Sunday, 2 June 2013

To Anglesey and back.

I spent the last week camping on Anglesey with my youngest son, Jack and Bryn the dog. It was more of a getaway than a birding or mothing trip but we do a bit of both pretty much wherever we go. The weather was not on our side as the cold spring continued to hold its grip for most of the week; the first few days were more like early March than late May.

I had taken an actinic moth trap with me but the first night drew a blank as it was so cold. The weather was even worse the next night with strong winds and heavy rain so I didn't even bother putting it out. Things only improved marginally from there with catches in low single figures. Only 10 moths were caught over 5 nights which is a dismal total for the location at this time of year and testimony to the protracted winter and cold spring. Best of the meagre pickings were a Water Carpet and a Puss Moth neither of which I catch at home.

Water Carpet (Lampropteryx suffumata)

Puss Moth (Cerura vinula), a rather worn and weather beaten individual.

What birding we did was secondary to walks around some of our favourite parts of the coast but then you can't do one without the other. A few migrants were still in evidence with 3 Greenland Wheatears present in one of our favourite bays. Amongst the waders groups of migrant Ringed Plovers stood out in particular. Generally though birds were perhaps thinner on the ground than might be expected especially in the case of some of the breeding species, if you exclude corvids that is. Lapwings were conspicuous by their absence from all the farmland areas we drove through and visited not least the farm we camped at.
female Wheatear and almost certainly of the Greenland race or 
at least as certain as you can be without catching and measuring it.

Same female as above.

Male Wheatear but a bit more tricky as to race and not an obvious
'Greenland' type but certainly still on migration.
Although there are more Dunlin in this shot groups of Ringed Plover were much in evidence.

Bryn has learned that he has to be patient when we are taking photos,
 some of the time at least.
On the plus side the increase in Little Egrets is hard to overlook and doesn't seem to have been dented by the recent hard winters. On one of our walks around Red Wharf Bay 5 were feeding on the falling tide including a colour ringed bird which was probably ringed at Bangor on the mainland. I have sent the details of the sighting off and will give an update on its life history in due course.

Little Egrets, colour ringed bird on right.
Colour ringed Little Egret.
On returning home yesterday I set the moth trap in the garden out of habit rather than expectation of a good catch. On checking it this morning there were only 3 moths but all 3 were new for the year - a Lime Hawk-moth, a Flame Shoulder and a Diamond-back Moth which is a migrant to the UK. The latter being the least expected given the cold weather and wind direction. The lack of moths and insects in general over the last few weeks is likely to have a profound effect on breeding birds that normally feed their young on insects and caterpillars in particular. The effects of the long winter and cold spring are likely to be felt and reported on for a long time yet.

Lime Hawk-moth (Mimas tiliae)

Flame Shoulder (Ochropleura plecta)
Diamond-back Moth (Plutella xylostella)

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