Sunday 30 June 2013

Glasto & Moths Galore

Lade - midnight - Just in case anybody was wondering about the post title, "Moths Galore" did not appear at Glasto last night, but I did sit up `til late to watch a bunch of septuagenarians cavorting around the Pyramid Stage, just to see what all the fuss was all about...  Oh dear, old rubber lips has lost his voice and they only got through the set (musically, if you catch my drift...) due to a brilliant backing band. I consider myself (perhaps a touch pompously - ok, a lot!!) fortunate to have grown up in the best period for music ever - the 1970`s of course!
For me it started with Pink Floyd and Bowie and ended with The Clash, so I never really `got` the Stones `thing`. However, what I did see of the festival, the highlights for me were Elvis Costello and Billy Bragg, a couple of angry old singer song-writers with something meaningful to say, while without trying to be a  `get-down- with-the-kids` kind of a guy, I quite liked the English rapper/dance band, Example (I just hope my kids don`t read this drivel...).
Anyhow, where was this post going... Oh, yes once I`d got fed up with the Honky Tonk band I stepped outside and checked the trap and there were insects flying everywhere, while I could plainly hear Med Gulls calling amongst a cacophony of Bhgulls in the distance.
0530hrs - warm, dry, sunny, light airs - Following a mild, still night the Plovers trap was predictably packed with moths this morning. Tawny Shears and Heart and Dart comprised the bulk of the catch, along with highlights such as 6 White Spots, White-point and 5 new species for year including Light and Grass Emeralds, Cypress Carpet and Marbled Coronet.

                                Cypress Carpet

                                Grass Emerald

                                Light Emerald

                                 Marbled Coronet, new for the year, what a cracker

Over the pits a juv Little Egret, presumably from the Lydd heronry, was perched incongruously on the wall `mirror`and a Cuckoo was still singing from the reedbed. Apart from separating a dog fight (not involving goodie two-shoes Barney) it was pretty quiet.
Called in at the Kerton Road Café where Rosy Wave (Nationally Scarce B) and Small Seraphin (locally distributed) were ensconced in the fridge, while Small Marbled (rare migrant) was on the way.

Saturday 29 June 2013

Causeway Birding

Lade - 0600hrs - mild, dry, cloudy, sunny later, sw 2 - Plenty of moths in the trap this morning but little of any quality and nothing new for the year. Over the pits no real change apart from a Hobby that steamed purposely through and headed out across the desert.
Causeway Birding - On the way back from the allotment this afternoon the old banger popped a front spring and ground to a halt as a tyre burst in a haze of smoking rubber on the causeway road between ARC and New Diggings. Oh well, there could be worse places to break down, so whilst waiting for the AA to do the business it was out with the bins and an impromptu spot of birding.
Cuckoo, Chiffchaff, Cetti`s, Sedge and Reed Warbler were all heard, plus Hobby and unbelievably a stunning ringtail Hen Harrier heading towards the Oppen pits. Also, Med Gulls, Sandwich and Common Terns over. Thanks are due to Marshman for `rescuing` Mrs PT and Barney and to four other locals who pulled over to offer assistance and have a chat.
Burrowes -  1600hrs - Two Hobbies along the access road, plus Curlew and 2 Marsh Harriers over. Ringed Plovers and Blackwit from Dennis`s hide amid hundreds of eclipse wildfowl.
A Grey Partridge was reported on the road by ARC earlier (DF).

Friday 28 June 2013

Scoters & Rare Moths

Lade - 0600hrs - mild, cloudy, rain, sw 2 - A reduced overnight catch in the moth trap due to the weather, although Bird`s Wing was new for the year.
Dungeness - An hour long seawatch from the concrete road yielded feeding parties of Gannets, Sandwich and Common Terns, Kittiwakes and a flock of 21 Common Scoters up-Channel. A few Swifts came inland and a pair of Ringed Plovers confirmed breeding with at least one juv noted.
Kerton Road Café - A steady flow of mo`thers headed to the café to admire two cracking, rare migrant moths in the shape of a locally trapped Purple Marbled and a Portland Ribbon Wave from Ruckinge. Both were photographed in situ as they were awaiting the attention of the Moth Lord.
The café gardens is the national hot-spot for the delightfully named Stinking Hawksbeard, a species that went extinct in 1980 only to be rediscovered here at the café where it flourishes under the stewardship of the owners.

                                   Purple Marbled, KRC

                                          Bird`s Wing, Plovers

                                          Common Terns, Dengemarsh

                                Portland Ribbon Wave, KRC

                                Stinking Hawksbeard, KRC

Dengemarsh - 1400hrs - A circuit of the marsh in the rain delivered good views of Marsh Harriers, a brief glimpse of a Bittern, 3 Ravens and fly over Blackwit and Curlews. The lake was full of feral gees and swans, plus eclipse ducks, while on the tern rafts at least 10 well grown Common Tern chicks were being regularly fed by adults; the Common Gull on the third raft also had chicks. Also noted Cuckoo, Hobby, Little Egret and Kestrel. The hayfields are now deserted, dry, covered in long grass and totally unsuitable for passage waders.

Thursday 27 June 2013

Local Patch

Lade - 0600hrs  - warm, sunny morning, cool cloudy afternoon, sw 3 - Exactly 20 species in the garden moth trap this morning with Light Arches and Uncertain new for the season.
Had a good look around the pits where the wildfowl numbers continue to build, particularly Pochard. A few House Martins over south pit and a Little Egret were the only noteworthy birds.
Having not had any `proper` rain down here for a while now the shingle ridge grasses are looking brown and parched, although many of the wild flowers are in full bloom with the bugloss, valerian and broom forming the main spectacle.
ARC - 1600hrs  - More House Martins over the water, plus all the usual wildfowl, 2 Common Terns, Lapwings and Redshank. Green Woodpeckers have nested again in one of the power line poles and the juvs were out of the nest being fed by the adults. An Oystercatcher was worrying a fox that was sniffing out its young until Barney took up the challenge and chased it off. Cuckoo still singing by Tower Pits and a Hobby overhead was about it.

Wednesday 26 June 2013

Bluethroats & Honeys, plus loads more...

Pas-de-Calais, Somme - dry, mild and cloudy, nw 2 - Spent the day birding in northern France lounging in the back of the Chelsea tractor; while the Joker and Marshman did the important stuff up front. First stop Sailly Bray where we had superb views of a pair of Bluethroats feeding juvs amongst the tussock grass. There were birds everywhere with Turtle Doves `purring` from cover, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Willow, Sedge, Marsh and Cetti`s Warblers, Lesser and Common Whitethroats, Reed and Corn Bunting, Stonechat, Skylark, Lapwing and Long-tailed Tits at the first stop. A couple of Shelducks flew over the marsh and the first of many Great White Egrets and White Storks, plus 2 brown hares. The raptor count was impressive too with a pair of Marsh Harriers, Common Buzzards, Kestrel and best of all a stunning male Hen Harrier. Further down the track towards Bonnelle (while the Joker was impressing a local farmer with his linguistic skills...) we were surprised to see a cock Common Redstart, plus Yellowhammers, Linnets and Garden Warbler, but couldn't find Marsh Warbler at the usual spot, although a singing Black Redstart in the village was noteworthy.
However, on the lane towards Ponthoile a singing Golden Oriole  was a nice surprise in a poplar wood; we even heard the Jay-like call, but as per usual a sighting eluded us. Better still were two  Marsh Warblers singing from roadside herbage, of which we had brief views, plus another good view of a third bird nearby. Short-toed Treecreeper was also noted here, plus more Turtle Doves, Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs, Kestrel, Lapwings with chicks and more fly over egrets, phew! Who said mid-summer birding is dull!

                                Black-winged Stilts, Somme

                                Sailly Bray

St Valery - This part of the Somme was new for me and very impressive it was too. The railway line bund overlooked a huge area of saltings full of Yellow Wagtails (one Channel type), Mipits, Great White and Little Egrets, Grey Heron, 2 Spoonbills, Avocet, Shovelers, Shelducks, Redshanks, Marsh Harrier and Oystercatcher. To the south of the estuary the freshwater pools attracted loads more herons and egrets, Med Gulls, Dabchick, several White Storks and Green Sandpiper, but further along the bund we found our target bird, 8 stunning Black-winged Stilts. Butterflies along the track included Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Common Blue and Red Admiral.
Scanning a distant wooded ridge we noted a couple of buzzards, one a Honey and the other an unusually marked, white-tailed Common Buzzard. We then drove round to the woodland gaining  protracted and crippling views, from the car, of a pair of Honey Buzzards as they cavorted above the canopy, wing-clapping, calling and stooping on one another - without doubt some of the best views any of us had ever had of courting HBs. Elsewhere along the valley we encountered more White Storks, egrets, Med Gulls, Garden Warblers, Kingfisher, Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Kestrel and Great Crested Grebe; while two of us managed to be on the wrong side of the canal when the swing-bridge was opened...
Stella Plage - Our final port of call was at a potential Crested Lark site on the coast, and while we didn`t connect (probably more to do with the time of day) the area did look spot on. Along the beach a few gulls and 2 Sandwich Terns, plus Kestrel, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Whitethroat and Mipit in the dunes.
Yet again another cracking days birding `over-the-water`, with two old blokes (one who can tell a joke about any subject matter) and our driver who somehow has retained the eye sight of a 20 year old! Oh, yes and they both agreed that the navigator was brilliant, and he even managed to usurped the Sat Nav!
Cheers fellas!

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Returning Whimbrel

Lade - 0600hrs - cool start, warm and sunny later, nw 2 - A decent enough catch in the garden trap last night with 22 species, although nothing new for the year; White Spot, White-point, Satin Waves and 6 Small Elephants were the highlights.
Sparman, our local shop keeper, has taken an interest in the moths attracted to the security lights on his shop frontage. Yesterday the Moth Lord confirmed a localised micro, Ethmia quadrillella, which was new for the area, and today he handed me a wave which I identified as Small Dusty Wave. No doubt beginners luck will bring him a Death`s-head before long...
Over the pits was surprised to see and hear a lone Whimbrel on the desert, presumably a failed breeder. A few Swifts buzzing over south lake, Cuckoo still singing and that was about it birdwise.
As can be seen below the Foxgloves are in full bloom at the moment and combined with the sulphur coloured Prostrate Boom make for quite a spectacle across the storm beaches. Nottingham Catchfly is also in full flower, a plant that is so important for a variety of moth larvae.


                                Nottingham Catchfly

Monday 24 June 2013


Lade - 0700hrs - cool, cloudy, nw 2 - After a couple of quiet nights around the moth trap, due to recent strong winds, this morning was a little more encouraging with 18 species including a flurry of Hawk-moths with Poplar, Eyed, Elephant and 6 Small Elephants. RDB2 White Spot made a reappearance along with the micro moth Ethmia bipunctella, plus the first Dark Arches (unfortunately...) of the summer.

                                          Small Elephant & Elephant Hawk-moths

                                          Ethmia bipunctella

A circuit of the local patch resulted in plenty of Cuckoo activity around the willow swamp with both male and female birds noted. No doubt eggs have already been laid in unsuspecting Reed Warbler nests as it wont be long now before the adult Cuckoos depart for Africa; how quickly the breeding season passes. A straggly flock of Lapwings over the airfield also confirmed the passing season.
Dungeness - 1500hrs - An hour from the boats staring at the sea produced a steady incoming movement of Swifts careering inland low over the shingle beach. Along the shoreline small groups of feeding Common and Sandwich Terns came and went, while further out a few Gannets and Kittiwakes drifted west. At least 5 porpoises were feeding just off-shore.

Sunday 23 June 2013


Dungeness Peninsula - cool, cloudy, sunshine, sw 5 - Another blustery day with the threat of showers throughout, which as usual failed to materialise. I`ve completely lost faith in the weather forecasters as every day this past week they have predicted rain down here and apart from yesterday morning its been largely dry.
Anyhow, bird of the day was most definitely the Swift, or rather Swifts, as there was literally hundreds, maybe thousands, across the peninsula hawking over not only gravel pit lakes but along the foreshore and over the storm beaches. They are undeniably fabulous birds, the supreme evolutionary example of an aerial flying `machine`, and eminently watchable, even if there wasn`t one with a white rump..., but not great in the hand as I recall from ringing days, as they often harboured parasites in the form of blood-swollen ticks.
Checked out a gullery at a private site where amongst the numerous Bhgs were two pairs of Med Gulls proudly displaying their well grown juveniles. Also, confirmed breeding of LRP, Oystercatcher, Shelduck and Kestrel, plus a passage Common Sandpiper.
RSPB - 1400hrs - A spin around the bird reserve this afternoon delivered Hobby and Green Sandpiper at ARC amongst loads of eclipse wildfowl, gulls and Common Terns. At Dengemarsh, Kestrel, Marsh Harrier, Hobby, Cuckoo, Common Terns and Bearded Tits. Nothing much of note from the VC apart from a single LRP.
ps: My nipper has set Plovers blog up on Twitter, in for a penny and all that...

Saturday 22 June 2013

Wet & Windy

Lade - 0700hrs - cool, wet, windy, w 5 - A shocking morning with strong winds and rain moving in overnight and throughout the morning making for a poor catch in the trap. However, Middle-barred Minor and Bordered Sallow were new for the year.
There was little of note over the pits due to the weather.

                                             Bright-line Brown-eye

                                                 Bordered Sallow

Dungeness - 1400hrs - With the sun breaking through we did a 45 minute seawatch from the boats which produced a few terns and Gannets and little else. The Patch was quiet too with just a handful of Common Terns, although a Roseate Tern was reported late afternoon.

Friday 21 June 2013

Boneparte`s Gull & Heath Fritillary

Oare Marshes - 0845hrs - mild, overcast, sw 2 - Decamped from the Marsh today in the company of Marshman and the Joker to north Kent for a change of scene, and very successful it was too. First stop, Oare Marshes, one of my favourite wader sites where the main spectacle was around 300 Blackwits on the east flood. The views from the road side pull-ins were sublime, where we also noted 20 Avocets, 10 Redshanks, plus a motley selection of eclipse ducks, 3 Little Egrets, Grey Heron, Cormorants and immature gulls. A Hobby fizzed over and a pair of Marsh Harriers worked the west flood. Sedge, Reed and Cetti`s Warbler were vocal and several Bearded Tits showed in the reedbed, while a party of Swifts hawked insects rising off the sea weed along the sea wall. From the Faversham creek side we joined a small group of birders to admire the 1st summer Boneparte`s Gull that`s been knocking about for a week or more. This was our second of the year (having seen the Eastbourne bird) and to be honest it would`ve been easy to overlook when hunkered down amongst the Bhgs, being passed off as a Little Gull. As it happened it swam about a bit and generally showed quite well, albeit at some distance.
Somewhere-in-Kent - A stake out for Honey Buzzard duly delivered the goods with at least two birds noted during an hour; one showed particularly well as it flew above the woodland canopy. Common Buzzard and two species of woodpeckers also noted.
East Blean Wood - Considering how gloomy it was we took a bit of a chance this afternoon and visited this terrific Kent Wildlife Trust wood to look for Heath Fritillary. However, it was warm, so nothing ventured and all that...
Sauntering along the managed rides admiring the Wood Ant colonies and Common Cow-wheat we came to the first large clearing where the Joker spotted a butterfly. It eventually landed on a grass stem affording cracking views of what was a fresh Heath Fritillary with its wings closed. As the sun briefly broke through the cloud cover it then flew around and soon landed on a chestnut leaf, whereupon it basked with wings fully open. We watched spell bound as this beautiful little insect soaked up the rays - what a stunner. Try as we might this was the only individual we could find. 

                                Common Cow-wheat

                                Heath Fritillary, East Blean

Thursday 20 June 2013

More Moths

Lade - 0600hrs - muggy, dull, low cloud - Despite only having fours hours sleep, after seeing Steve Forbert in London last night, couldn't wait any longer as the trap was heaving again this morning with over 150 moths of 34 species, including Gold Spot and Peppered Moth amongst the newcomers for the year, plus 3 White Spots (RDB2), and migrant White-points and Silver Ys; if only it were like this more often...
A circuit of the local patch to check on the breeding birds revealed the Oystercatcher pair with 2 juvs, 4 pairs of Great Crested Grebes with juvs and a pair of Dabchicks. Otherwise the lakes were full of eclipse diving ducks and swans.

                                          Garden Tiger

                                          Gold Spot

                                          Iron Prominent

RSPB - 1300hrs - A quick scoot around in humid conditions revealed all the usual reedbed birds going about their business. Burrowes was full of moulting wildfowl and immature gulls and I was surprised how rapidly the water level had declined over the past week. On ARC Green Sandpiper and LRP amongst more ducks, swans and gulls.

Wednesday 19 June 2013

Marsh Moths

Lade - 0530hrs - warm, humid, thundery - Conditions were ideal for a good moth catch last night with temperature in the mid-teens, cloudy and humid, just perfect, and so it proved to be. Like a kid in a sweet shop was up early; it took three cups of tea to clear the garden trap, where 31 species noted (12 new for the year) including, Waved Umber, Shears, Garden Tiger, Heart and Club, Iron Prom and Grey Dagger; Fern was also new for the trap.

                                 Cream Spot Tiger

                                        Grey Dagger

                                Small Elephant Hawk-moth


St Mary`s-in-the-Marsh -  Had a run out to Marshman`s where the moth trap contained 44 species, many different to the moths down on the coast, including White-point, Blood Vein, Chinese Character, Straw Dot, Small Square-spot Rustic, Pepper Moth, Clouded Silver, Light Emerald and loads more. The total species count between the two traps was 53 species.

                                Angle Shades
                                Blood Vein

                                 Chinese Character

                                 Green Carpet

Tuesday 18 June 2013

Hot and Humid

Lade - warm, humid, sunshine, cloudy later, se 2 - A sticky old morning from the off; a summers day at last. Nothing much of note over the pits apart from a few Swifts and 2 Little Egrets. In the garden trap 12 species of moths with Flame Shoulder new for the year, while a Sand Dart was trapped at the Kerton Road Café.

                                          Flame Shoulder

                                          Light Brocade

Dungeness  - Checked out the Patch just in case the Rosy Terns had reappeared, but all that was present were 30 Common Terns and a number of mainly immature gulls. A male Black Redstart was still holding territory in the power station and a Stonechat was a surprise on the fenceline.

                                Black Redstart, Dungeness

Monday 17 June 2013

Green Sandpiper

ARC - 1630hrs - mild, sunny, ne 3 - Following the weekend in London was good to get out for a couple of hours birding this afternoon. ARC was full of eclipse wildfowl, while from Screen hide a post breeding flock of 20 Lapwings and the first Green Sandpiper of the `autumn` confirmed that the return passage is already underway... A flock of Swifts came in from the south along with a scattering of all three hirundines and a migrant Chiffchaff was singing from the willows. Also noted a Sparrowhawk (that flushed the sandpiper), Green Woodpecker, Marsh Harrier and Raven.

                                  Green Sandpiper, ARC     

Friday 14 June 2013

Elephants and White Spot

Lade - 0700hrs - mild, dry and sunny - Finished the weeks natural history tour with a decent catch of garden moths. While numbers were low there was some quality in the form of Small Elephant Hawk-moth, new for the year, Poplar Hawk-moth, Silver Y and White Spot, a Red Data Book 2 moth.
                                Silver Y

                                Small Elephant Hawk-moth

                                White Spot

In summary we recorded 103 species of birds during the week, despite the indifferent weather, with the highlights for the guests being the reedbed birds at Dengemarsh, seabirds and waders at Rye and Nightingales at Park Wood. The plants were well received as were the moths, butterflies and porpoises. We also visited the gardens at Great Dixter, six Marsh churches and a Lookers hut.

Thursday 13 June 2013

Windy Rye

Rye Harbour - 0930hrs - cool, cloudy, sw  7 -  Spent most of today at my favourite local site, Rye Harbour; the only problem, it was blowing a gale! However, we still managed to rack up plenty of waders and seabirds. At least 20 Avocets with 10 or more young noted, plus Oystercatchers, Lapwings, Redshanks, Ringed Plovers, 12 Dunlins, 2 LRPs, 35 Turnstones and singles of Grey and Golden Plovers, Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwits. As for seabirds only two Med Gulls seen on Ternery Pool as they appear to have abandoned site for the season; which is probably good news for the 100 or so pairs of nesting Sandwich Terns and 60 pairs of Common Terns. Didn't count the hundreds of Black-headed Gulls, many of which had well grown juvs, but there still seemed to be plenty of room on the shingle ridges for more.

                                Black-headed Gull

                                Common Terns

                                Juv Black-headed Gull

                                Sandwich Terns

As for Little Terns, apparently there are only 9 pairs on site this year, and we eventually had good views of two birds, one flying, the other on a nest amongst the manikins. Also noted Mipits, Wheatear, Skylark, Shelducks and Grey Heron. Thanks are due to Chris and the staff at Rye for vehicular access to the hides on Ternery Pool.
Late afternoon we went down to Winchelsea and then on to Pett Pools where Little Grebe was added to the trip list

Wednesday 12 June 2013

Dungeness Peninsula

Lade  - 0700hrs - mild, cloudy, sw 3 - The day commenced with a Med Gull coming to bread in the back garden! Due to the mild, overcast night there was a decent number of moths in the trap of 18 species, several which were new for the year including Yellow Shell, Poplar Hawkmoth and Silver Y.

                                Yellow Shell

Dungeness - The target here was breeding birds, so Wheatear, Skylark and Linnet were nailed opposite Jarman`s and a pair of stunning Black Redstarts showed well on the fence at West Beach. A brief seawatch from the hide delivered 25 Common Scoters up-Channel, plus plenty of Gannets milling around along with a few Sandwich and Common Terns, Kittiwakes, a Med Gull and half a dozen Porpoises.
Walking through the grass beside the power station wall several Common Blues were disturbed, including a mating pair; plus Small Heaths and Silver Y`s. Across the peninsula many of the wild flowers were in full bloom including several patches of Sea Pea.

                                Common Blues, Dungeness

Lade - Nothing much birdwise apart from a Little Egret. We checked out the Southern Marsh Orchids, while the guests were fascinated by the sounds mirrors.
                                Fox, RSPB car park

                                Sea Pea, Dungeness

RSPB - On Burrowes the main spectacle was the large number of Swifts swirling overhead, many forced down low due to the rain and plummeting temperatures. A party of 6 Sandwich Terns dropped in and all the expected wildfowl and gulls were noted, while the regular Fox was rummaging around by the bird feeders.
We then visited St Clement`s church Old Romney (where we had superb views of a Green Woodpecker `anting` in the churchyard) and the lookers hut at St Mary`s-in-the-Marsh. Our final stop was Greatstone beach where 3 Barwits, 10 Dunlins and 3 Curlews noted amongst hundreds of gulls.