Wednesday 31 December 2014

I can hardly believe it but we've reached the end of another year. The moth trap had a mixed year with the highlights being 4 new macro species (Fox Moth, Barred Straw, Dotted Chestnut & Tawny Pinion) and 17 new micro species, which made 2014 the best ever for micros. A total of 270 species was better than the last 2 years but less than 2011. However, the most worrying statistic, is that moth numbers overall were down again. August and September were both disappointing months and the total of 3,202 moths recorded is only 50% of the 6400 recorded in 2010. Dotted Chestnut was the first new species of 2014.

Happy New Year!


Macro Moths
Micro Moths

Dotted Chestnut

Thursday 25 December 2014

The sunshine this morning tempted me out to see if I could get a better shot of the Great Grey Shrike at Chilham. There were no other birders there but the Shrike showed well on and off along the hedge by the sports centre and on the wires. Picture still heavily cropped but my best effort so far.

Great Grey Shrike

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Made a late afternoon trip to Stodmarsh yesterday. It was mainly overcast and very windy, but I did manage to see 2 Hen Harriers, including a very nice male, flying to east of the Lampen Wall. It was much too dark for any photography, so here's another image from Canada.

 Snowy Owl

Thursday 18 December 2014

Since my last post I've had a couple more Winter Moths and this morning there was 1 Light Brown Apple Moth in the trap. Made the usual visit to Dunge today. Saw the Great Grey Shrike again en route but in very gloomy/drizzly weather. At Dunge it was the same but more windy. Around the reserve we saw 4 Great White Egrets, 2 Little Egrets, 5 Goosander, 2 Smew, 2 Marsh Harriers and a Ruddy Duck. Down the Dengemarsh Road the Cattle Egrets (& the Cattle) were close to the fence, but the photographs would have benefitted from better light. On Walland marsh there were 100s of Fieldfares and Redwings. Finally, on my way home, I located the Bewicks Swans with the lone Whooper and at least 3 Tundra Bean Geese. Managed to miss the Caspian Gull yet again.

 Cattle Egret


 Great Grey Shrike

Saturday 13 December 2014

At last a Moth.......

Yes I've not had anything in the garden trap since 31st October so I was quite pleased to find a Winter Moth on the vanes this morning. Around lunchtime I made a brief visit to Stodmarsh, where I saw my 1st Bullfinch for 3 years-I must get out more.


Winter Moth

Friday 12 December 2014

Made a trip to Dunge yesterday. En route I had a look for the Great Grey Shrike at Chilham, which was showing well at about 08.45 but not close enough for photography during my brief stay. At Dunge we spent some time, in very windy conditions, looking through a large number of Gulls near the Fishing Boats but couldn't find any Caspians. However, a  Razorbill landing offshore was a year tick for me. On the reserve we noted 2 Great White Egrets on Burrows and the Tree Sparrows were on the feeder. The 2 Cattle Egrets were with the cows not far down the Dengemarsh Road and another Great White was a bit further down. Finally a drive over Walland Marsh produced 20+ Bewick's Swans and a lone Whooper which was my 200th species in the UK this year. A modest total but one I've not reached for a decade. On my recent Canadian trip American Three-toed Woodpeckers were easy to see and very approachable. However, they never stop moving in their search for food in low temperatures, which makes photographng them quite tricky.

American Three-toed Woodpecker

Tree Sparrow


Sunday 7 December 2014

Canada part 2

My brother who lives in Calgary regularly gets 2 species of Nuthatch in his garden and occasionally Pine Grosbeak.
Pine Grosbeak
 White-breasted Nuthatch
 Red-breasted Nuthatch

Friday 5 December 2014

Just back from visiting my brother in Calgary where the plan was to try to photograph some owls. Managed to see 3 species including a very obliging Hawk Owl.

Northern Hawk Owl

Snowy Owl
 Great Horned Owl


Tuesday 18 November 2014

Drove down to Chilham this afternoon to try to see the Great Grey Shrike  It immediately started to rain when I arrived, so I sat in the car in the sports centre car park for 30 minutes or so till it eased off and stopped. I then walked up the road with 2 others to the little bridge. No sign of course and after about 40 minutes or so we decided to call it a day. I returned to the car and drove back down Branch Road again where lo and behold the Shrike was perched in a bush beside the road. It then flew on to some wires and I took a quick snap in the deep gloom before driving around back to the car park. I retuned to the scene where it had flown to a more distant bush. After about 10 minutes it disappeared again in the gathering dusk at about 15.30.

 Great Grey Shrike

Thursday 13 November 2014

Made the weekly trip to Dunge today. As usual we started at the ARC where a Smew, 2 Slavonian Grebes and a Goldeneye were seen from the Hanson Hide, and a Water Rail shot across the path on the Willow Trail. A Great White Egret was at the other end of the Pit. From the fishing boats there was a steady flow of Gannets and Kittiwakes, but the highlight was when AP picked out 2 fairly distant Leach's Petrels. They appeared to land on the sea and weren't seen again. These were my first since 2003 at Reculver. After lunch we had a good view of a Bittern in flight from the Dengemarsh Road. A Black Redstart was on one of the Turkey sheds and 2 Egyptian Geese could also be seen from the road. We then drove to the visitor centre and saw 5 Great White Egrets, 4 Little Egrets and a Grey Heron from the Makepeace Hide. A Cattle Egret with cows in the first hayfield made 5 Heron species for the day. We returned to the Scott hide where 2 Little Gulls flew past and a Ruddy Duck could be seen. There were also 3 Yellow-legged Gulls on Burrows.
Great White Egrets and a Little Egret

Tufted Duck

Sunday 9 November 2014

No moths to report. Back to Reculver this morning where the Desert Wheatear was performing well near the Oyster Farm with a Black Redstart for company. Further down near Coldharbour Lagoon I briefly caught up with the Shorelark which was somewhat flighty. Two Snow Buntings were in the same area.
Snow Bunting


 Desert Wheatear

Friday 7 November 2014

No moths to report. Yesterday I made my weekly trip to Dunge. Unfortunately we started the day off by missing the Red-rumped Swallow in the time it took us to drve from the ARC Pit to the Observatory. We did see a Black Redstart by the Power Station. On the sea we saw a couple of Red-breasted Mergansers and a Red-throated Diver. After lunch things picked up a bit with 4 or 5 Great White Egrets around the reserve with a Black-necked Grebe, Yellow-legged Gull and Kingfisher. The 2 Cattle  Egrets were viewable with cows along the Dengemarsh Road. It hadn't escaped my attention that a Desert Wheatear was found at Reculver during the day, so this morning, when the rain finally stopped, I headed off there, and was pleased to find the Desert Wheatear posing nicely at the start of the seawall just East of the Towers. I did have a look for the Shorelark but couldn't find it. Another trip may be needed then.

Desert Wheatear

Monday 3 November 2014

Nothing in the trap this morning. After lunch, with a break in the rain, I was tempted to try to photograph the Lapland Bunting seen at Swalecliffe over the last couple of days. When I arrived it started raining again of course, but it did leave off for a while to enable me to take a few pictures of this very confiding bird.
Lapland Bunting

Sunday 2 November 2014

Well we've reached the end of another month. It turned out that October was much better than September for moths with 13 new macros for the year compared to just 2 the previous moth. The best records for me were the 3 Merveille du Jour (just 1 previous record in 2010), and 2 Grey Shoulder-knot (1 previous record in 2000). Year totals now 163 macros (157 at this stage last year), and 106 micros (96 last year).

2nd Grey Shoulder-knot of the month on 31 October.

Friday 31 October 2014

The moth trap continues to do well with the mild weather we're having. On Wednesday morning there were 5 November Moths, plus a Pale Mottled Willow and a late Eudonia mercurella. This morning there were 2 Rusty-dot Pearls, November Moth, Feathered Thorn, Red-green Carpet and, new for the year, Barred Sallow. I then spent a very good day in marvelous weather at Dungeness. The day started slowly with the Red-crested Pochard, Sparrowhawk, Chiffchaff and a Clouded Yellow butterfly on the ARC pit. We then moved to the fishing boats where we managed 7 Little Gulls, a few Med Gulls and a couple of Sandwich Terns. After lunch we saw a Bittern and Great White Egret in flight over Hooker's from the Dengemarsh Road. We adjourned for a coffee at the RSPB visitor centre from where another Great White Egret could be seen, and as we finished our drinks 2 Spoonbills dropped in to join 2 Little Egrets on the islands out from the centre. There was no time to relax however, as a message came through of a Grey Phalarope on the sea back at the fishing boats. We headed over there again, where my companion re-located it and we had distant views on the sea and in flight. We stayed there as there was an almost constant flow of Med Gulls going past-probably 200 while we stood there, and then 2 Pomarine Skuas flew west, giving good scope views in excellent light conditions. Finally 2 Common Eider appeared and it was time to leave. 

Barred Sallow


 Mediterranean Gulls

Tuesday 28 October 2014

Two Rusty-dot Pearls were new for the year this morning.

Rusty-dot Pearl

Monday 27 October 2014

Just 6 moths this morning but interesting records continued with a Mottled Umber (3rd garden record) and Spruce Carpet, which was new for the year. 

 Mottled Umber

 Spruce Carpet

Sunday 26 October 2014

As I approached the trap this morning I could see something large sitting on the vanes. I was hoping for large moth but it proved to be a Dark Bush-cricket (they live in our hedge but are rarely seen). It proved challenging to photograph-it kept running away. On the trap were Red-green Carpet, November Moth and LBAM. In it were B.lacticolella, Green-brindled Crescent  and Grey Shoulder-knot, which was only my 2nd garden record and the first, almost to the day, since 26/10/2000-14 years!
 Grey Shoulder-knot
 Dark Bush-cricket

Friday 24 October 2014

A mild drizzly night produced 6 moths in the trap: LBAM, November Moth, Green-brindled Crescent, and my 3rd Merveille du Jour of the week (after only 1 in the last 14 years), which I'm fairly sure is not a re-trap. New for the year were: The Satellite and Yellow-line Quaker. The year's macro list has now reached 160, the same as in the last 2 poor years.

The Satellite

 Yellow-line Quaker

 Merveille du Jour

Thursday 23 October 2014

Had my weekly trip to Dunge yesterday where we struggled to find anything new. A search of the trapping area again failed to locate a Yellow-browed Warbler. At the fishing boats a Yellow-legged Gull was with the gull roost and 2 Arctic Skuas chased a Sandwich Tern in the distance. Two Guillemots flew in and Gannets were abundant. A flock of 25 Kittiwakes also landed on the sea briefly. On the reserve we finally caught up with the Cattle Egret late afternoon. This morning the moth trap held 2 Red-green carpets , a Feathered Thorn and the second Merveille du Jour of the week. No pictures yesterday so here is the latter against an autumnal backdrop.

Merveille du Jour

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Just 3 moths this morning but Blair's Shoulder-knot was new for the year.

Blair's Shoulder-knot

Monday 20 October 2014

The milder nights recently have meant a few more moths in the trap than during September. These have inluded another Sallow, 3 Green-brindled Crescents and 2 November Moths 9 (agg.) and Acleris sparsana.. I also had my latest ever Mottled Rustic. However, this morning, I was pleased to see a Merveille du Jour on the vanes of the trap-my 2nd garden record and the first for 4 years.

 Merveille du Jour

 Green-brindled Crescent

Friday 17 October 2014

Just 6 moths this morning, but 3 species were all new for the year: November Moth, Red-green Carpet and at last a very worn Sallow.

November Moth
 Red-green Carpet

Thursday 16 October 2014

No trap due to rain last night but I made the weekly Dunge trip today. There wasn't much on the ARC pit but in the Hanson hide I found a micro moth which was new for me: Caloptilia stigmatella. On to the Desert and Trapping Area where the Wood Lark showed well. We then spent some time unsuccessfully trying to find one of the Yellow-browed Warblers. About 10 Ring Ouzels were seen in flight arouind the area. After lunch we saw a couple of Arctic Skuas at the fishing boats with just a few Sandwich terns. A lone Common Scoter and 7 Brent Geese also flew past. Back on the RSPB Reserve the Cattle Egret showed well and another 5 Ring Ouzels flew overhead. Finally the Great White Egret showed well on Hooker's.

Caloptilia stigmatella
 Wood Lark

Great White Egret

Wednesday 15 October 2014

Another mild and fairly dry night meant 9 moths this morning-my best haul for quite a while: LBAM, Monopis obviella, 3 Common Marbled Carpet, Angle Shades, Lesser Yellow Underwing, The Chestnut, and new for the year Feathered Thorn. 

 Feathered Thorn

The Chestnut

 Monopis obviella