Tuesday 7th August 2018

On 29th July, the autumn rarity season started nice and early when I received a call from Chris M that he had just seen a Spotted Crake down at the Claire Mare. Although not a huge rarity nationally, it is still pretty rare in Guernsey and this was the first twitchable bird for me since I've been here. So, even though it was raining, I jumped in the car and raced down there. When I sat in the hide the news was that it hadn't really shown again since the first sighting but this was to be expected since they are expert-level skulkers. I knew that with patience and a keen eye that it would show again eventually, and I was correct after about an hour of waiting, the tiny chicken-like Spotted Crake appeared in the left hand channel. It wandered round, half-hidden for a few seconds, then suddenly found itself out in the open when it realised it was compromised and ran like a fool across the open mud and into the reeds again. I waited half an hour but it didn't appear again. It was of course nice to get a new island tick, despite the very brief sighting. A few other people saw it a little better and you can see a photo by Dan S HERE.

As it is midsummer, my birding takes a back seat, but a casual seawatch at Pulias on 30th revealed a Balearic Shearwater and Guillemot offshore. On 3rd August, after dark, a Common Sandpiper flew over the house calling and on 4th I was watching the gulls circling over the house chasing flying ants and realised that there was a few Mediterranean Gulls with them. I presumed there were probably 3 or 4 birds but I decided to take a few snaps each time one was visible and was surprised to find, comparing plumage details, that there was at least 11 individuals up there!

 Med Gulls over garden, 4 Aug 18

Med Gulls over garden, 4 Aug 18

Not surprisingly, with the hot and dry summer we were having, insects were very visible in these couple of weeks. The moth trap was very productive, starting with a terrific Splendid Brocade on 21st July, a species I have been looking for without success, for over a decade, and I finally had one in the trap! Another new species for me was Dioryctria sylvestrella, which is difficult to ID but moths which seemed to possess all features were caught on 25th July and 3rd August. Other good species for the garden which are rare or rarely recorded were 3 Brown-veined Wainscots on 23rd, Engrailed on 27th, Latticed Heath on 30th, Blair's Mocha on 1st and Pretty Chalk Carpet on 3rd.

 Splendid Brocade - garden, 21 Jul 18

Splendid Brocade - garden, 21 Jul 18

The other bit of Lepidoptering I did was to go twitch a Brown Argus. This is probably one of my biggest pan-listing 'tarts' and it is very likely that I actually saw the species before moving to Guernsey but I have no record of it. It has always been absent from the island, or it was until a couple of years ago, and there has been a few sightings of the odd one since. This year one has been regularly showing on Jaonneuse headland so I went up there on 1st August and quickly found it. It showed exceptionally well, chasing off any Common Blue that came near.

 Brown Argus - Jaonneuse. 1 Aug 18

Brown Argus - Jaonneuse. 1 Aug 18

 Brown Argus - Jaonneuse, 1 Aug 18

Brown Argus - Jaonneuse, 1 Aug 18

I went out a few times looking for anything new and had some new species. Those currently identified included, along the path of the Ronez nature trail both Box-headed Blood Bee (Sphecodes monilicornis) and the digger wasp Cerceris ruficornis, and two new flies from Grand Pre marsh - Rivellia syngenesiae and Chrysopilus cristatus. Another new fly was found on the house window Palloptera muliebris. A couple of new plants I specifically went to see at L'Ancresse were Tansy and Purple Loosestrife.

A few more photos are added below. I specifically went to St Pierre Park hotel to look for rare dragonflies but a male Black-tailed Skimmer was the best. Getting good looks at dragonfly habitat is very difficult here on the island and this is one of the few places you can get to easily (although I always expect to get thrown out!). The female Common Blue below looked a bit odd as it was very small and had a long streak instead of spots on one part of the wing. Unfortunately the moon was behind buildings for the full eclipse but I managed to see most of it.

 Common Blue (slightly aberrant) - Jaonneuse, 1 Aug 18

Common Blue (slightly aberrant) - Jaonneuse, 1 Aug 18

 Brassica Shieldbug - Ronez Nature Trail, 21 Jul 18

Brassica Shieldbug - Ronez Nature Trail, 21 Jul 18

 Robberfly sp. - Les Sommeileuses, 26 Jul 18

Robberfly sp. - Les Sommeileuses, 26 Jul 18

 Black-backed Meadow Ant - Les Sommeileuses, 26 Jul 18

Black-backed Meadow Ant - Les Sommeileuses, 26 Jul 18

 Emperor Dragonfly egg-laying - St. Pierre Park Hotel Lake, 26 Jul 18

Emperor Dragonfly egg-laying - St. Pierre Park Hotel Lake, 26 Jul 18

 Lunar eclipse - 27 Jul 18

Lunar eclipse - 27 Jul 18