Tuesday 11 August 2020

Played for and got

A few days ago I recorded both Common Sandpiper and Green Sandpiper over the garden. On Sunday night I recorded Whimbrel and Oystercatcher within an hour and a half of each other. It is most definitely wader season, and whilst it is fascinating to get an insight into what goes over, it is also a little bit unfulfilling if I'm asleep when it does. Having lived here for over 15 years without a sniff of Whimbrel, Sunday's record was the fifth of 2020. I don't know about you but that blows my mind. Of the five records just one involved daylight and my eyes, the other four have been nocturnal recordings. Two I was asleep for, but two I was awake for and thus they sit happily on my burgeoning garden list.

Yes, burgeoning. With so many waders going over at the moment I decided to give a 'live' nocmig ago. This still involves the MP3 player, but also involves me staying awake to keep it company. Last night it also involved Bombay Mix and a small glass of fiery liquid, and for good measure I put the moth trap out as well. In for a penny.

To cut to the chase, at around half midnight my finely-tuned ears detected the "swee-swee-swee" of a Common Sandpiper. Attenborough-like I whispered Common Sandpiper into the microphone, noted the time, and continued my vigil. About a minute later I heard it more distantly, but for much longer. Again I whispered my thoughts, already very much looking forward to the morning review which would confirm it beyond doubt. I packed it in around 1am, slightly worried that although those calls were the only thing of note in three hours of listening that I would surely miss something else. Which of course is what happened. Luckily it was just another Common Sandpiper passing over just before 4am, but the recording was much better than the first one so I've posted it below.

It wasn't all about the waders though. I record all sorts of noises in the garden overnight, and having stayed up some of them are now explained. All those vertical lines that seems to be very close to the microphone? Moths thudding into the windows just behind it. The crackling of leaf litter? Well this is a real revelation, we have a HedgehogAn actual live barrel-shaped Hedgehog. I thought Hedgehogs ate worms and beetles, but I also now know - rather guiltily - that they have a taste for moths, particularly nice fat nutritious moths like Jersey Tigers.

nom nom nom

It is impossible to say how many Jersey Tigers fell victim to my voracious Hedgehog last night. At one point I could see about 18 of them on and around the trap, and any of them unfortunate enough to have landed on the grass got gobbled up with satisfying crunching noises. I've never really spend any time watching a Hedgehog before and I have to say that they are surprising nimble on their feet. I watched it eat at least 14, and as far as I know it continued to patrol around the trap long after I went to bed. In some ways it was surprising that there were still around 20 in and around the trap this morning. It is the commonest moth in the garden by far at the moment, as I go around watering my plants hordes of them take flight. Less common going forward perhaps.

I'll save the moths for another day, but the haul was sensational by my normal standards. I even caught a Hornet, a rather lively moment when I turned over that particular egg box but it was somnambulent and very docile.

Common Sandpiper is #90 for my garden, and the eighth of 2020. The last eight garden ticks before this year take me back to 2011, so this is pretty amazing stuff. "Working from home" bagged three of them, but 'live' nocmig is responsible for the other five. And if I didn't need sleep then I could have added four more. I have to say that the thought of maybe inking one those in makes it very tempting to do it all over again this evening. Watch this space.


  1. I think the term "Naked Nocmig" is more image inducing than the term "live nocmig"....

  2. Ooof, you almost won 'Word of the Month' for a second time, but for a misplaced e where an a should sit. 9.5/10 for "somnambulent". Now go get some kip ;)