wasn't there when I arrived, it had flown towards the south end of Arc Pits, as I didn't have a lot of time and it had been gone longer than previous times it had disappeared, I headed that way. There were 3 LITTLE GULLS there and 4 RUFF had a quick look in and then decided against it. My time was up so I headed home, just as I passed the entrance to the reserve the phone rang the bird was back in front of the hide!! a bit of manoeuvring and I was back in the hide only to find it gone again!!!! The joys of looking for rare birds, I remember now why I don't do this often :-) If only I'd stayed............!!?
Sunday in the garden!

Robin in the garden

Elephant Hawkmoth Sunday walk with Bec

So to this morning, Stephen arrived before me and while I was searching the car park he called to let me know he had found a Whinchat in the wheat field. I headed off noting several WILLOW WARBLERS, NUTHATCH, SPARROWHAWK, 6 HERRING GULLS, SPOT. FLY and BLACKCAP on the way.
Before I got the field in question the phone rang again and Stephen was watching a Grasshopper Warbler at the bottom of the same field!! Within a couple of minutes I was watching the GRASSHOPPER WARBLER (106), we get them almost annually now but they are difficult to find at times by their very nature, so this is always a bonus! Back to the other bird, it had moved up the field but Stephen had got it in the scope and the second year tick of the day, WHINCHAT (107) was sitting up on the wheat, excellent!! Thanks to Stephen, my mixed bag of the last few days ended on a high.
Grasshopper Warbler this morning

Distant Whinchat this morning

Thursday, 11 August 2011

August 11th

This morning was a bit grey with with a wind from the west that was more a nuisance than a discomfort. There was a CHIFFCHAFF and a LITTLE OWL of note in the car park and I left there with less than 10 species, which is particularly low. All in all it was a bit of a quiet morning with only ones and twos of most birds that were recorded, NUTHATCH (1), SPOT. FLY (1), BLACKCAP (1), BULLFINCH (1), GREEN WOODPECKER (2!, heard only though) and so the list goes on. There were a couple of high points though, I was pleased to see a SPARROWHAWK drift by, although they are always here, I still enjoy seeing them. A LITTLE EGRET was on the move, high south, which was the first this month as was a single MISTLE THRUSH, which I was sure I must have seen already but apparently not. The only other birds on the move were a single LESSER BLACK BACKED GULL, 9 HERRING GULLS and I found just one WILLOW WARBLER. After yesterdays trigger happy day with the camera, today was a bit of a non event, there's always tomorrow :-)

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

August 10th

Firstly some late news from yesterday, Stephen and I were lucky enough to pick up a HONEY BUZZARD (105) passing through, it was very low at times and when I got over the excitement, I did take a couple of shots as it was being chased by a crow, unfortunately not great pics but just for the record and greatly cropped!! Another less than annual visitor here. Just after we saw this, I headed off, Stephen called as I got round the corner but unfortunately I missed the Tree Pipit that had probably just flown straight over my head!
Honey Buzzard! (yesterday)

This morning was the first time I'd been up to record the moths for over a week, they were pretty thin on the ground, Straw Underwing being the most common moth with probably not more than 20 individuals.
Back to the birds, at least 10 GOLDFINCH were in the Silver Birches at the top of the car park where a family of 4 BLACKCAP were diving in and out the now ripening Elderberries. I heard a distant GREY HERON but couldn't see it and the first of 3 HERRING GULLS flew north west. Overall activity was a bit less today, a total of 7 WILLOW WARBLERS was notable with a couple going into a little subsong and a TURTLE DOVE was species number 68 for the month.
Spotted Flycatcher

Willow Warbler

Reed Bunting

I did tear myself away from the hedges for a while and visited the lake, where a KESTREL flew through. Into the wood and I could hear LONG TAILED TITS, MARSH TIT and TREECREEPER, best of all here were 3 young SPARROWHAWKS heard begging for food, I did see one bird briefly but they remained mostly hidden, sounding like they had found an Oak tree each to call from. JAYS were also noisy and I came across 2 family parties in different parts of the wood and as in another blog I read, GREEN WOODPECKERS were everywhere. Lastly back at the car park a LITTLE OWL disappeared into an Ash tree before I headed off to work. (click on pics for larger image).

Young Green Woodpecker

Stock Dove

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

August 9th

A coolish start and a quick look in the old orchard by the road didn't lead to any significant sightings, recently a young Fox has been seen jumping around in the long grass there and despite going into 'stealth mode' (possibly to be renamed clumsy oaf mode!) on a couple of occasions it disappears before I get a chance of a picture! I really thought I was close once and I must have looked extremely dodgy, almost on all fours half crawling across the field!
The car park was still quiet, NUTHATCH being of note and 2 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS putting in an appearance. I was drawn again to the corner of the veg garden where I could see a lot of activity again. There are now a few piglets running around in a little pen in this corner, which could be the attraction. There were at least 5 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS, 2 adult and 3 young, 3 WILLOW WARBLERS, a TREECREEPER, several CHIFFCHAFFS, CHAFFINCHES and BLUE and GREAT TITS. At the corner of the moat 1 GARDEN WARBLER explored a young oak and 10 HERRING GULLS flew north. The hedges were quieter but still held half a dozen REED BUNTINGS and several YELLOWHAMMERS. Stephen had the WHEATEAR again in the same field as yesterday and as I left a BUZZARD flew west. I'm a bit behind still on photos so here are a few that I managed to upload yesterday.

Yes I did get wet, this was Sunday!

An addition to this years mammal list was this Mink!

The Tower and Priests Cottage

Willow Warbler

The 'showy'  Sedge Warbler from yesterday

The Wheatear still present today.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Sunday 7th and Monday 8th

Firstly here are a couple of photographs that didn't make it on to the blog due to the loss of connection at home.

Gold Spot

Acleris Kochiella (boscana) not Logiana as first thought.

Jersey Tiger, new for the site last week!
Sunday morning I was out by 7.15, a bit late for me and it was breezier than I expected. The car park was relatively quiet so I headed to the veg garden In a sunny sheltered corner there was a small gathering of birds, 3 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS, a WILLOW WARBLER, several CHIFFCHAFFS and the usual BLUE TITS and GREAT TITS, while I was watching these two other birds caught my eye, firstly a RED LEGGED PARTRIDGE scurrying for cover and then a single SAND MARTIN which flew through with a group of SWALLOWS.

Reed Bunting
 Stephen was already around somewhere so I text him about the Sand Martin as I did he rang me with a possible Redstart sighting in the hedgerow. I wasn't too far away so headed towards the area where Stephen was. Halfway down the hill and two more birds caught my eye flying about 30ft up over the field heading west, WHIMBREL! (104) fantastic, I don't see them annually so a really nice addition to the year list. In between trying to unlock my phone and shouting 'Whimbrel over the veg garden!' I didn't get any photos but more pleasing was that Stephen heard the word Whimbrel and he picked them up over the car park! We searched the hedgerows for the Redstart but unfortunately it eluded us. A KESTREL hovered over one of the meadows and a COLLARED DOVE flew towards the castle. There are so many areas to explore it's often difficult to know where to go in limited time, I stuck to the fields today. A couple of small groups of HOUSE MARTINS flew through probably totalling around 25 birds in all, also the first COMMON BUZZARDS of the month were seen, looking like an adult and an immature bird, making quite a racket.

So to this morning, after heavy overnight rain I thought there must be something around, the car park was again quiet though but the little corner in the veg garden I visited yesterday was still busy. This time there were more WILLOW WARBLERS and CHIFFCHAFFS at least 4 of each, 3 BLACKCAPS and 4 or 5 SPOT. FLYS. A HOBBY also flew north there while I watched the feeding flock of small birds. One Chiffchaff was in full song and a SONG THRUSH joined in singing for a short time. This morning the hedgerows were alive with stuff and I kept expecting something different to jump out but best bird was a more showy SEDGE WARBLER than previously encountered. Heading back to the car, Stephen called to say he had a WHEATEAR in the field above the car park, where the hay has just been mown, our first one of the autumn.