Thursday, 2 April 2020

Lockdown Listing and the Wonder of Nocmig

Last night I stood in my garden, no bins (it was dark), glass of gin in hand, and listened. There is was boop- boop-boop. Closer and closer, a little to the south, approaching from the west before heading away to the east with the doppler effect in full force. Common Scoter added to my garden list. This was the first of six flocks as a mass exodus from the Irish Sea had confined birders across the country out listening in the dark. There was a time lag as well so what was happening at 9 in Blackburn happened at 10 in York and then started at half 10 here near Driffield and was 15 minutes later for those at Flamborough. An absolutely incredible movement and proabbly so well witnessed due to the ongoing situation with coronavirus - would so many birders have stood in their gardens if we were free to head out the following day? My fifth flock of the night was a direct hit and I could hear the whistling of the wings. It was genuinely exciting to listen to.

Common Scoter wasn't the only garden tick as I picked up two flocks of Wigeon and a single flock of Teal. These were all new for the garden and took the garden list onto 79 (when I added Lesser Black-backed Gull which I have seen umpteen times but forgotten to add). I am taking part in the Lockdown Listing competition, counting birds seen from the garden whilst we are restricted with movement. So far I am on 45 species with a surprise Goldcrest this morning. There is a pair breeding about 80m from teh house but across a railway line so I didnt expect them to pitch up. I havent had anything else exceptional or unusual although a flock of Redwing early last week were good to add this late on. Im still waiting the returning Blackcap and Willow Warbler on my Blackthorn blossom.

Aside from the birds it has been a delight to see the first insects returning to the garden. Temperatures got up to 16c last week and as a result I recorded four species of butterfly, Small White, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and Brimstone. Bees were also conspicuous with Honeybee the first followed rapidly by the now ever present Buff-tailed Bumblebee queens. These were followed later in the week by the Buffish Mining Bee Andrena nigroaenea and then Tree Bumblebee with a single queen seen. A colder turn over the weekend with northerly winds meant only the Buff-tails were still about but yesterday it warmed up and I had the first Early Bumblebee queens. I have also had my first Tapered Droneflies Eristalis pertinax which are ever present, a queen social wasp although I didn't manage a photograph so don't know which species. On the spider front there were plenty of Missing Sector Orb-weavers Zygiella x-notata out and about last night. The garden also has an abundance of wildflowers starting to appear with a violet coming into bloom. When it is fully established I will key it to species but I expect, given the date it will be Early Dog-Violet.

Buffish Mining Bee Andrena nigroaenea
The limited horizons and fact that I have been furloughed mean that I will be looking closely at the garden, what flies over, lands in and generally calls it home I am planning some habitat enhancement for amphibians and grass snakes (the latter is very much on the wish list). I am looking at getting a nocmig setup after the scoter fun and also considering a moth trap. A PSL list of the garden is very much on the cards. To anyone that is reading I hope you stay healthy and safe and are able to enjoy what is on your doorstep.

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