Invis Mig

It seemed like a good morning to kick off the the Autumn vis mig season. Vis migging is the, fairly niche, birding pursuit whereby an observer stands (sitting is also permissible) at a 'migration watch point' and records the number of birds flying over.

So I went to the Beacon and without a fanfare or brief, but rousing, speech, I declared the vig mig season officially open.

My notebook, however, remained unsullied by any records.  My  stubby pencil remained resolutely in my fleece pocket. There was nothing to  trouble the scorers.

Both the numbers and range of  species,  that I didn't  see  were  impressive. Pride of place however goes to the huge numbers of Swallows and Martins that I didn't observe winging their way to southern climes. Such an awe inspiring sight to avoid  seeing.

I did  however  see  one  Lesser  Black Backed Gull flying south as well as a that's it.

As  soon  as  it  became obvious that I had backed the wrong horse viz-a-viz niche birding pursuits I went  for  my usual patch walk. This was also disappointingly  bird-free.

There  is always something interesting going on however. There  has been a recent  emergence of  Grass Veneers. At nearly every step I took through the undergrowth one or two of these small, light coloured moths would take flight.

There are several species of  'Grass Moth', Garden Grass Veneer, Agriphilla straminella and Agriphila tristella being the commonest. By day they camouflage themselves by sitting along grass stems, but can be very readily seen when they take are disturbed and take flight.

Last year on a similarly birdless August day I gave vent to my inner Anal Retentive (would you like to rephrase that - ed). I estimated the total number of Grass moths, on the patch, on that day.

By  extrapolation - given the number I saw in sample meters of grassland - I arrived a figure with order of magnitude -  half a million.

So in football result announcer style -  Birds 2: Moths 500,000 (away win).

Looking East from the Beacon - one of several directions in which a large number of birds weren't seen migrating

Garden Grass Veneer - Chrysoteuchia culmella

As Well as the Grass Moths there's been an emergence of the Common Green Capsid bug (Lygocoris pabulinus), almost every Fleabane flower had at least one.

Six-Spot Burnet Moth - the commonest of Britain's day flying moths

Get this


  1. Keep looking to those skies Phil, no two days are the same! ( you know that already though!) Had my first Autumn Wheatear this morning :-)

  2. I think you do much better on patch for migrants Warren - well you're in Kent for a start


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