Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Chobham Common - 22 July 2014

Another glorious day with a forecast for low wind in the evening. We were joined by PW and set out to collect more data on of the Nightjars of Chobham Common.

It was a little breezier than we had hoped but we were still fortunate enough to catch a youngster, not long fledged, and the smallest bird that we've seen so far this year. Nightjars have a reflective layer within the eye to aid night vision, but we noted milkier appearance of the eyes of this individual as seen in photograph below.

 Nightjar 3F

 Pin showing very clearly on emergent flight feathers.

 Upper wing ( no larger buff patches on outermost primaries so indicative of female)

 Tail feathers- also consistent with female pattern.

Total: 1
Nightjar - 1

Alners Gorse and Hod Hill - 22 July 2014

I decided to make a repeat visit to Alners Gorse, mainly for Hairstreaks. Unfortunately no White-letters were seen, but then I do not look up in the canopy as they are not photographable that high up, unless trying to use a scope. Purple Hairstreak were coming down fairly frequently, and there was one very obliging Brown Hairstreak, plus another that spent time mid height in an Oak. Quite a few Silver-washed Fritillaries were still active, other than that only the usual common butterflies were seen, apart from two Holly Blues.

 Holly Blue

Purple Hairstreak

Brown Hairstreak

Hod Hill was visited on the way back and was quite disappointing with only a brief view of one Chalkhill Blue, with no Adonis Blue, Grayling or Wall seen.

 Marbled White

 Brown Argus

 Meadow Brown

 Red Admiral

Homefield Wood - 21 July 2014

A quick visit to see if any White-letter Hairstreaks were coming down to the track side flowers, was met with some success with two being seen. A few Silver-washed Fritilliaries were still buzzing around, with a good selection of commoner species.

 White-letter Hairstreak


Small Skipper


Silver-washed Fritillary


 Meadow Brown

Monday, 21 July 2014

Broadwater - 20 July 2014

We got up at 5am to get a decent stretch in at Broadwater before heading home for a barbecue with friends. On very warm days, in any case, it doesn't pay to continue beyond mid-day at this site as the concrete substrate heats up then seems to radiate heat and there is a real risk that birds in the lower panels of some nets may overheat even with increased frequency of net rounds.

We put up 6 nets with a good deal of bird activity all around as we moved from place to place. The first round yielded 13 birds, mainly Chiffchaffs and it was looking promising. Things were ticking along nicely with some young Goldcrests, more Chiffchaffs and not too many tits - when we checked a net that had been fairly quiet all morning to find that a sizeable flock of tits and chiffs had headed straight into it. That net held a third of the morning's total! We separated AA from A ring birds and I (DKL) started ringing the chiffs and lottis first, while CL extracted the last remaining Blue Tits. The backlog was soon cleared and the normal routine resumed. It was a good catch and the vast majority of birds processed were hatched this year. The last bird was ringed at midday.

Additional birds seen during the session included Kingfisher (2), Red Kite, Oystercatcher, Goldeneye and Little Egret (3).

 One of three juvenile Goldcrests

Adult treecreeper (one of  only three adult birds in the whole catch).

Total:  97  (1) 

Wren - 5
Robin -7 (1)
Dunnock - 2
Blackbird - 1
Blackcap - 7
Garden Warbler - 2
Chiffchaff - 29
Goldcrest - 3
Chaffinch -1
Blue Tit - 23
Great Tit -11
Long-tailed Tit - 4
Treecreeper - 2

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Stanwell Moor - 18 July 2014

After the hottest day of the year so far we ended the day with an evening session at Stanwell Moor. There wasn't too much wind and the sunset was spectacular ( even if there are more asthetically pleasing views than the M25 motorway.)

We got a few Sedge and Reed Warblers in the first couple of rounds with a third juvenile Cetti's Warbler and the first two Whitethroats for the year.

We weren't sure of a roost since the aircraft were taking off from (what is for our site) the wrong direction, but we managed a few Swallows before a Hobby came through and put everything off. Still, it was a stunning evening and we had packed up just as the rain started at 10pm, so all good.

The lake nets

Totals:17  (1)

Swallow -3
Robin- 2
Cetti's Warbler - 1
Sedge Warbler -2
Reed Warbler -5 (1)
Whitethroat - 2
Chiffchaff -2

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Chobham Common – 16 July 2014

We returned to the common, joined by EE  this evening, to continue monitoring the Nightjars. This is ongoing work undertaken by our ringing group on behalf of the Wildlife Trust. We arrived in plenty of time and caught three Goldfinch and a juvenile Stonechat before the light began to fade. There were also close encounters with a Tree Pipit and Sparrowhawk, but they evaded capture despite the first walking under the net at least twice and the other perching on a nearby fence and staring straight at the net before turning round and flying away swiftly.

We began playing for Nightjar at 9.45pm and we soon heard churring from the direction of the railway track, then saw a male fly over one net and around our general area for a short while. We had glimpses of at least two birds as they continued their crepuscular activity with calling, wing clapping and churring heard at a distance. One bird was seen to alight on fence post just 40 feet from our base before flying off and a Woodcock passed just a few feet above one of the  nets but was in strong flight and showed no interest in our immediate area.

It was just after 10pm when EE went to check one of the doubles and happily returned with one of these fantastic birds.

The Latin name Caprimulgus europaeus , from capra – nanny goat & mulgere – to milk, hence the name ‘Goatsucker’ referring  to an ancient myth that Nightjars suckle from goats. Other old local names alluded to Nightjar diet ‘dor hawk’ or ‘moth hawk’, habitat ‘fern owl’  and song ‘Churn Owl’. The name Nightjar was first recorded in 1630.

These birds have a breeding range that extends from the UK to north central Asia. Other subspecies cover north-west Africa and southern Europe (meridionalis), Kazakhstan to Kyrgyzstan (sarudnyi), Iraq and Iran east to Uzbekistan (unwini), north-western China and western Mongolia (plumipes) and north-eastern Mongolia (dementievi). All are migratory with birds wintering in west or east Africa.
The huge breeding range and population mean that this species is classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as being of Least Concern. However, on the edge of its range  in the United Kingdom it is red-listed as a cause for concern, and in Ireland it is close to extinction. In Britain , commercial forestry has created new habitat which has increased numbers, but these gains are likely to be temporary as the woodland develops and becomes unsuitable for Nightjars.

Chobham Common provides a habitat for Nightjar that will remain consistent (as it is managed by the Surrey Wildlife Trust). Disturbance from  other users, particularly dogs exercised off the lead, is always a concern for any ground nesting bird, but we were pleased, on examination, to have our first confirmation that successful breeding had taken place in 2014. The juvenile had begun its post juvenile moult and was feathering up very nicely.

 Juvenile Nightjar

By 10.30pm we were no longer hearing Nightjar so packed up and were off site by 11.20pm.

Totals: 5
Nightjar - 1
Goldfinch - 3
Stonechat - 1

Finmere Wood and Aston Rowant - 16 July 2014

An excursion, albeit based on this years early emergence of most butterfly species, unlikely to be successful for Purple Emperor and White Admiral to Finemere Wood. There were a lot of butterflies present, but nothing notable with only one White Admiral seen briefly, no PE, and around six or so Silver-washed Fritillaries. A Marsh Tit was seen, but by around oneish it had started to cloud over, putting any pay to any final opportunities for PE or WA.

Small Skipper

Common Blue (female)

Silver-washed Fritillary


I had intended to head to Rushbed Wood afterwards, but as it was now 90% cloud cover I headed instead to Aston Rowant in the hope that the downland site species would be less obvious despite the cloud, and found with some searching around five Silver-spotted Skippers, along with eight male Chalk-hill Blues. A very vocal Marsh Tit was adjacent to the car park

 Silver-spotted Skipper

Chalk-hill Blue