Birds, Leps, Observations & Generalities - the images and ramblings of Mark Skevington. Sometimes.

Friday, 30 April 2010

End of month list update

The traps have stayed in the shed again tonight, so a timely point to update my garden and year moth lists. Incidentally, I'm excluding larval records from the lists with the exception of the psychidae and any inhabited leaf mines for micros later in the year.

The garden list stands at 41 species, 490 individuals.
The overall year list stands at 83 species, 2355 individuals.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

28/04/2010 Mothing Part 3 of 3 : The Garden

Following on from the unexpectedly low numbers at Ketton Quarry, the garden traps this morning were the same picture - more species but not in any great numbers.

The total catch was 33 of 19sp. (125W MV 22 of 15, 80W actinic 11 of 9).

0288 Caloptilia stigmatella 1
0483 Epermenia chaerophyllella 1 [first for year]
0608 Elachista rufocinerea 1 [first for year]
1524 Emmelina monodactyla 1
1651 Chinese Character (Cilix glaucata) 1 [first for year]
1835 White-spotted Pug (Eupithecia tripunctaria) 2 [first for year]
1853 Oak-tree Pug (Eupithecia dodoneata) 3
1858 V-Pug (Chloroclystis v-ata) 1 [first for year]
1862 Double-striped Pug (Gymnoscelis rufifasciata) 3
1917 Early Thorn (Selenia dentaria) 2
1927 Brindled Beauty (Lycia hirtaria) 1
2179 Pine Beauty (Panolis flammea) 1
2187 Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi) 4
2188 Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta) 2
2190 Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) 4
2243 Early Grey (Xylocampa areola) 2
2256 Satellite (Eupsilia transversa) 1
2450 Spectacle (Abrostola tripartita) 1 [first for year]
2469 Herald (Scoliopteryx libatrix) 1

Chinese Character

Oak-tree Pug

Elachista rufocinerea


No idea why it's called the Spectacle

Caloptilia stigmatella

Pine Beauty - the less colourful colour form

28/04/2010 Mothing Part 2 of 3 : Musical Interlude

Whilst out mothing on my own, sitting around a lit sheet waiting for moths can be a bit tedious. Last night though I filled out the dull moments and drowned out the hum of the gennie with this:

That small black mushroom is an X-mini capsule speaker - for such a small thing the volume and sound quality is fecking awsome! £13.99 from Amazon (or £19.99 in Argos if you are anti online-shopping). Get one.

28/04/2010 Mothing Part 1 of 3 - Ketton Quarry

The forecast for last night was perfect - the warm muggy conditions that had developed through the day would continue into the night with good temps and cloud cover ahead of the rain moving in today. Knowing that the weather over the weekend was likely to be shite, I decided to try and make the most of a mid-week session. I'd touted the idea of going down to Hazelborough Wood in Northants but there were no takers, so I headed over to Ketton Quarry. No particular species in mind, just a change of mothing scenery - I knew a woodland site would be more productive at this time of year, but KQ has the highest site total in VC55 and could turn something up at any time of year.

As I arrived at c20:00 it was still 18°C and all seemed good. I set up 3 x 125W MV traps and a 125W MV light over a sheet, got the gennies running at 20:50 and waited for the influx of moths to start. And waited. And waited.

I just don't get it - as perfect conditions as you could wish for, and yet by 22:00 all I had was 10 moths of 9 species at the sheet. Luckily things picked up on the species diversity, but it was still pretty slow going at the sheet and certainly not the big numbers I had hoped for. I couldn't stay too late though, and I'm sure that if I'd carried on beyond 23:40 it would have been a different story.

In the end the total catch was 171 of 37sp. including plenty of firsts for the year. However by far the highlight was a single Frosted Green that just arrived at the last trap when I started to packup. This species is by no means common in VC55 - it's only been recorded from a few sites and generally in low numbers. Given that this KQ already had a macro list of 354 species, adding another was notable.

Frosted Green

The only other unexpected species was a single Common Heath in one of the traps - not because the species is unexpected at Ketton Quarry, but because it is a day-flying species. It must have been roosting very close to the trap.

The total list was:

0006 Eriocrania subpurpurella 4
0130 Incurvaria masculella 2 [yeartick]
0667 Semioscopis steinkellneriana 1
0672 Parsnip Moth (Depressaria heraclei) 1
0695 Agonopterix alstromeriana 1
0966 Cochylis atricapitana 3 [yeartick]
0986 Syndemis musculana 1 [yeartick]
1054 Acleris cristana 1
1362 Pyrausta purpuralis 1 [yeartick]
1651 Chinese Character (Cilix glaucata) 2 [yeartick]
1660 Frosted Green (Polyploca ridens) 1 [yeartick]
1724 Red Twin-spot Carpet (Xanthorhoe spadicearia) 4 [yeartick]
1728 Garden Carpet (Xanthorhoe fluctuata) 1
1738 Common Carpet (Epirrhoe alternata) 1 [yeartick]
1746 Shoulder Stripe (Anticlea badiata) 4
1750 Water Carpet (Lampropteryx suffumata) 1
1760 Red-green Carpet (Chloroclysta siterata) 2
1790 Tissue (Triphosa dubitata) 1 [yeartick]
1852 Brindled Pug (Eupithecia abbreviata) 4
1853 Oak-tree Pug (Eupithecia dodoneata) 10
1883 Yellow-barred Brindle (Acasis viretata) 5 [yeartick]
1919 Purple Thorn (Selenia tetralunaria) 1
1936 Waved Umber (Menophra abruptaria) 6 [yeartick]
1947 Engrailed (Ectropis bistortata) 1
1952 Common Heath (Ematurga atomaria) 1
2015 Lunar Marbled Brown (Drymonia ruficornis) 2
2078 Least Black Arches (Nola confusalis) 3 [yeartick]
2092 Shuttle-shaped Dart (Agrotis puta) 2 [yeartick]
2102 Flame Shoulder (Ochropleura plecta) 1 [yeartick]
2139 Red Chestnut (Cerastis rubricosa) 5
2186 Powdered Quaker (Orthosia gracilis) 23
2187 Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi) 39
2188 Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta) 4
2189 Twin-spotted Quaker (Orthosia munda) 1
2190 Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) 26
2256 Satellite (Eupsilia transversa) 3
2258 Chestnut (Conistra vaccinii) 2

Yellow-barred Brindle

Pyrausta purpuralis

Powdered Quaker

Least Black Arches

It was still up at 15°C when I left. The drive home produced three Foxes, a superb Barn Owl and a probable Tawny Owl dashing across the road, but no Badgers. Always amazes me how so many Badgers get mowed over on the A47 yet I've never seen one alive along there.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

26th/27th - From the garden trap

The garden traps have been running over the last two nights, both fairly cool after warm days, clear, dry and mainly still. Nothing too exciting in the catches.

Total catch 9 of 6sp. (125W MV 5 of 5, 80W actinic 4 of 2)

0288 Caloptilia stigmatella 1 [first for year]
0998 Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana) 1
1524 Emmelina monodactyla 1
1927 Brindled Beauty (Lycia hirtaria) 1 [first for year]
2187 Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi) 1
2190 Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) 4

Total catch 19 of 11sp. (125W MV 9 of 8, 80W actinic 10 of 7)

1288 Twenty-plume Moth (Alucita hexadactyla) 1
1524 Emmelina monodactyla 1
1728 Garden Carpet (Xanthorhoe fluctuata) 1
1853 Oak-tree Pug (Eupithecia dodoneata) 2 [first for year]
1862 Double-striped Pug (Gymnoscelis rufifasciata) 4
1917 Early Thorn (Selenia dentaria) 1
1927 Brindled Beauty (Lycia hirtaria) 1
2186 Powdered Quaker (Orthosia gracilis) 1 [first for year]
2187 Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi) 3
2188 Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta) 1
2190 Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) 3

I'm hoping that the reported adult male Red-footed Falcon over Oakham yesterday either turns out to be bollocks, or hangs around for a few days!

I'm hoping to get out somewhere tonight with the traps - I'll see what the latest forecast holds in the afternoon.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Narborough Bog & Garden Tick

Yesterday was mostly spent drinking a few refreshing ciders at the Tigers Rugby (hosted by my work), so it wasn't until late in the evening that I decided to take a few traps out to a couple of local sites (and even later in the night when I got around to posting the photos from Friday night).

I hadn't actually checked the weather - it just felt like a reasonable night with cloud cover holding the temps up until dusk. The first site turned out to be a non-starter as the gated entrance to Enderby Quarry had been fitted with a new padlock - quite possibly by the adjoining timber frame business without consent from the quarry owners. This will be followed up as I wanted to get in there again a few times this year.

With this setback, I headed back over to Narborough Bog and set about carting the cheapo 2-stroke gennie, a couple of traps and three cable reels down to the reserve from the main track. I usually drive up but a new gate has been installed .....

Everything was running without issue at 20:50, and I left the site at 21:15 with every intention of being back at first light. At least that was the plan. This morning I was suddenly aware of my phone alarm going off at 06:20 - it had been self-snoozing for almost an hour without me stirring. I needed to get going quickly, and was concerned when I opened the front door to see that it had rained in the previous couple of hours or so. Now I was very cynical about my chances of enjoying the catch - the gennie would almost certainly have run out of fuel if not died though the rain, and the traps would be full of water surrounded by soaking wet sheets.

I got there at 06:40 and all concerns were immediately allayed when I could hear the rough-arse chuntering of the gennie and see the lights still on. What a superb bit of kit - almost 10 hrs running with 2 x 125W MV traps and cable reels plus resiliance to rain. The traps were wet and the sheets were soaking, but still plenty of moths.

The wood at Narborough Bog is damp and shady at the best of times, so I was not expecting the sort of variety and numbers that I'd get in a more typical broadleafed wood. I was therefore pleased with the overall catch of 166 of 21sp. The main highlights were what I think is a site-first Pale Pinion, Early Tooth-striped and an early Chocolate-tip.

0288 Caloptilia stigmatella 2 [yeartick]
0667 Semioscopis steinkellneriana 8
1746 Shoulder Stripe (Anticlea badiata) 1
1750 Water Carpet (Lampropteryx suffumata) 2
1852 Brindled Pug (Eupithecia abbreviata) 8
1862 Double-striped Pug (Gymnoscelis rufifasciata) 1
1881 Early Tooth-striped (Trichopteryx carpinata) 5 [yeartick]
1917 Early Thorn (Selenia dentaria) 2
1919 Purple Thorn (Selenia tetralunaria) 2 [yeartick]
1927 Brindled Beauty (Lycia hirtaria) 21 [yeartick]
1947 Engrailed (Ectropis bistortata) 2
1957 White-pinion Spotted (Lomographa bimaculata) 1 [yeartick]
2003 Pebble Prominent (Notodonta ziczac) 1 [yeartick]
2019 Chocolate-tip (Clostera curtula) 1 [yeartick]
2186 Powdered Quaker (Orthosia gracilis) 2 [yeartick]
2187 Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi) 5
2188 Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta) 20
2190 Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) 69
2236 Pale Pinion (Lithophane hepatica) 1
2258 Chestnut (Conistra vaccinii) 1
2469 Herald (Scoliopteryx libatrix) 1


Early Tooth-striped

Purple Thorn

Brindled Beauty

I also found a large noctuid caterpillar - possibly Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, retained to rear - and also a fresh noctuid pupa attached to the back of some bark I collected for photographic backgrounds.
Slightly less welcome was a fecking huge queen Hornet in one of the traps - don't remember seeing Hornets here before. The other trap was free of Hornets, but surprisingly had a good few Common Carder Bees in it plus a huge queen White-tailed Bumblebee. Both traps had a couple of wasps and one or two Yellow Ophion. I was handling every tray carefully!

Common Carder Bee

The garden traps also did well last night, including another garden tick micro. The total catch was 38 of 14sp. (125W MV 21 of 10, 80W actinic 17 of 10).

0602 Elachista apicipunctella 1 [FIRST FOR GARDEN]
0688 Agonopterix heracliana 1
0695 Agonopterix alstromeriana 1 [first for year]
0998 Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana) 2 [first for year]
1288 Twenty-plume Moth (Alucita hexadactyla) 2
1497 Amblyptilia acanthadactyla 1
1524 Emmelina monodactyla 2
1728 Garden Carpet (Xanthorhoe fluctuata) 1 [first for year]
1760 Red-green Carpet (Chloroclysta siterata) 1
1862 Double-striped Pug (Gymnoscelis rufifasciata) 5
2187 Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi) 3
2188 Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta) 5
2190 Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) 10
2243 Early Grey (Xylocampa areola) 3

Elachista apicipunctella - smarter in life than I can capture

Light Brown Apple Moth

Twenty-plume Moth

Agonopterix alstromeriana

The garden traps were emptied with the regular Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Lesser Whitethroat in competition. Later this afternoon, I picked up my first Swifts of the year as two soared over the garden.

Pale Pinion, Martinshaw, Butterbur

First up, the garden traps last night (Friday 23rd) were shite for numbers but I was very pleased to find another Pale Pinion nestling in one of the egg trays making the effort worthwhile. Total catch was just 9 of 4sp. (125W MV 5 of 3, 80W actinic 4 of 2).

1917 Early Thorn (Selenia dentaria) 1
2187 Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi) 2
2190 Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) 5
2236 Pale Pinion (Lithophane hepatica) 1

Pale Pinion

The brief session at Martinshaw Wood with Adrian Russell ended up with a reasonable list, considering the still cool conditions and a relatively early finish. We ran 1 x 125W light over a sheet and 4 x 125W MV traps up to c22:30. The total catch was 257 of 17sp., including 4 yearticks for me.

Martinshaw Wood is mainly coniferous plantation interspersed with some remnant broadleaved wood including Oak, Aspen, Birch and Sallow. Also a reasonable mix in the understory. One of the main benefits of this site is that the rides afford excellent vehicular access - always a major bonus for moth trapping.

Not quite so usual is the fact that the wood is bisected by a rather larger track, as seen in this map which also shows the central point where we ran the sheet (2), the access track entrance (1), plus the four trap locations.

0006 Eriocrania subpurpurella 99 [yeartick]
0461 Ypsolopha ustella 2
0663 Diurnea fagella 14
1750 Water Carpet (Lampropteryx suffumata) 3 [yeartick]
1852 Brindled Pug (Eupithecia abbreviata) 29
1917 Early Thorn (Selenia dentaria) 2
1947 Engrailed (Ectropis bistortata) 1
2015 Lunar Marbled Brown (Drymonia ruficornis) 20 [yeartick]
2179 Pine Beauty (Panolis flammea) 2
2182 Small Quaker (Orthosia cruda) 7
2187 Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi) 21
2188 Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta) 3
2189 Twin-spotted Quaker (Orthosia munda) 5
2190 Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) 32
2237 Grey Shoulder-knot (Lithophane ornitopus lactipennis) 1 [yeartick]
2256 Satellite (Eupsilia transversa) 10
2258 Chestnut (Conistra vaccinii) 6

I've checked back and it was 2002 when I last moth-trapped at Martinshaw Wood - must try and get in more through this year. Here's a few of the highlights:

Lunar Marbled Brown - darker form

Lunar Marbled Brown - regular form

Eriocrania subpurpurella

Water Carpet

Grey Shoulder-knot - a worn three-legged individual

Pine Beauty - can't see enough of these smart moths

Finally, I mentioned Butterbur at Misterton Marsh the other day - here's a couple of quick snaps showing how prolific it is at this site.

As far as I know, there are not too many sites in VC55 with Butterbur - I'm going to make a concerted effort to check this one for The Butterbur (moth) later in the spring by cutting a few stems to check for larvae.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Quick Note

Not long back home after a speculative mothing trip to Martinshaw Wood near to Groby in Leics. A long while since I last moth-trapped there, so if nothing else it was good to get back in and have a look around. I'll post a summary and photos tomorrow.

Nothing much else really. Yesterday I had a look at Misterton Marsh near to Lutterworth in south Leics. - loads of Butterbur flowering but mostly gone over with quite big leaves already showing. A big patch of Marsh Marigolds too - wrong camera .........

This afternoon I quickly checked on the injured bull I mentioned a couple of days ago - it has gone so hopefully being sorted out  ...  one way or another. Whilst there I noted a couple of juvenile Woodpigeons feeding in the field with adults, and also my first Mallard brood of the year - nine very fluffy recently hatched ducklings.

Later this afternoon I heard the noise I've been waiting for - my first garden Lesser Whitethroat of the year. I've had a least one on the embankment every year since 2000 - great to have one back again.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010


This week, I have mostly been listening to:

After recommending this to Newton Stringer a few weeks back, I finally got around to digging out my old copy for a listen - long while since I last enjoyed it. Lionrock were headed up by producer Justin Robertson, and this album was released in 1996. I reckon this is a great album, although it's all dance-based stuff it is varied with some mellow tracks and others a bit harder. Try it - you'll like it.

Morning Will Come When I'm Not Ready

Number Nine

Bag of Biros

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Patch Tick & Empty Egg Trays

Superb clear skies (or at least I couldn't see any dust - reckon they are making it up), bright sunshine, me stuck in office again. I did poke my head out during the afternoon to enjoy the sun whilst on the phone - and was surprised at how fecking cold it felt in the strong breeze.

When I did get away, I dropped past Grove Park to check on the LRPs - both still present and feeding/scuttling about, which was nice. Nothing more exciting than a few foraging Linnets though. I then decided to fill an hour this evening checking some horse paddocks on my patch (near the River Sence on the Blaby side of the Guthlaxton Trail) - surely there would be at least one Yellow Wagtail feeding amongst the piles of horse shit. When I got there, no such luck on the wagtails. In fact, even the fecking horses were gone ....

In one of the adjacent fields, I noted a huge-bollocked bull laying down with a big open wound on its backside where he seems to have managed to rip out his tail. Nasty. Maybe one of the local youths fancied Oxtail Soup. I'll follow up on this with the RSPCA tomorrow seeing as they were closed for business when I rang - no idea who the owner/farmer is.

I did notice some nice pale lilac coloured flowers which I have confidently identified as Cuckooflower (or Lady's Smock if you prefer). Shame I had the wrong camera with me though.

I'll get a better shot next time I go (like in focus and everything)

Seeing as it was birdless, I changed plan and nipped to the other end of the River Sence where it joins the River Soar at Jubilee Park. Immediately I had a small flock of 20 or so Swallows wheeling about over my head - and judging by the masses of annoying gnat type flies that were flying about they were having a feast.

I then picked up a snatch of Reed Warbler singing. Sounded a bit half-arsed and, to be honest, the habitat is not really suitable ....

Neverthless, in the middle of that huge reedbed on the river bank there was a Reed Warbler furtively working its way through and making the odd grab for a fly or something. I very much doubt that it will stay!

Scanning across the grass and the pool, I confirmed the general lack of Yellow Wagtails but there were a couple of smart Pieds and also a nice male Reed Bunting. I scanned the 'shoreline' of the pool in the hope of - yes, get in - Common Sandpiper! A patch tick (bearing in mind it's less than a year since I formally adopted the area I call my Soar Valley South patch). I know - I'll get over it. It's been a very long while since I got excited by a Common Sand. I also picked up an unexpected LRP working its way around the pool perimeter aswell.

The traps last night were rubbish, just 14 of 6sp. (125W MV 9 of 6, 80W actinic 5 of 2). Most trays were empty and it didn't take long.

1524 Emmelina monodactyla 1
1746 Shoulder Stripe (Anticlea badiata) 1
1862 Double-striped Pug (Gymnoscelis rufifasciata) 1
2187 Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi) 4
2190 Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) 6
2243 Early Grey (Xylocampa areola) 1

It was very clear and rapidly cooling before dark tonight, so I haven't bothered.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Garden Micro Tick

The garden traps performed a little better last night, with double the species and almost 3 times the number of individuals compared to Saturday night. Total catch was 36 of 16sp. (125W MV 23 of 14, 80W actinic 13 of 7) - still the MV vs actinic disparity though. The catch included 3 firsts for the year, and best of all this garden tick:

Acleris cristana - not one of the smartest forms but good enough

Acleris cristana was first recorded in VC55 as recently as 2002. Since then, it has colonised both Leicestershire and Rutland rapidly, spreading from the southern counties, and it has been recorded across a wide distribution. Seeing as one of its main foodplants is Blackthorn (of which there is plenty on the embankment running adjacent to the garden), I always expected it would turn up here before long.

Total catch summary was:

0667 Semioscopis steinkellneriana 1
0688 Agonopterix heracliana 2
0697 Agonopterix arenella 1
0822 Scrobipalpa acuminatella 1 [first for year]
1054 Acleris cristana 1 [FIRST FOR GARDEN]
1288 Twenty-plume Moth (Alucita hexadactyla) 1 [first for year]
1497 Amblyptilia acanthadactyla 1
1524 Emmelina monodactyla 1
1760 Red-green Carpet (Chloroclysta siterata) 1
1862 Double-striped Pug (Gymnoscelis rufifasciata) 5
1917 Early Thorn (Selenia dentaria) 2
1934 Dotted Border (Agriopis marginaria) 1 [first for year]
2187 Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi) 1
2188 Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta) 4
2190 Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) 8
2243 Early Grey (Xylocampa areola) 5

I was surprised that Dotted Border has only just showed up here so late in its normal flight period.

Dotted Border

Amblyptilia acanthadactyla

Double-striped Pug

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Herald, Adder, 'pillars n plants

Ran the garden traps last night despite the entirely unsuitable conditions - total catch was 14 of 8sp. (125W MV 10 of 6, 80W actinic 4 of 3). I starting to think that the 2 x 40W actinic tubes need replacing - this trap usually fares as well or better than the MV in the garden but lately it's been pants. Whilst the catch was meagre, there were two garden firsts for the year.

0663 Diurnea fagella 1
1524 Emmelina monodactyla 3
1862 Double-striped Pug (Gymnoscelis rufifasciata) 1
2179 Pine Beauty (Panolis flammea) 1 [first for year]
2187 Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi) 3
2190 Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) 3
2243 Early Grey (Xylocampa areola) 1
2469 Herald (Scoliopteryx libatrix) 1 [first for year]

Herald ..... nice.

After emptying the traps and stuff, I headed back out to Ketton Quarry for another go at the reptiles. Josh came along, but Alex decided not to bother after last weeks try. We arrived at 09:00 in glorious sunshine that was bathing the main search area.

As we got out of the car, I immediately picked up Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler in full song and Budgerigar calling. Eh? WTF is a Budgie doing calling from that Horse Chestnut I thought. I grabbed the bins and eventually picked up a pale blue-grey bird that looked decidedly pissed off at the general lack of mirrors and cuttlefish. To be honest, despite the insistent calling it was damned hard to pick up in the tree - nothing like the Ring-necked Parakeets down south.

After the diversion, we set about the main business of finding snakes and lizards. No one else was around, which was good in that there was less disturbance but it's also good to have a few pairs of eyes out. As it happened, I quickly found a superb Adder outstretched in the grass. It was one of the lovely sort of grey-green coloured males.

After this quick success, things were a bit like last week with an enormous female Grass Snake briefly seen and a few small Common Lizards not hanging about.

The best bit of snake habitat at Ketton Quarry

Over in the other main compound, I was really surprised to find good numbers of Common Heath on the wing - a good couple of weeks earlier than I've seen them before. They were too active and impossible to photograph in the sun today so I netted a male for a controlled attempt.

Common Heath - not at all common in VC55

Lots of bees and hoverflies on the wing, but surprisingly few butterflies.

We then headed home to face the gardening chores. I mentioned last week that our garden usually needs extra time before mowing, long after everyone else has had a couple of goes. Nichola disagrees and insisted on mowing and gardening today. My annual first-mow ritual is not quite conventional though. Our crappy mower, in conjunction with our even more crappy lawn, has a rear roller which after the last mow of the year sticks with a wad of muddy compacted grass stuck behind it. Every year for a while now, when I prise off the roller to clear it I find a few Common Swift caterpillars. I guess either the eggs or very early instar larvae are caught up to spend the winter in my mower in the shed - quite how they survive and grow in such circumstances I have no idea.

Common Swift

I've stuck a few in a box outside with a fresh wad of turf with roots to try and rear through - the rest were released back onto the lawn after mowing.

Whilst on the larval front, we found a few caterpillars in the garden yesterday. One is a tortrix munching away in a spinning on buddleia shoots (probably Light Brown Apple Moth - retained to rear). I also found loads of miniscule just-hatched geometrids on our Lilac - could well be a repeat of last year's Feathered Thorn. Also two noctuid larvae munching on weeds.

Lesser Yellow Underwing?


Both retained to rear through.

As for the weeds, temporarily growing alongside the Lesser Celandine were Common Dog Violet and Dandelion - Nichola pulled them all up ......

Common Dog Violet - I think


The onlt other highlight whilst in the garden was a surprise garden tick on the bird list when a Meadow Pipit flew over calling heading towards the lane.