Sunday, 15 August 2021

Better Than Seawatching

The record has stuck. Click! Breezy south-westerly... Click! Breezy south-westerly... Click! Breezy south-westerly...

This time last year passerines were actually migrating. By this date I'd seen a few Pied and Spotted Flycatchers, Whinchats, a Redstart, lashings of Wheatear. Compare that with this weekend, where I've spent a few hours in the field for precisely one Wheatear and zero migrant warblers. It's been so bad that this afternoon I even considered seawatching. Just briefly. Thankfully I was able to snap out of it by reminding myself how many completely dire afternoon seawatches I've suffered at this time of year. In fact I only needed to go back to Thursday, when I sat down at 16:30, stared at some pretty waves for 60 minutes, then stood up again. One Gannet. No, I would much rather see no birds while enjoying a nice walk, than from the spurious comfort of a stationary chair. A dead seawatch always feels like utterly wasted life. Decision made, and within a few minutes I was at West Bex...

Predictably it was quiet. Very, very quiet. The aforementioned Wheatear was about it. Except for one thing. Gulls. Finally, a few gulls were settled on the beach. Not many, maybe 50-odd in total, but certainly more than I've seen for ages. No Yellow-legged Gulls, but...

The first juv Med Gull I've been able to get anywhere near this summer. Rapidly moulting its way to 1st-winter.

Excellent! A colour-ringed adult Med. White JA700.

And a colour-ringed Great Black-backed Lump. Green 68S

Those gulls cheered me up no end, and a couple of colour rings made for some very sweet icing on the cake.

Yesterday afternoon my walk was mostly at Cogden. While working a birdless hedge I noticed a couple of distant falcons on the upper slopes, close to the coast road. One was a Kestrel, but the other was a spanking Hobby. As I watched, it swooped and caught some invisible creature, lifting its foot to its beak briefly to consume the hapless prey. A minute or two later it did the same again. I guess that birders who see this happen on a regular basis over wetlands swarming with dragonflies might take such behaviour in their stride, but it's many years since I last witnessed it. Unfortunately, by the time I was close enough to have any hope of decent photos the Hobby had drifted further east. This is about the best I could manage...

Really small Hobby. At least you can see what it is though.

Apart from an Oystercatcher heading west over the sea, and 30+ Swifts, Saturday afternoon was as relatively birdless as Sunday. Which leaves us with non-birds...

A nice example of Figwort Sawfly.

I can honestly say I would have been the last person to predict that NQS would ever feature a sawfly photo. What can I say? Spotting this thing mooching about in the vegetation I assumed some kind of wasp. But no. Figwort Sawfly. Please do not hold your breath while waiting for the next sawfly pic.

Saturday afternoon's Painted Lady, enjoying a sunny bit of Knapweed.

Sunday afternoon's Painted Lady, sulking dejectedly in a cloudy bit of Hawthorn.

Talking of butterflies, how things have changed! Less than two weeks ago the fields were swarming with skippers and Marbled Whites. This weekend I haven't seen a single example of either. All gone. Dead. Plenty of Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers and Common Blues, but little else. If the year was a book, it's quite sobering how rapidly the pages turn and a well-loved character is suddenly out of the story...

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