Archive | May 2016

Covehurst in the sun


Typhaeus typhoeus The Minotaur Beetle. Female

At Hastings Country Park this morning this very large beetle was clambering purposefully along the path at Covehurst. I thought it was one of the species of Geotrupes but decided to check properly and after looking at Joyce and then a very good AES online guide it was apparent that it is a female of the Minotaur Beetle.  This large beetle is one of the dung beetles and appears in spring and autumn. In the picture the forward projections on the front of the thorax can be seen, a feature of the female Typhaeus.

Coming out towards Barley Lane near Warren Glen a Herring gulls anxious alarm calls made me look up and in the bright sky a small Harrier was drifting and then began to circle, attracting two Buzzards which circled with it. The bird was a female Montagu’s Harrier and steadily circled while gaining height, allowing good enough views to identify it’s species.  It then flew strongly northwards in steady flapping flight, looking very falcon-like. Hopefully it is intent on meeting up with a male somewhere in Britain and nesting this summer.

There have been recent days at Pevensey Bay and elsewhere locally when I have not recorded much, but this was a highlight, along with a female Red-backed Shrike which appeared at Filsham on one afternoon earlier this May.




American visitor


A surreal afternoon as I heard news of a very rare visitor to Hastings Beach after deciding the weather was too awful to go out. I got off the bus at the Pier and walked towards the harbour arm without seeing any sign until I saw Sharon at the Old Town end and then, – looking along the shingle crest – there was the visitor! An adult summer-plumaged Laughing Gull.

Lefkada May 2016




Lefkada. Ionia. Greece. May 2nd to 8th 2016. Bird notes;-

The Checklist follows the nomenclature and order in Handrinos, G. and Akriotis, T. (1997) ‘The Birds of Greece’ Christopher Helm.


I stayed at the resort of Nidri for a week and took walks in the nearby countryside there and also visited the three areas of saline lagoons and wetlands close to the capital of Lefkada, on the northeastern coast. The wetlands were visited using the local bus service and then walking. The following list is of the birds I recorded during walks in the week and is not at all an exhaustive survey.

These saline wetlands are very important for breeding and visiting birds as well as their ecology of plant and insect communities and I recommend visits.


Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus

A single immature bird on the main lagoon on the 5th. It was quite active and may have arrived during the unsettled frontal weather that day.

Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides

A single adult at the southern lagoon on 3rd.

Little egret Egretta garzetta

Present at al three areas with at least twenty seen.

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea

Two north and an adult present on the main lagoon on 7th. Possibly a breeding species.

Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber

A party of five and a pair. However on 4th a vocal flock of 45 or more came into the main lagoon from the north.

Mallard Anas platyrhynchos

4 on the main lagoon.

Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus

Two Different individuals over hills inland from Nidri suggesting a territory.

Marsh harrier Circus aeruginosus

A female on the north coast on 7th.

Buzzard Buteo buteo

Two pairs near Nidri.

Black-winged stilt Himantopus himantopus

Breeding pairs at all three lagoon areas. 22 pairs counted in total and others likely to have been missed.

Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta

One in suitable breeding habitat at main lagoon on 7th.

Stone Curlew Burhinus oedicnemus

A pair at suitable breeding habitat on 7th.

Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius

A pair on territory on the main lagoon/beach.

Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus

One pair, possibly a second pair, on the main lagoon.

Grey Plover Pluvialis apricaria

Migrants passing through were 7 on 4th and 17 on 5th.

Little Stint Calidris minuta

Up to six passing through.

Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea

5 on 5th.

Dunlin Calidris alpina

Up to 80 a day passing through.

Redshank Tringa totanus

1 display flighting and calling at suitable habitat on the main lagoon.

Greenshank Tringa nebularia

Up to 2 a day.

Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola

Widespread at all three lagoon areas with up to ten a day.

Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos

Widespread at all wetland areas.

Turnstone Arenaria interpres

A flock of 9 migrants on 4th and 1 on 5th.

Yellow-legged Gull Larus cachinnans

Breeding on lagoon islands. Widespread.

Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus

An immature on one date.

Common Tern Sterna hirundo

Several pairs in suitable breeding habitat.

Little Tern Sterna albifrons

Present on all lagoons and certainly breeding on some islands with at least twenty pairs.

Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto

Breding pairs widespread.

Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur

Calling from suitable breeding habitat inland from Nidri.

Cuckoo Cuculus canorus

1 heard calling most days from suitable breeding habitat near Nidri.

Scops Owl Otus scops

2 calling from suitable nesting habitat near Nidri and a territorial bird reported singing from a garden near there since March.

Swift Apus apus

Small numbers of pairs including pairs attending suitable nesting habitats in Lefkada town.

Alpine Swift Apus melba

A southerly movement of 50 or more over Nidri on one date including birds mating.

Bee-eater Merops apiaster

Passage noted most days with birds usually heard high above although 14 were seen on one date.

Roller Coracias garrulus

A pair in suitable breeding habitat east of Nidri.

Hoopoe Upupa epops

Song heard on one date from a suitable breeding area.

Crested Lark Galerida cristata

3 or 4 pairs around the main lagoon.

Sand Martin Riparia riparia

Present most days at the lagoons with some northward passage.

Swallow Hirundo rustica

Breeding widespread, inclding the main street of Nidri with birds nesting under eaves.

Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica

Good numbers of breeding pairs on the island and completed nests seen.

House Martin Delichon urbica

Nest building and mud-collecting seen. Widespread.

Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris

A pair on breeding territory at the main lagoon.

Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus

A migrant on main lagoon saltmarsh on one date.

Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava

Passage noted with up to twenty a day. Some birds also apparently on breeding territory.

Whinchat Saxicola rubetra

One or two migrants a day.

Blackbird Turdus merula

Males singing from suitable nesting areas.

Cetti’s Warbler Cettia cetti

Widespread around lagoons and riversides.

Fan-tailed Warbler Cisticola juncidis

Present in areas of lush waterside vegetation including undeveloped marshy patches.

Sedge warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus

A single migrant on one date.

Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus

A bird singing from suitable breeding habitat by Nidri.

Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillans

Present in numbers above 200 mtrs inland from Nidri with birds singing in warm weather late mornings. A widespread breeding species.

Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala

Widespread on lower ground near Nidri. A breeding species.

Whitethroat Sylvia communis

One at the big lagoon on one date.

Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata

One seen on one date.

Collared Flycatcher Ficedula albicollis

A male seen on one date.

Blue Tit Parus caeruleus

Present near Nidri.

Great Tit Parus major

A large breeding population and adults often seen collecting food.

Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus

Up to three birds singing and calling every day and two males seen on one date.

Red-backed shrike Lanius collurio

A male at the main lagoon on one date seemed to be passing through.

Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator

A male on one date and a female nearby on another date suggesting a pair on territory.

Magpie Pica pica

Widespread and forty seen in a Plane tree one evening. Certainly breeding widely on the island.

Jackdaw Corvus monedula

A flock of five on one date and singles noted on two other days.

Hooded Crow Corvus corone

Widespread breeding species.

House Sparrow Passer domesticus

A widespread and large population.

Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs

Widespread in wooded areas. A breeding species.

Greenfinch Carduelis chloris

A breeding species widespread.

Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis

Small numbers of pairs on breeding territories.

Cirl Bunting Emberiza cirlus

A male singing on territory outside Nidri.

Corn Bunting Miliaria calandra

A pair nesting at the main lagoon.