Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Real life, and not a bad day on the patch ...

27th September 2010
Not a bad morning at the two reservoirs, it started off quietly, but by the end of the day had some pretty good birds, including at least 3 patch ticks ...
I'd set the mothtrap overnight, but overslept, and since it was going to be gone eight before I attended the trap, I went birding first, instead of afterwards, since I figured anything good would probably have left by then anyway. Worked out well (although I'll never know what mega rare moths exited the trap before I got there of course ...)
Argal Reservoir 8:30 -10:00, College 10:00 - 10:45

On the waters themselves I was treated to the usual highly stimulating fare of a dozen or more Mallard, the Male Tufted Duck, a few Cormorant and a sprinkling of Black-headed Gulls. I was worried that the waders had gone and fully deserted me for the winter, but I was treated to Green Sandpiper outside the hide, and a Common Sandpiper halfway around. Spent a fair while grilling it's distant form for signs it might be a Spotted, but I failed. Also around the edges we were back to 3 Grey Heron, the Moorhen in its regular spot in the bay below the car park, more BH Gulls and a couple of Grey Wagtail.
Looking towards Mabe church from the west bank, a tidy flock of 50 or so House Martin, with maybe 5 Swallows dipped and cavorted above the waters, one moment high, the next streaming low in a seemingly confetti strewn panic. Possibly not long before a day or two go by, and you think 'I haven't seen one of them for a while', and then that's it until next spring ...
Around the banks I was regularly treated to the sight and sound of the odd Chiffchaff or two, some bursting into song in the sunshine, with 3 together at the Spot Fly site and another threesome by the car park; 13 in all.
Highlight of the day at this point was a Wheatear flying over (possibly two) and alighting in the top of a bushy hedge above the bracken. Patch tick, and I even got some pics. Also possibly a patch tick were 3 Mistle Thrushes (or they could have been Fieldfares (!) ) which also flew past at this point, white underwings flashing like beacons below the church. A Great Spotted Woodpecker flypast, with a couple of Ravens overhead and odd assorted corvids and other commoner birds completed the picture for phase one of my mornings birding ... almost.
I'd already left Argal and was walking down beside the steep (and dangerous) road  between the two reservoirs to get to College when I heard an unfamiliar call coming from whence I had just came. From Argal, and over the dam wall came the sound, and the bird. Aaah. A lark, must be a Skylark was my immediate reaction, but of course it wasn't - it was a Woodlark ... Not a bad bird at all. In fact a very good bird. A regularly wintering bird in the south west, but I'd never come across one of my own before, so a bit special, and on the patch too ... I watched it briefly through the bins as it flew overhead, and turned to the south, still calling, showing smart white tips to its tail and a complete disregard for a desire to have a trailing white edge to its wings. Excellent stuff!
On a relative high, as the morning was going better than I could have expected - think rare of course, but expect nothing, and you won't get disappointed - I'm quite used to seeing nothing ordinarily. Thus I wasn't really paying attention when a medium sized mustelid crossed the path just ahead of only 30 yards in on the footpath that leads to College Reservoir. Could have been one of about 5 species, but young otter seemed the most likely on the views I had of a greyish brown animal bounding across the path and slinking into the undergrowth. Crumbs!
The waters on College were still not yet heaving with winter wildfowl, although the Wigeon population had undergone a massive 500% population explosion since my last visit - from 1 to 5 birds. Heady stuff ... The Mute Swan family, Coots now more dispersed (including one nearly full grown youngster), and a different 3 Grey Heron etc mostly completed the picture. I walked a little further than I usually do, into the meadow area (the boardwalk and path disappear into the waters if you try and actually follow the path), and was rewarded with views of 2 Coal Tit and a Willow Warbler in the trees bordering the lake, 3 or more Bullfinch noisily proclaiming their presence too. 7 Roosting Cormorant, 30+ Herring Gull ... nothing new on the water. Walking back towards the car and I stopped for a pssing tit flock, mostly Long-tailed. Raising my bins to a Goldcrest which popped out of a holly bush near me, and I realised it wasn't - a beady eye below a huge white supercilium was staring me out - excellent - first Firecrest of the season. And of the patch. Not a bad bird to end the visit on ... I realised afterwards I had forgotten to check it out for Golden-crowned Kinglet, oh well, not really a missed opportrunity though to be honest, since it was never going to be one... And no vagrant Empidonax Flycatchers at all either, as I made my way around the reservoirs - quite a huge relief, all things considered ...
And the mothing ...
A good catch, considering everything, 30 moths of 11 species, despite not getting to the trap until gone 11am. And there were even moths in it, despite it being in the sun! Had forgotten just how smart Black Rustics are ...

Sq Spot Rustic 9
Common Marbled Carpet 5
Autumnal Rustic 5
Beaded Chestnut 3 NFY
Set Heb Character 2
Brimstone 1
Rosy Rustic 1
Snout 1
Black Rustic 1 NFY
Small Square Spot 1
Sallow 1 Lifer

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