14 June 2017

Elegant Tern twitch: 14 June

I'm not one for twitching in general, but today I decided to twitch the Elegant Tern that has taken up residence in the tern colony in Pagham Harhour. I arrived at Church Norton to learn that the bird had flown out to sea, but after what seemed like an age scanning the terns on Tern Island I caught a glimpse of it dropping down into the colony. About an hour later it eventually showed very well, though distantly, on and off throughout the afternoon in flight over Tern Island as well as resting on the mudflats and bathing late afternoon.

A large tern, larger than Sandwich Tern and about twice the size of Common Tern, with a long pale orange decurved bill merging into yellowish at the tip, black cap and shaggy crest, black legs with 1 white or pale ring on lower right leg and a pale (but slightly darker) ring on the left leg (the rings were clearly visible even when the bird was in flight). In flight, the blackish wedge on the primaries, medium length forked tail and white rump were noted and at one point the bird seemed to be displaying in flight - holding its wings in a shallow 'V'. The bird was also seen on a few occasions on Tern Island (though very obscured) and seemed to calling.

Also seen in Pagham Harbour: many Little Tern, Sandwich Tern and Common Tern around Tern Island, 20+ (17+ ad., 2 1st-S, 1+ 2nd-S) Mediterranean Gull on Tern Island (though many more were probably present), 4 Red Knot (including 1 in full red summer plumage), 1 Grey Plover (ad. summer), 1 Ruddy Turnstone, 1 prob Bar-tailed Godwit (distant in heat haze), 2 Peregrine (on island NW of Tern Island), 1 Great Crested Grebe, 3+ Little Egret, 1 Barn Swallow, 2 Grey Heron, 3 Shelduck, 1 ad Great Black-backed Gull, lots of Black-headed Gulls (many with chicks on Tern Island), and 1 ad. Herring Gull.

Checked out the shingle at Church Norton that seemed much more vegetated than it did when I first came here as a kid, and was covered with flowering Yellow Horned-poppy Glaucium flavum, Sea kale Crambe maritima, Wood Sage Teucrium scorodonia and Bittersweet (Woody Nightshade) Solanum dulcamara.

Last but not least, a Spitfire flying high overhead helped break the monotony of scanning through terns for hours on end.

1 June 2017

Moth trapping at home: May 2017

Did only a couple of moth trapping sessions at home in May.

27/28 May
2 Orange Footman Eilema sororcula
1 Yellow-barred Brindle Acasis viretata
2 Figure of Eighty Tethea ocularis
1 Rustic Shoulder-knot Apamea sordens
1 Green Oak Tortrix Tortrix viridana
1 Olive Pearl Udea olivalis
2 Pale Oak Beauty Hypomecis punctinalis
4 Light Brocade Lacanobia w-latinum
1 Maiden's Blush Cyclophora punctaria
1 Clouded Border Lomaspilis marginata
1 Crescent Bell Epinotia bilunana
1 Vine's Rustic Hoplodrina ambigua
2 Treble Lines Charanyca trigrammica
2 Common Marbled Carpet Dysstroma truncata
2 White Ermine Spilosoma lubricipeda
2 Common Wave Cabera exanthemata
2 Small Magpie Anania hortulata
1 Brimstone Moth Opisthograptis luteolata
1f Bee Moth Aphomia sociella
1m Shuttle-shaped Dart Agrotis puta
5 Flame Shoulder Ochropleura plecta
4 Light Emerald Campaea margaritaria
7 Heart & Dart Agrotis exclamationis
13 (12m, 1f) Willow Beauty Peribatodes rhomboidaria
1 Straw Dot Rivula sericealis
1 Freyer's Pug Eupithecia intricata
1 Double-striped Pug Gymnoscelis rufifasciata
2 Common Pug Eupithecia vulgata
1f Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana
1 Common Marble Celypha lacunana
3 Marbled Minor agg. Oligia strigilis agg.

Also attracted to the MV was 1 Common Cockchafer Melolontha melolontha.

Yellow-barred Brindle Acasis viretata, 28 May 2017

Orange Footman Eilema sororcula, 28 May 2017

Freyer's Pug Eupithecia intricata, 28 May 2017

Male Pale Oak Beauty Hypomecis punctinalis, 28 May 2017

Green Oak Tortrix Tortrix viridana, 28 May 2017

Common Marble Celypha lacunana, 28 May 2017

1 May 2017

Moth trapping at home: April 2017

Last month I started using the new MV light for the first time. Fortunately our garden is not overlooked and I think I have found a couple of places where the light doesn't disturb the neighbours too much. So how does the MV rate against the actinic? No contest!

After a warm March, winds switched round to northerlies for much of April and temperatures plummeted, especially for last week where nighttime temperatures dropped to just above freezing! Very few moths turned up at the light, but as I don't usually start trapping until later in the year and so nine species were new for the garden list.

Many thanks to Douglas Boyes, Billy Dykes, Steve Gale‏, Richard Lewington, Alan Martin and Stewart Sexton for help with the identification of some of these.

1 April
1 Frosted Green Polyploca ridens (first garden record)

7 April
1 Oak-tree Pug Eupithecia dodoneata (first garden record)

13 April
1 The Seraphim Lobophora halterata (first garden record)
1 Brimstone Moth Opisthograptis luteolata
1 Shuttle-shaped Dart Agrotis puta
1f Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana

15 April
1 Oak Nycteoline Nycteola revayana (first garden record)
1 Bright-line Brown-eye Lacanobia oleracea

20 April
1 Nut-tree Tussock Colocasia coryli (first garden record)
3 Least Black Arches Nola confusalis (first garden record)
1 Narrow-winged Pug Eupithecia nanata (first garden record)
1 Common Pug Eupithecia vulgata (amazingly, the first garden record)
1 Common Birch Bell Epinotia immundana (first garden record)
3 Brimstone Moth Opisthograptis luteolata
1 Shuttle-shaped Dart Agrotis puta
2 Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana

Frosted Green Polyploca ridens, Worcester Park, 2 April 2017

The Seraphim Lobophora halterata, Worcester Park, 14 April 2017. Usually flying in May and June, it seems a few species are flying
a few weeks earlier than usual this year.

Nut-tree Tussock Colocasia coryli, Worcester Park, 21 April 2017 - the first record for the garden

Least Black Arches Nola confusalis, Worcester Park, 21 Aprl 2017 - the first record for the garden

Narrow-winged Pug Eupithecia nanata. Worcester Park, 21 April 2017 - a heathland and moorland species, so what it's doing in
Worcester Park is anyone's guess?

Common Pug Eupithecia vulgata, Worecester Park, 21 April 2017. Note the tiny discal spot, weak cross-lines with a double angle in the
post median band, the slight ochreous ground colour, white tornal spot and white sub-terminal line, that all together distinguish from
White-spotted Pug Eupithecia tripunctaria.

Oak-tree Pug Eupithecia dodoneata, Worcester Park, 14 April 2017 - slowly getting my head around the tricky identification of Oak-tree
and Brindled Pugs - not easy!

Oak-tree Pug Eupithecia dodoneata, Worcester Park, 21 April 2017 - fairly worn but note the prominent discal spot and pale area
immediately behind.

Common Birch Bell Epinotia immundana, Worcester Park, 21 April 2017

Female Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana, Worcester Park, 14 April 2017 - the patterning on the females is very varied

30 April 2017

Thursley NNR: 30 April

Rachel and I spent the afternoon at Thursley Common. Spent half an hour watching the male Common Cuckoo that photographers are feeding with mealworms at the moment in Parish Field. The bird comes down to a few perches set up just a few metres from admiring birders and photographers. The views were ridiculous! I'm not sure how comfortable I am with a Cuckoo being fed, but then I'm not sure why I should be uncomfortable with it either? The bird seemed very comfortable being so close to people and even started calling from one of the perches at one point!

Other birds noted included 1m Common Redstart at Shrike Hill (and others heard), 3 Woodlark (inc. 2 in Parish Field), 1+ Eurasian Hobby, 2 (1m, 1f) Dartford Warbler, 7 (4m, 3f) Stonechat, 1H Eurasian Curlew, 1H Willow Warbler, 3 (2m, 1f) Tufted Duck (bog), 5 Canada Goose (bog) and 1 Mistle Thrush (Parish Field).

Also tried the Emperor Moth pheromone lure again at SU905418 and had 3-4 males come in after a few minutes, although none of them settled.

Found a pair of Dartford Warblers Sylvia undata nesting right beside the path and fluked this pic of the male as we walked past
(Dartford Warbler is a Schedule 1 species so we didn't linger)

26 April 2017

Red Mason Bees in the garden

Plenty of Red Mason Bee Osmia rufa action in the garden over the last week or so. A single female is nesting in our homemade bee hotel and it has been fascinating watching her building the cells and bringing in pollen for the larvae. Several males are also kicking about and frequently rest on the bee hotel waiting for females to appear. Witnessed one trying to mate with the female by grabbing her when she emerged from the nest cavity and forcing her to crash to the ground. But females only mate once and he was quickly seen off. So far only three nest cavities have been completed. However, the temperature has dropped by several degrees over the last few days which has no doubt slowed egg-laying.

All photos below taken with a Samsung Note 4 smartphone. It looks like Google have changed the image compression applied to images uploaded to Blogger and therefore photos on Blogger now look utter shite.

Female Red Mason Bee Osmia rufa after exiting her nest cavity, Worcester Park, 16 April 2017. Note the dusting of pollen - like all
solitary bees, Red Mason Bees do not have pollen baskets like Honey Bees do.

Red Mason Bee Osmia rufa, Worcester Park, 16 April 2017. The males have whitish hair on the face (blackish on females) and much
longer antenna.

Female Red Mason Bee Osmia rufa guarding her nest cavity, Worcester Park, 16 April 2017

Red Mason Bee nest cavity - penultimate cell sealed with mud (left), mud seal after last cell completed (right)

Our homemade bee hotel made from a salvaged piece of felled willow - took hours to drill the holes

Some excellent information about Red Mason Bees here.

10 April 2017

Thursley NNR: 10 April

Spent a few hours at Thursley Common this afternoon to try out a recently purchased pheromone lure for Emperor Moths Saturnia pavonia. The lure worked incredibly well. I tried two areas at the north end of Thursley Common and at the first site 2 male Emperors showed up within seconds of opening the lure (in fact moths were flying around me before I had even got the lure out of my bag, seemingly attracted to the lure before I had opened it!). Unfortunately it was quite breezy and none of the moths would settle, so no photos today.

Site A: SU905418
Set up lure: 15:21
First arrival: 15:21 (15:26 confirmed)
Total: 2m

Site B: SU908419
Set up lure: 16:04
First arrival: 16:06
Total: 1m

Site A: SU905418
Set up lure: 16:36
First arrival: 16:44
Total: 1m

Birds noted include: 7+ Barn Swallow, 2-3 Dartford Warbler (including 1m singing), 5 (2m 3f) Common Stonechat, several Linnet, 1 prob Woodlark and 2 Greylag Geese.

5 March 2017

Staines Moor: 5 March

A few quiet hours at the patch. Staines Moor 'highlights': 1 Water Pipit (Colne) with a metal ring on right leg, 6 Stonechat (4m, 2f), 3 Red Kite, 1 Common Buzzard, c. 30 Fieldfare (swamp) and a few Skylark (now singing). Also, photographed a few fruiting fungi that I will try and identify. On Stanwell Moor 3 Canada Geese were just about noteworthy.