Tue 8th October 2013

Posted on October 8, 2013 at 5:05 PM

Of course, with it now being peak bird rarity time, this post is bound to be all about the rare birds that I have seen and found during the last week or so......

Well, to Hell with all that bird crap, I only went and discovered a bloody rare, once-in-a-lifetime, mega-moth didn't I!

Last Saturday morning (night of 27th Sep) I casually strolled out to the trap, bleary-eyed, and saw an unfamiliar carpet-type moth on the outside of the trap. This was great as I knew it was something new for me, and went inside to get a pot and popped it in the fridge for ID later. I had no idea that it was to be a big rarity. As I have done very little moth-ing elsewhere, if I haven't had a moth species in the garden before, then I won't recognise it, no matter how widespread the species is. I didn't think too much about it, and was more excited by the first garden record of the awesome Convolvulus Hawk-moth that was resting near the trap.

Convolvulus Hawk-moth - garden, 27 Sep 13

After a bit of brekkie, I thumbed through the moth book to see which new species this carpet was, and was confused when I couldn't find it. It was pretty distinctive but I went through a few times and it simply wasn't in there. Puzzled, I got out my "Papillons de nuit" French moth book and, despite not really expecting anything, there it was - a Pungeleria capreolaria.

Pungeleria capreolaria - garden, 27 Sep 2013

I knew that this had to be pretty special because in that book I had pencilled in all the names of the moths in English to avoid confusion, and this had nothing by it, and this had no English name. There followed much panicking, and research on the internet, and postings on twitter, and emails to other moth-ers, No-one appeared to doubt the ID and no-one thought the species had been recorded in Britain before. Much excitement ensued!

At the moment, I am not 100% definitely saying it is a Pungeleria capreolaria and am awaiting confirmation from European experts in the field, but it does look extremely likely that it is this rare species. Of course not a first for "Britain" or the "UK" since the beast has not crossed the Channel to England, but it would be the first time it has been recorded in "The British Isles". I can't find a lot of info about the species but it is apparently from the mountains of Europe, feeding on Fir trees. People have told me that being a first, I may get to choose an English name for it..... (*mischievous grin*).

Getting back to the birds, it has been disappointingly quiet for rarities here on the island, and just at the minute it is very quiet altogether. I went for a stroll round Le Guet today at lunch, and not a single Chiffy, Blackcap, crest or other warbler. Last Sunday though (29th Sep) it was better and I had a really nice couple of hours at Pleinmont. I got there just after first light, and the first bird I saw as I stepped out of the car was a Wryneck. It was very mobile and I kept seeing it on and off for the next hour or so in the Scramble Track car park area.

Wryneck - Pleinmont, 29 Sep 13

There were little pockets of migrants around, but it was quite hard work locating them. I had 2 Whinchat, 2 Yellow Wagtails, 3 Whitethroat, 2 Spotted Flycatchers and about 20 Chiffchaffs, but the valleys were quite dead with most birds up on the top of the headland. Around the TV mast field there was a flock of about 50 Meadow Pipits and I briefly saw something slightly different with them on the deck. They all then flew up and I watched a Lapland Bunting fly over me, calling, and head East towards Mont Herault. A Grey Plover came in low and calling, confusing me at first due to the unusual location, before flying off far to the east.

The other main sighting of interest was on 1st Oct when I went down to Rue des Bergers hide for my lunch. At the far side of the marsh I saw, for a second or two, about half of a back of a snipe - some browny plumage with an orangey-stripe. I didn't see any head or beak or legs or any underparts, but even so, I knew it was a Jack Snipe and grapevined it. Why was I so certain it was a Jack Snipe from such non-views?......bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce.........

Almost as rare as the rare moth, a species which is on the brink of extinction was sighted at Cambridge Park on Saturday. I was being another filling-in substitute for the Police football team, when I got called into the fray just into the second half with the score at a tight 1-0. First touch - pass : Second touch - an edge-of-the-box curler into the top left corner - GOAL! I'm not saying it was a goal of genius, that's for other people to say. But I was pretty chuffed (and it was quite a good goal too!). Here is the evidence.

Categories: 2013 Autumn, Self-found Rarities