Thursday, 27 April 2017

Cotswolds Moth Trapping - 21st-23rd April

A weekend at our cottage in Cowley in the Cotswolds allowed me a few nights of early spring moth trapping. Species recorded over the nights of 21st, 22nd and 23rd April were:

  • Brindled Beauty
  • Clouded Drab
  • Common Quaker
  • Early Grey
  • Flame-shoulder
  • Hebrew Character
  • Least Black Arches
  • Lesser Swallow Prominent
  • Muslin Moth
  • Nut-tree Tussock
  • Powdered Rustic
  • Purple Thorn
  • Swallow Prominent
  • Waved Umber

Least Black Arches

Waved Umber

Purple Thorn

Swallow Prominent

Lesser Swallow Prominent

Brindled Beauty

Powdered Quaker

Hebrew Character - The left hand individual has a reduced black forewing mark

Muslin Moth

Clouded Drab

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust - 22nd April

We had a weekend at the cottage in the Cotswolds planned but there was to be little time for birding - I need brownie points for an up coming trip! Still, I managed to convince Sarah that a trip to Slimbridge might be nice and she duly arranged to meet with her sister so that Tobias could play with his cousins. My motive was a pair of Black-winged Stilt that had set-up territory on the South Lake and were showing well from the Discovery Hide. So after saying my 'hello's' to relatives I snuck to the Discovery Hide where the stilts were immediately on show no more than 30 metres from the hide. I watched these fantastic birds over the next couple of hours while they fed and often mated around the South Lake. The female was clearly smaller and far browner than the male with a darker head and a great deal of flecking. The male, in contrast, was glossy black above with a largely white head and neck and a distinctive pinkish flush on the breast.

Male Black-winged Stilt - South Lake, Slimbridge WWT

Female Black-winged Stilt - South Lake, Slimbridge WWT

Male Black-winged Stilt - South Lake, Slimbridge WWT

Male Black-winged Stilt - South Lake, Slimbridge WWT

Male Black-winged Stilt - South Lake, Slimbridge WWT

Male Black-winged Stilt - South Lake, Slimbridge WWT

Male Black-winged Stilt - South Lake, Slimbridge WWT

Male Black-winged Stilt - South Lake, Slimbridge WWT

Black-winged Stilt - South Lake, Slimbridge WWT

Male Black-winged Stilt - South Lake, Slimbridge WWT

Female Black-winged Stilt - South Lake, Slimbridge WWT

Female Black-winged Stilt - South Lake, Slimbridge WWT

Female Black-winged Stilt - South Lake, Slimbridge WWT

Female Black-winged Stilt - South Lake, Slimbridge WWT

Male Black-winged Stilt - South Lake, Slimbridge WWT

Male Black-winged Stilt - South Lake, Slimbridge WWT

There wasn't much else on the South Lake except for at least 18 Avocet and a Greenshank.

Avocet - South Lake, Slimbridge WWT

Avocet - South Lake, Slimbridge WWT

Avocet - South Lake, Slimbridge WWT

Avocet - South Lake, Slimbridge WWT

Avocet - South Lake, Slimbridge WWT

Avocet - South Lake, Slimbridge WWT

Cormorant and Mallard - South Lake, Slimbridge WWT

Tufted Duck - South Lake, Slimbridge WWT

Tufted Duck - South Lake, Slimbridge WWT

A short trip to the Zeiss Hide to look for a Great-white Egret produced several hundred Black-tailed Godwit, a flock of eight Ruff with one bird almost in full summer plumage, four Reed Warbler and two Swallow but no sign of the egret.

Mixed flock of Black-tailed Godwit and eight Ruff. The bird, sixth from left, is a very dark Ruff almost in summer plumage and was widely being claimed as a Spotted Redshank! - Zeiss Hide, Slimbridge

Pennington Marsh - 20th April

The spring seems to be passing me by this year, already the 20th April and I have see but a handful of migrants and still no Wheatear. I dropped Tobias at school in Lymington and decided to spend a couple of hours at Pennington Marsh before work. At Lower Pennington Lane a handful of Wigeon were present on the floods and two distant House Martin added a spring feel as did a singing Willow Warbler. A lovely flock of eight Mediterranean Gull flew over head, two second-summer and the remainder adult.

Mediterranean Gull (six adult and two second-summer birds) - Pennington Marsh

As I pulled into the car park at Lower Pennington it was evident that the Whitethroat were in with at least five singing around the car park. A short walk out past Efford Lagoon produced two Swift, three Swallow, five House Martin, two Sand Martin and a Little Ringed Plover. So there are migrants around.

Whitethroat - Pennington Marsh

Wandering out towards the sea and past Shoveler Pools I quickly came across a pair of Garganey very close to the path. The male was giving a very bizarre frog-like song which I had never heard before. The song can be heard here. I watched these birds for some time at close range until they were flushed by a dog walker although they quickly settled again further away on the lagoon.

Male Garganey - Shoveler Pools, Pennington Marsh

Female Garganey - Shoveler Pools, Pennington Marsh

Pair of Garganey - Shoveler Pools, Pennington Marsh

Female Garganey - Shoveler Pools, Pennington Marsh

Male Garganey - Shoveler Pools, Pennington Marsh

Male Garganey - Shoveler Pools, Pennington Marsh

Male Garganey - Shoveler Pools, Pennington Marsh

I wandered out to the seawall and offshore were two Sandwich Tern plus small numbers of Knot, Dunlin and Grey Plover on the mudflats. The Turnstone are now well advanced into their summer plumage. From the reedbeds at Butts Lagoon sang good numbers of Reed Warbler and the Bearded Reedling are still present and showing well.

Turnstone - Pennington Marsh

Turnstone - Pennington Marsh

Grey Heron - Pennington Marsh

I spent the last of my time scanning Fishtail lagoon, here the Swift were buzzing overhead and three Spoonbill were present on the lagoon. Small numbers of duck were present with a lone male Pintail, 15 Wigeon and around 30 Teal plus three Ruff. I watched for some time a pair of Great Black-backed Gull consuming a freshly dead Black-tailed Godwit - something I had not seen before. The godwit was still relatively fresh and intact and while I did not see the gulls kill the bird, I suspect that this is what had happened, albeit likely that the godwit was probably on its last legs already. It looked to be a relatively healthy, full summer plumaged bird.

The distinctive myth like shape of Common Swift, one of my favourite birds - Pennington Marsh

Reed Warbler - Pennington Marsh

Great Black-backed Gull feeding on Black-tailed Godwit - Pennington Marsh

Great Black-backed Gull feeding on Black-tailed Godwit - Pennington Marsh

Great Black-backed Gull feeding on Black-tailed Godwit - Pennington Marsh

Great Black-backed Gull feeding on Black-tailed Godwit - Pennington Marsh