Sunday 24 September 2023


I think I finished my last blog post on a positive note about birding in the rain, and how the conditions looked good to drop in a migrant or two. I did go to the cemetery in the rain the following morning, as it was raining on a south-easterly wind, and the rain had come in later in the night, so I was hopeful. However, I did not record a single migrant. If it wasn't for the fact that I like to do complete lists of everything I see or hear, so I can enter a 'complete list' of my sightings on the BTO's BirdTrack, I wouldn't  have entered anything in my notebook! The only thing I will mention is that I had a Grey Wagtail over, south. Rain will feature again in this post.

Just over a week ago, I ran my moth trap for one of my sporadic moth trapping sessions, and I caught nineteen moths of nine species; eight Large Yellow Underwings, a Setaceous Hebrew Character, a Light Brown Apple Moth, three Common Marbled Carpets, a beautiful Burnished Brass (see picture below), two Lesser Yellow Underwings, a Snout (it does what it says on the tin), a Spruce Carpet and a Square-spot Rustic. I also caught a Cinnamon Sedge, which is a species of caddisfly. 
Burnished Brass
On the subject of invertebrates, I had a couple of walks along the Quay during the past week. And on my first walk, I photographed a hoverfly species. I see them often, and they are very common. I have narrowed it down to either Syrphus ribesii or Syrphus vitripennis, I think! If it is indeed one of those two species, to separate them you need to see the colour of the hind femur (top part of leg)! And I didn't. The only other inverts that I had were a couple of Red Admirals and several Common Drone Flies. 
Syrphus ribesii/vitripennis
The Wyre estuary alongside the quay
Two Little Egrets were feeding out on the mud of the estuary, and a female Teal was floating in the Quay on the incoming tide. As the tide continued to run in, it pushed more waders on to areas that were uncovered, and I had 80 Redshanks, fifteen Oystercatchers, with a further 79 heading downstream, and two Black-tailed Godwits
Little Egret

A few days later, I was back at the Quay and dodging the rain showers. I was on site at a similar time, just after lunch, and the tide was well on its way once again. Redshanks were feeding along the water's edge, before being pushed off onto roosting areas, and I had 349 of them. Just six Oystercatchers this time, with 20 heading downstream, and 25 Turnstones with some of the roosting Redshanks was noteworthy. 
Redshanks just holding on as the tide runs in
Yesterday I had a ringing session at the Nature Park with a good old friend of mine, Graeme, and I think the last time I was out ringing with Graeme was in 1996, when he was a member of our ringing group, and before he moved to East Sussex. So, we had 27 years of catching up to do!

Yesterday morning was the only weather window that we had to do some ringing, so under 6 oktas cloud cover, with a marginal 2 - 3 NW wind, we put a few nets up. I think Graeme must have brought some luck with him, as we managed to ring 32 birds, which isn't half-bad for this site of late:

Robin - 3
Grey Wagtail - 2
Blue Tit - 1
Reed Bunting - 2
Great Tit - 2
Blackcap - 1
Greenfinch - 14
Dunnock - 1
Chiffchaff - 6

Between putting the birding/ringing world to rights, ringing, and processing the birds, we did try and monitor anything that was moving. I suppose the best migrants that we had were three Redwings that dropped out of the sky when some rain came in. In fact, they might be my earliest ever, but I'll need to check. As the wind was a north-westerly direction, this was bringing the Pink-footed Geese in, and we had at least 465 go over, most of them very high. It was probably the same conditions that brought and dropped the Redwings, and because of this they were very probably Icelandic birds. The rain played its part again, and we had to close the nets for a short while until the rain cleared. 
Besides the Pinkies, there wasn't a great deal of vis, just a handful of Meadow Pipits, Grey Wagtails and Woodpigeons. Two 'cronking' Ravens, two singing Cetti's Warblers, four Snipe and a Kestrel, were the best of the rest. 
The forecast isn't looking great for next week, but as ever I will make the effort to get out.
It was interesting, and alarming, to read in August's British Wildlife, that the brilliant columnist for the 'Conservation News' section, Sue Everett, shares my utter concern that tipping points in climate change are being made. Any Naturalist of a certain age, who has kept detailed notes throughout this period, will have seen the plethora of bird and invertebrate populations disappearing from the pages of their notebooks.
Sue writes, will 2023 be the year when humanity finally realises the dangers of climate change to the continued existence of our species? My concern isn't for humanity, but more for the amount of mass extinction that we will cause for species across the planet on our one-way ticket to oblivion. She goes on to say that the fear, supported by evidence, is that tipping points are being reached, beyond which there is no return without effective carbon caption and storage coupled with halting the use of fossil fuels.
Global temperature has reached a level not experienced for 125,000 years, and there is a 98% likelihood (Sue is more optimistic than me) that the Paris Agreement of 1.5 degrees C will be breached within the next five years. I give it a 100% likelihood! 
Already in 2023, temperature records have been smashed; June was the warmest June globally since modern record-keeping began in 1880. The five hottest Junes have all occurred since 2019, and this year, in July, the world experienced its hottest day ever recorded. Also in July, Europe recorded its highest ever temperature, 48.2 degrees C in Sardinia. Extreme marine heatwaves are being experienced in the North Atlantic Ocean, and global average sea-surface temperatures reached unprecedented levels in June and July, with 38.3 degrees C recorded in the Gulf of Mexico off the Florida Keys, and this may break the record for the highest global sea temperature.
You've only got to look at the number of Southern Ocean bird species that are turning up in UK waters in the last few years. And the numbers of Great and Cory's Shearwaters off the southwest coast of England this summer were unprecedented. In this same area, record sea temperatures were experienced, 3 - 4 degrees C higher than normal for June. Rising sea temperatures will inevitably precipitate huge changes in ocean chemistry and marine ecosystems, as well as in patterns of oceanic circulation. And the large numbers of these 'big Shears' will have been as a result of this.
On that happy note.................  

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