15 October 2014

Thrush fall and vis mig at Staines Moor

With huge numbers of Ring Ouzels moving over coastal sites in the south-east yesterday and light SE winds and showers forecast for today, I decided on a dawn to dusk session at the patch today.

Rain overnight and at dawn grounded large numbers of thrushes, and the hawthorns in the NW corner were heaving with birds first thing. Total thrush counts are a conservative 100 Redwing, 1 Fieldfare, 9+ Song Thrush, 4+ Blackbird, and a frustratingly brief Ring Ouzel seen in very gloomy light before flying off NE and joined in flight by a second. Possibly a third bird with heavily moulting flight feathers was also seen flying off high west from the hawthorns at the north end in a mixed thrush flock, and appeared to drop down by the old railway embankment. By late morning the weather had lifted and almost all the thrushes had departed, mainly S or SW.

Mid morning a Short-eared Owl dropped in on the east side where despite being mobbed and departing high to the north-east twice, it remained for the rest of the day, showing well occasionally, and joined by a second bird late afternoon.

Vis mig produced 1 1st winter Little Gull high W with Black-headed Gulls (the third record for Staines Moor and a patch tick), 113 Linnet (95S, 18N), 19 Skylark (mainly SE), c4 House Martin (c3SW, 1E), 7 Barn Swallow (mainly S), 6 Common Snipe (3S, 3N), 16 Northern Lapwing (mainly NW), 24 Eurasian Wigeon W, 1 Mistle Thrush S, 2 Pied Wagtail S, 4 'alba' wagtails S/SE, 3 Chaffinch S/SW, 2 Jay NE and 5 Egyptian Goose W. Also, 2 Red Admiral S.

2-3 Water Pipit along the Colne are my first of the winter, and 2+ Grey Wagtail, another 4 Pied Wagtail, 3 Little Egret, 1 Little Grebe and 1m Kingfisher were also on the Colne. The Whinchat was still present in the NW corner and 14 Stonechat, 1 Chiffchaff, another Common Snipe, c40 Meadow Pipit (mainly east side), 3+ Common Buzzard, 1+ Sparrowhawk, 3+ Kestrel (including an immature male eating prey on the ground), 4-7 Gadwall, 12 Mallard, c82 Goldfinch (including a flock of c40 on the east side), 4 Greenfinch and 2H Cetti's Warbler (1 Butts Pond, 1 Colne) and another 8+ Skylark, 1 Common Gull and 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull were also logged.

Record of one of today's Ring Ouzels

1st winter Little Gull west over Staines Moor today. This is the third site record (first autumn record), following 1 from 18-24 May 2001
and 2 dip-feeding along the Colne on 15 May 2004.

One of two Short-eared Owls present today

A mini influx of Short-eared Owls into London and Surrey today, with 2 at Beddington Farmlands 1-2 at Richmond Park and singles
at Capel, Gallions Reach, Ingrebourne Valley Nature Reserve, Island Barn Reservoir (later QEII Res), Maida Vale, Queen Mary
Reservoir, Wanstead Flats, Waterworks Nature Reserve and Wimbledon Common.

Weather: Light SE wind, heavily overcast (7-8 oktas), fairly warm, light rain early morning and rain at dusk.

12 October 2014

Wigeon passage increases

More of the same at Staines Moor today. Some good passage of Eurasian Wigeon in the morning after the fog cleared with a total of 218 E including one superb flock of 103, but not much else moving with just 8 Gadwall (mainly E), 1m Tufted Duck SE, 1 Red Kite SE, 3 Northern Lapwing S, 2 Mistle Thrush NW, 18 Magpie purposely S in a single flock, 6 Stock Dove S and 3 Chaffinch (2 SW, 1 SE) logged overhead in a couple of hours.

On the ground, 1m Whinchat in the NW corner associating with Stonechats, 10 (5m, 5f) Stonechat, 3+ Grey Wagtail, 2 Little Egret along the Colne, 1+ Kingfisher, 2+ Common Buzzard along the west side (local birds), 2 Chiffchaff in with a Long-tailed Tit flock, 2+ Reed Bunting, 24+ Meadow Pipit, c20 Skylark, 3 Song Thrush and 2+ Kestrel. Just 1 Red Admiral seen today and a Red Fox.

Stanwell Moor added a Common Snipe W and a Eurasian Sparrowhawk over Stanwell Moor Village.

103 of the 218 Eurasian Wigeon over east today

Today's Whinchat

Chaffinches are now moving. East coast watchpoints such as Filey and Spurn are reporting movements ranging from tens to 224
over Gibraltar Point over recent days, and even London sites have logged good counts with 53 over Beddington Farmlands, 50 over
Hampstead Heath, and 44 over Richmond Park in 30 minutes on 3rd October. This is one of just three overhead today though.

Weather: Light SW wind, fog early morning, light overcast (8 oktas), cold.

9 October 2014

A few autumn moths

Moth numbers have been pitifully low at the light over the last week or so, with several nights without a single moth! Despite some warm and sunny days, temperatures have been dropping sharply in the evenings. Best of a very sparse bunch have been:

Pine Carpet Thera firmata - 1 on 27/28 September
Red-green Carpet Chloroclysta siterata - 29/30 September
Diamond-back Moth Plutella xylostella - 1 on 27/28 September
Hoary Footman Eilema caniola - 1 on 29/30 September

Pine Carpet Thera firmata, 28 September 2014

Red-green Carpet Chloroclysta siterata, 30 September 2014

3 October 2014

Black Tern over Staines Moor - a site first

Despite unfavourable vis mig conditions skywatching produced a surprise first for Staines Moor - an adult Black Tern over west towards Wraysbury Reservoir. Frustratingly, I didn't notice it until was flying away from me and didn't get a photo. Black Tern becomes the 192nd bird species to be recorded at Staines Moor.

Light passage overhead this morning for an hour or so after the fog cleared included 2 White Wagtail S, 52 Eurasian Wigeon E (with at least some dropping down onto King George VI Reservoir), 4-5 Grey Wagtail (mainly S with 2 briefly dropping onto the northern footbridge over the Colne), 1 1st yr Hobby S, 5 Barn Swallow S, 28 Skylark (mainly S) and 2 Reed Bunting S.

Highlights on the ground: 1 Yellow Wagtail flying off W from the Colne, 9 (5m, 4f) Stonechat, c46 Meadow Pipit, 4(1H) Chiffchaff, several Blackbird and Song Thrush gorging on hawthorn berries, 2-3 Common Snipe, 4+ Linnet, 1 Kingfisher, another 2 Reed Bunting, 15+ Mallard on the Colne (a high count here nowadays), 4 Jackdaw (fairly scarce here) and 3 Grey Heron.

5 Kestrel, 2 Red Kite and 1-2 Eurasian Sparrowhawk were also logged, and also notable was a light southerly movement of Red Admirals Vanessa atalanta across the Moor from midday (with at least 11 seen), and a Red Fox.

Stanwell Moor added 1+ Common Buzzard and 1(H) Cetti's Warbler.

Some of the 52 Eurasian Wigeon moving over east today

White Wagtails bombing south today (rubbish pic I know, but I like it)

Weather: Light SW wind, sunny, fairly warm, fog early morning.

27 September 2014

A harrier at the patch at last!

A really enjoyable autumn day at Staines Moor today (27 September) with a patch tick and a species count record! The highlight was a Marsh Harrier low west over the east side of the moor at 1543 before turning north then circling and gaining height over Wraysbury Reservoir and drifting off NE. A harrier over the moor has been a long time coming for me. An amazing 18+ Stonechat (11 in the NW corner, 2 in the SE corner and 5 in the SW corner, and including 6+ males) is a new site record - beating the previous highest count of 14 on 8 October 2008.

Some light passage overhead this morning including 3 Eurasian Wigeon E, 4 Barn Swallow S, 8 alba Wagtail S, 11 Skylark E, 5 Great Spotted Woodpecker (4NE, 1W) and 6 Jay (mainly SW). Migrants on the ground included 1 Grey Wagtail (flew off NE from the Colne), 55+ Meadow Pipit, 1 Common Whitethroat, 8+ Blackcap and a Chiffchaff. 1 Water Rail calling from the reeds in the middle of the Colne is probably a winter visitor.

Also 3 Linnet, 2+H Cetti's Warbler (1+ along the Colne and 1 Butts Pond), 1+ Kingfisher, 3+ Reed Bunting, 2+ Common Buzzard, 1 Eurasian Sparrowhawk, 3 Kestrel, a juvenile Song Thrush and quite a lot of Robin noted.

1 Clouded Yellow Colias croceus shot past in the NW corner and a Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas was on The Butts.

2nd yr or adult female Marsh Harrier, Staines Moor, 27 September 2014

Female Stonechat - one of at least 18 present at Staines Moor today - a new site record!

Juvenile Song Thrush moulting into 1st winter plumage at Staines Moor today

25 September 2014

The Sound Approach meeting at Beddington Farmlands

Pete Alfrey and I met up with Paul Morton from The Sound Approach for a short walk around Beddington Farmlands. I've recently built a new website for Beddington Farmlands, to build support for the creation of a nature reserve on this important London site for natural history. Conservation organisations, bird groups, local businesses and other groups have declared support for the reserve, and The Sound Approach are also keen to support us.

Passage migrants noted today included 2 Whinchat on the mound, 6 House Martin W (there was a large number moving this morning before our visit) and 5 Barn Swallow W. 1 Pintail dropped on the Northern Lake which also held 4 Pochard and 2 Eurasian Wigeon, and c50 Northern Shoveler moving between the Northern and Southern Lakes. Also noted were 1+ Peregrine, 8 Northern Lapwing and c28 Grey Heron.

Check out the Beddington Farmlands website. You can also follow us on Flickr and Twitter and like us on Facebook.

19 September 2014

More Whinchats at the patch

On Staines Moor today; another 3 Whinchat flycatching in the NW corner (its been an excellent autumn for Whinchat - see below), 3 Stonechat in the NW corner, 5 Yellow Wagtail by the Colne around the cattle, 1 Sedge Warbler along the Colne, 1 Chiffchaff, 2 Common Snipe on the east pool, 2 Little Grebe on the Colne (first of the winter), 1 Cetti's Warbler seen briefly in the NE corner along Bonehead Ditch, 1 Eurasian Sparrowhawk. 2+ Kestrel, 1 Reed Bunting. Overhead: c20 Eurasian Wigeon E, 3 Barn Swallow, 1+ Common Buzzard N and 1 Pied Wagtail NW. Lots of mating pairs of Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum ovipositing, and a male Common Blue Polyommatus icarus also noted.

Stanwell Moor produced 1 Reed Warbler, 2+ Willow Warbler, 2 Blackcap, 5+(1H) Chiffchaff and 1 Goldcrest in a tit flock.

Autumn 2014 has seen large numbers of Whinchat passing through both coastal and inland sites (yes, even in Surrey!). On 6
September Rob Innes had 11 on Staines Moor, equalling the highest site count of 11 on 10 September 2002, and an amazing
 14 were reported at Richmond Park, Surrey on 1 September.
(BirdTrack: http://blx1.bto.org/bt-dailyresults/results/s354-20-14.html (Accessed 19 September 2014))