Monday, 30 June 2014

Sussex Emeralds & Stinking Hawksbeard

Kerton Road Café - 0745hrs - warm, dry, sunny, nw 2 - Called in to check out the traps with Mrs Moth this morning, which were poor by her standards, but still managed to deliver plenty of interest including three Sussex Emeralds. Normally July is the peak month for this localised moth, although currently over 20 have been trapped at this site so far in June. The wild flower meadows were a riot of colour and variety, including the wonderfully named, and probably unique to Dungeness, Stinking Hawksbeard.

                               Stinking Hawksbeard, KRC

                                Sussex Emeralds, KRC

Dengemarsh  - We retraced our steps of yesterday looking for a lost watch without success. En-route we had cracking views of Bearded Tits, Hobby, a juv Marsh Harrier and all the expected wetland birds including a cutesy, fledgling Reed Bunting. A patch of herbaceous vegetation in a ditch by the hayfield had me flummoxed on Saturday as the flowers weren`t out. However, today they were, and confirmed as Marsh Mallow.

                                Marsh Mallow, Dengemarsh

                                Reed Bunting chick, Dengemarsh

Sunday, 29 June 2014


Lade - 0700hrs - warm, dry and sunny, nw 2 - A decent catch in the garden moth trap last night with 35 species logged, of which only Lackey was new for the year. The back gardens hereabouts are currently alive with juv House Sparrows, Starlings and Blackbirds and it certainly appears to have been a successful breeding season for at least these three species, despite the attempts of the two main local predators - Jackdaws and Mrs PT`s cat, Jim... actually while the former are merciless and efficient hunters of particularly young sparras, old Jim is past his prime with the majority of `catches` ending in freedom for many a ruffled juvenile.

                               Old Jim

                                Lackey, Lade

Dengemarsh - 0930hrs - Mrs PT joined us this morning for a four mile stroll around Dengemarsh, starting and finishing in ARC car park. The usual Tree Sparrows were busily feeding juvs in  Boulderwall garden as we stopped for a natter with BB who was emptying the moth trap. Four Marsh Harriers, including a recently fledged juvenile, were on the wing across the fields at the back of Hookers with at least 200 post breeding Lapwings scattered elsewhere on various fields. A family party of Bearded Tits showed well at Springfield Bridge, from where Common Terns were tooing and froing to their nesting rafts. We bumped into Plodding Birder who told of a Honey Buzzard over the peninsula at around 1000hrs. The `flood` and hayfields had all but dried out with only No 3 attracting a few herons, egrets, ducks and corvids to remnant puddles. From the ramp two Hobbies and a Peregrine.
NB: Somewhere along the route I managed to lose my wristwatch (brown strapped with gaffer tape holding the back on). If anyone does come across it, please drop it in at the visitor centre, that would be much appreciated, thanks in advance.

                                Flowering Rush, Dengemarsh

Saturday, 28 June 2014

A bluffers guide to wild flowers

Lade - 0700hrs - warm, dry and sunny, sw 3 - With the wind coming up-Channel it was once again a poor night for moths, at least in my back garden, with only two new for the year. Over the pits a female Tufted Duck emerged from the willow swamp with the first cutesy ducklings of the summer. For the third day running there was no sound of Cuckoo around the site, so maybe that`s that `til next spring...

                                Tufted Duck family, Lade

Dungeness RSPB - 1000-1300hrs - A couple of weeks ago the regular botanist who was due to lead today`s wildflower walk for beginners had to pull out. As a last resort I offered to step into the breach, even though my knowledge of flowering plants is to say the least limited, but after a recce in the week and a bit of swatting up with the trusty Fitter guide I felt reasonably confident of bluffing my way through. Fortunately, `my` group of 11 keen-as-mustard `beginners` comprised a decent botanist and between the two of us, and with reference to the field guide, we just about identified everything that was pointed out; although I must confess as to not looking too hard at the umbellifers, hawks and thistles!
The thing is with over 600 species (a third of the British list) of flowering plants recorded across the NNR there is plenty to discover. What did seem weird was walking the usual circuit looking down at the ground and not up in the air - the bins were redundant, but I enjoyed it immensely as it took me out of my comfort zone and will definitely be walking my local patch in future with more of a botanists eye.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Glossy Ibis

Dungeness - 0900hrs - warm, dry, sunny, sw 3 - A change of tack this morning and a visit to the Patch where at least 15 Med Gulls were on the beach amongst several hundred Black-headed Gulls and immature large gulls including a leucistic type Herring Gull. Over the boil, ten Common Terns amongst the gulls. Elsewhere a Black Redstart was singing from the power station complex and a few Gannets drifted off shore.
RSPB - From the access road two Marsh Harriers and a Kestrel. At the south end of ARC an eclipse Garganey in amongst a group of Teal and Shoveler, plus Lapwing, Little Egret and Grey Heron.
At Cockles Bridge two visiting birders put me onto a Glossy Ibis that was feeding in the horse fields before flying off back towards the reserve at around midday.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

White Mullein

Lade - 0700hrs - warm, dry, sunny, e 2 - A sparkling summer morning with a bright blue sky and a fresh breeze coming off the sea. A circuit of the local patch was uneventful apart from plenty of Marbled Whites on the wing and a Greenshank over calling. On the track by south lake several candelabras of White Mullien were showing well, a plant that is both localised and scarce not only on the Dungeness NNR but also across Kent.

                                White Mullein, Lade

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Galium Carpet

Lade - 0700hrs - warm, dry, sunny, ne 3 - A reduced catch in the garden moth trap due a brisk overnight north-easterly, although Galium Carpet reappeared along with four species of hawk-moths.

                                Galium Carpet, a regular in the garden trap

RSPB - A circuit of the reserve was more to check out wildflowers for a botanical walk on Saturday. Marsh Harriers were busy bringing in food for fledglings on Hookers and a Bittern flew out to feed over by New Ex. The usual wildfowl and Little Egrets noted, plus two Hobbies, Raven and Peregrine.
On Dengemarsh the terns appeared to be doing ok with several chicks hunkered down out of the wind, although difficult to see.

                                Common Tern, Dengemarsh

                                Viper`s Bugloss with white flower, Dengemarsh

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Small Seraphim

Lade - 0600hrs - warm, dry and sunny, nw 2 - A Greenshank over south lake calling was the first here this return passage. Otherwise the usual waterfowl and warblers around the site, plus Marsh Harrier behind the `mirrors`, four Sandwich Terns over north lake and a calling Cuckoo.

                                Juv Great Crested Grebe, Lade

The moth trap was busy with six new for the year, including Dark Sword-grass, Scalloped Oak, Cream-bordered Green Pea, Barred Straw and a site first - Small Seraphin; it was a poor specimen and initially I thought it may have been a Waved Carpet, until it was correctly identified at the Kerton Road Café by Mrs Moth, who`d also trapped SS recently.

                                Small Seraphim, Lade

                                Cream-bordered Green Pea

                                Scalloped Oak

ARC - 1530hrs - A quick look from Hanson hide revealed a depressing picture of stubbornly high water levels with only swans and large gulls being able to stand on the shingle ridges. Still, another month or so and it could be good for returning shorebirds. Otherwise just the usual assembledge of wildfowl, grebes and Little Egrets, plus singles of Cuckoo and Marsh Harrier.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Ashdown Forest

Ashdown Forest - 0730-1300 hrs - warm, dry, cloudy - I was so impressed with our trip to the Ashdown last week that when Mrs PT asked, "how about a good walk in the woods", I suggested a birding walk in the forest, especially as she offered to drive, and I could sense a potential article or two. So, we were up with the Blackbird and away north-west and walking a circular route across the heath while there was still plenty of bird song and before the heat set in.
The most obvious bird was Stonechat with family parties all over the place, closely followed by Linnets and singing Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Whitethroat. The first quality bird came in the form of a single Woodlark, the only one we noted, followed by two Redstarts, four Tree Pipits and a single Dartford Warbler over the course of three hours. Other notables included Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Cuckoo, Buzzard, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Mistle Thrush, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Long-tailed and Coal Tits, Goldcrest, Redpoll, Bullfinch, Goldfinch and Yellowhammer.
After a brew back at the car we checked out three other locations around the forest before heading home to the Marsh. As far as I`m aware the eagle was not seen this morning, although there was only a handful of birders at the Gills Lap watch point.

                                Heathland, Gills Lap


                                Speckled Wood


Sunday, 22 June 2014


Lade - 0600hrs - warm, dry and sunny - It was one of those perfect summer mornings from the off with a Mediterranean feel in the air and being able to sit in the garden at 6am supping that mighty fine, first brew of the day. With the guests still snoring away and the moth trap covered to prevent carnage by the Blackbirds we ventured out for a quick walk over the back. The tide was up as a flock of 100 or so Curlews flew in to roost behind south lake, while a straggle of Lapwings headed for the fields near the airport. Marsh Harriers were already hunting the sewers and a Cuckoo was seen and heard over the willow swamp. Already bird song was much suppressed with a few ragged looking adult Whitethroats making a half-hearted attempt at singing and Reed Warblers chugging away intermittantly. A Med Gull flew over calling and a Hare surprised us both on the walk back across the shingle.
The garden trap was full of moths this morning with the first Common Emerald of the season and a host of frustrating pugs...

                                RMC, Aldergate Bridge

Royal Military Canal - 1115hrs - Mrs PT joined us for a walk between two bridges, from Aldergate to the dam at West Hythe, on the RMC. En-route across the Marsh farmland it was good to hear plenty of Yellowhammers in song, several Lesser Whitethroats and a Turtle Dove on overhead wires near Newchurch. The southern footpath of the canal runs beside a monoculture of rye grass and wheat and was virtually devoid of wild flowers and insects. Chatting to a couple of fisherman confirmed the presence of Mink hereabouts which probably accounted for the lack of water birds on the cut, where Bream, Roach and Tench were all being caught. Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Cuckoo, Green Woodpecker, Bullfinch, Long-tailed Tit and Skylark were all heard. Things weren`t much better on the northern section where the walk runs through dappled shade and a few common butterflies were on the wing. Whilst practising my African antelope identification skills (poorly) we had good views of a Little Owl sunning itself.

                               Little Owl, Port Lympne Zoo

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Solstice butterflies

Lade - 1000hrs - warm, dry and sunny sw 2 - A meagre catch in the garden moth trap although Clay was new for the year. Once the B&B guests had gone we walked the local patch where plenty of summer butterflies were on the wing, particularly along the old conveyor belt track beside south lake, Common Blue and Small Heath were the most numerous followed by the two skippers, Meadow Brown and the first Marbled Whites of their short flight period. Beside north lake the flowering Buddleia attracted Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and a Painted Lady.
Birdwise, predictably quiet although Cuckoo still calling, plus Buzzard and Marsh Harrier over the airport fields. Whilst working in the garden this afternoon calling Med Gulls and Sandwich Terns were regularly heard drifting overhead.

                                  Marbled White, Lade

ARC - An afternoon stroll down to Screen hide was notable for 11 Little Egrets on the far bank and a Garganey amongst the eclipse ducks. A noisy brood of Green Woodpeckers were flying between the power line poles.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Peppered Moth

Lade - 0700hrs - mild, sunny, e2 - Another quiet night in the garden moth trap although Peppered Moth was new for the season.

                                Peppered Moth, Lade

Nothing much of note on the local patch apart from a distant Buzzard and Hobby over the airport and a small party of Swifts briefly on north lake.
ARC - A large flock of eclipse Gadwall, Pochard, Mallard, Shoveler and Teal at the south end also contained two Garganey, plus 100 Lapwings, five Little Egrets and two Oystercatchers. From Screen hide more of the same on the duck front, while a Bittern flew over Tower pits.
Brazil 2014 - Trust all you footie fans are enjoying the World Cup. Its been brilliant so far with loads of exciting games (particularly when the Dutch are playing), incidents (duff refereeing), new goal line technology (well, new for football!), shaving foam on the pitch and some cracking goals. The Germans and Italians look their usual assured selves and I`m sure Brazil and Argentina will kick on by the end of the group stages. The less said about England the better, but it was entirely as expected; for a succinct summary of England`s performance check out Chris Waddle`s rant on Radio 5 Live, pure quality, even if he was crap at penalties back in the day!

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Short-toed Eagle - dip...

Ashdown Forest - 0845-1345hrs - warm, dry, sunny - The lure of the eagle proved too great and together with CP and MH we ventured off the flatlands for the day and headed for the hills. A tortuous two hour drive through the Sussex lanes brought us to our first stop Long Park, and as we parked up OL came running back to the car park with news that the Short-toed Eagle was perched in tree a couple of miles away near the Gills Lap car park. By the time we`d found the spot we missed the bird by ten minutes as it flew off high to the east, and that was that really - twitching, I don't know why I bother...
Anyhow, a five hour stake out failed to deliver the snake eagle and we were left to scan the skies for slim pickings of a Honey Buzzard, five Common Buzzards and two Hobbies, a poor raptor return considering the habitat and suitable weather conditions. A few Marsh regulars turned up for some banter and whilst we were standing around flyover Tree Pipit, Redpoll and Goldfinch were heard, plus a Woodlark (CP, MH) which I also dipped due to nattering with some old Bedfordshire birders, Bob Henry, Geoff Dawes, Roy Nye et al.  Also noted Turtle Dove, Firecrest, Yellowhammer and singing Skylark and Willow Warblers from our watchpoint, plus a fallow deer in the valley below.
However, we had to leave early as guests were arriving at 4pm, no doubt about the time when the eagle would reappear...
Never mind, a great night ahead beckons, with the footie followed by that famous comedy duo, Trodd en Bratt with their hilarious sketch show on Radio 4 at 11pm. If you miss it tonight catch it later on the i-player.

Ashdown Forest, East Sussex 

Wednesday, 18 June 2014


Lade - 0700hrs - cool, cloudy, drizzle, n 2 - Another grotty start to the day with only 12 species of moths in the garden trap. A circuit of the local patch delivered very little in the dreary `summer` weather, but then there`s always Oystercatchers to brighten up a dull day. I like Oycs, they`re real characterful birds as I see and hear `em on a daily basis with the rise and fall of the tide. This time of year some are breeding and as they`re one of the few waders that feed their young directly means they can nest in all sorts of odd locations from roof tops (RSPB VC) to a flat topped, scrubby island with scaffold poles for perches at Lade! This morning another pair encroached on the regulars patch and they went berserk, chasing the interlopers across the lake. Once things had settled down it was good to see an adult flying in from the bay with what looked like a juicy shellfish for a juv.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

June doldrums

Lade - 0700hrs - cool, cloudy, ne 4 - The chilly north-easterly airflow continues to suppress moth numbers with only 13 species in the garden trap; even the KRC traps failed to catch much more.
Very quiet on the local patch with just the local Cuckoos of any note.

                                Riband Wave, Lade

Dungeness - At the Patch the usual motley collection of immature gulls and adult Black-headed on the beach, plus 10 Common Terns over the boil. Offshore a few Gannets, five Common Scoters west and a harbour seal. In the power station compound, eight Pied Wagtails and a singing Black Redstart.
ARC - A single Hobby flew along the railway line, plus Cuckoo on Tower Pits and two Marsh Harriers over. On the lake the expected ducks, grebes, geese and Little Egrets.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Returning Greenshank

Lade - 0700hrs - cool, cloudy, drizzle, nne 3 - A circuit of the local patch produced a glum looking Hobby perched on a power line cross tree and a Peregrine that came in from the south and settled on the wall `mirror`. Around the willow swamp the rufous Cuckoo was noted along with two calling males. Returning back along the beach two pairs of Ringed Plovers showed no signs of having a nest or young nearby.
An afternoon visit to a private gravel pit confirmed breeding Med Gull amongst the Black-headeds with at least one chick noted. Also, LRP and Shelduck with fledged young, plus 105 roosting Curlews and 15 Bar-tailed Godwits.
ARC - 1100hrs - Whilst walking down to Hanson hide in a rain squall the familiar three note whistle of a Greenshank was heard to the north as a bird flew in, circled around looking for somewhere to land before flying off south still calling. This was probably a returning adult having failed to breed.
On the lake 100 moulting Gadwalls, 20 Pochard and two Red-crested Pochards, plus several hundred Swifts and hirundines (mainly House Martins) over the water hawking insects in the cool conditions.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Aedia funesta - 1st for Britain

Dengemarsh - 1100hrs - warm, dry, cloudy, ne 3 - Once the guests had departed Mrs PT joined us for a circuit of the marsh. At ARC car park a collection of adult and juv Tree Sparrows was good to see while a Chiffchaff sang from the willows. Raptors were the order of the day during the walk with at least four Marsh Harriers and six Hobbies over Hookers, Peregrine and Buzzard on the fields at Boulderwall and a Kestrel by the Corral. Hayfield 3 was full of birds including 10 Grey Herons, eight Little Egrets, seven Shelducks, Shoveler, Teal, Lapwing, Redshank and Curlew.
Kerton Road Café - Its not every day you get to see a new species of animal for this sceptred, overcrowded island, but today was one such. The macro moth Aedia funesta was trapped at Kingsdown, near Dover, on 13th June by Nigel Jarman and delivered to the café fridge for the Moth Lord to deliberate and confirm its identity. For a much better pic than mine taken in the pot, go to and check the flight arrival link as it really is a smart looking beast, for a noctuid, and similar to Alchymist. As it has not occurred here before, as yet it has not got an English name.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Birthday Barney

Lade - 0600hrs - mild, cloudy, light airs - Last night was perfect weather conditions for moths and the sense of anticipation was high as I approached the trap. Numbers were up with 150 moths of 32 species, but nothing new for the season. Highlights were four species of hawkmoth, Marbled Coronet, White Spot and 12 Cypress Carpets.


                                Barney - happy birthday old pal
Birthday Boy - My birding companion Barney is 8 years old today, which makes him about 56 in human years, if you believe such nonsense, so roughly the same age as me, give or take a year or two... (I suppose you could call us `middle aged`, except I loathe that term). Anyhow, I decided to spoil the old boy a bit today, once the B&B guests had gone. So, before the frying pan went into action, we kicked off early doors (sorry about the footie speak, but the World Cup is on - did you see that game last night between the Dutch and Spain...what about that Van Persie goal...and will England make it out of the group... oh, it is so exciting...) with a quick walk over the pits, just so`s he could bump into some of his mates and have a good sniff round, followed by a good grooming and a sausage - I know, I can hear some of you thinking, "what is he prattling on about now", but I love that damn animal so much its hard to explain, sometimes I reckon he knows what I`m thinking. I`ve had dogs before, but never one like this, its a bit like living with a daemon from Phillip Pullman`s His Dark Material trilogy, oh, never mind, but you`ll know what I mean if you`ve read the books.
Dungeness - Haven`t been down the point for what seems like ages since the spring seawatching has finished. Now I know why, 30 minutes from the hide produced a steady trickle of Gannets west, plus several Sandwich Terns and a Med Gull. The Patch was dead, while a Black Redstart sang from the power station. The wildflowers however were in fine nick with Notts Catchfly and stonecrop everywhere. On the drive out a Wheatear was attending to a couple of recently fledged juveniles on the beach side of the road.

                                English Stonecrop, Dungeness

Galloways - A drive round the range road and down to the sea produced plenty of Mipits, Skylarks, Linnets and Stonechats with fledglings, plus Kestrel, Raven and Hobby.
Dengemarsh - Spent a couple of hours doing the circular walk from Springfield Bridge. The usual raptors noted - Marsh Harriers and Hobbies - while Hayfield 3 had a motley collection of ducks, including a Teal, 20 Shelducks, Shoveler and two Garganey, Little Egrets, Grey Herons, Lapwings and two Oystercatchers. A few Bearded Tits were seen along the way, plus 30 odd pairs of Common Terns on the rafts, a flyover Bittern from the ramp and a singing Corn Bunting on the back track. There appeared to be plenty of juv waterfowl and warblers about the place but no sign of any Lapwing or Oystercatcher chicks, which was hardly surprising seeing as I must`ve seen over 40 Carrion Crows during the circuit (Larson trap required for next year).
That`s it for now, must go as Colombia V Greece is about to KO.

                               Common Terns, Dengemarsh

Friday, 13 June 2014

Post breeding dispersal

Lade - 0900hrs - warm, dry and sunny, light airs - A circuit of the pits delivered plenty of Cuckoo activity still on the go, plus the first overhead flock of Lapwings looking for a suitable field to drop on.

                                Lapwings, ARC

ARC - At the south end from the causeway road 100 roosting Lapwings along with three Little Egrets and a group of eclipse ducks including three Garganey, four Gadwall and a Shoveler. From Hanson hide 50 more Gadwall, 30 Pochard and at least five pairs of Great Crested Grebes with juvs.
From Cockles Bridge a couple of Yellow Wagtails on the paddock, a species that has been thin on the ground this summer, apart from the Scotney area.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Swallow-tailed moth

Lade - 0700hrs - warm, dry and sunny, e 2 - Common Footman and Swallow-tailed Moth were both new for the season in the garden moth trap this morning which brought up the 100th species of the year. A circuit of the local patch produced little of note apart from plenty of Common Blues along the main track beside south lake and a cracking show of Dark Mulleins adjacent to north lake, comprising over 20 spikes.

                                            Dark Mullein, Lade

                                Swallow-tailed Moth, Lade

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Little Bittern, 12 species of warblers & much, much, more...

Baie de Somme, Picardy - Yes, folks it was time again for another trip over-the-water, today with Doug, Wendy and MH, and CP at the wheel. We left Folkestone on the 0550hrs shuttle and were soon down on the Somme for what turned out to be a cracking days birding of the highest order, complete with a couple of surprises (there`s rarely a trip down here that doesn't throw up something unexpected).
Sailly Bray - This fabulous site really turned up trumps today with 12 species of warblers scattered along the valley, including, Cetti`s, Savis`s, Gropper and Marsh (3) Warblers. We had one really good view of a male White-spotted Bluethroat and a brief sighting of a Little Bittern flushed by a Marsh Harrier, the first we`ve seen here. A strong supporting cast of Shelduck, Jay, Cuckoo, Turtle Doves, Yellow and White Wagtails, Mipit, Skylark, Stonechat, Corn Bunting, Yellowhammer, Nightingale, more Marsh Harriers, Buzzards, Kestrel and Hobby, turned it into a memorable session. Two White Storks soared over, along with Little and Great White Egrets, while breeding Black-winged Stilts, Avocet, Lapwing and LRP were all noted nearby, plus six Garganeys, Shoveler, Teal and Wigeon. Phew! is this a great birding spot, or what? And as for the flower-rich meadows, what a sight for sore eyes they were, a botanists dream, plus small tortoiseshells everywhere and several brown hares.

                                Sailly Bray

Le Crotoy - We arrived at high tide and as several Spoonbills flew across the bay along with more Great White and Little Egrets plus thermalling White Storks. Loads of common gulls, plus two Meds, were loafing on the sand bars, 20 Avocets, 20 Sandwich Terns, 10 Ringed Plovers and five Redshanks. A common seal was noted in the harbour at this most scenic of locations.
The roadside pools at La Bassee yielded Dabchick, Garganey, Sand Martins, Mistle Thrush, breeding Black-headed Gulls and two Cattle Egrets feeding amongst the Konick ponies.

                                Cattle Egrets & Black-headed Gulls, La Bassee

Marquenterre - We paused in the car park for lunch on the Yogi Bear seats followed by a quick look at the heronry - White Storks, Spoonbills, egrets and Grey Herons. In the pines several Short-toed Treecreepers proved difficult, but the bird Wendy particularly wanted to see, Crested Tit was far more obliging and performed like a good `un at close range. On the drive out three White Storks were feeding in a newly mown hayfield.
Crecy Forest - We pitched up here in warm sunshine, mid afternoon (so the worst time of day for birding) and, first stop a superb Honey Buzzard flew across a broad clearing. More Buzzards were seen and heard, plus loads of Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs, Willow Warbler, Nuthatch and a hooting Tawny Owl. This old forest has a grandeur and an atmosphere unmatched by any in England, and a place I find deeply spiritual.
Now, a few weeks ago Marshman had located a pair of Hen Harriers in the forest and after a bit of driving around, and at the second attempt, an adult female was seen soaring over the same clearing. Hats off to the old boy, what a stunning find, in breeding habitat (although not the kind I would associate with Hen Harrier) and for me bird of the day. Also noted hereabouts, two roe deer and a white admiral butterfly. We finished off our picnic in the forest in celebratory mood and with a Spotted Flycatcher as the final bird of the day.
And so ended another memorable day in northern France, with 100 species of birds noted and we even got home in time for the Archers - it doesn`t get much better than that!
Thanks again to Marshman, our driver for day, and the Joker for a constant stream of gags (some new, mostly old!), Wendy and Doug, for making it such an enjoyable outing.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Banded Pine Carpet - 2nd for Britain

Lade - 0700hrs - humid, cloudy, showers, light airs - Another good catch in the garden moth trap last night with three year ticks, including Bordered Sallow and Dark Tussock.
A circuit of the local patch again yielded good views of the rufous variant Cuckoo going about its business of parasitising Reed Warblers. At least five pairs of Great Crested Grebes had juvs on the water and a Water Rail showed briefly in the willow swamp, the first I`ve seen for ages, although I expect there are plenty present. An adult male Marsh Harrier drifted behind the `mirrors`, while both Sandwich and Common Terns fished over south lake.

                                      Bordered Sallow, Lade

Scotney - Feral geese on the lake and grass numbered at least 600 Greylag, 150 Canada and a Barnacle. The two island Herring Gull colonies, numbering about 130 pairs, was a hive of activity with many juvs out of the nests. Avocet and Oystercatcher were noted with juvs and the first post-breeding flock of Lapwings lounged at the Sussex end.
ARC - Nothing much here except the usual ducks and grebes with young, a few passing hirundines and a singing Chiffchaff.

                                Banded Pine Carpet, KRC

                                        Beautiful Brocade, KRC

Kerton Road Café - The café was a-buzz this afternoon with the talk of rare moths. First up was a Beautiful Brocade trapped by the café owner and the first one locally for ages. This was usurped in rarity value by a mega - a Banded Pine Carpet trapped at Greatstone, which was only the second British mainland record, following one recently at Bracklesham, West Sussex.
It was almost as exciting as seeing a Short-toed Eagle in Orlestone Forest...
Walland Marsh - Joined Marshman for an evening visit around his native habitat. The main thrust of the exercise was to listen out for crakes, of which we heard none. The weather was almost as fascinating as the birds with great, black thunderclouds rolling in from the south accompanied by sheet lightening, which as the night closed in became even more spectacular. However, raptors of noted included 10 Marsh Harriers, four Buzzards (one very pale bird) six Hobbies, Barn and Little Owls. Unsurprisingly Yellow Wagtails and Corn Buntings were in short supply, but Tree Sparrows seemed to be doing ok. Also noted, Water Rail, Cuckoo, Cetti`s Warbler, Reed Buntings, Linnet, Skylark, Reed and Sedge Warblers, Grey Heron and Green Woodpecker.  

                               Storm clouds over Walland Marsh

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Plover`s moths

Lade - hot, dry & sunny, se 2 - A quiet couple of days on the natural history front, due to grandparent duties, although this morning recorded the best catch of moths so far this year, in the garden trap, with 32 species of macros of which 10 were new for the season, including L-album and Shoulder-striped Wainscots, Green and Galium Carpets, Puss Moth, Grey Dagger, Small Dusty Wave, a pristine Elephant Hawkmoth, plus a trap record of 15 Small Elephants.

                                Green Carpet, Lade

                                       Dagger, Lade

                                Elephant Hawkmoth, Lade

                                Elephant and Small Elephant Hawkmoths, Lade

                                Mullein Wave, Lade

                                        Shoulder-striped Wainscot, Lade

A circuit of the local patch mid-morning, in hot sunshine, produced very little birdwise apart from  a couple of Med Gulls and Sandwich Terns over calling. Back along the foreshore two dogfish were washed up on the tideline dead in discarded fish netting.

                               Dogfish, Lade

NB: The only local bird news I heard of this weekend concerned a Glossy Ibis still present on the bird reserve and a Golden Oriole that briefly sang in the trapping area yesterday morning.