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

Thursday, 31 July 2008

On this day - 31/07/1993

I've been listening to Depeche Mode since the first UK single Dreaming of Me in 1981, and have all of their main releases - though I've not bothered to collect remixes and imports for the sake of it.

I first saw them live at the De Montford Hall in October 1982, but 15 years ago on this day I was amongst the masses at Crystal Palace for the biggest Depeche Mode gig I've ever been to. It was part of the Devotional tour following the release of Songs of Faith and Devotion - one of my favourite DM albums.

The visuals and lighting were superb, Alan Wilder played live drums, Martin Gore was his usual fetishist self and Andrew Fletcher was a static knob as ever. Dave Gahan is one of the best front men I've seen and was on top form, despite looking every inch the coke and heroin addict he was becoming.

I've been listening to DM for 27 years, and whilst I've long stopped wearing leather jackets, spikey black hair and earrings I will carry on listening to them as long as I have ears!

From the garden trap - 30/07/2008

Total catch 213 of 63 sp. (125W MV 110 of 50sp., 80W actinic 103 of 34sp.) First for year in garden: Spindle Ermine (Yponomeuta cagnagella) 1 Ypsolopha sequella 1 Agriphila tristella 1 Highest counts: Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) 26 Riband Wave (Idaea aversata) 25 Blastobasis adustella 16 Other highlights: Dingy Footman (Eilema griseola) 1

West Midland Safari Park - 30/07/2008

Yes, I know that there are plenty of zoos, parks and especially circuses around the world that exploit wild animals purely to make money. I also know that many of today's zoos and parks that are running good conservation and educational schemes also started out this way. But it's also true that these places are another great way to get kids enthused and interested in wildlife.

We spent a great day at West Midland Safari Park, getting close to the many deer/antelope species, wild cats, wild cattle and open plain species. There are also excellent reptile, amphibian and small mammal enclosures. The kids thoroughly enjoyed the animals, and this place has the added attraction of a fairground to make it a full day.

Of course it's nothing like getting out to Kenya, but I can't see that happening for us for a long while! I felt obliged to stick the camera out of the window whilst driving around ....

Brindled Gnu (It had to be Gnu ..)

Burchell's Zebra


Must be relaxing knowing the lions are fenced off.

Pere David's Deer - this stag was in full rutting psychotic mode


Red Lechwe

Common Eland

Bengal Tiger - They're great!

African Lion - and sheep?


White Bengal Tiger - WMSP seem to have a thing about white animals, with the white Lions and albino Wallabies aswell.

Horned Viper

Llama - not from Leicester

Bactrian Camel

Dromedary Camel

Ankole Cattle - that's what I call a horn!

Asian Water Buffalo

Rook - not an exhibit, the local corvids have got this place sussed as an easy meal ticket

From the garden trap - 28/07/2008

Another warm and wet night, another good list, and another garden first macro.

Buff Footman - as with the Dingy, an expected garden first.

Total catch 341 of 84sp.
(125W MV 202 of 64sp., 80W actinic 139 of 44sp.)

First for garden:
Buff Footman (Eilema depressa) 1

First for year in garden:
Argyresthia brockeella 1
Agonopterix subpropinquella 1
Maiden's Blush (Cyclophora punctaria) 1
Shaded Broad-bar (Scotopteryx chenopodiata) 1
Bordered Pug (Eupithecia succenturiata) 1
Rosy Minor (Mesoligia literosa) 1
Highest counts:
Riband Wave (Idaea aversata) 36
Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) 34
Blastobasis adustella 30
Dark Arches (Apamea monoglypha) 25
Lesser Yellow Underwing (Noctua comes) 24
Common Rustic agg. (Mesapamea secalis agg.) 15
Other highlights:
Dioryctria abietella 1

Maiden's Blush - second for garden, first was in June 2000.

Bordered Pug

Yellow Shell

More froglets - 28/07/2008

Still froglets knocking about in the garden. The kids decided that they should have a pond, so we used an old plastic bowl (primrose planter c10inches diameter) with a stone in the middle and part filled with water. I tried to tell them that the froglets would not stay in the pond but they were insistent. Anyway, we put four froglets in the pond - one buggered off immediately and three stayed put for about an hour before disappearing back into the undergrowth.

Click for bigger image if you can't see them.

From the garden trap - 27/07/2008

Whilst enjoying the superb night at Pickworth, I was sacrificing what potentially could have been the best night ever in the garden. However despite heavy showers during the night, the catch on 27th was also excellent and included another garden first micro.

Total catch 465 of 89sp.
(125W MV 254 of 69sp., 80W actinic 211 of 58sp.)

First for garden:
Willow Ermine (Yponomeuta rorrella) 2
First for year in garden:
Leopard Moth (Zeuzera pyrina) 1
Argyresthia albistria 2
Orchard Ermine (Yponomeuta padella) 1
Phycitodes binaevella 1
Magpie Moth (Abraxas grossulariata) 1
Ruby Tiger (Phragmatobia fuliginosa) 1
Highest counts:
Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) 80
Riband Wave (Idaea aversata) 78
Dark Arches (Apamea monoglypha) 21
Blastobasis adustella 17
Common Rustic agg. (Mesapamea secalis agg.) 15

Magpie Moth

Pickworth Great Wood - 26/07/2008

Pickworth Great Wood is one of, if not the, best mothing sites in VC55. It is a mainly broad-leaved woodland including some very ancient stands. It is managed by the Forestry Commission, and over the last couple of years has undergone some fairly extensive thinning/coppicing. The wood is in the north-east of Rutland on the border with Lincolnshire. Immediately adjacent to the wood is Clipsham Quarry, which is still operational. This is itself an excellent site and the oldest part of the quarry cuts into the edge of the most ancient part of the wood - accessing this on a regular basis would no doubt provide some extremely interesting species. The following map shows a few key points: dark blue dot - Clipsham Quarry yellow dot - shooting tower at the end of the main ride through Pickworth Great Wood red dot - turning circle along the main ride, roughly 200M up from the tower pale blue dot - locked gate at the entrance to the main ride green dot - Holwell Wood, Lincolnshire Saturday 26th July looked to be just about perfect for mothing, provided the weather held. It could either be one of the best nights in recent years or a thundery deluge. I decided to err on the optimistic side and pack all of my gear to set up for an all-nighter. I ran 3 x 125W MV traps spaced evenly from the shooting tower to c25M short of the turning circle, and the 80W actinic and another 125W MV c50M & 100M further along the main ride from the turning circle. I also ran a 125W MV light over a sheet on the turning circle from 22:00 - 00:30. From the early activity at the sheet, it was clearly going to be a huge list. The sheet and tripod were coated in moths and other insects. It was a bit catch-22 as there were so many it was difficult to keep track of numbers and pick out new species. One or two moths on the tripod. A few more on the legs. Try sticking your head in this lot to identify something on the tripod or sheet! Moths flying into ears is a well known and unpleasant experience that I don't want to have. By half past midnight I was knackered! The traps were also doing very well and having topped up the gennie I decided to knock off the tripod light and leave the traps whilst I grabbed a few hours sleep. I woke up with a start just before 5am and it was already easily light enough to start gathering up the traps. The 3 x 125W MV traps looking down to the shooting tower. The 80W actinic and other 125W MV trap. All of the traps were coated in moths on the outside, leading to great expectation of a mammoth emptying session. Plenty of moths to count before turning off the lights and gathering the traps up. More moths clinging to the light arrays. How many Coronets!? Once all the traps were blocked off and gathered at the turning circle, and I'd grabbed a bit of breakfast, I started the task of emptying and recording. Thankfully I use a digital voice recorder otherwise this would be a stupidly long task. It took a good two and half hours as it was! Every trap had egg trays packed like this! So, the total catch for the five traps and the part-time sheet: 3192 of 233 species 132 macro species 101 micro species Pro-rata this must rate as one of the best lists ever for VC55, and overall I think it must be easily in the top five. Certainly there aren't many lists with 100+ macros and micros. The main highlight was a single Ancylis laetana, albeit a worn individual. This was recorded as a first for VC55 by Graham Finch only a few weeks ago, so really good to pick up another individual. It was more on the deceased side of moribund by the time I photographed it though. Ancylis laetana See Graham's photo of a smart fresh individual for comparison. Other highlights included: Morophaga choragella 1 Ypsolopha nemorella 3 Schreckensteinia festaliella 1 Agonopterix angelicella 6 Ethmia dodecea 1 Syncopacma larseniella 1 Acompsia cinerella 4 Psoricoptera gibbosella 1 Mompha lacteella 1 Choristoneura hebenstreitella 2 Evergestis pallidata 2 Pine Hawk-moth (Hyloicus pinastri) 1 Maple Prominent (Ptilodon cucullina) 1 Chocolate-tip (Clostera curtula) 2 Black Arches (Lymantria monacha) 59* Four-dotted Footman (Cybosia mesomella) 2 Coronet (Craniophora ligustri) 66* Mere Wainscot (Chortodes fluxa) 40 Ear Moth (Amphipoea oculea) 1 Species above 50 individuals (aside from *) were: Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) 429 Buff Footman (Eilema depressa) 137 Lesser Yellow Underwing (Noctua comes) 127 Riband Wave (Idaea aversata) 121 Yellow-tail (Euproctis similis) 94 Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata) 79 Dingy Footman (Eilema griseola) 74 Small Fan-footed Wave (Idaea biselata) 69 July Highflyer (Hydriomena furcata) 58 Buff Arches (Habrosyne pyritoides) 57 Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (Noctua janthe) 53 All in all a great session and a superb list. The full results are posted on the VC55 Moth Group for subscribers. A few shots for interest - click for big on all. Black Arches - a VC55 scarcity that is a PGW speciality. Ear Moth - not one I'd expect at PGW, not sure if recorded there previously. Mere Wainscot - another PGW speciality.   Morophga choragella - only two previous records I think. Ypsolopha nemorella - one of the scarcer Ypsolopha sp. in VC55 Epinotia solandriana Eudemis profundana - highly variable Chocolate-tip - small second-brood individuals Scalloped Hook-tip Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing