23 Dec 2016

22 Dec 16 - Happy Christmas 2016

Just a quick seasonal photo to wish all the readers of the Blog a Happy Christmas & good break leading up to the New Year. In case any of you think a photo of a Peacock Butterfly isn't particularly seasonal, then I took this in the sunshine at Studland's Brands Bay hide on 22 Dec with the iphone camera. Peacocks overwinter as adults & potentially can fly in any of the winter months if the weather is warm enough & there is some sunshine. The first one I saw in 2015 was only a quarter of a mile away at Greenlands Farm on 16 Jan 2015.
Peacock Butterfly: Brands Bay
But being honest, the weather wasn't that typical for the date. As I write this on 23 Dec, it has just started to rain & the wind is getting steadily stronger as Dorset sees the outer edges of Storm Barbara. A more seasonal December day.

18 Dec 2016

18 Dec 16 - An Early Christmas Present (From The BOU)

This is the time of the year when the BOU often announce changes to the British List, but this year following the disbanding of the Taxonomic Sub Committee, I hadn't been expecting any interesting announcements. So I was a bit suprised to see an announcement that the BOU had added both the Dungeness Acadian Flycatcher & the Papa Westray Chestnut Bunting to the British List. With both being in Autumn 2015, I had been expecting both of these species to take a couple of years before a decision was made for either species. 
Acadian Flycatcher: Dungeness (22 Sep 15)
When news broke of an Empidonax Flycatcher at Dungeness, it didn't take me long to leave the house & I persuaded big Kent lister Marcus Lawson (who is now a Poole resident) to wait long enough to pick him up. I figured Marcus could help keep an eye on what people's thoughts were on the Flycatcher while I was driving. The good news was the first Birders didn't think it was an Alder Flycatcher, the only widely seen Empidonax Flycatcher in the UK & therefore it was a First for Britain. After checking the photos that evening & reading up on the identification, Acadian Flycatcher seemed the best option. This was confirmed within a day or two following review of the photos from the other side of the pond. I saw no reason why this shouldn't get onto the British List & ticked it at the time.
Chestnut Bunting: Papa Westray (28 Oct 15)
I took a more cautious approach with the Chestnut Bunting on Papa Westray. With a dubious record of eight previous individuals being rejected, then I wasn't immediately heading North even after the identification had been confirmed. However, after a bit of reading why the previous records had been rejected I was more tepmted to go. Six had been Spring/Summer records (an unexpected time of year) and the final two records were in September, which were considered to have been too early based upon movements through Beidaihi (North China) & Hong Kong. This was against a background of Chestnut Buntings being a regular cage Bird in those days. But the trade of Eastern Passerines is largely a thing of the past. The BOU report had said that a First Winter in October/November would be treated more favourably. This got me interested & I jumped when I saw an offer of a charter on the pager. This proved to be a great trip & is fully written up here. However, given the BOU's treatment of previous records, I decided to opt for pending the Chestnut Bunting. But now it had been added to the British List, it has been finally added to my British List taking me to 529 for (British & Ireland List) & 523 (British List). The Purple Swamphen & Dalmatian Pelican remain Pended for another rainy day (for the Swamphen & to avoid a likely removal for the latter species).