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

Saturday, 28 February 2009

Black Redstart, Hams Hall 28/02/2009

I nipped over to the Hams Hall distribution centre near to Coleshill in Warwickshire this morning, meeting up with John Hague and Bob Duckhouse. The intention being to fire of a few shots of the wintering Firecrest and Black Redstart in the area. Sadly, the Firecrest wasn't playing whilst I was there, but the Black Redstart was a superstar. Chats and thrushes are among my favourite passerines, and with the Black Redstart being so approachable I fired off 173 shots - the huge benefit of digital photography!

From the garden trap, 24/02/2009 & 27/02/2009

On Tuesday night, the 80W actinic could only muster a couple of Agonopterix heracliana and a single Emmelina monodactyla, and with an increasing breeze I decided to give up for a couple of nights. Last night I tried again, with a single Clouded Drab making the total catch!

Clouded Drab

Friday, 27 February 2009

This bloke came up to me ...

Swearing - its not big and not clever. Fucking funny though .... ;-)

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Down the lane, 25/02/2009

I nipped down the lane after work, and again there were two Little Owls in the same tree. The tree is out of decent photographic range for me really, and light was fading fast, but I managed to grab a couple of record shots. The following are all the same base photo.




Red-legged Partridge again, plus a completely unexpected tick for my not yet worked out lane list - 3 flyover Goosanders!

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

This week, I am listening to ..

The banging new release from The Prodigy at constant ear-bleeding volume in my car and on the PC. Invaders Must Die Omen

Down the lane - 24/02/2009

It was still light but fading as I approached home from work today, so a quick detour down Springwell Lane seemed a good idea to check for Little Owls - a very good move as it turned out. There was a pair in what I am hoping will become a regular tree for them. Also a couple of Red-legged Partridges today - whilst the wrong sort it was still pleasing to see them down here.

From the garden trap - 22/02/2009 & 23/02/2009

Garden trapping with the 80W actinic continues with the current mild conditions, albeit with very modest results. Sunday 22nd brought another Pale Brindled Beauty and a single March Moth. Monday 23rd brought singles of March Moth, Dotted Border and Agonopterix heracliana.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

From the garden trap - 21/02/2009

After blanking on Friday night, I ran the 80W actinic again last night with a little more success: 3 x Agonopterix hercaliana, 3 x March Moth and a single Pale Brindled Beauty. Pale Brindled Beauty

Friday, 20 February 2009

From the garden trap - 19/02/2009

I ran the 80W actinic last night from dusk until 23:30, by which time it had turned a bit drizzly and had cooled off a fair bit. Four moths of four species was the total catch: Agonopterix heracliana, Emmelina monodactyla, March Moth and Dotted Border. March Moth

Bradgate Park 19/02/2009

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Life in the garden - 19/02/2009

I spent a few minutes out in the garden this morning in glorious sunshine, with Coolpix in hand for some macro photography. Eristalis tenax - Drone-fly This hoverfly can be seen all year round on suitably warm days. Snowdrop - my favourite early spring flower 'Dew' 'Reach' 'Pushing Through'

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

From the garden trap - 17/02/2009

What a contrast - after the snow and associated collapse of English transport infrastructure, a couple of mild days and it's spring already. Nearly. I had an Agonopterix heracliana to a lit window on Sunday night, and with evening temperatures starting at a blistering 8degC or so I decided to run the 80W actinic trap in the garden - nothing ventured nothing gained. On Monday night I blanked, but undeterred I put the trap out again last night and was pleased to find this morning a couple of moths - albeit both the same species. Dotted Border is not a regular species in my garden, though this is predominantly due to me not bothering to trap in their main flight period. They were both fairly fresh males (the females are wingless). Dotted Border

Saturday, 14 February 2009

All in

I've got a screaming hangover this morning after too much dry cider and a drop of Aberlour single malt last night around a poker table. I was playing with five work colleagues, and we had a great laugh over the course of four hours or so. We all bought in with a tenner, playing in a tournament format with raising blinds. We started with 2000 chip value, but at one point I was down to 240 all in - and then 480 all in on the next hand. Having survived this lull, I then managed to blag a few more hands to the point where I was sitting on 7000 odd chips and facing heads-up play. By this time though, we were all feeling a bit bladdered and our host's family was no doubt getting a bit tired of the raucous and loud banter. So, we agreed to split the pot two ways - I got my tenner back and a £20 payout. Here's to the next game ...

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Five Go Mad in Dorset

Remember this? Best thing ever on Channel Four (it was shown on the opening night in 1982!) - and well worth 30 odd minutes of your time to watch it again now. 'There's been some strange comings and goings around this village - secrets, signs, and - threats' 'Oh Timmy - You're so licky!' 'You'll be alright young missy, with your short skirt and tight sweater - you remind me of my naughty granddaughter'

This week, I have mostly been listening to ..

Awesome album - thoroughly recommended!!

Monday, 9 February 2009

Swithland Reservoir 08/02/2009 - Water

Whilst at Swithland Reservoir, I took a few water-themed shots. Click for big. Melt The Drop
Turbulent Flow

Swithland Reservoir 08/02/2009 - Psychidae & Laridae

I nipped to Swithland Reservoir yesterday afternoon before nipping into work for a brief search of the walls along the causeway, Kinchley Lane and the dam looking for Psychidae. I like this group of micros, simply for their bizarre life cycles and the parthenogenetic breeding strategies of some species (reproducing with no males). Swithland Reservoir is by far the best known site in VC55 at present for this group, though I expect that some species are more common than the current records suggest. I found the expected Luffia ferchaultella in good numbers on the causeway wall still, but couldn't find any Taleporia tubulosa or Psyche casta along Kinchley Lane - more time needed for a thorough search. Plenty of Dahlica spp. on the dam wall (both triquetrella and lichenella present in these colonies, breeding through from larvae required to positively confirm) but no Narycia duplicella on this occasion. Dahlica sp. - larval case attached to dam wall These larval cases are c12mm long - easy to find if you are specifically looking On the birds front, little of interest as the main water was frozen over. Good numbers of gulls though, loitering about waiting for the duck feeders - mainly Black-headed Gulls with a few Common and one or two of the larger gulls further out. First-winter Black-headed Gull Adult winter Black-headed Gull

Friday, 6 February 2009

Mammalian Garden Tick

Our house is not on the edge of woodland or parkland, and there aren't any really mature gardens nearby, but we do have a bit of scrub on the embankment separating us from the industrial estate and the nearby farmland. Maybe not too surprising that we haven't built up an impressive mammal list for the garden, although there has been one complete surprise before - and that excludes the herd of Fresians that escaped from the fields and roamed the estate a few years ago. Anyway, last night Nichola drew my attention to a Fox helping itself to chunks of bird-cake from the front garden. It didn't seem too bothered by us, but calmly trotted off before I could get the camera sorted. Actually, it was more of a limp as it appeared to have a knackered back leg. Not too surprising these days to have a Fox in suburbia, but actually it's only during the last three years that I've seen any Foxes in the housing areas around Whetstone, and only a couple in the previous 12 years in the nearby farmland. Unlike some other areas of Leicester where urban Foxes are common enough to see them brazenly trotting down pavements in daylight. The Fox brings the garden mammal list to six, the others being Hedgehog, Grey Squirrel, Common Pipistrelle, Wood Mouse and - most surprisingly - the Mole that spent a week tunneling through the front lawn during the 1998 World Cup. Probably not much chance of the mammal list increasing. There are definitely a few voles and shrews in the embankment but the chances of seeing one are virtually zero - other than trying to identify a mangled corpse if a cat leaves one lying about.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Wildlife at Work

I'm on a roll! This feature will not feature very often. This is largely because I work in a very industrious factory in a very industrial estate. Also because I go there to work, not fanny around looking at wildlife ;-)

Having said that, I've already posted a photo of an interesting moth I found on my office window last year, and on 25/09/2006 I recorded the first Antigastra catalaunalis for VC55 - a rare migrant pyralid - which again I found on a window at work. I also had a huge adventive beetle at work - a Pine Chafer - in July 2006.

Antigastra catalaunalis - first for VC55

Pine Chafer - 36mm long!!

On the bird front, today I noted a flock of c60 Waxwings from my office window, perched in trees on Golf Course Lane. This is the second time I've seen Waxwings from there - the last time was March 2005. Although it is a different company, I now work on the same site as in a previous job - part of the old Marconi factory and grounds were flattened to build the warehouse we now use for our cans. When I worked for Marconi, I recorded Nightingale and Red Kite along with regular stuff like Lesser Whitethroat and even Sedge Warbler in the scrub that bordered the old car-park - sadly long gone now.

Down The Lane - 02/02/2009

One thing I can't be accused of is not coming up with features for this blog. Some, like 'On This Day', 'Today, I have been listening to' and 'Life In the Garden' have even appeared more then once! Well, here's a new one. My house is on the edge of a suburban sprawl within earshot and sprinting distance of the M1 motorway, separated from it by only an industrial estate. It's not all bad though. Literally within four hundred yards heading south from the estate along Springwell Lane, you are in the middle of farmland. Granted, it's fairly crap and sterile farmland compared to the wildlife enriched pastures of old, but nonetheless there are cows, grass, ditches, trees and hedges. It's not too long ago, 12 years or so, that I could walk down the lane and occasionally see Tree Sparrow, Corn Bunting and Grey Partridge. Now I feel lucky to see a Yellowhammer, although I regularly see Common Buzzards overhead. On the moth front I have had a bit more luck, especially when I found a number of Puss Moth larvae on small sallows in a hedgerow. Really, I just need an excuse to get walking down there more often, so through the year an occasional Down The Lane posting will be the catalyst. Today, seeing as it was snowing, I headed down there during the late afternoon flurries to get a few atmospheric shots in the dull dusky light. I even changed a couple of shots to greyscale for extra arty-fartyness. For even more pretentiousness, I have given each shot a title. Gallery material I'm sure. The bonus for this effort was seeing Little Owl - I've seen a few along the lane on top of the hedgerow over the years and often hear them a night, but today I think I hit them at just the right time as one was calling from a tree and then popped up out of a hollow. One to watch I think. 'Snow in Bark' 'The Ditch' 'The Lane' 'Tree in Hedgerow'