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

Saturday, 30 May 2009

From the garden trap, 27th - 29th May 2009

Three good nights in the garden traps, though nothing new. 27/05/09 Total catch 94 of 33sp (125W MV 32 of 20sp., 80W actinic 62 of 27sp.) First for year in garden: Pseudargyrotoza conwagana 1 Crambus lathoniellus 1 Peppered Moth (Biston betularia) 1 Highest counts: Garden Carpet (Xanthorhoe fluctuata) 9 Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana) 8 Heart and Dart (Agrotis exclamationis) 8 Common Marbled Carpet (Chloroclysta truncata) 7 Common Pug (Eupithecia vulgata) 6 28/05/09 Total catch 66 of 32sp. (125W MV 31 of 19sp., 80w actinic 35 of 21sp.) First for year in garden: Bryotropha affinis 1 Celypha lacunana 3 Sandy Carpet (Perizoma flavofasciata) 1 Mottled Rustic (Caradrina morpheus) 1 Small Fan-foot (Herminia grisealis) 1 Highest counts: Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana) 9 Common Pug (Eupithecia vulgata) 8 29/05/09 Total catch 81 of 25sp. (125W MV 41 of 28sp., 80W actinic 40 of 19sp.) First for year in garden: Common Swift (Hepialus lupulinus) 2 Phyllonorycter platanoidella 1 Blastobasis lacticolella 1 Marbled Orchard Tortrix (Hedya nubiferana) 2 Epiblema cynosbatella 1 Chinese Character (Cilix glaucata) 2 Freyer's Pug (Eupithecia intricata arceuthata) 1 Willow Beauty (Peribatodes rhomboidaria) 1 Eyed Hawk-moth (Smerinthus ocellata) 1 Buff Ermine (Spilosoma luteum) 1 Grey Dagger (Acronicta psi) 1 Highest counts: Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana) 9 Common Pug (Eupithecia vulgata) 7 Common Marbled Carpet (Chloroclysta truncata) 6 Green Carpet (Colostygia pectinataria) 6 A superb Eyed Hawk-moth - suitably agitated to show off the hindwing, captured using flash to make sure it was crisp in the early morning light Grey Dagger - I checked its bits

Mothing Villains

A good (or bad) thing about moth traps is that they attract a wide range of insects and other invertebrates. Most of these are small flies that pass by unnoticed - unless you are a dipterist. Occasionally there is something that is interesting like ladybirds, and even the odd butterfly, dragonfly or damselfly. However, they also attract some things that I find to be a pain in the arse for one reason or another. When I can be bothered, I will highlight one or two of the most annoying ones.

Mothing Villain No. 1 has to be the Cockchafer. Great big bumbling twats these are - especially when sitting around a sheet. If one hits you on the head you know about it. But the most annoying thing is that after chucking it well away from the light, it is back within seconds. They are clearly stupid.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Ketton Quarry, 27/05/2009

The weather forecast on Tuesday was suggesting that Wednesday night would be wet. By Wednesday morning, the forecast was that showers would die out, the wind would drop and it would stay overcast and cloudy all night with minimum temperatures of c13°C. Superb conditions for mothing. I joined up with Adrian Russell and we headed off to Ketton Quarry to get a few hours of light trapping in. As it turned out, the conditions were pretty much ideal until just as we started to pack up when a very light drizzle started - nothing too heavy and no problem. Despite the conditions, the results were a little mixed with a number of common and expected species failing to appear - eg only hawk-moth was Elephant, only prominent was Swallow. However overall the results were damned good with some excellent highlights. We ran 1 x 125W light over a sheet, and 3 x 125W MV traps around the compartments from 21:30 - 01:00. Actually, we ran four traps but a technical glitch with the dictaphone tape meant that the results from one were lost. Additionally one of the traps was nicknamed the 'feeble trap' as for some reason the light output was only half of what it should be - either a choke or gennie problem. The total catch was 411 of 89sp. There is an additional Agrotis sp. (female Heart and Club or Turnip?), plus we recorded c5 small Mullein larvae on, er Mullein! Main highlights: Incurvaria oehlmanniella 2 Bucculatrix albedinella 1 Bucculatrix nigricomella 2 Phtheochroa rugosana 1 Cochylimorpha straminea 2 Cochylis hybridella 1 Euleioptilus carphodactyla 1 Satin Wave (Idaea subsericeata) 1 The Tissue (Triphosa dubitata) 1 Satyr Pug (Eupithecia satyrata) 2 Grass Wave (Perconia strigillaria) 26 Orange Footman (Eilema sororcula) 1 Light Brocade (Lacanobia w-latinum) 3 Treble Lines (Charanyca trigrammica) 14 Marbled White Spot (Protodeltote pygarga) 16 Other highest counts: Common Swift (Hepialus lupulinus) 43 Green Carpet (Colostygia pectinataria) 31 Clouded Silver (Lomographa temerata) 26 Rustic Shoulder-knot (Apamea sordens) 23 Broken-barred Carpet (Electrophaes corylata) 14 Flame Shoulder (Ochropleura plecta) 14 Epiblema trimaculana 11 Satyr Pug - only the fifth modern record for VC55 (2 in 2003, 2 in 2006) Grass Wave - Ketton Quarry is pretty much the only site for this species in VC55 Satin Wave - scarce in VC55 Marbled White Spot - good numbers Euleioptilus carphodactyla - a tiny plume Ptheochroa rugosana - one of my favourite torts Waved Umber Purple Bar

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Wildlife at work, 26/05/2009

Not unexpectedly, given the massive number moving through the UK, I had two Painted Lady fluttering purposefully past the office window today.

From the garden trap, 25/05/2009

A pretty good night, best of the year so far in fact, despite a torrential downpour at c01:00. Biggest surprise came when I went to empty the traps in the morning and disturbed a Painted Lady from the vanes of the actinic trap! Also another garden first in the shape of an unexpected Treble Lines. A Clouded-bordered Brindle also turned up; a rare visitor to my garden suggesting some movement during the night. Total catch 120 of 40sp. (125W MV 61 of 27sp., 80W actinic 59 of 26sp.) First for garden: Treble Lines (Charanyca trigrammica) 1 First for year in garden: Firethorn Leaf Miner (Phyllonorycter leucographella) 1 Diamond-back Moth (Plutella xylostella) 2 Elachista argentella 1 Syndemis musculana 1 Epiblema trimaculana 1 Oak Hook-tip (Watsonalla binaria) 1 Silver-ground Carpet (Xanthorhoe montanata) 1 Common Carpet (Epirrhoe alternata) 1 Grey Pine Carpet (Thera obeliscata) 1 Green Pug (Pasiphila rectangulata) 2 Lime Hawk-moth (Mimas tiliae) 1 Flame Shoulder (Ochropleura plecta) 2 Small Square-spot (Diarsia rubi) 1 Common Wainscot (Mythimna pallens) 1 Clouded-bordered Brindle (Apamea crenata) 1 Marbled Minor agg. (Oligia strigilis agg.) 1 Highest counts: Common Marbled Carpet (Chloroclysta truncata) 20 Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana) 11 Green Carpet (Colostygia pectinataria) 10 Garden Carpet (Xanthorhoe fluctuata) 9 Common Pug (Eupithecia vulgata) 9

Did the Earth move?

Sunrise viewed from Bloody Oaks Quarry 04:45 04:46 04:53 04:57

Bloody Oaks Quarry, 24/05/2009

Over the bank holiday weekend, it was only Sunday night that I was able to get out for a mothing session. Despite the forecast being less than promising I set off to Bloody Oaks Quarry with the intention of running the traps overnight. It is almost six years to the day since I last trapped there, but the habitat has not changed. I ran 4 x 125W MV traps and 1 x 80W actinic trap, giving good coverage over the whole site although I avoided the hollow where the temperature can plummet. Before dusk there was a lot of activity as I set up the traps, mainly Green carpets and Common Swifts with the odd Scoparia sp. and Crambus lathoniellus. After dark though it soon went quiet, and by 23:00 it wasn't looking too good and the temperature had dropped off. I topped up the gennie and decided to get a good few hours sleep in the car and leave the traps to it. At 04:30 in the morning it was already very light and I started pulling in the traps. Turned out to be a reasonably good night in the end, not least because I caught up with a couple of species I haven't seen for a long while - Shaded Pug and Tawny Shears. The Total catch was 622 of 69sp. Main Highlights: Pale Oak Beauty (Hypomecis punctinalis) 2 Pine Hawk-moth (Hyloicus pinastri) 1 Orange Footman (Eilema sororcula) 3 Light Brocade (Lacanobia w-latinum) 4 Campion (Hadena rivularis) 1 Tawny Shears (Hadena perplexa) 1 Alder Moth (Acronicta alni) 1 Highest counts (>10): Green Carpet (Colostygia pectinataria) 103 Common Swift (Hepialus lupulinus) 96 Rustic Shoulder-knot (Apamea sordens) 51 Flame Shoulder (Ochropleura plecta) 44 Cinnabar (Tyria jacobaeae) 38 Scoparia sp. (pres. ambigualis) 37 Treble Lines (Charanyca trigrammica) 35 Large Nutmeg (Apamea anceps) 25 White Ermine (Spilosoma lubricipeda) 14 Grey Pine Carpet (Thera obeliscata) 12 Brown Rustic (Rusina ferruginea) 12 The full listing is uploaded here for those registered to the VC55 Yahoo Group. Traps 1, 2, 4 & 5 = 125W MV Trap 3 = 80W actinic Trap 1 viewed from the site entrance gate Trap 2 viewed from the entrance gate, the hollow is just beyond this trap Trap 3 looking back towards the entrance Trap 4 viewed from the 'plateau' east of the hollow Trap 5 viewed from where the grassland narrows with the conifer plantation east and south The hollow, looking toward the entrance
Overnight mothing luxury - a pump-up bed (courtesy of an electric pump and the gennie) and room to lie fully outstretched. I really miss the nights cramped on the back seat of the Peugeot 106 .....

During the early hours whilst collecting the traps, sorting out the cable reels, counting moths and taking photos, the dawn chorus was gradually increasing. Along with the expected early morning singers there was Lesser Whitethroat and Yellow-hammer, mewing Buzzard, yaffling Green Woodpecker, coo-cooing Cuckoo and a nice flyover Red Kite. All very mellow and peaceful with not a soul in sight for the whole time I was there.

Tawny Shears - sadly rubbed on one side Pine Hawk-moth Pale Oak Beauty - used to be very scarce, seems to be increasing Light Brocade - smart Clouded Bordered Brindle Dwarf Pug - a large fat female

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

From the garden trap, 23/05/2009

Not as good as the previous night, but the traps still managed to pull a garden first - this time a long overdue common species. Total catch 39 of 23sp. (125W MV 22 of 13sp., 80W actinic 17 of 12sp.) First for garden: Lesser Swallow Prominent (Pheosia gnoma) 1 First for year in garden: Bee Moth (Aphomia sociella) 1 Common Wave (Cabera exanthemata) 1 Poplar Hawk-moth (Laothoe populi) 1 Pale Tussock (Calliteara pudibunda) 1 White Ermine (Spilosoma lubricipeda) 1 Heart and Dart (Agrotis exclamationis) 1 Highest counts: Green Carpet (Colostygia pectinataria) 7 Common Marbled Carpet (Chloroclysta truncata) 5

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Classic Tracks

In this new irregular feature, I'm going to highlight a particular track that I reckon stands the test of time and that would happily sit in anyones music collection. Okay, not quite everybody, I guess I mean those who are 40 something +/- 10 years who actually listen to music.

First up is 'Echo Beach' by Martha and the Muffins, a quite brilliant piece of post-punk new-wave type stuff from 1980. This is despite the dodgy band name, and the opening lyric being "I know it's out of fashion, and a trifle uncool".

I reckon this is a prime example of a classic track - tell me if you think I am wrong.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

This week, I have mostly been listening to ..

The superb 1981 debut album from Soft Cell.

Cocksfoot - 23/05/2009

During the day, amongst dayflying moths in garden was a Cocksfoot Moth - a garden tick. Also about was Esperia sulphurella and at least 10 Argyresthia trifasciata.

From the garden trap, 22/05/2009

I haven't run the garden traps much in May - either too windy, too cold or too wet (or all three). But with conditions improving, this was the first decent catch of the spring with a garden tick to boot. Total catch 86 of 30sp. (125W MV 36 of 20sp., 80W actinic 50 of 20sp.) First for the garden: Nematopogon swammerdamella 1 Rest of the catch: Tinea trinotella 3 Argyresthia trifasciata 2 Ash Bud Moth (Prays fraxinella) 2 Brown House Moth (Hofmannophila pseudospretella) 1 White-shouldered House Moth (Endrosis sarcitrella) 1 Scrobipalpa acuminatella 1 Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana) 7 Twenty-plume Moth (Alucita hexadactyla) 2 Small Magpie (Eurrhypara hortulata) 1 Garden Carpet (Xanthorhoe fluctuata) 9 Common Marbled Carpet (Chloroclysta truncata) 10 Broken-barred Carpet (Electrophaes corylata) 2 Green Carpet (Colostygia pectinataria) 5 Mottled Pug (Eupithecia exiguata) 5 Currant Pug (Eupithecia assimilata) 1 Common Pug (Eupithecia vulgata) 12 White-spotted Pug (Eupithecia tripunctaria) 1 Grey Pug (Eupithecia subfuscata) 1 Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata) 2 Scalloped Hazel (Odontopera bidentata) 1 Common White Wave (Cabera pusaria) 1 Clouded Silver (Lomographa temerata) 7 Muslin Moth (Diaphora mendica) 1 Shuttle-shaped Dart (Agrotis puta) 1 Bright-line Brown-eye (Lacanobia oleracea) 1 Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) 1 Angle Shades (Phlogophora meticulosa) 1 Large Nutmeg (Apamea anceps) 1 Rustic Shoulder-knot (Apamea sordens) 2 Scalloped Hazel Common White Wave Clouded Silver Garden Carpet (f. thules) Broken-barred Carpet

Down the lane, 21/05/2009

I took a diversion along Springwell Lane on the way home from Narborough Bog, and was struck by the differing evening skies in all directions. All images taken from same spot (+/- a meter) with same camera/settings 20:55 - 20:56. North East South West Skywards

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Narborough Bog, 21/05/2009

Decided to head out again in the early evening with bins and cameras to look and listen for birds in part of my Soar Valley South patch. This time I focused on Narborough Bog, a site I know well for moth trapping and the odd flounce around with a net, but I've not consciously paid any attention to the birds there. Somehow it is a site that should do better for birds than I suspect it does, but time will tell. I was there for almost 2hrs, 18:30 - 20:20, in similar conditions (mild & overcast) to earlier in the week though less breezy. Here's an aerial view courtesy of Multimap (click for slightly bigger): The western-most red dot marks where the access track leaves the B4114 just before the road passes underneath the M1. Just along side this track is an interesting looking field (1) that I've never really looked at. At the moment it doesn't look great, but could be good for feeding birds in autumn and winter. Looking across the field, with the wet woodland of Narborough Bog in the distance. The next red dot marks the end of the public track where cars park up for the cricket and football played on the sports fields (2). View across the football field looking at the wet woodland, taken from the end of the access track. The red dot just south-east across the sports field marks the entrance to the reserve, If you are suitably permitted and it is not wet, you can park here (as I do for mothing). On entering the reserve gateway, you immediately look across the reedbed, over the railway line to the woodland at the back of the reserve. My usual walking route around this site is roughly marked with the red line. From the reserve entrance, head north-east through the wet woodland (3) which is mainly ash, alder and oak. This really is a damp wood - wellies or exceptionally good boots essential after rain. Eventually the track turns to head south-east following the bank of the River Soar. The woodland to the south-west (4) is a little more open with more sallows/willows. Eventually, the path reaches the railway line where the next red dot is on the aerial view. The path goes underneath the railway through very low arches which are almost overgrown now. From there, head south-west heading towards the meadows. At (5), there is a 'watering-hole' access to the River Soar for whatever is grazing the meadows (currently five big ponies). The watering-hole Path to the meadows from the watering hole. Looking across the first meadow (6) with the boundary woodland at the back. Head west into the second meadow (7), and the north-east alongside the railway line back to the railway arches. From there, after passing back under the arches, I head south-west heading for the reedbed(8). Path to the reedbed. The path eventually opens out with the reedbed in view. At the end of the reedbed, just before heading north back to the entrance, there is a small pond (9). Don't know if this pond is any good for dragons/damsels but plenty of emergent vegetation. Just to the west of the reserve, before the motorway, are allotments (10). Must be good for something? The other areas that could be good, but currently inaccessible and not part of the reserve, is the woodland to the south (11) and the grassland to the south-west (12). There is a road heading into this area from a small industrial estate in Narborough, but I checked and it is gated and padlocked. I'm going to see if I can find out who owns the land and see if any access is possible. So, plenty of habitat and potential in that relatively small area - what did I see/hear? Well, to be honest, not a lot! Only 23 species with the best being Common Buzzard (now resident in the area). I was surprised not to hear any Sedge Warblers, and no Marsh or Willow Tits. Only warblers were Blackcap, Whitethroat and Chiffchaff, and only woodpecker was Great Spotted. Still, I do like this reserve and will make the effort. Apart from birds, there were a good few moths that I didn't identify as I was out birding without a net, a single Banded Demoiselle and a big fat Drinker caterpillar. Plus lots of solitude which in this day and age is priceless.