Monday, 12 September 2016

Swallow ringing

Two weeks ago I went on a few Swallow roost ringing sessions, two being in North Kent and one in South Essex.
The first of the three sessions was on Monday 29 August at a North Kent site and was a great evening catching and ringing Sedge Warblers, Reed Warblers, Swallows and Sand Martins, which were mostly juvenile birds.

Sedge Warbler
Reed Warbler
Swallow (juvenile)
Sand Martin
The second session was again in North Kent on Thursday 01 September, where the same species were caught and ringed but in smaller numbers.

Swallow (juvenile)
Sedge Warbler (juvenile)
On Friday 02 September I visited a South Essex site which was another good evening, where 16 Swallows (all juveniles) and 1 Reed Warbler were caught and ringed.

Swallow - south Essex
Bird ringing was initially started in the UK in 1909, with the aim of monitoring birds' movements and finding out more about migration patterns. Data from ringing now gives us a better understanding of this, as well as other important information such as longevity records and survival rates of birds. More information on the Ringing Scheme can be found on the BTO website here:


Lesser Yellowlegs at Vange

On the evening of Monday 22 August, local birder Tim Bourne found an adult Lesser Yellowlegs at Vange Marsh, near Pitsea in south Essex. Having already seen this species multiple times in the UK (and one Greater Yellowlegs), I didn't rush off to twitch it immediately. The last bird I saw, pictured below, was in East Sussex in January 2015.

But I'd never seen one in Essex before, so went to county tick it on the Thursday (25 August). The heat haze was horrendous, destroying any chance of remotely reasonable views. I picked it out very distantly on the lagoon and had to ID it based on shape, along with a couple of Spotted Redshanks. I wasn't satisfied with this so went back two days later in the hope of better views.
I dragged myself out of bed on the Saturday afternoon and hopped on the train to Pitsea. The yellowlegs was present on the west side of the lagoon, giving reasonable scope views but still not fantastic. Also seen from here were c. 10 Spotted Redshank, Ruff, Green Sandpiper, Bearded Tit and Yellow Wagtail, but no sign of the recently reported Glossy Ibis and Great White Egret.

From North America to South Essex

It was last seen on 01 September and now seems to have departed.

Happy birding, Max.

Box-tree Moth - a rare species for SE Essex

As a regular moth trapper, I frequently run my moth trap throughout the night in the garden, and have been doing so throughout this summer.

On the morning of 28 August I was pleasantly surprised to have caught a Box-tree Moth (Cydalima perspectalis) in the trap overnight, which I thought would be the first record for southeast Essex (including my 10km grid square), however I think there may have been a couple of unregistered records from the area in recent years. It is an adventive species in the UK and Europe, with the first British record being in 2008 (Surrey). This was a new species for me and one which I have wanted to catch for a while.

Also pictured are a Feathered Ranunculus (Polymixis lichenea) from 27 August, a mainly coastal species, and a Red Underwing (Catocala nupta) from 28 August, a tatty individual of a fairly common species.

I also found this tiny micro moth - Parectopa ononidis - on the side of the moth trap on the morning of the 28th, which appears to be another first for my 10km grid square and only the ninth site which this species had been recorded at in Essex (first since 2012). I was quite pleased!

A good night for moths...