This autumn moth the Merveille du Jour is one of my favourites. Its name derives from the French meaning Wonder of the Day.
The adult moth flies in September and October and often feeds on ivy flowers and fallen fruit.
Its distinct colours and patterning enable it to lie hidden during the day on lichen covered trees.
The caterpillars feed in the spring on newly emerged oak tree flowers.
Every now and again something extraordinary happens.
We were out birding yesterday on St Mary’s on the Isles of Scilly prior to me catching the Scillonian back to the mainland. We were in Carreg Dhu, an ornamental garden in the middle of the island when a big flock of …. hawfinches flew into the sycamore tree directly above our heads. It was difficult counting them as the foliage obscured them and they came in two groups separated by around 30 seconds. We made an estimate of 24 + birds. 24 +!!
This illustration is from the Collins Bird Guide app – the broad white bands on the underwings were very obvious as were the white tail feathers. By the way the Collins Bird Guide app is highly recommended, it works brilliantly on an iPhone (see here) and there is also an Android version too.
A little later the flock was spotted again by other birders and it was estimated that there were between 50-60 birds in it. By all accounts there were also some flocks of hawfinches on the mainland too.
I doubt very much whether I will every see such a thing again. The UK is currently experiencing some big southerlies so the most likely explanation is that these flocks have come from the Continent.
Here is a photo of a couple of the birds from wildlife photographer, Richard Stonier’s twitter account. You can checkout his gallery of hawfinch photos here.
Even got a great sunset over the Isles of Scilly on the way back to Penzance.
In so many different ways, Scilly never disappoints
St Agnes yesterday saw a proper twitch – the like of which I haven’t been involved with for over a decade – the Orphean Warbler. Over 200 birders along the track up to Troytown Farm. Fleeting glimpses of the possible bird, several incidences of running about, tripods and telescopes abandoned, moments of dejection, interludes of hilarity and humour. Can you tick a fly past if you have seen it 6 times? No no no …
Unexpectedly the bird was relocated by Will Scott hundreds of metres away between the Lighthouse and the Church. Stampeding, followed by hedge abuse, focusing through postage stamp spaces in the Pittosprorum, heads in the way, polite conversations, impolite conversations, squinting and finally ……
Western or Eastern?
Time will tell but …..
p.s. Thanks Will @dub_birder – without you no one would have got it. We are now all at 140bpm – well at least we were yesterday for a few moments.
Had a cream tea at Juliet’s Garden yesterday and off course got mobbed by the local sparrow population.
Queuing up to eat my scone!
Moving in ….
And rather strangely there was this individual with a very distorted upper bill – I suspect that if it didn’t live at Juliet’s Garden it might not have got this far….
A good number of gannets were flying behind the boat the other day
White birds with yellowish heads are adults, whilst the blackish birds are juvenilles and the black are white birds are sub-adults
We encountered this wintering Great Northern Diver yesterday on the way back from our pelagic trip.
Around 2500 birds winter in southern Britain each year
A few pairs breed in Scotland
The majority breed by large deep lakes in the Tundra in Iceland, Greenland and North America/Canada
Managed to get a couple of photos of the juvenile Rose-coloured Starling
An obliging individual feeding on ivy
A few stonechats out on the Garrison
Along with a Rock Pipit