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

Monday, 31 May 2010

From the garden trap, 30/05/2010

Today was mainly spent involved with the BioBlitz at Watermead Country Park South, but I'll update on all of that tomorrow. First I'll clear up the garden trapping from Sunday night and a couple of other bits.

The garden traps last night were reasonably productive despite the strong wind that prevailed until well after midnight. The total catch was 101 of 31sp. (125W MV 52 of 25, 80W actinic 49 of 21).

First for year in garden:
1083 Marbled Orchard Tortrix (Hedya nubiferana) 1
2011 Pale Prominent (Pterostoma palpina) 1
2098 Flame (Axylia putris) 1
2164 Broad-barred White (Hecatera bicolorata) 1

Highest counts:
0409a Argyresthia trifasciata 13
2089 Heart and Dart (Agrotis exclamationis) 13
1819 Mottled Pug (Eupithecia exiguata) 11
1834 Common Pug (Eupithecia vulgata) 11
1835 White-spotted Pug (Eupithecia tripunctaria) 5
2092 Shuttle-shaped Dart (Agrotis puta) 5
2102 Flame Shoulder (Ochropleura plecta) 5

Other highlights:
1778 May Highflyer (Hydriomena impluviata) 4

Marbled Orchard Tortrix

Broad-barred White


Also later in the day, I found the first garden Esperia sulpurella of the year:

After posting the Copper Underwing caterpillar photo yesterday, I had a request from Keith Tailby as to whether he could nab it for some photos for his collection. No problem of course, but just before sorting it out I noticed it was in the characteristic resting posture for this species and couldn't resist another shot before letting it go.

Copper Underwing - meditating

One of the things that new moth recorders often get hung-up on is the potential for 're-traps' and a desire to keep the trap lists pure. You soon get to learn that this is largely a non-issue as the catches vary quite a bit day-to-day irrespective of how much effort you put into the release of the catch. One thing I always do though is dislodge any moths from bushes and the fence by the trap, but today before I had done this one of the other garden inhabitants had made sure that at least one May Highflyer was not going to be re-trapped ....

I had a couple more rearing successes today. A pupa that I found at Narborough Bog on 25/04/2010 in a loose cocoon on the soil surface underneath a piece of bark (that I was collecting as a photographic prop)emerged - a nice Clouded Brindle. The other emergence was the Pistol Case-bearer collected on hawthorn on 11/05/2010.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

More Garden Moths & Larval Life

Didn't get a chance to post the stuff yesterday, busy in the day and out having a few beers in the evening. So, this is all a day or two late, but with no trapping last night and nothing doing today it's all I have to share anyway!

First, let's get Firday nights garden trapping out of the way. I fully expected rain to be moving in through the night so I had no great expectations for the catch. As it turned out, the rain didn't appear until later in the morning so I managed to empty dry traps. Total catch was 58 of 22 sp (125W MV 37 of 19, 80W actinic 21 of 10).

0017 Common Swift (Hepialus lupulinus) 1 [first for year]
0409a Argyresthia trifasciata 6
0648 White-shouldered House Moth (Endrosis sarcitrella) 1
0998 Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana) 3
1376 Small Magpie (Eurrhypara hortulata) 1
1727 Silver-ground Carpet (Xanthorhoe montanata) 1
1764 Common Marbled Carpet (Chloroclysta truncata) 5
1773 Broken-barred Carpet (Electrophaes corylata) 1 [first for year]
1776 Green Carpet (Colostygia pectinataria) 3
1819 Mottled Pug (Eupithecia exiguata) 6
1834 Common Pug (Eupithecia vulgata) 8
1835 White-spotted Pug (Eupithecia tripunctaria) 1
1887 Clouded Border (Lomaspilis marginata) 1 [first for year]
1906 Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata) 4
1958 Clouded Silver (Lomographa temerata) 3
2063 Muslin Moth (Diaphora mendica) 1
2089 Heart and Dart (Agrotis exclamationis) 5
2092 Shuttle-shaped Dart (Agrotis puta) 3
2102 Flame Shoulder (Ochropleura plecta) 1
2199 Common Wainscot (Mythimna pallens) 1 [first for year]
2334 Rustic Shoulder-knot (Apamea sordens) 1
2441 Silver Y (Autographa gamma) 1 [first for year]

Common Swift

Common Wainscot

Common Marbled Carpet
- a slightly asymmetric individual that doesn't appear to be wear-related

Broken-barred Carpet

Also in the trap was this bloody big stupid Cockchafer - I still don't like these!

Moving on, I had a couple of walk along the lane on Thursday evening and Friday afternoon, mainly to collect more sallow to feed the greedy Emperor cats but also to have a swish with the net. Not a lot to write about on the flying moths front, with the only real interest being plenty of Cock's-foot Moths and an Acrolepia autumnitella. Of more interest was the larval life.

I found a number of interesting Coleophorid cases feeding on the underside of elm leaves, with a very clear serrated keel to the case from the edge of an elm leaf. I'd convinced myself they must be Coleophora limosipennella which feeds on elm (and would be new to VC55), but a posting to UK Micros soon put me right thanks to John Langmaid. I'd neglected to check if the cases were bi-valved or tri-valved. As they are tri-valved, and on the small side at 6-7mm, they can't be limosipennella and are more likely to be extreme examples of Coleophora serratella (which has a paler case when feeding on elm). This makes sense as I also found a couple of more typical serratella type cases positioned on the upper surfaces and which after collection are not feeding (so presumably pupated on the elm but not fed on it).

Presumed Coleophora serratella - pronounced serrated keel

Presumed Coleophora serratella - typical keel

Tri-valved case (basically they are the flaps that the caterpillar pokes it's back end out of to pass frass)

I found this wacky looking sawfly larva on oak - I think it's Periclista lineolata?

I also found a couple of micro (tortrix?) larvae on white clover - one in a leaf spinning and one on a flower bud. No idea what they could be as yet.

Other larvae I have in my increasing number of rearing boxes are:

An early instar Vapourer caterpillar that I found when it was absolutely tiny on sallow I collected back on 20/05/2010. Note the shed skin left on the leaf.

A Copper Underwing on the hawthorn I collected back on 11/05/2010 (which I thought may be Sprawler when very small - much more obviously patterned/shaped now).

A Red-line Quaker that I found on the sallow overhanging my garden fence on Friday night.

The garden traps are going back out tonight, and whilst not the best conditions with a very stong breeze I'll be out trapping at Watermead CP South as part of a Bio-Blitz event.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Farewell Dennis Hopper

I see that Dennis Hopper has died from prostate cancer. Dennis was a superb actor, he starred in a couple of my favourite films - Blue Velvet and Rumblefish.

His performance and character (Frank Booth) in Blue Velvet is one of the most compelling I've ever seen and my old band was all too happy to base a dark/punchy track around him using apt sampled phrases (and there aren't many Frank Booth lines that are expletive free).

Now It's Dark

Thursday, 27 May 2010

This week, I have mostly been listening to ..

I've been doing Kraftwerk a lot lately, but I'm just getting back into the brilliant 1983 & 1984 releases 'Into Battle With' and 'Who's Afraid of' by The Art of Noise. Class stuff.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

A few bits

No trapping to report, and whilst VC55 has had a bit of a purple patch on the bird front (2 White-winged Black Terns, Blue-winged Teal, several singing Firecrests, Temminck's Stint) I've seen them all before in the County and haven't had a chance/bothered to go and see these ones.

In lieu of anything doing, here's a few bits that got missed from recent posts for one reason or another plus a couple of updates.

First up, back on 11/05/2010 I searched for larvae and collected sprigs of hawthorn. A couple of days ago I had a first success when this emerged:

Ptycholoma lecheana

Even on freshly emerged individuals, the yellow-brown scales seem patchy and prone to falling off leaving black patches.

Next up, a micro I've been taking in the garden recently:

Coleophora albicosta

This breeds on the gorse bushes that are on the embankment adjacent to the garden. Back in 2002 I had the first for VC55 confirmed from my garden (and it was present the year before but not gen detted)

Here's a few that are from the Narborough Bog catch on Sunday night:

Platyptilia gonodactyla


Gold Swift - refused to sit still, constantly revving

Buff-tip - wouldn't sit the right way up (upside down) on the birch sapling

Also from Narborough Bog is this:

Cream-spot Ladybird

Ladybirds quite often turn up in the moth traps and I like to see them - they are mothing mates in my book. Obviously I would be concerned if I started getting ladyboys in the moth trap, that would just be wrong.

Finally, last week I was lucky enough to be presented with a box of Emperor Moth caterpillars courtesy of Keith 'Mothshots' Tailby. He'd reared some last year, and managed to assemble a male to his garden this year resulting in more eggs than he could possibly cope with. I've tried assembling this species before without success, so was more than happy to blag a few to rear for next spring. They were already just under 20mm when I got them on the Wednesday evening, now they are just over 30mm and growing fast - eating loads of sallow and shedding skin. They change dramatically through the instars, going from mainly black with a bit of orange, to orange and black, to green and black, and finally to huge and green. Superb caterpillars. I'll get more images as they grow.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Narborough Bog 23/05/2010 + Garden 24/05/2010

It was with a great sense of expectation that I headed out to Narborough Bog at stupid-o-clock on Monday morning to retrieve and empty the 3 x 125W MV traps I'd left running overnight. It was 20°C when I left the traps running at 22:15, and was already up to 13°C at 05:30.

Before I'd entered the reserve I was already pleased - a Sedge Warbler was manically singing on Sunday night and was still present. Whilst a common species, it was a first for me at this site and one that I had expected (though I was perplexed to find no previous records of it here over the last few years).

The first trap I checked had 2 Chocolate-tips sitting on the outside amongst others - I knew it was going to be a good overall catch. I gathered the 3 traps by the car and started the process of checking egg boxes and counting moths with pots at the ready for any goodies.

The total catch was a splendid 311 of 76 sp., with a gelechiid still to confirm (which could be the best moth of the night for me) plus a Gold Swift lekking at dusk. Aside from the obvious personal highlight below, 26 May Highflyers in one session is the highest ever count in VC55.

County Tick
0310 Callisto denticulella 1

0266 Bucculatrix nigricomella 2
0305 Parornix scoticella 1
0333 Phyllonorycter salictella viminiella 2
0696 Agonopterix propinquella 1
0883 Mompha raschkiella 1
0947 Aethes smeathmanniana 1
0993 Cyclamen Tortrix (Clepsis spectrana) 1
1501 Platyptilia gonodactyla 1
1682 Blood-vein (Timandra comae) 1
1759 Small Phoenix (Ecliptopera silaceata) 8
1764 Common Marbled Carpet (Chloroclysta truncata) 1
1808 Sandy Carpet (Perizoma flavofasciata) 2
1830 Wormwood Pug (Eupithecia absinthiata) 1
1874 Dingy Shell (Euchoeca nebulata) 5
1955 Common White Wave (Cabera pusaria) 1
1994 Buff-tip (Phalera bucephala) 1
2145 Nutmeg (Discestra trifolii) 1
2278 Poplar Grey (Acronicta megacephala) 1
2289 Knot Grass (Acronicta rumicis) 2
2326 Clouded-bordered Brindle (Apamea crenata) 1
2387 Mottled Rustic (Caradrina morpheus) 1
2492 Small Fan-foot (Herminia grisealis) 1

Highest Counts (>5)
1776 Green Carpet (Colostygia pectinataria) 35
1778 May Highflyer (Hydriomena impluviata) 26
1076 Celypha lacunana 23
1834 Common Pug (Eupithecia vulgata) 17
1819 Mottled Pug (Eupithecia exiguata) 12
0986 Syndemis musculana 10
1906 Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata) 10
1887 Clouded Border (Lomaspilis marginata) 9
1174 Epiblema cynosbatella 8
1981 Poplar Hawk-moth (Laothoe populi) 8
2102 Flame Shoulder (Ochropleura plecta) 8
2123 Small Square-spot (Diarsia rubi) 8
2028 Pale Tussock (Calliteara pudibunda) 6
2060 White Ermine (Spilosoma lubricipeda) 6
2063 Muslin Moth (Diaphora mendica) 6

Other Highlights
0293 Caloptilia syringella 4
0357 Phyllonorycter stettinensis 2
1979 Lime Hawk-moth (Mimas tiliae) 2
2019 Chocolate-tip (Clostera curtula) 5

Dingy Shell

Knot Grass

Poplar Grey

Agonopterix propinquella

Cyclamen Tortrix

Ancylis badiana

The garden traps were not quite so busy last night, unsurprising with the slightly cooler temps and light breeze. Still not a bad night though, with the total catch being 73 of 30sp. (125W MV 36 of 21, 80W actinic 37 of 20). The actinic held its own again.

0266 Bucculatrix nigricomella 1 [first for year in garden]
0294 Aspilapteryx tringipennella 1 [first for year]
0332 Phyllonorycter corylifoliella 1
0409a Argyresthia trifasciata 3
0544 Coleophora albicosta 2
0697 Agonopterix arenella 1
0892 Mompha subbistrigella 1
0998 Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana) 2
1136 Epinotia immundana 1 [first for year]
1176 Epiblema trimaculana 1 [first for year]
1376 Small Magpie (Eurrhypara hortulata) 1
1724 Red Twin-spot Carpet (Xanthorhoe spadicearia) 2
1727 Silver-ground Carpet (Xanthorhoe montanata) 2 [first for year]
1764 Common Marbled Carpet (Chloroclysta truncata) 1 [first for year in garden]
1776 Green Carpet (Colostygia pectinataria) 7
1778 May Highflyer (Hydriomena impluviata) 1
1817 Foxglove Pug (Eupithecia pulchellata) 1
1819 Mottled Pug (Eupithecia exiguata) 10
1825 Lime-speck Pug (Eupithecia centaureata) 1
1834 Common Pug (Eupithecia vulgata) 15
1835 White-spotted Pug (Eupithecia tripunctaria) 2
1906 Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata) 2
1920 Scalloped Hazel (Odontopera bidentata) 2
1958 Clouded Silver (Lomographa temerata) 2
2089 Heart and Dart (Agrotis exclamationis) 4
2092 Shuttle-shaped Dart (Agrotis puta) 2
2188 Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta) 1
2190 Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) 1
2302 Brown Rustic (Rusina ferruginea) 1 [first for year]
2450 Spectacle (Abrostola tripartita) 1

I'm leaving the traps off tonight - the conditions have turned and it has been run over a fair few consecutive nights so time for a rest! When I do re-start, I'm going to back off the trap reports to just the highlights rather than endless lists of anywhere between 30 - 100 species.

We had our first juv Robin in the garden this morning, obviously picking up habits from the parents by loitering around the trap position. Also Woodpigeons actively rebuilding their nest for another brood on the embankment, Common Whitehroat singing away up there (though the Lesser seems to have departed), and Blackbirds still carrying food all over the place.

One unusual thing yesterday evening was a Blue Tit dropping purposefully into the aperture at the top of the kids basketball net stand. This is only c2" diameter and only drops to c6" depth before there is a threaded 'stop' going through the post. I can't believe the tits would use this for nesting, and it seems an unlikely place to forage for insects, but what else could it have been doing? I haven't noticed them going in before or again today.

Monday, 24 May 2010

From the garden trap, 23/05/2010

A pretty good night in the garden traps, with the warm and humid conditions bringing a total of 122 of 37sp. (125W MV 61 of 25, 80W actinic 61 of 26) including 12 firsts for the year in the garden. I was pleased to see the actinic catch up, but I can't be sure on one nights showing if this was down to excellent conditions or a genuine iprovement through changing the tubes.

0247 Tinea trinotella 8
0288 Caloptilia stigmatella 1
0357 Phyllonorycter stettinensis 1
0363 Phyllonorycter platanoidella 1 [first for year]
0409a Argyresthia trifasciata 21
0449 Ash Bud Moth (Prays fraxinella) 1 [first for year]
0544 Coleophora albicosta 5
0610 Elachista argentella 1 [first for year]
0647 Brown House Moth (Hofmannophila pseudospretella) 1
0648 White-shouldered House Moth (Endrosis sarcitrella) 2
0822 Scrobipalpa acuminatella 2
0986 Syndemis musculana 7
0998 Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana) 8
1076 Celypha lacunana 1 [first for year]
1126 Ancylis badiana 1 [first for year]
1174 Epiblema cynosbatella 1 [first for year]
1261 Codling Moth (Cydia pomonella) 1 [first for year]
1376 Small Magpie (Eurrhypara hortulata) 3
1646 Oak Hook-tip (Watsonalla binaria) 1 [first for year]
1651 Chinese Character (Cilix glaucata) 1
1738 Common Carpet (Epirrhoe alternata) 1 [first for year]
1776 Green Carpet (Colostygia pectinataria) 9
1819 Mottled Pug (Eupithecia exiguata) 6
1834 Common Pug (Eupithecia vulgata) 10
1844 Ochreous Pug (Eupithecia indigata) 1 [first for year]
1862 Double-striped Pug (Gymnoscelis rufifasciata) 1
1906 Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata) 6
1920 Scalloped Hazel (Odontopera bidentata) 1
1958 Clouded Silver (Lomographa temerata) 4
2061 Buff Ermine (Spilosoma luteum) 1 [first for year]
2063 Muslin Moth (Diaphora mendica) 2
2089 Heart and Dart (Agrotis exclamationis) 5
2092 Shuttle-shaped Dart (Agrotis puta) 2
2102 Flame Shoulder (Ochropleura plecta) 1
2126 Setaceous Hebrew Character (Xestia c-nigrum) 1 [first for year]
2188 Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta) 1
2334 Rustic Shoulder-knot (Apamea sordens) 2

Oak Hook-tip

Common Carpet

Green Carpet

And here's the Cabbage Moth I found yesterday afternoon:

Cabbage Moth

The traps I left at Narborough Bog did very well - I'll have to leave you in suspense whist I sort the list and photos out though. The garden traps are our again tonight, though it is distinctly cooler than previous nights with a bit of breeze.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

From the garden trap, 21/05 & 22/05

A quick update on the garden moth trapping over the last two nights. Both were mainly clear so cooling a fair bit after warm sunny days. Very similar numbers of species and individuals, but a bit of variation over the two nights.

Total catch 61 of 26sp (125W MV 37 of 20, 80W actinic 24 of 17)

0130 Incurvaria masculella 1 [first for year]
0247 Tinea trinotella 1
0409a Argyresthia trifasciata 5
0544 Coleophora albicosta 2 [first for year]
0647 Brown House Moth (Hofmannophila pseudospretella) 1
0648 White-shouldered House Moth (Endrosis sarcitrella) 2
0822 Scrobipalpa acuminatella 1
0998 Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana) 2
1376 Small Magpie (Eurrhypara hortulata) 2
1428 Bee Moth (Aphomia sociella) 1 [first for year]
1724 Red Twin-spot Carpet (Xanthorhoe spadicearia) 2
1728 Garden Carpet (Xanthorhoe fluctuata) 2
1776 Green Carpet (Colostygia pectinataria) 8
1778 May Highflyer (Hydriomena impluviata) 3
1819 Mottled Pug (Eupithecia exiguata) 3
1834 Common Pug (Eupithecia vulgata) 10
1906 Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata) 4
1920 Scalloped Hazel (Odontopera bidentata) 2
1958 Clouded Silver (Lomographa temerata) 1
1981 Poplar Hawk-moth (Laothoe populi) 1 [first for year]
2028 Pale Tussock (Calliteara pudibunda) 1
2078 Least Black Arches (Nola confusalis) 2
2089 Heart and Dart (Agrotis exclamationis) 1 [first for year]
2188 Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta) 1
2243 Early Grey (Xylocampa areola) 1
2450 Spectacle (Abrostola tripartita) 1

Poplar Hawk-moth

Heart and Dart

Total catch 56 of 25sp (125W MV 37 of 20, 80W actinic 19 of 11)

0409a Argyresthia trifasciata 5
0544 Coleophora albicosta 1
0648 White-shouldered House Moth (Endrosis sarcitrella) 2
0986 Syndemis musculana 1
0998 Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana) 5
1342 Eudonia angustea 1 [first for year]
1776 Green Carpet (Colostygia pectinataria) 3
1778 May Highflyer (Hydriomena impluviata) 1
1819 Mottled Pug (Eupithecia exiguata) 6
1834 Common Pug (Eupithecia vulgata) 9
1883 Yellow-barred Brindle (Acasis viretata) 1
1906 Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata) 4
1958 Clouded Silver (Lomographa temerata) 2
1979 Lime Hawk-moth (Mimas tiliae) 2
1981 Poplar Hawk-moth (Laothoe populi) 1
2028 Pale Tussock (Calliteara pudibunda) 2
2060 White Ermine (Spilosoma lubricipeda) 1 [first for year]
2063 Muslin Moth (Diaphora mendica) 2
2089 Heart and Dart (Agrotis exclamationis) 1
2092 Shuttle-shaped Dart (Agrotis puta) 1
2102 Flame Shoulder (Ochropleura plecta) 1
2188 Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta) 1
2334 Rustic Shoulder-knot (Apamea sordens) 1
2337x Marbled Minor agg. (Oligia strigilis agg.) 1 [first for year]
2450 Spectacle (Abrostola tripartita) 1

Lime Hawk-moth

May Highflyer

Today I also found a very fresh Cabbage Moth on a wall at the front of the house - presumably just emerged. I've also fitted two new 40W tubes to the actinic so hopefully that will pick up a bit.

Tonight the garden traps seem to have started well, and it feels warmer and closer than previous nights. I would have liked to be out and about somewhere but I've settled for the easier option of leaving traps out. It will mean an early start but that's better than a late night on a Sunday!

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Chartley Moss 22/05/2010

Second post of the evening.

This afternoon I headed over to the superb Chartley Moss NNR in Staffs with John Drunkbirder Hague, Andy Llama Mackay and Jim 'No Blog' Graham. It was a guided tour of the reserve as it is not open to the general public at all times due to the dangerous terrain ... Basically the whole site is a floating bog made up of sphagnum moss on up to 3M deep layer of peat, which all floats on top of up to 13M of water before you hit anything solid. You don't want to step to far off of the main path!

We had gloriously hot sunny weather, and despite the lack of odonata in previous days we had high hopes for our target species for the day - White-faced Darter.

I'd never been to this site before, and I have to be honest - it was absoloutely amazing. Like nothing I've seen before, and the sensation of sinking/bouncing in some spots was something else. Aside from the bog itself, the main flora around the site was cotton grass, billberry, cranberry and a bit of heather, surrounded by mainly birch and pine woodland/scrub. The moss also hosted loads of sundew, and littered around the site are the stark naked remains of pines that have effectively 'drowned' and are taking an eternity to decompose into the acidic anearobic bog.



The sites is an ever-changing landscape, with various small acidic pools appearing/vanishing in relatively short periods (a few years, not decades or centuries!). These pools are of course the source of the high diversity of dragons, darters and damselflies at the site.

So - what about the darters I hear you think. We were entirely successful I am pleased to say, with at least 10 individuals on the wing. At least we were successful in seeing them. Getting good photos was another matter, not because of the insects being unhelpful but more down to the 'moving' substrate and inadequate lenses. Still, I managed a few identifiable shots of adults and one particularly helpful teneral male sat still close enough to get a better shot with a happy-snappy compact!

Aside from the White-faced Darters, there were a good number of Large Red Damselflies and few blue damselflies. Otherwise, the main insect interest was Green Hairstreaks, and also a few moths flying about including several Latticed Heaths.

Large Red Damselfly

Green Hairstreak

On the return route we had this pointed out to us ..

Hoof Fungus

This was a superb trip out in good company, and by far the best couple of hours I've ever had on the bog.