Sunday, 18 October 2015

Migration time

The numbers and species of moths in my trap have been tailing off, more so with the cooler North-East winds we've been enjoying. With few "new" species for the year to come, I hadn't set the trap for several days until last night, prompted by the Migration Watch at Samphire Hoe. To my surprise this morning, the catch was a  bit special - here goes

First up, a migrant,  this pristine Silver Y with a nice hint of bronze, 

Bigger surprise, another migrant and less common, L Album Wainscot. By the time I'd cleared the trap, the count was FOUR. That's one more than the average years total here!

Feathered Ranunculus in a local resident, a beautiful moth

Another pristine migrant is this Angle Shades, one of 3 this morning

Going back a few days, this one was a new species for this garden, a Flounced Chestnut I believe

 This Green Brindled Crescent is another beautiful local moth but never in great numbers

Here's an example of colour variation, both the following are Beaded Chestnut, which turns up in fair numbers each autumn

I can't resist the second Angle Shades from this morning 

I went out first thing for a look round the South Foreland Valley and Langdon Hole, to see what migrant birds were about to report in to Samphire Hoe. A spectacular autumn migration morning, with a Short-Eared Owl, a Merlin, about 10 Ring Ouzels, a flight of 50 or so Swallows, and thrushes all over the place. Song Thrushes in particular seemed to be present everywhere. There were numbers of Robins, and many Lesser Redpolls in Mark's nets along with Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Blackcap and Chaffinch. The finches in particular are moving in vast numbers at present, and in our garden is a large flock of Goldfinch, perhaps 200 in number. They are feeding on the remains of Verbena Bodensii and Lavender flowers right in front of the house

One looked different, see?

Just a single Siskin looking quite comfortable in the company of the Goldies. Altogether as fascinating an autumn day as I have enjoyed for a long time. I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

A few moments in the life of a Tornado, and other stories

During recent unsettled weather (which included the wettest September since we came to St Margaret's 21 years ago) this mini Tornado appeared over the church, and for a few minutes looked as though it might develop further

It didn't last long, became a bit wispy

and then fizzled out, probably just as well. Those passing gulls don't seem to be impressed

A few days later this rabbit appeared in the same bit of sky

Last weekend Samphire Hoe hosted a Big Migration Watch. Yours truly contributed reports from South Foreland and Langdon Hole. Mark was trapping and ringing that morning, including this nice and brown Song Thrush, probably therefore a UK bird, not continental (see later)

This Robin is a "this year's bird"; that is to say a "3" in ringing terms, or one hatched this spring

This Chiffchaff was also a "3" and one of many around just now

There were also the first tiny little Goldcrests of the autumn, including this female

and also this Male, with the lovely rich red colour in his crest

smashing little bird

In the search for more migrants to report in, I made my way to Langdon Hole to cover it in Mr Smith's absence. There were large numbers of Swallows and Martins there, swooping around and perching on the fence

It wasn't until I downloaded the pictures from my camera at home that I found this intriguing sight

among the Swallows in this frame was a bird with a very rusty-coloured chest. It's perched beside the post next to the Sand Martin. That may well be  a Scandinavian bird, by my reckoning. I suppose Sweden to UK isn't much compared with all the way to South Africa

In Mr Smith's absence it fell to me to photograph this unusual thing being dragged down channel 

Today we went to Covert Wood to enjoy a welcome bit of sunshine

and a hatch of pristine Commas

The sunlight on this last flower on the Rosebay Willowherb was irresistible

This afternoon in the garden there were solitary bees of unknown species (for me) busy about their business excavating holes to lay eggs, deposit food parcels, and leave next year's generation to fend for itself - fascinating stuff

Also had my attention drawn to these caterpillars on a Rose, will look them up when I get my book back from Matthew. (Thanks to Bill, they are Buff-tip Moth caterpillars)

And finally, on the subject of seeing things after downloading the pictures, this Field Grasshopper on the wateringcan handle a few days ago appears to have lost a leg!

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

You never know...

I don't think I've posted a blog so soon after the event as this one, but it was a bit special, as you will see. But first an example of our topsy turvy weather. Last week I went on separate days to the beach at Walmer in search of the elusive Mackerel with first Philip and then Matthew. No fish, and absolutely no comparison between the weather on either day

I made us a cuppa about 4 o'clock this afternoon, and as we sat enjoying it on the lawn, a juvenile Wood Warbler appeared at the bird bath for a quick bathe about 4 metres from us, before catching a few insects and moving on out of the garden away along the hedge back of St Vincent Road, Wow, that's a super garden sighting, and what a little beauty it was, but no chance to dash in for the camera
About half past seven, I went into the kitchen to carry our dinner through to the conservatory and movement outside caught my eye - a juvenile Cuckoo sat itself on the holly bush not 6 metres away
It soon flew off up the garden leaving us somewhat bemusedly to start eating our dinner, only for it to return and sit first on the lawn to do some anting, and then in this bush to enable a few photographs of a very unusual sighting. As they say, you never know...but, boy, did it upset "our" Swallows 
And good luck to the Cuckoo on it's epic journey


Thursday, 2 July 2015

Richebourg St Vaast - The Boar's Head, and a mystery moth

The commemoration ceremony for those who fought at the Battle of the Boar's Head was held last weekend. If you're not familiar with the story, my blog of  19 July 2011 tells it
Richard, Néve and I attended this year. Young Néve had been looking forward to her day in France and I'm glad to say she enjoyed it, as we all did. Drove first to Hazebrouk for lunch in La Taverne, in the square, then a quick poke round the Ville for chocolates and bread to bring home

Then it was round to the cemetery at Richebourg for the commemoration, very well attended this year

The march back into the village took a break en route to dedicate a new access road to a new school complex (very modern and swish-looking). It's named Allée de Worthing to respect links between the two  communities, recently renewed by the commemorations. This originally goes back to 1920 when English towns were invited to adopt and support devastated French communities, Worthing having adopted Richebourg L'Avoué. This meant we were unable to enjoy the hospitality at the Mairie as we needed to be back to Calais and home at a reasonable hour for Néve's sake 

Next year it's the 100th anniversary of the battle, the commemoration will be on "the day", that is Thursday 30th June. There is talk of a gathering at the site of the front line at 03.00 on the morning, which I plan to attend - watch this blog

Now, here's this week's puzzle. This thing was in the trap this morning, and I have no idea of it's identity. I am unable to find anything to match it in my Waring and Townsend, so help is needed, please
Thanks to Tony Morris, it's a Lesser Yellow Underwing - memo to self, check out the wings and don't be confused by the markings on the abdomen, a bit more striking than I've seen before

And finally, the second Breeding Bird Survey at Sutton on Tuesday morning started with this smashing misty sunrise

and the day finished with this evening sky over Wanstone