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September 2022

Monday 26th. No trapping last night with rain and the wind gusting to 44 mph, so it was up to Moorfields on the Weymouth Flyer, which lived up to its alternative name of the Red Kite Special with one overhead as we approached Basingstoke, not for the first time. My Moorfields experience was a mix of good a not so good; the tumour seems to have shrunk but I have a detached retina, so it’s back up there on Thursday for an operation to fix it.

Saturday 24th. Red Underwing was the highlight from last night’s moth trapping and while going through the contents a Golden Plover was calling mournfully somewhere and a couple of Meadow Pipits flew over. Given that today was always Meadow Pipit Day back on the Kent cliffs I spent an hour and a half outside and counted a total of 47 Meadow Pipits, mostly heading N/NE into the breeze, together with 4 Skylarks, 18 House Martins and 4 Linnets.  

Wednesday 21st. Mothing was back to normal after yesterday’s excitement, namely trawling through Large Yellow and Lunar Underwings that have become abundant in the last few days. On another calm and sunny morning half an hour’s birding from the cottage turned up Skylark and Greenfinch, both new for the month, a Wheatear and 36 Med. Gulls, so things are starting to feel at least a bit autumnal.

Tuesday 20th. Having already experienced an outstanding year last night treated us to a most unexpected Shining Marbled, a rare migrant species that, prior to 2022, had occurred in Britain only 22 times, having first been recorded in 2006. There appear to have been only three other Dorset records, the most recent being at Portland in mid-August this year. Other migrants included the almost obligatory 4 Delicates, 2 Vestals, a Silver Y and a Turnip, while Black Rustic was new for the year. In between shopping, visits to the GP etc. some birding from the cottage produced our first definite Sand Martin, 2 Wheatears and a small gang of Long-tailed Tits in the hedgerow.

Shining Marbled

Saturday 17th. Well the thermometer did fall into single figures last night, but despite reduced numbers Feathered Brindle was new for the year. So, off we went to Bath for the first home game of the season against Sale. Well, it couldn’t be worse than last season, surely? Sale went 7-0 up after two minutes, had a man red-carded after four minutes and proceeded to make the home side look leaden, short of ideas and application and, after a 15-minute spell of scrums on the Sale line in which Sale had a man yellow-carded Bath failed to benefit from what was then a two man advantage.  Bath eventually went down 20-37 and the air of resigned disappointment on the way home was palpable. We did see a Peregrine, though, tucking into a pigeon on the spire of one of the churches, so it should be said that the pigeon had a worse afternoon, but there wasn’t much in it. On a positive note, Kent beat Lancashire in the one-day cup final at Trent Bridge. Hooray!

Friday 16th. The final act in a rather testing first half of September was the appearance of Large Wainscot for the first time this year last night, which was probably the coldest since mid-May, though it didn’t quite drop into single figures. I contented myself with a session of blackberry-picking along the farm track, to the accompaniment of several Chiffchaffs in the hedgerows. Now, I might not be Rowdy Yates, but I do know that the thing about moving cattle from one place to another is that you block off enticing options that they might prefer to where you want them to go, so leaving gates open is not the best tactic. Anyway, this led to a Python-esque hour of chasing cattle around fields, letting them back into their original field and then giving up when they refused to play such daft games any more.

Thursday 15th. The moth trap held a Vestal and 2 Delicates, but the most interesting capture was a Brussels Lace; a clear indication of a second generation. As the sun took over from a rather grey start the first appreciable gathering this autumn of around 320 Med. Gulls was on the field between us and the old railway, following a tractor disking the winter wheat stubble.

Monday 12th. A Little Owl was calling in the night, around 04.30 I imagine, and on checking the moth trap a Clifden Nonpareil wing was found on the lawn. Counsel for said owl would claim the evidence to be circumstantial, but I reckon it’s been found bang to rights.

Sunday 11th. Well, it’s good to be mothing again, even though last night’s efforts were hampered by the blaze of a Full Moon. Numbers were well down, but still included 2 Vestals and a Delicate. On another lovely morning we drove to the Nothe Fort and walked from there to the Weymouth Seafood Festival at the Pavilion, past parts of the town we’ve previously only seen from afar. Actually, as seaside towns go, Weymouth has a lot to say for itself, just like Margate hasn’t.

The Nothe Fort

Saturday 10th. With the wind and rain having worn themselves out it was an ideal morning for a walk along the Fleet, from the old church in Fleet to Moonfleet Manor and back. In truth, avian interest was limited to substantial numbers of Swallows over the Fleet, a few Wheatears and Meadow Pipits on the fields, some Chiffchaffs with a Reed Warbler near Moonfleet and a raft of about 400 Med. Gulls loafing on the mirror-calm water. Later on, a Clouded Yellow in the garden was the first home butterfly this month that hasn’t been a Small White.

Thursday 8th. The infrequency of recent updates reflects the current very unsettled weather and today continued the trend enthusiastically with frequent squally shows driven on by a strong SW wind. It became torrential at times in the afternoon and more rain is forecast for tomorrow but it looks like we may be able to set the moth trap tomorrow night.

Sunday 4th. A fresh to strong southerly with a bit of rain confirmed our decision not to bother trapping last night. Otherwise, a first-winter Common Gull, tramping about on the field across the road, was the first here this autumn. We decided on breakfast at Ferrybridge and despite the late high tide there was a decent selection of waders on offer, including 30-40 Ringed Plovers, similar numbers of Dunlin, about a dozen Sanderling and one-two Bar-tailed Godwits and Redshank. As a result we arrived at Portland Bill very late and the only things of note at sea were a few parties of 2-3 Gannets and the occasional Cormorant.

Saturday 3rd. More moth migrants last night included 2 Vestals, a Delicate and a Turnip, though numbers appear to be declining ahead of some unsettled weather. So, off to the Dorset County Show we went, arriving before the crowds for displays of specially-trained Herring Gulls, hand-knitted pork pies, sheep at half the price and imaginary animal races. Actually, it was all rather enjoyable.

Friday 2nd. September began with an overcast, humid night that brought an influx of migrant moths including 2 Convolvulus Hawk-moths, Pearly Underwing, Scarce Bordered Straw and 3 Turnips. It is more than slightly worrying that despite regular scanning and listening I have yet to record a Blackbird from the cottage this month. Another casualty of the arid summer?