Thursday 28th July 2016

June and July - as I've mentioned before - are my break from birding. Well, of course you can never truly break from birding since we're always looking up and listening out for things as we go about our everyday lives. But of course if something rare turns up then I'd scoot off for that, for example on 6th July, I popped down after work to Rue des Bergers to try and see a Great White Egret (fail), but did see a Green Sandpiper there.

Then on 17th July, a Sunday, there was a report of a Black Stork flying around the island, which may have been visible from my garden if I'd have been outside. Luckily, even though it was just the third record for Guernsey, I didn't need it, so I wasn't going to go on a wild goose chase, and it may stick around anyway.

The next day (18th July) though, I was at work as it was a Monday, but it was not a normal work-day as we had our sponsored walk. Sounds a nice day out, but the forecast was for obscenely hot temperatures, so not as pleasant as it sounds. We were not starting from school, but from the northern coast of the island, so me and my group boarded the bus to take us there. Luckily, one of the roads was up, so we had to go past the Vale Pond to get to the start. Just as we rounded the corner, passing the Vale Church, I casually glanced up out of the window and saw - really low above us - the BLACK STORK! It was probably flapping over the back of the pond somewhere being mobbed a little by a couple of crows. I obviously saw it only briefly and I pointed it out to a couple of the kids, whose indifference was palpable (although they'll thank me in the future if they ever become birders!).

I phoned out the news for the grapevine and we carried on to our drop off point at Bordeaux. As we rounded the harbour, in the stinking heat, I looked back and saw a very large bird being harassed by some Oystercatchers just offshore. It wasn't was it? But it was! The Black Stork had followed me and was now gaining height over the harbour entrance. With the temperatures as they were, it was probably confused and thought it was gaining height over Gibraltar, and that Jersey was the North African coast. I struggled to keep both an eye on the bird and an eye on the pupils who were walking on a stretch of road with no path, but I managed a couple of very distant snaps of the bird before I had to hurry along. I was so fortunate with this bird, bumping into it whilst doing my job, just as I was fortunate with the last ones which flew over my house! 

 Black Stork - Bordeaux - 18 Jul 16

Black Stork - Bordeaux - 18 Jul 16

During the early summer, I didn't manage to get as much insect-finding in as I was hoping to due to pressures of work and family. The highlight of the moth-trapping sessions was the first-ever Clouded Buff for the garden, and only my second-ever, on 10th June (the first time I had had the trap out all year - yes, I know that is pitiful).

 Clouded Buff - garden - 10 Jun 16

Clouded Buff - garden - 10 Jun 16

After the sponsored walk, we had Activities Week, and I was in charge of the coastal-walking activity which, immediately after the sponsored walk and in 30+'C temperatures, was not met with terrific enthusiasm. The idea was for the pupils to enjoy the natural world with me pointing out interesting wildlife - hmmmm. And so on day two as we crossed L'Ancresse, I suggested we walk past the 'Hornet Moth' tree just in case we saw one. I wasn't really expecting anything, as in the last two years I have checked that tree c.10 times and all I've seen are obvious holes and a couple of pupal cases. As soon as we got there, Josh in year 8 walks round the back of the tree and says "uh, there's a massive wasp-thing here". Crawling up the thick branch was a superbly stunning Lunar Hornet Moth - the first I've ever seen! I bought the lad a Dr. pepper as a reward, but I didn't go over the top since I'd have definitely seen it just a couple of seconds after him, since it was much larger than I expected it to be.

 Lunar Hornet Moth - L'Ancresse - 20 Jul 16

Lunar Hornet Moth - L'Ancresse - 20 Jul 16

On 26th July, I was pleased to be able to meet up with bee expert Ian Beavis and we had a pleasant walk round Jerbourg for a couple of hours. I wish I had had more time available since I learnt plenty about bees and had a few new species ticked off.

 Panurgus calcaratus (Small Shaggy Bee) - Jerbourg - 26 Jul 16 - these 'shaggy bees' appear to snooze in the heads of these yellow flowers.

Panurgus calcaratus (Small Shaggy Bee) - Jerbourg - 26 Jul 16 - these 'shaggy bees' appear to snooze in the heads of these yellow flowers.

 Omosita colon - garden - 2 Jul 16 - first in Guernsey since 19th Century

Omosita colon - garden - 2 Jul 16 - first in Guernsey since 19th Century

 Pycnomerus fuliginosus - garden - 9 Jul 16 - a new species for Guernsey

Pycnomerus fuliginosus - garden - 9 Jul 16 - a new species for Guernsey