Friday, 19 July 2019

Garden moths - Friday July 19

The trap went out last night. A full moon and depressed temperatures led to a capture of just 68 moths, but they did include three new ones for the garden and several new for the year.

The new ones were; Maple Pug, Dingy Footman, and Common White Wave, the former being a fairly locally distributed species, and tricky enough that I decided to email a photo to JS and to David Brown to make  sure I was correct. David subsequently gave it the thumbs up.

Maple Pug
The key features of this rather nondescript little moth are its small size (hence the ruler) and a wiggly white subterminal line at the top end of the upper wing.
Dingy Footman
Common White Wave

JS may be away as I haven't heard from him, but I am pretty sure that the distinctive shape of the Dingy Footman and the straight outer cross line of the Common White Wave are enough to confirm the identifications.

New for the year were the micros Celypha striana, and Crassa unitella, and the macros Marbled Beauty, and Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing.

One micro is currently unidentified (some kind of Pyrallid), two flew off without me working out what they were, and most annoyingly a Thorn sp was either Early Thorn or Lunar Thorn, it flew off into the rain as soon as I turned over the egg box it was in.

It started raining within about an hour of daybreak, so I hoisted a large parasol over the table the trap was on, and thus kept my moths dry and, hopefully, happy until they flew off this evening.

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Thursday July 18

Early morning drizzle caused me to delay a bit, but I arrived mid-morning just as it stopped. The rest of the morning comprised sunny intervals and a very light westerly.

Some hedge trimming at Netherstead led me to walk straight to the flash field. It was great for newly fledged birds, including a family party of Pheasants and numerous tits and warblers, but nothing standout. At the flash field there was much Little Owl activity with one visible bird and at least one other calling. I'm sure this means they have bred successfully again.

Little Owl
About four Green Sandpipers were visible but there could easily have been more. Three juvenile Shelducks remain and can all fly, so the rest must have dispersed. Four Teal were the only new arrivals.

I again failed to find any White-letter Hairstreaks, and had to be content with looking at the numerous butterflies in the long grass. Essex Skippers seem more in evidence, but there are also plenty of Small Skippers.

One of the Marbled Whites seemed a little too confiding and I soon discovered this was because it was providing a white crab spider sp with its lunch.

Nature red in tooth and claw

The only notable dragonfly seen was a White-legged Damselfly, my second this year.

White-legged Damselfly
It was left to moths to provide the main interest. George drove me to a spot on his land where he said I could set a moth trap one evening, and before that I happened upon a couple of micro moths which were new for the year, the former also being a lifer. I refer to Eucosma camoliliana and Udea luealis.

Eucosma campoliliana

Udea lutealis
I had been worried that I can no longer hear grasshoppers, but today I was accompanied by the constant buzzing of crickets (Roesel's Bush-crickets) and also Meadow Grasshoppers.

Meadow Grasshopper
The contrast between our suburban garden (thick with garden flowers and long grass but hardly a butterfly or bee to be seen) and the wildflower rich borders of the fields owned by the Heart of England Forest at Morton Bagot is immense. It really is a wonderful place.

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Sunday July 14

Today was always going to be tricky. I decided that whether I would visit Morton Bagot would be determined by whether England beat Australia and reached the final of the cricket World Cup. They did of course, so the moth trap came out last night.

Dave on the other hand has no concerns about missing the cricket, and as I write this he is roaming the patch and has already heard a Grasshopper Warbler singing from the field behind the beehives, perhaps the bird which showed so well in the Spring.

Actually the moth-trapping went well. Approximately 130 moths have been found including three new for the garden, one of which is a scarce one (but increasing) in Warwickshire.

The rare one is Least Carpet, and was found nestling in the same egg box cup as a Clay, also new for the garden, but not particularly scarce (new for me though). The third new one is Scarce Footman, which is actually not scarce at all (I can even recall seeing one on a moth-trapping session in Worcestershire years ago).  I caught four of them, and 15 Common Footman.

Least Carpet (on right)
Scarce Footman
New for the year were Dingy Shears, Scalloped Oak, and the micros Bryotropha terrella, Eudonia mercurella, Dark Fruit-tree Tortrix, and Bud Moth (or Spilonota laricana).

One moth I didn't catch was a Swallow-tailed Moth, an example of which flew through the bedroom window a few nights ago.

Swallow-tailed Moth
I may be tempted to go to Morton Bagot this evening, or earlier if the cricket final is a disaster.

Late morning update: Dave had a cream-crown Marsh Harrier fly over him. It was heading for the Flash Field, but they tend not to hang around. The first for the site for about four years. I've managed to miss more than I've seen there, a trend which looks set to continue.

PPS The cricket was not a disaster, it had the most amazing climax i have ever seen, and a happy ending as England won on boundaries scored after the teams ended up tied after 50 overs, and still couldn't be separated in a Super Over.

This evening I headed down to the patch and duly heard the Grasshopper Warbler reeling exactly where Dave had heard it.

A Fallow Deer buck stopped to stare.

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Wednesday July 10

A cloudy morning with a few sunny intervals and a light westerly.

As far as birds are concerned the mid summer malaise continues, the best of a steady bunch being some recently fledged Kestrels, a flock of 30 Goldfinches, and the continued presence of Green Sandpipers and Shelducks at the Flashes.

So it was down to butterflies to keep me interested, specifically orange butterflies. The first Essex Skipper of the year was a nice find, while Small Skippers are now abundant, and Large Skipper numbers are just starting to tail off.

Essex Skipper (female)
Small Skipper (male)
Large Skipper
Continuing with the theme of orange butterflies, I found and photographed a single Gatekeeper among the hundreds of Meadow Browns and Ringlets.

Among the flowering Knapweed I located a single Six-spot Burnet and two Commas.

I saw a good range of the usual dragonflies including a couple a female Emperors and a male Beautiful Demoiselle.

Mum's move seems to be on for Friday (but we've thought that before). The next post may be on Sunday, though this may be dependant on whether the England cricket team can beat Australia.

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Sunday July 7

A morning of sunny intervals with a very light northerly breeze.

Dave arrived and announced we should look out for Hairstreaks today as both common species had already been seen at Marsh Lane. Before long we were staring at some hedgerow Elms between two Oaks in the hope that the diminutive butterflies would flutter by, and indeed they did. Unfortunately they kept fluttering and without seeing one perched we were unable to confirm which they were.

A little further down the same hedge some Blackbirds were going ballistic at something. We hung around for some time before an Owl sp disappeared out of the back of the hedge. Was it going to be a frustrating morning?

Happily we had already had one success, as a large orange butterfly which perched in a hedge near Netherstead could be identified as a Silver-washed Fritillery, the first of the year.

Silver-washed Fritillery
As the morning heated up, the butterflies became more and more numerous. Particularly abundant were Ringlets, and Meadow Browns. Not far behind were Small Heaths, Large and Small Skippers, and Marbled Whites. Several Small Whites, Large Whites, Green-veined Whites, and Small Tortoiseshells were also seen before Dave spotted a Comma. Unfortunately I missed it, but he repeated the trick at Stapenhill Wood and this time I added to my year-list. Another new one for the year was a Gatekeeper which flew by without stopping.

Until we reached the Flash Field there was not much to comment on bird-wise, save for a party of four recently fledged Green Woodpeckers at Netherstead. However, a juvenile Little Owl and anxiously calling parent bird set us up for a reasonably productive scan. The Shelducklings are all still alive and are close to fledging, two Little Ringed Plovers, a Snipe, two Lapwings, and at least seven Green Sandpipers hid behind the clumps of sedge, and a single female Teal flew in.

A preening Green Sandpiper
The walk back through the flower-rich meadow bordering Morton Brook was as entertaining as always, and the highlight for me was two Six-spot Burnets feeding on Knapweed.

Six-spot Burnet
Dave felt we had seen this moth species here before, but I can't recall them. You may have counted the spots and got to four (or maybe five). The large spot at the base of the wing counts as two nearly joined spots when the moth is spread out in a collection tray, hence the name.

Dragonflies always get up a little later than butterflies, and by the time we were back at the dragonfly pools we had amassed a decent list. These included a Brown Hawker which allowed itself to be photographed in the grass near Stapenhill Wood, and a host of newly emerged Small Red-eyed Damselflies.

Brown Hawker
Small Red-eyed Damselfly
Plenty of Emerald Damselflies are now mating, along with Common Blues and Azures, while each pool we looked at was being overflown by the odd Emperor, and many Black-tailed Skimmers and Four-spotted Chasers.

The whole place is a testament to what can be achieved when chemicals are not routinely sprayed everywhere.

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Garden Moths - 5/6 July

The moth trap went out last night and produced an excellent count of 150 moths, although the species total was a more modest 36.

Subject to confirmation from JS I encountered six that were new for the garden as follows; Scarlet Tiger, Elephant Hawk-moth, Leopard Moth, Mottled Beauty, Wormwood Pug, and Lozotaeniodes formosana. As a post-script another Pug I asked JS to identify for me as I wasn't sure what it was has turned out to be a Grey Pug, one I had given consideration to. So that's another new one for the house list.

Scarlet Tiger

Elephant Hawk-moth
Leopard Moth
Mottled Beauty
Wormwood Pug
Lozotaeniodes formosana
Grey Pug Eupithecia subfuscata

There were also plenty new for the year, but I will add them to the year-list page in due course.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Bathroom moth tick

My wings are well and truly clipped this week. My Mum's move has been delayed again, now set for next Wednesday. But in any case we have friends visiting and a funeral in South Wales to fit in before the weekend.

So I was quite pleased when a new moth flew through the bathroom window. I identified it as a Smoky Wainscot.

Smoky Wainscot
Screenshot of grey underwing from flight view