Saturday, 23 September 2017

Venus Pool - Peregrine mayhem!

During one of my talks on Shropshire Peregrines recently, I commented, "A few moments spent watching a hunting Peregrine will likely be the highlight of your day"? Well today that rang so true! A Saturday morning and no-one else present on the reserve, just 4 Little Egrets and 3 Green Sands of note! The Lapwings announced the imminent arrival (then left sharpish)... and then the anticipated Peregrine moment to savour, as a juvenile male bombed in scattering the few birds in all directions! I'll let the images tell the story...

Skimming the water like a Hobby chasing Dragonflies but this Peregrine was after larger prey!

And it looked like curtains for this Black-headed Gull until it took to the water!

Wheeling round at the end of the pool...

And then flying up to the North end...

Yet another try to force a duck to leave the safety of the water?

Diving helps!

One last circuit of the pool, like a low flying jet...

And then realising there was nothing in view to catch!

Up up and away....

Yep, just about the most exciting 90 seconds spent at VP this year, and as for making the day - no contest!! 

Monday, 18 September 2017

Elephant Hawkmoth Caterpillar

It's undoubtedly Elephant Hawkmoth time of year, for the larvae that is and once again Tom Lowe helped me out with this beast of a caterpillar! He had found it feeding on Rosebay Willowherb but I reckoned it would make a more appetising image teamed up with a Fuchsia!

First things first - how big are they? Well roughly your first finger (Tom's) length c 3" and ravenous for Fuchsia leaves!

Couldn't decide whether the lawn or gravel drive gave the best background?!

And I just had to get in close on the action...

One side of a leaf soon disappearing before our eyes!

And the small flower buds proved to be equally tasty!

Going going gone!

I checked out my Fuchsias the following day and unbelievably, found one of an almost identical size. I left it munching and when checking the following day it had disappeared... Fully grown and maybe down in the debris getting ready to pupate? Check out the pictures of the adult moth from June!

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

The Mere - Arctic Tern

There's still a sniff of a decent shire yearlist so maybe it's time to peg back some of the birds I failed to catch up with in the Spring? Like Arctic Tern!  So when Rob Dowley had one in the roost, I guessed it would still be there first thing today?

I wasn't wrong and through the scope, short legs / all red bill were easy to see...


In the early sunlight and most of the views were sidelit or into the sun, despite the distance, what shone through (literally) was the translucence of primaries / secondaries - peculiar to Arctic Tern when ruling out Common!

But whatever the lighting, translucence shines through nicely, whether it's an under or upperwing view!

It was only in view for a few minutes once flying, showing a nice clean upperwing and then disappeared down the south end...

And I disappeared to check  Whitemere and Colemere (nothing of note) and Wood Lane (just 1 Dunlin of note)

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Shrewsbury Dingle - American Night Heron

I haven't been to see the Shrewsbury American Night Heron since 4th May! I'd kinda lost interest given the location, crowds, etc. but I hadn't forgotten about it! Mainly because it's on 'everyone's? list apart from a few out of county disbelievers and to validate it (if you are of the BOU persuasion) , it needs acceptance by BBRC/BOURC? And of course there is no proven 'finder' apart from mysterious unknown visitors / birders in the 'Woodland' Hide at VP back on 7th April. So, if you were sat in the hide during that afternoon, please come forward... The rarity form will go in, whatever... I've already been in contact with Martyn Owen (County recorder) and we will ensure it moves forward (* see end note). Also, there have been claims the bird is wasting away and I wanted to see for my own two eyes...

Yep, nothing changes?

Apart from the choice of vantage / launch point!

Say ahhhh - I hadn't seen his tongue before? He looks well doesn't he!!

And still actively catching (usually) fish!

I think he missed this time!

And I finally got a decent flight sequence which eluded me in May, so here it is from start to finish...

A bit of a splash in the middle!

Before landing out of view.

* Back to the 'record'... It's morphed from European to American Night Heron and loose feathers which were collected after preening (thanks Simon Slade) during the summer have now been sent for DNA analysis. Whilst on head pattern it's perfect for hoactli, it would be nice to have this backed up! Then the question of origin arises? I'm adopting a 'wild unless proven captive' stance. There is no ring, there is no ring mark. It was incredibly skulking whilst at VP (going missing for days in the twiggery) and now has settled into a location which provides safety, plenty of food and he's learnt to make the most of it all! There's plenty of evidence on the web that US birds do exactly the same thing over there! Night Herons are intelligent birds and seem to 'learn' better than some humans methinks? They become 'Town Birds' in gardens parks etc. Question is, what's his next move...

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Chipping Sodbury - Woodchat Shrike

It's been a long time, a twitch that is... An overnight stay after a talk  in Chippenham acted as the perfect foil for a journey I would probably not have bothered with from home! A juvenile Woodchat Shrike was on the cards, or should I say the 'Common' in nearby Chipping Sodbury. I'd only seen adult Woodchats before, so it was in a sense 'new' :-)

There was quite a lot going on with quite a few migrants moving, like Whinchat...

Yellow wagtail..

And Redstart...

Almost immediately after a walk of some 400m from the car, I could see birders and the Woodchat Shrike :-)

Anything from 50 - 150m distant, it was quite mobile but quite a showy bird (as Shrikes are!) always perching up on a good choice of bushes...

After a while, I could see a pattern forming and staked out a small clump of bushes which gave an element of cover!

It was coming nearer!

Until eventually, it was perched head on, probably about 30m away, close enough to see a bit more detail!

One brief perch in an adjacent bush ensuring all the angles were covered!

The pale scapulars showing really well, even from afar, somewhat scaly and nothing like a Red-backed juv!

And then the heavens opened! The forecast of heavy showers and thunder didn't exactly sound welcome, so it was an early finish at around 12.30, job done!