Richard Astle, local wildlife enthusiast and chairman of Langdyke Countryside Trust, seems to emit pheromones that are irresistible to rare Catocala moths. Last week he trapped a Dark Crimson Underwing in his Helpston garden, a first modern-day record for the vice-county. And then, last night, he went one bigger with the first Clifden Nonpareil that I have heard of in our corner of the world.
Richard kindly lent his star find to me this morning, and I was able to take some photos of this moth 'lifer'. What a spectacular creature – much heftier than I had anticipated, even when compared to the more familiar Red Underwing. Wow, and thanks very much to Richard for the opportunity!
In my eyes, being treated to intimate views of shorebirds probably rates as the most satisfying of all experiences that birding can offer. There's something very special about coming across a fearless wader or two although, living in London, such encounters are usually limited to the occasional autumn trip out to western Ireland. Indeed it is the autumn season (and especially September) that offers the best opportunity for coming across showy waders, as it's when southbound juveniles of many species are at their most numerous.
It was therefore nice to welcome in September 2020 with a few confiding youngsters on my Lincolnshire patch at Baston and Langtoft Pits early on the morning of 2nd. A flock consisting of five juvenile Ringed and a single juvenile Little Ringed Plovers, plus a juvenile Dunlin, was feeding on the wader pit as the sun rose. With breeding birds having departed and the troublesome Greylag flock feeding out in the fields, I was able to crawl up to the edge of the pit without causing commotion for once and ended up enjoyed some amazing views.
Both the Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers were utterly fearless, feeding unconcernedly less than a metre from me at times – so close that you could hear them pattering around. I ended up spending the best part of 90 minutes lying in mud and goose shit, but it was completely worth it for an experience that will live long in the memory – certainly the best wader showing I've had on my old patch over the many years I've watched it, even if there wasn't anything unusual among them. It's quite humbling to think that I was probably the first human some of them had seen in their short lives!
Great birds, perfect weather, amazing views ... and all on patch. What could be better?!
The musings of a wildlife enthusiast, usually armed with his camera.