Birds, Leps, Observations & Generalities - the images and ramblings of Mark Skevington. Sometimes.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Super Strigiformes & Heron Bomb

Yesterday afternoon after work, I nipped over to Cossington Meadows to enjoy the owls that have taken up residence and been seen hunting over Swan Meadow in the last few days. Quite a few others had the same idea! After watching a smart pair of Stonechats on the edge of The Moor, I carried on along the track to the northern end of Swan Meadow. I got chatting to a couple of like-minded souls whilst we waited, one of whom was Paul Riddle - he's been doggedly surveying breeding Little Owls in the 10Km square I live in (SP59) and seems they are doing very well here. He knew about the pair down the lane - I thought they'd gone after the winter but they successfully reared a family this year. Before long we were enjoying the first active owl - a superb Barn Owl gracefully hunting over the meadow. Eventually we were also enjoying a superb Short-eared Owl which perched up on fence posts a couple of times in between sweeps over the meadow in the fading light. A call alerted us to Little Owl - and I managed to pick up first one and then another as silhouettes in a distant tree. By now there appeared to be two Barn Owls and two Short-eared Owls - though not all seen at the same time they kept re-appearing in a completely different place to where last seen. Before I headed off a brief distant Tawny Owl calling completed the scene perfectly. This morning I headed out onto the Soar Valley South (Route 1). After a couple of hours and plenty of walking, I had nothing more exciting to show for the effort than a male Sparrowhawk scaring the Starlings witless, several groups of up to 20 Redwings tseeping about all over the place, a couple (literally two) flyover Fieldfares and a few Goldfinches. The area is far from birdless - I saw 100s of birds. Trouble is that mainly comprises of 100s of Starlings, 100s of Woodpigeons, 100s of Canada Geese, 100s of various corvids and lots of Black-headed Gulls. I did notice what could only be described as the latest advancement in avian warfare, and solved a no doubt long-standing avian puzzle. A Grey Heron came lumbering over so I thought I'd try and get shot despite the crappy light. I was just clicking away and thinking I wish it was closer and the light was better when it happened: Ardea excretia A whirling vortex of shite falling down like the worst acid rain nightmare you could imagine. Of course it is also now explicitly clear why herons have long legs and fly with them trailing. Nothing exciting on the moth front other than the latest Blood-vein I've ever recorded when one came to a lit window on Thursday night. The previous latest was 15th October 2006, the only other year I've recorded it in October (usual last date each year is late August - mid September).

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Mothing Memories, Tresco October 2001

Too dark to do anything useful when I get home from work, and I've left the garden traps off despite the mild conditions as I have no time to do them in the morning this week. So, to fill the gap here are a few old shots of mothing memories. In fact, they are so old that the resolution is pretty crap and I can't make the images much bigger than they appear on this page, so for a change don't even bother clicking on them. White-speck I was never an annual on Scillies - I genuinely felt that going every year would nullify the enjoyment. In 2001 (my last visit) I stayed at Borough Farm on Tresco for a week with Andy Mackay, Rob Fray and Richard Fray. My two previous visits to Scillies before this were in 1996 and 1999 - both awesome years for major rarities. However this year was the first that I was as much, and perhaps more, interested in the moths we might see. Humming-bird Hawk-moth Turned out to be pretty good, with the species taken in the week including a few fairly standard migrants that I was seeing for the first time like Humming-bird Hawk-moth, Four-spotted Footman, Pearly Underwing, Palpita vitrealis, Vestal and The Gem. Also good local species like White-speck, Shore Wainscot, Cypress Pug and Scillies subspecies of Feathered Ranunculus and Shuttle-shaped Dart. Palpita vitrealis The best night though was 12th October, when the catch included the following: Grass Webworm (Herpetogramma licarsisalis) Once the ID had been established (not straightfoward whilst on Scillies seeing as it is not featured in any British reference books) it was confirmed as only the second British record. This species is widespread in the Old World tropics including parts of central Africa and extending to Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia and the Phillipines. It was first recorded in Europe in the Algarve region of Portugal in 1997, and rapidly colonised southern Spain and the rest of Portugal. The first British record was from the Isle of Wight in 1998. There have been a couple since our Tresco individual but still a very rare species here, a presumed immigrant from the adventive European population. Actually, only hours after potting this moth in the early morning I was out and about seeing Rose-breasted Grosbeak on St Martin's after an infamous boat-swap somwhere between Tresco and St Mary's, and then later a Paddyfield Warbler on St Mary's - what a major day! The rest of the week was less intense, though a drunken golf buggy joy-riding incident still makes me smile ....

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Arse!

Nice one to all who twitched the South Shields Eastern Crowned Warbler. I knew about it on Thursday night but no chance of doing anything about it. I've been away on a very nice and very relaxing 10th wedding anniversary break whilst my Mum has the kids. I've been incommunicado and blissfully unaware that the Warbler was still there on the Friday and again today until I got home a couple of hours ago. No chance of going tomorrow either as my brother is visiting. The most annoying twist to this is that my brother actually lives in - fecking South Shields!!! He lives about a two-minute walk from the bird. I can't even use the excuse of going to visit him. Oh well - in the unlikely event that it sticks for a while I may get a chance.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Tuesday 20th - Reprieve

The day started badly. First light amongst a hoard of like-minded Little Bittern chasers and we all came away without seeing it. Arse. Then it turned grey and rainy and miserable. Bugger. Then we went to the football to see City play Crystal Palace. The first half was generally poor with another lack-lustre performance from City where they dominated the play and did nothing creative with the ball. Sigh. At half time I was contemplating on what a shite day it had been overall. Thankfully there was a reprieve when City woke up and stuck two goals in with the associated adrenaline rush that always cheers you up. Enough self-pity - here's a classic: One night last week, me and the wife had gone to bed early. I was in the mood for love and started to get passionate when she suddenly said 'I don't feel like it tonight, I just want you to hold me'. I said 'what!?'. She said 'you're just not in touch with my emotional needs as a woman enough for me to satisfy your physical needs as a man'. She responded to my puzzled look by saying 'can't you just love me for who I am and not what I do for you in the bedroom?'. Realising that nothing was going to happen I shrugged it off and went to sleep. The next day, I opted to take the day off of work to spend time with her. We went out for a nice lunch and then went shopping in a big expensive department store. I patiently walked around with her whilst she tried on several different designer-labelled outfits. She couldn't decide which one to buy, so I suggested she take them all. She wanted new shoes aswell, so I said 'let's get a new pair for each new outfit'. We went on to the jewellery section where she picked out a pair of diamond earrings. She was so excited, she must have thought I was one sandwich short of a picnic. I thought she might be testing me when she wanted a new watch aswell, but I just said 'yes, that's nice honey'. By now she was almost reaching a state of climax from all the excitement. Eventually, she said 'I think that's it, let's go to the checkout'. I could hardly contain myself when I blurted 'no honey, I don't feel like it'. 'What?!' she said with a baffled face and dropped jaw. I then said 'honey, I just want you to hold this stuff for a while - you're just not in touch with my financial needs as a man enough for me to satisfy your shopping needs as a woman'. Then just when she looked like she was about to kill me I said 'can't you just love me for who I am and not for the things I buy you?' We've not had sex since ....

Monday, 19 October 2009

GSK, Pec, & Bittern Panic

Not much in the traps this morning, but I still managed a new species for the year:


Grey-shoulder Knot

This is not a regular for my garden, and it's the first time I've taken it here at the start of its flight period, the other 3 individuals all turned up in the spring after hibernation.

Also 3 of these in the traps:


Green-brindled Crescent f. capucina - lacking any metallic green scales

Early afternoon I headed over to Eyebrook Res in the hope (rather than expectation) of picking up Jack Snipe. A quick look along the inflow from the bridge drew a blank. I also checked the inflow for the Pec Sand and there was no sign. Moving round to get better scope views I confirmed that there was really not a lot about at all (not even much water). A car pulled up and out popped Brian Moore (aka The Wearside Whippet) - long time no see. We jointly failed to see anything more exciting than a Red Kite (which was nice all the same) and a handful of Snipe on the far bank. Brian was only stopping briefly after doing RW in the morning, so I moved on a bit but nothing else other than a few Goldeneye fresh in. I then doubled-back to re-check the bridge and the inflow - there back in exactly the same spot as I saw it last week was the Pec. Still no Jack Snipe.

Later this afternoon I noted that the LROS website detailed a Bittern at Cossington Meadows - interesting but a bit late to bother heading over. At precisely 17:59 I got a text alerting me to the fact that the Cossington bird was now confirmed as Little Bittern. WTF! Way too late to get over there before dark from my house. Apart from being a VC55 mega (first since 1954), I haven't seen one in Britain anywhere. Needless to say I will be there at dawn (though tomorrow I am constrained so unless it shows before 09:00 I will have to go back).

Sunday, 18 October 2009

This week, I have mostly been listening to ..

.. a bit of general stuff really, recent and current - like: Editors - Papillon Florence and the Machine - Rabbit Heart Arctic Monkeys - Cornerstone Kasabian - Fire

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Sheep, Sheep, Sheep Shaggers

Just back from the Walkers Stadium after taking Josh down to the Derby derby. City were all over Derby in the first half, passing, winning and keeping the ball well but ultimately not doing much with it. Meanwhile the sheep shaggers were just fecking rubbish. The second half was a bit more open but neither side really created much, though Derby went close in the last few minutes. Overall a typically cagey derby where 0-0 was always likely. The only consolation is that City maintain their position knocking on play off places whilst Derby are still loitering in the lower half.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Plastic Birds, Dead Ducks, Moths, Jokes

Yesterday, after the Shrike twitch, I had a quick look at Staines Reservoir. It was exactly as I remember it - massive with the endless causeway, crap viewing over the south basin and nothing unexpected on the north basin. I did twitch Staines Res once for a Wilson's Phalarope, and I've seen Black Redstart, winter grebes and divers here, but nothing noteworthy yesterday. I then headed the short distance to Virginia Water for some plastic birding and a pleasant walk before hitting the motorways - a bit like calming down in the chillout room during a night out clubbing. There's actually some decent wood around this park if you get away from the dog-walkers and main paths. Jay, Nuthatch, Great Spot, various tits and finches all noted. Plenty of Mandarin about but mostly out of range, though this pair was typically tucked away discretely in an overhanging bough against the near bank. However, the main reason for going there was to get good close views of Ring-necked Parakeets. I really don't care what anyone else thinks about them - I think they're great. Bright green squawking birds that can be really hard to find when they are quiet (which is rarely!). A few years ago I visited a huge winter roost at Esher Rugby Club of up to 2000 - one of the funniest birding spectacles imaginable. I found a load yesterday eating sweet chestnuts. With the crap light though, and them being high up, all I could get was rubbish shots. The sweet chestnuts were raining down from trees all around - felt like I needed a hard-hat. After this interlude, and a quick stop at Staines McDonald's, I hit the M25/M1 return. Five Red Kites seen, only two Common Buzzards. Before going home I thought I'd have a quick look at Swithland Reservoir. Plenty of Gadwall, Shoveler and Tufteds but not a lot else other than the usual gaggle of gulls and geese loitering for hand-outs and a male Peregrine in the usual tree. One of the Mallards on the causeway road didn't seem too interested in the bread being offered by the visiting blue-rinsers. The garden traps last night yielded another superb Merveille du Jour - hopefully this will become an annual species to look forward to. Not too many moths overall, but four new species for the year which were a slightly tatty Brick that I didn't photograph, and these: Juniper Carpet - I usually see this as being the end of the season for garden trapping, but this year I'll keep it going a bit to try and get Figure of Eight, Sprawler and December Moth again. Dark Chestnut Yellow-line Quaker My mobile has been buzzing all week with completely tasteless and unsavoury Stephen Gately jokes that you can't help but laugh at. But I'm not sharing them here! Have a chuckle at these instead. A sensitive young man called Ron wanted to buy a Christmas present for his new girlfriend. They hadn't been seeing each other for very long and she lived a considerable distance away. He consulted with his sister and decided after careful consideration, that a pair of good quality gloves would strike the right note, not too romantic and not too personal. Off he went with his sister to Harrods ladies dept and they selected a dainty pair of fur lined quality leather gloves. His sister bought a pair of knickers for herself at the same time. Harrods had a free gift-wrap offer but the assistant mixed up the two items, so the sister got the gloves and Ron got the knickers… Good old Ron sent off his gift-wrapped present in a parcel with the following letter. Darling, I chose these because I've noticed that you are not wearing any when we go out in the evenings. If it had not been for my sister I would have chosen the long ones with buttons, but she wears shorter ones (which are easier to remove). These are a very delicate shade, but the lady I bought them from showed me the pair she had been wearing for the past three weeks and they were hardly soiled at all. I had her try yours on for me and she looked really smart in them even though they were a little bit tight on her. She also said that they rub against her ring which helps keep it clean. In fact she hasn't needed to wash it since she began wearing them. I wish I was there to put them on for you the first time, as no doubt many other hands will touch them before I have a chance to see you again. When you take them off remember to blow into them a little bit because they will be naturally a little damp from wearing. Just imagine how many times my lips will kiss them during the coming year. I hope you will wear them for me on our next date. All my love, Ron. P.S. My mum tells me that the latest style is to wear them folded down with a little bit of fur showing. A college professor was doing a study testing the senses of first year schoolchildren, using a bowl of flavoured Polos. He gave all the children the same kind of Polo, one at a time, and asked them to identify them by colour and flavour. The children began to call them out: "Red............cherry," "Yellow.........lemon," "Green..........lime," "Orange........orange." Finally the professor gave them all new Honey flavoured Polos. After eating them for a few moments none of the children could identify the taste. "Well," he said "I'll give you all a clue. It's what your mother may sometimes call your father." One little girl looked up in horror, spat hers out and yelled: "Oh My God!!!! They're arse-holes!!"

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Brown Shrike

My name is Mark Skevington, and I am a twitcher ... To be fair, I've not exactly lapsed into my old addicted ways - this was only my fourth lifer in two years after all! But I like shrikes, and this one was very rare, so I gave in. I set off nice and early with the intention of arriving at first light, full of the enthusiasm of re-finding it myself. I fully realised that it may have gone, and with no pager updates expected (cause I've not had a pager for years) I had no option but to go for it and hope for the best. Anyway, the M25 put paid to any thoughts of glory as I got held up for more than long enough that when I arrived at the site it was already fully light with several people there. The area where the shrike was yesterday is a good walk down the muddy path onto the moor, and as I made my way on the final 100 yards I was greeted by Franko Mareovic and David Lindo coming the other way proclaiming the bird to have gone - "thrash the bushes if you like but I'm afraid it has gone" Undeterred, I decided to have a good look around anyway and dip properly. However, within two minutes a shout went up and we were all grilling a very dense hawthorn. I've seen a few shrikes over the years - not one has been buried deep in a bush. This one spent more time hidden in dense shrubbery than a Gropper. But before long, Brown Shrike was well and truly ticked. Over the couple of hours that I was there though I got lots of extremely good views of it openly perched, in flight and flitting to the ground. We kept a distance to avoid disturbance, superb scope views but way too far for me to video or use the DSLR. There are lots of really good photos of it on the tinterweb, so here's a really crap one I took using hand-held happy snappy against the scope. You can just about see that it is a hawthorn The Madding Crowd To be fair to all, the modest crowd was very well behaved and it was almost civil - maybe mid-week twitching is the answer to everything I usually hate about it these days. I've not been to Staines Moor before - actually a really good looking site. You could easily forget that you are within spitting distance of Heathrow (if you were deaf!). Whilst there I also saw Little Egret, a few flyover Ring-necked Parakeets, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers and thought I heard Dartford Warbler but didn't see it. Shame it was such a claggy morning. In a Llama inspired moment, I penned this ditty to the Katy Perry lesbo-anthem tune 'I Kissed A Girl' Mega alert Monday pm Too late to mention Next day I'm stuffed but made my plan Checked my directions Its down the, M1 then Round the M25 By Heathrow, and the Colne I'm off before light I twitched a Shrike in a small bush It was Lanius cristatus I twitched a Shrike and with no fuss To go with my other rare stuff Its wings were short Its tail was brown It had a very plain crown I twitched a Shrike and I ticked it I ticked it! Franko Mareovic was there With David Lindo Their face was one a sheer despair Thought it had fucked off Then someone, shouted that It was in the hawthorn here I saw a, movement and The bird was rare I twitched a Shrike in a small bush It was Lanius cristatus I twitched a Shrike and with no fuss to go with my other rare stuff The light was crap But I saw its cap And its white supercillium I twitched a Shrike and I ticked it I ticked it! Rare birds they are so magical Us blokes we tick them in a book We keep a list and have a look Addictive, behaviour Innate male hunter-gathering? I twitched a Shrike in a small bush It was Lanius cristatus I twitched a Shrike and with no fuss To go with my other rare stuff The bush was thick But I got my tick When I saw primary projection I twitched a Shrike and I ticked it I ticked it!

399 Not Out

Just a quick note from Staines McDonald's, whilst I abuse their facilities, hog a car parking space and hitch onto their free Wi-Fi whilst eating my pack-up. Brown Shrike - OMFL! Of course I'll upload something more detailed later on, with appaling photos.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Jubilee Park 12/10/2009

Dropped into Jubilee Park on the way home from work (17:00 - 18:00) to have look if anything on the pool. There was, but nothing exciting. A pair of Shoveler on the pool was unexpected, 10 Wigeon and 17 Lapwing were nice, whereas a few Coots, Mallards and 300 Canada Geese weren't. A smart Grey Wagtail flitted past along the River Soar, a small flock of Goldfinches tinkled over, and a spanking male Sparrowhawk had to work to evade a belligerent Crow. The Jackdaw roost was again evident, conservative estimate of 120 birds before I left (impossible to count as they kept having a mass fly around every few minutes whilst more were arriving). There was precisely zero Blackpoll Siskins Warblers and Brown Shrikes.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Chat, Grebe, Pest, Merveille

I had intended to get up and out early this morning and have a mooch around parts of the Soar Valley South patch, however when the alarm went off I found I couldn't be arsed as I felt knackered. I was less than impressed when an hour later I was woken by the phone calling me into work to manage a crisis. Work issues dealt with, I dropped into Grove Park on the way home with every intention of finding a decent chat. I had Black Redstart in mind (site is 100% perfect for this species) but had to make do with a Wheatear instead - still nice.


Though a bit too far away for my poxy lens.

A Red-legged Partridge ran down the main road (these are patently the most stupid species in Britain), and a column of 5 Common Buzzards wheeled overhead, but otherwise it was quiet. not even anything notable on the balancing pool.

On the other side of the road to the Wheatear, it was most disappointing to see that work had actually progressed on the main waste ground which undoubtedly ends future breeding of Little Ringed Plover in the area.


LRP ex-breeding site

I also had a quick look around Jubilee Park on the way home. Again very quiet but I was surprised to find a Little Grebe on the pool. Otherwise a couple of Wigeon, Tufted and Mallard on there.

I then had to be at home to help get it sorted for Isabelle - she's having a few friends over for a sleepover. This means my whole evening will be spent banished upstairs with the boys and Nichola whilst a gaggle of young teenagers take over the kitchen, TV, games consoles and wi-fi. What a facking liberty!

I noticed whilst pretending to hoover that there were a lot of ladybirds congregating on the south-facing windows. Investigation confirmed my suspicions - lots of Harlequins looking for roosting sites. There was c30 all over the rear windows/door at any one time - at least double that and possibly more involved. Their activity only during spells of very bright sunshine - whenever it clouded over they stopped appearing.


Spotty pest


Blotchy pest

I also managed to have a proper go at the Merveille du Jour




Merveille Camo

Friday, 9 October 2009

Thursday, 8 October 2009

TART!

As predicted a week ago. I had the opportunity this afternoon to get over to Rutland Water, down to the north arm, and to look for, locate and county tick 2 Rock Pipits .... hurrah. Also there were three Whooper Swans (at least I only saw three, but apparently four present), seven Dunlin, 5M Coot and assorted wildfowl but no Black-necked Grebe. After this major birding triumph, I headed over to Eyebrook to have a look for the still-present Pec Sand. I pitched up next to some geezer with a tripod mounted DSLR with reasonable lens operating out of some sort of archaic disaster zone relief van - I know Eyebrook is low on water at the moment but it's not quite at life-threatening drought levels .... I asked him if he'd seen the Pec, which he kind of avoided by saying he was just there to photograph anything moving. I started scoping and immediately found a juv Grey Plover, which was nice. Also four Golden Plover and loads of Lapwings. After a few minutes, the geezer started talking about a Peregrine that had put everything up and taken a Lapwing. He also mentioned that a few others had been digiscoping a Petrel but that it was out of his range. Eh? ..what ... Petrel? WTF! Then it clicked - I asked if he meant the Pectoral and he agreed that was probably it. Hmmm. Shortly afterwards Dave 'Tea-Boy' Gray turned up to save me from the geezer. The Pec wasn't showing though. Dave found a Red-crested Pochard, and the wildfowl included Wigeon, Gadwall, Pintail, Teal, Pochard, Shelduck, Shoveler - you get the idea. We moved down a bit and noticed The Beast and Chris Lythall scoping across from the opposite bank - we guessed that they were watching the Pec, and we could see a couple of Ringed Plover down their way, but we kept looking around anyway. The field behind us was heaving with what must have been recently released Red-legged Partridges - we reasoned this because of their blinding stupidity and the way they flocked together to walk calmly along the road whilst a passing motorist blasted his horn to little effect. Soon afterwards The Beast and Chris joined us and confirmed that the Pec was showing over there - as they had texted to Dave only a few minutes earlier .... not that Dave had noticed his phone bleeping. As ever, we enjoyed a bit of banter including a slightly surreal episode where a young lady came cycling past and ..... well, you had to be there. A bloody noisy RAF jet (Typhoon?) came over and flushed everything. Once it al settled again, it was clear that the Pec wasn't any more visible than before. Eventually we headed over to the other side and I immediately located the Pec. No wonder we couldn't see it from where we were, it was feeding in deep muddy ruts and kept disappearing momentarily. It was good to see a Pec again, can't remember the last one I saw (several over the years). As I left via Stoke Dry, a superb Barn Owl sitting on the road signs by the plantation rounded of a great couple of hours.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Merveille du Jour - get in!

About 20 minutes ago, I posted a comment on Stewart Sexton's excellent Boulmer Birder blog posting about Merveille du Jour. It's a cracking species that I've seen before, though not for a few years and only when out in woodland. It's one that I always hoped for but never expected in the garden. Feck me - a couple of minutes after posting the comment I nipped out for a last look at my garden traps and there in all its glory was a superb fresh Merveille du Jour sitting on the fence by the MV. Get in! Here's a hastily grabbed shot using flash - the moth is now potted for a proper shot tomorrow. Stunning Moth

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Invis-migging, and a bit of light birding

Up and out early this morning to meet up with The Drunkbirder at Burrough Hill in the hope of some visible migration. Burrough Hill is over in the east of Leicestershire, and was an iron age hill-fort. It has clear un-interrupted views making it a great site for vis-migging - provided there are any birds passing over that is. Sun-rise at Burrough Hill View to the south View across to the south-west We watched from 07:00 - 08:00. A handful of Yellowhammers and a couple of dozen Meadow Pipits were the highlights, along with a few alba Wagtails and a small flock of Linnets wizzing about all the time. Maybe too breezy, probably too clear, definitely a disappointment. From there, I set off to have a quick look around the Egleton Reserve at Rutland Water. I made straight for Lagoon 4, passing a singing Chiffchaff outside the visitors centre on the way. Lagoon 4 Lagoon 4 Aside from loads of Black-headed Gulls and Lapwings, and a few Shelduck, there were c20 Golden Plovers, 7 Dunlin, 2 Ringed Plover, 1 Snipe, 1 Egyptian Goose and a flyover female Sparrowhawk. Even better, there was no-one else about that early. I had a very half-arsed hand-held attempt at digi-scoping Lapwings: Lapwing One of the Black-headed Gulls was attempting to drown itself: Emo Gull Lagoon 3 next - except that it has dried up and the lagoon is not there!? Arid wasteland More likely to find Bustards than Bitterns Scanning across the deeper water revealed plenty of Gadwall, Shoveler, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Great Crested Grebe, a Grey Heron and a couple of Little Egrets right at the back. People were just started to reach these hides as I left. This included one complete twat who appeared unable to hold a conversation with his mate as they approached the hide without bellowing - I asked him if he could maybe talk a bit louder. A quick look in Lagoon 2 revealed another Little Egret, but not much else. Is this: A) an evocative and well composed silhouette portrait of one of our daintiest herons feeding in the shallows, or B) a shit image of an out of range Little Egret photographed looking into the sun .... Quite a few late dragons knocking about, which were all (I think) Migrant Hawkers and Common Darters. Common Darter And another Also a few butterflies, including a brief Painted Lady. By now the usual Sunday Rutland Water crowd consisting of wealthy elderly dudes and complete knobheads was arriving in droves - time to go. As I walked out, I heard the following that would have made the 'Things That Wankers Say' column on the former Llama website: 'and I saw a Lark which was rare - I knew it was rare because I did not recognise it. That's the yardstick you see, if I don't recognise it then it must be rare ..' Alternatively, the lark was common and he is just shit at identifying anything. Anyway, at this point I was intending to join Adrian Russell looking for leaf-mines at Launde Park Wood - but that was knocked on the head as Adrian was busy. I was also getting peckish, and was mindful that a couple of hours later I needed to get back to Leicester to sort out my Mum after a hospital stay. So, I decided to have a quick look along the north-eastern shore of Eyebrook Reservoir. When I got there, it was also very low and really highlighted how little rain we've had for weeks. New Islands The inflow margin is bigger and further out than usual With all that exposed mud, I felt there had to be some waders knocking about. There was - loads of Lapwings but feck all else. There was also a big mass of smaller gulls - I studiously checked through them and found that there were all Black-headed or Common. The Greylag Geese provided a bit of entertainment as they bickered constantly, with small splinter groups joining or heading off every few minutes. I left Eyebrook via the back roads, and headed back to Leicester. Mum sorted, I nipped to the Soar Valley area to look and listen for a couple of Cetti's. One of these had a very odd range of calls and the song was not quite right - maybe a first-year bird practising. The other was classic. Both were stubbornly hidden in dense sallow scrub. I ended with a quick look around Watermead Park South. More dragons and butterflies, including Comma. As ever, the main car park area was overrun with twats feeding the burgeoning population of tame Mute Swans, Canadas and hybrid geese with too much bread. When will the Council be coming with that gun? Unnatural Parentage This Crows mother was its fathers sister .. With that, I headed home - just in time for a message that a Pec Sand was at the south-western end of Eyebrook - arse!