Sunday 26 June 2011

Back yard moth trapping

I have had the moth trap out in the back yard twice this week, on Thursday night (23rd June) and on Saturday night (25th June). On waking at 05:30 on the Friday morning it was quite cool and the moth trap held just 10 moths, 6 Heart and Dart, 2 Garden Carpet and new for the year, 2 Dark Arches, 1 pale grey/buff and one much darker grey.

The weather improved on the Saturday with warm, humid air moving in from Spain and overnight temperatures predicted to be 13-14 degrees and so on Sunday morning on waking at 05:45 there were more moths in the moth trap. Best moth was an L-album Wainscot, the second one I have caught in the garden.
L-album Wainscot
Other moths included a smart, bright yellow Brimstone Moth. a Dark Arches, 2 Flame and new for me and the garden, a Coronet.

Brimstone Moth

I also had a few micro moths which I always struggle to identify but I had a Phlyctaenia coronata  that I rescued from the surface of the lily bowl, I took a snap of it while it was floating on the surface and as I scooped it off the surface it promptly disappeared into the flower bed!

Phlyctaenia coronata swimming in the lily bowl!

I also had what I think is the same species in the trap although the markings are slightly different to the one in the lily bowl.

Phlyctaenia coronata? in the moth trap

I also had this pretty little micro but I have yet to work out what it is.

Unknown micro species

We are set for a mini-heat wave today with warm temperatures again overnight so I may put the trap out again tonight although I am on night shifts starting tomorrow and an early start tomorrow morning may not be a good idea.

Wednesday 22 June 2011

Blagdons Meadow, 22nd June 2011

I headed off to Blagdons Meadow after finishing an early shift to hunt for bee orchids. There was a meeting at work at 6:30 to discuss the financial position of the trust but with the mood I am in and the crap week at work I am having I couldn't really give a shit so I thought my time would be better spent orchid hunting instead.

Blagdons meadow is only a small site but I have no idea where to look for the bee orchids or what I am looking for other than the photos and drawings of them I have seen in books. I wandered around for about an hour with no luck but they are apparently tempermental flowers and don't always appear at a site every year so I wasn't too disappointed at not seeing them. Maybe it is too early or maybe too late for them so I might try again in a few weeks time.

I did see 2 little egrets feeding along the river at low tide, a singing whitethroat and skylark, 2 adult starlings with 3 juveniles and swallows flying low over the grass, getting very close to me as I walked through the grass disturbing insects for them.

I also saw 3 six-spot burnet moths looking very moribund resting on clover flowers and a much more energetic burnet companion moth. Self heal flowers were seen and I noticed some in my front lawn on my return home.
Self Heal, Blagdons Meadow
So no luck with orchids today, better luck next time.

Saturday 18 June 2011

Bude, 5th - 8th June 2011, and other sightings

Sunday and we headed off to Bude for a few days away in the caravan. The weather had changed, it was at least 10 degrees cooler and was grey and overcast.

We stopped off at Waitrose to pick up goodies, having secured a loan to pay for it before entering the store! We also stopped off at the car boot sale in Bude where I picked up a bargain, the DBWPS book "The birds of Devon" published last October priced £45, I got it for £12.50 and it was in excellent condition!

That night I put out the moth box and the next morning I had a small and limited catch of moths , totally different to the catches I was getting at the caravan last June presumably due to the different weather conditions. I did have one new moth, a treble lines, and quite a few common wainscot.

Treble Lines

Common Wainscot

The next 2 nights were cool and windy and showery so I didn't use the moth box again. Fortunately the toilet block on the camp site for portable toilet waste disposal has now got a bright security light on the roof which is on all night and each morning I would check it out and I found a few moths inside including a nice green carpet. I also saw Depressaria daucella caterpillars on the dropwort flower heads along the path leading up to the clifftop.

Green Carpet

Other wildlife included a nice female Roe deer out in the open in the middle of the day at Maer Lake, singing whitethroat and chiffchaff, fulmars along the cliffs and gannets offshore and 8 smart summer plumaged dunlin at Maer Lake that were there one day and gone the next.Offshore 7 Manx shearwaters were seen heading South one morning in a stiff breeze, they were some way out and difficult to see against the waves and foam.

The weather wasn't great, we did have some sunny spells but it was cool and showery and increasingly windy. It was a nice break away though despite the weather and it was also nice to get some rain at last although it was dry in Plymouth while we were away so the allotment didn't get any rain on it.

Back to work on the Thursday, 4 night shifts which were surprisingly quiet and then Mum came down to visit after the nights for a few days stay. The weather remained mixed with a lot more rain but we did manage a few days out and about including walks at Stoke Point and Wembury. Best wildlife was a wood mouse at Wembury which ran towards us along the coast path before running in to some bramble bushes where it sat washing itself, one of its eyes looked mucky and swollen but after having a wash it opened its eye ok and then disappeared into the undergrowth. I wondered if it had been asleep and was disturbed by something causing it to run out into the open, maybe an adder was about in the grass as they have been seen recently at Wembury.

Also seen at Wembury were some caterpillars feeding on the flower heads of umbillifers by the footpath. They were different to the Depressaria daucella caterpillars seen at Wembury before and on checking the guide books I think they are Depressaria pastinacella or Parsnip Moth caterpillars.

Depressaria pastinacella caterpillar

Dessicated and squashed mouse at Wembury

Hovering kestrel at Wembury

And so it is now the 18th June, Mum has left for the drive back to Ipswich after a nice stay with us and I'm back to work on a late shift for a 6 day stretch, such fun!

Thursday 9 June 2011

Wembury 4th June 2011

A mini-heatwave going on so I headed out to Wembury, arriving at 09:30 and by 10:30 it was sweltering hot, it felt like the walk on the hillside in Santurtzi, North Spain, on the Company of Whales trips we used to go on until the ferry route was axed. I came home at 13:30 and was quite glad to be heading home and into the shade as it was so hot and still.

I had the moth box out in the garden overnight and prior to leaving for Wembury I had a nice Figure of Eighty amongst the moths, a new moth for the garden.
Figure of Eighty

First stop at Wembury was the toilet block which held a few moths including 2 new ones for me, a Maidens Blush and a Small Blood Vein. Moth of the day though was a Hummingbird Hawkmoth seen feeding on flowers along the path by the wheatfield but it was there one minute and then gone the next.
Maidens Blush

Small Blood Vein

Bird wise it was quiet with a whimbrel amongst the oystercatchers roosting on the rocks at high tide being the highlight. Also seen were 2 shelduck, a little egret, a grey heron and the usual whitethroats.

Butterfly wise my first meadow brown of the year was seen along with a green hairstreak and large skippers. Six spot burnets were on the wing. Best insect was a Green Tiger Beetle on the footpath at HMS Cambridge which gave excellent views and is the first I have seen at Wembury.
Green Tiger Beetle

That evening we headed off to a hog roast to celebrate the 40th birthday of Lisa, a friend of Davids. The address was Underlane so we headed off on the bus to Plympton only to find out that it was Underlane at Plymstock, neither of us realising that there was an Underlane at Plymstock! Still the hog roast was delicious and spending £9 for a taxi between the 2 Underlanes was soon forgotten!

Wednesday 1 June 2011

Plymbridge Woods 31st May 2011

I have joined the Back Garden Moth Community forum online and I posted photos of the unknown caterpillars I found at Wembury last week and I have had a reply ! Apparently they are Depressaria daucella, a micro moth species that feed on water dropwort. It isn't in my guide books and doesn't have an English name and is also not recorded in the Devon Moth Group annual report for the last 2 years so I guess it is quite a find although there were loads of the caterpillars on the plants.

Depressaria daucella on water dropwort, Wembury, 25/5/11
Anyway, after working five busy days over the Bank Holiday weekend of which 4 days were early shifts, I was feeling quite knackered but tonight I decided to head off to Plymbridge Woods to see nightjars on an organised walk with the National Trust. I was meant to go on the walk on the previous Thursday, having asked for the day off which I duly got. However I was then put on an early shift on the Friday so gave up on the idea before remembering that the walk was also organised for the following Tuesday.

I caught the bus to Marsh Mills and walked up to Plym Bridge for the start of the walk at 9pm. Usually on the walk we head off to the viaduct to see the peregrines first but this time we headed straight to Cann Woods. A lot of the plantation trees have been cleared over the winter due to a fungal infection so it looked very different to the usual walk. Within a few minutes we heard a nightjar churring and over the next hour we heard 2 males churring as we stood in an area between the 2 territories. Brief views were had of the birds in flight when the white markings in the tail and wings were seen but they were very fast and difficult to see in the fading light. A possible third bird was also heard churring but it could have been one of the 2 birds already seen and heard.

Also seen were 2 ravens, blackcaps and a very pale buzzard. Song thrushes were very vocal and a tawny owl was also heard. Swifts were seen hawking over the trees before it became too dark, they seem thin on the ground over Plymouth this year. Also seen was a confiding male Mandarin duck with male mallards along the river near Marsh Mills roundabout.

Mandarin Duck

David was very nice and picked me up at the car park at about 10:45pm so I didn't have to walk back through the woods in the dark to catch a bus at Marsh Mills. A glass of wine on getting home helped warm me up as it was a surprisingly cool night and I flaked out into a deep sleep on the settee until 2am!

The next day on a walk around The Hoe I heard a singing sedge warbler in the grounds of the registry office which was a surprise. And at the allotment David found a 2-spot ladybird which I have never seen before.
2-Spot Ladybird