Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Mothing Patching and Twitching

The Safari out the moth trap out after we'd got back to Base Camp from our trip up north. We were eager to have a look inside the following morning but saw that it had rained over night so decided that a very (aka reasonably) early visit to the nature reserve might produce something of note...and we still need that pesky Garden Warbler for our Patchwork Challenge. Unplugging the moth traps elecrics we left it to go birding. It turned out to be a good move. Within minutes of arriving at the reserve we had a Curlew (MMLNR #94) go over. There wasn't much small bird activity in the scrub other than a Blue Tit or two and a Blackcap tacking away so we went to the viewing platform and had a look over the water. Not a great lot happening it was a peaceful early morning scene, the Great Crested Grebe youngster is now nearly as big as its parent and the young Mute Swans had a practice flap showing their fully feathered wings. 
On the way down the track we had a Whitethroat flitting around in the thick Brambles and then had the idea of having a look from the Panoramic hide/screen where we had a total surprise. Two juvenile Black Terns (181, MMLNR #95) were hawking insects over the water across on the far side. We knew they'd been there while we were oop norff but hadn't expected to see them as they'd been reported as 'left'.
Not the best pic of Black Terns you'll ever see!
We watched them until they took off high to the east and were lost to sight. Moving through the scrub we had a Lesser Whitethroat, more Blackcaps but no Garden Warbler! The new 'Channel' scrape held a few Teal but they all fluched when a dog-walker quietly dressed in a fluorescent day-glo yellow work jacket came past...all but one bird went, the remaining one was a/the Garganey
It was quiet along the embankment a wagtail flew over us but it was 'only' a Pied and not a still not seen there Grey Wagtail. A bit of rain was in the air so we wandered along to the FBC hide to avoid getting wet. Again it was quiet, no sign of the Black Terns now were much closer to where they'd been - typical!!! But a large bird coming south over the barn caught our eye, Heron? Buzzard? A gull? No, an Osprey (MMLNR #96), it didn't even look at the water down to its right it just kept a straight purposeful line due south and was soon past us.
We retraced our steps along the embankment an heard a total of four Cetti's Warblers including one on the 'wrong side' of the dam. From the scrub a Chiffchaff sang and we saw a couple more Blackcaps, a Song Thrush was battering seven shades out of a snail was a species we've not seen there for a while, don't they go quiet and secretive during the summer...and still no sign of that pesky Garden Warbler!
We got back to Base Camp and made breakfast for Wifey but before we could open the moth trap she asked if we were going out somewhere with BD...well if you allow us like that we'll take advantage!!! Half an hour later we picked up BD and headed over the river on a twitch with two targets, one easy the other not so.
Our first twitching target was spotted from the driver's seat as we drove up the track. There on the wires across the field was the juvenile Cuckoo that's been hanging around for a couple or three days...in exactly the same spot as one a couple of years ago. Overflying, coasting, juvenile Cuckoos must come across this field and it cries out to them as being very likely full of food, or they spot the caterpillars as the fly over.
Which ever way it is this one had no problem seeing caterpillars in the grass and was swooping down to collect them every few minutes, big chunky ones with spikey bits; we've no idea what species of caterpillars but we do know that if we got on our hands and knees and thoroughly searched the field we'd probably not find a single one.
Time to look the other way, out to sea which was rapidly approaching on what was a very high tide. There were a lot of gulls present, mostly Black Headed Gulls but not so many of the larger species, one of which was what/who we were after. A good scrutiny of all those present gave us a large number of Great Black Back Gulls and a few each of Herring and Lesser Black Backs, our quarry didn't seem to be present. We scanned again and again as the tide rose but to no avail; we did see a trickle of Wheatears going through on the rocks below our feet, the marsh held four Little Egrets and a host of Redshanks and Lapwings. As the tide rose ever higher large flocks of Oystercatchers came by, flushed off their favourite sandbanks further out in the river-mouth.More gull-looking had us finding a couple of Mediterranean Gulls, a second year bird with a little black in the wingtip and an adult. We were able to get other birders onto these. As the tide rose most of the larger gulls flew off round the corner out of sight but one held back a few minutes and could have been the Caspian Gull we'd come for, photo-evidence from BD's long lens will be required to prove us right or wrong, most of the time it had it's back to us facing the wind.
A flock of about 30 Linnets swirled around and Sandwich Terns flew deep into the bay to roost, we heard the 'shreeepp' of Dunlins and watched the Golden Plovers jockey for position on the last parcels of dry(ish) land.
A lone Linnet landed on the rocks not too far away, hang on a mo, that's got a yellow bill...then it flew revealing a different wing pattern to the Linnets and when it flew past it made the typical squeaky call Twite make. Great stuff and BD had only just asked if there were any about and we'd said it's too early.
It was good for butterflies too including a now very scarce round these parts a rather worse for wear Wall.
The Sea Asters by our feet had a Peacock and a Painted Lady nectaring on them and BD showed us a couple of very fresh basking Small Tortoishells, he'd also seen a Small Copper and Common Blues along with a Large White, other White sps and numerous Grasshoppers.
With gathering omminous looking black clouds gathering we looked at  the time and discovered we'd long overstayed our allowance, time to head back to Base Camp and have a look in the mothy.
Another Willow Beauty was nice, as were two (Svensson's?) Copper Underwings.
A couple of micros had us scratching our head, both of which we ought to have known.
Phycitodes sp
Worn White Shouldered House Moth
This morning we had an extra day off to go to the docs later but that gave us another chance to get to nature reserve for a couple of hours or more.
Again it was pretty quiet, no sign of the Black Terns over the water from the viewing platform and not much moving or calling in the scrub, a Water Rail did scream from the reedbed though. We took our time and watched and listened as we walked down to the Panoramic Hide we spotted a movement in the pile of dead brash. We looked hard at the flits until a Lesser Whitethroat came in to view and then another, the bird still obscured was obviously darker browner. Then it came out and briefly showed itself very well, the elusive Garden Warbler (MMLNR #97) was no longer elusive...at last! In the scrape there were three Snipe fresh in. We met up with TS and had a chat as our second Curlew of the year here flew over at great height.
We went our separate ways and then both of us independently saw the Black Tailed Godwit (MMLNR #98) flying over. Not much more was noted other than three Cetti's Warblers. We didn't go round to the FBC Hide as we'd done yesterday as the Tuesday Group were leathering in to the reeds with an assortment of heavy duty cutting tools.
By the bridge we spotted a bright orange fly which we know to be a Turnip Sawfly.

There was nowt else of note on the way back to the Land Rover other than a singing Chiffchaff and a coupe for Migrant Hawkers, neither of which would settle for a pic. It was quite warm but with an increasing and increasingly cool wind there weren't as many dragonflies around today.
Where to next? Back to work, wonder what Patch 2 will give us.
In the meantime let us know who's spotting the invisible caterpillars in your outback

1 comment:

cliff said...

I think that Wall butterfly is in need of repointing!

What a selection there! Nowt wrong with that Black Tern pic, I'd settle for even seeing one at the moment. Mind, the fact I've not been to the mere for a few weeks makes that unlikely, unless they get a liking for sunflower hearts.