Friday 31 July 2020

31 July 2020: Black Kite, St Mary's, IOS

After the fantastic events of last night, today was taken at a leisurely pace - it is a holiday after all... We walked up to Longstones for an afternoon cuppa. Sat on a bench at 15:58 I found two swifts. At 16:00 I found a Peregrine. At 16:02 I found a large but distant raptor - buzzard? No. Harrier? Possible Marsh, but not right. Kite? Not Red. As time progressed, despite the distant views, it became all the more apparent that this was either a Marsh Harrier or a Black Kite - time to put the news out. A check of the WhatsApp Group said Buzzard spp!!! Must be the same bird, but...

At 16:20 views were improving - surely I'd found myself a Black Kite! A few minutes later I was happy to call it - Back Kite.

All in all, this isn't turning out to be a bad holiday at all!

Black Kite - Longstones, St Marys, Isles of Scilly

30 July 2020: Zino's Petrel - 3mls SW of Bishop Rock Lighthouse

After Monday night's fantastic seabird extravaganza, surely this pelagic trip out to the open ocean could only disappoint...

We had Wilson's Petrels, we had Great, Cory's and Manx Shearwaters, we had masses of Storm Petrels, we caught a Blue Shark, we saw Porbeagle Shark, Sunfish and Common Dolphins - and none of that will be what this pelagic will be remembered for...

Whilst heading back from a pleasant pelagic trip, Higo said to me, "Common on Golden Balls, you're leaving it a bit late." "Don't worry," I replied, "We'll shortly be having twenty seconds of utter madness!"

Ten minutes later, we had over forty seconds of utter madness! As we headed north east, back to the islands, the brilliant Bob Flood picked out a fasting tracking Pterodroma pertrel - his speed at initially calling "Fea's Petrel" alerted everyone on board, to the bird rapidly heading west. 

Watching the bird initially through bins, this bird was light and bright - small bodied and long-winged - and bloody fast! It felt quite different from the Fea's I saw previously out on a pelagic several years ago.

Like many on board, the choice was simply 'watch it or photograph it?' I opted for the latter, always good to get at least something on the camera. Running down to the boat - find the bird, point the camera, press the shutter and pray... To be honest, my pics aren't as good as Zac and Danni Hinchcliffe's pictures (one of which is kindly reproduced below), but it came as no surprise, following the chats last night, that this morning MEGA ALERT would confirm that Bob Flood had sufficient evidence in the pictures to call the bird a Zino's Petrel.

Zino's Petrel, 3mls SW of Bishop Rock Lighthouse, Isles of Scilly

Tuesday 28 July 2020

27 July 2020: Scilly Pelagic - Seven Tubenoses

Boris said we could go to the Scillies after 4 July - so we booked two weeks, starting 24 July. The first opportunity to head out on one of Joe Pender's pelagic trips was Monday 27th and with strong winds it was surely going to be an interesting one.

The result of this pelagic trip was probably my best set of tubenose snaps I've ever taken - seven species safely in the can. But the trip was much more than claiming digital representation of seven seabirds, the trip boosted seven species at such close quarters, that it times we needed the Wilson's Petrels to move away from the boat to socially-distance themselves from was seriously fun!

Wilson's Petrel

Cory's Shearwater (but see later Cory's pics)

Cory's Shearwater - a 'more typical' example

Great Shearwater

Sooty Shearwater
Manx Shearwater

Storm Petrel

Storm Petrels


Yellow-legged Gull

Friday 24 July 2020

24 July 2020: Scillonian crossing

A few bits from the Scillonian on the crossing today.

Manx Shearwater

Manx Shearwater



Monday 20 July 2020

20 July 2020: Dewisk's Plusia - East Malling, Kent

A WhatsApp messagefrom Adam Whitehouse correctly informed me that he had found a moth that wasn't a Silver Y. Too bloody right Adam! That's a Dewick's Plusia you found there... Shortly afterwards I found myself next to Adam and about to start searching the strawberry plants near where the moth was seen, but presumed to have flown away from... Why did I worry? Within a minute of searching Adam refound our quarry - sitting quietly (as moths do) on a strawberry leaf.

Dewick's Plusia, East Malling Research Station, Kent

Sunday 19 July 2020

19 July 2020: Lammergeier - Peak District

Reports of a second calendar-year Lammergeier in the UK sounded fun - it was the bird previously reported in Belgium, so had seemingly crossed the English Channel on its own, which has to be a good sign. The bird had then toured round before finding an area of the Peak District to its liking. 

Doug had set out the day before and spent much of the Saturday scanning the hilltops with little or no reward - he stayed overnight in the hope of better views in the better Sunday weather... John and I took the more leisurely approach and didn't get in the area until shortly after nine thirty in the morning. A quick call to Doug to say that we were only four minutes away led to the inevitable banter about, "Mr Golden Bollocks arriving so the bird would now surely show." Sure enough, even before we all met up, we stopped by the side of the road and shortly afterwards were rewarded for our laziness by the appearance of the immature Lammergeier. 

Probably from the reintriduction programme in teh Alps - using Spanish birds - or wild Spanish birds from the Pyrenees? We may never know for sure, but what a sight it was!!

Friday 10 July 2020

Lunar Hornet Moth: 10 July 2020 - Leybourne Lakes Country Park

The arrival of the new Lunar Hornet Moth lure prompted an immediate test...and leaving the pheromone trap out for just a couple of hours (later afternoon) proved sufficient to attract one of these elusive beasts...

The following day I put the lure out at Holborough Marshes in the morning, and attracted seven!!

This is a very accurate pheromone lure which will rewrite the distribution map of this fantastic wasp-mimic. 
Lunar Hornet Moth - Leybourne Lakes Country Park