Thursday, 29 September 2011

September 29th

There were a few different moths around the traps this morning, Yellow Line Quaker and Merveille Du Jour, were new for the year and Four Spotted Footman was new for the site! New site records have been hard to come by for a while so this was a very welcome addition. It is categorised as Nationally Scarce A and is an immigrant to south-east England, with a possible small populations in the south-west.

Four Spotted Footman (the male has no spots!) Thanks to Steve Broyd for the photo.
Merveille Du Jour

 Chestnuts (the moth not the actual nut!!?) were more abundant today after the first one or two being found earlier in the week, Pine and Grey Pine Carpet were both found as was another Large Wainscot. Lunar Underwing or Lunies as we affectionately call them were down to only 130ish!
I'm struggling to find anything different to tell you about on the bird front, the highlight was nearly 3 thrushes flying over which I thought might be the first Redwings of autumn, just because they were high and were smallish thrushes, they were SONG THRUSH, not to be sniffed at though, as only a short time ago I was wondering where they all were!
There was still a bit of mist around this morning

Otherwise it was ditto yesterday, minus the Tree Pipit. Stephen had 3 Greylags over, from his favourite watchpoint while we had one each of CORMORANT. He also had a Lesser Whitethroat a couple of days ago. For completeness here are the other bits and pieces from this morning, SISKIN (2 or 3 small flocks), YELLOWHAMMER 20+, MEADOW PIPIT 15, CHIFFCHAFF 6, BLACKCAP 1, GOLDCREST 3, BULLFINCH 3, also there were signs that a few of the commoner finches were moving with small flocks of CHAFFINCHES and GOLDFINCHES, flying mainly west. My next visit will be Monday morning hopefully the first thrushes and a few more finches will be heading my way :-)



Wednesday, 28 September 2011

September 28th

It looked reasonably clear as I set off from the house this morning but turning into the lane to the castle the mist was hanging and did make it a little tricky again this morning. The moths were few and far between except for the 160 odd Lunar Underwings, other bits and pieces included Large Wainscot, Bordered Beauty and another good selection of Sallows.
nothing on the posts then!

Whilst we were putting away the moth traps a TREE PIPIT circled and called a couple of times, before heading off into the mist. SISKINS were more in evidence today at least four small flocks went over in the hour long visit along with at least one REDPOLL. The car park held a couple of GOLDCRESTS, 3 CHIFFCHAFF, 2 NUTHATCHES and a BLACKCAP, also a BULLFINCH called there.

For the first morning in ages there were no Swallows or Martins heard or seen, probably more due to the conditions than them all leaving at once! Alan, who does the Snodland and Surrounding area blog joined me for a short time and hopefully we found some better places to do some recording in the near future, he was meeting Pete the Warden later to find out what was possible, should be interesting. I added Tawny Owl the other morning and forgot to put it on the blog, so the month list now stands at 67. With only one visit left this month for me, that will probably be it.
Blue Tit

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

September 26th-27th

Misty is the best way to describe the last two mornings, certainly making things more challenging. Yesterday we checked through the moths and found 1 year tick in the form of an L-Album Wainscot, which means we are well into the 340's for the year, Brick was new for me this year although Steve had one on Sunday morning, Lunar Underwings are still numbering in the 100's.
L-Album Wainscot

For the walk yesterday the highlight was finding 3 WHINCHAT, they keep coming and very welcome they are too. The other notable action yesterday was a more than steady trickle of HOUSE MARTINS, 200 or more in an hour is, as usual, a conservative estimate with maybe 40-50 SWALLOWS for good measure. CHIFFCHAFF and BLACKCAP, are still here and will be around for a bit longer yet other warblers are now going to be few and far between here though, but hopefully I might pick up a late one here and there. A SPARROWHAWK flew lazily into one the silver birches but didn't hang around for a photo shoot and a small flock of SISKIN this time graced the end of my walk rather than the beginning.
Another  Whinchat (with a cryptic blur in the background!)

Today was much the same, maybe a tad mistier, there were no new moths in the traps though I saw my first Dusky Lemon Sallow of the year and we had 3 of the unusual looking, Angle Shades.
Angle Shades
Angle Shades

The birds were much as yesterday, although I couldn't see far enough to know if the Whinchat were around but Dad reported 1 Whinchat and a Stonechat on his walk this morning as the mist lifted. A short excursion into the wood allowed me to catch up with a few GOLDCREST and MARSH TIT and out in the fields it sounded like the YELLOWHAMMER flock was still at a reasonable number. I could hear plenty of MEADOW PIPITS and only a couple of HOUSE MARTINS, hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to see a bit further, even though there is something about misty mornings that give the whole place a different atmosphere.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Saturday 24th- Arundel and Pulborough.

Frank and I set off around 6.30am to look for the Pallid Harrier that had been around a few days near Arundel in West Sussex. We found the site pretty easily, it was quite foggy so it was a waiting game on two fronts, the fog and the bird. I hadn't visited this site before, it was a really nice area. There were plenty of CHIFFCHAFFS around and a covey Partridges we came across early on were GREY PARTRIDGE, not a bird I see often in Kent these days, a couple of RED LEGGED PARTRIDGES also shared the same field.
Grey Partridge


There were quite a few people about mainly congregating at a junction in the road at about the highest point around. We decided to explore a bit and found the first of maybe 5 WHEATEARS seen while we were there.SISKINS were heard going over on and off all day and the numbers of SWALLOWS and MARTINS was tremendous, the air was filled with them all morning. It was BUZZARDS though that stole the day, we could hear them calling while we watched others perched, unfortunately none close enough for a photo, a total of over 20 would not be an exaggeration, at one time 12 were in the air together. Throw in, upto 4 SPARROWHAWKS, 3 RED KITES, 4 KESTRELS and a HOBBY and it was a fantastic morning for birds of prey. A couple of RAVENS were added to the list but by 1pm we hadn't come across the Harrier, there had been a brief sighting at 10.30, literally for a few seconds but everyone we met had drawn a blank. We headed back to the car for some well deserved lunch and to decide our next move.
We headed to Pulborough Brooks, as it turns up a few things every so often and for a change of scenery. The highlights here were 6 RUFF, 2 DUNLIN and 7 STONECHATS. Wildfowl numbers looked like they were starting to build, there were many TEAL, along with a few SHOVELER and 20 or so WIGEON. We headed back home after taking in all the hides and enjoying the peacefulness of the surroundings.

Friday, 23 September 2011

September 23rd - Birds chasing Birds

I think it's nearly a full house for me, mothing every morning so far this week, I won't make it at the weekend, so was hoping today might bring some surprises. It didn't! it did bring another 270 odd Lunar Underwings, I will post a photo at some point, also a couple of Black Rustics, a Feathered Thorn which was very early and new for the year, plus four different Sallow species.
Black Rustic

Black Rustic

A few SISKIN again went over while we recorded the moths but none were heard subsequently. CHIFFCHAFF numbers remain steady at 9 today, with just 2 BLACKCAP again. A lone WHINCHAT was in the hedge below the veg garden and probably 30-40 MEADOW PIPITS are now around in the fields. Two BUZZARDS flew low along the bridleway chased by several MAGPIES, as I stopped watching these another bird was being chased by about 15 JACKDAWS, as they came out of the mist the bird revealed itself as a GREY HERON.

Buzzard being chased

Grey Heron with a bit more company!

GREY and PIED WAGTAILS were both seen today and there were up to 8 SKYLARK wheeling around together, just chasing each other not something else.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

September 22nd

I was late again this morning for moths, no excuses really as now we're not starting until 6.30! There were 2 new moths for the year Clifden Nonpareil and Autumnal Rustic.
Autumnal Rustic

For my walk round I was fortunate to be joined by Alan Woodcock (Snodland and Surrounding Area Blog). We had a look round for potential sites to possibly to do some ringing, Alan was quite hopeful, so fingers crossed that the National Trust will allow this and we find out a bit more about the birds that pass through here. As we walked round we managed to see a few bits and pieces, several CHIFFCHAFFS sang and were seen, 2 WHINCHAT and 2 STONECHAT were still present today just below the veg garden, we also had a couple of BLACKCAPS one doing a little subsong by the barn, MEADOW PIPITS and LINNETS were most plentiful whizzing over the freshly cut clover field, I also saw my first SONG THRUSH of the month!! hot news I know :-)
After a bit of deliberation, I decided to head off to Weir Wood Reservoir, I spent until 12.30 there with no sign of the Long Toed Stint, hopefully I will make a return journey in the next few days??

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

September 21st

There were more moths again this morning 274 Lunar Underwings alone, out of a total somewhere around 470 in the traps. The species spread was also pretty good with 36 different species recorded. The highlights were Large Wainscot and Beaded Chestnut both new for the year bringing the total to 338 macro species so far this year. We also recorded Pine Carpet, Grey Pine Carpet, Garden Carpet, Barred Sallow and Red Green Carpet, to name just a few.
Large Wainscot

Barred Sallow

It was quieter on the bird front as the drizzle became more persistent, 2 WHINCHAT and 2 STONECHAT were still around though, in the clover and by the veg garden, one flock only, of about 10 SWALLOWS flew west. I counted 6 CHIFFCHAFF and 3 BLACKCAP. The MEADOW PIPITS and SKYLARKS were probably making the most noise this morning. After these few little bits the list peters out a bit! Back again tomorrow :-)

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

September 20th

On time this morning, there was a little more variety in the moths today, there were 2 Bordered Beautys, Barred Sallow was new for the year, Dusky Thorn, Black Rustic and more Deep Brown Darts were found. I think the Lunar Underwings totalled 120 or so, not quite the 640 we had one morning last autumn!! Last autumn also produced our first Southern Oak Bush Crickets, just after the first for Kent was found at Dungeness, this morning we found another one of these crickets that is rapidly expanding it's range in the UK, since the first sighting in Surrey in 2001. It's doing surprisingly well considering it can't fly!!
Southern Oak Bush Cricket

One of many tricky species when learning these are both called Sallow!

Dusky Thorn

Lesser Treble Bar

There were many more SWALLOWS and HOUSE MARTINS today probably several hundred went through in the hour or so I was there, mixed in were a handful of SISKIN and MEADOW PIPITS today with a bit more purpose in the direction they were flying. CHIFFCHAFFS were found in the usual haunts and again 7 or 8 birds were present. One nice flock today, contained 20 YELLOWHAMMERS, 17 LONG TAILED TITS, 10 BLUE TITS, 4 CHIFFCHAFF, 1 BLACKCAP and a handful of CHAFFINCHES.
Long Tailed Tit

Time was against me so I opted for a walk around the only uncut field we have at the moment, which is clover, a small bird caught my eye low to the ground on the edge, GRASSHOPPER WARBLER, possibly the third bird of the autumn. It showed all to briefly before flying out in to the middle of the field. The 65th species this month. The only other bird of note was a GOLDCREST flying about 50 or 60ft up over the car park, not how I usually expect to see them!! Stephen sent me a text later, he had found 4 Stonechats and 2 Whinchats in the clover field I had been walking round only half an hour before!! How I missed them I don't know as I spent a reasonable amount of time scanning after I found the Gropper! Maybe they'll hang around until tomorrow.

Monday, 19 September 2011

September 19th

I was late arriving to check the moths with Steve, we did have 4 year ticks though, with moths that definitely herald the start of autumn, Deep Brown Dart, Black Rustic, Frosted Orange and Pink Barred Sallow, were the 4 new ones. We also had 83 Lunar Underwings.

Frosted Orange

One of the first birds this morning was a SISKIN heading south, it turned out to be the only one in my hour and a bit visit. MISTLE THRUSHES have been more evident in my last few visits after only seeing one or two a month for the last few months but Song Thrushes are, as they say, conspicuous by their absence. There were 4 CHIFFCHAFF, out of this morning 7, in the car park with little else. A few MEADOW PIPITS were going over but in no particular direction. A KINGFISHER flew off the moat towards the lake catching me sleeping as usual. I thought for a while I was only going to get Chiffchaff as far as summer visitors were concerned but eventually a couple of SWALLOWS flew south and a total of 16 were seen in all, still not many though. A WHITETHROAT and BLACKCAP were the only other summer birds to be seen, as Warren said on his Pittswood blog, this is a bit later than usual here too for Whitethroat. 8 HERRING GULLS were joined by 1 GREAT BLACK BACKED GULL, new for the month and lastly a single CORMORANT flew west. I almost forgot, I did add LITTLE OWL to the month list yesterday, heard only though.

Dunwich Heath and Minsmere, September 18th

Watching the weather forecast all week knowing that 5 of us were heading up to Suffolk on Sunday, was a waste of time, I should have known better!! The forecast was for heavy showers and strong winds, we got sunshine and a light breeze! a real bonus.
We arrived at Dunwich Heath around 8am a few Pipits could be heard and some HOUSE MARTINS were already high in the sky. After less than a 100 yards we found 3 DARTFORD WARBLERS, what a great start, they weren't hanging around but were seen flying from on spot to another and diving straight for cover in typical fashion, as we watched these the first of todays raptors drifted by a female MARSH HARRIER, it flew by our second raptor, a hovering KESTREL, behind us another bird called it was a HOBBY, it circled the edge of the north marsh at Minsmere and was briefly joined by a SPARROWHAWK, which continued north!! 4 raptors in as many minutes, certainly more than I expected. We moved on, a few SISKIN were flying over, not great numbers but they were heard on and off throughout the morning, we'd only gone another 100 yards and I picked up a COMMON BUZZARD just above the tree line, I hoped our luck would continue. In among the the birds mentioned already, Pete found a single Red Deer in the heather surprisingly well camouflaged. Almost the highlight of the day for me was our next encounter, with this time 7 Red Deer of various ages that came within maybe 40 yards, they stopped and watched us for about 5 minutes while they decided what to do next before disappearing in to the woods. We saw many more Dartford Warblers on our walk round, suggesting a good breeding season, eventually one or two posed for a short time so everyone had some scope views of these little beauties, we also had 3 more Common Buzzards that drifted south together before we got back to the car.
At Minsmere we started at North Hide, quickly finding Fiona the Flamingo, after her brief excursion to Dungeness in the week!! We added RUFF, BLACK TAILED GODWIT, COMMON SANDPIPER, several of the usual duck species and loads of BARNACLE GEESE! There has been a feral flock around for a few years now but I was amazed at how many there were, I would think well over a 100 birds, either the feral population has had a good breeding season or they been joined by a few more from somewhere else. The north bushes suddenly came alive, just after we added another Buzzard to the day list and another 5 Hobbies that were circling round together, the bushes had a really good mixed flock of warblers,tits and finches, 60 birds would be conservative nearer a 100 might be close. WILLOW WARBLER, CHIFFCHAFF, LESSER WHITETHROAT, TREECREEPER, GOLDCREST and the usual selection of tits were seen, unfortunately we didn't pick out the reported Yellow Browed Warbler or Icterine Warbler.
Visiting the rest of the hides round the scrape added more waders, WHIMBREL, AVOCET, BAR TAILED GODWIT, REDSHANK, CURLEW SANDPIPER, RINGED PLOVER and DUNLIN, they all took there place on the list. At sea just BLACK and SANDWICH TERN were seen and a male BEARDED TIT posed nicely in the reeds near the sluice. Our last stops were the Bittern and Island mere hides, a WATER RAIL called while we watched 3 Marsh Harriers performing well, in what was becoming a nice evening light, I glimpsed a BITTERN disappearing into the reeds but it was gone before I drew breath to alert everyone.
We saw or heard over 70 species during the day and stayed dry!, it was thoroughly enjoyable, we drove back through heavy showers!!

Friday, 16 September 2011

September 16th

There weren't many moths this morning but year ticks were Lunar Underwing (23) and Orange Sallow.

A single SPOTTED FLYCATCHER was hanging on in the car park this morning with 8 BLACKCAPS, plus there were at least 4 Blackcaps elsewhere on the estate. CHIFFCHAFFS numbered 10 and 1 WILLOW WARBLER uttered a phrase under it's breath by the barn. No great shakes again today but new for the month were CANADA GOOSE and a flyover REDPOLL (first of the autumn), making 62 species for the month. Yesterdays Stonechats appear to have departed. The fields and hedges held a single WHITETHROAT and 15 YELLOWHAMMERS as well as a couple REED BUNTINGS and the large flock of corvids still numbered well over 100 birds, 3 SKYLARK and half a dozen MEADOW PIPITS completed the picture. It won't be long before the last few Swallow have a few a winter thrushes sharing the skies with them, a change I was always enjoy witnessing.

Spot Fly. Could it be the last one this year?

Thursday, 15 September 2011

September 15th, Patch and Dunge.

Sun up! nearly
I got to the castle early to check the moths, unfortunately the traps were nowhere to be seen, not to worry, it was a beautiful morning so I had a look around before heading off to Dunge with Dad. Birds were few and far between with lots of regulars but I did find 2 new STONECHATS, a male and female which brightened the morning even more.
So to Dunge with Dad, we started with our traditional seawatch after a quick stop to look for yesterdays Long Tailed Skua, which didn't materialise, it was fairly slow 1 LITTLE GULL and 2 BLACK TERNS were at the patch and then 2 distant SHEARWATERS were probably Balearic but too far to be sure, so a Kent tick slipped away :-( A distant Skua could have been anything back at the car a couple of SISKIN flew over and 2 Hummingbird Hawkmoths were next to the car. (Click on pics for larger image).

Hummingbird Hawkmoth

We decided on a walk round the trapping area, we were joined by a lovely couple from Surrey. A BLACK REDSTART, was near the houses one the way out, there were loads of Willow/Chiffs including a flock of 5 together with a LESSER WHITETHROAT, the first of 3 we found, unfortunately there wasn't loads here either but we added a couple of BLACKCAP and a REED WARBLER. Dad picked up a SPARROWHAWK, which wasn't surprising after yesterdays numbers. I got a text to say the Long Tailed Skua was at the patch but another look at the sea proved fruitless, we only added a distant flock of COMMON SCOTER. A look at the roosting gulls failed to produce the Glaucous Gull, later I found out I wasn't the only Kent birder not to see the  bird this year!! which made me feel not quite so bad!
Black Redstart
 Onto Arc pits and there was a good selection of waders, 4 AVOCET, 1 LITTLE STINT, BAR TAILED GODWIT, 6 BLACK TAILED GODWIT, 3 RUFF, 2 DUNLIN a CURLEW and good numbers of GOLDEN PLOVER and LAPWING.
Too far for a pic really!! Little Stint
Next stop was Dengemarsh and Springfield Bridge, there were 2 WHINCHAT near the gate to the field and good numbers of SAND MARTINS, around 5 MARSH HARRIER milled about the marsh and possibly 3 COMMON BUZZARDS were seen. A GREENSHANK and GREEN SANDPIPER added to the wader tally, 2 LITTLE EGRET were on view for most of the 2 hours we were there. We met Ian from the Stodmarsh area and local man Pete, again good company while we tried hard to find more birds. 2 RAVENS called as they drifted over, one quite high.
Overall we had a really enjoyable day, not loads of birds but as always enough to keep us interested, some good company and good weather.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

September 14th

Cool and fine this morning, with little noise in the car park. I did end up with 7 BLACKCAPS, 4 of which were along the hedge near the new orchard, with these there was 1 GARDEN WARBLER, a bird which is not always easy in September here, this was my second one of the month.
Garden Warbler

 Three of yesterdays CHIFFCHAFF were around the picnic benches and another 4 were added at various points around the walk. Finches were represented by 2 GREENFINCH, 14 GOLDFINCH, 1 BULLFINCH, 10 LINNET, several CHAFFINCH and what sounded like a large flock of SISKIN, that unfortunately, I couldn't track down, they were doing that chattery call which I hear more when they are feeding but it sounded like they were flying over, even doing a full 360 and managing not to fall over, I still didn't find them!!

Also when they chatter it sometimes sounds like there are more than there really are. Probably the highlight of the walk were the 4 fly over YELLOW WAGTAILS, 3 together quite low and one following on a few seconds later. Around the hedges I managed to find 3 WHITETHROATS and good numbers of buntings again. A MEADOW PIPIT flew south and another single SAND MARTIN went through with SWALLOWS. Stephen was out yesterday and today, his highlights were Wheatear yesterday and Sedge Warbler and Kingfisher today. I'm going off patch to Dungeness with Dad tomorrow, hopefully there will be some bits about.

Reed Bunting

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

September 13th

A brighter start today but still a bit on the windy side! still it was another enjoyable walk. Leaving the car park I came across about 6 CHIFFCHAFF and 3 SPOTTED FLYCATHERS still hanging on, around the picnic tables, also a GOLDCREST showed all to breifly before being chased off by one of the Chiffchaffs.
One of several Chiffchaffs today

Young  Spot.  Fly.

A few more HERRING GULLS were seen today, 22 birds headed west, mainly staying fairly low. SWALLOWS were thin the ground with a couple of flocks in single figures being noted, I did hear HOUSE MARTIN in one of these as well. Another small flock of birds was near the offices and contained more Chiffchaffs and several BLACKCAPS as well as half a dozen YELLOWHAMMER.
A few of this mornings Gulls

A new bird for the month was COLLARED DOVE and a couple of birds I missed on Saturday were seen, GREY HERON and MOORHEN, the Grey Heron being mobbed as it descended down to the lake.
Heron being mobbed

 Two GREY WAGTAILS called as they flew high over the lake heading west and were also new for the month taking the total to 60. The last bit of action was a SPARROWHAWK that flew out of a nearby Oak, I rarely manage to spot them before I spook them, more field craft required I think!!?