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

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Still Around

Not had a chance to do much lately; busy at work, back into hospital for another op (last one I hope) and then some indifferent weather. So not a lot to report, but I have managed to pull in some new for garden moths ... although only one of them looked nice!

Tree-lichen Beauty - 29/07/2019

Still a good rarity in VC55, first was recorded last year and there was one this year prior to mine in Rutland. First time I've recorded it anywhere, though I have seen one before when we trapped in Suffolk and one was taken up the road.

Also a couple of NFG micros, but neither were very attractive!

A moribund Small China-mark - 16/07/2019

A worn Eana incanana - 16/07/2019, with one even less well marked the night before

Aside from running the moth trap, I've been attracting a range of species to rotting fruit and sugar, as well as to my pathetically small garden buddleija. But mainly I've been luring Old Ladies.




A walk down the lane on Sunday brought a few expected larvae, and an unexpected orthopterid .....

Various instar Small Ranunculus on Prickly Lettuce

A load of Cinnabar on one Common Ragwort plant that they'd stripped

Never seen Roesel's Bush-cricket anywhere near here before

Aside from all that I've been setting up and getting to grips with a new family PC, almost exactly nine years since the last time I went through this. Of course that means having to accept the inevitable Windows 10, but so far all good and I've got all my software working (including MapMate, a new version of Photoshop Elements, my USB microscope, and I've got all my music and synth software working). It's not the best on the market but the best for a reasonable price; 2.9GHz hex-core 9th gen i5 chip, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, 2TB HDD, more USB ports than I know what to do with. Should last the best part of another decade ..... perhaps!

Anyway. I'm back up to full physical functionality just in time for a beer n balti night at the T20 blast cricket tomorrow and the start of the Premier League at the weekend.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

A Jumbled Post

It's been oddly quiet in some ways, and certainly the garden moth traps don't feel like we're in peak season. Very brown, swathes of Dark Arches etc but not much micro excitement. Anyway, since heading out to Ketton Quarry on 29/06/2019 I've managed to sort out a few beetles from there one way or another that are new for me. I also had a short session at Croft Pastures with Adrian Russell on 03/07/2019 although it turned quite cool so not a lot going on. Otherwise I've been busy at work or knackered/lazy.

So here's a few beetles, of varying quality in both scarcity and photographic effort!

Aulonium trisulcus
By far the best of the lot; Nationally scarce and only the second VC55 record, however it's also one that I had no idea what it was and got the ID from a Facebook group.

Pseudocistela ceramboides
Only four previous VC55 records.

Ampedus cardinalis
Sadly deceased by the time I got around to having a look at it and keying through. Again fairly scarce in VC55 terms, believe only c5 records all from Donnington in 2014.

Summer Chafer
Quite common, and probably one I've seen and ignored before.

We also saw a few Glow-worms whilst mothing.

Heterocerus fenestratus
This is one that landed on the sheet at Croft Pastures.

Also at Croft, we had a merry time avoiding boisterous hunks of bovine for the first 15mins or so ....

The only moth highlight from there really was this ...

Bird's Wing

A while ago I noted my first Baccha elongata in the garden. Noticed another today, and managed to point the camera at it.

Baccha elongata

And here's a couple from the garden MV last night:


Poplar Grey

I've also had a change of wheels. The Toyota Auris has done me well for over four years, and despite it's smaller size than the previous couple of cars, it did okay taking traps out into the field on a few occasions. I liked the hybrid engine, and it never let me down in any way whatsoever.

So I went for the slightly bigger car in the range with the same engine. The hatchback boot is large and there is more room in it for passenger legs. I also went for a colour that I would normally shy away from. But ... I am seriously doubting if this will get down the rugged track at Ketton Quarry for example, as the bodywork seems lower to the ground somehow. Time will tell .....

Sunday, 30 June 2019

Moth Ticks

I've had a good 24hrs on the moths front, picking up six ticks in the process.

More efforts with clearwing lures brought two new species for me, one frustratingly brief and one ridiculously showy. Wafting around MYO at the former St Mary's Allotment site in Leicester yesterday afternoon (which is now half built over with housing) brought a couple of Red-belted Clearwings - it's just that neither lingered long enough to be netted. I also had Red-tipped and Six-belted Clearwings at Huncote Embankment yesterday. This morning at Tinwell right over in the east of Rutland, the VES lure brought three Orange-tailed Clearwings - these didn't bother flapping around the lure and just sat in the open on leaves near it!

Orange-tailed Clearwing - Tinwell, 30/06/2019

In between clearwing luring I enjoyed a great mothing night at Ketton Quarry with Adrian Russell, I'm sure the combined list in due course will be large, but there were four immediate highlights for me in my traps with two macro and two micro ticks (one of which was Elachista triatomea which has not hit the camera sensor as yet).

Elegia similella - sadly worn, but a VC55 first nontheless

Marbled Coronet


Other highlights included these:

Satyr Pug

Treble Brown Spot

Bordered Sallow

Light Brocade

Four-dotted Footman

Rosy Footman

Scarlet Tiger

Friday, 28 June 2019


Prior to the Heart and Club in my last post, I'd recorded six individuals from the garden. All were singles, with the first in 2011 - my 13th year of garden trapping. Aside from my garden records, I've only recorded this species twice whilst out and about, so until recently it was a fairly uncommon moth in VC55. Last night, in one garden trap, I had five! This is an amazing turn up, and it'll be interesting to see whether this upward trend continues.

Other news - remember that leaf-mine on willowherb from the garden? Well, out popped a fresh Mompha langiella yesterday - one that was new to VC55 fairly recently and new to my garden last year.

Anyway, today was very warm and sunny. I was at a hospital pre-op first thing, and then back in work whilst the weather just got better. Whilst it was getting a bit late for it, I headed out with a couple of pheromone lures locally early this evening. First stop was the local PYO at Whetstone Pastures. Barely 3mins of exposed TIP lure and I'd recorded five Currant Clearwings - despite the wind blowing the scent away from the currants. This was at c6pm, but encouraged I headed down to Misteron Marsh where around 25mins later I was exposing my FOR lure. This was not so easy, and after around 10mins I was just about to give up when a single Red-tipped Clearwing appeared. Excellent - the new lures work a treat!

Currant Clearwing - Whetstone Pastures 28/06/2019

Red-tipped Clearwing - Misterton Marsh 28/06/2019

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Warm and Wet

Warm, cloudy and still last night, until well past midnight when I headed off for some sleep before trying to get up at dawn in anticipation of a bulging garden trap. I beat the birds, and the moths were aplenty - but I didn't beat the incoming rain which had arrived right on cue. The trap and contents were actually quite dry, but emptying a busy trap in the half-light of dawn with steady drizzle coming down is bloody frustrating. There were a few interesting bits, but these were the pick of the crop for me ...

Marbled White Spot - only the second garden record after taking one last year

Heart and Club - this is becoming an annual species now, only as singles though

Monday, 24 June 2019

Bordering on Lucky

Okay, so it's not my best work - but you know, time, patience and other things that I generally lack.

Anyways, on Saturday I was poncing around in the garden in a new flouncy light orange T-shirt from M&S preparing for a family BBQ. I'd already noted that the shirt in the sun was apparently attractive to hemiptera, as I'd knocked away a couple of plant hoppers when I noted a small roundish black thing on my left nipple that looked worthy of effort. So I managed to keep it there whilst I dashed in and grabbed the nearest glass tube ..... which had unfortunately previously housed a moth. Once secured and checked under a hand lens, there in all it's generally dull blackness was my first ever Bordered Shieldbug. How's that for luck! It got bunged in the fridge and forgotten about until this evening, when I had no time to try anything but a couple of quick indoor shots with flash. I couldn't even be arsed to grab a leaf, and used a bit of white card - although bizarrely that seems to work okay for this one.

So here it is in all it's tiny moth-scale tarnished and slightly deshevelled glory.

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Another Couple Reared

I'm always pleased when I manage to rear something through that either confirms an ID I made for a caterpillar, or provides and ID for one I didn't know. I've had two this week. Yesterday a Barred Straw emerged from a caterpillar that I swept at Countesthorpe Meadows on 22/05/2019 - that one pupated pretty much immediately so I didn't get to photograph it or have a good look at it. Today a Common Emerald has emerged, one I had identified as the larva from Aylestone Meadows back on 27/04/2019. Haven't bothered to photograph either adult as I've got other more pressing things to do this evening.

One I am trying to rear is this, from some sort of willowherb in the garden (certainly not Rosebay or Great, one of the smaller hairy-stemmed varieties). It must be a Mompha sp., but no idea which so I am really hoping I get this one through.

Blotch mine, frass deposited in a clump at the bottom, larva has dark head and prothoracic plates. It's already swapped leaves twice so now a good chance of success I think.

Sunday, 2 June 2019

One for the Treble

The garden traps were, relatively, bulging this morning after a humid and overcast night. Luckily the cat woke me up at around 4:30 so I managed to go through them before the pair of Robins that have been knocking around. For the first time this year (I think) I ran both the synergetic combo and a 125W MV, with the former knocking the spots off of the latter. To be honest I don't think I'll bother running two traps much this year; the usual spot for my MV is now too sheltered with an overhanging sallow from next door. We're likely to get the garden sorted this year so I'll try and factor in a new trap spot during that.

Thought I had a garden tick with Treble Lines in the synergetic trap, but on checking I found I'd had one before in May 2009. Other highlights were an Alder Moth (a garden tick last year) and the 6th garden records and individuals for both Treble-bar and Maiden's Blush.

I'm quite possibly the only moth recorder in Leics. that is glad the conditions haven't held today. It's still warm and overcast but it's also very windy and wet. I've got an early start for work so no trap tonight.

Here's a selection of rushed shots.

Treble Lines - one of two

Alder Moth

Treble-bar (note protruding claspers helpfully confirming male of this species)

Peppered Moth

Scorched Wing

Cherry Bark Moth

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Lucky Sweep

Last week, after my disappointing visit to Countesthorpe Meadows, I also nipped to Croft Hill to grab some foodplant provisions for boxed larvae I'm trying to rear. Whilst there I swished my sweep net for a couple of minutes, and one thing that ended up in the net was a clearly live and very black moth pupa. It looked likely to be a tortrix based on size but obviously it was always going to be a mystery until it emerged. Well on Monday it did .....

Ptycholoma lecheana

I don't know what it is with this species, but the scales seem to fall off if you just look at them. The markings seem entirely pointless given that they are often bald after a very short time. This was clearly fresh and had never flown before I had to pot it and keep it fridged overnight, and it's not like the pot was big enough for it to have a good fly around!

Here's one from the last time I ran the garden trap on Sunday night.

Blastobasis lacticolella

The trap has been off since then, partly due to less than ideal weather but mainly due to me needing to focus on getting to work in the mornings this week! Hopefully the weather will be good tomorrow night, as we're away on Friday when the conditions may well be perfect .....

In the meantime I've got plenty to do. First and foremost I need to get my section for the Leics. & Rutland Ornithological Society Report fnished, and secondly I'm now helping out with verification on Naturespot which links directly into iRecord. I'm expecting to get back into a few afterwork hours in the field etc from next week.

Monday, 27 May 2019

Sweeping Bishops

I nipped over to Huncote Embankment late on Saturday afternoon. My main plan was to deploy a baited bottle trap to see if I could attract any water beetles. I failed on that score, with the only captives in the trap being two Three-spined Sticklebacks!

Whilst there though, I had a damned good swish around long grasses, low-growing vegetation and - in paticular - Ribwort Plantain. I've recently acquired a proper sweep net after ripping my butterfly net at Croft Hill earlier in the month. It's certainly better suited for the task, though a little heavier and less use at catching flying moths. Almost every swipe ended up with plenty to look at, and unavoidably a load of grass seeds. Most notable for me was the number of Bishop's Mitre Shieldbugs that I netted. I usually feel lucky if I manage to net one or two, but on Saturday I lost count going round but ended up with at least 40, substantially more than the total I'd previously seen.

Like these six for example, amongst a plethora of Leptopterna sp. nymphs, three 16-spot Ladybirds and an Agriotes lineatus.

Bishop's Mitre Shieldbug

As for sweeping Ribwort Plantain, I was hoping for a new weevil - and scored ..

Mecinus pascorum - new for me

Mecinus pyraster - not new for me, also on Ribwort Plantain

I also swept a few Trichosirocalus troglodytes from the plantain but didn't manage to get a good photo, just this half-arsed effort with the USB microscope.

Trichosirocalus troglodytes

Other bits swept included these:

Cassida vibex

Water Ladybird

Paranchus albipes

Capsus ater

Hypera rumicis