Saturday, 31 August 2013

THE top wader spot in the southwest!

Without a doubt Black Hole Marsh at Seaton has really shown what an amazing place it is for catching migrant waders in the UK. It has to be the best place in the southwest without a shadow of doubt. As I write there are at least 16+ curlew sandpipers present as well as stack of commoner waders, the place is literally heaving with birds. I've personally never seen so many curlew sands in one place and the following video is dedicated solely to these wonderful little waders:

and some pics...
Curlew sand: R. Harris
Curlew sand: R. Harris
Curlew sand: A. Grinter
Black-tailed godwit: A. Grinter
Sparrowhawk: D. Helliar
Curlew sand: D. Helliar
Little-ringed Plover: R. Harris
Yellow wagtail - not at BHM but on patch near Chard for a change.
D. Helliar
Some of the more common waders curently at BHM...

Thursday, 29 August 2013

More Wood Sand...

Bloody hell, it stayed!!  Yes, for the first time ever (not too difficult, this is only the fourth), a wood sandpiper, found at Chard res yesterday by Kevin Harris has stayed overnight.

Couldn't believe it when I got there this morning and it was still running around with a green sand. Fortunately it allowed a great opportunity to film it up close...

Andy Grinter also managed to snap the little grebe that's appeared in the last week or so:

Little grebe: Andy Grinter
Kingfisher: Andy Grinter

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Wood sand, 4th record!

Kev Harris (no relation) has done the double and found another wood sandpiper at Chard res this lunchtime! After a gap of 15 years, the res has picked up two in the last 6 weeks - just amazing.

Wood sandpiper: R. Harris
Wood sandpiper: R. Harris
short clip of said sandpiper - bit shaky, on high mag.

Right...curlew sand next!

A few patch ticks!

Ok, only a plastic bird and a couple of spiders but I'll take what I can get.

Took my son into the park next door last night and was surprised to see a flyover ring-necked parakeet heading south calling it's head off all the way! Lame bird aside I did have two new spiders in the house last night taking my house tally up to 21 species. They were...

Lepthyphantes tenuis: R. Harris
Lepthyphantes tenuis: R. Harris
Scotophaeus blackwalli: R. Harris
Scotophaeus blackwalli: R. Harris
Neither of them rare (and neither as big as they look in the photos) but amazing I'm still getting new species after two years of cataloguing!

Actually there was another new patch species in the form of Jersey Tiger moth this morning too but didn't get a chance to photograph it.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

No Icky for us...

The weekend started promisingly with the Black Hole Marsh wader fest but alas Bank Holiday Monday didn't quite hit the birding mark. After an Ictering warbler was found on Portland on Sunday, it was an easy decision to try for it on the Monday morning. The three of us were there at 06:30 but where was everyone else? We spent an hour and half standing at the edge of the Eight King's Quarry hoping the Icky might show itself in the morning sun to feed but there was no sign of it. It was only then that we learned from another birder that the assembled crowd had been kicked out the previous afternoon by the land owner - so that's why there were no later reports! Oh well, you win some, you loose some. As nothing else was reported on the Isle, we decided to head off and get a few butterflies under our belts instead:

Chalk-hill blue, male: R. Harris
Chalk-hill blue, male: R. Harris
Chalk-hill blue, female: R. Harris
Chalk-hill blue, male (last one, promise): R. Harris
Clouded Yellow: R. Harris
Common blue: Dave Helliar
Strange blue - not sure about this one? D. Helliar
Tachina grossa - a VERY big fly: D. Helliar
...and here next to a normal fly for comparison.
This thing's as big as a bumblebee!  R. Harris
Sadly Portland's not the best place to get a mobile signal and we missed out on news of a flyover osprey back near the obs and had left before a wryneck was discovered at the obs quarry. Later learned that an ortolan was seen briefly by two observers along the east cliffs too. Maybe this week will see the rest of the UK getting some good migrants, not just the east coast...fingeres crossed.

Did luck in on a mega moth at the Obs early on though - we were told only the fourth or fifth British record (first was only in 2006 - though according to UK Moths, that's still the only record?) for Shining Marbled:

Shining marbled: R. Harris
...yeah, not that good looking but bloody rare.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Quality waders at Black Hole Marsh...

Black Hole Marsh at Seaton has really started to pick up a great passage of waders in the last couple of weeks and not just quantity but quality too. An early morning Tweet from Tim White had me packing up the gear from the hide at Chard res and picking up Dave Helliar for another visit to the Marsh in the hope of connecting with a curlew sandpiper that Tim had just found. Our luck was in and it was still feeding with a small flock of Dunlin and just yards away a couple of little stints were still present too. Not only that, we were the only people in the hide! I don't think I've ever seen the place so devoid of people. Sadly the sandpiper was backlit from our position in the hide, so we had to open up the apertures on our respective cameras and hope for the best...

Curlew sand: R. Harris

Curlew sandpiper: Dave Helliar
Curlew sandpiper: Dave Helliar
Little stints: Dave Helliar

Little stints video: Roger Harris

Luckily fellow Chard birder Andy Grinter managed to catch up with them later in the morning and the light had improved then too -
Little stints: Andy Grinter
Little stints, Andy Grinter

Tuesday, 20 August 2013


I've been relentlessly hoping every morning for the past couple of months to see the kingfisher up close at Chard res so that I could get it on video. Its absence from the perches outside the hide had been noted as it preferred to spend time either in the far south-west corner or up at the northern end near the dam. That said, both Andy Grinter and Dave Helliar managed to snap it close to the hide the other day (see previous post), so I remained hopeful of getting it on camera and this morning I finally nailed it:

Such great birds to watch, especially when they're this close and hang around for so long.

Little Egret...

Thanks to Dave Helliar for supplying these great shots of an unusually obliging little egret seen just by the hide yesterday evening. I'm sure most of us can remember twitching one of these 30-something years ago. Sadly often overlooked and forgotten these days:

Little egret, Chard Res (and next three): Dave Helliar

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Local round-up from the weekend...

Chard res has finally started to empty of waders this weekend but records have been broken with at east 14 green sandpipers present during the latter half of the week. Singles of redshank, black-tailed godwit and a couple of roaming greenshanks have added to the variety (see previous posts). A mixture of waders further down the Axe Valley at Seaton have made for a good mix in the area and all have been appreciated by the local Chard birders. We could still do with a little stint or curlew sandpiper though :-)

Common sand, Chard res: Andy Grinter
Green sand, Chard res: Andy Grinter
Kingfisher, Chard res: Andy Grinter
Roa deer, Chard res: Andy Grinter
Wood sand, Black Hole Marsh: Andy Grinter
Ruff, Black Hole Marsh: Dave Helliar
Ruff, dunlin, ringed plover, BHM: Dave Halliar
It was hammering down with rain at Black Hole Marsh on Saturday although it's hard to tell from the photos (you can see a clue in Dave's ruff photo above). You can get a more vivid picture of just how dull and wet it was in the following video though! There's no sound to this one, it was open day at the reserve and instead of the usual pleasant wader sounds it was a collection of garbled voices in the background - not that complimentary to the video, so silence was the better option...

...Il pleut!
Black Hole Marsh, 17th August 2013: R. Harris

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Araniella sp.....

There are six species of these green Araniella species found in the UK and while at least two of them are considered rare, they are all indistinguishable from one another in the field without use of field microscope!  So, although this is probably one of the common ones, such as cucurbitina or opisthographa, I just can't be is a male though:

Araniella sp: R. Harris

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Video round-up...

Just a short video round-up of some of the birds seen at Chard res LNR during the last week:

Chard res continues to reel in the waders...

The record number of green sandpipers for Chard res has been broken yet again with an amazing 13 present last night and early this morning. Quite a site to see so many and mixed with up to 7 common sands too. Last night Dave Helliar scored again with another redshank as well:

Green sandpiper: Dave Helliar
Juv redshank with green sand: Dave Helliar
Redshank, juv: Dave Helliar
Redshank, juv: Dave Helliar
Is the res in danger of getting something really good? Could we manage to get a little stint or curlew sandpiper? Believe me, the local birders really need them after such a dire patch but only the coming days will tell if the res can deliver - watch this space.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Lazarus of the birding world...

Never thought I'd see it but Chard res LNR has actually started to come back to life over the last week. Starting with the 3rd ever wood sandpiper (see previous post for photo), it has since gone on to yield a couple of greenshanks, another blackwit, up to 11 green sandpipers (new record count) and seven or eight common sandpipers - at one point most of them being present at the same time - quite a sight. A mid-morning visit netted me the opportunity to get some film of the green and common sandpipers:

Go west young man!

Well, back to Cornwall anyway. A popular destination with Chard birders and why not, there's so much great wildlife on offer in the county that it's certainly worth visiting again and that's exactly what Andy Grinter did last for all photos goes to Andy:

Stonechat, male
Stonechat, male
Kestrel, hanging in the breeze
Trebarwith, Cornwall
Six-spot burnet
Six-spot burnet, larva
Brimstone moth - seen better days!
Common blue
Clouded Yellow
Small Copper
Many thanks to Andy for some superb images.