Thursday, 28 October 2021

With a Little Help From My Friends - The Beatles

 

With a most promising overnight temperature of +16°C and not a sign of wind or rain on the Bournemouth International Airport weather forecast, last night promised to be about as good as it gets for Late Autumn Mothing, but oh how things can change. The first blustery squall past through just before midnight then persisted well into daylight hours scotching any plans of bringing much towards today's Post - step in John Gifford with the ideal 'filler' which we hope will satisfy our valued readership until the stormy weather abates!

SHELLY'S EAGLE OWL

Owl unseen for 150 years photographed in the wild for the first time.

British scientists working in Ghana have photographed a "holy grail" owl that has lurked almost unseen in African rainforests for 150 years.

Shelley's Eagle Owl was spotted by Dr. Joseph Tobias, from the Department of Life Sciences (Silwood Park) at Imperial College London and leader of a UK-government funded field project studying biological impacts of agricultural development in Africa, and Dr. Robert Williams, a freelance ecologist from Somerset.

The bird was first described in 1872 from a specimen obtained from a local hunter in Ghana by Richard Bowdler Sharpe, curator of the bird collection at the Natural History Museum in London and founder of the British Ornithologists' Club.

There have been no confirmed sightings from Ghana since the 1870s, and very few glimpses elsewhere. The only photographs in existence were grainy images taken in 1975 of a captive individual behind bars at Antwerp Zoo and a pixelated blob from Congo in 2005 that is not certainly the right species.

There have been occasional reports over recent decades from people believing they have heard or briefly seen Shelley's Eagle Owl from a few different localities across West and Central Africa from Liberia to Angola. Most of these sightings are unconfirmed, and the species has become a holy grail for birdwatchers in Africa and beyond.

Large and distinctive
This all changed on 16 October 2021 when Dr. Tobias and Dr. Williams visited Atewa forest in Ghana and disturbed a huge bird from its daytime roost. "It was so large, at first we thought it was an eagle," Dr. Tobias said. "Luckily it perched on a low branch and when we lifted our binoculars our jaws dropped. There is no other owl in Africa's rainforests that big."

The pair only saw the bird perched for 10-15 seconds but in that time managed to take photographs that confirm the identification due to its distinctive black eyes, yellow bill, and huge size, which in combination rule out all other African forest owls

The fact that a predator of such massive size had become essentially invisible over a large swath of Africa fueled speculation as to its current whereabouts and reasons for its apparent rarity.

Dr. Nathaniel Annorbah of University of Environment and Sustainable Development, Ghana, said, "This is a sensational discovery. We've been searching for this mysterious bird for years in the western lowlands, so to find it here in ridgetop forests of Eastern Region is a huge surprise."

New hope
Shelley's Eagle Owl is officially classified as vulnerable to extinction with an estimated population of a few thousand individuals. The news of its continued survival in Ghana offers new hope for the species.

Although the Atewa site is threatened by illegal logging and bauxite mining, higher elevations still support large areas of evergreen forest. Environmental groups, such as the Friends of Atewa, are lobbying for the area to be designated as a national park.

Dr. Williams said, "We hope this sighting draws attention to Atewa forest and its importance for conserving local biodiversity. Hopefully, the discovery of such a rare and magnificent owl will boost these efforts to save one of the last wild forests in Ghana."

 

Wednesday, 27 October 2021

A Shoulder to Cry On

A lot less violent weather wise but a great deal cooler, at just +4°C, but nonetheless still they come, but not before looking through the window to find a murky

GREEN WOODPECKER
feeding voraciously and
captured through the glass.
Nothing to add to the Year List but just the fact that we are still catching starts the day in the right direction with
first on parade
GREEN BRINDLED CRESCENT
the ubiquitous
BEADED CHESTNUT
another
BLAIR'S SHOULDER-KNOT
this tiny but rather nifty
SNAIL
and equally this beautifully marked
FLY
It was almost as if not needing to move from the homestead as soon after the traps had been cleared that these 2
GREY SQUIRRELs
appeared
and started performing
right before our eyes,
and as if that were not enough
a seemingly loan and most vocal
SISKIN
cut across the leaden sky and about to continue our recce of the previous day a
MERLIN
of unfortunately the none feathered kind
cut across the same dreary skyscape.
Unfortunately, from more northerly climbs all that could be added to the
Welcome Home List
was the long staying
female
TUFTED DUCK
BUT ALWAYS BELIEVE THERE WILL BE MORE TOMORROW!

Tuesday, 26 October 2021

The Boy's Are Back in Town - Thin Lizzy

 So, back to Base Camp and very nearly said "back to normal" but that ain't ever going to happen, along with gale force wind and lashings of rain. However, that didn't seem to effect the Insects much as all 3 of the Moth Traps produced, even if not all Moths!

NOVEMBER MOTH
would have been a first for the year had we the skill or inclination to disecet it and study the genitalia, a messy business, but as confusable with close relatives we simply note it as aggregate (agg).
DEWICK'S PLUSIA
was considered a 'fair cop' taking my memory back to the 70's and the capture of Great Britain's 14th such species which have become far more numerous over the years, or maybe more trappers?
along with a most obliging and active
DIVING BEETLE

A recce around the Patch on our return showed that little had changed during our absence save for the abcence of c3 of the juvenile

MUTE SWANs
with an adult
LITTLE GREBE and juv MOORHENs
on the Irrigation Pond and more showy examples of the
juvenile
LITTLE GREBE
and equally lone juvenile
MOORHEN
at the Gravel Pit and could not believe our eyes when spotting this
rather tardy
WHEATEAR
at some distance but considered a decent find as just back in the saddle!
All else amounted to a vocal
ROBIN
along with a second generation of
GOLDEN WAXCAP

Monday, 25 October 2021

You Never See 'Em All - Part V

 All Good Things must come to an end as is the case with Bad Things, which always seem much longer in going, but to wake up to more Good News, who's complaining?

BAIRD'S SANDPIPER
and for simplicities sake a vagrant from the America's. Not at all ideal viewing conditions also limited by distance, so thank heavens for Dave's telescope, and have taken the opportunity of fielding a borrowed shots to emphisise the matter.
A little more photo and video worthy here were the
GREAT WHITE EGRETs
both
showy
and
mostly active but with little else around we decided to search some of the channels flowing into the
RIVER HUMBER
(Oil Rig Supply Vessel)
Our first encounter was with a couple of
ANGLERS
who had coincidentally just 'hauled in' a
GUDGEON
not a prize winner but something 'wild' that we would not have seen otherwise.
BLACK-TAILED GODWIT
also showed themselves as did a first for the trip
COMMON GULL
A preening GREYLAG GOOSE looked to being attended by a number of WIGEON while
BARN OWL
were represented by no fewer than
3 distinctly different individuals.
Already many Wading Birds were being heard, attracted by the ebbing tide, but they would have to wait their turn as
CORN BUNTING
were kept seperated by both his
DAVESHIP and the SLUICE
from their close cousins
REED BUNTING
 While talking of cousins the Barn Owls were not going to be over-shadowed as a
total of no less than c7
SHORT-EARD OWLs
were logged.
The greatest spectacle was still gathering as uncountable numbers of
WADING BIRDs 
mostly Knot and Godwits continued to drop in
along with half a dozen LITTLE EGRET shown above.
Leaving the Sun to set behind the River we returned just at the very moment the anglers
landed a small
PERCH
to our delight, but it was not yet over as driving towards the main road this
WHITE PEASANT
crossed our track allowing for both
Clicks and Clips,
What a Trip to a Splendid, Splendid County!!
It would seem that some had kindly reacted to our plea by disceminating the fact that we are back in business with a most welcome spike of HITs this morning, there is a drink awaiting you at the Red Lion Bristol with THANKS ONCE AGAIN!