Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Southern migrant hawker

On my way to Dungeness I nipped home as it was en route, I also had the chance to finally catch up with a new dragonfly...Southern migrant hawker.
The habitat, wedged between a tidal creek and busy Canvey Island road, did not exactly shine as being overly interesting, but the rushy ditch was certainly very appealing for the SMH. I got there quite early as wanted to spend the majority of the day at Dunge, I managed to find at least ten SMH's in around half an hour, one of which I found before it saw me (they were quite flighty, especially when warmed up).
As soon as I saw one in flight, I instantly knew I had got lucky, the amazing blue eyes, thorax side and very blue abdomen really stands out, far more even than the photos show. A truely stunning dragonfly, I hope they follow others and spread a little further North, would very much like to see these again.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Caspian/yellow legged gull?

On the evening of 13th August Dave Hawkins and I were watching the gull roost at Titchwell.
We soon noticed the gull pictured below, which stood out as looking a little different. The features that made it stand out were- paralel sided pale horn coloured yellow bill (quite different to all other gulls in the area), upright stance with high chest and bulging feathers behind the legs, leg colour was a pastey pinkish colour and mantle colour looked paler than yellow legged, but slightly darker than herring (although light was harsh and mantle colours were changing as the gulls turned etc.) I am no expert at large gulls and with this gull in wing moult (two primaries missing?) I am not sure about the open wing formula.
I must admit that in 'real life' it appeared a better fit for Caspian than the photos suggest, especially the high chested elegent upright appearence, I dont seem to have captured this at all well, however I guess the camera doesnt lie when it comes to the wing formula!
Can anyone help with the identification?

Here pictured with a yellow legged gull preening on left (appears darker grey in pic and in observation through scope)

Monday, 21 August 2017

Sabbatical part 1-Dungeness RSPB (and bird obs)

As I am in my seventh consecutive year with the RSPB (would have been 10, but had a year with Kent Wildlife trust in between) I am allowed to have a three week sabbatical. Me being me, I decided to contact reserves ecology to see if they wanted any particular moths to be surveyed/searched for.

Many suggestions were given, but due to time and budget constraints I could not do all of them! The chosen few are- scarce vapourer larval and adult search in the broads (2 days), white mantled wainscot, North Warren (1 night), Scarce chocolate tip, Dungeness (5 nights), Scarce pug larval searches, N Norfolk 2x 3 days, coleophora hydrolapathaella in Mid Yare (2 days?) + something else local if I have some spare days.

My first photo round up is from Dungeness, where I was rewarded with a few very scarce species, but was surprised by the very low catches on what is supposed to be one of the best areas for moths in the country, unfortunately this was due to cold wet and windy conditions throughout my stay. The final list was 167 species from 18MVs and 14 actinic traps.
Dad came and joined me for two nights, which rewarded him with 17 new species, not bad at all when youve seen as many species in the uk as he has! The extra traps, knowledge and dissection skills increased the final species list!

I should say a massive thanks to the team at the rspb reserve for all of their help and for the guys at the obs for the info, retaining moths and generally being helpful!

As well as the moths featured below dad/we managed to confirm the following coleophora-C.lusciniaepenella, C.saturatella, C.galbulipennella (only found at Dungeness).
Celypha cespitana confirmed (3 specimens) as well as Aroga velocella, Chionodes fumatella, Chionodes distinctella, Bryotropha senectella.

Day 1 24/07
2 MV's and 1 actinic
86 species
Sussex emerald- the only breeding site in UK, it is a protected species so is actually illegal to put in a pot! luckily this one allowed me to put it on a bramble and take its picture

A shining marbled!! found in my first trap, 1st for Dungeness and 11th for UK! I was somewhat perplexed when this apparently quite distinctive moth was not in my field guide, luckily I did get to the bottom of it thanks to the uk moths app, a very nice start...

Plumed fan-foot, the completion of the trio of amazing moths on the first morning, again a local very rare breeder
back at the obs they saved me a white-spot another new species for me

Day 2 25/07
34 species
Cynaeda dentalis- a stunning little pyralid

Two juv peregrines having a preen on typical Dungeness habitat

Southern Oak bush cricket new orthopteran no.1

Day 3 26/07
5 heath traps, 5MV's
102 species
An example that despite putting all of these traps out, just 102 species came from it, amazing to think one MV in my garden can attract that many and I have had close to 200 species in 2 traps at Strumpshaw

Oncrcera semirubella

Pale grass eggar, a local subspecies only found at Dungeness

August thorn

Marbled coronet

This is Prochoreutis myllerana and was trapped at the obs, another new species and one I have wanted to see for a while after checking hundreds of nettle-taps!

Day 4 27/7
5 heath traps 5 MV's
84 species

Jersey tiger, brought into the obs... stunner!


...And finally on the penultimate day a scarce chocolate tip graced the trap. I was hoping to find out a bit more about the habitat preferences of this very rare species, however this was the only specimen I found, so hard to draw conclusions! Although it was in a trap under the only grey poplar I saw...

Celypha rivulana

Sickle baring bush cricket ortho no2 tick

four spotted footman

Tachystola acroxantha, an Australian species that appears to be expanding its range in the UK

Day 5 28/7
3 heath, 3 MV
46 species
Great green bush!

Grey bush cricket ortho no.3 tick as well as Ceperos groundhopper being no. 4

Typical vegetated shingle scenes

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

White tailed eagle!!

A fantastic end to the day thanks to a phone call from Justin informing me of an immature white tailed eagle sitting on a post at Buckenham!
And there it stayed from 5.30 to 7.40 so plenty of people managed to connect with the bird from all over east Norfolk and beyond. It was amazing to see such a huge bird like that on the patch, it's certainly a species I have been hoping for since the recent sightings from all over the county in the past month.

Recently Buckenham has been great for waders (which it is managed for!) on Monday I had;
7 barwit including some fine brick coloured birds
11 blackwit
1 wood sand- only seen in flight while being pushed around by breeding lapwing
4 green sand- flying about with the wood sand
2 whimbrel
4 ringed plover
As well as stacks of lapwing, redshank, snipe and some very attractive ruff.
I was thinking that Buckenham would score a rarity soon, but hadn't anticipated it being an eagle!

Strumpshaw fen has been good recently too with plenty of summer migrants in, including 4-5 groppers, the first few common terns, lots of reed and sedge warblers, blackcaps and a garden warbler or two, 8+ pairs of marsh harrier, 2 booming bitterns, lots of kingfisher activity, 3 hobby and all other expects species, a bit of warmth would be nice next!

The water level at strumpshaw is a little lower than it should be at this time of the year, reflecting the dry conditions we have had recently. As most will appreciate we do not manage strumpshaw for breeding waders so don't manage the water levels specifically for waders, that would seem a little silly considering we have some of the most productive wader marshes in the area at Buckenham and cantley, which are thriving. The water levels at the fen are managed for reedbed species of bird, invertebrate and the lifeblood of the fen- the rare specialist fen vegetation, with a low water level at the fen, willow and alder scrub would soon colonise and we would no longer have the very special habitat that has been in existence for at least a thousand years.
Water levels, they are always too high or too low, but sometimes when you know what you are doing and how to manage a habitat in accordance to paid ecologists they can be just right!