Thursday, March 30, 2017

Local insects

And we're off. The sun is shining, the meadows are buzzing. I spent some time in the Impenetrable Forest and saw a few insects on the wing but by far the commonest was the Dark-edged Bee Fly (Bombylius major). It is in close-up, obviously, because if this wasn't a close up it would be quite a fearsome beast.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Little Bunting at Great Barford

When twitching works its a great way to spend a morning. An hour to the site. Easy to find because others have given very good directions, some "will-it-won't-it" tension, then views as good as you could ever wish for, some excellent conversation and back home.

Directions: - look up Great Barford on google maps - its near the A1. Park by the church - there's sufficient parking just off the road. Walk back to the bridge, then along the north-west Great Barford  side of the river for a few fields until you reach a small copse with a bridge viewable in about 50 yards. If you get to the bridge you have gone too far.

I got there this morning and two chaps from the West Midlands were looking forlorn. The tractor had just gone through and ploughed the seed area. No birds. We were going to give up when some Reed Buntings appeared, and then the Little Bunting. Here it is.

It showed all the features, some of which you can see here (black border to cheek patch, fine black markings on white breast, fine straight-edged bill). It even called when it flew.

We spent time looking at the Reed Buntings too. They were each as different to each other as the Little Bunting was from them, but all were bigger, had thicker brown streaks on the breast, and didn't have the full black cheek ring.

Bring on the next twitch!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Spring arrives on the patch

Today was undeniably Spring. Not in the birds - a chiffchaff singing was not the first of the spring, and there was nothing particularly Spring about the unusually showy Little Owl, the Kingfisher, the three pairs of Shoveler on the pond, but the two singing Cetti's Warblers including one actually seen well were signs of Spring, as was a pair of Canada Geese in a field.

It was the number of insects that really signalled spring. A brief sight of what I am sure was a Tawny Mining Bee, a Brimstone Butterfly, a Peacock butterfly, and a comma, and around 10 different bumble bees which as far as I could see were all Buff-Tailed Bees. Some hoverflies hovering, and then finally a buzzing hawthorn tree turned out to be alive with Honey Bees. It's all happening on the patch!

Sunday, March 05, 2017

A new and impressive list for 2017.

I've got a new list for 2017. Here it is:

  • Common Crane
  • Great White Egret
  • Goshawk
  • Black Brant
  • Rosy Starling
  • Richard's Pipit
  • Cattle Egret
Quite impressive I think. Yes, as you have no doubt worked out by now, this is a list of the birds I've dipped so far this year. Criteria are that the bird was seen either on the day or both before and after, and from a place where I've been and could reasonably have expected to see it if it popped up in front of me.

This weekend in Weymouth was a particularly good one for the list. No sign of the Rosy Starling in Dorchester, I went to Abbotsbury and was informed a Richard's Pipit had been seen well on a dry stone wall and then on a bush. Nothing. I bumped into four people who told me the Starling had eventually appeared in Dorchester. I went back - nothing, although I did see a lady walking her dogs who showed me a photo of the bird in her garden on her phone (for clarity the photo of the Starling was on the phone, not a photo of the Starling on the phone). well at least I had a couple of bankers at Portland Bill - Purple Sandpiper and Short-Eared Owl. Yep no sign of them either.

Back to Abbotsbury this morning - nothing, then back to Dorchester - nothing. Although I did see the lady and her dogs again.

The thing about this is I still quite enjoyed my birding, although not as much as if I'd actually seen any of the birds I guess. I'm still mulling over what that means about the value I attach to seeing rarities.

Rarity chasing in Cambridgeshire part 2.

Last post left you on the edge of your seats as your intrepid birders ticked off the first of three potential rarities and headed off in sea...