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

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Listening to / Classic Tracks

This week, I have mostly been listening to some psychotic looking women from the late 70s / early 80s - great stuff!

Monday, 28 March 2011

County First

Put the garden traps out last night - though not sure why, the conditions were no better than the previous night. It was probably a subliminal reaction to the garden tick Mompha sturnipennella during the day. Incidentally, I have since been advised that there are only two previous VC55 records for that species - from 1984 and 1998.

Anyway, as I duly emptied the traps this morning I could think of mothing else than how good an extra half hour in bed would have been. Just as I'd finished and went to put the traps away, a previously unseen Caloptilia sp. flew up from the outside of MV trap and landed on the shed door. I potted it up, expecting it to be elongella or stigmella. It wasn't, and I was puzzled as it didn't look familiar at all. Duly fridged, I thought nothing more of it until I got home to photograph it ....

A quick review of web images and books, and I had the ID - Caloptilia falconipennella, albeit a worn one. Possibly rare, possibly overlooked. Mines Alder - like the big tall tree on the neighbour's front overhanging the embankment. It's a British, County and Garden tick all in one for me - and better still it's a first for VC55. Glad I bothered!

The rest of the catch was rubbish (apart from a yeartick Twenty-plume Moth and another spring Dark Chestnut - you wait for years and then ....).

Total catch 15 of 8 sp.(125W MV 11 of 7sp., 80W/100W actinic/tungsten 4 of 4sp.)
0289 Caloptilia falconipennella 1 (NFG)
1288 Twenty-plume Moth (Alucita hexadactyla) 1 (NFY)
1524 Emmelina monodactyla 2
2187 Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi) 3
2188 Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta) 3
2190 Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) 3
2243 Early Grey (Xylocampa areola) 1
2259 Dark Chestnut (Conistra ligula) 1

Sunday, 27 March 2011

New Micro and Overly-optimistic Mothing

Despite the highly unpromising conditions, me and Adrian Russell set out to light up a couple of areas of woodland and hope for the best. Whilst it was distinctly cool and grey, it had remained dry all day.

We dropped off 3 x 125W MV traps at Wardley Wood just before dusk, and then headed over to Prior's Coppice to run a sheet and trap for an hour and a half. Nothing too exciting recorded at the latter site though Diurnea fagella and Red Chestnut were both new for the year. We then headed back to Wardley Wood to empty the traps - again low numbers but two White-marked were a bonus and also new for the year.

Prior's Coppice
1 x 125W MV over sheet, 1 x 125W MV trap
19:00 - 20:30
Total 36 of 9 sp.
0663 Diurnea fagella 4 (NFY)
1917 Early Thorn (Selenia dentaria) 1
2139 Red Chestnut (Cerastis rubricosa) 1 (NFY)
2182 Small Quaker (Orthosia cruda) 7
2187 Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi) 7
2188 Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta) 6
2189 Twin-spotted Quaker (Orthosia munda) 3
2190 Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) 6
2258 Chestnut (Conistra vaccinii) 1

Diurnea fagella

Wardley Wood
3 x 125W MV traps
18:30 - 21:00
Total 42 of 10sp.
1930 Oak Beauty (Biston strataria) 1
2139 Red Chestnut (Cerastis rubricosa) 1
2140 White-marked (Cerastis leucographa) 2 (NFY)
2182 Small Quaker (Orthosia cruda) 4
2187 Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi) 17
2188 Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta) 1
2189 Twin-spotted Quaker (Orthosia munda) 5
2190 Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) 7
2256 Satellite (Eupsilia transversa) 1
2258 Chestnut (Conistra vaccinii) 3


Red Chestnut

Garden mothing was predictably poor, nothing new for the year and only just a double-figure count of individuals ..

11 of 7sp.
(125W MV 7 of 5sp., 80W/100W actinic/tungsten 4 of 4sp.)
1524 Emmelina monodactyla 1
1746 Shoulder Stripe (Anticlea badiata) 1
1862 Double-striped Pug (Gymnoscelis rufifasciata) 1
2187 Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi) 2
2188 Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta) 2
2190 Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) 3
2243 Early Grey (Xylocampa areola) 1

Shoulder Stripe

Early Grey

Later this afternoon, whilst milling about in the garden, I noticed a small micro on the inside window of the shed. It was soon potted and, glad to say, I soon identified it as being new for the garden and indeed new for me full stop. Despite being worn, the general jizz and a wing-span of c18mm made ID fairly straightfoward ..

Mompha sturnipennella

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Sunny respite

Last week, during the glorious sunny weather and excellent mothing conditions, I was too busy at work to capitalise. On Thursday we had several consecutive design sign-offs for a new drinks range. I left work as normal and had an early evening walk down the lane, before going back into work to cover the last design - I got home from that at around 01:00 on Friday. The only highlights of the Thursday walk were a couple of OFFH yearticks - a singing Chiffchaff and a Jay along the old railway line that crosses Whetstone Gorse Lane. So, on Friday afternoon when everything was a bit calmer at work and the sun was shining I managed to leave at a reasonable time and get back out down the lane for a bit of sun. I spent a good couple of hours enjoying a bit of peace before heading home and out for a meal and drinks last night - hence this belated update.

One of the areas I've never really looked at is an old strip of rough roadway at the back of the Springwell Lane fields. Thinking it might be good for odd insects and flowers, I spoke to the farmer and got permission to walk down there - expect a few shots in future. I had a quick look yesterday and there were plenty of butterflies dog-fighting in the sunshine - three species involved:

Small Tortoiseshell



I carried on over to Whetstone Gorse Lane. Yellowhammers and Skylarks still singing away, and now at least 2 Chiffchaffs. Red-legged Partidges singing everywhere also - not quite so pleasing to listen to! One of the fields has a big rotting pile of shite near the gateway which usually has one or two wagtails, Pied and Grey. Today it was Pied only ..

King of the shite. Click for big - the black specks all over the place is not dust on the sensor ...

Plenty of Pheasants around aswell - usually legging it away from me as fast as possible ..

Lots of ladybirds around at the moment - all 7-Spot.

Also this shieldbug, which I'm assuming is a Green Shieldbug still dull after over-wintering.

No exciting flowers really, though at least I can remember what Lesser Celandine looks like after learning it last year ..

Daisies in every patch of grass now ..

.. and Hawthorn coming into leaf with flower buds forming

The Lane - looking north towards Whetstone

Today is dull, cool and cloudy. Bloody typical. May still head out mothing tonight if the rain holds off.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Another new Acleris?

Numbers were much lower last night - quite mild to start but it was clear and cold at dawn. Most exciting thing was yet another Acleris sp. This really does look to be a good candidiate for schalleriana? Another one for a closer inspection, and potentially (if all goes as expected) the third new Acleris sp. for the garden this year.

Acleris schalleriana
CONFIRMED - gen. det. by Jon Clifton Jan 2012

Total catch 50 of 11sp.
(125W MV 28 of 8sp., 80W/100W actinic/tungsten 22 of 9sp.)

0688 Agonopterix heracliana 5
1047 Acleris schalleriana 1
1524 Emmelina monodactyla 5
1746 Shoulder Stripe (Anticlea badiata) 2
1862 Double-striped Pug (Gymnoscelis rufifasciata) 1
1917 Early Thorn (Selenia dentaria) 1 (NFY)
2187 Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi) 17
2188 Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta) 10
2190 Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) 6
2243 Early Grey (Xylocampa areola) 1
2258 Chestnut (Conistra vaccinii) 1

Dark Chestnut from the previous night

Yet another Clouded Drab variant

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

A few more

Another night with reasonable temps, and another decent sized catch but no stunners - certainly nothing Howick-like! In fact the only surprise as such was my first spring Dark Chestnut.

Total catch was 115 of 11sp.

0282 Caloptilia elongella 1 (NFY)
0688 Agonopterix heracliana 5
1497 Amblyptilia acanthadactyla 1
1524 Emmelina monodactyla 2
1746 Shoulder Stripe (Anticlea badiata) 3
2182 Small Quaker (Orthosia cruda) 1
2187 Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi) 62
2188 Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta) 18
2190 Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) 18
2243 Early Grey (Xylocampa areola) 3 (NFY)
2259 Dark Chestnut (Conistra ligula) 1 (NFY)

Not quite sure what's going on with Hebrew Characters - I usually get more of these than both Common Quaker and Clouded Drab.

No time for any photos - early in to work and out for an early meal this evening.

Monday, 21 March 2011

A quick garden moth update

Been very busy of late - aside form the foray to WCPS on Saturday morning the weekend was mainly spent in work. I was in last night and back in again early this morning. I did manage to get the garden traps out last night though, and going through them at 05:40 this morning in the early dim light I recorded the following:

Total catch 80 of 7sp.
(125W MV 46 of 7sp., 80W/100W actinic/tungsten 34 of 4sp.)

1524 Emmelina monodactyla 3
1746 Shoulder Stripe (Anticlea badiata) 1 (NFY)
1862 Double-striped Pug (Gymnoscelis rufifasciata) 1
2187 Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi) 53
2188 Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta) 12
2189 Twin-spotted Quaker (Orthosia munda) 1
2190 Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) 9

It's very mild tonight and the traps are back out ....

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Early Morning Watermead CP South

This post is littered with photos .....

Glorious sunshine from the off today, though it was damned cold overnight with a frost. I needed to spend some time at work, so I decided to get up and out early to enjoy some peace and sunshine before hitting the office.

I decided that a stroll around Watermead CP South would be ideal, giving the chance of a couple of City Boundary yearticks in the process. Before going there, I quickly nipped up Thurcaston Lane to check out the hedgerows and fields within the boundary. Sure enough as I'd been assured by John and Dave, I quickly picked up Yellowhammer. Two singing birds seen well, and a great early morning bonus was singing Skylarks as a backdrop. Excellent - two City yearticks in quick succession.

Immediately as I arrived at WCPS, I noted that the drake Pintail was loitering on the grassy knoll that separates the car park from the northern lake. I fired off a few shots and video.


This bird is definitely a bit screwed up - it is tagging along with a female Mallard, and I even watched it chase off a couple of drake Mallards. To cap it all, it is displaying to her with soft wheezing calls and the occasional heads-up whistle.

Pintail & Mallard

Whilst taking the shots and video, I was sure I could hear a Raven. Every time I looked around no sign, but listen carefully to the videos - am I going mad??!!

I could also hear my first singing Chiffchaff of the year, stridently belting out the song that sounds great at the start of each spring but soons disappears in the general backdrop of outdoor life through the summer. I saw this bird a bit later whilst walking round, but saw or heard no others.

Before I headed off to walk around, I fired off a few Mallard shots - common as anything but in good sunlight they have a certain appeal.

This one had no neck.

Green flecks in this ones crown?


The first recorded case of Avian Parkinsons?

Walking along the edge of the southern lake, there were several singing Reed Buntings but still no sight or sound of any reed-skulking warblers that may be expected - have they moved on? I got to the wier and was surprised to find a large patch of Butterbur in flower - haven't noticed these here before. No idea if they have recently colonised or even if they have been introduced - they seem to be on an area that looks to have been scraped out?




Along the river, couldn't resist a shot of this Mute Swan with the flat calm water giving a bit of relfection.

Mute Swan

A bit further on, and this pair of Moorhens are well into their nest building ..


Plenty of Osiers in blossom (or at least I think they were Osier rather than Sallow).


I carried on around the lake, and headed down the ride that runs along the woodland. A distinct call from above me coming from alder cones brought an unexpected City yeartick - Lesser Redpoll. Only a couple and they soon flew off when I threatened to point the camera upwards. I decided to make use of the camera in any case ..

Alder Cones
Alder cones


Heading back toward the car park and I was immediately struck by the contrast. Despite the adjacent busy roadway, the southern lake seems just that bit more peaceful. The northern lake has more birds, and far more tossers. Today within the time whilst I was walking around, the waterside was overtaken by a load of arseholes in cars, with tents and with big Newfoundland dogs that were barking their heads of and anxious to get in the water. Add to that the unnaturally high population of geese and swans living on obscenely regular handouts of bread in huge portions and the whole area is a mess.

Watermead CP South
Almost serene

Watermead CP South
On the verge of mayhem

Unbefeckingleivable - note the cars, windbreaks donkey-sized dogs and wankers on the far shore. I asked this bloke why he was throwing out so much bread, pointed out that bread was not good for the birds and that it attracted vermin. He smiled broadly and gestured that he couldn't understand me.

Mute Swan
So much bread that there are not many Mute Swans bothering to pair up - these are an exception.

Frog Spawn
A bit of spawn in the pond behind the carpark.

I eventually had to leave and go to work. On the way home I came via the lane and stopped to grab a shot of the only flowers I noted along there yesterday ..

Common Field-speedwell

Friday, 18 March 2011

Perfect Antidote

It's been one of those weeks at work that, quite frankly, drive you round the bend and make you crave for an easier life. Today, the effect was exacerbated by the glorious blue skies and bright sunshine on show outside of the windows .....

Thankfully, I was able to leave work at 16:20 and head for home through the still-pants traffic as our main local route is still closed. I got myself sorted out and headed down the lane for some respite. Big groups of wintering thrushes still knocking about, with c160 Fieldfare + c40 Redwings today in one field. They seem very flighty lately though - they are up and off into tree-tops even when you are some way off.

A couple of Common Buzzards were on show, wheeling about in the clear blue. Whilst watching these I heard again a calling Yellowhammer - excellent. I eventually picked it up along one of the hedgerows running into the field - amazing how hard a bright yellow bird can be to see. I carried on, keeping an eye on the grassy verges for anything flowering and eventually found a few clumps of Common Field-speedwell - down in the shade of the hedgerow though so I'll try and get shots another day.

I carried on across the main A426 and and down the other lane towards Whetstone Gorse. Plenty of Red-legged Partirdges about, all seemingly in pairs. There it was again - calling Yellowhammer. And another! I loitered around the PYO farm and eventually saw or heard at least four different birds calling or singing. Managed to get a record shot, not the best but as the saying goes 'slowly, slowly catchee Yellowhammer' - I'll get a better one sooner or later.

Whilst stalking this bird, I heard another welcome sound - singing Skylark overhead for this first time this year. Great stuff. Lots of singing Blackbirds, Robins and Dunnocks along the lanes aswell, and plenty of pairs of Blue and Great Tits evident. By now the light was fading fast and it was getting chilly .....

To the east - bad moon rising

To the west - land of the setting sun

Probably not worth getting the traps out then

As I headed home, the resident Little Owls were brazenly sitting out. I watched them for a bit but there's only so much watching a motionless blob you can do.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Some moths what I photographed

Not long back from enlightening some small Cubs in the scout hut. About dissecting owl pellets and finding small mammal bones I hasten to add. They seemed to be suitably enthralled/disgusted/bemused about the whole thing, but as ever hopefully such exposure to different aspects of the natural world will trigger a life-long interest. If nothing else the leaders seemed to be fascinated by it all.

Here's a few shots from Tuesday night's traps ...

Acleris ferrugana
CONFIRMED - gen. det. by Jon Clifton Jan 2012

Twin-spotted Quaker - a garden rarity

Small Quaker

A properly Clouded Drab - you can see why it has that vernacular when you get these variegated forms

Double-striped Pug

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Garden Tick & Dull Watermead

Late home from work today, so here's an quick update but the moths shots will have to wait until tomorrow.

Firstly, I ran the actinic/tungsten trap on Sunday night. There was a sharp frost by morning and the total catch was, unsurprisingly, pants. 2 x Common Quaker was the sum total.

Last night's efforts were much better, with a total catch of 63 of 9sp. (125W MV 42 of 8, 80W/100W 21 of 6). Best of all was that this total included a garden first - although I nearly missed this fact until checking just before starting to write this. Sadly, it's another garden aggregate pending a det - Acleris ferrugana/notana (or at least that's what it would be recorded as if out and about). Also notable were 2 x Twin-spotted Quakers - a real rarity for the garden with only two previous records of singles in 2002 and 2007.

0688 Agonopterix heracliana 8
1044x Acleris ferrugana/notana 1 (NFG)
1524 Emmelina monodactyla 3
1862 Double-striped Pug (Gymnoscelis rufifasciata) 1 (NFY)
2182 Small Quaker (Orthosia cruda) 1 (NFY)
2187 Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi) 33
2188 Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta) 7
2189 Twin-spotted Quaker (Orthosia munda) 2 (NFY)
2190 Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) 7

I nipped out to Watermead CP South at lunch in the hope of picking up Red-crested Pochard and seeing some sort of 'Nordic Jackdaw', both as found by Dave Gray earlier in the week. Sadly, neither was seen in a brief visit. It was dull, and aside from the lingering drake Pintail there were lots of manky hybrids, overly-tame Mute Swans and lots of other dull-plumaged birds.

Stretching Coot

Manky Carrions

Posing Coot

Manky Carrion

A faint glimmer of spring ....