The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Hump Start

First of all, I need to start with the sad news that 'my' Gannet died yesterday afternoon.  It was feeding well, though it got weaker and weaker.  We assume it had a disease of some sort, but I do wonder if the swarms of Lice on the bird had something to do with it.  Anyway, it's comforting to me that I believe that even if the world authority on Gannets had found the bird, there's nothing that could have been done for it.

On to happier news, and today dawned beautiful and clear with barely any wind.  These weren't at first glance good conditions for any sort of birding, whether it be seawatching or looking for grounded migrants.  I guess however, that the full moon and clear skies meant that plenty was moving, as a good number of birds, particularly day-flying migrants, were seen.

I did my usual walk to the Obs via Barleycrates, Reap, Admiralty Hedge, Top Fields, and Culverwell.  Walking along Barleycrates, I heard at least 2 Tree Pipit flying over calling, though I couldn't locate them in the blue sky.  Onto Reap, and on the field at the end were 4 Wheatear.  I've seen a small party of Wheatear here for a couple of weeks now.  The same birds or are they moving through?

Just past the Southwell Business Park, I heard a Yellow Wagtail overhead, and then another, but I still couldn't find them in the sky.  A few Whitethroats were about, and at least another 2 Tree Pipit over.  About the time I was watching the bushes by Admiralty Hedge, evidently a Marsh Harrier passed over, quite possibly right over my head!

In Top Fields, I came across 3 more Wheatear, and a scattering of Willow Warbler.  I also found my own Jersey Tiger, which I mistook in flight for a Painted Lady.  Sounds like a silly mistake, but I did exactly the same thing later on at the Hump!  They're clearly flying in numbers at the moment.

A flock of 8 Yellow Wagtail flew over, and I went on to find a couple settled in a horse field on the Bill Road with Pied Wagtails.

I took a look in the Obs moth traps, but there was nothing new (it's the Shuttle-shaped Dart phase!).  I wasn't there for long, but I still managed to see a passing Arctic Skua on the sea.  A short vigil overlooking the Crown Estate Field, revealed just how many birds were about.  Huge flocks of Goldfinch, Linnet, Starling, and House Sparrow disturbed from the fields, several Kestrel and two Buzzard hunting, plus a large gathering of hirundines and a few Swifts over Top Fields.  It's that time of year!  However, there's no doubt in my mind that the management of this newly-acquired land is working wonders for the amount of seeds and insects available.

I took my route back via Sweethill, Avalanche Road Hump, and Suckthumb Quarry.  The Hump itself seemed pretty quiet, though a few 'peeps' coming from within could have been a Spotted Flycatcher.  But, in the bushes at the back of the Hump I found the stars of the day, a male and female Redstart.  They seemed to be feeding well in a small clump of Buddleiha and Sycamore.

This was the only shot I managed of the male!

Come the afternoon, news came through that a Roseate Tern, first seen a couple of evenings ago, was back at Ferrybridge.

I rushed down there, but despite the thankful lack of human disturbance, there was no sign of the bird.  There were a good number of Terns about, including about 24 Common Tern and 15 Little Tern.  There were less waders than there had been in previous days, but there was a few Sanderling, Turnstone, and a single Bar-tailed Godwit.  These were alongside the usual Dunlin and Ringed Plover of course, one of the latter being particularly confiding.

And, eventually it came so close, I couldn't get it all in the shot!

But, the Sanderling weren't quite so helpful.

There's a little more cloud in the forecast for the next few days, so I'm hoping that in the full moon, grounded night-migrant numbers will increase.

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