Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Clancy's Rustic - Moth Gold!

I've finally struck a little bit of moth gold in the form of Clancy's Rustic!

Just to give you a bit of background Clancy's Rustic was first discovered in the UK in 2002 at Dungeness, Kent by Mr Sean Clancy and the vernacular name Clancy's Rustic was thus created. Since then and like a lot of continental moths its range has very slowly started to creep further north and is now annually recorded in small numbers along the south coast and through Kent but records for Essex (VC17/18) have remained very scarce, so much so that there has only a been handful of previous records (13) and these were generally coastal - That was until I discovered this beauty in the moth trap this morning!

A quick email to the Essex moth recorder and bingo my suspicions were confirmed and the 14th record for Essex and the furthest West (inland) were in the bag.

And to add to this little episode...I remember meeting Sean Clancy on a couple of occasions whilst staying at the Ob's at Dungeness as a spotty teenager in the late 1980's and I would stand and wonder (open mouthed at times) as Sean and a small band of Lepidopterist followers would empty the moth trap, quickly identifying an array of largely bland, brown and grey moths - And now, all these years later I'm the one identifying these bland, brown and grey moths and one just happened to be Clancy's Rustic.

Macro Moth, VC18
Clancy's Rustic - Woodford Green 9th September 2020
14th Record for Essex




Saturday, 5 September 2020

Birding In the Shadow of Canary Wharf

I don't say it very often but today was a really good day birding the patch, from the moment I stepped onto the Flats at first light and picked up Common Sandpiper and Kingfisher on Alexandra Lake until I left at midday, Wanstead was alive with passage migrants.

It's always hard to be 100% accurate with numbers as you're often repeatedly seeing the same birds just in slightly different areas but to briefly summarise I would suggest there were 4+ Common Redstart, 5 Northern Wheatear, 4 Whinchat, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, Yellow Wagtail, Blackcap, Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat a sprinkling of Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff and let's not forget a bonus calling Greenshank - all this just a stones throw away from Canary Wharf!

Not bad for a urban East London patch that does occasionally still surprise me - the only thing missing was that marque sighting which would have been the cherry on today's cake...oh well, there's always tomorrow!

Canary Wharf, London
Common Redstart with Canary Wharf in background
Wanstead, London
Canary Wharf - Same photo just a different focus and subject!

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

88% Self-found Rating

We all know birders like to keep lists, many birders keep lists of list's - I'm not quite that anal but I do keep a few lists including a little unknown list (well, it was unknown) of self-found birds on the patch and this recently hit a new high of 88% with the addition of Nightingale now on that list - does anybody else do this?

The calculation is quite simple really (in Excel) just divide your self-found list by your patch list.

Wanstead list currently stands on 145
Self-found list currently stands on 128

128/145 = 88% (that's rounded down, 88.28% if you really want to be accurate).

For a patch that is heavily covered by numerous people all day, every day (and this appears to be growing year on year) I'd say having a self-found rating of 88% of my total patch list is quite remarkable, but please let me know if I'm blowing my own trumpet here as I have no idea how this compares to any other birders and their patches.

Here's the list of 17 birds I've not self-found and apart from Rustic BuntingOrtolan Bunting and Slavonian Grebe all the others, although scarce on the patch are potentially gettable and would help to improve my percentage rating and could even nudge this into the 90% region!

Red-Crested Pochard
Pheasant
Waxwing
Smew
Black Redstart
Cuckoo
Lapland Bunting
Slavonian Grebe
Red-legged Partridge
Cetti's Warbler
Ortolan Bunting
Great White Egret
Black-tailed Godwit
Red-backed Shrike
Rustic Bunting
Garganey
Greenshank

Male, Spring, London
If I could find an Autumn Garganey on the patch this would certainly help increase my % rating.
This male (not found by me) spent the morning on Jubilee pond back in March 2019.

There is one problem (although it's a very nice problem) If I add a patch tick to the list and I'm not the finder my percentage rating drops, as I say it's not a big problem as everyone loves to add a new bird to their patch list regardless of who found it. I also find that keeping a self-found list does keep me interested and fully motivated when I'm out on the patch, I suppose we all have different motivations and goals when out birding and my little unknown list certainly adds a little dimension and keeps me entertained.


Saturday, 22 August 2020

The Speez of a Tree Pipit

It's funny how seeing just one bird of note can turn around a mornings patch birding.

I'd seen Spotted  Flycatcher, a flyover Yellow WagWillow Warbler and a family group of three Hobby which was all standard fare for Wanstead but it wasn't anything to write home about (or Blog about) especially as we're now heading towards the end of August when expectations are always running a little high, but whilst standing in the north end of the Brooms with Bob and Marco I picked out the distinctive harsh flight call of a Tree Pipit overhead. It only called the once but that was good enough to stick it on the year list - which is limping along! The three of us did a quick recce through the long grass and sure enough I found the bird perched up on one of the few remaining burnt and chard trees left in the Brooms - calling the guys over, we all enjoyed some cracking views of one of my favourite passage migrants as it sheltered from the gusty wind, remnants of yesterdays storm 'Ellen'.

Following last weekends Nightingale and today's Tree Pipit finding just a single decent bird amongst the usual passage and breeding species can so often make the difference to your day when birding a local patch.

Autumn, Passage, London
I've seen a few passage Tree Pipits at Wanstead but they don't typically show as well as this one!