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

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Classic Tracks

This is a clear contender as a classic track in my book:

Joe Jackson - It's Different for Girls

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

This week, I have mostly been listening to ..

Faithless (a superb band that appears to be sadly under-represented by embedable full length video versions of their best tracks on YouTube). Salva Mea - the full length version is awesome Mass Destruction - great lyrics God Is a DJ

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Painted Lady milestone

When the sun occasionally pops out for a few minutes, the garden buddleia is still attracting Painted Ladies - today there was an absoloute minimum of six all present at the same time. I don't keep any formal butterfly records for the garden but I'm pretty sure that this is the most I've ever had at one time - usually one or two and occasionally three.

Mothing Mates - Violet Ground Beetle

A while ago, I started another very occasional feature called Mothing Villains featuring non-lepidopteran insects and anything else that is a right pain the arse when they turn up in traps or when mothing. In yet another of these half-baked features, this is the opposite end of the scale where non-lepidopteran insects and whatever turns up that I quite like for one reason or another (usually entirely arbitrary). This one is a Violet Ground Beetle - I potted it to get a shot in daylight although they can be bloody quick off the mark when they get going. They are quite big - getting on for an inch in total length from nose to tail, with a superb violet-blue sheen in the right light. Violet Ground Beetle - very smart

PIckworth Great Wood, 25/07/2009

Ypsolopha sylvella

Acrobasis consociella

Conobathra repandana

Phycita roborella

Evergestis pallidata

Pickworth Great Wood, 25/07/2009

With the recent run of poor overnight weather and more rain than sunshine, I was glad to get out again to Pickworth Great Wood on Saturday night. Although the forecasted temps were not great, at least it was unlikely to rain. I also took the opportunity to get the boys out camping in the wood and make use of our cheapo dome tent - comfortably big enough for the three of us on a double inflatable bed.

The Tent & boys, Josh left, Alex right

Waiting for the moths

We had a great night, with enough moths to raise a bit of interest in the boys without overdoing it. The biggest bonus was that the expected hornets were a no-show - good as they are to see they are a pain in the arse around a tripod light. Emptying the traps in the morning was relaxed, and the boys enjoyed laughing at my latin pronunciation whilst collecting Black Arches, hawk-moths and prominents on their fleeces.

I ran a 125W MV light over the sheet from 21:45 - 00:30, and 4 x 125W MV traps, 1 x 80W actinic trap and 1 x 250W metal halide trap from dusk - dawn. The overall catch (1854 of 185sp.) was not the biggest, and perhaps a little poor for late July, but not too bad considering the recent conditions.

Main highlights:
Ypsolopha nemorella 2
Ypsolopha sylvella 1
Schreckensteinia festaliella 1
Agonopterix angelicella 1
Eulamprotes atrella 8
Acompsia cinerella 1
Evergestis pallidata 4
Maiden's Blush (Cyclophora punctaria) 4
Tissue (Triphosa dubitata) 1
Barred Rivulet (Perizoma bifaciata) 2
Chocolate-tip (Clostera curtula) 2
Black Arches (Lymantria monacha) 127
Coronet (Craniophora ligustri) 13
Mere Wainscot (Chortodes fluxa) 31

Other high counts (25+):
July Highflyer (Hydriomena furcata) 105
Water Veneer (Acentria ephemerella) 87
Agriphila straminella 73
Cydia splendana 53
Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata) 53
Carcina quercana 50
Dingy Footman (Eilema griseola) 46
Mother of Pearl (Pleuroptya ruralis) 44
Clouded Border (Lomaspilis marginata) 43
Yellow-tail (Euproctis similis) 42
Epinotia brunnichana 38
Buff Footman (Eilema depressa) 33
Engrailed (Ectropis bistortata) 32
Small Fan-footed Wave (Idaea biselata) 31
Udea prunalis 30
Straw Dot (Rivula sericealis) 29
Acleris laterana/comariana 26
Catoptria pinella 26

Unexpected tick, 25/07/2009

Whilst fannying about with the hoverflies, a tiny moth landed right under my nose for a few seconds. By the time I had registered it, recognised what it was and pointed the camera for a very quick out of focus shot, it was gone. Apple Leaf Skeletoniser However brief, it was a welcome garden tick!

Life in the garden, 25/07/2009

I spent an ultimately frustrating hour or so in the garden on Saturday morning tyring to get anything like half-decent shots of the various hoverflies that have built up in numbers over the last couple of weeks. Main problems were the speed of the subjects versus the shutter lag on the Coolpix, and the wildly changeable lighting with bright sun changing to dull cloudy light every few minutes. I eventually resorted to netting and potting a few individuals - even that was a game as they are much harder to net than moths. Despite having them potted, the ID of most of them was still beyond me with nothing more than a few internet images to go by. Eristalis tenax Episyrphus balteatus Scaeva pyrastri? Syrphus ribesii? Maybe I'll should look up a decent reference book for hoverflies - any recommendations?

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Enderby Quarry, 20/07/2009

I ran two traps overnight, trying again for Haworth's Pug and The Fern. Success on the former this time, but still no Fern - maybe I missed it this year. 2 x 125W MV traps Total catch 588 of 119sp. New for site: Meal Moth (Pyralis farinalis) 1 Muslin Footman (Nudaria mundana) 1 Dingy Footman (Eilema griseola) 2 Knot Grass (Acronicta rumicis) 1 Other highlights: Isophrictis striatella 4 Eudonia pallida 5 Hellinsia osteodactylus 4 Small Emerald (Hemistola chrysoprasaria) 6 Haworth's Pug (Eupithecia haworthiata) 5 Highest counts: Eucosma campoliliana 75 Common Rustic agg. (Mesapamea secalis agg.) 61 Dark Arches (Apamea monoglypha) 31 Smoky Wainscot (Mythimna impura) 27 Haworth's Pug - resident at this site in the 1940's, I rediscovered it here in 2003 Eudonia pallida - surely now resident at this site Small Emerald - another Traveler's-Joy feeder Cochylis roseana - a Teasel feeding beauty Hellinsia osteodactylus - I recorded the first for VC55 from here in 2005 Isophrictis striatella - I recorded the first for VC55 from my garden in 2002 Brown-line Bright-eye - smart

Garden Butterflies

My garden used to attract a lot more butterflies in the past when the adjacent embankment was more grassy than scrubby, both in terms of species and numbers. I used to get skippers (Large, Small and Essex), and the occasional Common Blue and Small Heath amongst the expected commoner species. These days I get very few butterflies, and in a typical year I see 12 species (Brimstone, Large, Small and Green-veined White, Peacock, Painted Lady, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Orange-tip, Holly Blue & Speckled Wood). Over the weekend and on Monday, during sunny spells, I noted that there was a steady procession of butterflies visiting our flowering buddleia which is doing quite well this year. Nothing exciting, but at least three different Painted Lady on each day. Getting good photos in the breeze was another matter!

Ketton Quarry, 18/07/2009

I ventured over to Ketton Quarry to set out traps before dusk, joined by Andy Mackay and Adrian Russell. The forecast was not great, with a possibility of a light shower though the strong breeze had dropped. As it turned out, the forecast was not quite right as at c23:00 the sheet and traps got thoroughly soaked during a half hour deluge whilst we sat around the sheet under golfing brollies. The moths carried on about their business after the shower so we carried on until c01:30. 1 x 125W MV over sheet, 4 x 125W MV traps & 1 x 250W metal halide trap Total catch 1348 of 161sp. Main highlights: Agonopterix liturosa 1 Dwarf Cream Wave (Idaea fuscovenosa) 1 Brown Scallop (Philereme vetulata) 2 Barred Rivulet (Perizoma bifaciata) 2 Coronet (Craniophora ligustri) 10 Mere Wainscot (Chortodes fluxa) 6 Highest counts: Dark Arches (Apamea monoglypha) 115 Agriphila straminella 84 Common Rustic agg. (Mesapamea secalis agg.) 75 Smoky Wainscot (Mythimna impura) 68 Uncertain (Hoplodrina alsines) 52 Common Footman (Eilema lurideola) 49 Mother of Pearl (Pleuroptya ruralis) 48 Eucosma cana 46 Brown-line Bright Eye (Mythimna conigera) 43 Shaded Broad-bar (Scotopteryx chenopodiata) 27 Scarce Footman (Eilema complana) 24 Dark / Grey Dagger (Acronicta tridens/psi) 24 Ruby Tiger (Phragmatobia fuliginosa) 23 Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) 23 Pyrausta purpuralis 21 Barred Rivulet

Enderby Quarry, 04/07/2009

I used to trap quite regularly at this site, but hadn't been since August 2007. It is an old quarry turned over to landfill, capped and left to go wild whilst still out-gassing. Sounds like a complete non-starter for wildlife interest, but the scrubby margins hold traveller's-joy that is known to have been present at the site since the 1940's when local naturalist Herbert Buckler used to work the site. I was hoping to record traveller's-joy feeders The Fern (last recorded there 2004) and Haworth's Pug (last recorded there 2005) again. As it turned out, a single 125W MV trap pulled in a massive 712 of 115sp. but the only highlight was an unprecedented 15 Eudonia pallida - a new species for the site and one that is clearly doing well in VC55 this year. The site has been superb for day-flying micros (especially Dichrorampha spp.) but it is now getting to the point where it is so overgrown that most of the site is inaccessible - needs a good going over with a chainsaw!

Saturday, 18 July 2009

From the garden trap, 28/06/09 - 02/07/09

Four superb nights in the garden produced a whopping total of 1664 of 154sp., including 5 garden ticks. 29/06/2009 Total catch 334 of 84sp. (125W MV 199 of 76sp., 80W actinic 135 of 49sp.) First for year in garden: Paraswammerdamia nebulella 1 Acleris forsskaleana 2 Lobesia abscisana 1 Epiblema roborana 1 Codling Moth (Cydia pomonella) 1 Water Veneer (Acentria ephemerella) 25 Thistle Ermine (Myelois circumvoluta) 2 Small Blood-vein (Scopula imitaria) 1 Large Twin-spot Carpet (Xanthorhoe quadrifasiata) 1 Engrailed (Ectropis bistortata) 1 Buff-tip (Phalera bucephala) 1 Yellow-tail (Euproctis similis) 1 Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (Noctua fimbriata) 1 Burnished Brass (Diachrysia chrysitis) 1 Highest counts: Riband Wave (Idaea aversata) 24 Garden Grass-veneer (Chrysoteuchia culmella) 22 Heart and Dart (Agrotis exclamationis) 17 Mottled Rustic (Caradrina morpheus) 11 Crambus pascuella 10 Small Magpie (Eurrhypara hortulata) 10 Double Square-spot (Xestia triangulum) 10 30/06/2009 Total catch 480 of 112sp. (125W MV 278 of 87sp., 80W actinic 202 of 75sp.) First for garden: Eudonia pallida 1 Brown Scallop (Philereme vetulata) 1 First for year in garden: Anthophila fabriciana 1 Cherry Fruit Moth (Argyresthia pruniella) 6 Batia unitella 3 Dark Fruit-tree Tortrix (Pandemis heparana) 3 Pine Shoot Moth (Rhyacionia buoliana) 1 Grapholita janthinana 1 Agriphila straminella 2 Wormwood Pug (Eupithecia absinthiata) 1 Clouded Border (Lomaspilis marginata) 1 Scarce Footman (Eilema complana) 2 Gothic (Naenia typica) 1 Dun-bar (Cosmia trapezina) 1 Highest Counts: Riband Wave (Idaea aversata) 39 Garden Grass-veneer (Chrysoteuchia culmella) 30 Dark Arches (Apamea monoglypha) 25 Heart and Dart (Agrotis exclamationis) 24 Double Square-spot (Xestia triangulum) 18 Marbled Beauty (Cryphia domestica) 14 Green Pug (Pasiphila rectangulata) 12 Brown House Moth (Hofmannophila pseudospretella) 10 Blastodacna hellerella 10 Marbled Beauty 30/06/2009 - variations on a theme 01/07/2009 Total catch 366 of 92sp. (125W MV 199 of 78sp., 80W actinic 167 of 57sp.) First for garden: Marasmarcha lunaedactyla 1 First for year in garden: Blastobasis adustella 1 Limnaecia phragmitella 4 Highest counts: Dark Arches (Apamea monoglypha) 33 Riband Wave (Idaea aversata) 32 Garden Grass-veneer (Chrysoteuchia culmella) 29 Heart and Dart (Agrotis exclamationis) 18 Double Square-spot (Xestia triangulum) 15 Marbled Minor agg. (Oligia strigilis agg.) 11 Marbled Beauty (Cryphia domestica) 10 02/07/2009 Total catch 484 of 103sp. (125W MV 275 of 81sp., 80W actinic 209 of 69sp.) First for garden: Argyresthia retinella 1 Aleimma loeflingiana 1 First for year in garden: Coleophora mayrella 1 Oegoconia quadripuncta 1 Cydia splendana 1 Catoptria pinella 1 Mother of Pearl (Pleuroptya ruralis) 5 Yellow Shell (Camptogramma bilineata) 2 Pebble Prominent (Notodonta ziczac) 1 Clouded Brindle (Apamea epomidion) 1 Pale Mottled Willow (Paradrina clavipalpis) 1 Scarce Silver-lines (Bena bicolorana) 1 Highest counts: Riband Wave (Idaea aversata) 74 Dark Arches (Apamea monoglypha) 49 Garden Grass-veneer (Chrysoteuchia culmella) 27 Heart and Dart (Agrotis exclamationis) 27 Brown House Moth (Hofmannophila pseudospretella) 13 Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) 13 Mottled Rustic (Caradrina morpheus) 14 Marbled Minor agg. (Oligia strigilis agg.) 11 Marbled Beauty (Cryphia domestica) 10

Monday, 13 July 2009

Wicken Fen, 28th June 2009, The Rest

Reed Leopard Ethmia quadrillella Gelechia muscosella A damned rare species - possible confined to Wicken Fen. Only the second record since the 70s. Ptheochroa inopiana Oblique Carpet A knackered one. Scallop Shell Rosy Footman Four-dotted Footman Garden Tiger

Wicken Fen, 28th June 2009, Noctuids

Dotted Fan-foot Fen Wainscot Striped Wainscot Flame Wainscot Reed Dagger Silver Barred Cream-bordered Green Pea Double Lobed Suspected

Wicken Fen, 28th June 2009, Pyralids

Nascia cilialis

Schoenobius gigantella

Chilo phragmitella

Donacaula forficella

Eudonia pallida

Opsibotis fuscalis

European Corn Borer

Nephopterix angustella

Trachycera marmorea