Sunday, 29 September 2013

Sunday September 29

A moderate south-easterly breeze and clear, reasonably bright, conditions promised much. Dave was able to join me and we spent quite a while birding around Netherstead Farm.

There was a fair amount of visible migration taking place, and we amassed totals of 44 Swallows, 21 Meadow Pipits, and four Siskins all heading south-east. We suffer from being fairly low-lying when it comes to viz mig, and it may be that the totals would have been higher had we gone up one of the hills to the east of the site.

Summer migrants are now at a premium, and apart from the Swallows we only recorded six Chiffchaffs, a couple of unseen "tackers" (probably Blackcaps), and a single Whinchat which remains by the main pool.

The Whinchat
It is also too early for the winter migrants to arrive. Apart from the Siskins, we found four Wigeon amongst 46 Teal on the flashes, and six Golden Plovers which flew north as we were heading back to our cars.

The flashes also contained 110 Greylag Geese, a Green Sandpiper, seven Lapwings, and 21 Snipe, while the pool hosted 15 Tufted Ducks and a Little Grebe.

We met John who was a bit agitated following an uncompromising conversation with a man with several out of control dogs. Apparently he has rented the fields for dog training (which John believed was a reference to the coming shooting season). It sounds as though the next few months could be a little awkward.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Twitching Alcester

I got a text from Matt Willmott on Friday afternoon to say there was a Ruff at St Nicholas playing fields in Alcester. Thus on Saturday a visit to the supermarket with Lyn was combined with a successful twitch at lunchtime.

This sort of unexpected record is what patch birders dream of. I don't know who found it, but I can well imagine their excitement.

Seeing that the Ruff was very confiding I returned later in the afternoon with my camera. Mike, John, and Matt Griffiths were already there, and were surrounded by inquisitive children.

I duly took a series of shots of the bird, this being my best effort.

Juvenile Ruff
I could have got a lot closer to it, but the attention we were getting from the local kids meant the episode developed into an impromptu wildlife lesson as they lined up to look through my scope...through both ends at once after they got bored of the bird!

Inevitably, although Matt was brave enough to lend his binoculars, several kids took to stalking the bird.

And eventually they flushed it, although it didn't go far. I left at this point as I could only see further disturbance ensuing if we continued to pay it attention.

Finally, Man U 1 : Baggies 2. Just the day I needed to distract me from work related difficulties.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Mystery moth

I came home from work to find that Lyn had photographed a moth on the window. There are no identification guides I know of which show the underside of moths so I was unable to even guess at an identification.

Then it came back. I popped outside and photographed it. We then looked through the moth book, and nothing stood out. We decided it was a bright Beautiful Arches, and then read its status. Possibly extinct, rare immigrant. Not that then.

I went back out, but it was nowhere to be seen.

Anyway, here it is.

If anyone has any ideas I would be pleased to hear from them.

Postscript: I've come up with a theory about the moth. Could it be a very worn Copper Underwing in which the upper surface of the forewing has become translucent giving the impression that it is orange? The rest of the moth does look a bit like a Copper Underwing. I can't understand why there is no copper colour showing from below though.

Post-postscript: Thanks to Craig Round who has put me right on the moth. Its a Common Marbled Carpet in a form the book says is "unmistakable"! Ah well, live and learn.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Sunday Sept 22

A cloudy but rather warm day. Dave cried off at the last minute with a cold, so I had the place to myself.

The area around Netherstead Farm was again full of birds, and I eventually located a Whitethroat, three Blackcaps, and the first of up to 12 Chiffchaffs in the hedgerows. Pied Wagtails were more in evidence, with 11 around the stables before most flew off south.

Meanwhile, with Dave absent, I found this adult Peregrine on the pylons.

Somehow the species has eluded Dave all year, and its becoming a bit of a standing joke that if he doesn't come, I'll see one.

Overhead passage was a little disappointing. I eventually accumulated 15 Meadow Pipits, 18 Swallows, and four House Martins heading south.

Walking beside the ridge field I came across this Roe Deer helping himself to Felix Dennis' precious tree saplings.

You've been rumbled
Just act naturally
Continuing with the mammal theme, I reached the pool field and found another creature which some farmers regard as public enemy number one.

I just think they look fantastic. The pool itself contained only a couple of Mute Swans, while the flashes served up 71 Teal, 18 Snipe, and 135 Greylag Geese. A Little Owl was calling loudly, but I couldn't see it.

Moving to view the little pool adjacent to the flash I found myself staring at only the second Little Grebe of the year.

This juvenile bird showed reasonably well through the hedge.

Other birds to impress today were at least 17 Reed Buntings, Robins seemed to be everywhere, and the Green Sandpiper is continuing to find the rapidly draining dragonfly pools to its liking. There are still a few dragonflies about, and I saw a few Common Darters, a Migrant Hawker, and a Brown Hawker. The best butterfly was a Comma.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Friday September 20

I had a couple of hours to spare this morning. Cloudy with sunny intervals and a very light westerly breeze. Not bad conditions.

One or two birds caught my attention. An adult Peregrine on a pylon, a fly-over Yellow Wagtail and a late Whinchat. There was also plenty of overhead passage, with at least 81 Swallows and 28 Meadow Pipits heading south.

There are now five Mute Swans dotted about the site, but the flashes continue to disappoint, containing 57 Teal, a Green Sandpiper, five Snipe, and 125 Greylag Geese this morning.

On the walk back I had a nice view of this Southern Hawker.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Sunday Sept 15

We waved our friends goodbye at about 11.00am, and with one eye on the weather I set about the continuation of a little project relating to a wooden sculpture of a Teal created by Geoffrey Brown, our friend in Abergavenny, which he had given us when we visited him last month. This basically involved painting it in acrylics. I may continue to work on it, but this is it so far.

By 2.30 pm the rain had still not really arrived, although it was blowing a gale, and I decided on a quick dash down to Morton Bagot.

Wild weather never produces anything on the patch, but you always hope that one day it will. Sadly this afternoon all I gained were extra Teal (now 72), and 34 Lapwings. There was no sign of either the Little Egret or the Wigeon, while I could only see 10 Snipe.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Saturday September 14

With friends due at mid-day and staying over, and a dodgy forecast for Sunday, I switched to a Saturday morning birding slot.

Starting at Netherstead Farm, where there was a Tit flock at least 30 strong, I started amassing Chiffchaffs (eight) and Blackcaps (five), while a few Meadow Pipits reminded me that autumn was on its way.

There were still a few summer migrants about. I heard last week's Reed Warbler sub-singing, and saw a single Whitethroat and a Lesser Whitethroat while plenty of Swallows and House Martins were overhead.

The first surprise was a Little Egret at the main pool, which moved on to the flashes before disappearing altogether. I missed my chance to photograph it because I spent too long counting Teal (44) and Snipe (38).

However, a single male Wigeon was the first of the autumn and did get snapped.

There wasn't much else to see. A Grey Wagtail flew over, and a Green Sandpiper was still present.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Thursday September 12

Possibly my last evening visit of the year. Cloudy from the outset, and drizzling slightly as I left. The pool may have been undisturbed today as there were over 20 Teal on it.

I duly disturbed them, but they all ended up on the flashes, where I counted 62 Teal, 10 Snipe, and a Green Sandpiper. A Grey Wagtail called as it flew over.

Walking along the hedgeline I heard a Kingfisher -like call. As I advanced there were more calls and I had ticked it for the year before I actually saw it. A flash of turquoise in the gloom. Superb.

On the way back I counted 70 Swallows in a pre-roosting melee above the wood.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Sunday Sept 8

A fine sunny morning saw me hanging around the horse shed area at Netherstead Farm waiting for Dave to arrive. This was actually pretty rewarding because the area was full of birds, and in particular about 100 Greenfinches which were repeatedly visiting the tarmac surrounding the newly constructed horse jumping square.

A portion of the flock plus a Blue Tit
I am guessing they were collecting grit to aid digestion.

Dave arrived around 9.00am and we started checking the hedgerows. The first Meadow Pipit of the autumn flew over, and warblers included an unexpected Reed Warbler. I also photographed this toadstool. I don't know what species it is but judging by the black stuff oozing from it I am guessing the word Inkcap appears somewhere in its name.

The field behind the pool still contains at least four Whinchats, and the flashes revealed good numbers of Teal (54), and Snipe (15) plus two Green Sandpipers. We remain a little disappointed by the lack of additional wader, or even duck species.

The warbler count continued to mount as we returned, reaching seven Common Whitethroats, two Lesser Whitethroats, a Blackcap (plus about six unidentified tackers calling unseen) and seven Chiffchaffs. A Hobby flew distantly over Bannam's Wood, and two Grey Wagtails headed west.

The hedgerows are now full of fruit, and sloes are particularly bountiful this year.

 Potentially some Sloe Gin for Christmas 2014 perhaps.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Wednesday Sept 4

An evening visit in bright sunshine. At least two Whinchats remain around the pool.

There are actually two Whinchats in this picture. 
I met up with John. He confirmed that the Dunlin he had seen on Monday had gone. Walking back I was pretty sure I heard a Kingfisher. We retraced our steps, but there was no sign of it, so I'll pass on that one. Finally, a Sedge Warbler responded well to some pishing, but I failed to see a Lesser Whitethroat John had seen before I arrived.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Sunday September 1

A reasonably warm day with a light westerly breeze. I was birding with Dave today, although John Y turned up later. The first hour was a tiny bit dull. We found that the four Whinchats were still present, and I managed to photograph a male Kestrel.

The flashes and pool also failed to produce anything much, and we ended up wandering back along the line of the brook feeling a little glum. At this point the day brightened up. One of the best things about this time of the year is that you can sometimes run into a mixed Warbler flock. Ours comprised a dozen Chiffchaffs, three Lesser Whitethroats, Whitethroat, two Blackcaps, a Willow Warbler, a Treecreeper, and a Spotted Flycatcher. They were all too quick for me to get a shot, but it was a terrific interlude.

Shortly afterwards we found two soaring Hobbies. They never came close, but a call from John Y after we had left confirmed he had had excellent views of one of them over the main pool.

I persuaded Dave we should check out the south end where I had scoped a lot of small birds, mostly Greenfinches, this morning. Unfortunately it was a lot quieter, but I did see a Brimstone among the Small Whites there.

Memory Lane will feature another Sept 1st, but 17 years ago.