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

Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to anyone who's listening. Can't believe that this blog has been negelected for so long. I diverted my interest with virtual synthesizers etc and then went down with a serious case of apathy. No resolutions, though I will make some effort to post something here more often than 3 monthly!

Sunday, 12 October 2008

On this day / this week - Scillies 1996

October 1996 was a superb month for me, including a great Scillies trip. We'd booked our flights for Saturday 12th, but with exciting news hitting us leading up to the day, we set off early and arrived on St Mary's on Friday 11th. Immediately on arriving we hurried over to Sallyport to obtain stunning views of one of the best birds I've seen in Britain - an absolutely stonking Black-and-White Warbler. This turned out to be the first of five neartic passerine ticks over the next six days, and the first of 16 ticks for me in October 96!! As soon as we'd seen the warbler well, we rushed to the quay for a boat to Tresco. On landing, we legged it to the Borough Farm area and were soon watching a Buff-bellied Pipit. Oh man - what a day. And what a trip, with the other main highlights being Red-eyed Vireo (my 300th tick) at Longstone, St Mary's 13th and Bobolink on Bryher on 14th.

I had to leave the islands on 17th in order to get home for Isabelle's first birthday on 18th. This was in itself a good move as I took a detour through Portland to see the fantastic Northern Waterthrush.

Back in the (pre-digital) day, I used to buy the odd photo from the rarity photographers that were part of the scene. Most though have no details on them so I can't remember who took the photos. Either way, I'm sure they wouldn't mind me posting them here so you can see what I enjoyed on 11th October 1996!

Black-and-White Warbler - superb and OMFL!

Buff-bellied Pipit - smart, when it was rare and a good blocker.....

Sunday, 5 October 2008

iNDUSTRiE - Now It's Dark

Time for another electronic blast from the vaults of iNDUSTRiE. However - I must warn all that right from the off, this track contains a constant barrage of expletive venom courtesy of Dennis Hopper as sampled from the superb David Lynch film Blue Velvet. In order to save webspace etc, I've uploaded to YouTube having made use of Windows MovieMaker. Don't expect an interesting or dynamic video! It's just a static backdrop for the music. This track developed over a couple of years, and was a regular live track at our gigs. This version was recorded in 1993 directly sequenced from a multi-out sampler (Akai s2800), albeit onto analogue tape. I've recorded into the Clean software, de-noised it a bit and that's all - so not the most balanced mix but you get the idea. Warning - expletive ridden from the first syllable.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

On this day - 30th September 2000

The tension was palpable as I drove onto Portland with Dave Gray, Rob Fray and Mark Reeder on board. No worries though as before too long we were amongst a reasonable early-morning crowd at The Verne enjoying a superb juv Cliff Swallow - OMFL! The rest of the day involved relaxed pottering around the bill, picking up a Wryneck, c6 Honey Buzzards, and assorted odds and migrant sods.

Monday, 29 September 2008

This week, I have mostly been listening to ..

Rum, Sodomy & The Lash - the classic 1985 release from The Pogues. If you have never heard this record, I absolutely insist that you buy it now! Dirty Old Town A Pair of Brown Eyes This video has got nothing to do with the brilliant lyrics by MacGowan - it's a political comment on the Thatcher government of the day based on George Orwell's '1984'. Shane MacGowan - ugly, toofless, drunk, genius.


Nipped over to Swithland Res. on Saturday to look for the nailed-on-right-by-the-dam Red-necked Grebe. Bugger - no sign of it whilst I was there. And not a lot else about either. This ugly Grey Heron kept an eye on me throughout the sorry proceedings. Ardea uglerea I was therefore a bit peeved when it was reported again, especially as I was otherwise disposed on Sunday. Nipped back again late this afternoon though and managed to watch it making its way back out in to the deep open waters in the middle of the reservoir - good scope views in good light but an unphotographable distance. A cracking male Peregrine in the usual spot, and three Buzzards circling overhead made the wait more bearable, and eventually patience paid off as the grebe made its way back to the dam for another 3 or 4 fish (greedy little bugger this one). Sadly, by that time the light was well and truly out and rain looked imminent. Therefore a high ISO setting made for a grainy few shots but at least it is clearly an immature Red-necked Grebe! Smart stripey face This is the first I've seen in VC55 since February 1997, and the first away from Rutland Water. Seen a few others around Britain but all have been Jan - Mar.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

From the garden trap - 16th to 19th September

More warm sunny days, clear cool nights, and low numbers in the traps. 16th Total catch 38 of 15sp. (125W MV 19 of 10sp., 80W actinic 19 of 11sp.) Ypsolopha sequella 1 Brown House Moth (Hofmannophila pseudospretella) 1 White-shouldered House Moth (Endrosis sarcitrella) 1 Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana) 8 Acleris sparsana 1 Garden Rose Tortrix (Acleris variegana) 2 Emmelina monodactyla 1 Garden Carpet (Xanthorhoe fluctuata) 2 Common Marbled Carpet (Chloroclysta truncata) 4 Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata) 2 Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) 5 Lesser Yellow Underwing (Noctua comes) 6 Setaceous Hebrew Character (Xestia c-nigrum) 2 Lunar Underwing (Omphaloscelis lunosa) 1 Silver Y (Autographa gamma) 1 17th Total catch 53 of 19sp. (125W MV 24 of 13sp., 80W actinic 29 of 10sp.)
Diamond-back Moth (Plutella xylostella) 1
White-shouldered House Moth (Endrosis sarcitrella) 1
Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana) 6
Garden Rose Tortrix (Acleris variegana) 4
Epinotia nisella 1
Rusty-dot Pearl (Udea ferrugalis) 1
Emmelina monodactyla 2
Garden Carpet (Xanthorhoe fluctuata) 2
Common Marbled Carpet (Chloroclysta truncata) 3
Willow Beauty (Peribatodes rhomboidaria) 1
Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) 13
Lesser Yellow Underwing (Noctua comes) 10
Setaceous Hebrew Character (Xestia c-nigrum) 1
Square-spot Rustic (Xestia xanthographa) 1
Blair's Shoulder-knot (Lithophane leautieri hesperica) 1 [First for year]
Lunar Underwing (Omphaloscelis lunosa) 1
Angle Shades (Phlogophora meticulosa) 2
Silver Y (Autographa gamma) 1
Snout (Hypena proboscidalis) 1 Blair's Shoulder-knot 18th Total catch 24 of 16sp. (125W MV 7 of 5sp., 80W actinic 17 of 13sp.) Ypsolopha sequella 1 Acleris sparsana 1 Garden Rose Tortrix (Acleris variegana) 4 Emmelina monodactyla 1 Garden Carpet (Xanthorhoe fluctuata) 2 Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) 3 Lesser Yellow Underwing (Noctua comes) 3 Setaceous Hebrew Character (Xestia c-nigrum) 1 Square-spot Rustic (Xestia xanthographa) 1 Common Wainscot (Mythimna pallens) 1 Lunar Underwing (Omphaloscelis lunosa) 1 Pink-barred Sallow (Xanthia togata) 1 [First for year] Sallow (Xanthia icteritia) 1 Frosted Orange (Gortyna flavago) 1 Silver Y (Autographa gamma) 1 Snout (Hypena proboscidalis) 1 Pink-barred Sallow 19th Total catch 25 of 14sp. (125W MV 15 of 9sp., 80W actinic 10 of 9sp.) Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana) 8 Acleris sparsana 1 Garden Rose Tortrix (Acleris variegana) 2 Emmelina monodactyla 1 Garden Carpet (Xanthorhoe fluctuata) 1 Common Marbled Carpet (Chloroclysta truncata) 2 Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata) 1 Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) 2 Lesser Yellow Underwing (Noctua comes) 2 Setaceous Hebrew Character (Xestia c-nigrum) 1 Common Wainscot (Mythimna pallens) 1 Black Rustic (Aporophyla nigra) 1 [First for year] Pink-barred Sallow (Xanthia togata) 1 Burnished Brass (Diachrysia chrysitis) 1 Common Wainscot - often more of the darker reddish/brown individuals in autumn Black Rustic

Dove Factory

It's almost impossible to imagine a time when Collared Dove was a major rarity in the UK. In less than 60 years it has turned into one of the most common birds we have. With our resident breeding pair I now know why. They have just fledged their fifth brood (=10 fledglings). After the third they moved nests, abandoning the neighbours satellite dish platform and moving under the eves to their equally redundant security light. Still a precarious looking situation for the usual two nestlings. Female attending the nest and trying to coax out the full-size nestlings - both just visible. This latest pair of fledglings finally flew on Friday. No better looking than their older siblings. No better looking than their older siblings. Still time for a sixth brood!

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Mary Magdalene - Saint or Sinner?

No - I am not offering a debate about a biblical character! The following is extracted from a cheapo TV guide magazine about a programme with the above title on Channel 5 tonight: 'Documentary examining the life of the biblical figure, who is said to have been the first person to see Christ after the Resurrection.' Maybe I'm reading it wrong, but the idea that anyone could actually rise from the dead in the first place is not in question, only whether she was the first to see the risen Christ. I'll get me coat.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Social Housing

One of the biggest current social and economic disasters in the UK is the massive shortage of affordable and social housing. What is not surprising is that this has developed over time, like a malignant cancer, following a decision made by Thatcher and her despicable government in the late 70s. The 'Right to Buy' council housing was made a party policy by Thatcher when arriving at the Tory helm, and laws were changed in 1980 to allow the wholesale off-loading of council properties throughout the UK into the open market. The councils though were not allowed to utilise any capital from this scheme to replace the sold housing until they had cleared debts etc.

Those tenants who were now homeowners were allowed, with moderate restriction, to sell on the properties quickly for profit. What a surprise - social housing stocks dwindled, house prices soared (because now more people were forced to look at buying thereby increasing demand), buying to let increased (because there are always greedy bastards wanting to capitalise on any scenario where demand outstrips supply) and now it is nigh on impossible to get a council property or onto the property ladder.

The current feckless government has made changes to the Right to Buy scheme but fundamentally it continues. What is even more disgusting though, as I've just discovered through watching Cheap Homes for Sale? on BBC1 (repeated from BBC3), is that there are actually c800K properties lying dormant and boarded up throughout the UK - many of these actually belonging to the councils and governmental agencies. What a fucking disgrace.

There are even boarded up ghost towns, like in Liverpool, which appear to be a council contrived situation to gain grants from the Pathfinder scheme to knock down and build new. Why not just simply renovate where necessary and get the families that need them back into homes quickly, rather than them being squashed into squalid bedsits waiting for years whilst the councils fuck about.

From the garden trap - 13/09/2008 to 15/09/2008

I planned to catch up on a bit of moth photography this evening, and when I got home from work this Skin Moth was loitering on the front door so I potted it for a shot whilst I was at it. Skin Moth - like a few members of this group, eats animal debris, dried shit and pellets, and debris in birds nests. Nice.
Although the day-time weather and temps have been good over the last few days, it's been clear and cool at night. The traps have been out but the catches have been a bit uninspiring. 13/09/2008 Total catch 33 of 13sp. (125W MV 17 of 10sp., 80W actinic 16 of 6sp.) Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana) 8 Garden Rose Tortrix (Acleris variegana) 1 Emmelina monodactyla 1 Garden Carpet (Xanthorhoe fluctuata) 1 Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata) 1 Willow Beauty (Peribatodes rhomboidaria) 3 Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) 2 Lesser Yellow Underwing (Noctua comes) 10 Setaceous Hebrew Character (Xestia c-nigrum) 1 Square-spot Rustic (Xestia xanthographa) 2 Angle Shades (Phlogophora meticulosa) 1 Straw Dot (Rivula sericealis) 1 Snout (Hypena proboscidalis) 1 14/09/2008 Total catch 64 of 18sp. (125W MV 36 of 16sp., 80W actinic 28 of 9sp.) Diamond-back Moth (Plutella xylostella) 1 White-shouldered House Moth (Endrosis sarcitrella) 1 Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana) 16 Garden Rose Tortrix (Acleris variegana) 1 Nut Bud Moth (Epinotia tenerana) 1 [First for year] Rusty-dot Pearl (Udea ferrugalis) 1 [First for year] Common Marbled Carpet (Chloroclysta truncata) 6 Green Carpet (Colostygia pectinataria) 1 Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata) 1 Willow Beauty (Peribatodes rhomboidaria) 3 Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) 13 Lesser Yellow Underwing (Noctua comes) 8 Setaceous Hebrew Character (Xestia c-nigrum) 2 Square-spot Rustic (Xestia xanthographa) 5 Common Wainscot (Mythimna pallens) 1 Lunar Underwing (Omphaloscelis lunosa) 1 [First for year] Flounced Rustic (Luperina testacea) 1 Frosted Orange (Gortyna flavago) 1 Rusty Dot Pearl - an immigrant pyralid Lunar Underwing 15/09/2008 Total catch list 47 of 14sp. (125W MV 27 of 12sp., 80W actinic 20 of 7sp.) White-shouldered House Moth (Endrosis sarcitrella) 1 Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana) 8 Rhomboid Tortrix (Acleris rhombana) 1 Garden Rose Tortrix (Acleris variegana) 4 Rusty-dot Pearl (Udea ferrugalis) 1 Emmelina monodactyla 3 Garden Carpet (Xanthorhoe fluctuata) 4 Common Marbled Carpet (Chloroclysta truncata) 5 Willow Beauty (Peribatodes rhomboidaria) 2 Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) 7 Lesser Yellow Underwing (Noctua comes) 5 Lunar Underwing (Omphaloscelis lunosa) 4 Orange Sallow (Xanthia citrago) 1 [First for year] Silver Y (Autographa gamma) 1 Orange Sallow - one of my favourites although this individual is a bit rubbed

Sunday, 14 September 2008

On this day - 14/09/2002

Six years ago today I embarked on a solo journey to see, aptly, a juv Solitary Sandpiper at Rye Meads RSPB. Great views of a great bird, and at the time it seemed all the better as it was a catch-up on local listing mates/rivals John and Dave. As it turned out though, it was the last but one lifer I picked up before effectively throwing in the towel as far as twitching was concerned. Since this bird I have seen only four lifers (excluding armchair splits) - and two of those have been in the last year!

This week, I have mostly been listening to -

The Streets. I have all three album releases which I like to play loud in the car - quite frankly the expletive content/count renders them unlistenable in the family home! Anyway, seeing as the new album is out tomorrow (which I'll be acquiring) I thought I'd get in the right mood. I very much doubt that The Streets are to everyones liking but I'd urge anyone to give them a proper hearing, and by that I don't mean listening to the odd single on the radio/TV. You have to hear A Grand Don't Come For Free from start to finish to get it. Everything is Borrowed Prangin' Out

Twycross Zoo 25/08/2008 Pt. 3 (Final)

Finally got around to sorting out a final few images from the Twycross visit a couple of weeks ago - avian subjects this time. White Stork - one the other side of the fence would be nice for my County list! Demoiselle Crane Chilean Flamingo Cattle Egret - ditto the White Stork comment Humboldt Penguin Crowned Crane

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

On this day - 10th September 1993

On this day 15 years ago I joined John Hackett in an after-work dash to Blithfield Reservoir. We got there with a couple of hours of proper light left, although it was dull and drizzly so not the most inspiring conditions. Before long though, we'd both managed tantalising glimpses of our target bird. I was laden with a recently acquired scope and tripod and decided that chasing this bird around the canopy was a waste of time, so I stayed put on one side of the with a couple of like-minded souls whilst John continued to wander after the bird. After a few minutes - there it was. My first scope-full of a rarity, and a good one at that considering we were miles inland in Staffordshire - a superb Arctic Warbler. I seem to remember that 1993 turned out to be a relatively good year for this species but one in Staffs was unprecedented (not sure if there have been any inland records since?). Off of the top of my head I've seen at least one other Arctic since (St Agnes '96), and plenty of other rare warblers, but this individual will stick in the mind for a few more years to come.

From the garden trap - 08/09/2008

After a load of frankly shite nights for mothing potential, the traps were back out for a tentative look-see at what was still knocking about and what was emerging, though conditions were still far from good and I was emptying the traps in more rain in the morning. Overall the catch was pretty poor compared to the last few days of August; the only minor excitement was an immigrant Rush Veneer. Total catch 91 of 28sp. (125W MV 42 of 18sp., 80W actinic 49 of 20sp.) First for year in garden: Rush Veneer (Nomophila noctuella) 1 Spruce Carpet (Thera britannica) 1 Highest counts: Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) 16 Lesser Yellow Underwing (Noctua comes) 14 Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana) 10

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Poker Night 05/09/2008

Anyone who thinks poker is a game of luck and chance is wrong. Sure, there is an element of luck and chance but they are far outweighed by the need for patience and timing, calculating the right time to pounce, disrupting opponents by mixing up the play strategies, being bullish and aggressive when needed and having the courage to fold a pair of aces. Apparently.

I went through a phase of playing a lot of on-line poker a couple of years ago, mainly play chips but also a few small-cash sit-n-go tournaments. I've also played a couple of times against real live people but nothing serious and never in a casino or properly oprganised tournament. When John Hague texted an invite to a poker night at his house last night, I couldn't resist.

There were five players (John's mates Steve and Johnny, John's brother-in-law Matt, John and me) and we all bought in with £20, divided the chips and played in a sit-n-go format with blinds increasing every half hour (or so). I'm not one to brag or crow, normally, but I had a big smile on my face after four and a half hours of play and £80 winnings plus my buy-in stashed in my pocket. MWAAHAHAHAHAHA.

It was a great night and generally a good laugh, although the three that were out of chips first had to sit through a no-doubt tedious hour and a half of heads-up play between me and John's mate Steve. By that time the blinds had escalated (in chip equivalent) from 20p/40p to £16/£32. Early on in the game though I was running low on chips and looked favourite to be first out until a great hand with 4Qs beating John's full house Qs/8s - I could have been ruthless on that one! I also won a load of chips with an undetected flush, and beating Steve's 9-high straight with a Jack-high straight. Too many other full houses, trips and two-pairs to remember. Thanks to John for hosting the game and supplies of munchies and great background music. WSOP next then .....

When I played online, my favourite site for playchips and basically having a laugh and banter with people world-wide was Full Tilt. Here are some great winning hands from open play games.

whitecaribman bet big on the river - hahahahah

suckafree couldn't contain himself with full house Ks/As - bit like the 4Qs last night

big betting pre-flop bumped up the pot, betting after the flop was restrained with everyone concerned about a flush (except bobklim who played like a muppet)

Sunday, 31 August 2008

Rutland Water Reedbed revisited - 30/08/2008

I joined Ron Follows, Adrian Russell and Derek Lee for another overnight trapping session centred on the reedbeds and again with some coverage at the North Arm Marsh. Conditions looked promising but it was slow-going at the sheet and by the time I retired to my pump-up bed in the back of car (mothing luxury now, a proper comfortable prostrate sleep rather than a miserable cramped slouch in the olg Peugeot!) it was started to turn misty. By morning a very damp heavy mist had decended. I ran 3 x 125W MV traps and the 80W actinic around the old reedbed, totalling 474 of 53sp. Not too bad considering the limited habitat covered. Overall though from the sheet, 15 x MV traps and 4 x actinic traps the catch was 1983 of 101sp. The main target, and highlight, was Twin-spotted Wainscot (14). Twin-spotted Wainscot - can be a reedbed pest but still a scarce moth in VC55 Brindled Green - nice when they are fresh Pinion-streaked Snout

From the garden trap - 29/08/2008

Another garden tick, the 53rd pyralid and all the better as it is only the second record for VC55. To be honest it took a while to identify - I'd considered the species that it turned out to be but all the photos I could find on the internet were of much darker individuals. A posted photo query to UK Moths yahoo group and local moth recorders concurred with Andy Mackay's suggestion that it was indeed Duponchelia fovealis as I had originally thought. Duponchelia fovealis, a county and garden tick Otherwise, the catch was much reduced in numbers (can't explain why, conditions as good as or better). Total catch 381 of 51sp. (125W MV 191 of 40sp., 80W actinic 190 of 35sp.) First for garden: Duponchelia fovealis 1 First for year in garden: Skin Moth (Monopis laevigella) 1 Frosted Orange (Gortyna flavago) 1 Pale Mottled Willow (Paradrina clavipalpis) 1 Highest counts: Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) 88 Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana) 56 Square-spot Rustic (Xestia xanthographa) 36 Lesser Yellow Underwing (Noctua comes) 28 Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata) 21 Common Marbled Carpet Frosted Orange

Charnwood Lodge - 29/08/2008

After a week of heavy numbers in the garden, and with conditions looking as good as or better than previous nights, I decided to leave trap running around the open grasslands at the entrance to Charnwood Lodge. I placed traps up on the bomb rocks and along the dry stone wall, hoping that the gennie would run all night and the cattle wouldn't shit on everything. My only targets as such were late summer noctuids associated with this habitat, and species I'm unlikely to see in the garden. Arriving back in the morning I was pleased to see traps still in situ and devoid of sloppy pats, and the gennie was still running. In fact, by the time I switched it off the gennie had run 3 x 125W MV traps along with 200M of cable for 10.5 hours! The catch was pretty good in terms of range of species, but surprisingly low on numbers considering the 500+ I'd had a few times in the garden. Total catch 536 of 63sp. Main highlights were: Brown-dotted Clothes Moth (Niditinea fuscella) 1 (county tick for me) Teleiopsis diffinis 14 Galium Carpet (Epirrhoe galiata) 1 Autumnal Rustic (Eugnorisma glareosa) 9 True Lover's Knot (Lycophotia porphyrea) 1 Antler Moth (Cerapteryx graminis) 25 Hedge Rustic (Tholera cespitis) 22 Grey Chi (Antitype chi) 1 Angle-striped Sallow (Enargia paleacea) 2 Gold Spot (Plusia festucae) 11 Only expected species I missed was Feathered Gothic, and no sign of hoped-for enigmas Neglected Rustic and Golden-rod Brindle. Angle-striped Sallow - a Nationally Scarce species, one of VC55s specialities Autumnal Rustic - I think these are smart, a Charnwood speciality True Lover's Knot - a heather feeder, no idea where the name comes from Galium Carpet Grey Chi Hedge Rustic Antler Sallow - normal form, compare to the one from my garden

Best Kingfisher on the Galaxy - 29/08/2008

About 07:45 in the morning, and I'm just getting ready to leave out for work when I hear Nichola shout 'Mark - quick come and see!' from Alex's bedroom. Having no idea what the fuss was about, I ambled in to have a look and bugger me there's a Kingfisher perched on the rubberised strip running along the roof-line of our Galaxy. A superb and completely unexpected garden tick - there are no running streams or brooks within half a mile or so of our house and the Galaxy is hardly the ideal perch. I ran downstairs and grabbed the DSLR, and just managed to get a couple of very quick shots before it realised that there were no fish on the Galaxy roof and fecked off. Turned out that Nichola had just opened the curtains and the Kingfisher just dashed into view and made a very undignified landing. No idea if it had been chased there by one of the local Sparrowhawks.

Superb bird on a knackered old car.

Unlike another great bird that Nichola found, at least I got to see this garden first in the flesh. I got home one day a few years ago to be presented with a snippet of video footage of a Great Spotted Woodpecker on the cherry tree - bloody good job there have been a few since!

From the garden trap - 28/08/2008

Another night of big numbers with Large Yellow fecking Underwings maintaining the nuisance factor. If ever a lepidopteran ASBO was needed .... Total catch 583 of 46sp. (125W MV 225 of 38sp., 80W actinic 358 of 34sp.) First for year in garden: Acleris sparsana 1 Sallow (Xanthia icteritia) 1 Highest counts: Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) 249 [178 act, 71 MV] Square-spot Rustic (Xestia xanthographa) 44 [25 MV, 19 act] Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana) 43 [26 act, 17 MV] Lesser Yellow Underwing (Noctua comes) 37 [24 act, 13 MV] Garden Carpet (Xanthorhoe fluctuata) 29 [15 MV, 14 act] The Sallow - yet another nice yellowy late summer noctuid. This is the plainer yellow form flavescens

Twycross Zoo 25/08/2008 - Pt. 2

A few more mammalian snaps from Twycross Zoo. Aardwolf - an insectivorous hyena, 200000 termites a night keeps it going. Bat-eared Fox - big ears to radiate heat away aswell as to hear prey (though this is also largely insectivorous, with termites again being favoured). Meerkat - I could watch these all day, always one sentinal whilst the others seem to be either manically searching for food or kicking back relaxing. Asian Short-clawed Otter - squeeky

From the garden trap - 27/08/2008

Another bumper catch, rounded off nicely with two very unexpected garden-first micros: Caloptilia populetorum - a county tick for me aswell. Don't think there are many previous records; Andy Mackay took it as a VC55 first in 2003. Roeslerstammia erxlebella - again not many previous records other than mine in 2006 from Charnwood Lodge and Enderby Quarry. This one is a bit knackered but shows (just) the whitish band on the antennae, golden-yellow head and metallic sheen to forewing. Total catch 568 of 52sp. (125W MV 207 of 42sp., 80W actinic 361 of 35sp.) First for garden: Caloptilia populetorum 1 Roeslerstammia erxlebella 1 First for year in garden: Meal Moth (Pyralis farinalis) 1 Barred Sallow (Xanthia aurago) 1 Highest counts: Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) 239 [180 act, 59 MV] Lesser Yellow Underwing (Noctua comes) 42 [29 act, 13 MV] Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana) 31 [17 MV, 14 act] Square-spot Rustic (Xestia xanthographa) 31 [18 act, 13 MV] Garden Carpet (Xanthorhoe fluctuata) 25 [17 act, 8 MV] Willow Beauty (Peribatodes rhomboidaria) 23 [13 MV, 10 act] Agriphila geniculea 21 [12 act, 9 MV] Other highlights: Old Lady (Mormo maura) 2 Gold Spot (Plusia festucae) 4 Barred Sallow - another nice yellowy one

From the garden trap - 26/08/2008

Numbers dropped off in the MV, but the actinic was still packed. Total catch 487 of 37sp. (125W MV 169 of 27sp., 80W actinic 318 of 32sp.) First for year in garden: Centre-barred Sallow (Atethmia centrago) 2 Highest counts: Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) 240 [190 act, 50 MV] Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana) 57 [44 MV, 13 act] Lesser Yellow Underwing (Noctua comes) 37 [27 act, 10 MV] Square-spot Rustic (Xestia xanthographa) 25 [17 act, 8 MV] Other highlights: Gold Spot (Plusia festucae) 5 Gold Spot seems to be having a great season. Prior to 2008 I'd only recorded 6 individuals with 2 on 06/08/2006 being the highest count! Wonder what the collective noun would be for Gold Spot? Centre-barred Sallow - usually the first of a few closely related colourful late summer noctuids Ypsolopha sequella