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

Saturday, 26 February 2011

More on the Acleris sp.

After posting the photo yesterday, I've put a bit more thought and time into the ID. Currently, only one thing is absolutely certain - it's new for the garden! Here's another shot taken today in slightly better light. I wanted to be sure that the resting posture was consistent and that the overall colouration was accurate (click for big).

The wing-span is c19mm. It is a pale grey overall, but certainly not whitish. There are browny-red and darker markings, though it is by no means a fresh individual. The wings have a 'rough' appearance. Most notably, the apparent concave costa is again clearly evident - so not some artifact of how it was sitting or the photography. There are 3 contenders as follows:

Acleris schalleriana
VC55 status : very rare/extinct. VCH listed, no confirmed records since though there is a good candidate from Sapcote a couple of weeks ago pending gen. det.
Foodplants : Viburnum spp., especially Wayfaring Tree and sometimes Guelder Rose, but also on cultivated Viburnum tinus in gardens
Phenology : emerges in autumn, overwinters as adult and re-appears in spring
Wing-span : 16 - 22mm (per Razowski)
For : Viburnum tinus in garden.
Against : A. schalleriana is typically has a darker brown overall colouration, and does not show such a concave costa.

Acleris kochiella
VC55 status : rare - handful of records since 2005
Foodplants : Elm (Ulmus spp.)
Phenology : two broods; flies in summer, second brood in autumn, occ. overwinters as adult and re-appears in spring
Wing-span : 15 - 18mm (per Razowski)
For : most likely species based on recent VC55 records, Elm in local hedgerows (but no mature trees)
Against : A. kochiella is typically a more white looking moth overall (though whiter on earlier brood?), less likely in spring, wing-span range too small?

Acleris logiana
VC55 status : no records
Foodplants : Birch (Betula spp.)
Phenology : emerges in autumn, overwinters as adult and re-appears in spring
Wing-span : 18 - 24mm (per Razowski)
For : previously restricted to birch woodlands in Scotland, but has been appearing throughout England since c2003 including recent records from neighbouring counties. Available images show same concave costa. Birch available locally. More likely in spring than similar A. kochiella.
Against : ......

[POST-SCRIPT 10/02/2012 - Confirmed as Acleris kochiella following gen. det. by Jon Clifton]

Meanwhile, here's a moth I can ID ..

Friday, 25 February 2011

Garden Tick

After the excitement of seeing loads of moths in wood last night, I was most disappointed to find nothing - literally - in or around my garden traps before I headed off to bed. So when I got up this morning to empty them I had low expectations.

In terms of numbers, it was a lot poorer than I would have hoped given the promised conditions - a total catch of just 7 of 5 species + an Agonopterix heracliana on the front window at dusk. There's always a twist though - all five species were firsts for the year, and one of them is a garden tick.

80W/100W Actinic/Tungsten
Amblyptilia acanthadactyla 1
Emmelina monodactyla 2
Clouded Drab 1
Common Quaker 1

125W MV
Emmelina monodactyla 1
Acleris kochiella 1

Both the above photo, and the Charnwood Lodge selection that follow, were taken under poor indoor lighting with crappy outdoor light though the window. They were then processed on my work laptop as it's the only thing I have at the moment with any sort of working Photoshop software. They're all a bit dark but you get the gist. I've got a couple from the garden to photograph aswell, but they can wait until tomorrow.

Tortricodes alternella

March Moth

Female Dotted Border

Dotted Border - like the way this one is half dark and half light

Spring Usher

And another


Pale Brindled Beauty

Oak Beauty - love these

Yellow Horned

Satellite - nice orange dot form


Thursday, 24 February 2011

If the moths won't come to me .....

The garden trap last night (23rd) was pants. Singles each of Agonopterix heracliana, Early Moth and Hebrew Character. Tonight I've got both the actinic/tungsten combo trap out and a 125W MV - a better night weatherwise so here's hoping.

Seeing as the conditions tonight were promised to be good by the weatherman, I decided to head out with a sheet and a couple of traps. Always good to get out early in the season - if nothing else it proves you still have working gennies .......

The kids are on half-term week, so Josh and Alex joined me as we left the house at dusk and were up and running with lights on at Charnwood Lodge by 18:30. Almost immediately we were inundated with Tortricodes alternella, and a good few Dotted Border, March Moths and Pale Brindled Beauty.

Had a dodgy moment after an hour and a half when a car unexpecetdly arrived in the wood (via the padlocked gates) - turned out to be local mother Graham Finch out for a bit of the same. Even later on, another local turned up - Keith Tailby. They had plans on looking or female Spring Usher - good luck to them. I find checking the trunks fascinating and tedious in equal measure - tonight I found a female Dotted Border, but got sidetracked by other stuff like Tinder Fungus.

Anyway - total for the night at light for me was 382 of 11sp. as follows:

1025 Tortricodes alternella 168 (NFY)
1044x Acleris ferrugana/notana 1 (NFY)
1659 Yellow Horned (Achlya flavicornis) 28 (NFY)
1663 March Moth (Alsophila aescularia) 46
1926 Pale Brindled Beauty (Phigalia pilosaria) 33
1930 Oak Beauty (Biston strataria) 17 (NFY)
1932 Spring Usher (Agriopis leucophaearia) 28 (NFY)
1934 Dotted Border (Agriopis marginaria) 38
1947 Engrailed (Ectropis bistortata) 2 (NFY)
2256 Satellite (Eupsilia transversa) 2 (NFY)
2258 Chestnut (Conistra vaccinii) 19

Can't explain the complete lack of Orthosia spp.

Plenty of stuff to photograph - look out for a bumper spread tomorrow.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Scaly / Slimey

The 80W actinic was on all night, producing a massive ..... 1 of 1.

It's not all bad though, as the lone attendant was a first for the year Dotted Border.

Dotted Border

Nothing else at the windows either, apart from the Agonopterix heracliana that was there before the trap went on.

Agonopterix heracliana

The trap is back on again tonight, complete with a newly aquired 100W tungsten after the original bulb popped a few weeks back. Tomorrow night looks to be a superb opportunity for getting out mothing - if I get the car back from an overdue service and get away from work at a reasonable time.

The garden is pretty much waterlogged after a fair bit of recent rain, so no surprises that a few other bits are starting to appear. We get a lot of frogs through the spring and summer, though we have no pond. Various neighbours do have ponds though so I'm sure our first individuals are just coming away from the exertions of spawning. Also a few molluscs out and about in the damp evenings.

Yellow Slug

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Elf n Safety in the Toon

Not long back from an obligatory visit to one of our plants where I had to sit an IOSH refresher course and exam (elf n safety, legislation, RIDDOR - all that worrying stuff for employers). The plant was our Speciality Packaging site in Fawdon just north of Newcastle, so I made arrangements to drive up on Monday afternoon and stay at the Gosforth Park hotel which gave a good opportunity to meet up with Stewart Sexton (the blogger formerly known as Boulmer Birder) for a pint and a good natter. Really good to meet like-minded people from the blogging community - a few anecdotes and experiences shared, and it's amazing how well you feel you know someone that you've never met before.

The journey home today was much less pleasurable - crappy traffic and roadworks on the A1 and some sort of hold up around Sheffield on the M1. As ever, driving on your todd is made much more bearable with the iPod plugged in and belting out some great tracks. Amongst the selection today were a number of tracks from one of the great ska/reggae revivalists from 79/80 - The Beat (though You Tube posters insist on adding 'English' in the name to appease some yankee no-hopers with the same band name). No apologies for overloading the YouTube clips.

This is great album/film BTW

First thing I saw when arriving home was a micro on the window - Agonopterix heracliana. I've put a trpa out more in hope than expectation.

Sunday, 20 February 2011


Obese Tourist Dude?
Ornithological Taxonomic Debate?
Obsessive Twitching Disorder?

No - Oriental Turtle Dove .......

My name is Mark Skevington, and I am a mainly reformed twitcher with very occasional lapses.

Having been busy all week and holed-up with the kids yesterday, today was the first real chance I had to get over to Oxfordshire and have a go at the superb Oriental (Rufous) Turtle Dove. Happily, I was not alone as John Drunkbirder Hague and Colin Green had also not been able to go before today. We set off at a respectable 07:40 and picked up Neil Desert Storm Howes on the way who wanted another/better look. We arrived at Chipping Norton and it was immediately clear that despite the bird having been present for a week, we were not alone in leaving it late. Still not a massive crowd though - maybe 80 all told. The other thing that was immediately clear was that the bird had not been seen (at least no one was claiming to have seen it). We did the usual on-twitch routine of umming and arring, looking and following for half an hour or so when there was a sudden and direct lurch from part of the crowd into a grassy field by the industrial estate behind the houses. Evidently the bird had been seen, but inconsiderately it chose the same moment to feck off out of sight. All ended well though as it was soon relocated up the road - albeit a good 10 minute frogmarch up hill, round the corner and back down again. Superb scope views as it sat high up in a tree behind gardens at c9:55 - though well out of anyones decent photographic range, and with crappy light even digiscoping would be a waste of time. Besides - the best photos I've seen so far are here.

Here's an obligatory twitching crowd in-situ shot on Lords Piece Road just after we scored.

So - a decent mega to finally bring up my British List to 400, though it's been a long time coming. This is only the fifth British tick I've had since getting back into birding in 2007 [and sixth since 2002, with an American Robin in 2004 being the additional distraction!] - evidently I really can't be arsed with it these days.

Once back in Leicester, I decided to head over toward Watermead to try and boost the City Yearlist. First I drove up Thurcaston Road to check out where Birstall Lodge Farm is. I parked up briefly but it was pretty quiet and I decided that the area needed a proper look in better weather another day. Having made that decision, I headed over to Watermead CP South. The first City Yeartick was conveniently sat in the car park feasting on bread with the geese and gulls - a Rook. I'd not long mentioned to John that Rook was one glaring ommission from the yearlist so far. I got togged up and went for a walk around. Further yearicks came in the form of four really smart drake Shovelers, and a bonus Oystercatcher roosting on the island. Nothing much else of interest, apart from the drake Pintail still knocking about and a handful of Goosander.

Slightly-backed Gull

Most regular visitors to this blog know my views on the fecking stupidity of some people at this site with their multiple bags of bread, and on how I'd like to see the ever-increasing goose population and various hybrids and domesticated off-shoots dealt with ......

Still, this one can have a reprieve as it looks nice and peachy - I can be as fickle as anyone.

I next headed into the small damp woodland and specifically made an effort to find some fungi. I had some success - I found stuff but I don't know what most of it is ....

This is the upper and underside of the same fungus - I think it's Blushing Bracket Daedaleopsis confragosa?

I think this is Turkey Tail Trametes versicolor?

Two different Jelly Ear - showing the upper and underside.



Is this one Silverleaf Chondrostereum purpureum?

Last but not least, found these in the wood aswell - think it's Winter Aconite?

Friday, 18 February 2011

Bezoeker Birding

Just back this evening from a couple of days business in the Netherlands with a big global beer company - you know the one ....

Anyway, as ever when on business there was no time to enjoy the surroundings (and no - I wasn't in Amsterdam). One thing I did manage was a bit of impromptu birding as we travelled from Schiphol south to s'Hertogenbosch. Usually I drive, but this time I met up with a Belgian colleague who took the honours giving me the chance to keep an eye on the fields, dykes, lakes and waterways. Highlights were masses of wildfowl, and especially big flocks of Barnacle Geese, plenty of Buzzards including a few Rough-legged, and most surprisingly at least five separate Great White Egrets plain as day in the dykes. Hadn't realised that they'd become so regular wintering in the area.

Bezoeker = Visitor by the way.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Moths, Martinshaw, Spring

It was just dusky as I arrived home from work yesterday, and the first thing I noted was a micro flying about the front door light. It was the first Agonopterix heracliana for the year, with another already settled on the patio door at the back of the house. I got the 80W actinic setup up and switched on. A little while later, we went to drop Josh off at a local woodland for some weekend camping with the Cubs. By then it was a bit drizzly, but I did note a few moths flying about the dark country lanes. Whilst handing said child over, I spotted a familiar shape resting on the outside of a window in the scout hut - a March Moth, though sadly out of reach to pot up for a photo. By the time we got home the drizzle had turned to light rain and then subsided - I checked the trap and found no moths, so I drained the pooled up water away and left it on. Before I went to bed, another check revealed a Pale Brindled Beauty and an Early Moth. They were still present this morning, but the only other moth was by far the earliest garden Hebrew Character I've recorded (previous earliest 9th March 2007). Brings the garden yearlist up to a modest 7 species, and the overall yearlist up to 12.

This morning I headed over to Martinshaw Wood for another TTV. Topping the list in terms of birding interest were a Marsh Tit, 3 Nuthatches and a couple of Siskins and Jays. The whole wood was dripping with tits. As ever these days, I found myself losing birding concentration and looking at other things .....

Hazel catkins very obvious throughout the wood

Some sort of fungi on birch in a damp shady part of the wood - any ideas?
(actually this is a slime mould, possibly Reticularia lycoperdon - thanks Nigel)

Both the above on the same dead birch - Birch Polypore

There's something appealing about a knarled birch bark with lichen

Martinshaw Wood - a typical view

Back at home, further signs of spring were evident (you have to realise I haven't seen any daylight at home since last weekend!). There are bulbs poking through everywhere, the cultivated primroses are flowering, crocuses are up but not quite open, but these are out and proud ..

Quite a few 7-Spot Ladybirds around today aswell.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

On this day - 08/02/2001

A minor milestone was reached today - at least for me at any rate. Of course I only know this by accident, as I've been trawling through some old files and (still) trying to get some comprehensive order into the tens of thousands of digital photos I've taken over the years.

Here for reference is the first ever digital photo of a moth that I took ten years ago on 08/02/2001 - a Pale Brindled Beauty that I'd trapped during the previous night.

It was taken with a newly acquired Nikon CoolPix 995 that we had at work - well outside of my budget at the time. I opted to go for a Sony Cybershot DSC-S50 just a few weeks later and used that for a couple of years before acquiring the CoolPix 4500 that I still use today (sterling service, unbeatable compact macro in my opinion).

Sunday, 6 February 2011

More Waxwings

I could have cheated big time today and added Waxwing to the OFFH list - however having picked up news that there were 7 Waxwings down in the village yesterday, I wasn't going to go on a mile and a half round walk on the off-chance and shamefully nipped out in the car. They were still around, though sadly either high up on arials or right in front of someones front window on their rowan, so no chance of photos.

Otherwise, aside from a good curry with the usual suspects last night I've had a quiet and chilled weekend doing nothing overly exciting. Next week at work will be a little quieter so - if the weather is helpful - I should manage to do something.

Friday, 4 February 2011

This week, I have mainly been listening to ..

Whilst driving up and down the motorway etc this week, I've entertained myself with some class Dubstep/DnB. Lately I've been getting increasingly pissed off with the plethora of YouTube adverts and wanky comments associated with music vids, so once again I've gone DIY to share some tunes.

First up - this is a super chilled piece of brilliance.
Detuned Heart by dBridge

A bit heavier - this is Moonshine by Seven & Elvee

A bit more mainstream - this is Hold On by Rusko ft. Amber Coffman

Working Waxwings

Another busy week with nights away from home and no opportunities for any birding, or anything else for that matter.

A slim glimmer of excitement came today though as I spied a small flock of Waxwings on the route into work. Even better, just over an hour later there were 29 of them briefly perched up in a tree immediately outside of my office window. This is the third time I've had Waxwings outside the office over the years, though in the past they have loitered and fed on berries - very few berries left anywhere now.

It's been ridiculously windy here today, and worse last night. The temps are very mild and I'd be very tempted to get out mothing if it were more still.