Sunday, 21 March 2021

First Moths of the Year

 




I have put the moth trap out a few times during the winter months but so far with a zero catch. I can only assume that any species of moths that are flying are out in the countryside and woods, rather than frequenting my urban garden.

My only winter catch was on the 16th February, not to the trap but from one landing on my shirt whilst I was out in the garden moving some plants around.

It looked unusual, obviously a Plume moth,  but with colours and patterns that I had not seen before. Checking the field guide confirmed that it was just a darker brown version of the Common Plume showing  typical spots and lines for that variant.


Common Plume

I tried again at the weekend but as before there was nothing in the trap in the morning, so I modified the trap adding a second 20 Watt BLB bulb and hanging a white sheet behind the lights. Success, of sorts, an Early Grey and what I think was a worn Bloxworth Snout in the trap, with a second Early Grey and a couple of Common Plumes on the sheet.


Early Grey


At least identification didn't take too long, the Early Grey being one of the more common moths at this time of year.



Bloxworth Snout

With the second species being an obvious member of the Snout family, overwintering Bloxworth seems to be the best fit. I had three or four at the end of last year with the last two being on the 8th and 9th of November. It was well worn but the markings although faint seem to map onto those shown in the field guide. 


On reflection perhaps not my most successful mothing night but it's a start and worth recording.




Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Little Bunting




It always feels good when you see a bogey bird put to bed and for me the Little Bunting is one such bird. 

Back in 2015 Dave and I went to look for one that had been reported at Old Lodge Nature Reserve. It wasn't one of our most successful days and we ended up coming home without seeing the target bird. Later that evening Dave e-mailed me a picture he had taken of a small flock of Reed Buntings and sitting in the middle of it was the Little Bunting. I had seen the flock but a quick check of my shots for that day confirmed that I didn't have the picture.

There was no choice, it would be a life tick, I had to go back the next day for another go. Then the day after that and the one after that, seven successive days in all, with no luck even though others were reporting seeing it. Ridiculous really but I couldn't give it up, it was an eighty mile round trip and a waste of seven days with no result to show for it.

I did eventually get to see a Little Bunting but even then it was disappointing. I only managed to get a couple of pictures, they were poor and although I can look back at them now and know that it was a Little Bunting, I did at the time have my doubts.



Little Bunting


Today Warnham Nature Reserve delivered the goods, a Little Bunting sitting out in the open, if only for a few seconds. Just long enough to get the picture above before it moved behind cover and stayed there for a frustrating ten minutes or so before it dropped down on to the ground and started foraging.




It was surprisingly difficult to see and to follow whilst moving about in the leaf litter and twigs on the ground.




The picture below has a number of small out of focus twigs in front of the bird but it is worth including as it shows the head crown stripe which along with the straight culmen (upper ridge of the bill) are the key identifying features.




Other birds seen, a Marsh Tit, this one being ringed and a different bird from the one I saw in the same location a couple of weeks ago.



Marsh Tit


and a male Siskin



Siskin




I would have liked more and better pictures of the Little Bunting but I did at least come away a lot happier than I had with the Old Lodge bird. 




Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Yellow-browed Warbler

 


I went looking for the Yellow-browed Warbler at the Patching Sewage Works on Tuesday. It was part of a hyperactive flock consisting of two Firecrests, probably half a dozen Goldcrests and a number of Chiffchaffs including at least one possible Siberian. Seeing it was easy enough but getting a good shot was near impossible.

Checking my pictures later that evening I think I did get one picture of it, as below. Yellow supercilium, dark eye stripe, brown legs rather than the Chiffchaffs black and the hint of a pale wing-bar, but without getting the double wing bar in the shot, I cannot be sure. There was a good picture of it published on Twitter which was a close match, even showing the thin brown line breaking the supercilium just behind the eye.

Am I happy - no - I want a better record shot. If it stops raining I will have to go back for another go.


Possible Yellow-browed Warbler

One bonus from the visit was that I picked up a half decent shot of a Firecrest. Another bird that I see often enough but rarely manage to photograph.


Firecrest

Other pictures taken recently


Marsh Tit



Siskin



Skylark



Spotted Redshank



Wren



Red-legged Partridge

And a couple more of the Barn Owl from  a revisit on Tuesday evening.


Barn Owl



Barn Owl


It was good to see the Barn Owl again but the lighting was not so good and most of the pictures were blurred or grainy.