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

Monday, 31 March 2014

Pine Beauty

Another good night in the garden traps, although the best moth of the night almost eluded me - I'd already emptied both the 125W MV and the 22W/18W Synergetic/CFL combo trap before I noticed this hanging of the underside of the handle on the MV trap ....

Pine Beauty

This is by no means annual in my garden, and this is the first since 2011 so pleased to see it. Otherwise fairly regular stuff with the total catch 81 of 16sp.

0283  Caloptilia betulicola  1
0663  Diurnea fagella  2
0688  Agonopterix heracliana  2
1288  Twenty-plume Moth (Alucita hexadactyla)  1 (NFY)
1497  Amblyptilia acanthadactyla  1
1524  Emmelina monodactyla  5
1746  Shoulder Stripe (Anticlea badiata)  3
1862  Double-striped Pug (Gymnoscelis rufifasciata)  11
1917  Early Thorn (Selenia dentaria)  2
2179  Pine Beauty (Panolis flammea)  1 (NFY)
2182  Small Quaker (Orthosia cruda)  2 (NFY)
2187  Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi)  20
2188  Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta)  8
2190  Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica)  17
2243  Early Grey (Xylocampa areola)  3
2258  Chestnut (Conistra vaccinii)  2

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Numbers up

The garden traps brought a few more last night with the total catch up to 61 of 15sp.

0288  Caloptilia stigmatella  1 (NFY)
0303  Parornix anglicella  1 (NFY)
0483  Epermenia chaerophyllella  1 (NFY)
0688  Agonopterix heracliana  2
1497  Amblyptilia acanthadactyla  1
1524  Emmelina monodactyla  2
1663  March Moth (Alsophila aescularia)  2
1746  Shoulder Stripe (Anticlea badiata)  4
1862  Double-striped Pug (Gymnoscelis rufifasciata)  5
1917  Early Thorn (Selenia dentaria)  2 (NFY)
2187  Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi)  16
2188  Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta)  3
2189  Twin-spotted Quaker (Orthosia munda)  1 (NFY)
2190  Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica)  16
2243  Early Grey (Xylocampa areola)  4

Epermenia chaerophyllella
Really pleased with this shot. It's not often a micro sits nice and still for outdoor photography in natural light - I'm finding that some moths still look too shiny with the ring-light I've been trying out.

Shoulder Stripe

Saturday, 29 March 2014

From the garden traps

After a prolonged spell of cooler nights and indifferent days, I had the garden traps back out last night as the weather is hopefully on the turn again for the better (certainly today was pretty warm and sunny). No big numbers or surprises, but both traps did okay.

0688  Agonopterix heracliana  2
1047  Acleris schalleriana  1
1497  Amblyptilia acanthadactyla  1 (NFY)
1524  Emmelina monodactyla  3
1663  March Moth (Alsophila aescularia)  3
1746  Shoulder Stripe (Anticlea badiata)  2
2187  Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi)  12
2188  Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta)  9
2190  Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica)  6
2243  Early Grey (Xylocampa areola)  2

Early Grey

Hebrew Character

Acleris schalleriana

Like most (all?) early spring Acleris spp., this one has overwintered so fairly worn.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Diurnea fagella

Got home from work in daylight for a change, and managed to grab the last 45mins or so before dusk walking down the lane. Whilst nosing about on tree trunks I found this female D. fagella - only the second I've seen from memory, and the first one was a dark morph.

Sunday, 16 March 2014


Regular visitors to this blog over the last few years may well remember a local site I occasionally visit - Grove Park. It is a pathetic remnant of a once great area of rough ground that has been notable for the odd passage passerine, wintering Snipe, the occasional Jack Snipe and breeding LRPs over the years. One particularly good passage period a couple of years ago produced a peak count of 15 Wheatears, and I have also seen Whinchat here in the long-distant past. I've commented several times about how the remnant has been gradually encroached upon and it was only a matter of time before it goes completely. Well, that time is spring 2014 it appears.

That's my car parked up on a tarmac strip slap-bang in the middle of the former LRP breeding site.

Not much land left either side of the strip.

There is building work ongoing ....

.... apparently we are in dire need of yet another pub restaurant.

I very much doubt that any LRPs will bother stopping here this year.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Tetratoma fungorum

Here's that bracket fungus feeding beetle I found yesterday at Ulverscroft - Tetratoma fungorum. It's a really nice electric blue under good natural lighting, which I've failed to capture at all in these shots with flash!

Wednesday, 12 March 2014


Took a bit of time out from work today, and managed to get out for an afternoon pottering about at Ulverscroft NR with Adrian Russell. No particular plan or agenda, other than get some fresh air and poke about looking for anything interesting. We were also going to get in a bit of early spring mothing after a pint and bar-meal interlude.

I had hoped for some nice warm sunshine, but the sun was a bit late burning through. But we had a good long walk around the reserve, stopping periodically to check over, in or under fallen trees and deadwood. Surprisingly little found on the beetles front, though there are a couple of carabids to key out. One beetle I did find (but will have to wait to try and get a decent photo of) is Tetratoma fungorum which I know has been recorded from Ulverscroft before. It's a beetle of wood-decay fungi, especially Birch Polypore.

We found a few Ichneumon sp. in wood rot, something which has been noted recently on the PSL Facebook page. I'm assuming that they are hibernating there rather than actively seeking something to parasitise. No idea what species are involved as yet, but I have three potted up for future reference (and quite possibly three different species). The following two photos are of different individuals that look similar but are actually quite different in size.

Away from inverts, I found a new for me fungus ....

Common Grey Disco (Mollisia cinerea)

Also lots of this about ...

Hoof Fungus (Fomes fomentarius)

And I also managed to find a small liverwort ...

Bifid Crestwort (Lophocolea bidentata)

We stopped for a nice couple of pints and a bar meal at the Copt Oak, before heading to Charnwood Lodge to run traps. Unfortunately though the temperature plummeted even before the sun had fully set, and so we only gave it an hour and a half or so before packing up and calling it a day. There were a few moths in the traps, including Yellow Horned and Satellite, but the most numerous moth was Engrailed which we kept finding on tree trunks whilst mooching about between traps.

Monday, 10 March 2014

VC First

Turns out that the Cicones undatus I posted yesterday is a VC55 first. Seems to be a previously rare beetle that is now quickly spreading northwards (for a small beetle).

I ran both garden traps last night which boosted the numbers a little, but overall catch was pretty good at 60 of 10sp. Diurnea fagella, Dark Chestnut, Hebrew Character and (best of all) Pale Pinion all new for the year.

Pale Pinion

March Moth

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Croft Hill

Today was gloriously sunny, but with family chores and kids football I wasn't able to capitalise fully. The garden trap provided the first decent catch on Saturday night, and I noted a few bits in the garden late morning (first Brimstone, Small Torts and Peacock). Later this afternoon though I was free and I headed over to Croft Hill to have a mooch about. Not a cloud in the sky, and by that time it was a superb late teens temperature.

Croft Hill is a big hill overlooking a big hole

Looking north towards Huncote Embankment

I spent some time searching tree trunks and fence posts, and I managed to find a fair few inverts tempted out by the warmth, including two new beetles and a new bug for me (though I haven't managed to photograph them all yet).

Cicones undatus - a new one for me

This is a gall wasp - one to try and key through on a rainy day

Forest Bug nymph

Common Footman - found two larvae grazing on algae

Loads of 7-Spot Ladybirds about

Couldn't get a clear shot of this Tree Bumblebee - it flew off after I tried to manipulate it

Lots of flies sunning themselves on trees and fences, like this Calliphora vicina

Can't beat a bit of flowering Gorse to brighten any huge man-made hole

Here's a couple from the moth trap last night:

Grey Shoulder-knot

Clouded Drab

Saturday, 8 March 2014

It's that time again ...

.... the only time in the year when common spring noctuids are actually a bit exciting to find in the trap ....

Common Quaker

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Blogger Screwed My Images

I've noted before that Blogger seems to be compressing images, depsite the fact that I've previously edited in Photoshop and used the web optimisation to ensure file sizes are moderate. Usually the compression is not massive and barely noticeable, but a couple of the images on my last post in particular have been completely screwed. Just done a bit of research and think I have a couple of workarounds, through ironically it will mean larger file sizes being uploaded.

All of the following are the same photo saved from Photoshop in different formats.

Web optimised .jpg image (my usual method), then made to look shite by blogger compression

Standard .jpg saved at max quality with no optimisation, and then compressed by blogger

Saved as web-optmised .gif file, which blogger can't compress too much

Saved as web-optimised .png file, which blogger can't compress at all

Looks like the last three versions are all pretty similar, but I'm going to start saving my files in different formats and checking which works best going forward. Fundamentally I don't want my images compressed so likely to go with .gif or .png versions.

Spring Begins

Just lately I've been ridiculously busy and pressured at work, so with the first signs of moderate weather I was more than pleased to get out and about for some fresh air over the weekend. A quick walk down the lane into my square on Saturday afternoon after working, and a couple of hours at Narborough Bog on Sunday morning. Even managed to find a few bits to point the camera at (and a couple of beetles that came home in pots to be keyed through under the microscope).

From Saturday ..

Acericerus vittifrons

Coral Spot

Large Yellow Underwing - found under a discarded welly

... and from Sunday morning ...

Scarlet Elfcup

Black Witches Butter

and this slime mould is probably Metatrichia floriformis

I keyed out a couple of small carabid beetles fro Narborough Bog to be Pterostichus minor and Agonum gracile, neither spectacular looking or paticularly photogenic but both fit in well with the habitat and VC55 records.