Thursday, 23 September 2010

Skuas and Sallows

The day got off to a monsoon start with torrential rain, in fact we had 14mm of rain fall in only about half an hour and even in this time there were short spells when it stopped. So when it rained it really rained and rain like this can bring down birds flying overhead that would normally never be seen. I went into the Tern hide with thoughts of possible black terns or waders, but there were none to be seen.

The heavy rain kept my in the hide for a little longer than usual, the black-headed gulls were all standing still heads angled up to minimise the area being impacted by the heavy rain drops. Looking about I noticed three birds high above Ibsley church dropping down towards the lake, at first I thought they were waders, perhaps whimbrel, but they were not right, wings too long and well just not waders. As they dropped down I got the telescope onto them, they were skuas! But still they were very slight, not displaying a powerful hawk-like look at all, long loose wings and almost tern-like flight, they were long-tailed skuas. All were more or less plain brown, slightly paler below obviously they were juveniles. They came low across the lake to the south end, they rose up and went off south-west gaining height as the rain eased. Heavy rain really can bring in the unexpected. These might be the first inland long-tailed skuas recorded in Hampshire, although they are known to migrate overland quite regularly they rarely get seen, probably because they are too high.

Nine brave volunteers came in today and by the time we started work the rain had stopped completely and we did a good bit of work. Two stayed on into the afternoon and in between we had lunch and emptied the moth trap. This was the first night the trap had been run since I finally managed to repair it. The haul included a three pink-barred sallow, these are really bright moths presumably it is only the autumn leaf colour that could possibly give them any chance of hiding from predators.
Other birds today included the great white egret for a time this morning on Ibsley Water where there was also a dunlin and a common sandpiper, probably both the same as yesterday's birds. Around the middle of the day a scatter of sand martin and swallow were over Ibsley Water and a few house martin passed over the Centre. A hobby hunting over the trees by the Ivy North hide as I locked up was a good sight. Lastly locking up the Tern hide, a quick look out and there were 2 common tern, both juveniles, but nothing else new that I could see.

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