Sunday, 19 October 2008

Solan Goose

Once again visible migration was prominent this morning, but while many areas were reporting the arrival of winter thrushes, Redwings and Fieldfares, with "supplementary" Song Thrushes and Blackbirds, the most obvious birds here were finches and Starlings. Today Redpolls were quite numerous, coming over the cliffs in small groups and quickly disappearing inland.

Near Hope Point Phil spotted this Gannet on the sea below us. It looks like a first year bird to me. Unfortunately for it to be floating on the seat so close to land probably means that it isn't in the best of health.
Even so it did give us a good opportunity to see it close to the shore. Birders on the French side of the Dover Straits, at Cap Gris Nez, Calais see most of their sea birds reasonably close, whereas with the prevailing westerly winds we normally strain our eyes peering down telescopes at dots in the distance. Today there comments were interesting " No wind, no birds... an other miserable day with 10 Spoonbills, 1 Arctic Skua and 1 Great Skua.... " I wish..............

As the sun came out at lunch time I couldn't resist popping along to see if the Snow Bunting was still along Pond Lane, it was but now it was spending some time feeding on the fields on either side of the road, while still often going back on the road.
Here I met a couple of falconers. I must admit that instinctively I'd rather see birds of prey flying free, but it was fantastic to see this Merlin close to. The two gents I met were proper falconers who took their responsibilities seriously and obviously cared for their birds and were very knowledgeable.

November Moth (Epirrita dilutata)

One of the groups of moth that appear at this time of year are four species in the genus Epirrita. To be certain of which species it is really necessary to examine their "naughty" bits with a lens or microscope. As this usually results in a dead moth I don't bother. I think that this is a November Moth, the commonest one, although not good at reading dates.

Pine Carpet (Thera firmata)

This Pine Carpet, from two nights ago, is only the second one I've caught, although there are several suitable trees in the area.

The Chestnut (Conistra vaccinii)

The Chestnut has a quite unusual life cycle. It over winters as an adult, and becomes active when the weather is mild. The species mates in spring and the caterpillars feed on several species of trees, including Oak, Elm and Blackthorn. The caterpillars pupate in late summer, forming an underground cocoon and then emerge from late September onwards.

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