Friday, 9 September 2011

The sky last night

Got in just after 7.00 last night having spent an hour chasing a Redstart up and down a fence line while he caught flies and I got bitten by them. Put some pasta on and settled down with a glass of pain relief looking forward to watching the Sky at Night to find out about the super nova.
I noticed Sandy's car pull up outside and thought about ducking down and not answering the door but I hoped he was going to say exactly what he did. Three Short eared Owls out hunting. I grabbed my gear and fortunately at the last moment remembered to turn the pasta off. The kitchen still hasn't recovered from the last time I got distracted whilst cooking.

Dashed down to the Carr and there they were. Two perched together and one hunting. Spent half an hour watching them as they quartered low over the grass. There was a possibility of a fourth bird but it's hard to keep track as they dive down and come back up. The site record is 14 back in the nineties I it always beats me how anybody could come to such a definative count. The nights though are closing in and even super high ISO couldn't slow the motion but I quite like the pastel effect of the one above.

The Redstart was a nice find as I nearly ignored the 'huit' call thinking Willow Warbler, Then it came up onto a dead tree and flicked its tail as they do and the ID was clinched. Total lack of success thereafter as it led me a merry dance.

Also about four Kestrels, a hundred or so Swallows getting the flies that were getting me and five Wheatear in the horses fields along with a flock of 80 Linnet.

Also found this which I'm not sure whether it's Moth or Insect. Good job Owl ID is easier.


  1. It's a plume moth. Looks like Platyptilia gonodactyla. Have a look on

  2. Had a couple a visits to PC this year about 8 weeks apart - had a male Redstart singing the first visit & present in the same area nr the Sentry box on the latter date.

    Accurate count may come from co-ordinated effort from multi-observers on a set date, information from local gamekeeper / shooting syndicate with access to "out of bounds areas" or inadvertantly coming across a roost on the ground etc.

  3. Thanks Tim.
    Looks like I got part of another message Stevie. The Redstarts bred successfully somewhere in the area you describe getting at least three fledged young away.

  4. Sorry, it was a poor message -
    My 2nd para was refering to your :- "The site record is 14 back in the nineties I it always beats me how anybody could come to such a definative count. "

    Redstarts a great bird - not a common bird at all in lowland Durham.

    Would you be able to contact me privately please re PC at