Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Yet to see

There will be species that, no matter how many years you have been looking, still evade you. These are mine:

Birds
For all of the hours spent seawatching I have not connected with either Cory's or Great Shearwater. The more pragmatic amongst you might point out that SE Kent is not the best place to see either of these species, and I'd have to agree with you. My seawatching time in Cornwall has been limited - a concerted late summer blitz to that fair county should supply me with them if I so desired. Corncrake for the 'southern' birder is unlikely, unless you are the holder of a 'golden ticket' and manage to flush one of these skulkers on passage. I've not been to the breeding stronghold of the Western Isles, although the introduction programme might just up the chances of a chance encounter. The same might be said of Capercaillie - I'm not going to bump into one of these on Leith Hill (Surrey) and if I did I would expect to have my optics confiscated at once. As for Scottish Crossbill, I will ask only this - do they actually exist?

Butterflies
I have been a little lazy in seeking those 'local' species - I could hoover up Heath Fritillary, Lulworth Skipper and Glanville Fritillary was a small amount of effort. maybe 2014 will see me do so.

Moths
Just dealing in 'macros', the closest species that evade me are the Foresters (Common, Scarce and Cistus) and Wood Tiger. I know the sites, I've even been to some of them, but my timing has been all to cock.

Dragonflies
Leaving the colonising species alone, the one stand out omission for me is Club-tailed Dragonfly. Present nearby in the Thames and Arun basins, this should be easy enough if I put in a bit of time.

There are plenty more, and one of the reasons that spur us on to keep on looking and searching. But it's not all about the lifer, is it.

11 comments:

  1. I can get you Scarce Forester near Lewes in May if you fancy the guided tour around one of SussexWT's best chalk-grassland sites . If you fancy connecting me up with Heath Fritillary I'll do you a swap! I have ticked Parrot Crossbill at Forest Lodge but I don't believe that Scottish Crossbill is a real species. Most birders go there and tick Parrots, they out number the so called 'Scottish'. It's just speciation in action.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Graeme, I might just drop you a line next spring...

      Delete
  2. Hi Steve ( and Graeme) I have had both Parrot and Scottish Crossbills up there. I found a pair of Parrots with two juvvies once, the first confirmed breeders in Scotland many years ago, and have had a best flock of 40 Scottish Crossbills further down the great glen not far from Loch Ruthven, scoped on a dead oak. I am a believer! They aren't as heavily built as Parrots, and being fully familiar with Commons at home, there is no comparison.

    I am lucky to have seen all of your bird ommissions Steve, the sehaers in Northumberland, Corncrake on the Scottish mainland and on Fair Isle plus lots of Capers in a 'secret' pine plantation near Nethy Bridge. But then I have had lots of visits over the border....

    As for the inverts well you have me there, I am too far away to twitch them and rely on holidays down south for mine.


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, so you're a ScotBill believer Stewart! Not sure myself, but Prof Knox was convinced, and he knows more about it than me.

      Delete
  3. I looked for Lulworth Skipper a million times without success at Durlston, apparently a real stronghold for them. Then, on a rubbish windy day, we bumped into half a dozen when we weren't even looking, while powering back from a duff seawatch. Completely made the day, and I don't even know why. Just another skipper... but worth it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've been to Lulworth Cove and Portland, but not quite at the right time. Look like dull little so-and-sos...

      Delete
  4. Steve hi, mmm, you got me thinking reading your yet-to-see stuff. Back in the decade of Red Wedge and big shoulder pads I spent several summers butterfly hunting around these islands and of the regulars I never did get Chequered Skipper up north, and somehow missed Heath Fritillary. However, I put the latter to bed this summer at East Blean wood where together with the Joker and Marshman we had stunning views of a recently emerged insect, so can definitely recommend a visit there next summer. As for macro moths, there are just so many, but any of those monster hawks must be great to see; just imagine the thrill of turning over an egg-box to be confronted by an Oleander or a Death`s-head...
    As for dragonflies, I`ve tried to get excited about them but they`re not for me - too quick and flighty probably. Oh, yes, and finally onto birds, I can recommend Corncrakes, either on passage, with roast potatoes or running around the deck of a ship (SS Linga, VLCC, Mozambique Channel, 1977), but as for Caper, I shouldn`t bother, much over rated, as all the Scottish ones are plastic anyway, being as they`re from re-introduced stock and all, so you might as well tick one off in a zoo. And finally onto Crossbills, for what it`s worth, having spent some time last year in the Highlands based at Nethy Bridge (the heartland for alleged `Scottish` Crossbills) the ones I saw were, well, just Crossbills or Parrot Crossbills as there is so much overlap with bill size relative to age that I found `our endemic` bird as hard to pin down as a Mealy from a Coues`s in a Dungeness mist net, but what do I know... Phew! got there in the end, sorry for rambling on a bit, anyhow, keep up the thought provoking posts, and we look forward to seeing `your` Hawfinch flock this winter. Cheers, Paul (lumper) Trodd.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Looking forward to the 'Dungeness Massive' coming into Surrey for the Hawfinches. let's just hope that they decide to come back this winter - I really ought to go and have a look soon.

      Delete
  5. Steve, you really do need to pop across to Scilly one August. Joe Pender's evening pelagics should get you the shearwaters (and Blue Shark if he's a'sharkin!) plus multitudes of PSL ticks on the islands anyway. Anything you need to know about crossbills can be found at this blog. Quite scientific and I'd listen to this guy over anyone! http://pinemuncher.blogspot.co.uk/

    The butterflies are all easily do-able on day trips, Durlston CP is also very good for Lulworth Skipper and the wardens will tell you the best spots to search.

    Never tried for Clubtail, and I really ought to address that omission next year (could try for the nymphs sooner but would much prefer the adult!) They are meant to be quite easy along various stretches of The Thames.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Seth, I rue my birding days on the Isles of Scilly - never looked at a plant - handfuls of lifers walked on, trodden flat, ignored. I'll think the same about my botanical forays in Scotland where I ignored mosses and lichens!

      Delete