Thursday 31st May 2018

On 12th May we had a 'Nature Guernsey' event down at Les Vicheries orchid fields where I was to be leading some insect walks. Just before I went down I heard that a Red Kite had been seen in the middle of the island. So whilst we were waiting we kept scanning the hilltops in case it wandered down west. But we soon had to start our walk, so we pottered around the edge of the field pointing out bugs and plants to the public. Suddenly, I looked up and, rather than distantly over the trees behind us, the Red Kite flew straight past us at the other side of the field and really low down, as if it was a Marsh Harrier. It's a pity I didn't see it coming or I might have got decent shots. Only my second sighting in Guernsey.

A few days later, on 17th May, I checked my phone at work mid-morning and had a text about a probable Baird's Sandpiper at L'Eree! This was a super-rarity for Guernsey and I was stuck in the classroom. Oh no! By the time my lunch hour arrived, the identification had changed to a Semipalmated Sandpiper - even better - so I raced down there. Unfortunately it was nowhere to be seen and it seems that the bird was only present there for about an hour anyway, so I had no chance of seeing it. I'm pretty OK usually about dipping on a bird when I've been at work and so there was literally no chance of seeing it. In such a situation I am pretty philosophical about it. However, If I dip on a bird when I know I had even a small chance of seeing it, that's when I go apoplectic and lose all proportion! 

Of course, over the next few days, my priority was searching for waders on the beaches just in case the Semi-p was still around, and there were quite a few waders still around, mainly Sanderlings, Bar-tailed Godwits and Dunlin. A Little Ringed Plover was at L'Eree on 17th, but the best were two spiffingly-red Curlew Sandpipers I found on Vazon beach at lunchtime on 18th May. It was low tide and I had to get my 'scope out and run down the beach to double-check them before I raced back to classes. But they were pretty excellent and the first spring birds I'd seen for ages and ages. There's a superb photo of one of the birds HERE taken by Andy S.

During the latter half of the month, birding gradually dissolved into insect-ing as spring became summer. I managed to get the moth trap out twice and found a new species for the garden with a Little Thorn on 27th May. I've seen them a couple of times in the southern valleys but a few other people have had them this spring so they seem to have had a successful breeding season and are looking to expand their population perhaps. So the spring was over with no very rare finds for me, so the mega-beauty will have to be in the autumn I suppose.

 Little Thorn - garden, 27 May 18

Little Thorn - garden, 27 May 18

 Black Mining Bee (Andrena pilipes) - Portinfer, 28 May 18

Black Mining Bee (Andrena pilipes) - Portinfer, 28 May 18

 Honey Bee - Portinfer, 28 May 18

Honey Bee - Portinfer, 28 May 18

 Bearded Iris - Pulias, May 18 - a patch is growing by the beach - not a native species, but rather spectacular flowers

Bearded Iris - Pulias, May 18 - a patch is growing by the beach - not a native species, but rather spectacular flowers