… sloth to be exact. I should have gone out looking for migrants this morning, but just couldn’t be bothered. Sitting with a coffee, looking at the back field found me very few migrants (it all happened last week), but I saw a raptor being mobbed over the Downs. A look through the scope confirmed that it was a Marsh Harrier, slowly moving west towards Cissbury. A new bird for the house: number 125.
The on-foot list had three heard-only species on this morning. Quail is probably going to stay that way, but I went out to the Monarch’s Way in the hope of seeing Yellow Wagtail to add to the heard flyby bird last week. At least 16 were in a field around the feet of the cattle. Migrants were down, but Findon gallops had 6 Whinchats and a Redstart. Cissbury Ring was a bit windy, but on the way back I stumbled across a Grasshopper Warbler, the other heard-only bird, which showed well, but eluded the camera.
8 Yellow Wagtails around this cow
Four of the 6 Whinchats on the gallops
Another walk up to Steep Down today, in the hope of catching up with the officially “knackered” Long-tailed Blue that was last seen on Wednesday. No luck there, but just a few yards further along Karen found a nice fresh one, which more than made up for it, particularly when it sat open, as opposed to the uncooperative ones in Brighton on Tuesday.
On the way we encountered a couple of Hummingbird Hawkmoths feeding on a Buddleia. Cracking little things, they kept us entertained for a few minutes, with their escorts of Volucella zonaria, a Hornet-mimic hoverfly, before whizzing off.
Hummingbird Hawkmoth and Volucella zonaria
A walk up poppy-clad Steep Down with my brother and sister in law yesterday was hot and starred a post-breeding flock of ~50 Corn Buntings. At home we’ve had Whinchats, Wheatears, a Spotted Flycatcher and a Garden Warbler, but that’s just a fraction of the number of birds up on the Downs as the moment.
Today I had a day off, spent twitching Long-tailed Blues in Brighton (the one at Steep Down was hiding yesterday) and then hiding from the heat. A Brown Hairstreak at the Blue site was a welcome bonus.
A long-tailed Blue (actually with tails)
A very brief view of one open
They bombed about crazily, only occasionally resting
A good day with my brother and sister in law, starting with at least a couple handsome Lesser Whitethroats as well as a larger number of Common Whitethroats at home. At the Sea Lane café in Goring we had a nice surprise in the form of a Great White Egret. Later on we had a walk up Cissbury Ring where we had a bucket load of migrants: at least 6 Spotted Flycatchers on the ring, a brief view of a Redstart, a fly-over Yellow Wagtail announced itself, but didn’t show, but a Wheatear was more cooperative. A Whinchat at the top of a tall tree was slightly unexpected, but best of all was a long-awaited Pied Flycatcher, which I’ve been looking for for the last couple of weeks.
Not a smoking bush, but a swarm of flying ants
On Saturday we decided to see what the strong winds were blowing up the channel. After more than two hours, the answer was clear: nothing. Our full list was 1 Gannet, 1 Cormorant, 2 Turnstones and a small handful of Herring Gulls. With the wind dropped a bit today, we went to Pagham to see if we could catch up with the elusive Squacco Heron. It wasn’t very elusive today, thankfully, staying put for more than four hours in plain sight (at least it was still in exactly the same place when we came back). It caught a couple of fish while we were watching and had a brief flight, until it decided it was too windy and came back. A couple of Cattle Egrets added to the Mediterranean feel.
It’s just caught lunch
Walking into better view, in preparation for a take off
Off it goes
A rather quiet and lazy week, spent suffering with sinusitis, left me up to doing little walking or birding over the weekend, which was dominated by visits by family and also friends from Spain (Pablo is very interested in moths, so we were kept busy). The moth trap revealed another welcome immigrant in the shape of a Gypsy moth, another first for the house, and a few welcome firsts for the year.
Buff Ermine: a common moth, but seldom so extravagantly marked