Friday, 12 June 2015

A Hudsonian Whimbrel and Kestrel Pulli

For the second time this year the British Isles has been graced by the presence of a Hudsonian wader. In May I twitched the Hudsonian Godwit in Somerset, which was a cracking bird and not a species I thought that I would ever see in the UK. This week news broke of a possible Hudsonian Whimbrel at Pagham Harbour in West Sussex. It was not long before it was confirmed and so being only 25 minutes down the road I had to go. 

Hudsonian Whimbrel is a species I have seen many times in the USA and Canada, but this was only the 9th record in the UK, so not a species I had expected to see, and so close to home. It is a cryptic species, that is very similar to Eurasian Whimbrel, but with good views is actually quite straightforward to identify.  In flight the back, rump and upper-tail coverts are concolourous with the mantle and therefore very different from Eurasian Whimbrel that has a white rump and the distinctive 'V' up its back. The underwing, auxiliaries and flanks are also densely barred with a ground colour that is warmer than that of Eurasian Whimbrel. When not in flight the striking head pattern should be the first clue to a bird being a Hudsonian Whimbrel, since it is much stronger, with the pale/white supercilium and crown stripe contrasting strongly with the darker feathers. 

I nipped down to see this bird on Wednesday morning, and it was interesting to see how obvious the head markings were. I was unable to get any photos of it unfortunately but as it is still there I hope to pop down again for a second look and may get some.

Today (12th June) I popped into Manor Farm Country Park to check the Kestrel boxes and see how they were getting on. If you remember, two weeks ago the chicks were too small in one box so I didn't check the other. Today, the chicks in the first box were doing very well, and we were able to ring four very healthy chicks. There were five much younger chicks in the second box, one of which was half the weight of the others, and may not survive, but they were all big enough to ring, so fingers crossed they will all fledge.

A brood of four Kestrels - Manor Farm Country Park
A brood of five (smaller) Kestrels - Manor Farm Country Park

After ringing and a quick stroll around the woods I headed home and opened a net in the back garden. It had been a dull and humid morning and by mid afternoon, when I got home, there was a little bit of moisture in the air but no wind, so almost ideal. I only ended up catching about ten birds, which included juvenile Blue and Great Tits and Great Spotted Woodpecker, also adult Greenfinch, Robin and Nuthatch. In recent weeks I have had four Stock Doves feeding in the garden, today one strayed into my net, as did a Wood Pigeon for comparison. The iridescent green on the side of a Stock Dove's neck really is quite striking and it lacks the white that is present on Wood Pigeon. Note also the iris and bill colour.

Stock Dove - Funtley
Wood Pigeon - Funtley

Whilst waiting for birds to fly into the net I worked my way through the moth trap, that I had left out overnight. I had caught over 100 moths with nothing particularly of note. The highlights for me were Marbled Brown, which is not that regular in my garden and a few migrant species, Diamond Back Moth and Rush Veneer. The main highlight though was a Dusky Cockroach, a species that I have occasionally caught in the past, but never that frequently. This is one of three native cockroach species in the UK, the others being Tawny and Lesser Cockroach. There are of course pest species that have colonised so it is always worth checking if you find one in your house, to make sure it's not a native species.

Dusky Cockroach - Funtley

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