Blog

Wed 12th May 2010

Posted on May 12, 2010 at 5:25 PM

birds : I have visited Lihou Headland the last two lunchtimes and although the number of land migrants has fallen there are still plenty to see and it still feels 'rare' out and about. Calling in at the back pond at the Claire Mare today there were single Common Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover and Black-tailed Godwit feeding on the mud - I would not be surprised if this patch of water attracts a good wader in the next couple of weeks.

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The most interesting bird for me over the last couple of days was seen yesterday afternoon as I was driving away from Pulias when I saw a small wader fly in and plonk waist-deep in the middle of the pond. This was a bit odd, and so I U-turned and watched it now resting on the side of the pond. At first it wasn't obvious what species it was, and my first thought was a Curlew Sandpiper,as it had a long drooping bill, but it was very plain-plumaged, with the head and back being a browny-grey colour, with just 3 blackish-centred feathers on the scaps. It did appear probably to be a Dunlin, but all the other Dunlins I'd seen recently were in full breeding-plumage, and this bird had no black belly patch at all, just a few fine markings round the vent, and a very distinctive band of streaks across the breast, a la Pec Sand.

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It was a confusing bird, but it soon flew showing it certainly wasn't a Curlew Sand and called as it hurtled past me, proving it was certainly a Dunlin. I would like to think that its unusual appearance was because it was an unusual race of Dunlin that we do not usually get here, perhaps even a North American "Hudsonian Dunlin". I cannot find much detailed info about this race and I didn't see it well enough at all to get any detail to even claim it as a possible - it was just an interesting bird. The art of birding is to pick out the subtly-different, and this was I'm sure different from the regular passage Dunlins. It's interesting to read David Sibley's article on "Subspecies by Phenology" (click here for link) as this may have some relevance to this bird as it was still in mostly winter plumage. [Incidentally, Sibley's website is the best birding website in my opinion and is well worth a browse and goes along with my birding philosophy that good birding is more about taking in the whole picture and 'feeling' the bird rather than seeing it.]

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Anyway I looked for the bird quickly this morning but it was not there, but a smart Sedge Warbler sang from the Tamarisks by the car park.

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moths : A surprise in the northeasterlies today was a Clouded Yellow flying on Lihou Headland - I wasn't expecting any migrant Leps in these conditions. On Monday, I had a couple of very surprising moth sightings, with firstly, a new species for the garden - Incurvaria masculella. I have only ever seen one before and this one was a fine specimen.

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Incurvaria masculella

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Then, on a rather chilly walk round the Reservoir I happened to spot a weird yellow spot on a fence, and closer inspection revealed it to be a tortrix moth I'd never seen before - Pammene regiana. It had clearly just emerged as it was under its foodplant tree (Sycamore) and was another stunner!

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Pammene regiana

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nonsense : Of course the biggest nonsense this week has been the disgraceful scenes after the hung Parliament. Especially the sell-out Liberal Democrats - shame on you! Joining with your opponents just so that you can obtain some power is all a bit shabby in my eyes and now we have to suffer a few years of watching weasel-face Cameron as PM. Only a few days previously the Libs were telling everyone how terrible the Tories were, now they're all big mates. At least I can take heart that The Labour Party sent the Lib Dems away and accepted their loss like proper men, and wouldn't even consider any coalition.

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And then there was the inevitablility of Chelsea winning the Premier League (well preferable to Man U but not by much). A journalist said that winning the old First Division meant that you had the best team in England, but winning the Premier League meant that you owed someone £500 million. The statisticians have done some number crunching and the factor that correlates most accurately to league position over the years is simply how much you pay your players - so the more you win the more more likely you are to win. In the last 15 years there has been just 3 winners of the top league, in the 15 years from 1960 there were 10 different winners.

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The two items above are quite sad and it's no wonder many have turned away from politics and top division football. Progress doesn't make things better, it just makes them different than before.   

Categories: 2010 Spring