Saturday, 2 September 2017

Saturday September 2

I spent the morning on household chores, largely ignoring the warm sunshine outside. However, our front door was to supply me with a tiny moth, Psychoides flicivora, which I found in exactly the same place last year. I believe it comes from the ferns growing in the front garden.

Psychoides flicivora
When I say tiny, I mean TINY.
While I was photographing the moth, a Chiffchaff landed on the bird-bath while another began singing from trees beyond the garden. The walk to the paper-shop produced a third.

A fall of Chiffchaffs!

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Monday August 28

A warm and sunny day was largely spent in the garden.

Early on, a little moth was disturbed from the patio but disappeared before I could confirm my suspicion that it was a Garden Carpet.

During the afternoon we sat out, Lyn reading, while my eyes were drawn to the Buddleia. It attracted at least three Small Tortoiseshells, three Red Admirals, a couple of Small Whites and a Large White. This was good, but I can't help thinking that in years gone by the totals would have been a lot larger and surely would have included many Peacocks.

Small Tortoiseshell
Red Admiral
Large White
I suppose that on these warm days in early autumn, I am always studying the skies. My dream bird would be an Osprey heading south. It'll probably never happen. Instead I counted up to six House Martins, while House Sparrows, Blue Tits, and Robins gradually overcame their fear and landed on the feeder. One of our neighbours keeps pigeons, but this is the first year they have adopted our garden.

Overnight two moths appeared in the bathroom. One was another Agriphila geniculea, but the second was a Garden Carpet, surely the one I had seen during the morning.

Garden Carpet Xanthorhoe fluctuata

Friday, 25 August 2017

Friday August 25

The days of daily posts to report new moths in the bathroom appear to be over. The last ten days have tended to be a bit cool, and when, like last Monday, a warmer night came along the moths failed to oblige.

There have been a few; Large Yellow Underwing, Double-striped Pug, Twenty-plume Moth, but all ones which have occurred before this year. One micro defied identification, possibly a blastobasis sp. The photograph was not really clear enough. Here it is anyway.

Don't know
One feature to please the stay at home birder at this time of the year is the action on the feeders. Every morning about 40 birds have visited the feeders. The majority have been Blue Tits and Long-tailed Tits, with up the eight House Sparrows. Scarcer visitors have been been a Nuthatch, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Blackcap, and a Chiffchaff.

The Buddleia has attracted Peacock, Red Admirals, Large White, Small White, and Small Tortoiseshell.

Today our car has been taken away for servicing. The day is warm and sunny. Just after lunch my enforced captivity became too much to bear, and I decided to walk over to Ipsley Alders to see what I could find.

Birds were pretty much off the agenda due to the time of day, a male Blackcap being the highlight. I was hoping to see some butterflies, but they were disappointing. I saw lots of Speckled Woods and Large Whites, but nothing else.

It was left to dragonflies to brighten the afternoon. In particular there were lots of Migrant Hawkers in evidence, and for once some of them allowed me to photograph them.

Female Migrant Hawker
Male Migrant Hawker
I also photographed a tiny moth in the boggy grassland at the east side of the reserve. It looked quite extraordinary in the view finder, and I felt sure I hadn't seen one before. However, reality has since set in and I think that part of its strange appearance is a result of the shadow cast by a grass stem. Its red eyes are harder to explain away though, maybe the light caused it to reflect the colour.

It appears to be one of two species, the common Agriphila tristella, or the scarcer (and usually coastal) Agriphila selasella. Neither is supposed to have red eyes (but neither are any other British grass-veneer species). In the end I have gone for the commoner species, but mainly out of cowardice.

Overnight I caught two Agriphila geniculea a species I caught in the bathroom last year. Another year-tick though.

Agriphila geniculea
Post script: Many thanks to John Sirrett who responded to my Twitter post by corning that the grass veneer species at Ipsley Alders was actually the scarcer Agriphila selasella. Tick !

Monday, 14 August 2017

Monday August 14

It has been a rather unsatisfactory period since my last post.

The cool weather has restricted the number of insects reacting to the bathroom light, and those that have come in have been tricky or too difficult to identify. This irritates me.

Last night was a bit warmer and four moths turned up. Two were Pugs, one was Mother of Pearl, and one was a rather nice Green Carpet moth.

Green Carpet
The Pugs were different sizes so I felt sure they were different species. However, some research suggested that a species I have recorded before, Double-striped Pug, varies not only in upper wing pattern, but also in size. So I think they may both have been that species.

Double-striped Pugs?
One other species turned up, a Common Wasp. The discovery of a wasp nest in the window frame of the other window in the bathroom has caused some consternation in the family. I am in a minority of one where it comes to allowing them to remain.

I'm afraid their days are numbered.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Sunday August 6

This afternoon, after watching a Peacock, a Comma, and a Large White fluttering around the Buddleia, I finally got out to do some gardening. Mainly mowing the lawn.

This activity disturbed a new micro-moth for the year, a Common Plume.

Common Plume - Emmelina monodactyla
Another way to add a moth species to the garden list is to cut into an apple. We were curious to know how close to harvesting our apples are, so I picked a couple. One of these had an obvious hole, which on further investigation contained the grub of a Codling moth.

Codling Moth caterpillar - Cydia pomonella
I haven't seen any of the adult moths this year, but I did see one in the bathroom last year.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Friday August 4

Finally, after basically ignoring the place all summer, I got the opportunity to walk to Ipsley Alders. The intention was to see as many dragonflies as possible as they have been much neglected thus far.

I actually met another nature photographer, and in the brief chat we had I understood he had been photographing fungi with his macro lens. I had just photographed a female Sparrowhawk which was being heckled by its very vocal newly fledged child.

Female Sparrowhawk
I reached the pool and soon started accumulating dragonfly species. There were numerous Blue-tailed Damselflies and smaller numbers of Common Darters. A Southern Hawker perched helpfully, but the far more numerous Brown Hawkers refused to land, as did a single male Emperor.

Blue-tailed Damselfly
Common Darter
Southern Hawker
Moving to the other end of the pool to avoid a smoking fisherman, I found more dragonflies. A couple of Black-tailed Skimmers were not unexpected, and I saw several "blue" damselflies without getting good enough views to identify them. Then I discovered there were lots of Small Red-eyed Damselflies. Ten years ago this would have been big news, but this recent colonist has established healthy populations locally, and I seem to see them wherever I go.

Black-tailed Skimmer
Small Red-eyed Damselfly
Orgy in full swing
I also had a distant view of a Common Emerald Damselfly to complete the odonata list.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Monday July 31

I haven't really done anything since my last post, other than look out of the kitchen window.

Our feeders were deluged in birds on Saturday. Its very difficult to assess the numbers when birds are visiting regularly, but my best estimate would be 12 Long-tailed Tits, 12 Blue Tits, six Great Tits, two Coal Tits, three Robins, a Dunnock, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Bullfinch, a Song Thrush, three Blackbirds, a Wren, a Goldfinch, and five House Sparrows.

I fear for the last of these because we finally bit the bullet and arranged for our guttering and fascia to be replaced. Some of the wood was rotting due, it seems, to errors made by some guys carrying out loft insulation about ten years ago. My worry is that the House Sparrows will not like the change and may not breed next year. We'll see.

Juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker
Juvenile Song Thrush

The last House Sparrows ?
Juvenile Robins

Finally, on Sunday afternoon a "small orange butterfly" which Lyn had been seeing (and which I had been assuring her would be a Comma) landed on the Scabious and was actually a Gatekeeper.

Too cool for moths though.

But hold the front page: Just squeaking into July was a Brimstone Moth caught tonight in the bathroom.

Brimstone Moth
Its that rare thing, a pretty moth. They turn up every year in our garden though.