Monday, 19 May 2014

Quality not quantity

Today illustrated a couple of things - how chance plays a large part in what you see, and also how a late spring day can provide but a handful of migrants whose rarity composition can be disproportionately high.

I was sea-watching by 05.30hrs, due to the knowledge that several Pomarine Skuas had been seen west of Dungeness yesterday. It was really no surprise when a single flew east at 05.35hrs - a good start. I recorded a further 11 birds (1, 3, 3 and 4), the last flock including a dark-phase bird. Most were close and oozed class and menace, the only way that this species can. As back up there were 4 Arctic Skuas. By 08.30hrs all had slowed, so I left my fellow sea-watchers and headed to the observatory for a spot of breakfast. Now 'luck' or 'chance' played its hand...

I was ready to check out the pits at Scotney when Dave Walker showed me a micro moth which he wanted to see if my identification matched his own. This was a hand lens and book job, so I settled down to use up all of my amateur knowledge. It was then that a shout went up that a largish raptor was moving down the coast. The moth was forgotten as several telescopes were trained on what turned out to be a ring-tail Montagu's Harrier. It was hassled by a corvid or two and then decided to turn around, gain height and head back north.

It could have been but twenty minutes later, with all of us still basking in the happiness of the harrier sighting, that a European Bee-eater decided to fly through the same field of view from the south, alighting on a bush and giving brief and distant views. It was quickly lost to view and all that was seen (or more accurately heard) of the bird was it's distinctive calling 15 minutes later.

Without that moth I would have been on my way to Scotney, dipping on two very good birds indeed.

It is worth recording the newly arrived migrant totals for today: 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Montagu's Harrier, 1 European Bee-eater and 1 Little Egret! Typical of the late spring.

2 comments:

  1. Random events on the positive side are always satisfying but I want to know what the moth was!

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