Perhaps it was my new hearing aids, or were the nightjars particularly vocal the other evening?
Last Thursday was a suitable evening and we met a friend who had never heard them; a few LAPWG members also turned up. We kept an acceptable distance apart as we strolled up the track at the local site. The air was still, chilly enough to keep the midges and mozzies away, and the sky was clear, and lit by a glowing red horizon to the west.
As twilight deepened we heard short bursts of churring and then it was more prolonged, ventriloquial , in two tones. It was quite unmistakeable. It was difficult to tell how many there were, but certainly two or three. At intervals we saw the bird, with narrow wings and long tail rather cuckoo-like, flying across the track or a clearing. In flight they give a two-note brief call, repeated several times. As the stars came out, dominated by the bright light of Jupiter fairly low to the SE, it became too dark to see and we retreated after another of the summer highspots.
It’s an important survey for us to carry out because it demonstrates changes in numbers within butterfly species from year to year. Weather data is collected later to see if there is any correlation with ‘good’ years and ‘bad’ years. And important to use the same locations to compare over the years.
You can do as many surveys as you like. There is an app or you can use a notebook and upload the most representative counts at the end of the survey period which is August 9th.
No pictures but in our sheltered valley today, we had our first Humming-bird Hawk moth, plus Golden-ringed dragonfly; a Hawker perhaps Southern; Beautiful Demoiselles and quite a decent number of butterflies including: meadow Brown, Ringlet, Comma, Large White, Red Admiral, large Skippers and a Silver-washed Fritillary.
There were dozens of butterflies, including loads of Commas which Kate was photographing when Gill noticed a small grey thing flitting up under the oaks and wondered if this was a Purple Hairstreak. A little further on, Kate found this and knew it was different. Sadly damaged, perhaps by a bird but this was their first ever real-life sighting.
In their garden, Rosie caught sight of what she first thought was a pink Magpie and I can see why. But I thought it was a Rosy Starling, the colours and pattern matched and they are reported from further west. BUT, as Simon pointed out with some more photos, the beak and legs don’t match and it is looking more and more like a Magpie or something. I will send on to our more experienced birders. Photos R & S Richardson
Cannot believe the numbers of fledgling birds around at the moment. Blackbirds from 2 or 3 broods; 8+ Blue Tits, Great Tits, Marsh & Coal Tits are back with their young, Bullfinch, Chaffinch and a Chiffchaff. One Song Thrush which looked huge but the prize for the most noise goes to the three young Siskins who scream at dad to be fed.
House Martin numbers feeding above have more than doubled so maybe the first broods are out. Only sad report was from Simon H (Stara Woods) who is losing all their nests to a Magpie which has even taken the Swallows from inside the stable.
Hopefully, the fledglings have safely got away from this little nest made in a corner of our front garden, only about 2′ off the ground but it was well hidden. We noticed the adults, first with beaks of nest material, then going back & forth but only discovered the exact location when watering the front of the border…