24 April 2016

Devon weekend highlights: 23rd - 24th April

Rachel and I spent the weekend visiting our good friend Helen (oh and Jaffa) in Budleigh Salterton in south-east Devon. Walked the coast path through the Otter Estuary, across White Bridge and eastwards around Otterton Point on Saturday, and on Sunday we walked northwards along the River Otter from Otterton Mill. No sign of the European Otters on Saturday evening that have been showing very well along the River Otter near Otterton Mill over the last month, and very little in terms of bird migration noted over the weekend either, but a few records made it into the notebook.

23rd: 1m Northern Wheatear (Otterton Point), 1H Common Sandpiper (River Otter at Otterton Mill), 1-2 Kingfisher (River Otter), 1 Cetti's Warbler (showed well by White Bridge - take note Staines Moor birds), and 2 Barn Swallow (White Bridge). Also, 1f Black Oil Beetle Meloe proscarabaeus found on Otterton Point and 1 Stoat Mustela erminea seen briefly from the car near Otterton (at the junction of Frogmore Road and Fore Street).

24th: 3 House Martin, 6 Sand Martin and 3 Barn Swallow (all near Otterton), and 1m Black Oil Beetle Meloe proscarabaeus and 2 Bloody-noded Beetle Timarcha tenebricosa along footpath beside the River Otter just north of Otterton.

Female Black Oil Beetle Meloe proscarabaeus, Otterton Point, 23 April 2016

Male Black Oil Beetle Meloe proscarabaeus, River Otter near Otterton, 24 April 2016


Bloody-noded Beetle Timarcha tenebricosa, River Otter just north of Otterton, 24 April 2014

All photos and the (shakey) video above taken with a Samsung Galaxy Note 4. Good guides to oil beetle identification can be found on John Walter's website and also from Buglife. Take part in the Buglife survey here.

21 April 2016

Staines Moor: 21 April

A full day at the patch today produced some good spring passage but also proved very frustrating for photography, with few birds cooperating. A female Ring Ouzel in the NW corner briefly soon after dawn was a great start but unfortunately was only seen for a few seconds as it flew from the hawthorns near the Butts north onto Stanwell Moor. While trying to relocate it, 3 Barnacle Geese flew over south - probably feral birds.

A smart male Whinchat in the NW corner was the first patch record of the year, and other passage migrants included 2 Short-eared Owls, 2 Yellow Wagtail (1m around the horses and 1 over N), 1 Common Swift E, 1 Reed Warbler (Butts Pond), 1 Sedge Warbler (hawthorns NW corner), 3 (1H) Common Whitethroat, 4m Lesser Whitethroat, 7+ Common Tern (5E, 2+ fishing in the Colne), 3 House Martin (2N, 1 Colne), 11 Barn Swallow (mainly NE/N), 21+ Sand Martin (mainly NE/N), 11 Blackcap (8m, 2f, 1H), and 7 (3H) Common Chiffchaff.

Male Whinchat in the NW corner today - the first record on the patch this year

Presumed feral Barnacle Geese south over Staines Moor this morning

Also noted were 3 Shelduck E (2m, 1f), 2 Gadwall (1m, 1f), 1m Stonechat still at the south end (female incubating perhaps?), 5 Redshank (2 pairs and a single along the Colne), 2 Northern Lapwing (1N, 1SW), 3 Common Buzzard (including 1 pale phase), 5 Red Kite, 1f Eurasian Sparrowhawk, 1 Goldcrest, 1 Little Egret (Colne), 1-2 Coot (Colne), 26+ Linnet, lots of Skylark and Meadow Pipit, 8 Reed Bunting (6m , 2f), 1H Cett's Warbler (hedge east of Butts Pond), and a pair of Long-tailed Tit building a nest. Also plenty of Yellow Dung Flies Scathophaga stercorariasaw around today and saw my first Speckled Wood of the year.

1 of 5 Redshank on site today

A pair of Long-tailed Tits had almost finished this nest in one of the hawthorns in the NW corner today

3 horses and 34 cattle have now been put out to graze - I'd like to order a male Black-headed Wagtail please.

14 April 2016

Staines Moor: 14 April

A little vis mig overhead at the patch today but far fewer grounded migrants present. A Eurasian Curlew over low W early morning is only my third patch record, and 1 House Martin N and 10 Barn Swallow (7 W, 2 NE and 1 lingering) were both my first of the year. 9 Sand Martin (4N, 2NW, 3S), 2 Northern Lapwing (1 SW, 1N), 4 Common Buzzard and 1 Linnet NNW were also noted.

2f Northern Wheatear ranging widely at the north end, 2 (1H) Lesser Whitethroat (hawthorns in NW corner and on west side), 11 Common Chiffchaff (including the ringed female nest building along Bonehead Ditch) and 2m Blackcap were the only migrants logged on the ground .

Eurasian Curlew over west this morning

1 of 2 Northern Wheatear present today, showing down to 5 metres this afternoon

The pair of Stonechat were still present in the SE corner (I wonder if they are attempting to breed?), and 2 Redshank, 22 Linnet, 7 (6m, 1f) Reed Bunting, 1 Kingfisher (Bonehead Ditch), 3 Red Kite, 1-2f Eurasian Sparrowhawk (inc. 1 perched in Bonehead woodland), 2 (1m, 1f) Kestrel, 2 Little Egret (Colne), 3 Grey Heron (a high site count), 1 Canada Goose W, and plenty of Skylark and Meadow Pipit were also logged.

Inverts noted include 2 Large Bee-fly Bombylius major (Bonehead Ditch), 1m Brimstone, and 1 Peacock. Stanwell Moor added 3 Barn Swallow and another 8 Common Buzzard.

12 April 2016

Staines Moor: 12 April

An excellent day for spring migrants at the patch. The day started off well with excellent views of a Grasshopper Warbler in the NW corner along the hedge bordering Stanwell Moor, watched at close range, even flying out into sedges on Staines Moor and heard to sing occasionally. 3 Common Redstart (a male and female in the hawthorns in the NW corner and a male in the hawthorns on the west side) is an excellent site day count, although they proved typically elusive, appearing in front of you one moment and vanishing the next.

Today's Grasshopper Warbler in the NW corner


A Lesser Whitethroat in the NW corner is the first patch record of the year, as were 7 (3H) Willow Warbler (including 1 on the ground around the anthills in the NW corner). Other grounded migrants included 4 (1m, 3f) Northern Wheatear on the west side, 10 (1H) Blackcap (inc. 8m, 1f) and 14 (6H) Chiffchaff (including a ringed bird along Bonehead Ditch).

Overhead, 13+ Sand Martin (NW to NE, with 9 pausing to feed over the Colne for a while), 1-2 barn Swallow N, 3 Linnet NW, 1 Skylark N, 2 Meadow Pipit N and 1 Peregrine N were noted moving, along with 6 Red Kite and 6 Common Buzzard.

Local breeders logged include 2 Redshank on the east pool (one bird displaying to the other by fanning its tail), 21+ Linnet (including a female collecting nest material in the NW corner), 9 (8m, 1f) Reed Bunting, 1 Greenfinch in display flight over the west hawthorns, a pair of Robin seen courtship feeding, and many Meadow Pipit and Skylark. Also found a discarded Blakcbird egg.

Discarded Blackbird egg

Also noted were 2 (1m, 1f) Stonechat still (south end east of Colne), 1 Little Egret (Colne), 1 Coot (Colne), 1 Grey Heron (Butts Pond), 2+ (1m, 1+f) Kestrel, 1+ Eurasian Sparrowhawk, 8 (6m, 2f) Mallard and 4 (2m torquatus, 1f, 1H) Common Pheasant (SE corner). A couple of Marsh Marigold Caltha palustris were in flower today and inverts seen include 3 Comma, 4m Brimstone and a Peacock.

3 April 2016

Staines Moor: 3 April

Despite the southerly airflow, it was a little disappointing for me in terms of migrants at the patch today. 5 (3m, 2f) Northern Wheatear hopping around the anthills in the NW corner, 3 (2m, 1f) Blackcap and 15 Common Chiffchaff were the best on the ground, while 4 Sand Martin over (mainly NE-N) constituted the only visible migration overhead (visible to me at least).

Common Chiffchaff are now moving through in numbers - 1 of 15 at Staines Moor today

Female Northern Wheatear - 1 of 5 Wheatear present in the NW corner today

Other notables were 1 near summer plumage Water Pipit along the Colne at dusk, 1 Eurasian Treecreeper singing by the feeders (probably the same bird that's been present here during the winter), 2 (1m, 1f) Stonechat still (SE corner), 4 Shelduck W, 3 Redshank (Colne), 1-2 Coot still (Colne), 2+ Little Egret, 1 Goldcrest, 5-7 Canada Goose over (surprisingly scarce at Staines Moor nowadays), 1 Cetti's Warbler (Colne), 6 Red Kite, 3 Common Buzzard (including a pale phase bird), 1-2 Eurasian Sparrowhawk (including an adult male on a fence post along the Colne), 3 (1m, 2f) Kestrel and 3+ Common Pheasant (SE corner).

Local breeders were much in evidence including 20+ Linnet, 9 (8m, 1f) Reed Bunting, 9 (6m, 3f) Mallard and plenty of Skylark and Meadow Pipit. Also found a discarded Song Thrush egg.

Also noted were 1m Orange-tip and 2 Peacock butterflies, both my first this year.

Discarded Song Thrush egg in the NW corner

26 March 2016

Staines Moor: 26 March

Cool, drizzly conditions with a freshening southerly wind and heavy showers made birding the patch today very hard work. However, persistence paid off with my first two summer migrants of the year - a male Northern Wheatear that dropped down on to the west side during a downpour and a Sand Martin through south.

Also seen were 2 Water Pipits along the Colne in different stages of moult - 1 in almost full summer plumage and another about half way through its moult, 2 Shelduck (east pool), 3+ Redshank (Colne), 1m Grey Wagtail, 2 (1m, 1f) Stonechat, 6 Fieldfare, 1-2 Little Egret, 1 Cetti's Warbler (Colne north of boardwalk), 10 (9m, 1f) Reed Bunting, 3 Linnet, 2 Coot (1 Colne, 1 Moor Lane lake carrying nest material), 10+ (8+m, 2f) Pied Wagtail (feeding and flycatching along the Colne), 2 Kestrel (including the male), 4 ad Mute Swan (Colne), 9 Mallard ((5m, 3f Colne, 1m Moor Lane lake), 4 (3m, 1f) Tufted Duck (Moor Lane lake) and many Meadow Pipit and Skylark.

Noted overhead: 1 Peregrine S, 1 pale phase Common Buzzard S, 3 Red Kite, and 4 Greylag Goose E (and later back W).

Stanwell Moor added 1H Chiffchaff and 8 Redwing,

Male Northern Wheatear - the first for Staines Moor of the spring (7 days later than last year)

Water Pipit partially moulted into summer plumage along the Colne today

Weather: Overcast (8 oktas), very light drizzle for most of the day with heavy showers, moderate SW wind, cool.

22 March 2016

Staines Moor: 22 March

A rather mundane winter/spring transition day at Staines Moor today. 6 (5m, 1f) Reed Bunting (a few singing), 1 Chiffchaff (singing N end), many singing and displaying Meadow Pipit and Skylark and 4 displaying Northern Lapwing created a spring-like feel. However, 3-4 Water Pipit (Colne - 3 in summer plumage), 2 (1m, 1f) Stonechat (south end), 10 Tufted Duck (8m, 2f Moor Lane lake), and a complete lack of any summer migrants reminded me that winter isn't quite over yet.

A little passage was noted overhead with 8-17 Common Buzzard (some moving north and west but at least 2 were local birds), 8 Red Kite, 1 Peregrine (very high S), 1m Chaffinch NE and an alba wagtail N.

Also noted were 3 Little Egret, 1 Water Rail (in Reedmace at southern end of the Colne. No sign of last week's bird under the willows), 2 Goldcrest, 4 Kestrel (including an adult male), 2 Eurasian Sparrowhawk (at least 1 a female), 1 Pied Wagtail, 4 Linnet, 6 Mallard (3m, 1f Colne, 1m, 1f Wraysbury) and a Cetti's Warbler H (Colne by boardwalk).

2m Brimstone were my first of the year and a couple of Cuckoo Flower Cardamine pratensis were in flower today.