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.

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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))

17 September 2014

Still too cold for moths

Continuing low night-time temperatures and moonlit nights have kept moth numbers and diversity low at the light. Highlights from the last couple of weeks have been:

Lunar Underwing Omphaloscelis lunosa - 1 on 11/12 September
Orange Sallow Xanthia citrago - 1 on 10/11 September
Angle Shades Phlogophora meticulosa - 1 on 4/5 September
Copper Underwing Amphipyra pyramidea - 1 on 10/11 September
Cypress Pug Eupithecia phoeniceata - 1 on 9 September
Lesser Yellow Underwing Noctua comes - 1 on 11/12 September
Flounced Rustic Luperina testacea - 1 on 11/12 September
Meal Moth Pyralis farinalis - 1 on 11/12 September
Oak Hook-tip Watsonalla binaria - 3 on 4/5 September

Lunar Underwing Omphaloscelis lunosa, 12 September

Angle Shades Phlogophora meticulosa, 5 September

Copper Underwing Amphipyra pyramidea, 11 September - the orange restricted to the rear of the underside of the inner hindwing is
apparently a reliable feature to separate from the very similar Svensson's Copper Underwing Amphipyra berbera

Lesser Yellow Underwing Noctua comes, 12 September

Meal Moth Pyralis farinalis, 12 September

14 September 2014

More autumn migrants

With the north-easterlies continuing there was a little movement still in evidence at Staines Moor today (14 Sept). Migrants on the ground: 1 very showy 1st winter Spotted Flycatcher beside the Colne at the north end (associating with 2 Chiffchaff), 3 Whinchat, 4 Stonechat, 1+ Willow Warbler, 1 Common Whitethroat, 2+ Blackcap, c7 Chiffchaff, 52+ Meadow Pipit (mainly in the NW corner), Overhead: 2 Yellow Wagtail S, 2 Common Snipe (1S, 1N), 1 Sand Martin, c30 Barn Swallow, 26 Eurasian Wigeon E, 7 Northern Shoveler E and 1 Common Buzzard S.

Also on Staines Moor: 1 Red-legged Partridge on the west side (my forth patch record), 1 Little Egret, 3 Kestrel (including a 1st yr male), 2 Eurasian Sparrowhawk (including a ringed 1st yr male), 1 Red Kite, 4 Reed Bunting, c13 Linnet and 1H Cetti's Warbler. Lots of Migrant Hawkers Aeshna mixta around, a few Banded Demoiselles Calopteryx splendens still, and lots of Tasteless Water-pepper Persicaria mitis in flower on the west side, along with some Redshank Persicaria maculosa (thanks to Rob Innes for the info).

On Stanwell Moor 1 Red Kite was noted.

Today's 1st winter Spotted Flycatcher - nowadays the Surrey patcher's RB Fly!

1st winter Spotted Flycatcher at the north end today

13 September 2014

Light autumn passage at the patch

Grounded migrants today (13 September): 3 Stonechat in the NW corner (first of the autumn), 9+ Yellow Wagtail around the cattle and horses, 1 Whinchat in the SE corner, 1 1st winter Northern Wheatear around the fence along the Colne, 2 Sedge Warbler, 1 Blackcap and 2H Chiffchaff.

Overhead: 26 Eurasian Wigeon E (and 5 W later), 14 Northern Shoveler E, 1 Common Snipe, 2+ Sand Martin, 4+ House Martin, 37 Barn Swallow (mainly lingering over the Colne), 2-3 (inc. 2S) Common Buzzard and 5 Skylark N.

Also noted: 1 Lesser Whitethroat still in the hawthorns in the NW corner (a local breeder I think), 1+ Hobby still, 4 Little Egret along the Colne, 1+ Kingfisher, 2 Grey Heron, 17+ Linnet, 2 Eurasian Sparrowhawk (inc. 1 immature), 2 Kestrel and c200 Eurasian Starling in the NW corner around the livestock. A few butterflies about - 4 Speckled Wood, 3 Green-veined White, and several Small Heath.

Stanwell Moor produced 1 Red Kite E, 1H Cetti's Warbler and another 4(3H) Chiffchaff.

1st winter Northern Wheatear

26 Eurasian Wigeon heading east today

1 September 2014

Moth numbers fall as temperature drops

A sharp drop in temperature over the last couple of weeks producing cool nights, along with clear skies and a bright moon, have resulted in some poor moth trapping sessions at home. Just a few immigrants noted and very small numbers common moths. Best of a very sparse bunch have been:

Old Lady Mormo maura - 1 on 24/25 August
Turnip Moth Agrotis segetum - 1 on 24/25 August
Silver Y Autographa gamma - 1 on 30 August
Yellow Shell Camptogramma bilineata - 1 on 24/25 August, 30/31 August, 1 on 31 August
Beautiful Plume Amblyptilia acanthadactyla - 1 on 24 August
Large Yellow Underwing Noctua pronuba - 1 on 28/29 August, 2 on 30/31 August
Flounced Rustic Luperina testacea - 1 on 30/31 August
Square-spot Rustic Xestia xanthographa - 1 on 24/25 August, 1 on 28/29 August, 1 on 30 August
Setaceous Hebrew Character Xestia c-nigrum - 1 on 28/29 August
Willow Beauty Peribatodes rhomboidaria - 1 on 24/25 August, 1 on 30/31 August
Bird's-nest Moth Tinea trinotella - 1 on 28/29 August
Tachystola acroxantha - 1 on 27 August
Diamond-back Moth Plutella xylostella - 2 on 30/31 August
Also, several Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing Noctua janthe, Pale Mottled Willow Caradrina clavipalpis and Brimstone Moth Opisthograptis luteolata.

Old Lady Mormo maura, 25 August

Bird's-nest Moth Tinea trinotella, 29 August. Really liking the English names being given to micros now

A beautifully patterned Large Yellow Underwing Noctua pronuba, 29 August

Square-spot Rustic Xestia xanthographa, 25 August - quite similar to the one below (for a change)

Square-spot Rustic Xestia xanthographa, 29 August. Check out the huge variation shown by this species here.