20 April 2014

A second gropper

Clear skies yesterday evening, clouding over with heavy cloud and moderate north-easterlies by dawn, failed to produce any significant fall or movement of migrants overhead at Staines Moor today. A second Grasshopper Warbler showed extremely well along the east side during breaks between the rain, and also saw the bird found on Thursday still singing in the same place. Overhead, 1 Common Tern E, 6 Barn Swallow NE and 6 Sand Martin ENE were the only migrants noted.

Also logged: 4(3H) Lesser Whitethroat (hawthorns at north end), 3 Sedge Warbler (swamp), 9(7H) Blackcap, 4(3H) Chiffchaff, 1 Common Snipe (dropped onto the moor during a storm), 4+ Gadwall on the pools on the east side, 2+ Redshank, 7+ Northern Lapwing, 1H Cetti's Warbler (Butts Pond), 2 Little Egret along the Colne, 2+ Common Buzzard (local birds), 1 Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Bonehead Ditch), 6 Reed Bunting, 19(1H) Linnet and 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker.

With help from Rob Innes I also managed to see Upright Chickweed Moenchia erecta at last. I'll have to go back on a warm sunny day to photograph them with the flowers open.

On Stanwell Moor, 1 Cetti's Warbler glimpst in the 'car field' reedbed.

The second Grasshopper Warbler of the spring

The second Grasshopper Warbler. I wonder if these birds will stop to breed?

18 April 2014

Sand Martin movement

A late start at Staines Moor this morning cost me a Ring Ouzel! Although still present when I arrived late morning, I couldn't be bothered to join the crowd chasing after it. A noticeable movement of Sand Martin this afternoon with 77+ over in just a couple of hours, mainly NE (with another 11+ over King George VI Reservoir), and 16 Barn Swallow mixed in. The Grasshopper Warbler was still present, but I saw it only once briefly early evening.

Also logged: 1 ad. Peregrine over, 1 Red Kite, 1 Little Egret, 1 Common Snipe, 2H Lesser Whitethroat, 1H Cetti's Warbler at Butts Pond, 1+ Redshank, 13+ Northern Lapwing, 3 Shelduck (2W, 1NE), 2+ Common Buzzard (the local birds), 3 Mistle Thrush, 2+ Grey Heron, 6 Linnet, 6+ Reed Bunting, 5(3H) Chiffchaff (including a pair on territory along the old railway), 4(3H) Blackcap (no doubt there were a lot more warblers present but I neglected the bushes today), c.15 Stock Dove, and lots of Skylark, Meadow Pipit and Starling about.

One of a pair of Chiffchaff holding territory along the old railway today

17 April 2014

Warbler arrival at the patch

Some visible migration at Staines Moor today, with good numbers of warblers! A Grasshopper Warbler was heard singing and showed briefly three times mid afternoon in the swamp in the south-east corner, where it spent most of the time out of sight in Lesser Pond Sedge Carex acutiformis, 3 Lesser Whitethroat (2 NW corner, 1 NE corner), 2 Common Whitethroat and 1 Willow Warbler along Bonehead Ditch were my first of the year, and 2 Sedge Warbler (1 Butts Pond, 1 SE marsh), 22 Blackcap and 18 Chiffchaff were also logged, and the 2 Cetti's Warblers are still present (1 at Butts Pond, 1 Bonehead Ditch in NE corner).

Other migrants seen were 1 Common Tern over E, 2 (1m, 1f) Northern Wheatear around the anthills in the NE corner, 1 imm. Peregrine SE, 6 Sand Martin (inc. 3 lingering over the Colne mid afternoon), 8 Barn Swallow and 10 Goldfinch N (and 3 local birds). Also note: 1 Red Kite, 1+ Little Egret, 2 Shelduck W, 4 Egyptian Goose (3E and 1 on the deck briefly then S), 2 Redshank seen displaying beside the Colne, 11+ Northern Lapwing, 12+ Linnet, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Common Buzzard (the resident pair), 7 Reed Bunting, 12 Stock Dove, 2 Grey Heron, 4 Canada Goose over, c.70 Starling and lots of Skylark and Meadow Pipit.

A few more butterflies were on the wing today including 4m Orange-tip, 3 small tortoiseshell, 1+ Brimstone and lots of Peacocks. Finally, had a patch mammal tick early morning in the form of a Reeve's muntjac Muntiacus reevesi near the old railway.

Record shot of today's gropper at the swamp

Lots of Peacock butterflies flying at the moment

9 April 2014

Buzzard day at Staines Moor

With high pressure over much of western Europe and southern England bringing light south-westerlies and very little cloud cover, skywatching was the order of the day at the Moor today. A good movement of Common Buzzard with 12+ migrants over (excluding the resident pair also seen displaying), 4+ Red Kite over, 1f Eurasian Sparrowhawk, 2 House Martin NW, 21 Sand Martin mainly NW and 4 Barn Swallow mainly NW.

Unsurprisingly there were very few migrants on the ground, with just 1f Northern Wheatear around the anthills at the north end, 7 Blackcap and 9 Chiffchaff. Also seen: 2 Common Redshank along the Colne, 1-2 Common Snipe, 2(1H) Cetti's Warbler, 3+ Little Egret, 18 Linnet, 2-3 Pied Wagtail along the Colne, 5 Reed Bunting, 9+ Northern Lapwing, including several birds still on territory, and lots of Meadow Pipit and Skylark. Also, 3 Brimstone and 7 Peacock butterflies today.

On Stanwell Moor, 1 Sedge Warbler heard singing, 1H Cetti's Warbler by the boardwalk, 5 Barn Swallow and 1H Chiffchaff were noted.

Female Northern Wheatear - one of few grounded migrants today

5 April 2014

Snippets of Sedge Warbler subsong

A very slow day at the patch today. A Sedge Warbler heard in sub-song a couple of times on Stanwell Moor (just the other side of Bonehead Ditch) is my earliest patch record. Also on Stanwell Moor: 1 Red Kite N, 4 Shelduck SE, 1H Cetti's Warbler near the boardwalk, 1H Blackcap and 1H Chiffchaff.

On Staines Moor, 7 Sand Martin lingering around the Colne mid afternoon, 8(7H) Chiffchaff and 3(2H) Blackcap were the only migrants of note. Good to see 2+ Redshank back on site and c17 Northern Lapwing, including several territorial birds. Also logged: 2 Cetti's Warbler still (1 Butts Pond and 1 Bonehead Ditch), 3 Red Kite over, 2-3 Common Snipe, 1 Little Egret, 2 Shelduck on The Butts before heading off west, 2+ Common Buzzard (the local birds, seen perching up along the old railway), 1 Pied Wagtail along Colne, 7 Linnet, 5 Reed Bunting, 4 Coot, c19 Mallard, 4+ Greylag Goose over, 2 Canada Goose N, 2+ Grey Heron, lots of singing and displaying Skylark and Meadow Pipit, and 1m Common Pheasant.

A single Peacock was the only butterfly seen today in cold, dull and windy conditions, but I did find my first flowering Marsh Marigold Caltha palustris of the year.

Redshank beside the Colne this afternoon. Lets hope at least one pair breed successfully this year.

1 of 3 Red Kites over Staines Moor today. This one drifted very low overhead a couple times - eyeing me up as I started to tire
after a long day in the field!

30 March 2014

Spoonbill over Staines Moor: 30 March

A very pleasant afternoon at the patch today in hazy sun and a warm southerly wind, produced a really fantastic start to the spring. Even lady luck cracked a smile for once. Minutes after replacing my dead camera battery with a spare, an adult Eurasian Spoonbill flapped over the Moor heading east-south-east. I fired off a whole load of shots as it passed over, veering south slightly over the Moor before turning back east-south-east over KGVI. A few minutes after the bird had disappeared in the distance, the spare battery died! I'd often hoped for a fly-over Spoonbill so this bird has made my spring already! This is the third record for Staines Moor, following one from 27-28 September 1973 and one on 18 April 1997.

Eurasian Spoonbill over Staines Moor at 15:17, 30 March 2014 - the 3rd record for the Moor

Also recorded my first common summer migrants of the spring with 4 Sand Martin feeding over the Colne for an hour mid afternoon, 1 Green Sandpiper dropping onto the Colne early evening, 1 male Northern Wheatear around the anthills in the north-west corner this evening, 17(6H) Chiffchaff and 3(2H) Blackcap. Also logged were 1+ Redshank, 20 Northern Lapwing (including at least 4 displaying), 1+ Water Pipit (in summer plumage), 15-18 Common Snipe, 2 Red Kite (1 NE and 1 N), 2H Cetti's Warbler (1 Butts Pond, 1 NE corner), 7+ Linnet, 3 Reed Bunting, 1 Kingfisher along the Colne, 3 Little Egret, 1 Pied Wagtail, 1+ Grey Heron, lots of displaying Meadow Pipit, several Skylark, 3 Coot back on the Colne (they disappear from Staines Moor in the winter), 8 Stock Dove and lots of Mallard (up to 35).

Four Sand Martins around the Colne for an hour mid afternoon were my first of the year

Some lepidoptera now out - 3 Comma, 2 Small Tortoiseshell, 2-4 Peacock, and 1 Brindled Flat-body Agonopterix arenella. Also some Cuckoo Flower Cardamine pratensis is now flowering.

Also noted were 2 Shelduck west over Stanwell Moor.

19 March 2014

REGUA, Atlantic Forest, Brazil: 19 March

After checking out the moth wall, we set off to bird the selectively logged primary forest along the Grey, Red and Green Trails in an attempt to find three of REGUA's top five avian specialities: Shrike-like Cotinga - REGUA's flagship species, Russet-winged Spadebill and also Salvadori's Antwren - these two both being endangered Atlantic Forest endemics restricted to primary forest. Along with Shrike-like Cotinga, REGUA is the most reliable site in the world for Russet-winged Spadebill.

After a close encounter with a South-eastern Common Opossum Didelphis aurita on the lodge driveway early this morning, we drove our trusty Toyota Hilux along the dirt road to Casa Pesquisa, changed to 4WD mode (much to Mr Alfrey's amusement) before heading up the Waterfall Trail to the Grey Trail.

The trails were very quiet and we failed to find any of our target birds, but we did see a good number of species including many Atlantic Forest endemics. Highlights from the day - Grey Trail: 1-2m Scaled Antbird, 1m Black-cheeked Gnateater, 1 Rufous-capped Antthrush, 1 Rufous-breasted Leaftosser, 1 Planalto Woodcreeper, 1 White-eyed Foliage-gleaner, 2 White-throated Spadebill; unmarked trail from Grey to Red Trails: 1 White-necked Hawk (perched up briefly), 2(1H) Saw-billed Hermit, 1m Spot-billed Toucanet, 1 Yellow-throated Woodpecker, 1 Spot-backed Antshrike, 1+ Pale-browed Treehunter, 1m Black-capped Becard, 1m Black-goggled Tanager and 1 Red-crowned Ant-Tanager; Waterfall Trail: 1 Rufous-tailed Jacamar, 1m White-shouldered Fire-eye, 1 White-throated Spadebill, and 1 imm. m Blue Manakin. Finally, the dirt road back the lodge from Pasa Pesquisa produced 1 hoped for White-rumped Monjita.

Stand-off with a South-eastern Common Opossum/Brazilian Common Opossum/Big-eared Opossum Didelphis aurita (choose your
preferred English name) on the lodge drive early this morning - puffing up it's fur and gently hissing at us for several minutes before
running off into the trees.

Pachylioides resumens at the moth wall this morning