31 December 2016

Putative Eastern Stonechat at Richmond Park: 31 December

Rachel and I twitched the putative Eastern Stonechat at Richmond Park today. The bird was feeding and preening in bracken and grass near 'Hawthorn Valley' just east of Cambrian Gate (at approximately TQ 19133 74102). Some observers think this could be the eastern race of Eastern Stonechat, stejnegeri (Stejneger's Stonechat), rather than the western maura (Siberian Stonechat) and yesterday droppings were obtained for DNA analysis, so we might yet find out. I know very little about the sub-specific identification of stonechats and so this was a very educational few hours.

Presumably a female (whitish throat), the frosty pale grey colour was very striking in the overcast and dull conditions and only on the whitish unstreaked underparts was there a very slight hint of buff. Pale edges to the greater coverts form a whitish wing-bar, and whitish edges to the secondaries a pale wing panel. I managed a very poor flight shot that appears to show dark axillaries/underwing coverts, but the photo is very blurred and I cannot be certain. The pale grey rump appears to be very faintly spotted and the uppertail coverts are more obviously spotted (see right hand photo below). The supercilium is indistinct, and looking at the photos, the primaries do not look particularly long to me - about 1/3 of the length of the tertials (difficult to judge I know).

Other than being pale (and possibly having dark axillaries/underwing coverts), to my eyes this bird looks nothing like Eastern Stonechat of either race (but neither, for that matter, does the pale stonechat currently at Dungeness and recently confirmed as Stejneger's Stonechat by DNA analysis) and so perhaps this is an aberrant Common Stonechat or a colour phase? However, I have no experience of Eastern Stonechat and I haven't read much about their identification either.

Why is this bird so grey and lacking in any warm buff tones? The closest matches I've found on the Oriental Bird Images database in terms of general colouration are here, here and here (all three pics taken in India and so could be maura or stejnegeri), but most photos of females that I have seen show a pale buff ground colour and are a warmer tone all over, like here. Also, shouldn't the rump be unspotted with at least some orange or buff for either race of Eastern, like here? More reading required for me and I hope to try for better pics over the next few days.

Putative Eastern Stonechat, Richmond Park, 31 December 2016 (click to enlarge)

Putative Eastern Stonechat, Richmond Park, 31 December 2016

Also noted were 2(1m, 1f) Common Stonechat in the same area, 1 Green Woodpecker and a Little Owl at Holly Lodge.

30 November 2016

Sedge Warbler recovery

Received some more ringing data, this time regarding the ringed Sedge Warbler at Staines Moor back in May. This bird was ringed as a 1st year (ring number confirmed as 3N46271) on 4 August 2013 (time unknown) at Ria de Villaviciosa, Asturias in north-west Spain (DMS 43.28.00N -5.-25.00W), by the Madrid (Icona) ringing scheme. Presumably the bird was on it's first southbound migration to west Africa at the time? The sex was unknown when it was ringed so it is good to have been able to establish that.

Many thanks to the BTO for providing the information.

Ringed male Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus, Staines Moor, 22 May 2016. This bird was ringed 959 km away in
north-west Spain in 2013.


26 November 2016

Staines Moor fungus foray: 26 November

Spent a few hours at Staines Moor today on a fungi foray, checking the grassland for waxcaps. I was hoping that after the recent rain a few more species would be fruiting, but I think it is a little cold at the moment. I managed to find 3 Silky Pinkgill Entoloma sericeum, 11 Snowy Waxcap Cuphophyllus virgineus, several Snowy Inkcap Coprinopsis nivea, and a few other species I've yet to identify.

Silky Pinkgills Entoloma sericeum, Staines Moor, 26 November 2016 - I'm currently doing my first spore print from one of these.

Avian highlights were 1 Water Pipit (Iris Channels), 1 Short-eared Owl showed very well, hunting over the east side from 15:15, 46 Linnet - the largest flock I've seen on the moor for several years, a decent sized flock of Fieldfare and Redwing in the NW corner (100+ Fieldfare, 60+ Redwing), 1 Song Thrush, 6 Stonechat (3m, 2f, 1 too distant and brief to determine), 2-3 Common Snipe, 2 Little Egret, 1 Kingfisher (Colne), 3 Little Grebe (Colne), 7 Pied Wagtail (feeding on grass on west side), 1 Grey Wagtail (Colne), 1 Red Kite, 1m Reed Bunting, 7 Skylark, 10 Meadow Pipit, 2 Greenfinch, 1 Egyptian Goose SW. Also noted was 1-2 Red Fox.

Weather: Damp, sunny periods (5 oktas), light but cold NE wind.

25 November 2016

Bar-tailed Godwit recovery

Received some data on the ringed female Bar-tailed Gotwit at Staines Moor on 12 May. The bird was ringed as an adult on 11 May 2006 (metal ring number 1473844, colour code R1YYRR), ten years and a day before the Staines Moor sighting, at Polder bij Lies on the island of Terschelling in the western Wadden Sea, Netherlands. It has been observed on eight occasions since, each sighting in May in the Dutch Wadden Sea, the most recent being on 7 May 2015 at De Schorren, Texel. Therefore, the Staines Moor sighting is the first observation outside of the Netherlands.

Many thanks to Job ten Horn of the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ) for providing the data.

Female colour ringed Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica (left), Staines Moor, 12 May 2016

5 November 2016

Staines Moor: 5 November

Business as usual at the patch today. Staines Moor: at least 3 Water Pipits (Colne), 1 Jack Snipe, 2 Common Snipe, 9 Stonechat (5m, 4f), 2 Little Grebe (Colne), 1 Cetti's Warbler (showed well at the southern end of Bonehead Ditch), 6 Fieldfare (dropped down briefly then off NW), 3 Pied Wagtail (Colne), 1 Common Buzzard, 1 Goldcrest, 2+ Kestrel, 1 Grey Heron. Still very few fungi fruiting.

Stanwell Moor: 1 Little Egret (Lower Mill Farm Lake).

Weather: Cloudy in the morning (7 oktas) becoming sunnier in the afternoon (4 oktas), light north-westerly wind.

27 October 2016

Staines Moor: 27 October

A half decent day at the patch today. An adult winter Mediterranean Gull hawking insects high over the east side of Staines Moor with c.130 Black-headed Gulls (mainly adults) and a Common Gull is only the third record for Staines Moor and the first here since 2001. Unfortunately it remained too distant for good photographs, mostly hawking insects high over Bonehead Ditch and only briefly resting on the bank of the Colne.

Also noted on Staines Moor were 3-5 Water Pipit along the Colne, 1 Short-eared Owl hunting over the south end late afternoon, 8 Stonechat (5m 3f), 1f Blackcap (NW corner), 2 Goldcrest and 1 Common Chiffchaff (both old railway), 1 Little Grebe (Colne), 2 Little Egret (Colne), 1 Grey Wagtail (Colne), 5+ Pied Wagtail (Colne), 7+ Meadow Pipit, 5 Skylark, 1+ Kingfisher (Colne), >5 Red Kite, 1-2 Eurasian Sparrowhawk, 2+ Kestrel, 1H Cetti's Warbler (Colne), 2 Egyptian Geese W and 1 imm. Mute Swan (Colne). Vis mig was almost non-existent - 2 Common Snipe NW and 2 Reed Bunting E.

Adult winter Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus hawking insects over the east side of Staines Moor today - third site record

1 of 8 Stonechats on Staines Moor today

A Red Admiral and a Small Tortoiseshell were both noted heading southwards. Also, a few more fungi found fruiting on Staines Moor today in continuing dry conditions, including 3 Blue Roundhead Stropharia caerulea together (a very local species in Britain), 8 Field Mushrooms Agaricus campestris, several Snowy Inkcap Coprinopsis nivea, a few groups of Glistening Inkcap Coprinellus micaceus (on Crack Willow Salix fragilis along the old railway), but still only a few Parasol Mushrooms Macrolepiota procera.

Blue Roundhead Stropharia caerulea, Staines Moor, 27 October 2016. Three rather old specimens but note the blue-green cap, that was
slimy to touch, with small white veil fragments (especially around the margin), the crowded sinuate pink-brown gills, greenish-white stipe
- whiter above the ring, greener below, with white scales (especially below the ring) dusted with brown spores. No odour noted.

Stanwell Moor added a Water/Rock Pipit over east calling towards the King George VI Reservoir, 1H Cetti's Warbler (by the gravel pit), 13 Eurasian Wigeon E and 4f Eurasian Teal on Lower Mill Farm Lake.

Weather: Calm and overcast with mist early morning with sunny periods developing late morning, becoming cloudier again in the afternoon, very light westerly wind.

24 October 2016

Narrow-winged Grey: 24 October

Found this Narrow-winged Grey Eudonia angustea, a late flying species, at the porch light last night. More common on the coast where it is found in sand dunes, this is the first record for the garden. Does it warrant its own post? Of course it doesn't, but there's bugger all else wildlife-wise going on in this neck of the woods this autumn so I'll take what I can get!

Narrow-winged Grey Eudonia angustea, Worcester Park, 24 October 2016

22 October 2016

Staines Moor: 22 October

A few hours on the patch today was slightly better than of late (not that this was difficult to achieve). On Staines Moor, 1+ Water Pipit along the Colne (the first returning bird), 1 Jack Snipe (flushed from the Colne), and 1 Short-eared Owl (hunting over the east side late afternoon) were the highlights.

Also noted on Staines Moor were 7 Stonechat (4m, 2f, 1f/imm m), 8 Goldcrest, 4 Common Chiffchaff, 1+ Grey Wagtail (Colne), 1 Kingfisher (Colne), 1-2 Little Grebe (Colne), 1+ Little Egret (Colne), 1f Pied Wagtail (Colne), 3+ Skylark, 3 Greenfinch (2m, 1f), 21 Meadow Pipit, 3 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2+ Song Thrush, 1m Reed Bunting, 3-5 Red Kite, 1 Eurasian Sparrowhawk, 1H Cetti's Warbler (south end of Bonehead Ditch) and a Red Fox.

Vis mig was poor with just 1 Siskin W, 1 redpoll sp H, 2 Common Chaffinch W, 2 Goldfinch W, 4 Great Spotted Woodpecker (2N, 2W), 5 Northern Lapwing N, 28 Common Starling NW and 4 Woodpigeon S.

Record of today's Jack Snipe at Staines Moor

Stanwell Moor added 4 Common Pochard W.

Weather: Overcast in the morning (8 oktas) with sunny periods in the afternoon (6 oktas), light NNW wind becoming NNE in the afternoon, some very light rain in afternoon.

12 October 2016

Staines Moor: 12 October

A few very quiet hours at the bore this afternoon produced... know what, today was so crap I really can't be arsed to write it up.

Barely notable were: 1 redpoll sp. (flew off SW from north end of Colne), 5 Stonechat (3m, 2f), 8 Common Chiffchaff (north end of Colne), 1 Common Snipe (flew off from Colne), 1m Eurasian Sparrowhawk, 1 Red Kite N, 1 Kingfisher (Colne) and 2 Pied Wagtail (Colne).

9 October 2016

Staines Moor: 9 October

A long mid morning to dusk session at the patch today. Staines Moor produced 1 Short-eared Owl briefly early afternoon then hunting over the east side at dusk (presumably the bird reported yesterday), 12-14 Stonechat (6m, 5m 1 undetermined), 2-3 Siskin (including a male drinking at Butts Pond and 2 off from here high south), 2 Little Grebe (first returning wintering birds on the Colne), 6+ (1H) Goldcrest (5 Bonehead Woodland), 12 (1H) Common Chiffchaff (mainly Bonehead Woodland), 3 (1f, 2H) Blackcap, 3-4 Barn Swallow mainly S, 2 Common Snipe, c. 30 Meadow Pipit (east side), 3H Cetti's Warbler, 1+ Kingfisher (Bonehead Ditch), 1 Red Kite, 2 Kestrel (including 1 attempting to catch Goldfinches), 1 Eurasian Sparrowhawk, 3-4 Common Buzzard, 9 Linnet and 2 Pied Wagtail (Colne).

Stanwell Moor added 5 (2H) Common Chiffchaff, 1 Common Teal and a Red Fox.

I was really hoping to find Staines Moor's first ever Yellow-browed Warbler this year, especially after the recent influx, but was beaten to it yesterday by Rob Innes (very well done to Rob on an excellent find). The bird was also reported today - I blanked it.

Weather: Sunny periods, little cloud in the morning (1 okta) becoming cloudier in the afternoon (6 oktas), light easterly wind.

24 September 2016

Staines Moor: 24 September

Another dull as hell day trudging around the moor seeing very few birds - birding in Surrey is so exciting! 'Highlights' were: 1 Whinchat (NW corner), 3+m Stonechat (1 NW corner, 2 east side), 2 (1m, 1f) Yellow Wagtail (NW corner), 14 Meadow Pipit, 2 Blackcap, 10 Chiffchaff (inc. 6 Bonehead Woodland), 5 Common Snipe, 1 Goldcrest (Bonehead Woodland), 5 Skylark, 1-2 Little Egret, 1 Eurasian Sparrowhawk, 1 Common Buzzard, 3 Kestrel and 2H Cetti's Warbler. Passage overhead amounted to 83 House Martin SW and 21 Barn Swallow (mainly S). Also 1 Red Kite and 3 more Common Buzzard were seen at distance over Wraysbury Reservoir.

First Parasol Mushroom Macrolepiota procera of the autumn noted today and a few Snowy Inkcap Coprinopsis nivea, and only 7 Red Admirals were seen on Staines Moor today - an amazing 530+ were present just 16 days ago!

Snowy Inkcap Coprinopsis nivea, on dung, Staines Moor, 24 September 2016 - a few of these tiny delicate toadstools today

Parasol Mushroom Macrolepiota procera, Staines Moor, 24 September 2016

A Speckled Wood in the garden on the 14th was one of very few records for the garden.

14 September 2016

Staines Moor: 14 September

A few more migrants at Staines Moor today in unseasonally hot conditions. Migrants on the ground included 4 Whinchat (3 SE corner, 1 NW corner), 1m Stonechat (SE corner) - the first of the autumn, 13+ Yellow Wagtail around the livestock (with others overhead), 1-2 Common Snipe (calling high over the Colne early morning), 2 Northern Lapwing (also over the Colne early morning), 1 Sedge Warbler (beside Colne), 40 Meadow Pipit and 2+ Common Whitethroat.

Some movement overhead with 20 Meadow Pipit S, 63 Barn Swallow (mainly S), and 1 imm. m Eurasian Sparrowhawk WSW.

1 of 4 Whinchats at Staines Moor today

1 of a single flock of 11 Yellow Wagtail, including males, females and juveniles, around the horses on Staines Moor today

Also noted were 1+ Hobby, 1-2 Kingfisher, 2 Little Egret, 5 Reed Bunting, 2 Skylark, 8 Linnet, 2 Red Kite, 3 Kestrel, 2-3 Common Buzzard and 1+ Grey Heron.

Still plenty of Red Admirals around in the NW corner, although much fewer than my last visit, and 7 were seen migrating (mainly S), and 1 Small Copper, 4 Small Heath and a Meadow Brown were logged. Stanwell Moor added a few more Red Admirals along the Colne Valley Way.

8 September 2016

Staines Moor: 8 September

A little better for migrants at Staines Moor today with 2 Whinchat, 6 Yellow Wagtail (around the livestock), 2 Sand Martin S, 118 Barn Swallow S (then W from mid afternoon) noted, and 2 Common Whitethroat and 1H Lesser Whitethroat in the hawthorns (which could be local birds). Also noted were 1-2 Hobby, 1 Red Kite, 4+ Skylark, 8 Meadow Pipit, 3 Reed Bunting, c50 Goldfinch (including many juveniles feeding on the thistles) and c100 Eurasian Starling (mainly around the livestock).

Red Admiral butterflies once again stole the show, with an amazing 530+ counted around the blackberries in the NW corner, west side, along the old railway, and in the NE corner, amounting to a spectacular sight. Their origin is a bit of mystery. They are very fresh and so presumably hatched fairly locally, and I suppose they are heading south stopping to feed on the abundance of blackberries currently on the moor. In addition another 24 Red Admirals were seen along the Colne Valley Way through Stanwell Moor in the morning.

Other butterflies on Staines Moor today include 1 Painted Lady (feeding with Red Admirals), 4 Small Copper, 9 Small Heath, 3 Comma and 2 Speckled Wood. Several Migrant Hawkers Aeshna mixta were also noted.

On Stanwell Moor 3 (2H) Chiffchaff were also noted.

Painted Lady Vanessa cardui feeding on blackberries with about 20 Red Admirals Vanessa atalanta in the NW corner of Staines
Moor today. Heading north or south I wonder?

Red Admirals Vanessa atalanta feeding on blackberries, Staines Moor, 8 September 2016

3 September 2016

Red Admiral invasion at Staines Moor: 3 September

My first visit to the patch this afternoon since May. A few migrants noted. A trickle of hirundines heading south-southwest amounted to 51 House Martin, 24 Sand Martin and 51 Barn Swallow, and 1 Whinchat around the swamp and a Northern Wheatear along the Colne were probably bought down by the persistent rain from mid afternoon. 1-2 Hobby, 1-2 Common Buzzard (including nice views of 1 perched on a snag along Bonehead Ditch), 33 (1H) Linnet, 3 Kestrel (including 1m and 1f), 1 Skylark, 7+ Meadow Pipit and 1 Little Egret along the Colne were the best of the other birds noted. 2 imm. Mallard and an imm. Moorhen on the Colne are noteworthy as signs of successful breeding.

Highlight of the day came in the form of an incredible number of Red Admiral butterflies present on site. Despite the windy and overcast conditions and rain setting in from mid afternoon, I counted a minimum of 196 in the NW corner alone, most feeding on blackberries. Most looked very fresh so presumably these are broods from this year's migrants? At one point I took shelter from the wind and rain next to a hawthorn and 20+ shot out at once! I estimate there must have been at least double this number at Staines Moor today.

Other inverts noted on Staines Moor include 2 Small Heath, 3 Meadow Brown, 1 Comma, 2 Green-veined White, and 3 (2m, 1f) Banded Demoiselle. No grassland fungi fruiting yet - probably too dry.

Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta, Staines Moor, 3 September 2016 - 1 of at least 196 on site today

Red Admirals Vanessa atalanta, Staines Moor, 3 September 2016 - 8 feeding on blackberries in this pic (click to enlarge)

At home this morning, found a White Point Mythimna albipuncta in the house - a long overdue addition to the garden moth list.

White-point Mythimna albipuncta, Worcester Park, 3 September 2016 - an immigrant species found mainly in coastal counties in
south-east England but spreading northwards

31 August 2016

Still quiet for moths: 30/31 August

Still very quiet for moths at home in Worcester Park despite the weather remaining warm, humid and calm. Last night there was a southerly wind so I put the moth light on, but the temperature dropped rapidly. No immigrants but a few nice common species though:

1 Small Blood-vein Scopula imitaria
1 Old Lady Mormo maura - very worn
1 Flame Shoulder Ochropleura plecta
2 Yellow Shell Camptogramma bilineata
2 Pale Mottled Willow Caradrina clavipalpis
4 Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing Noctua fimbriata - very worn
3 Willow Beauty Peribatodes rhomboidaria
1 Bramble Shoot Moth Notocelia uddmanniana

Small Blood-vein Scopula imitaria, Worcester Park, 31 August 2016

Bramble Shoot Moth Notocelia uddmanniana, Worcester Park, 31 August 2016

30 August 2016

REGUA meet up at the London Wetland Centre: 29 August

Rachel and I met up with our good friends Nicholas and Raquel Locke of REGUA at the London Wetland Centre yesterday, to see how some of the wetland habitats and infrastructure created at this excellent reserve might be adapted for the REGUA wetland in Brazil.

This was the first time Nicholas and Raquel had been to the London Wetland Centre but in just a few hours we managed to sketch out several ideas for REGUA, including a new air-conditioned viewing tower, a new hide, boardwalks, islands with muddy edges for rails and waders, new reedbeds and maybe even creating some wet grassland at REGUA.

We also managed to squeeze in a little birding. Avian highlights were 1 Hobby hunting over the Grazing Marsh, 2 Common Sandpiper on the Wader Scrape, several Sand Martin, and good numbers of Common Teal, Northern Shoveler and Northern Lapwing. A fantastic female Wasp Spider near the Peacock Tower was my first ever sighting of this Continental species - first recorded in England in the 1920’s and spreading across southern England.

Female Wasp Spider Argiope bruennichi, London Wetland Centre, 29 August 2016

Got home late evening after a four hour meal, where we were joined by another good friend Andrew Proudfoot, to find a superb Vestal Rhodometra sacraria in the living room (photographed this afternoon) - fantastic!

The Vestal Rhodometra sacraria, Worcester Park, 30 August 2016 - the first record for the garden of this immigrant species

26 August 2016

Late summer moths at home: 25/26 August

With warm temperatures and high humidity over the last few days I decided to put the moth light on at home last night. Had some good species but overall things were quiet:

1m Oak Processionary Thaumetopoea processionea - the first record for the garden. Males are strong fliers and so this could be either an immigrant or originate from the introduced population around west London. According to the Forestry Commission website, adult moths are not required to be reported. The caterpillars have tiny hairs that can cause skin and eye irritations, sore throats and breathing difficulties in humans and animals. In Britain it is illegal to knowingly keep, store or sell this species.
1 Waved Black Parascotia fuliginaria
1 July Highflyer Hydriomena furcata
4 Silver Y Autographa gamma (including 1 in the garden today)
1 Jersey Tiger Euplagia quadripunctaria
1 Dun-bar Cosmia trapezina
1 Marbled Beauty Bryophila domestica
1 Large Yellow Underwing Noctua pronuba
1 Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing Noctua janthe
2m Willow Beauty Peribatodes rhomboidaria
2 Brimstone Moth Opisthograptis luteolata
2 Small Dusty Wave Idaea seriata
1 Pale Mottled Willow Caradrina clavipalpis
1 Gold Triangle Hypsopygia costalis
1 Mint Moth Pyrausta aurata
10 Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana
1 Ruddy Streak Tachystola acroxantha
1 Dingy Dowd Blastobasis adustella
1 Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla
1 Brown House-moth Hofmannophila pseudospretella
Several Horse Chestnut Leaf-miner Cameraria ohridella

Male Oak Processionary Thaumetopoea processionea, 26 August 2016

A worn Waved Black Parascotia fuliginaria, 26 August 2016 - a Nationally Scarce B species with adults flying between June and August

July Highflyer Hydriomena furcata, 26 August 2016 - adults fly from July to August

Marbled Beauty Bryophila domestica, 26 August 2015

Weather conditions for immigrant moths are looking good over the next few days, with high pressure systems over western continental Europe bringing south-easterly winds on Saturday. Might be worth another mothing session.

22 August 2016

REGUA's tenth Birdfair: 19-21 August

Birdfair 2016 was something of a milestone for REGUA as well as for Rachel and me personally, being our tenth Birdfair representing REGUA. To celebrate, Nicholas Locke (REGUA President) and Raquel Locke (REGUA Vice President) flew over from Brazil to join the UK REGUA team, for what proved to our most successful Birdfair to date.

REGUA's representation at the Birdfair began in 2007 when the World Land Trust kindly invited Rachel and I to use a single table on their stand. Back then hardly anybody had heard of REGUA and a certain tour company even told us "not to bother, everyone goes to Serra dos Tucanos". But there was a huge amount of interest in REGUA and this encouraged us to return the following year. After four years representing REGUA on the World Land Trust stand, Rachel and I were invited by Rick and Elis Simpson (now of Wader Quest), to share their stand in 2011, before running our first independent stand in 2012.

REGUA team 2016 - (from left) Alan Martin, Sue Healey, Lee Dingain, Rachel Walls, Raquel Locke and Nicholas Locke (Photo by
Edson Endrigo)

REGUA team 2007 - (from left) Rachel Walls, Lee Dingain and Martin Smart

The REGUA stand at the Birdfair over this period has been instrumental in REGUA becoming a well known birding and natural history destination. A large number of people have now visited REGUA (and REGUA and Serra dos Tucanos frequently recommend each other), including on tours run by many British and US bird tour companies who visit the reserve annually, and bed nights at the lodge have increased from just a couple of hundred in 2007 to over 1900 in 2015, generating much needed funds for conserving the Atlantic Forest of the Guapiaçu watershed.

Birdfair 2016 coincided with the end of the World Land Trust's Olympic Forest Reserve Appeal, to raise £40,000 to purchase 221 ha of primary Atlantic Forest (an extremely rare habitat with only around 2% remaining) in the upper Guapiaçu valley. Emotions were high late afternoon on Saturday at the World Land Trust stand when Debbie Pain, the CEO of the World Land Trust, announced that a fantastic £45,000 has been raised! A huge thank you to the World Land Trust and everybody who donated.

Other personal highlights include the two talks given by Nicholas to packed houses, seeing many old friends and past visitors to REGUA (far too many to name here), meeting lots of new friends, some new writing commissions, a productive meeting about an exciting project with the Neotropical Bird Club, catching up with the Wader Quest team, and an excellent talk by ex-fellow London birder Mark Pearson about migration at Filey Bird Observatory.

Running a stand for REGUA at the Birdfair each year takes a lot of preparation and hard work over many weeks before the event, not only from me but also from Rachel Walls (who organises everything) and Sue Healey. I'll admit that at times I do get very tired of it, but seeing the progress we've made in promoting REGUA over the last ten years makes it all worthwhile, not only for the help this provides with preserving the Atlantic Forest of the Guapiaçu watershed, but also for all the people we've met and memories made. I'm already looking forward to Birdfair 2017.

28 July 2016

Austral winter mothing at REGUA, Brazil: 3-16 July

The austral winter months are characterised by much cooler, less humid and drier weather than the summer and so far fewer moths are flying at this time of year. Despite the mainly cool conditions during our trip earlier this month, and the moth wall being very quiet, we managed to make a little progress with our inventory of the moths at REGUA and photographed a few species to add to the growing REGUA moth list.

Hapigia annulata, lodge garden, REGUA, 14 July 2016 (right-click and open link in new tab to enlarge)

Lophocampa modesta, lodge garden, REGUA, 14 July 2016

Anthophila milliaria, lodge garden, REGUA, 14 July 2016

Lots of familiar species were recorded, including.

Ormetica rosenbergi, lodge garden, REGUA, 15 July 2016

Calonotos angustipennis, lodge garden, REGUA, 15 July 2016

Male Erinnyis alope alope, lodge garden, REGUA, 12 July 2016 (right-click and open link in new tab to
enlarge)

Adhemarius daphne daphne, lodge garden, REGUA, 12 July 2016 (right-click and open link in new tab to enlarge)

Male Enyo ocypete, lodge garden, REGUA, 14 July 2016

Female Cocytius duponchel, lodge garden, REGUA, 15 July 2016 (right-click and open
link in new tab to enlarge)

24 July 2016

Mothing at home: 23/24 July

Had the moth light on at home last night, but despite the very warm temperature and seemingly every other moth trap in the country overflowing with moths, the haul in Worcester Park was pitiful to say the least:

1 Silver Y Autographa gamma
1 Least Carpet Idaea rusticata
2m Willow Beauty Peribatodes rhomboidaria
1 Brimstone Moth Opisthograptis luteolata
3 Riband Wave Idaea aversata, 1 typical form and 2 ab. remutata
1m Gypsy Moth Lymantria dispar
1 Diamond-back Moth Plutella xylostella
1 Apple Leaf Miner Lyonetia clerkella
1 Little Grey Eudonia lacustrata
1 Gold Triangle Hypsopygia costalis
5 Rosy Tabby Endotricha flammealis
1 Grass-veneer Crambus pascuella
1 Garden Grass-veneer Chrysoteuchia culmella
1 Blastobasis adustella
Lots of Horse Chestnut Leaf-miner Cameraria ohridella

Silver Y Autographa gamma, Worcester Park, 24 July 2016

18 July 2016

Camera trapping at REGUA: 11-16 July

Rachel and I put the camera trap out in two locations at REGUA last week - two nights in the forest just off the trail to the São José Tower (11th/12th-12th/13th) and then three nights along a stream in the forest along an unmarked trail off the Forest Trail (13th/14th, 14th/15th and 15th/16th), baiting both sites with bananas. I messed up the positioning of the camera on the São José Tower trail so nothing worth posting from that site, but I managed to capture a few nice videos from the forest stream site (to watch in HD click on the cog icon, click on Quality and the select the highest resolution).

Forest stream


This is the same stream along which I have placed a camera trap in the past, but this time the camera was placed further upstream into the forest.

Rusty-margined Guan Penelope superciliaris, 15 July 2016. Rarely encountered around the lodge area trails just a few
years ago, today Rusty-margined Guan are occasionally seen around the wetland and up to 4 birds visit the lodge
feeders daily.

Yellow-headed Caracara Milvago chimachima, 15 July 2016

Pale-breasted Thrush Turdus leucomelas, 14 July 2016

Red-rumped Agouti Dasyprocta leporina, 14 July 2016

Capybara Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris, 14 July 2016. Capybara appear to range widely from the wetland at night.

Atlantic Forest Nectomys or South American Water Rat Nectomys squamipes, 15 July 2016

Atlantic Forest Nectomys or South American Water Rat Nectomys squamipes swimming past, 15 July 2016

A small fruitbat species attracted to the bananas, 14 July 2016

Big-eared Opossum or Brazilian Common Opossum Didelphis aurita, 15 July 2016

16 July 2016

REGUA, Atlantic Forest, Brazil: 16 July

Our last day today. Rachel and I spent few hours walking around the Wetland Trail but we again failed to find the f/imm. Sungrebe that was seen by guests at the far corner of the wetland a few days ago. But we did see the male Sungrebe again, as well as 1 Scaly-headed Parrot over, 1 White-necked Heron, 2 Anhinga, 4 Muscovy Duck, 1 Ringed Kingfisher, 1 Striated Heron and lots of Capybara.

Along the Forest Trail we encountered a nice mixed species flock that contained more forest interior species (indicative of how successful the reforestation here has been) including 1 Golden-crowned Warbler (my first record along this trail), 2 Yellow-throated Woodpecker, 2 (1m, 1f) Red-crowned Ant-Tanager, 3 Green-headed Tanager, 2 (1m, 1f) Black-goggled Tanager, 2 Streaked Xenops and 1 Olivaceous Woodcreeper. Also noted were the more usual forest-edge/scrubland species including 3 (1m, 2f) Sooretama Slaty-Antshrike, 1 Chestnut-backed Antshrike, 1m Chestnut-vented Conebill, 1 Yellow-eared Woodpecker, 3 White-barred Piculet, 1 Rufous-tailed Jacamar, 1f Yellow-backed Tanager and 1m Violaceous Euphonia.

Female Sooretama Slaty-Antshrike Thamnophilus ambiguus, feeding at ground level along the Forest Trail, 16 July 2016

So another fantastic trip to REGUA comes to an end. Although I had a lot of work to get through and didn't have much time for birding, I had a great time seeing how successful the reforestation around the lodge area has been. I won't be leaving it so long until the next visit.

15 July 2016

REGUA, Atlantic Forest, Brazil: 15 July

Another day working on the Portuguese REGUA website. Spent a couple of hours in the lodge garden this morning where I managed some nice shots of a Rufous-tailed Jacamar that was taking out the moths leaving the moth wall, along with 2 Southern House Wren. 2 Giant Cowbirds perched in the eucalyptus on the edge of the lodge garden are my first record at the lodge, and 1m Purple-throated Euphonia visiting the feeders with 2 (1m, 1f) Blue Dacnis was the best of the other birds present.

Photographed some interesting moths at the moth wall, including some potential new additions to the REGUA moth list, but more on this is a later post.

Male Rufous-tailed Jacamar Galbula ruficauda, lodge garden, REGUA, 15 July 2016

Record of 1 of 2 Giant Cowbirds Molothrus oryzivorus together in the lodge garden, 15 July 2016

A few hours spotlighting around the wetland this evening produced an excellent but yet another frustrating avian find. While photographing tree frogs at the wetland (by post 650 of the Wetland Trail) a Stygian Owl started calling (approximately by post 850). I quickly moved towards it and got quite close before it moved across the lake to the roughly where the tapir pen is being built. Despite the bird calling for over 10 minutes it didn't respond to playback (although I didn't have speakers with me and so the playback was very quiet) and I didn't see it - the theme for this year it seems - finding good birds by sound only. This is only the 3rd record for Rio de Janeiro State and the 2nd for REGUA, following 1 seen well on 31 July 2011 at the REGUA wetland (just a few day after I flew home from a two week trip, grrrr).

Anyway, found 5 Hypsiboas semilineatus tree frogs in the vegetation around the edge of the water, showing an incredible diversity of colouration and size - check out the individuals below seen this evening and compare to the one in the lodge garden on 8 July.

Hypsiboas semilineatus, REGUA wetland, 15 July 2016

Hypsiboas semilineatus, REGUA wetland, 15 July 2016

Also noted while spot-lighting were 4 (2m, 1f, 1) Pauraque, 3H Tawny-browed Owl, 12 Broad-snouted Caiman, several Capybara, lots of Neotropical Cichlid Geophagus brasiliensis fishes, and 2 roosting Ghost Yellow Eurema albula sinoe butterflies (many thanks to Jorge Bizarro for the identification).

Ghost Yellow Eurema albula sinoe, REGUA wetland, 15 July 2016

13 July 2016

REGUA, Atlantic Forest, Brazil: 13 July

Retrieved the camera trap today from a site chosen in the forest just off the trail to the São José Tower, only to discover on return to the lodge that I had completely misjudged the positioning and placed it too high up and close to the bananas I'd put down - live and learn! The camera recorded 2+ Big-eared Opossum Didelphis aurita and several small bats dropping down to eat the bananas I'd left out.

A walk along the Forest Trail produced a nice mixed species bird flock that included 1 male Black-goggled Tanager, 1-2 Fuscous Flycatcher, 1 Grey-hooded Attila and 1H Southern Antpipit (the first time I've recorded these species along this trail) along with 1 Tropical Parula, 1m Crested Becard, 3 (2m, 1f) White-flanked Antwren, 2m Chestnut-vented Conebill and 1 Yellow-throated Woodpecker,

At the wetland, 1 Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, 33 White-faced Whistling-Duck, 3 Muscovy Duck and a Broad-snouted Caiman hauled out on an island.

Male Black-goggled Tanager Lanio melanops, Forest Trail, 13 July 2016. This forest interior species is currently fairly common along
the Forest Trail and around the wetland - an indicator of the success of the reforestation at REGUA.

Fuscous Flycatcher Cnemotriccus fuscatus, Forest Trail, REGUA, 12 July 2016

11 July 2016

REGUA, Atlantic Forest, Brazil: 11 July

Rachel and I put the camera trap out today, just off the trail leading to the São José Tower and baited the area with bananas - let's see what comes in? Walked to the site via the Forest Trail and had a nice winter mixed species bird flock that included 1 Eye-ringed Tody-Tyrant (yet another forest interior species moving into the area), several Black-goggled Tanager, 1 Sepia-capped Flycatcher, 1m Crested Becard, 1 Yellow-backed Tanager, 2-3 Squirrel Cuckoo, and 1f White-bearded Manakin.

On the wetland, 2 Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, 2 Anhinga, 8 White-faced Whistling-Duck, several Muscovy Duck, several Brazilian Teal and an adult Rufescent Tiger-Heron were logged, and over the lodge several Biscutate Swift were quite low mid afternoon.

A couple of hours walking the Wetland Trail after dark was unsurprisingly very quiet for nocturnal bird activity, producing just 1f Pauraque (down to 2 metres in torch light) and 2H Tropical Screech-Owl, along with a roosting Purple Gallinule, 2 Capybara and an incredible 41 Broad-snouted Caiman - by far my highest count here and only one short of the REGUA record!

Female Pauraque Hydropsalis albicollis, REGUA wetland, after dark 11 July 2016 (taken using a torch - no flash)

1 of 41 Broad-snouted Caiman Caiman latirostris at the REGUA wetland this evening. Amazing to think that just 11 years go the
wetland was farmland, and none of these reptiles have been introduced.

Roosting Purple Gallinule Porphyrio martinica, 11 July 2016

Several Neotropical Cichlid Geophagus brasiliensis were seen in the wetland by torch light - a common Atlantc Forest endemic of calm
water and species frequently kept in aquariums. Many thanks to Thiago Barros of Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) for
the identification.