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

Sunday, 26 September 2010


Found this today in the rearing box - from the caterpillar I found in the garden on sallow on 28/05/2010.

Red-line Quaker

It's going to be quieter than usual on here over the coming week as I will be in France (near Nancy) on business. I'll take a camera just in case, though I don't expect to get too much oppotunity to have a look around.

Friday, 24 September 2010

A bit of fresh air

Took today off of work - lots going on and I wanted a bit of fresh air to clear my head! I had intended to go for a full day's birding out of county, but with the shite weather and lack of interest on the news services I opted instead to just have a couple of hours out and stay local(ish). I headed over to Eyebrook Res, where it was blowy, chilly and damp. It was also very busy with birdlife - albeit masses of common stuff and not a great deal of interest.

As ever at Eyebrook, there is plenty of shoreline that can't be properly seen. The fishermen's boats were also active, so most stuff was pushed down to the inflow end. Loads of waders - but they were all Lapwings. Loads of gulls - but they were all Black-headed / Common / Lesser Black-backed / Herring. Every wagtail was Pied, every pipit was Meadow, every small finch flock was devoid of anything bit Linnets. Still - I thoroughly enjoyed the relative peace and it was good to see most of the wintering duck species back plus a few Pintail which tend to bugger of from VC55 before the harshest weather.

Damned ugly terns ..

You appreciate how small Teal are when you see them roosting next to Mallards.

The right-hand Cormorant appears to be telling the Mute to feck right off.

Also as usual at Eyebrook, loads of damned thick Pheasants and Red-legged Partidges loitering around after recent release. I'm not pro-shooting anyway, but where is the sport in rearing and shooting these stupid feckers!? I'd much rather they got on with blasting a load of Canadas and feral Greylags.

The weather was meant to clear up a bit by late morning / early afternoon - but there appeared to be little sign of that actually happening and it really was unseasonably crap. I headed over to Rutland Water, but I had no intention of flogging round the reserve unless I had something to suggest it would be worthwhile. I poked my nose over Manton Bridge - 4 Ruff, 1 Green Sand, 1 Snipe, another 10 or so Pintail and 7 Little Egrets but no Calidris spp. I decided to head back home and do something else. Fair-weather birder me.

The garden traps were last out on Wednesday night. It was very mild with good cloud cover and a very light breeze, though heavy rain was forecast to move in. I put the traps out with great expectation of both a good haul and getting wet in the morning whilst emptying. I was wrong on both counts - Thursday morning was damp from some light drizzle and it was cold, but the traps were very quiet. 41 of 15sp, with Barred Sallow and Black Rustic being the only garden firsts for the year.

0647 Brown House Moth (Hofmannophila pseudospretella) 1
0998 Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana) 5
1398 Rush Veneer (Nomophila noctuella) 1
1524 Emmelina monodactyla 3
1682 Blood-vein (Timandra comae) 1
1760 Red-green Carpet (Chloroclysta siterata) 1
2107 Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) 10
2109 Lesser Yellow Underwing (Noctua comes) 10
2154 Cabbage Moth (Mamestra brassicae) 1
2232 Black Rustic (Aporophyla nigra) 1
2240 Blair's Shoulder-knot (Lithophane leautieri hesperica) 1
2272 Barred Sallow (Xanthia aurago) 2
2273 Pink-barred Sallow (Xanthia togata) 1
2274 Sallow (Xanthia icteritia) 1
2441 Silver Y (Autographa gamma) 2

Barred Sallow
Barred Sallow

Red-green Carpet
Red-green Carpet

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Fungi and Forgotten

As I quickly surveyed the garden lawn this evening and contemplated getting the mower out, I noticed an odd orange shape in the grass. A closer look revealed it to be a smallish toadstool, though it appears that one of the kids (or their football) found it first as it was snapped off at the base and tipped over. It was a gonner anyway as I did mow the lawn.

Anyway, I'm no expert but after reference to my newly acquired spotters guide (Collins Mushrooms and Toadstools of Britain and Europe) I think this is probably Hygrocybe nigresecens which appears to be mildly poisonous.

I used the family happy-snappy Cybershot to get the above, and when I browsed the memory card on the PC I found a few images from the Birdfair back in August that I'd completely forgotten about - including more fungi that despite reference to the book I have no idea about (LBJs of the fungal world I guess).

Also found this on the card which I've just realised is (one-legged) Roesel's Bush-cricket ...

Whilst I'm uploading images, here's the Blair's Shoulder-knot from the last garden trap outing.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Down the lane

I decided to pull up down the lane after work and have a mooch along the hedgerow. Nothing particular in mind, I just felt compelled to do it. As it happens, I found a few interesting bits. It was very dull light so I had to rely on flash to get a few record shots, but here-goes anyway.

First up - I found a pair of bush-crickets which I am sure are my first ever Long-winged Cone-head (or at least first I've bothered to try and ID). Here's a shot of the female - let me know if I've screwed up the ID!

I also found a couple of larvae:

Dot Moth


Sticking with moths, I found numerous leaf-mines on hawthorn. Not really sure on species as yet, but I found examples of 3 different types of mines.

In fact on this leaf you can see all 3 types: a blister mine on the left, a blotch mine on the right and a gallery mine at the top leading to a small blister.

Blister mine with frass clearly visible

This gallery mine on bramble is, I'm fairly sure, Stigmella aurella

This fly was happily foraging on various plants that I can't identify:

Mesembrina meridiana

Otherwise, here's a bit of colour:

Hawthorn berries

Prickly Sow-thistle ??

Creeping Thistle flower

Creeping Thistle seeds


Monday, 20 September 2010


First up, for what it's worth, here's the garden trapping list for last night. Mild with cloud cover should've been good, but there was a strong persistent breeze which pretty much killed it. 72 of 17sp. with the only real highlight as such being the first Blair's Shoulder-knot of the year.

0873 Blastobasis adustella 1
0998 Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana) 1
1138 Epinotia nisella 1
1524 Emmelina monodactyla 1
1728 Garden Carpet (Xanthorhoe fluctuata) 3
1764 Common Marbled Carpet (Chloroclysta truncata) 1
1913 Canary-shouldered Thorn (Ennomos alniaria) 1
2087 Turnip Moth (Agrotis segetum) 1
2092 Shuttle-shaped Dart (Agrotis puta) 1
2107 Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) 21
2109 Lesser Yellow Underwing (Noctua comes) 28
2126 Setaceous Hebrew Character (Xestia c-nigrum) 5
2134 Square-spot Rustic (Xestia xanthographa) 1
2240 Blair's Shoulder-knot (Lithophane leautieri hesperica) 1
2297 Copper Underwing (Amphipyra pyramidea) 1
2384 Vine's Rustic (Hoplodrina ambigua) 1
2441 Silver Y (Autographa gamma) 3

This afternoon on the way home from work, I decided to have a quick nose into the Soar Valley South Patch. As usual I've ignored it through the summer - I seriously doubt I missed anything, and in any case I generally drop out of even lame birding in the summer. I'm probably too early to see anything of interest on there even now!

A quick look at Grove Park produced, well, nothing. The only remotely interesting birds were all on the balancing pond.

Grove Park

When I say interesting, don't get too excited - they were a female Pochard and a pair of Little Grebes. There was this teneral male Common Blue Damselfly knocking about (thanks Andy). - I presume a teneral but no idea which species.

I then headed into Jubilee Park. Again the pool provided most of the interest with 3 Teal, 2 Wigeon, 5 Tufted Ducks and 3 Little Grebes keeping the usual Coots, Moorhens, Mallards and Canada Geese company.

Jubilee Park

Best bird though was a Reed Warbler skulking about in the vegetation and grasses along the River Soar. I tried to make it into something rare but my brain and conscience prevented any stringing. Aside from a Great Spotted Woodpecker and more Wrens than you can shake a stick at, it was quiet.

I spotted this thing on a dead willow - in fact there were two on opposite sides of the trunk. Anyone got any ideas?

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Small Tortoiseshell, Common Darter

Very few butterflies in my garden this year - don't know why particularly, but the crap weather in August co-incided with the main flowering period for the garden buddleia which doesn't help! This is one of two knocking about this morning.

Small Tortoiseshell

Not long after posting the above, this Common Darter briefly settled on the garden fence. Not a garden tick, but certainly not frequent. Shame it was on the wrong fence with the sun behind it ..

Common Darter

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

UK Welcomes Dictator

I guess I'm not the only one who is bemused that a fundamentalist criminal is afforded the luxury of a State Visit. With a charge list including the proliferation of Aids, paedophilia and oppression of gay rights (not to mention holocaust denial and being a Nazi), this man is no more saintly than the likes of Mugabe, Gaddafi and Bush.

The Pope has denied many things - and being a Nazi is not the most shocking. New revelations have surfaced that link the Vatican to the gangsta rap scene, a genre that largely supports the misogyny, rape and homophobia messages, though the two factions are in talks regarding promiscuity, toting semi-automatics and the use of crack cocaine.

Despite the denials, new footage in circulation shows appearances at huge summer festivals supporting the likes of 50-Cent and G-Unit and blasting out his tirade of Gregorian chants mashed up with N.W.A. lyrics under the guise of "Vat-Icon".

The Pope was also papped as he considered spray-tagging the Western Wall with anti-semitic slogans, though predictably this was also strongly denied by the Papal Office.

Further damning evidence came when in an off-guard Brownian moment, whilst blinged up and showing the eye bags typical of having smoked crack, the Pope forgot that his microphone was still broadcasting as he assured some African children that "you is gonna die from Aids" whilst gesturing to "pop their cap".

Tuesday, 14 September 2010


Sometimes after one of those days at work, it only takes something as simple as looking at the skies to bring a bit of relief and put everything into context. No point in stressing about stuff - just stare up and chillax ... These were all taken from the garden between 19:01 - 19:14 this evening - a constant shifting canvas.

Evening Skies

Evening Skies

Evening Skies

Evening Skies

Evening Skies

Evening Skies

Evening Skies

Evening Skies

Evening Skies

Monday, 13 September 2010

Adding the Comma

Forgot to post these a while ago. This Comma was high up in a flowering bush overhanging the garden, so I was pleased to get reasonable shots using the Lumix on AF Macro mode with the zoom right up - just the type of stuff I couldn't do well when out with the DSLR.



Sunday, 12 September 2010

Counting Moths

Finally got around to updating the MapMate database this evening with my moth records - not that there was too much to enter. No point now in posting historical garden lists, but I will post the list from the excellent session at Warren Hills with Adrian Russell last weekend - 368 of 46 species being a very reaonsable return from 1 x 125W MV over a sheet, 2 x 125W MV traps and a bit of sugar on fence posts. Yearticks in yellow:

0018 Map-winged Swift (Hepialus fusconebulosa) 1
0697 Agonopterix arenella 1
0873 Blastobasis adustella 1
0998 Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana) 2
1038x Acleris laterana/comariana 3
1076 Celypha lacunana 2
1260 Cydia splendana 1
1306 Agriphila inquinatella 1
1331 Water Veneer (Acentria ephemerella) 1
1338 Dipleurina lacustrata 1
1340 Eudonia truncicolella 2
1342 Eudonia angustea 1
1713 Riband Wave (Idaea aversata) 2
1740 Galium Carpet (Epirrhoe galiata) 1
1752 Purple Bar (Cosmorhoe ocellata) 4
1764 Common Marbled Carpet (Chloroclysta truncata) 1
1776 Green Carpet (Colostygia pectinataria) 10
1846 Narrow-winged Pug (Eupithecia nanata) 1
1906 Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata) 1
1913 Canary-shouldered Thorn (Ennomos alniaria) 1
2006 Lesser Swallow Prominent (Pheosia gnoma) 2
2091 Dark Sword-grass (Agrotis ipsilon) 5
2092 Shuttle-shaped Dart (Agrotis puta) 3
2102 Flame Shoulder (Ochropleura plecta) 4
2107 Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) 83
2109 Lesser Yellow Underwing (Noctua comes) 20
2110 Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (Noctua fimbriata) 3
2111 Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (Noctua janthe) 3
2117 Autumnal Rustic (Eugnorisma glareosa) 5
2123 Small Square-spot (Diarsia rubi) 2
2126 Setaceous Hebrew Character (Xestia c-nigrum) 39
2134 Square-spot Rustic (Xestia xanthographa) 60
2176 Antler Moth (Cerapteryx graminis) 74
2177 Hedge Rustic (Tholera cespitis) 6
2199 Common Wainscot (Mythimna pallens) 5
2232 Black Rustic (Aporophyla nigra) 1
2254 Grey Chi (Antitype chi) 3
2274 Sallow (Xanthia icteritia) 1
2297 Copper Underwing (Amphipyra pyramidea) 1
2306 Angle Shades (Phlogophora meticulosa) 3
2321 Dark Arches (Apamea monoglypha) 2
2350 Small Wainscot (Chortodes pygmina) 1
2353 Flounced Rustic (Luperina testacea) 1
2389 Pale Mottled Willow (Paradrina clavipalpis) 1
2434 Burnished Brass (Diachrysia chrysitis) 1
2474 Straw Dot (Rivula sericealis) 1

With this session, and garden lists from late August and early September, I've updated the yearlists which now stand as follows:

Total - 548 species, 19546 individuals
Garden - 367 species, 9456 individuals

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Some smart garden moths, and a Square-spot Rustic

Still haven't got around to updating my database with recent data, due to a combination of being busy, distracted or plain lazy, and playing a bit if online poker. So here's a few shots of some recent garden moths without the supporting detail .....

Square-spot Rustic
Square-spot Rustic

Common Wainscot

Centre-barred Sallow
Centre-barred Sallow

Frosted Orange
Frosted Orange



Pink-barred Sallow
Pink-barred Sallow

Gold Spot
Gold Spot