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

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Mothing Memories

I'm not much of a moth twitcher, but over the years I have made a few out of county trips that have produced superb moths that we are unlikely to see (or would be extremely rare) in VC55. Up until now, with one or two exceptions, I've not made much effort to publish any shots from these trips. So - every now and then I'll upload one here for the memory. First up is topical after comments on John's Blog - this is a Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk-moth. This was one of the prizes on a weekend trip down to Dorset with Keith Tailby. It was a blistering hot day and we'd already seen Broad-bordered Bee Hawk-moth at another site. After a couple of hours we'd got our eye in for these beauties zooming about, but really no chance of photography. Then on the way out of the site, we found a patch of milkwort where a couple of adults were nectaring in their typical hover and go style. Every now and then, one would sit on the flower for a few seconds giving a chance of getting a shot. Unfortunately I only got a shot of a slightly knackered one - but it was still bloody good!

Hornet Moth, 21/06/2009

After last years encounter, I decided to head back to the Hornet Moth site in Loughborough to check on the colony. I knew that there were some changes planned for the site, but wasn't expecting to find the building site that confronted me on arrival although the infected trees were still there. John Hague pitched up as well looking to see this superb moth. We started checked the poplars at c07:00 - initially no sign of anything but we then found a pupa just poking out from the bark. We had no idea how long it would be before the moth emerged, so went back to checking when John found a freshly emerged adult scurrying up the base of a trunk at c07:30. We found a further two freshly emerged adults at c08:00. All three went through the same initial process of climbing up the trunk, then resting to inflate and dry out the wings. By the time we left at c08:20 no further adults had emerged and the three we saw were still drying out. As we looked a bit harder, we eventually found six more exuviae that we must have missed on first checking. The larvae makes the exit tunnel and caps it before pupating - most of the exits are at the very base of the tree but some are in the roots and come through to the surface from the ground. Superb moths - must be more around but they are amazingly easy to overlook unless specifically looked for. Click for big! Emergent pupa - you can see the 'cap' that would have covered the tunnel Pupal exuviae poking our from a trunk base Pupal exuviae poking out from the ground Two exuviae at the trunk base First adult, freshly emerged with limp wings Same adult about 15 minutes later, wings almost fully inflated Same adult, wings being held out to dry Same adult, nearly there Second adult freshly emerged Third adult freshly emerged

From the garden trap, 12/06/2009 & 13/06/2009

12/06/2009 Total catch 205 of 62sp. (125W MV 114 of 53sp., 80W actinic 91 of 46sp.) First for year in garden: Tinea semifulvella 1 Apple Leaf Miner (Lyonetia clerkella) 1 Bucculatrix albedinella 1 Cochylis atricapitana 1 Timothy Tortrix (Aphelia paleana) 4 Celypha striana 1 Epinotia bilunana 1 Garden Grass-veneer (Chrysoteuchia culmella) 4 Riband Wave (Idaea aversata) 1 Barred Straw (Eulithis pyraliata) 4 Mottled Beauty (Alcis repandata) 2 Light Emerald (Campaea margaritata) 3 Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) 1 Ingrailed Clay (Diarsia mendica) 1 Dark Arches (Apamea monoglypha) 4 Middle-barred Minor (Oligia fasciuncula) 2 Rustic (Hoplodrina blanda) 1 Straw Dot (Rivula sericealis) 4 Snout (Hypena proboscidalis) 3 Highest counts: Heart and Dart (Agrotis exclamationis) 22 Barred Fruit-tree Tortrix (Pandemis cerasana) 11 Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana) 11 Green Pug (Pasiphila rectangulata) 9 Rustic Shoulder-knot (Apamea sordens) 9 13/06/2009 Total catch 152 of 58sp. 125W MV 72 of 40sp., 80W actinic 80 of 37sp.) First for year in garden: Argyresthia spinosella 1 Green Oak Tortrix (Tortrix viridana) 1 Ancylis achatana 1 Common Emerald (Hemithea aestivaria) 1 Pale Prominent (Pterostoma palpina) 1 Turnip Moth (Agrotis segetum) 1 Double Square-spot (Xestia triangulum) 1 Cabbage Moth (Mamestra brassicae) 1 Pale-shouldered Brocade (Lacanobia thalassina) 1 Lychnis (Hadena bicruris) 1 Dusky Brocade (Apamea remissa) 2 Highest counts: Heart and Dart (Agrotis exclamationis) 26 Marbled Minor agg. (Oligia strigilis agg.) 9 Marbled Orchard Tortrix (Hedya nubiferana) 7 Small Magpie (Eurrhypara hortulata) 7 Ingrailed Clay Common Emerald Silver-ground Carpet

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Revenge of the Fallen

Went to our local Vue cinema last night with the boys to see Transformers 2 : Revenge of the Fallen. Obviously the boys really had to plead with me - to take them! Quite simply, it was awesome!

Optimus Prime - heroically awesome

The Fallen - Evily awesome

Megan Fox - G'morningly awesome

Maybe not the most challenging storyline, but quite simply it is a great film with stunning CGI and sound. Go see it at the cinema - and take plenty of popcorn as it's a good two and half hours long.

Sold my Soul

I have sold my soul to the devil. After a couple of decades of staunchly refusing to subscribe to Murdoch's media empire, family pressure and the increasing service range at lower costs have twisted my arm. In fairness, Murdoch himself is no longer at the direct helm of Sky which helped to mitigate the decision - a tiny bit. We've got Sky satellite with the Sky+ digital recording, the phone service and faster broadband than I was on. All for a monthly subscription that is about 70% of what I was paying to Orange and BT for broadband and phone without the satellite broadcasting. Luckily the dish is tucked away on the side elevation, although with the plethora of dishes around the estate it doesn't really make a difference. Most of the channels are complete shit though, but at least I can watch odd bits on Discovery and superb stuff like the new Psychoville on BBC2 with better reception than we ever had with our internal loft-mounted arial! Eternity in hellfire might be worth it in the long run.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

This week, I have mostly been listening to ..

The mighty Orbital, Snivilisation in particular. Still sounding superb.

Classic Tracks

I reckon this is a classic, although I suspect Nigel's bright future in British Steel got somewhat fucked in 1988. XTCs earlier works are excellent stuff - I think you can hear their influence on bands like Franz Ferdinand.

Tell me if I'm wrong.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Elvedon Forest CenterParcs 05/06/09 - 08/06/09

The glorious sunshine and hot weather abated - just in time for our family long weekend break at the Elvedon Forest CentreParcs. Actually it was probably a good thing - the indoor tropical water park is great fun for the kids (and their big kid parents) and we spend a fair amount of time in there whatever the weather. We actually did okay though - whilst Leicestershire was being deluged we had a few clouds with sunny spells with just a couple of light showers (it is in the dry Brecks after all). We even managed a fairly warm sunny barby on the Saturday afternoon. Good family fun, and a relaxing but active weekend with plenty of biking. I did take the 80W actinic trap, but the catches were pretty poor to be honest (cool nights after the preceding warm weather) - nothing more exciting than Cream Wave, Maiden's Blush and Treble Lines and nothing new for me. As ever at CenterParcs - you have woodland on your patio and a range of typical woodland birds visiting for handouts, like this one:

Woodland Barnacle Goose

There were good numbers of Jays about - never lingering long enough for a photo though. Otherwise just the usual common expected birds. Loads of Grey Squirrels and Rabbits in the complex, and a few Hares just outside.

Also a few Muntjac seen, but never coming into full photographic view.

Loads of Moorhen chicks about (or Moor-ons as Alex decided to call them). Why do the vulnerable chicks have bright blue bits with red and yellow bills, when the older juveniles are drab and brown?

Also noted that the older juveniles (first brood siblings?) were feeding the small chicks as well as the parents - is this normal Moorhen behaviour? Presumably feeding chicks with pizza is not innate!

From the garden trap, 01/06/09 - 03/06/09

Dramatic rise and fall over three nights. 01/06/2009 Total catch 63 of 31sp. 125W MV 37 of 24sp., 80W actinic 26 of 18sp.) First for year in garden: Gold Spot (Plusia festucae) 1 Highest counts: Common Pug (Eupithecia vulgata) 7 Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana) 5 Rustic Shoulder-knot (Apamea sordens) 5 02/06/2009 Total catch 146 of 43sp. (125W MV 64 of 29sp., 80W actinic 82 of 30sp.) First for year in garden: Argyresthia cupressella 2 Scrobipalpa costella 1 Udea olivalis 1 Swallow Prominent (Pheosia tremula) 1 Flame (Axylia putris) 1 Setaceous Hebrew Character (Xestia c-nigrum) 1 Highest counts: Common Pug (Eupithecia vulgata) 17 Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana) 15 Heart and Dart (Agrotis exclamationis) 11 Common Marbled Carpet (Chloroclysta truncata) 8 Common Swift (Hepialus lupulinus) 7 Green Pug (Pasiphila rectangulata) 6 03/06/2009 Total catch 11 of 11sp. (125W MV 3 of 3sp., 80W actinic 8 of 8sp.) First for year in garden: Brown Rustic (Rusina ferruginea) 1

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Huncote Embankment 03/06/2009

Nipped over to Huncote Embankment after work to check the grassy slope for Bee Orchids - found quite a few quickly (c12) probably more but did'nt look further. Bee Orchid - smart Loads of Bird's-foot Trefoil - need to check for Six-belted Clearwing soon Plenty of Common Vetch - need to check for Pea Moth Nice big patch of Oxeye Daisy - need to check for Dichrorampha spp.

The Moth Muncher & The Hopping Invalid

Whilst emptying the garden moth traps this morning, I was pleased to hear Lesser Whitethroat singing again from the embankment along with a Blackcap and other usual suspects. The neighbours Long-tailed Tits have fledged (don't know when) but the party was noisily flitting about - up to five juveniles I think, too active to count properly. Also a juvenile Robin knocking about this morning. Then this cheeky bugger landed on the edge of the trap and had a good look at what was on offer for breakfast. Of course it flew off when I went to get the camera, but not far. Moth Muncher Then I noticed this pathetic chap hopping about: Knackered wings, no tail, Dodo-like flight capability Not sure what to make of it. I guess if a cat had got hold of it, it would be unlikely to get away in this condition. Either way, every time I approached it would vigorously hop off to evade capture. Hopping mad I was surprised when I got home this evening to see it still about - seems to be doing a circuit around ours and our neighbours houses and gardens. I don't expect to see it tomorrow though .....

Monday, 1 June 2009

Life in the garden - Blackbird

Lots of these around at the minute - schreeping and squawking loudly when begging, although most seem to be foraging for themselves now. Juvenile Blackbird

From the garden trap, 30/05/2009

Similar numbers to the previous night. Total catch 87 of 42sp. (125W MV 40 of 25sp., 80W actinic 47 of 30sp.) First for year in garden: Bucculatrix nigricomella 1 Plum Tortrix (Hedya pruniana) 1 Bramble Shoot Moth (Epiblema uddmanniana) 1 Brown Silver-line (Petrophora chlorosata) 1 Scorched Wing (Plagodis dolabraria) 1 Miller (Acronicta leporina) 1 Vine's Rustic (Hoplodrina ambigua) 1 Silver Y (Autographa gamma) 1 Highest counts (>5): Common Pug (Eupithecia vulgata) 14 Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana) 6 Mottled Pug (Eupithecia exiguata) 6 Scorched Wing - a superb looking moth Brown Silver-line - a real garden rarity here (first one since July 2001), though very common in the right habitat (feeds on bracken) Miller - very nice

Poultney Wood, 30/05/2009

After the visit to Herbert's Meadow in the day, it occurred to me that the Ulverscroft NR woods would be as good a place as any to leave traps running overnight. So, just before dusk I was back only this time I accessed the site through the Fox Covert track and drove down to the edge of Poultney Wood. I ran 3 x 125W MV traps in roughly the locations marked (1, 2, 3) on these OS and aerial views of the reserve. For reference, Herbert's Meadow is shown with an 'H'. I knew it wouldn't be the most spectacular night, as with the clear sunny day I expected a clear cool night. It was c13°C at dusk, dropping down to c6°C at dawn though back up to 9°C when I got back there at 05:30. Not a bad night though, with the total catch being 264 of 62sp. Main highlights: Carpatolechia proximella 1 Pammene germmana 6 Barred Hook-tip (Watsonalla cultraria) 1 Clay Triple-lines (Cyclophora linearia) 8 Galium Carpet (Epirrhoe galiata) 1 May Highflyer (Hydriomena impluviata) 3 Grey Birch (Aethalura punctulata) 1 Orange Footman (Eilema sororcula) 26 Gold Spot (Plusia festucae) 1 Other highest counts (>10): Pale Tussock (Calliteara pudibunda) 31 Small Square-spot (Diarsia rubi) 21 Green Silver-lines (Pseudoips prasinana britannica) 21 Common Marbled Carpet (Chloroclysta truncata) 11 Faultless - cheapo far-east gennie just keeps on running Trap 1 Trap 2 Trap 3 Clay Triple-lines - still a generally scarce moth in VC55 Barred Hook-tip - another Beech feeder Galium Carpet Green Silver-lines - not sure if this is an aberrant individual or referable to a named form (looks like it should be a Silver Green-lines!). Compared to the example below from Charnwood Lodge in May 2006, it is a lot whiter. See also this one.

Herbert's Meadow, 30/05/2009

In glorious warm sunshine, I headed out to Herbert's Meadow - part of the Ulverscroft NR. I was hoping that the warm weather would have tempted a couple of Foresters out early, but no sign. In fact despite the conditions, there wasn't too much flying at all aside from a few Chimney Sweepers, Glyphipterix thrassonella and Bactra lancealana. The meadow was looking a bit overgrazed compared to previous visits, and there didn't seem to be as many orchids around as I remember - maybe just the difference between a late May visit and mid-June. Heath Spotted Orchid Chimney Sweeper Glyphipterix thrassonella I managed to grab a quick shot of this chaser as it briefly perched on the walk down to Herbert's Meadow - pretty sure it is a Broad-bodied Chaser. Broad-bodied Chaser