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

Sunday, 10 December 2017

"Sunflowers on a snowy day ...

... makes my soul, makes my soul, trip trip trip away". That song by Zoe back in the early 90's was obviously written specfically for this blog post.

We had a bit of snow overnight, maybe 3 inches, certainly enough to bring the whole of the country to a grinding halt and spark fears of being snowed in until after Christmas has finished. Luckily, for the garden avian visitors, I'd topped up the feeders yesterday so no need to wade out into the deep drifts. As usual for my garden visitors, it's sunflower hearts or go somewhere else. I have a had a problem this year with the feeders but that can wait for now. Today with lying snow and persistant tiny flakes coming down throughout the day the regulars were all taking in much needed sustenance. And the regulars are mainly Goldfinches, Starlings, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits, Collared Doves, Woodpigeons, Blackbirds, Robins, Dunnocks and one or two Greenfinches. No Sparrows. Today we also had a couple of less regular visitors .....

Great-spotted Woodpecker

Roll up, roll up, get yer sunflower hearts here.

Bullfinch pair

Much maligned Starling

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Northern (at the) Lights

Okay, I've not completely fizzled out though it's been slow going lately. And I'm also scuppered at the moment as we're decorating the room that I laughingly call the 'study' - which is actually a room in the extension that was the kids play room when they were toddlers, but is now a junk repository where I happen to have some book shelves and a desk with the PC on. It will more of a video gaming snug / study when I'm done, but for now I have no access to books or the PC ......

So here I am on my phone posting a poor 'off the phone in bad light' shot of a garden tick. And it's one that wasn't on the garden list radar.

Northern Winter Moth
Larger, paler, slightly more well-marked with hind-wing 'petticoats'.

As seen here next to a regular Winter Moth.

I'll have to look more closely at garden winter moths now - this only stood out because it was alongside x4 Winter Moths.

The only other recent news relates to me actually going out birding for a change. I've been out and about seeing Hawfinches at Burbage Common, not seeing Ferruginous Duck at Eyebrook Res but jamming a County Tick Merlin in the process. There's every chance that I'll do some more bird-spotting this winter for a change.

Posting on the phone has done my head in for now so I'm off.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Garden List Redemption

I wonder if anyone reading this post remembers this post, when my daughter managed to strongly suggest that a Woodcock had been in our garden whilst I was out ............

That was nearly seven years ago, and unsurprisingly there has never been any expectation or sniff of one popping up since. Until this week! On Tuesday morning, just in the first throws of proper light, I happened to walk out onto the front drive and go to look under an outside light that I'd left on all night. I was of course hoping that I'd see a moth or two on the wall (I didn't) but the last thing I expected was a Woodcock exploding out of the leaf-litter that has blown up against the wall. It very quickly and pretty directly headed over the neighbours front garden and looked to ditch down in the scrubby embankment, never to be seen again. I was stunned - a feeling something like when this happened.

Meanwhile, I've had a new tortrix confirmed by gen det. It was a Grapholita funebrana from back on 23/08/2017, the 683rd Moth, 365th micro and 108th tortrix for the garden and a full British tick for me.

Thursday, 2 November 2017


Every now and then you see a piece of bird news that really does make you stop in your tracks and proclaim expletives to yourself (or sometimes out loud). Of course this is usually some ridiculously rare and stunning looking individual that is inaccessible. Occasionally it is a lesser rarity, but completely out of context or in a non-sensical location. Cory's Shearwater at Rutland Water on a flat-calm day in November for example ........

As it happens I was able to leave work early today, and so I headed off to RW where my twitching sucess record is heavily weighted on the dip side. But not today - what a bird! And what a compete tart I am for not only gaining a fantastic County tick, but a full British tick to boot. Great find by Andy Mackay, and there will no doubt be some great photos on the tinterweb in due course.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Late October Geos

Here's a couple from the garden traps this week, starting with a very welcome one ....

Mottled Umber
Only the second for the garden, first was back in Jan 2011

Feathered Thorn

Juniper Carpet

This last one usually signifies that the end is nigh for me - I'll keep trying but there will be a few blanks coming up now. Always a chance that I could still see Scarce Umber, Sprawler, December Moth, Chestnut and maybe something unexpected.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Island Hoppers

Whenever I'm away on a family holiday or working abroad, I try to catch a few incidental bits with the camera. Here's a few from Zante last week ..... and you can take the IDs with a pinch of salt as all are best guesses following a bit of internet trawling. Except the last couple!

Calliptamus barbarus

Blue-winged Grasshopper (Oedipoda caerulescens)

Mediterranean Slant-faced Grasshopper (Acrida ungarica)

Red-winged Grasshopper (Oedipoda germanica)

Egyptian Grasshopper (Anacridium aegyptium)

Balkan Wall Lizard (Podarcis tauricus)

Moorish Gecko (Tarentola mauritanica)

Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta)

Another Loggerhead Turtle ... honestly!

Wednesday, 18 October 2017


Ok, I'm in Zante on holiday but thought I'd make use of the excellent free Wi-fi over a late afternoon beer to share some straight-off-the-phone shots. Using my phone to post aswell so all a bit experimental for me.

Some sort of Praying Mantis on a window frame at breakfast this morning.

Marathonisi - also known as 'Turtle Island'.

Actually this is a pain in the arse for someone who is analy retentive about layout etc. I'll wait till I get home for more.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Dark Chestnut

Here's one that I missed earlier in the year when I wasn't bothering to run a moth trap. Although having said that, my garden records show that spring individuals are few and far between and the majority I've had are in the autumn - fresh individuals before hibernation.

Dark Chestnut

Monday, 9 October 2017

End of Season

The moth trap is still going out occasionally, and there are still a few species that could/should appear, but we are definitely heading fast towards the end of season. I always reckon that when I start seeing Juniper Carpet there is not much garden mothing left to do - and I reckon that will appear any time soon. I'll keep on going though, apart from next week when I'll be lapping up late season sun in Zante.

Here's a couple from the end of September ....

Common Marbled Carpet

Swallow-tailed Moth
This is the first second-brood individual for the garden since 2011.

And three from last night ...

Red-green Carpet

Green-brindled Crescent

November Moth agg.

All the garden individuals I've ever had detted have been November Moth, and there is nothing about this one to make me feel inclined to get it checked out. November Moth = fat lady warming up vocal chords.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

A Man Eater

Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria)

Had another go today at looking for Fly Agaric. We've got our nephews up with us this weekend, so I only had a short slot in the early afternoon whilst the kids were all at the cinema. I headed over to Martinshaw Wood this time, but after strolling around the paths and going off-piste there was no sign of anything resembling red balls on white sticks. I did find a few bits, including these two:

Presumed Orange Peel Fungus (Aleuria aurantia)

No idea - on birch

I decided to leave Martinshaw Wood and head up towards the Charnwood area again, maybe having a quick look at Beacon Hill or somewhere similar. I took the obvious route from Groby along the road to Newtown Linford. Bugger me, as I turned the last corner before reaching the Newtown Linford junction - there bold as brass on a roadside mound were several bright red fungi. I managed to park up alongside the verge and fill me boots, and it was a lot easier than trudging around dark woodland! There were young and old specimens pretty much going through the full spectrum of maturity from spherical to flattened to upturned. I grabbed shots of a few, except the very old virtually unrecogniseable ones.

This one was on the same mound, and there were others that may have been the same but completely gone over.

Brown Birch Bolete (Leccinum scabrum)

And growing on one of the birches on the mound was this.

Hoof Fungus (Fomes fomentarius)

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Overdue - Pearly Underwing

With a flurry of Scarce Bordered Straws and a good few Dark Sword-grass already this autumn, I really did think we were in for a decent migrant year here in Leics. Well, if it was it certainly didn't happen for me. I guess there is still a chance, but looks like I'm going to be waiting another year for my first garden Gem, Small Mottled Willow and Convolvulous Hawk, or my second garden records of Vestal, Bordered Straw and this one - Pearly Underwing.

Pearly Underwing - 10th September 2006

Of the all the migrants I'm hoping for, this one really should be turning up more than it does. Certainly not an uncommon migrant further south.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Quakers and Bricks

Here's a few seasonal garden noctuids from recent garden traps .....

Yellow-line Quaker


Red-line Quaker

Blair's Shoulder-knot

Friday, 29 September 2017

Gnome Seats

Here's a few snaps from Swithland Wood last weekend. I'd actually gone to have a look for Fly Agaric, the archetypal gnome seat, but no joy there sadly. Although it is a fairly common fungi I've never made any effort to see it, so I'm going to try and get a couple of hours to have another look this weekend. The whole time I was there it was like being in a hailstorm with acorns raining down from the many oaks with every slight breeze. And they bloody hurt!

Pretty sure these are slightly gone-over Amethyst Deceiver.
Yellow Stagshorn

Birch Polypore


Turkey-tail I think.

Rosy Bonnet?

No idea - this is a tiny fungus on an acorn cup.

Yellowing Curtain Crust I think.