Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Hog's Fennel


When Katrina suggested that we should embark on a day trip to Whitstable, I was more than keen. Neither of us had visited before, but had heard it was full of good pubs, restaurants, cafes and shops, that it boasted old architecture and possessed a charming harbour and sea-front.... I was also aware that a rare umbelifer - Hog's Fennel - was present just to the east of the town at Tankerton. And part of our most pleasant of days was spent amongst it...


Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Close encounters of a Kestrel kind


Another morning visit to Priest Hill and another couple of hours spent in the idle hope that (at least) a Yellow Wagtail would fly over calling, or a Whinchat deign to alight on a nearby fencepost - such is the life of the inland patch worker. Single Cormorant, Sand Martin and Lesser Whitethroat are what passed for highlights around these parts...

However, life isn't measured in rarities (or common passage migrants), which is just as well at the moment. This Kestrel tried to inject some interest into the proceedings by resolutely refusing to leave its chosen perch. Both of these pictures are un-cropped. These bridge cameras are rather good!

Monday, 14 August 2017

A Langley Vale morning

Night-flowering Catchfly - hanging on in a field ear-marked for tree planting
Catmint - just the one plant where many appeared three years ago
Cut-leaved Dead-nettle, widely distributed across the farm
Quinoa - remnant of game cover, alongside plenty of Millet
Another alien, one that I'm calling Common Amaranth

Dwarf Mallow, understated and one of my favourites

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Leeds United v Brazil style birding

To be able to walk to a patch, and expect the odd surprise throughout the year, is a real pleasure. My continued bashing of Priest Hill has carried on over the weekend, but little is being grounded and the weather seems stuck in this coolish westerly airflow - my hopes of Pied Flycatchers and Common Redstarts (not to mention Wrynecks and Red-backed Shrikes) have been put on hold. The sole modest jewel in the ornithological crown was a single Lesser Whitethroat this afternoon, and that just about sums up how poor it has been.

Quality may be missing, but as far as my 'friendly' competition with Thorncombe Street goes, quantity is not. I am starting to feel a little bit embarrassed by the number of gulls that are passing over Priest Hill at the moment, as they just do not seem to do so at Thorncombe - another 500+ today, and, quite a rarity for PH, many rested for a while on the playing fields. My chance to string winkle out a Yellow-legged Gull was not taken though. My only consolation to Ed is that whilst I head up the league table like some dirty Don Revie-era Leeds United*, he is playing the game in the manner of the 1970 Brazil World Cup winning team. It's just a shame that each of his Black-tailed Godwits and Whimbrels are worth no more than any of my Herring Gulls - maybe this is an area in need of restructuring for any future competitions.

* it is worth remembering that the Revie Leeds United teams could play very good football as well!

Friday, 11 August 2017

Just enough to keep things ticking over

Bunting Meadow, Priest Hill, looking north-east
A three hour visit to Priest Hill this morning was a largely quiet affair, with few grounded migrants and an even emptier sky, although a Hobby did zip through southwards and two Little Egrets made their way south-westwards - so not really that empty after all! The totals of Willow Warblers passing through are very poor indeed, and it seems as if Chiffchaffs are outnumbering them, something that I wouldn't expect to happen until later in the month - however, there is still time for them to show, although we are fast approaching mid-month. The garden MV is hardly bustling either, with just the odd Dark Sword-grass and Jersey Tiger to keep me awake while I work my way through the trap (not that it takes that long to do so).

Another migrant Dark Sword-grass

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Twitching in the rain


There I was, minding my own business, checking the empty bushes at Priest Hill, when a series of tweets came out of Beddington Sewage Farm, announcing the presence of an adult Sabine's Gull. I looked up into the drizzly sky, glanced around at the bird-less vegetation and decided to do something that I just haven't done since September 2012 - go on a mini twitch! Funnily enough, that was also to Beddington, on that occasion for a Gannet - and I hadn't been back since.

By the time I arrived at the sewage farm the heavens had opened, but the bad weather had maybe helped to keep the gull in place, as it was still on show on the South Lake. Poor 'record' shots were obtained with the bridge camera. It was just as pleasing to be able to meet up once again with many of the Beddington crew, some of whom I hadn't seen since that Gannet almost five years ago. I left quite pleased with myself, as reliving the twitching experience was, in fact, quite pleasurable. Have I woken up that moribund Surrey list of mine?

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Here to stay?


A strange night for the Banstead MV - very few moths, even though the temperature didn't dip under 15C, but the meagre pickings did include three Jersey Tigers, two Dark-sword Grass (below) and another Gypsy Moth (above), my third of the summer. Prior to this year I had recorded just a single of this species, on 18th August 2012. It seems as if it has finally colonised the area, having already conquered the area to the north of here. I still await my first Oak Processionary however...


We have a few Lavender plants in the garden, which are always good for a bit of insect action, and I was more than pleased to spy this bug  -  Corizus hyoscyami  -  scuttling along the stems and investigating the flowerheads. A lifer!