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

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Some torts

By far the best way to photograph moths is in natural light on natural substrates. But given that it's usually too bright, too dull, too windy or (sometimes) the moth is too valuable to lose, then often you're forced to photograph indoors with compensatory lighting. I've tried a few things over the years, and some were better than others. Currently, I'm trying out a couple of lamps with 45W 5500K compact fluorescent 'daylight' bulbs'. It's a far from ideal set-up, but certainly better than nothing and I'm getting used to it. The trick as always is getting the white balance set right (with photographers 'grey' card), using a tripod, selecting a suitable photography prop, putting the camera on self-timer mode and having the patience of a saint. It looks something like this (except with the camera on the tripod!).

Upturned mug to get the subject up to right height is optional .....

Here's some tortrixes from the garden traps - one thing I'm still guilty of is zooming in too far and losing some depth on the subject.

Epinotia bilunana

Notocelia trimaculana

Codling Moth

Notocelia cynosbatella

Marbled Orchard Tortrix

And this one's not a tortrix ....

Bryotropha affinis

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Pug Parade

Been getting a lot of pugs to the garden traps lately, just about more than all other geometrids combined. Nothing unexpected though. Lots of moth recorders struggle with pugs, but once you've seen loads of each of the commoner species you can almost name them from size, jizz and time of year ... in the dark. I say almost, because there's always one oddly marked bugger that throws you. But just accept that once they're worn there's not much point dithering about them; ignore them unless you're going to get every worn pug gen detted.

Green Pug

Common Pug

Mottled Pug

Grey Pug

Freyer's Pug

And here's a couple of carpets whilst I'm at it .. 

May Highflyer

Spruce Carpet

Monday, 29 May 2017

Aphid munchers

Superb warm sunny weather yesterday had me sitting around in the garden drinking tea and watching the world go by. In between cups of tea I pointed the camera at a few of the visitors. We've had constant squawking from up to three Starling broods just lately, with the recently fledged young chasing their parents and constantly begging for food.

 juv Starling

I've carried on topping up the feeders through the spring this year for a change, thinking it might help the parents, and it's worked to some extent. 

Goldfinch looking smart, but .....

... Great Tit and ...

... Blue Tit, both looking haggard from the effort of rearing young.

Robin going for a traditional caterpillar and ignoring the feeders, ...

... and Dunnock foraging around the lawn as usual.

Whilst pottering about the garden I also found two hoverfly maggots muching their way through aphids. And there are lots of aphids this year so good luck to the various larvae that will feed on them - should be good for ladybirds and lacewings too.

Probably Meliscaeva auricollis, living on aphids on Wood Avens

A Syrphus sp., living on aphids on a viburnum bush

I also found this tiny jumper in the house - new for the house and garden list, but hard to get a decent snap!

Euophrys frontalis

Sunday, 28 May 2017

50 Shades of Brown

Here's some fairly standard fare from the garden traps at this time of year - mainly brown apart from this one ....


Shuttle-shaped Dart - slightly oddly marked

Ingrailed Clay

Small Square-spot

Brown Rustic

Rustic Shoulder-knot

Agonopterix arenella

White-shouldered House Moth

Scalloped Hazel

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Ne ne nana new new ....

A garden tick from Thursday night .......

Cochylis nana - the 668th moth, 356th micro and 105th tortrix for the garden

And here's a few from last night. I've found it quite therapeutic getting back into moth photography, especially now I've got an indoor set-up I'm getting more comfortable with.

Sandy Carpet

Clouded Border

Eudonia mercurella

Figure of 80

Scorched Wing

Cherry Bark Moth - now annual after the first in 2013


These are the 4th and 5th individuals for the garden, and the first time I've had more than one in a night/year. I had one last year whilst on a blogging and photography, and mentioned the first two here.

Friday, 26 May 2017

A 7 legged friend ....

Whilst idely looking around the garden walls and fences yesterday evening I noticed a tiny spider that looked relatively well marked and interesting, so I tried to get a couple of shots. I was sure it was a Theridion sp., and the closest I could get was blackwalli. A quick posting onto a Facebook spider group and I got a quick independent suggestion of the same.

Theridion blackwalli (male)

This prompted me to have a look for other arachnids, and I quickly found a couple on the same wall.

Odiellus spinosus

Tetranagtha sp. (female, probably T. montana) - one of the long-jawed orb-weaver spiders

No sooner had I walked back into the house when I noted another arachnid in the kitchen - albeit a spider that was one-leg short of a full set!

Philodromus dispar (male)

Thursday, 25 May 2017

From the garden trap - Choccy

Had a few nice garden-trap moths over the last couple of nights, nothing new or particularly exciting but just nice to see in the garden again. The main one being ......

Chocolate-tip, only the fifth garden record, first since 2009

Waved Umber, just about annual since 2010
Why are these nearly always tattered and torn!?

More standard fare included ...

Shuttle-shaped Dart

Spectacle - couldn't decide which shot so have two