Sunday, 15 October 2017

Sunday October 15

Morton Bagot never seems to get involved in National birding events, by which I mean unusual numbers of particular species appearing across the UK. Waxwing invasions, Yellow-browed Warbler falls, seabird wrecks, they all seem to happen elsewhere. It doesn't stop you from dreaming though.

Yesterday evening it became apparent that this autumn's event could be an influx of Hawfinches. Dave was obviously thinking the same thing as he greeted me with the comment we should look out for Hawfinches. We never really believed we would actually see one though.

But then, at 10.20am, we were strolling past the pool when I heard a Redwing-like "swee" to my left. I looked round, and up, and there it was "Hawfinch" I bellowed. Dave got on it at once, and we watched in amazement as the chunky finch bounced its way southwards, flashing white in its primaries and secondaries with each flap of its wings.

I fumbled for the camera but it was hopeless. My bridge camera autofocus just can't cope with flying passerines. I got several shots of sky before giving up. You'll just have to make do with an artists impression drawn a little while after it had headed off towards the direction of Bannams Wood.

Hawfinch
Hawfinches have two calls. One is a Robin-like tick which may be a contact call used in woodland, but the other is the Redwing-like call which we heard.

Needless to say this was a first for the patch.

In fact the grey and murky morning had been quite entertaining before the Hawfinch added a substantial dollop of cream. Several flocks of Redwings had slipped their way south-west, the total count being 57. Also on the move were 26 Redpolls, three Siskins, 14 Chaffinches, 13 Skylarks, 60 Starlings, and just five Meadow Pipits. Two probable Golden Plovers also headed south before my view was obscured by a large oak tree.

We also counted 12 Bullfinches, 15 Goldfinches, a Chiffchaff, three Goldcrests, and four Marsh Tits in the hedgerows.

The shooting season is now in full swing, and this may have been responsible for slightly disappointing waterfowl numbers, with just 29 Teal, six Snipe, 74 Greylag Geese, and a Green Sandpiper present.

I think that two good birds in two visits constitutes a Morton Bagot purple patch.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Sunday October 8

Dave and I arrived promptly and started birding down the access road to Netherstead farm. A sunny morning which became quite warm. A very light westerly breeze.

The first sign that we were going to have a good day came when a flock of 35 Redwings hurried over the plantation, heading south-west. We later saw another four. The plantation and hedges were full of tits and Dunnocks, but as we wandered back I noticed that a grey bird perched distantly on the roof of the stables was perched rather perkily and did an extravagant dip of its body. It wasn't a Dunnock, and I said I think that's a Black Redstart, at which point it flew revealing an orange tail. We hurried over, and had excellent views of it fly-catching from the roof.

Black Redstart
This is the second record for the patch, the first being on the same building in Nov 2015. We texted everyone we thought might be interested, and in the event Mike Inskip twitched it successfully on his way to his own patch (where a Kingfisher was to be a patch-tick for him).

We continued towards the flash field, counting five Stonechats in the Chat Field, and another two behind the pool. A Golden Plover, the first of the autumn, flew west.

The flashes contained 85 Greylag Geese, the immature Mute Swan, 27 Teal, a female Shoveler, two Cormorants, a Green Sandpiper, at least seven Snipe, and 17 Lapwings. We heard our only Chiffchaff of the day in the hedges.

Shoveler
The warm weather was bringing out the insects, and we recorded four species of butterfly; Red Admiral, Speckled Wood, Brimstone, and Comma, and also several Common Darters, and a small gathering of Hornets.

Comma
Hornet
All in all, an excellent visit.




Monday, 2 October 2017

Monday October 2

Mostly cloudy with sunny intervals. A fresh westerly breeze.

The breeze left me wondering what to do as I left the car at Netherstead. However, my mind was quickly made up by a steady stream of Meadow Pipits heading south. I logged them, and anything else which was obviously moving, and got a final tally of 75 Meadow Pipits, three Swallows, five Redpolls, and two Siskins.

In the chat field I counted at least seven Stonechats again, but had the feeling there might be one or two more than that. A single male Blackcap showed briefly in the hedgerow there, while Chiffchaffs eventually totalled six.

Stonechat
The pool offered nothing at all, but most of the birds in the flash field were on the nearest scrape. I counted 178 Greylag Geese, 61 Teal, 16 Mallard, three Grey Herons, five Snipe, and the Greenshank (which I only heard).

Most of the Greylag Goose flock
As usual the late morning added little, although I did flush a Green Sandpiper from the dragonfly pond.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Sunday October 1

Steady overnight drizzle continued through the early part of the morning. Having been to a wedding reception the night before, and with guests staying over, I had more or less decided to give today a miss.

However, a text from Neil stated that a Pectoral Sandpiper at Salford Prior G P had flown off at 10.15am so birders needed to keep their eyes open. That was all the incentive I needed, and at midday our friends had gone and the rain had stopped. Time to check it out.

The pool has lots of mud, but hardly any water, while the flashes contain lots of water but no muddy edge. So I wasn't too surprised to find no American waders present, but was pleased to see that the Greenshank was still present having been missed on Friday.

A couple of Little Egrets took cover in front of the hedge behind the nearest flash.

Little Egrets
The first day of October is unfortunately the first day of the shooting season. Normally you are pretty safe on a Sunday, but I suppose that having waited all year for the this date some "sportsmen" were unable to contain their enthusiasm. A volley of shots rang out from the direction of Clowse Wood, and within seconds the two egrets joined all the other wildfowl on the flash field in panic-stricken flight.

Trying to put a positive spin on this, it did at least allow me to realise that there were at least 50 Teal present (I could probably have counted about 20 if they hadn't all taken off) and also a single Snipe.

The first Siskin of the autumn called as it flew over, while there are still several Chiffchaffs, and two Swallows present.

I plan to return tomorrow for a more thorough visit.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Friday September 29

A slightly delayed start due to the weather still saw me birding in steady, occasionally heavy, rain for the first 40 minutes. However, the rain abruptly stopped and eventually the sun appeared. A light southerly breeze meant it was very mild.

The new dawn which occurred when the rain past meant a big increase in passerine activity as hungry birds rushed to snap up as many newly flying insects as they could. I enjoyed watching several Chiffchaffs, Swallows, a House Martin, and numerous Blue Tits feeding in a frenzy in the lee of the hedge which runs from the village to the small pond south of Netherstead.

I had decided to count some of the commoner garden birds, and came up with totals of 16 Robins, 12 Dunnocks, 10 Wrens, seven Blackbirds, and five Song Thrushes.

Robin
A few Swallows headed south during the morning, and my final tally was 14. There was just one brief pulse of 10 Meadow Pipits going south. Warblers present were nine Chiffchaffs and two Blackcaps. The first Redpoll of the autumn flew south.

The Flash field managed to support two Green Sandpipers, two visible Snipe, 120 Greylag Geese, 36 Teal, and a Wigeon.

Wigeon
There are not many finches on site this autumn, 25 Goldfinches being the best count. It doesn't bode well for the chances of a Merlin being attracted this winter. A single Kingfisher was a vocal presence, while a flock of 50 Carrion Crows was an unusually high count.

The sunshine brought out several Red Admirals and Commas, and also small numbers of Common Darters.

All a bit quiet.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Time travel - Sunday Sep 17 - Salford Priors GP

Astute observers may have noticed my cryptic comment at the start of my post a week last Sunday. As you may have guessed I had been to see a bird at a sensitive site. I have been impatiently twiddling my thumbs ever since waiting for it to depart so that I could tell the story.

The previous evening I had taken a call from Neil explaining that a Red-necked Phalarope which had been widely reported from Salford Prior Gravel Pit several days earlier, had not departed as I had assumed, but was still present. I mentioned this to Dave when he arrived at Morton Bagot on Sunday morning, and we decided to go and look at it.

Red-necked Phalarope
What a corker it was. Full details of the discovery and eventual identification can be found on Neil's blog out4aduck.blogspot.com/ .

I have great sympathy (mixed with envy) for Neil and the group of birders who watch Salford Priors Gravel Pit. The owners, Cemex, are currently "restoring the site". They are bulldozing most of it to return it to agriculture, but have been kind enough to leave a couple of pits for the birds and birders to enjoy. The work is close to completion. Like many gravel pit owners they are not keen to see the general public wandering over a working site due to, I suppose, health and safety concerns. This puts any birders who are tolerated in a difficult position. If they find a rarity, they are obliged to suppress it. Naturally this creates bad feeling among the birding community, but equally the broadcast of a rarity risks any tacit permission for access being placed in jeopardy.

This is why I don't generally go to Salford Priors GP any more.


Sunday, 24 September 2017

Sunday September 24

A little pulse of warm south-easterlies gave us a pleasant sunny morning.

There were plenty of insects about which is no doubt the reason we recorded a record-breaking 18 Chiffchaffs. Another species to turn up in good numbers was Stonechat. Seven of them were dashing about the appropriately named Chat Field. This figure equalled the previous record. Two Blackcaps were also seen.

Male Stonechat
I have recently started a new project. This involves inputting all my old records, which stretch back to 1979, onto Birdtrack. The BTO website is excellent for logging current records, but they are apparently pleased to receive historical records. What I get out of it is the nostalgic enjoyment of rereading notebooks written when I was in my early twenties. I am very struck by how enthusiastic I was. Technically studying for a degree at Swansea University, I hardly let a day go by without doing some birding. I occasionally counted very diligently, for example recording 53 Blue Tits in a wood near Swansea one cold January day.

Frankly I felt inspired to count tits this morning. In the three hours we were here I logged 26 Blue Tits, eight Long-tailed Tits, four Great Tits and a Coal Tit. That was without going anywhere near Bannams Wood. There's life in the old dog yet.

Coal Tit
When not logging tits, Dave  and I managed to look up and count overhead passage. It is clear that hirundines are now on the move; a minimum of 25 Swallows and five House Martins flew south. The Meadow Pipit count was 31.

The flash field contained the first Wigeon of the autumn, along with 17 Teal, 96 Greylag Geese, about 10 Mallard, a Green Sandpiper, and two Greenshank.

Greenshank
The only other bird worthy of note, was a Little Egret which appeared in the tree at the pool long after we had left that part of the patch. It was visible through the telescope, but my poor old back was playing up too much for us the give in to any thoughts of going back for a closer look.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Friday September 22

A sunny morning with some warmth to it. A very light southerly breeze.

This was one of those quiet late September visits which leaves me wondering what to blog about. The Greenshank was still present, but I only saw 11 Snipe, two Green Sandpipers, and 18 Teal in the flash field.

The sunshine brought out several Red Admirals and a couple of Green-veined Whites.

Red Admiral
Green-veined White
One thing that did strike me as interesting was the unexpected increase in certain residents which have been conspicuously absent over the last few months. I counted seven Blackbirds, and eight Chaffinches this morning. Are these migrants? More likely its just the local birds, newly moulted, and  no longer preoccupied with hiding away.

The brightness of the morning probably masked the true nature of overhead Meadow Pipit passage, just 15 birds being located heading south against the azure sky. There are still plenty of hirundines about, approximately 50 Swallows and 30 House Martins high in the sky. I counted 14 Chiffchaffs and three Blackcaps in the hedgerows. Clearly these species are in no hurry to move on.

Kestrel
None of the migrants mentioned thus far allowed me the opportunity for a photograph, so I have stuck a Kestrel into the post to show that I was trying.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Sunday September 17

A late start was made this morning due to reasons I am not at liberty to divulge at this point.

So we started birding at the patch at 10-45. It was cloudy and a little chilly with a very light northerly breeze.

The rarest thing we saw was another birder, Terry, who was leaving as we were arriving. Terry had seen seven Snipe on the nearest flash and the Greenshank on the main pool. We went on to see exactly the same birds, but also saw six Green Sandpipers, 20 Teal, and two Shovelers.

The single Stonechat I saw on Friday was still present, but was showing a lot better.

Stonechat
The autumnal flavour was confirmed by the presence of at least three Blackcaps, about four Chiffchaffs, and about eight Skylarks flying from the stubble field. About 100 hirundines flew around, and we guesstimated about 50 were Swallows and 50 House Martins.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Friday September 15

A prearranged list with Richard B began at Netherstead in cloudy weather with a very light westerly breeze. We were caught by one drizzly shower, but that was all.

The horse paddocks at Netherstead contained at least 35 Meadow Pipits and plenty of Blue Tits, and Reed Buntings with smaller numbers of Chiffchaffs, Pied Wagtails, and other common passerines.


Meadow Pipits
After that we followed the usual circuit. A Greenshank and a Green Sandpiper were on the pool, while the first Stonechat of the autumn was in the sedges just beyond. Nine Magpies was a good count for the site.

The furthest flash contained about 90 Greylag Geese and about 20 Teal. Also still present was the eclipse male Shoveler. We heard a Little Owl calling, and witnessed a Kingfisher flashing past.

The Shoveler is in the water just beyond the Greylags. A true record shot!
The nearest flash was completely devoid of birds, but fortunately a Little Egret was perched on the top of the hawthorn hedge behind it.

Little Egret
Other than a handful of Chiffchaffs the only summer migrants seen were about 30 hirundines, almost all of them Swallows.

We ended up, at Richard's suggestion, picking blackberries.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Thursday September 14

I hadn't intended to go birding today, but with Phalaropes all over the place in the West Midlands I couldn't resist.

Naturally my first thought was not to twitch any of them, much too easy. Far better to nip to the patch in search of small black and white birds.

Not a Phalarope
It was sunny and bright when I arrived at the church. An initial scan of the furthest flash from the barns by the road was not encouraging. One bird that was present in numbers was Chiffchaff, my limited circuit producing 11 in the hedgerows.

Down at the flash field it quickly became clear there had been a mass clear out since Monday. The only waders in evidence were a Lapwing, a Greenshank, and a single Green Sandpiper. A Grey Wagtail flew over.

Roe Deer
Meadow Pipits trickled overhead, but as the sky was blue I didn't start logging them. They are much easier to see against a grey sky. Still plenty of Swallows and House Martins, but the only other passerine migrant was an unidentified tacker, probably Blackcap.

Back at the road I noticed a few more Teal on the furthest flash, so set up my scope to count them. Among them was a year tick. Oh yes. 23 Teal and a Shoveler.

Sorry about the anticlimax.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Monday September 11

I very rarely visit the patch two days running, because you tend to see the same birds as the day before. But after sitting at home all day waiting for a dealership in Bromsgrove to return our car (I had foolishly scratched the bodywork last winter in a wholly avoidable episode involving our car, our garage, and a frosted windscreen) it was agreed I deserved a treat.

So at 16-30 I parked at All Saints church in bright sunshine and headed for the flash field. Remembering that I needed to find new arrivals, I photographed one in no time at all.

Cormorant
The flash pools had, as expected, a familiar feel. 77 Greylag Geese, eight Canada Geese, eight Teal, 25 Mallard, a Little Egret, two Grey Herons, the Black-tailed Godwit, the two Ruff, and the Greenshank. There had been an increase in Green Sandpipers and Snipe, 12 and 11 respectively. So it was probably worth coming.

At this point an alarmingly dark cloud, which stretched beyond the horizon, reached me. Torrential rain followed. An hour later it showed signs of abating and I started to head back. A Tufted Duck flew in, and I disturbed a Spotted Flycatcher from the hedgerow.


Sunday, 10 September 2017

Sunday September 10 - red letter day

A cloudy morning with a light south-westerly breeze.

Things began enjoyably enough as I started logging Meadow Pipits heading south, eventually reaching a total of 35. Swallows and House Martins also seemed to be on the move, at least 29 Swallows and 10 House Martins were thought to be moving, although 50 or so were considered to be just feeding.

Dave arrived and we headed for the pool. There is now far less evidence of warbler activity, apart from Chiffchaffs, and we saw just one Whitethroat and heard a couple of tackers.

All this predictability was to change as we approached the pool. A large bird was flying towards us from the north-west, and on raising binoculars I realised it was an OSPREY. This being the first record for the site I scrabbled for my camera, barely registering that Dave called out Greenshank, in response to a call he heard. We watched the Osprey flap steadily south-east, and I managed to get a few record shots.

Osprey
Osprey disappearing over the south end of Bannams Wood
Like many birders, I suspect, I have a list of ambition birds for the patch. Many are probably unattainable, but Osprey was definitely on that list and always seemed a possibility. A reality at last.

I could have quite happily gone home without seeing anything else, but within a few further steps Dave drew my attention to the fact there was a small flock of Little Egrets on the pool. The total was a record six, so naturally I tried to take a photo which got them all in shot.

Little Egret flock
We continued towards the flash field. 80 Canada Geese and 70 Greylag Geese were immediately obvious, but our attention was firmly focussed on the nearest flash.

The flash in all its glory
This year it seems to consist entirely of soft gloopy mud. This has proved a great draw for waders and today's total was one Lapwing, four Snipe, a Black-tailed Godwit, two Ruffs, and nine Green Sandpipers. Strangely, Teal seem to be less keen, and we could only see about half a dozen. Numerous hirundines, including five Sand Martins, were feeding in the lee of the bordering hedgerow, along with five or six Chiffchaffs.


Back at Netherstead we counted 73 Stock Doves with a handful of Woodpigeons feeding on pasture.

We returned to our cars and headed home. But the fun wasn't over. A Red Kite with an entourage of mobbing Jackdaws drifted south past the plantation.

Red Kite
And finally, as I drove towards All Saints Church, I found I was in an episode of Countryfile.


It seems that September isn't so dull here after all.

Post Script: During the afternoon I was returning from my parents' house when I spotted a Common Swift over King's Heath. This will surely be my last of the year.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Thursday September 7

A calm sunny start, although it quickly clouded over. A light westerly breeze.

The early signs were encouraging. Lots of hirundines, 12 Chiffchaffs, three Whitethroats, a Blackcap, and a Spotted Flycatcher. A trickle of Meadow Pipits reached a modest total of 15.

The hedgerow alongside the pool contained 90 Goldfinches, and 30 Greenfinches. About five Reed Buntings and two Yellowhammers was a slight improvement on the last few weeks.

The flashes produced the goods this morning. Two juvenile Ruffs were my first since 2014, while the Greenshank has been joined by a second bird. Six Green Sandpipers, two Snipe, a Starling, and eight Teal were also present.

Ruffs
The size difference between the two birds was extreme, quite clearly a male and female.

Finally, I saw a couple of birds I haven't seen for several weeks. A Treecreeper, and a Chaffinch. The lack of the latter species lately has been extraordinary. It is partly a time of year thing, certain species disappearing into the undergrowth during their annual moult. However, they are in a steep decline here this year. I only hope they will bounce back.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Sunday September 3

As forecast, the day dawned cloudy with a very light south-easterly breeze. However it went off-script mid-morning as the rain, just a light drizzle, arrived early.

The result of all this was a slight suppression of passerine migrant numbers, but we still managed three Whitethroats, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Willow Warbler, and about six Chiffchaffs. Best of all was an immature Yellow Wagtail with the Pied Wagtails at the pool.

Yellow Wagtail
Also present on the puddle pool, were the Black-tailed Godwit and the Greenshank. They stood together for quite some time, but trying to get them to line up properly for their photograph was like posing naughty school children. One would stand still while the other preened, once it stopped doing that, the other one would be blinking or preening. These were my best efforts:



Pretty soon the Godwit flew to another pool and we carried on to the flash field.

The furthest flash was smothered in Greylag Geese (at least 86), while the nearest flash contained seven Green Sandpipers, 10 Common Snipe, and 16 Teal. Both the Black-tailed Godwit and the Greenshank put in brief appearances.

I'll say this about the flash pools, they may not attract a great turnover of waders, but the few that do find it during the autumn clearly value it because they stay for weeks.

The pseudo-woodland/hedge under which we sheltered to watch the waders also produced an owl. Dave flushed it as we approached and thought it may have been a Tawny. I was directly behind him and couldn't see past the cone of his umbrella, and so didn't see it at all.

About 50 Canada Geese landed on the newly created stubble field, while at least 70 House Martins and 30 Swallows hunted insects low over the fields.

There was no sign of the Great White Egret, which I am mentioning because Jim Winsper saw it along the River Alne near Wootton Wawen on Friday. So it's still in the area.


Friday, 1 September 2017

Friday September 1

I can't decide if I like September or not. If I lived anywhere on the coast, or was a regular at a large inland reservoir I would definitely like it. Migration is in full swing and there is the promise of rarities from all points of the compass.

But I birdwatch here. On a little patch of farmland in the middle of the country with a few drying pools. Experience suggests that I may struggle.

This morning was warm and sunny, with just the faintest whiff of a south-westerly breeze. A couple of Meadow Pipits headed south and I spent an enjoyable half hour watching a large tit flock in Netherstead plantation. The flock included several Chiffchaffs, a couple of Willow Warblers, a couple of Whitethroats and a Blackcap.

Willow Warbler
The House Martins and Swallows gave alarm calls to alert me to the presence of a Hobby, which made a successful kill at the edge of the plantation canopy. A little later on, a Peregrine was also getting mobbed by hirundines.

I moved on to the flash field, where things were pretty much the same as last week, 16 (possibly 17) Green Sandpipers, a Greenshank, a Black-tailed Godwit, 11 Teal, four Snipe, and half a dozen Lapwings.

And that was about it. The jury is still out as far as September is concerned.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Sunday August 27

A hot sunny morning with hardly any breeze, what there was was westerly. I was joined by Dave and we began by checking the copse by Netherstead which contained a nice Willow Warbler and a few Chiffchaffs. Down at the road we managed to see a Blackcap, the first of two positively identified plus another five or six "tackers" which remained out of sight. A pair of Grey Wagtails flew over.

Blackcap
We continued to the pool, briefly diverted by a small Toad, which crawled through the grass. Shortly afterwards we spotted a Whinchat and a Wheatear keeping company at the edge of the sparsely weedy field. Further interest was added by a calling Yellow Wagtail which disappeared before we could see it.

Whinchat (left) and Wheatear
The pool and flashes contained the Black-tailed Godwit, Greenshank, four Snipe, and at least eight Green Sandpipers. In other words no change.

With the day being so warm there were inevitably plenty of insects to see. A very dark Darter was considered to be just a Common Darter. We also saw plenty of "normal" Common Darters, a few Ruddy Darters, a Southern Hawker, several Brown and Migrant Hawkers, an Emerald Damselfly, and numerous blue damselfly species.

Common Darter
Migrant Hawker
We struggled to find many more migrant warblers, recording just three Whitethroats. However, two (probably four) Spotted Flycatchers showed very well indeed.

Spotted Flycatcher
A very pale moth was some kind of Wainscot. Unfortunately I don't know enough about them to reach a positive identification.

Wainscot sp
Back at Netherstead we heard the first Meadow Pipit of the autumn and I counted at least 10 Common Buzzards.






Thursday, 24 August 2017

Thursday August 25

Earlier this week the grey muggy conditions looked ideal for producing birds. I was stuck at work, and a text from Matt W on Monday revealed that I was indeed missing stuff. He had recorded a big fall of passerines including a Redstart, 17 Chiffchaffs, 11 Willow Warblers, and five Lesser Whitethroats, while waders included a Curlew (not previously recorded here in August).

This morning the weather was a little fresher and sunnier, with a light south-westerly breeze. Its still the prime migration period though, so I was reasonably optimistic. Starting at Netherstead I began counting Chiffchaffs (and ended up with a total of 13 for the morning), but could only find the occasional Lesser Whitethroat and Whitethroat. However, when I reached the gate before the beehives, I looked to my right to find three passerines sitting on the telephone wires. A mystery bird photo coming up.


As a further clue, each was gently pumping its tail. I was pretty sure I knew what they were, but in order to confirm my suspicions I had to climb the gate and edge through the long grass in the field to get the sun behind me.

This achieved, I was delighted to find that they were indeed Tree Pipits. Not guaranteed to be seen every year, and often just as a fly over. These birds remained scrupulously silent throughout the period of observation, which is actually another helpful identification aid, as Meadow Pipits are nearly always pretty vocal.

So much easier with the sun behind you
Although I photographed all three birds they were too far apart for a group shot. One by one they flew off as I tried to get closer, but I don't think they went far.

I resumed by normal circuit, and as I approached the main pool heard, and then saw, a Yellow Wagtail as it undulated away into the distance. Almost as scarce here as Tree Pipit. The pool itself was hopeless, but the flashes produced one surprise. This was that the Black-tailed Godwit, which I had thought had gone, was still here. Also still present was the Greenshank, 14 Green Sandpipers, and four Snipe.

On the return journey I found four Spotted Flycatcher, including two juveniles, and at least one Hobby.

Turning to insects, I got a decent view of a perched Migrant Hawker, but it was disturbed by a Brown Hawker before I could get the camera out. The cloud was increasing as the morning wore on, so other than a Small Tortoiseshell (sadly now quite scarce) I didn't see too much.

Yellow Shell
I did disturb an attractive little moth, which I decided was a Yellow Shell.

Finally, when I got to the end of the dragonfly pool field I looked back to see another pipit on wires in the furthest corner. I scoped it and headed back, suspecting another Tree Pipit, but it disappeared before I could get close enough to be 100% sure.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Sunday August 20

Sunny intervals with a light north-westerly breeze.

I was joined by Dave this morning, and the early signs were quite promising with plenty of common warblers around Netherstead and an unusually large party of 34 Black-headed Gulls circling in the distance, possibly catching flying ants. They seemed to descend towards the flash field, but had disappeared when we finally got there.

The pool contained the Greenshank again, but there was no sign of the godwit. Instead, the flash field continues to hold 13 Green Sandpipers, 11 Lapwings, a Snipe, a Little Ringed Plover, and just half a dozen Teal.

It was left to the return journey to produce the birds of the day. These were a distant Wheatear (my first in autumn for a couple of years), and a single Spotted Flycatcher which showed quite well in a flock of warblers and tits at Stapenhill Wood. A single Willow Warbler was also present in this flock.

Wheatear
Spotted Flycatcher
Good numbers of hirundines continue to hawk insects high in the sky, but our estimate of 100 House Martins and 30 Swallows was likely to be just a ballpark figure because they were so distant.