Monday, 31 May 2010

More moths

As far as birds and birding goes I have not been out that much recently, partially due to the lack of good migrant weather. I did however go to Sandwich bay Obs yesterday, it yielded a couple of cuckoos as well as other regular migrants, I did find a whole new area though which looks good for the autumn migration.
Also I managed to catch 649 Espiria sulphurella, a really peachy looking micro.

I had the moth trap in the garden last night, I was pleasantly surprised to have 25 moths of 17 species in the trap, not bad for a relatively cool and windy night!
Totals included 7 year ticks in the form of
2 Heart and Club
2 Small Clouded Brindle (I'm pretty sure that's what they are anyway)
1 Common Wainscot
1 Rustic
1 Light Brown Apple Moth
1 Orange Footman
1 Herald
1 Campion

from L to R Herald, Espiria sulphurella, White point, Small clouded brindle and Campion.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

A change in weather

Monday- 30 degrees full sun, today 13 degrees full cloud!
On Monday I managed to get a bit of birding/surveying in, not a huge amount on the mud at Pegwell but notable species included;
4 Dunlin
11 Sanderling
5 Grey plover
38 Ringed plover- at least 34 of them were of the race Tundrae, (a race year tick)
2 Avocet

Today I saw 2 moths 1 Diamond back and 1 Silver Y. There could well be some migrants out there based on this evidence!

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Hepatic Cuckoo

Late news of a hepatic female Cuckoo found at Sandwich bay along with a few 'grey' cuckoo's on monday. This is the first time I have been able to photograph the form and is only the second one I can remember seeing. The brown Cuckoo's I see tend to be juveniles, but at this time of the year I can be sure of this being a hepatic female!
A nice bird, I actually thought it was a kestrel when I first saw it flying away it was so rufous.

Not many birds...but a few moths

Its been fairly quiet on the bird front with one year tick in the past couple of days - a common sandpiper at 100 acre field.
Moths however were far better on Thursday night, putting my total for the year at 65, an extra 30 (ish) welcome year ticks. including 2 new for me- The fern and Mother Shipton, named after the 15th century prophetess' face appearing on the wing, see pic. Also below is a Minator beetle, named for obvious reasons!
For more information about moths added to the year list visit

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Stodmarsh/Grove Ferry

I managed to wangle a day off due to Toil today and what a lovely day it was too, bright, sunny and warm. I arrived at Grove Ferry at about 8am and walked the full circuit getting back to the car at 1ish, I took it pretty slowly looking at birds, moths, dragonflies and insects.
Birds- 58 species in total, highlights; 2Kingfishers, 8 bearded tits, 1 Nightingale, a pair of Gargany, 6 marsh harriers and about 30 Hobby's. Amazingly high density of Cetti's warblers too, I probably heard at least 20-30 this morning.
Dargonflies- Variable (40+), Blue tailed(10) and Azure (7) damselflies as well Banded demoiselle(4) and Hairy dragonfly(14), Four spotted chaser(2) and a probable Broad bodied chaser, it looked freshly emerged however did not last more than 10 secs in the air thanks to a Reed bunting!
Insect wise- too many to record! Common froghoppers were everywhere as well as many hundreds of grasshopper nymphs.
I'm currently processing the few micros I caught...update later.
The best part of the day was seeing and more importantly hearing the Marsh frogs, they were everywhere and their eruptive calls never fail to remind me of the Med.
To Ben and the guys at NE, good job at Stodmarsh, the place is looking great, I particularly liked the boardwalk, a great way to get closer to the reedbed bird species as well as dragons and Marsh frogs.
PS last nights moth trap in the garden produced;
1 Eyed Hawkmoth
1 Poplar Hawkmoth
1 Pebble Prominent
2Common Quaker
.....still poor!

Sunday, 16 May 2010

National moth night

Yesterday afternoon was cloudy and quite mild, almost warm so all was looking good for an evening of mothing, unfortunately as dusk approached the clouds cleared and a cold breeze started! I stayed with the MV from 9-10.45 and did not see a single moth, so feeling a little deflated went to bed. This morning I was up at 5 and quite glad not to see a frost, I checked the actinic in the garden-nothing in there at all. At X however I was quite pleased to see at least some signs of moths, a total of 6 moths . Eyed Hawkmoth, Early grey, Clouded bordered brindle (2), Swallow prominent and a single Muslin moth. All in all not a terrible night but NMN is usually a little more exciting, maybe it should be a bit later in the year next year....particularly if we want more people to get interested in moths!
Still on the bright side it was the best night of the year so far...Mid May- 6 moths, oh dear!!
Moan over now.
I think I have managed to identify some of the micros from yesterday, I believe them to be Micropterix calthella (5) and Adela rufimitrella (152) ?

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Dragons at X

I had a good walk around X this morning in the hope of finding some micro moths, There were large numbers of Variable, blue tailed and large red damselflies as well as my first Azure damsels of the year. I also found a single Hairy Dragonfly Exuviae, which is a 'new' confirmed breeding species for Reserve X.
I did come across the damselfly below and immidiately thought it was a male variable, however on closer inspection i'm not so sure its that simple. This damsel shows an interesting mark on S1-2 which I have never seen before, particularly the spikes on the bottom end, the antehumerals are also unbroken, completely so on one side and the other has a very tiny join. Another interesting point is the central stripe on the abdomen, this is more usual in females than males.
So pro female points-unbroken antehumerals, stripe down centre, egg on underside of body??
Pro male points- intense blue colour, male S1-2 marking.
I must remember that their name is Variable damselfly but this one is taking it a little far!
I have requested comments from Dragonflies-uk yahoo group so hopefully it will be solved soon.
Click on images to enlarge them.

Notice the S1-2, antehumerals and median stripe

Is that an egg under the thorax??

Friday, 14 May 2010

Survey day

A long day of surveying today, I managed a breeding bird, amphibian, reptile and butterfly survey as well as disturbance monitoring in the bay for 3 hrs, this, added to my usual Friday tasks saw me out and about from 4.45 am to 7.15 pm. TFI Friday that's all I can say.
Still, I did manage to get a few moth year ticks, including Cinnabar, yellow belle, small seraphim, Thisanotia chysonmuchella (1321) and Elachista argentella (610).
There are quite a lot of Green winged Orchids growing on the golf course at the moment, another new orchid for me! I have estimated that there are around 4-5,000+ Common Twayblade orchids in flower at Stonelees at the moment, quite an amazing sight, its just a shame they aren't more attractive. Also there appear to be a lot of Lizard orchids about at the moment, rosette's only of course but it looks set to be a good year for the species.
Bird wise it was fairly quiet, especially so considering the wind has turned to the southern quarter. Early this morning there seemed to be a small arrival of Greenshank, cuckoos (3) and turtle doves (5) but it was unremarkable apart from that unfortunately.
Animal wise I had a pure albino rabbit at 100acre which has got to be worth a mention!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Day off

A nice day off today, Ruth and I decided we should check out some local heritage and found ourselves at Dover Castle. A great day out, we managed to spend just under 6 hrs which was a bit of a surprise too. Interestingly the site has been used in many different periods so rather than just being 'another' castle it had info about various era's including Roman, Saxon, Norman, Napoleonic and both world wars, as I say very informative!
I did manage to persuade Ruth that it would be a good idea to go and look at some orchids close by after the we managed to get a new plant species in the form of Early Spider Orchid, great little flowers they were too!

Monday, 10 May 2010

Moth update.....There aren't many here!
Sat night- 1 common quaker and 1 dark sword grass (yr tick)
Sun night- 1 Hebrew character.
All I can say is I'm glad I haven't wasted any electricity on these three, my batteries are charged by the sun, how green of me!

Also a pic of a Grapholita jungiella (1251) another yr tick caught at Pegwell last week.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Grus grus

I had to check the stock at X this morning so set off without my camera due to the rainy weather, I got as far as my van when the male Bullfinch put in an appearance in the garden, so decided on getting the camera after all. This proved to be a good choice as I would have been slightly annoyed had I not taken it. 5 mins later I had a new plant at X- Lords and Ladies/Cuckoo Pint, photo below, an interesting plant which is usually more obvious when full of red berries but equally distinctive and odd at this time of the year.
A grey heron has been in the same place every day for the past week or so, so when I saw a neck poking out of the vegetation I did not think twice about calling it a heron....until it took off, then I saw that it was in fact a Common Crane! While reprimanding myself for a miss id of epic proportions I managed to take a few shots of the bird as it disappeared in the worth marsh direction. Its funny how a single good bird can brighten up even the dullest of days, wish it could happen more often though.
If the cloud remains and wind stays light I shall attempt to catch a moth or two tonight, who knows there may be some out there!

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Pegwell lock up

I had to lock up at Pegwell tonight, it was raining and has been all day so was not necessarily looking forward to it. However on arrival the sound of Sandwich Terns perked me up a little bit. Totals for the evening were;
10 Whimbrel, 380 Sandwich Tern, 15 little Tern, 232 Dunlin, 51 Ringed Plover, 21 Barwits, 36 Shelduck, 1 Greenshank and 14 commic terns.

I'm pretty annoyed with myself for not ID'ing the commics, they had very dark underparts and similarly dark upperparts as well as a dull red bill which I was thinking added up to Arctic but the element of doubt kicked in when I arrived home. Looking in field guides they appeared darker in the field than they should have done for Arctic/Common, best left unidentified but i really hope I have not just turned a blind eye on some Whiskereds, unlikely as it is!

Saturday, 1 May 2010

100 acre field

An early morning walk at 100 acre field, Sandwich Bay hoping for some migrants grounded by the early morning rain. On arrival there were 8 Wheatear's on the fence line, a promising start! Unfortunately it was the bird highlight too, the wheatear count got up to 37 in total which was very good compared to the rest of the spring so far. Other than that, a single yellow wag, reed and sedge warblers and a few Whimbrel were the best of the rest.
I did manage to flush a moth from the Marram grass, luckily no one was around to watch me chasing the little blighter for about for a few mins. I thought it must be worth catching as its a migrant hotspot, sand dune and early in the year. The result was a macro tick in the form of Oblique Striped (1718) I think it is anyway, see photo.
On my return home the garden held singing Blackcap, Garden Warbler, whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Reed Warbler, Turtle Dove and a pair of Bullfinches. Its currently raining again so may be worth another look when it stops.