Friday, October 14, 2011

It's been a busy couple of weeks or so but the internet has been misbehaving, so sorry for the lack of updates. Until yesterday all the attention has been at sea, with strong West and Southwest winds producing fine seawatching and a day of Northwesterlies providing some of the best seawatching since the 100+ Sooty Shearwater day a bit back. Totals for this week have included 11 Balearic Shearwater, 12 Leach's Petrel, 1 Whooper Swan, 3 Grey Phalarope, 54 Arctic Skua, 29 Pomarine Skua, 39 Bonxie, 1 Long-tailed Skua, 15 Sabine's Gull, 7 Little Gull, 60 Mediterranean Gull, 189 Arctic Tern, and 5 Black Tern. But yesterday attention turned inland with the belated news that a Barred Warbler had been trapped and ringed at Nant. Happily it was relocated and showed well for the remainder of the day. Up to three Wryneck are also present and a Whinchat and Common Redpoll have passed through. Vis mig has been steady away with the first Redwings, Fieldfares, Ring Ouzels, Brambling and Snow Buntings of the autumn along with three-figure counts of Meadow Pipit, Skylark and the commoner finches. Rich found the first Barn Owl of the autumn and whilst trying to catch it the first Short-eared Owl of the autumn passed overhead. But with so much going on elsewhere in the country it still doesn't feel that we've got properly started yet.

This, the largest Sylvia warbler, has a rather unique plumage for the genus meaning that, despite sometimes being quite an illusive species, it is quite distinctive even on short views. They have no close relatives in the genus meaning that in evolutionary terms they probably stem from a rather ancient split. The dull eye, unmarked underparts and broad borders to the tertials suggest that this is a first-year bird. (c) Richard Brown

The first Barn Owl of the autumn toured a rather murky island whilst the first Short-eared departed over the sea and southwards. (c) Richard Brown

Giselle got in on the Wryneck action by finding this rather obliging bird near the farm. Typically Rich didn't have his camera so this is digiscoped. These smart little birds were historically tied to pieces of string and spun around for a while. This was apparently to cause a strayed lover to return. Quite how such activities proved attractive is a bit of a mystery. (c) Richard Brown

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