Sunday, 27 July 2014

Moths and Waders and a Corn Bunting

A two week break from work was more exhausting than if I had been working! The weather was hot and sunny and humid with very warm nights making sleeping difficult and adding in too much food and drink and a visit from family and it was all quite tiring.

The good weather has been good for moths with 2 new moths for the garden, the first being a surprise galium carpet. There were quite a few in the traps at Ford Park Cemetery last year which is not too far from my house but I was still surprised to see one in the garden. As usual for a carpet it was very feisty and I was only able to get some photos of it through a plastic container. The 2nd new moth was a nut tree tussock, a moth I have expected to see in the garden for a long time.

Galium Carpet

Nut Tree Tussock

The usual moths for the time of year have been seen in the garden with marbled green, marbled beauty, coronet, Jersey tiger, four spotted footman and large yellow underwing making appearances.

Marbled Green very well camoflagued against the pebble dash wall in the back yard

Marbled Green

Swallow Tailed Moth

? Marbled Minor Agg. ( a very green individual)

A few days away at the caravan in Bude was also very productive for moths. With new owners taking over the site last year the facilities have been upgraded including new lighting for the toilet blocks which seems to be very attractive to moths (although the light on the waste disposal block is still not working). Best moths were crescent dart, Brussels lace, drinker, garden tiger, rosy footman, Devonshire wainscot and burnished brass with sharp angled carpet and yellow tail being new moths for me.

 Garden Tiger Moth
 Garden Tiger Moth - like fingerprints, no 2 individuals are exactly the same
 Brussels Lace
 Crescent Dart
 Drinker (female)
 Devonshire Wainscot
 Yellow Tail
Meal Moth
Sharp Angled Carpet - typically neurotic and the only photo I managed to get before it flew off

With the heat and lack of rain the water levels at Maer Lake were very low with plenty of mud on show and I managed maximum counts of 1 little ringed plover, 5 green sandpipers, 5 common sandpipers, 1 whimbrel, 1 curlew, 5 redshank, 1 ringed plover, 10 dunlin and 7 black tailed godwits over the 5 days we were there. A wood sandpiper had been reported but I failed to find it but with numbers of waders fluctuating daily I guess I was just unlucky.

Other highlights of our time in Bude were :- a small heath on the clifftop walk in to Bude: Manx shearwaters, fulmars and gannets from the clifftops with some nice close views of Manx shearwaters at times although most were further offshore; and best of all on my birthday a small pod of common dolphins heading North offshore towards Lundy as we walked in to Bude along the cliffs to have a cooked breakfast at Lifes a Beach. They were moving quite fast and were not particularly showy with brief views of fins but with a couple of leaps out of the water now and then. The Manx shearwaters were what initially gave them away as they followed behind them and I guess they were heading off to feed somewhere else hence their stealth mode like behaviour.

Best bird of the time away at the caravan was a corn bunting at Park Head, a National Trust owned bit of coastline near Bedruthan Steps. We had originally planned to go to Trevose Head to look for corn buntings but stopped at Park Head on the way and were lucky to hear and see a male bird which gave some lovely views before flying off, the first corn bunting I have seen for some time. Back in my youth when living in Suffolk I regularly heard and saw them not far from my house but here in the South West they are quite scarce with the North Cornwall coast around Padstow being a small stronghold for them. We never did get to Trevose Head, heading back to the caravan after having had such good views.

 Corn Bunting
Corn Bunting

Other highlights of my time off were newts in a small pool at Restormel Castle; chitons, scorpion fish, shanny and cushion starfish while rock pooling with my nephew at Wembury; a harlequin ladybird in my moth trap in the back yard, a first for the garden; a holly blue at Mount Batten with a noisy juvenile Sandwich tern following behind an adult bird offshore; a clouded yellow on a walk at Wembury Point; and a whimbrel, 3 dunlin and a turnstone at Wembury on the 27th July.

 Ringlet, Trerice
 Newt sp., Restormel Castle
 Chiton sp., Wembury
Shanny, Wembury

Monday, 7 July 2014

National Moth Night

The birding summer doldrums are here but at least I have my interest in moths to keep me occupied and with National Moth Night being held from 3rd to 5th July I planned to have the moth trap out in the back yard for at least one of the nights. I ended up putting the trap out on the night on the 5th July as the 3rd was ok weather-wise but I was on an early shift the next morning and the 4th was wet overnight.

I had a total of 24 moths of 13 species, not bad for the back yard at this time of year when the weather is cooler and unsettled as it has been of late. The moths caught in the trap were:-

3 Riband Wave                    1 Light Brown Apple Moth
1 Bee Moth                          2 Pseudargyrotoza conwagana
1 Buff Ermine                       1 Anania coronata
5 Uncertain                          1 male Four Spotted Footman
1 Rustic                                1 Pug sp.
2 Garden Carpet                  2 Buff Arches
3 Bright Line Brown Eye

Unknown Pug Sp.

After packing the moth box away we headed off to Bude with the Outlaws for the day and the only birds of note were 4 redshank and 2 teal at Maer Lake along with a singing chiffchaff. However there were quite a few Nettletap moths around the flowers behind the caravan and the toilet blocks held quite a few moths :-

2 Riband Wave                                         1 Marbled Coronet
1 Early Thorn                                           1 Single Dotted Wave
2 Udea prunalis                                        1 Common Wave
1 Small Magpie                                         1 White Line Snout
1 Heart and Club                                      1 Dingy Footman
1 Engrailed

 White Line Snout
 White Line Snout
Marbled Coronet

I've submitted my records on the National Moth Night website, the theme had been woodland moths but records could be submitted from anywhere, just as well as I have no access to light trapping in woodland! And the white line snout and engrailed are new moths for me with the white line snout being an uncommon but very attractive moth that I initially thought was a micro as it was so small.