Friday, 8 August 2014

Back on the Patch - August 2014

I had a couple of hours spare this morning and so headed down to Curbridge for a spot of patch birding. As I got out of the car and headed down the track towards the river I noticed an odd shaped raptor with pale underparts circling, and a second raptor beneath it. I quickly got my bins onto the top bird and to my surprise it was a Honey Buzzard, which was being seen off by a Common Buzzard. I had the wrong lens on my camera, plus the bird was back lit and distant, but I managed to get a record shot. The distinctive pigeon shaped head and bulging secondaries are evident in this photo, and the large gap between the outermost bar and the next suggest that this bird was a male.

Honey Buzzard

I continued on down to the river, checking the meadow for grasshoppers and crickets on the way. Meadow, Field and Common Green grasshoppers were abundant and nearer the river Short-winged Conehead nymphs were present. The tide was just dropping so gulls and waders were starting to appear. At first there were just a couple of Herring Gulls, and around 20 Black-headed Gulls, but as the water levels dropped a Lesser Black-backed and several Mediterranean Gulls dropped in. The Meds were of mixed ages, juveniles, 2nd summer and adult, all of them were in moult to some degree and some were now almost in their winter plumage. 

Black-headed and Mediterranean Gulls plus Little Egret and Canada Geese 

The Black-heads too were moulting and the last remnants of their brown (I know odd name but there you go!) summer hoods was just about visible. The best place to stand and watch the gulls is usually at the northern end of the estuary, by the sewage works; as the tide drops they gather their to bath. Unfortunately there were a few kayakers on the river today so the birds were finding it difficult to settle.

Black-headed Gull moulting out of its summer plumage

There were three Little Egrets feeding along the waters edge, and a young Shelduck flew past and headed upstream. Three Curlew suddenly appeared, presumably from the roost down stream as did a single Greenshank. I have been seeing two Greenshank on the estuary for a while now so I guess the other one will be around somewhere.

Common Greenshank and Black-headed Gull

I picked up a Kingfisher sat on a fallen tree. I had been hearing them call but had struggled to pick one up, from the sounds of it there were two birds present but I couldn't find the other. A flock of 70 Starlings was quite notable and potentially evidence of a good breeding season, and Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Blue and Great Tits were all present in the woods.

Common Kingfisher - Curbridge

The numbers and diversity of butterflies was quite poor with Peacock, Small White, Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper the only species recorded. Just as I was about to leave a Banded Demoiselle flew past, which was an interesting record for the site.

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