Wednesday, 3 August 2022

An Actual Bird

22nd May, 1978 is the date pencilled in my old Peterson guide. Google tells me that was a Monday, which doesn't surprise me. A layabout student could pull a birding skive any day he fancied. In this case, a short cycle ride to Wraysbury Gravel Pits to see his first Little Ringed Plovers.

Until quite recently I took LRP a bit for granted. In the early 1980s you could watch breeding pairs raise their young on the drained north basin of Staines Res from the causeway. And back on the Axe patch in Seaton, LRP was a gimme every spring and autumn, sometimes in numbers. Roughly a decade ago, some nasty spring weather caused a bit of a migration pile-up at Black Hole Marsh, with Little Ringed Plovers arriving, but seemingly unwilling to push on. I forget what the final tally was, but my unreliable memory says 20+ birds together. Which was a very big count for Devon, especially in spring.

And then I moved to Bridport.

Until today, I think my local LRP count was one. Now, thanks to a prompt message from Alan and Mike over at West Bex, it is two...

Gorgeous juv Little Ringed Plover on the dried-up Big Pond.

Some unseen (by me) fly-over provoked this defensive crouch.

A circular walk involving the coast path and some inland areas produced zero other migrants at all, but my bins were nevertheless grateful for a bit of action.

The last couple of moth returns have been a bit disappointing. With the nights so warm I was expecting great things. Even so, one new species in each catch. This morning it was this one...

A rather worn (note shiny, scale-free thorax!) Purple Bar.

In good nick, I can imagine that Purple Bar is a classy little moth. Not uncommon either, so hopefully we'll get a fresher one.

A couple we've had before...

Cochylimorpha straminea - c.7mm long, and beautifully marked.

Flame Carpet. Excellent name.

Cloaked Minor

The other new moth was one of those irritating ones that is almost certainly a something-or-other, but might conceivably be a so-and-so instead. It is 5mm of mini-tripod weirdness, and not the most colourful creature. But what it lack in gaudiness, it makes up for in attitude...

Hopefully my delicate little digits convey some idea of how tiny this moth is.

It is a Parornix sp., and my money is on P. devoniella.

Whatever it is, it's new for us, and not all that common locally I suspect.

Finally, that LRP again...

Ju-u-u-u-st lovely...


  1. Gav, LRP was one of my first birds thanks to the YOC. Startops Res at Tring. I saw these before seeing RP.
    I'll be out with the bins before doing anything else.

    1. Well that's appropriate, Ric. Location of first UK breeders I think. Also the location of my one and only YOC trip in early '70s, where I ticked Ruddy Duck and a juv Chris Kightley.

  2. Chris Kightley! Indeed. My first YOC leader who showed me the Hawfinches at Bentley Priory. The last occasion I saw him was also a day at Bentley Priory when I was birding alone. He wasn't alone but had a blond girl friend in tow. I eventually got the message.