The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

August Ouzel? Awesome!

Although I was working this morning, I did my best to get out there and flog those bushes and fields, what with all the action from yesterday and elsewhere in the country.

First thing, I did my usual little loop covering Barleycrates, Reap Lane, and the Hump.  Not a great deal about initially compared to yesterday, just a few Wheatear and fly-over Yellow Wagtail.  The Gulls were all flocking in the fields attempting to gorge themselves on the bountiful Flying Ants.

The area around the barns at Reap Lane always looks promising, and yesterdays (or possibly new) Pied Flycatcher was still in the Sycamores, though today it was joined by a Spotted Flycatcher.  They may be relations, but they didn't get on, as they chased each other through the branches!  Sunrise over the barns.

The Hump and Suckthumb area was largely disappointing, though a Peregrine flew over, as did 2 Tree Pipit, and I did get a glimpse of a Phylloscopus that appeared to have a particularly bright supercillium.  A few plays of the call of Greenish on my phone fell on deaf ears.

Whilst working at Fortuneswell, a Grey Wagtail flew over calling. No doubt one of the birds the Saunders' had over Ferrybridge. 

After that, I sneaked a peak at the Verne Common area.  I had just set foot in the bushes when two Tree Pipit called very close.  One was sitting on the roof of a house, and the other appeared to be down in a concrete basketball court!  The first ones I've seen on the deck this autumn.  A Lesser Whitethroat flitted through the railings of the same compound.

Just a few steps later, and another Pied Flycatcher showed itself, though only another Lesser Whitethroat could be found on the rest of the site.  A Whimbrel called from somewhere in Portland Harbour.

I had a quick unenthusiastic look for a Wryneck that had been found very nearby, to no avail.

After work, I was very determined to take a look at the plethora of monster moths at the Obs, but no sooner had I got there, then I was off again on news of the Ortolan being seen once more! 

I entered a very promising weedy field on the edge of Southwell to search for the bird, only to realise that many of the 'weeds' were in fact a tick!  The pretty Round-leaved Fluellen was once common when farming was without chemical-usage, but has since become quite rare.  Nice to see so much of it here (note the leaf-mines, which are probably the work of a fly larvae rather than a moth).

No sign of the bird unsurprisingly, but nice consolations were a Portland tick of a Greenshank flying down the East Cliffs, and the enormous numbers of hirundines in every direction, no doubt taking advantage of those bird-fodder, the Flying Ants.  All three species were found, as well as a few Swift still about.

I finally found the window of opportunity to admire the moths.

The rarest species was this rather dower looking Tamarisk Peacock, which is a rare migrant with only a few records nationally, most of those in Kent.

The star as far as I was concerned though was this Convolvulus Hawk-moth, which is a species I've always wanted to see.  They're called that because the caterpillars feed on Field Bindweed (of which the latin name is convolvulus).

Although this Bedstraw Hawk-moth is the best looking of all these species, it does feel a bit like cheating to have it brought in from elsewhere.  This is why I only count moths on my list if it's been trapped at the site that night (or preferably, if I was involved in the trapping session!).  Can't deny it's a looker though!  Thanks to Debby Saunders for bringing it in.
The other lifer was a bit of a tarts tick, as Nutmeg is supposed to be a common species. Still didn't come across one in my three years of trapping in Surrey!
The other highlights in the traps were this beautifully fresh Marbled Green.
This first of the year Feathered Gothic (named after the 'feathered' white lines on the wings, and not the antennae, though they are striking!).

Plus this cool Dor Beetle Geotrupes stercorarius.

Afterwards, I took a quick punt at seeing the Nightingale in the Obs Quarry, though the vigil produced no movement in there whatsoever.  So, there was nothing for it but to head home.
I thought it was worth just popping into the Hump once again, just in case I got lucky with this promising Phyllloscopus I saw earlier.  By Avalanche Road I found my third Pied Flycatcher of the day. 
There was a fair amount of activity around the Hump, seemingly more than during my earlier visit.  Accompanying a Robin on one of the fences was, yes, another Pied Flycatcher!  And shortly after, a constantly calling female Redstart was found.  Maybe the one I had a few days ago with a male?  All that calling was no doubt in pining for her mate that had left for Africa without her!
On walking down the housing-edge footpath of Barleycrates Lane, I heard an unfamiliar tacking.  I probably would have twigged what it was, had it not been for a strange call I'd just experienced from a juvenile Blackbird hidden deep in a bush!  Although the bird was largely sillouetted, the pale-fringed body feathers ID'd it as a Ring Ouzel, the first here this autumn!  You may think this is a little depressing, seeing this late-autumn species now, but I say bring it on! 
It only allowed for the one rushed shot once it had popped up into the sunlight.


Two days off in a row now, and I intend to make the most of them.

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