Monday, 31 October 2011

Walking on Water

Yes that’s right – I can walk on water! Well actually ground so saturated with rainfall that proportionately it is water not soil. Said rain, that has dominated Scilly yesterday and today stopped the 2 Yellow-browed Warblers and Common Whitethroat that were down at Lower Moors from going anywhere, and the 16 Chiffchaff in the are seemed to agree.

Spot the Yellow-browed Warbler

Where's the Whitethroat? Answers on postcard.

Migrant numbers in the traps were down (along with resident numbers) due to a breezy night although Rusty Dot Pearl and White-speck both hit double figures and single of Rush Veneer and Delicate indicate some alright stuff’s still about.

Garden rounds produced very little today in the deteriorating conditions so I wont dwell. As the rain increased this afternoon I took the opportunity to get some report work done but mid-afternoon a Scaup that had been on St. Agnes in the morning turned up on Porthellick. So I walked upstairs and looked down the scope, and…there it was. Garden tick! Now I know it’s not all about ‘ticks’ but if it’s there you’d be stupid not to bag it.

For good measure we popped down the pool to have a closer look. Suffice to say it’s Halloween monster! If you’re familiar with a duck called an Eider, imagine a male Eider in eclipse (or google it) and you’ll get an idea of this thing looked like!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Rain stops play

So the clocks went back, everybody gained an hour and dawn regressed back to ‘early’ ish. With this in mind, as well as knowledge of gradually worsening weather conditions a good kick about was on and popping this am.

The moth traps held 69 migrants consisting of mainly Rusty Dot Pearl and White-speck but numbers were bolstered with Rush Veneer, Dark Sword-grass, Pearly Underwing, L-album Wainscot and Delicate.

Fungi - but which one?!?

Post Lepidoptera madness garden rounds produced the Common Buzzard (in it’s tree), 1 White Wagtail, 1 Grey Wagtail, 1 Skylark, 1 Redwing, 1 Chiffchaff, 3 Goldcrest and 2 Raven while a Firecrest was still in Carreg Dhu -  basically not much was moving or new in. However the silence was shattered by a lovely Red-breasted Flycatcher twitch down in Holy Vale.

Fully Sibed. Red-breasted Flycatcher being typical.

After waiting and wandering for what seemed like months the bird zipped into some Sallows and showed pretty well on and off for a good 45minutes – acting proper Siberian and skulky. Just before we left a Yellow-browed Warbler popped into the same field of view as the ‘RB Flicker’ making a fairly novel combo (with other good ones the Lesser Yellowlegs + Northern Waterthrush this autumn and the epic Chimney Swift + Cliff Swallow combo a few years back).

My homage to 90's bird photography - grainy, grimey but ultimately atmospheric  (in my case just crap due to poor light, skill etc).

And a couple that actually reflect this lovely Red-breasted Flycatchers true colours.

Also in Holy Vale were a good 10+ Chifchaff and 6 Goldcrest with more in Higher Moors, but not many more! A hike up to Giants Castle on the off chance the Snow Bunting was chilling still proved fruitless but a Kestrel with baby rat was better than just a Kestrel I guess. The airfield was equally dead with single Wheatear (Northern) and 4 Skylark the only, the only birds seen.

Just wait till these Atlantic lows hit Wednesday... it’s going to get messy.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Ghosts of the South

This female Long-winged Conehead is LOVING the weather. Check out here ovipositer!

So this is a belated blogulation about yesterdays sun-kissed sightings. The day dawned excitingly with some steady Thrush and Finch movement with 61 Redwing, 3 Fieldfare, 37 Chaffinch, 3 Brambling as well as 6 Skylark, 1 Snipe and 7 Swallow between first light and 9ish. The garden actually recorded more as me and my dad were positioned at each end so as not to miss anything making these figures underestimates.

Western Conifer Seedbug. Big fat alien scum (Non-native or invasive species which has spread from Europe). But kinda nice looking.

The day just kept getting better in synchrony with the suns and temperature and felt mega rare for some migrant insect action! So it was off the Porthellick Down on the off chance of some Long-tailed Blue or Crimson Speckled glory. On route 2 Firecrest were in Carreg Dhu while Chaffinch were constantly abundant. Upon reaching the Down a flyover Richard’s Pipit (presumably the lingering bird) appeared to drop down on Deep Point but despite uber-kicking it refused to be relocated. Small parties of Chaffinch were continuously trying to leave south over the sea, then turning aound. Clearly hundreds of miles of ocean weren’t appealing. Migrant insects were few and far between with 1 Rusty Dot Pearl and 5 Silver Y however a female Long-tailed Blue seen at Watermill made me think maybe I should have gone there!

Silver Y sun bathing.

However as the day rolled on the garden had to get seshed. So in the blistering weather I set out with high hopes. Insects were abundant in our sheltered glades with 3 Rusty Dot Pearl, 25+ Silver Y, 1 Clouded Yellow and tons of Red Admirals. But the highlight was be avian – a Common Rosefinch flushed as I entered our ‘Loop’ was absolute quality. Alerted to a weird call, it flew right past me allowing bins filling, in the sun views as it slowing bounced across and away. Having never heard them before it was awesome to put a voice to the face as it were. The mega-ness was reinforced by 4, that’s right 4 Red-veined Darters! Ending frustratingly with an unidentified large blue Draginfly species that I couldn’t relocate after brief naked eye views. Damn! Other birds included Black Redstart, another Brambling and lashings of Chaffinch and Siskin.

An immature type Red-veined Darter

1 of 3 male Red-veined Darters chilling at Longstone.

After partaking in multiple beverages last night today was spent mostly dying alittle inside so not much was done beyond passively absorbing anything that flew into my field of view. This process yielded a Black Redstart in the garden and Holy Vale.

On another note, or not, as I may have mentioned migrant insects before in this ans every other post – but it’s pretty banging at the moment due to some strong ass southerlies originating in Southern Europe. So here’s some photos of recent catches (all were released unharmed haha):

Crimson Speckled - the holy grail!

Pearly Underwing


Dark Sword-grass

Silver Y



Palpita vitrealis - micros are sick!

Gem (female phwooor)

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Siberian Yanky Asian Funk

A strange yet familiar sense of déjà vu is filling my brain once again after yet another 2 days have been spent soaking in some beautiful rare birds. I’d say ‘what a couple of days!’ but I’ve said it so many times this summer and autumn it’s been thoroughly devalued!

Yesterday brought still, sunny and kinda warm (not cold) conditions. With this in mind, as well as news of the Lower Moors Dusky Warblers showy tendencies, I biked down for a cheeky peek. Lower Moors always comes good at this time of year due to the abundance of late flowering Ivy and sheltered leafy Sallow groves. As expected the place was alive with Chiffchaff, Blackcap and a single Yellow-browed Warbler. After a hefty wait the Dusky Warbler showed extremely well to my eyes (but not camera). What a tekking beauty. The garden held Black Redstart while another was up at Bants Carn along with 3 Med Gull on the sea below:
Black Redstart in the garden.

Nice feeding party for the Laruphiles out there...

Today’s horrendous conditions did not arrive despite allowing an opportunity to get out to St. Agnes for the eastern type Lesser Whitethroat which duly showed ridiculously well at 5 ft range hoping about on bare rocks on Periglis accompanied by 2 Black Redstart and 2 Wheatear. Any comments on which subspecies are welcome as I wont pretend to be knowledgable on this complex!

Eastern type Lesser Whitethroat. Very pale, long tail which distinct white outer faethers. Something about short primaries and stuff....

My first male Black Redstart on Scilly this autumn.

Wheatears are still everywhere in small numbers.

And a novelty shot of the Lesserthroat twitch.

The rest of Agnes was pretty quiet on the bright but blustery conditions with Lapland Bunting on Castella Down the highlight. Also around were Merlin, 2 Stonechat, 50 Meadow Pipit, 10+ Blackcap, 4 Chiffchaff, 30 Linnet and 20 Goldfinch.

My first Lapland Bunting this year - only took 11 months!

Just past the Parsonage we bumped into a pale Chiffchaff and admirers deep in discussion on which subspecies it belonged to. I was adamant it was Scandanavian but the light was extreme and the pics seem to show a distinctly tristis style bird. It didn’t call.

A have to say it does look very Siberian Chiffy but the camera and extreme light has washed out alot of the buff tones on the underparts so be warned when thinking 'it's an obvious Siberian Chiff'.

So we arrived back from Agnes ready to chill on Marys with some casual patch birding in the sun, maybe even a Red-veined Darter if we’re lucky. But the garden rounds in the sun produced only 1 Peregrine, 1 Merlin, 2 Swallow, 4 Meadow Pipit and 1 Blackcap – quiet! But the cry of Red-eyed Vireo on the radio got us running and shouting Tanager style once again. We arrived 2 minutes later getting flight views, then distantish hedge views as it fed down a field edge near
Salakee Lane
. We re-positioned and had instantly awesome ‘in the sun’ views (Vireo’s are best in the sun) and I even rattled off some dodgey ‘grip you’ shots:

Vireos are AWESOME. Thats 3 species of American landbird in 3 weeks.

So I was going to rant on about moths but seeing as bird have dominated this blog I'll leave that for tomorrow unless something else turns up..which it will!