Thursday, 1 October 2009

A little bit of bread and no cheese?

The last two mornings haven't been particularly exciting as I have gone through my moth traps.

The most interesting moths have been two Clancy's Rustics. The first UK record was at Dungeness i 2002 and the first here in 2005 and after 19 in 2006 I had just one record last year, so it will be interesting how many appear this year.

This afternoon I walked round Bockhill and down to Hope point and back. The most evident thing was the lack of any substantial numbers of birds. There were far fewer Chiffchaffs calling but I did come across a party of three Yellowhammers near the farmyard. Once such a familiar bird of the English countryside. Yellowhammer abundance has declined on farmland continuously since the mid 1980s The species is now red listed. Reductions in winter seed food availability as a result of agricultural intensification (for example, the loss of winter stubbles and a reduction in weed densities) are widely believed to have contributed to the population decline. Better population performance is noted in areas with extensive winter stubble, presumably because overwinter survival is relatively high. Winter setaside provided suitable winter habitat which helped breeding the following summer. The end of setaside will surely have a further detrimental affect on this iconic species.

At Hope Point I played a game of hide-and-seek with a flock of Long-tailed Tits, and as can be seen by this poor photo, I lost.

As I walked past the Freedown I watch a pair of Stonechats actively feeding from the fence and small bushes. They were seldom still for more than a minute or so, before dropping in to the grass i pursuit of some unseen insect.

The male did perch up a bit closer for a few seconds, and when the sun came out it made a striking sight after a rather dull walk.

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