Thursday 31st August 2017

After the excitement of the pelagic trip, the pink starling and the shearwater extravaganza, I presumed that the second half of my summer holidays would certainly be an anti-climax. It was not going to reach those heights but, just 2 days after our trip to sea, I was not going to pass up a re-acquaintance with the star of the start of the year, the Royal Tern. We knew it was back in the Channel Islands after its French summer vacation because it had been seen in Alderney, but on 16th August it reappeared here, sat on Houmet Paradis island off Bordeaux. So a nice easy twitch in the afternoon, I had the bird to myself as it rested on the offshore islet, offering good but distant 'scope views. (The photos below were taken pointing my Lumix down my scope - hence the fuzziness.)

 Royal Tern - Houmet Paradis, 16 Aug 17 a.jpg

Royal Tern - Houmet Paradis, 16 Aug 17 a.jpg

 Royal Tern - Houmet Paradis, 16 Aug 17

Royal Tern - Houmet Paradis, 16 Aug 17

On 22nd August I had my car in the garage for my starter motor to be replaced. As the garage was in Torteval, and the weather looked pretty good for some migrants, I decided to combine this with some birding in the west of the island. Stopping quickly at the Claire Mare, there was a Gadwall and a Cetti's Warbler singing, I then drove up to Pleinmont. Nothing rare but a few Willow Warblers had dropped in, a Firecrest was singing at the top of Vau de Monel, and a total of 3 Tree Pipits were noted passing over. I drove to the garage mid-morning and then walked back to Pleinmont along the coastal path from Creux Mahie. Migration was further evident as I had three more Tree Pipits - one at Creux Mahie, two at Tielles - as well as a few Yellow Wagtails, Wheatears and Sand Martins. A very pleasant early-autumn's birding, plus a nice surprise was a field full of Giant Puffballs.

 Tree Pipits - Les Tielles, 22 Aug 17.jpg

Tree Pipits - Les Tielles, 22 Aug 17.jpg

The final week or so of the summer holidays was mostly taken up with invertebrates and, on my birthday I spent a nice afternoon at Grand Pre, mostly taking photos of hoverflies. Studying the photos I identified two new species. Highlights of a few moth-trapping nights were a rather colourful Archer's Dart and a much-wanted species, that I'd been hoping to see for a long time, the pink-and-yellow pyralid, Oncocera semirubella, which I know as the "Rhubarb and Custard Moth". 

 Eristalis tenax - Grand Pre, 23 Aug 17.jpg

Eristalis tenax - Grand Pre, 23 Aug 17.jpg

  Eristalis arbustorum- Grand Pre, 23 Aug 17

 Eristalis arbustorum- Grand Pre, 23 Aug 17

 Helophilus pendulus - Grand Pre, 23 Aug 17

Helophilus pendulus - Grand Pre, 23 Aug 17

 Wasp (Ectemnius sp.) - Grand Pre, 23 Aug 17

Wasp (Ectemnius sp.) - Grand Pre, 23 Aug 17

 Archer's Dart - garden, 25 Aug 17

Archer's Dart - garden, 25 Aug 17

 Oncocera semirubella - garden, 27 Aug 17 

Oncocera semirubella - garden, 27 Aug 17 

 Oncocera semirubella - garden, 27Aug17

Oncocera semirubella - garden, 27Aug17

It looked like another decent migration day on 28th Aug as we walked the dog around Fort le Marchant. We had 2 Whinchat, a Yellow Wagtail and a Green Sandpiper flying overhead. The final birding of the month was a seawatch from Jaonneuse on 31st. There was nothing too remarkable about the birds seen - although I would never complain about 9 Arctic Skuas and 3 Bonxies - but the morning was very memorable because of the brilliant display we had from a pod or two of Bottle-nose Dolphins. We had one group of about 13 and then another of about 7 slowly go west past the headland, feeding voraciously as they went. We were able to watch them feed through the scopes, as they constantly surfaced and occasionally jumped (although really tricky to catch on camera!). One small dolphin was particularly playful and was often seen hurling itself out of the water, flipping itself on its back as it splashed back into the sea (see video below). The main oddity from the seawatch was what looked like a whitish auk zooming past at great distance. The nearest we could get as a possible ID was a winter-plumaged Black Guillemot, but I suppose a leucistic common auk species was also a likely scenario.

 Bottle-nose Dolphin - Jaonneuse, 31 Aug 17

Bottle-nose Dolphin - Jaonneuse, 31 Aug 17

 Bottle-nose Dolphins - Jaonneuse, 31 Aug 17

Bottle-nose Dolphins - Jaonneuse, 31 Aug 17

 Bottle-nose Dolphins - Jaonneuse, 31 Aug 17

Bottle-nose Dolphins - Jaonneuse, 31 Aug 17

 Bottle-nose Dolphin - Jaonneuse, 31 Aug 17

Bottle-nose Dolphin - Jaonneuse, 31 Aug 17

Other wildlife-related activities in the summer holidays included more practice in close-up photography of specimens, which I feel I am making progress on (see beetle below). I think I either need to get a new natural light or at least reduce the blue colour on the final photo. Very hairy-round-the-edge specimens are very difficult to do! I also decided that the BUBO logo needed updating and so I designed something new. And finally, my new camera seems to have a much, much better video capability and I have been trying to do some video editing. I am not a huge fan of videos of birds, much preferring to see photos, but they do have numerous advantages to still pics - being much more forgiving about focussing for starters. I finished the summer totally pumped for the autumn's birding ahead! - and then realised that I had to go back to work instead and promptly deflated....

Phylan gibbus L'Ancresse 9Jul17.jpg
BUBO LOGO 2017 small.jpg