Wednesday, 18 June 2014

A Night in the Woods

I spent last Friday evening in the company of some friends from Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, as they were in Ploughman Wood in Lowdham to do their yearly charcoal burn. This being the first year I've been in full-time employment for a while, I had to miss out on the charcoaling bit, but headed on down after work to run a couple of moth-traps with them. We did it last summer, and managed about 30 species, but this time with a little more experience under my belt, I was hoping for a little more.

Female Ghost Moth

We ran two traps, an Actinic Skinner trap, located in the woodland glade in which the charcoal burn was being done (well away from the smoke!) and another 125w MV Skinner in the meadow on the edge of the woods.

We checked the actinic first but for some reason it didn't seem to be attracting much and on the first run, we only got 6 species, but a nice big female Ghost Moth was nice.

After this we ventured over to the meadow to check how the MV trap was doing. It was doing pretty bloody well, the power of the MV cannot be underestimated, as there were loads of moths in and around the trap. 43 species were identified, pretty much all the macros, but some of the micros were left unidentified due to lack of time. We potted some of the better specimens to take back to camp for the charcoal burners to have a look at. Highlights included Orange footman, Scorched Wing, Poplar and Elephant Hawks and Peach Blossom. The rare of the night was Cream-bordered Green Pea, easily overlooked with all the Green Oak Tortrix in the trap but seperable with care.

Orange Footman
When we returned to camp, the trap had been switched off as the generator was getting on the charcoalers nerves... fair enough i guess. The trap was obviosuly not that exciting anyway, as only 2 moths were inside when I emptied it, another Elephant Hawkmoth and a Buff Ermine.

Light Emerald - pretty and common

Photos are mostly rubbish, I need to sort out a better way of recording the catch than my crap smartphone camera...
Rubbish photo of my fave moth of the night, Beautiful Hook tip

The full catch is as follows, numbers are a rough estimate due to moths coming and going. Those in bold are 'rarities' in Notts.

Woodland Trap

Silver ground Carpet 2
Ghost 1
Brimstone 1
Gold Swift 1
Elephant Hawkmoth 1
Buff Ermine 1
Notocelia cynosbatella 1
Blastobasis lactiolella 2

Meadow Trap

Light Emerald 8
Common Marbled Carpet 1
Buff Ermine 2
Orange Footman 1
Broken-barred Carpet 2
Willow Beauty 10
Clouded Border 3
Beautiful Hook-tip 4
Common White Wave 2
Clouded Silver 4
Peach Blossom 2
Marbled Minor agg 5
Elephant Hawkmoth 1
Dark Arches 1
Silver Ground Carpet 1
Small Angle Shades 2
Small fan-foot 1
Bordered White 2
Doubled Square Spot 3
Flame 4
Gold Swift 2
Rivulet 1
Snout 3
Triple-spotted Clay 2
Straw Dot 3
Blood Vein 1
Middle-barred Minor 1
Mottled Beauty 8
Riband Wave 1
Scorched Wing 3
Fan-foot 1
Spectacle 1
Large Yellow Underwing 1
Cream Bordered Green Pea 4
Brimstone 2
Heart and Dart 2
Green Carpet 1
Poplar Hawkmoth 1
Psuedagyrotoza conwagana 1
Pandemis cerasana 2
Green oak Tortrix 15+
Udea olivalis 1
Bramble Shoot 1

 Buff Ermine

Elephant Hawkmoth

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Glossy Ibis, March 4th

The old Glossy Ibis got reported again in Lowdham at the weekend, after an absence of 2 months. The sun was shining and I had a day to myself before starting work at 5, so I decided to hop on the bike and make the trip to see it again to add it to my year list.

It took a bit of finding, I was expecting to see it on the main road again, like it was before, but after checking Twitter, I realised it was tucked away in a field somewhere on the way to Gonalston. After biking past the right field and up a hill somewhere, I turned back and found the bird, keeping company with a few Mallard in a wet meadow. I watched it on my own for about 40 mins, waiting for it to get closer for its picture. It never got too close though so I ended up with some distant shots which I was able to crop into something reasonably presentable.

The bike ride was pleasant too and I stopped intermittently to check out several large flocks of gulls, hoping for a Med but I was unsuccessful, although a couple of Oycs in Stoke Bardolph were nice. 2 large flocks of Mute Swan, one in Shelford, the other opposite Netherfield Lagoons, also begged for a bit of a scan, but I'm guessing we're a bit late for whoopers now. Otherwise there was little of note, but it certainly felt springlike with tons of resident birds singing their heads off, and snowdrops and daffodils out in full force.

Thursday, 27 February 2014


Its been a slow old month, with wind and rain featuring heavily, meaning that I haven't been out ringing much, which is annoying, but the birding has still been good, despite not being able to get out much. This month has seen me doing a lot of overtime at work due to lots of football games going on sale and me needing more money. I have also just moved house which alog with work has resulted in only a few trips out with the bins this month.

I'd hoped to add to the Notts yearlist this month, with some good wintering birds still in the county, but they've either been too far away or I've been otherwise engaged. This is the reason I have missed Gannet and Kittiwake off my notts list and several other good birds. And I still haven't been up to bag a Hawfinch. Damn.

I have however mopped up a few birds closer to home, with a trip to Attenborough on the 2nd bagging me 4 species but missing out on Bittern, and a Barn Owl and Little Owl we seen and heard respectively on an unsuccessful (windy) ringing trip that morning. A ringing trip to Brackenhurst later in the month resulted in Raven being added to the list, a tricky bird this end of the county, so a welcome addition.

The advantage of moving house has meant I now have a garden and there seems to be a good range of species about, including a male Blackcap that made a nice early entry into the yearlist. Its nice to see there's plenty of Goldfinches about the garden too, and I've heard some House Sparrows down the road, so hopefully I'll entice them in too, not had them in the garden before, strangely.

In the latter half of February I have been concentrating my efforts at Holme Pierrepont and have managed to add Red-crested Pochard and the first returning Oystercatchers to the year tally too. I am keeping track of what I see here too this year as part of the 'Patchwork Challenge'
This month has seen me add 8 species to the list, including some 'easy' birds which have been elusive at the beginning of the year, such as Snipe, Shoveler and Cetti's Warbler. Snipe have been elusive this year, maybe due to the amount of water there is everywhere, meaning they're more spread out. On the last 2 visits I have managed to flush a few though, so its good to have them back. Cetti's Warbler, which I managed to pinpoint around 3 territories of before xmas, have also been very quiet, but they've just started siging again in the last week or so. Water Rail, another common bird on site, continues to elude me. I need to stomp round the reedbeds a bit more I think.
 I was lucky enough to have a wander round the A52 pit with another birder on the 17th too, which got me my first egrets of the year, as well as my first ever sighting of Red-crested Pochard for the site. I paid the site a visit at dusk last night, folwing a tip-off about the possibility of some roosting Whooper Swans, but was unsuccessful, it was made worthwhile however by seeing a Barn Owl hunting, at one point flying a few metres directly above me. Its the first I've seen on patch since summer, so I was proper pleased.

The Notts 2014 list stands at 95 birds... more than I'd imagined at this point in the year!
The HP 2014 list stands at 73... getting there slowly! I only had 94 for the whole of 2013 so not too bad really, and this is the first year i'm properly having a go at it. Access to the A52 pit would help but I'm making the best of it!


Thursday, 30 January 2014

A new year birding

I finished off last year having had a fantastic autumn, with a few trips to see some Parrot Crossbills which handily decided to join others of their type in irrupting to our shores to feed on our wonderful pine cones this winter. I made two trips to Budby heath at Sherwood Forest, the first being largely unsucessful aside from actually seeing my first Common Crossbills, but no Parrots sadly. The second trip I made was more succesful, with the Parrots seen flying about distantly first before alighting atop a birch tree for all to see. Shortly before this I had also seen my first Great Grey Shrike on the heath, showing distantly, but while watching the Parrot Crossbills it spooked them all off and took their place. It cottoned on to the birders watching it and flew off but alighted not too far away, and we got some absolutely cracking views! So not bad all in all, 3 lifers in one week!

Great Tit, Sherwood Forest

Nuthatch, Sherwood Forest

The past few years I have been keeping a personal list of birds I see throughout the year, counting everything I see in the whole country. Not having a car and not specifically 'twitching', I have never amassed a brilliant year list so this year I have decided to stay closer to home and do a Notts year list. 4 weeks in and i have been really enjoying it, but having to get round on a bike has made things difficult. Getting birds close to home has been alright, but when i only have a day to get out somewhere further away, dipping on a bird is really annoying. There has actually been some decent birds about this month as well, but they have been spread out across the county. I need a car i reckon!

Nuthatch, Rufford.

I think the hardest thing for me is going to be when decent birds turn up in hard to reach locations, or those far away from public transport or in the grim north of the county, such as Lound, but I'm going to try my best to see as much as I can, and in doing so i think it'll bump up my Notts list as I go.

Grey Wag, Lowdham. In the field the Glossy Ibis should have been in.

I'm still missing some easy birds which are within easy distance of me, like Attenborough favourites such as Bittern, Water Rail and Cetti's Warbler, and there are some that i need to try make a special trip for, such as Hawfinch, great grey shrike and crossbill. Hopefully I'll mop some of these up soon, but I'm happy with the 80 or so birds I've got already, including some nice ones like Parrot Crossbill, Scaup and Smew, as well as a notts tick in the form of a Merlin. Just a few short trips out on my bike will put me within a few birds of 100, which is loads better than I thought I'd manage before the spring migrants arrive. It'll be interesting to see what arrives on our shores this year and hopefully in Notts, and hopefully doing this listing business will encourage me to get out and actually look for it!

Redshank, Rowing course, HP

Aside from that, I'm putting more effort into birding my adopted local patch, Holme Pierrepont. I still don't venture as far as the A52 pit but I'm keeping a list of birds I see there throughout the year too, and even taking part in the 'Patchwork' birding challenge online, which will hopefully get me birding regularly onsite. I've got a reasonable list of 64 species amassed so far, with some good birds such as Scaup, Barnacle Goose and Coal Tit, all of which are new onsite for me and which I got on my first visit there this year, as well as a notts tick in the form of a Merlin, and the usual wintering Smews. Again, there are some glaring gaps in the list such as Little Egret, Cettis, Snipe and Water Rail, all of which are usually reasonably easy to see there, and most annoyingly, Shoveler, which all decided to bugger off after xmas, probably due to the rising water levels...

Feral Barny, HP

What one might call a 'record shot' of drake Smew at HP
I'm hoping to build on the HP list by doing this challenge, there's some birds missing on it which really should be on there I think, but in the meantime I'm just really enjoying getting down there on a more regular basis.

Frosty HP