Wednesday 30 June 2010

The Future's Bright, The Future's Orange

Well what a way to celebrate the one year anniversary of when I first ran a moth trap in my garden! Last night was an excellent night for moths, and my two traps pulled in an amazing 367 moths of 70 species!!!

This mass of moths included six new species for the garden, with this beaut being the most surprising...

A stonking Orange Moth!

Equally as stunning though was this..

Lilac Beauty

With the other four new'uns being...

Barred Straw

Little Emerald

A very battered and worn Plain Golden Y

And two of these; Miller

Ok, so that's the new ones, here are the other 360 macros moths from this morning (with new for year in red): 67 Heart and Dart, 24 Riband Wave, 19 Heart and Club, 18 Willow Beauty, 16 Flame, 12 Uncertain, 12 Flame Shoulder, 11 Pug sp., 11 Fanfoot, 10 Minorsp., 9 Elephant Hawkmoth, 9 Buff Arches, 7 Common Marbled Carpet, 7 Brimstone, 7 Grey Dagger, 6 Scorched Wing, 6 Clouded Silver, 6 Bright-line Brown-eye, 5 Buff-tip, 5 Double Square-spot, 5 Large Yellow Underwing, 5 Dark Arches, 5 Small Fanfoot, 4 Light Emerald, 4 Poplar Hawkmoth, 4 Snout, 3 Foxglove Pug, 3 Sharp-angled Peacock, 3 Buff Ermine, 3 Poplar Grey, 3 Clouded Brindle, 3 Ingrailed Clay, 2 Peach Blossom, 2 Common Emerald, 2 Common Carpet, 2 Cypress Carpet, 2 Clouded Border, 2 White Ermine, 2 Common Footman, 2 Shuttle-shaped Dart, 2 Light Arches, 2 Green Silver-lines, 2 Small Angle Shades, 2 Treble Lines, 2 Lychnis, 2 Coronet, 2 Mottled Rustic, 2 Spectacle and singles of: Garden Carpet, Pine Carpet, Grey Pine Carpet, Scorched Carpet, Foxglove Pug, The Fern, Brussels Lace, Common Wave, Rosy Footman, Pale Tussock, Peppered Moth, Dot Moth, Angle Shades, Beautiful Hook-tip and Straw Dot.

What a morning! Not only have I sorted though this lot this morning, I've also done two bird surveys (one in Exeter!) and written the twice monthly local birding newsletter!

Great news for the followers of this blog who are not moth fans. Yes, moths will still feature very heavily, but tomorrow is July 1st...and what does that mean??? Well that means it's time to dust the bins and scope off and go birding....

Tuesday 29 June 2010

It Never Rains But It Pours

I've not been using rain guards on my moth traps recently - bearing in mind the hot sunny days. Last night, as I was falling asleep on the sofa at 23:30, I half heard a weather man on the telly say "cloud will build up early morning with a chance of rain"... So I stumbled outside and attached the rain guards... good job too!

When my alarm went off at 4am, it was absolutely BUCKETING down!!!! I rushed outside, covered over both traps - and I'm now drying everything out!! When I went to bed last night, their were MASSES of moths about, but whenever it rains, any moths resting outside the traps disappear to find shelter. I reckon if it hadn't have rained I would have had another 100+ moths this morning :-(

I have three nights of trapping to mention, as I've already spoken about last night this is where I shall start...

166 moths of 48 species included no new for the garden! But it did include: 28 Heart and Dart, 12 Heart and Club, 9 Flame Shoulder, 9 Dark Arches, 8 Minor sp., 7 Willow Beauty, 7 Elephant Hawkmoth, 7 Buff Arches, 6 Brimstone, 5 Grey Dagger, 4 Pug sp., 4 Flame, 4 Bright-line Brown-eye, 4 Uncertain, 3 Common Marbled Carpet, 3 Riband Wave, 3 Pale Tussock, 3 Buff Ermine, 3 Clouded Brindle, 3 Treble Lines, 2 Purple Bar, 2 Double Square-spot, 2 Large Yellow Underwing, 2 Sycamore, and singles of: Green Silver-lines, Common Emerald, Light Emerald, Silver-ground Carpet, Green Carpet, Small Seraphim, Common Pug, Double-striped Pug, Mottled Beauty, Eyed Hawkmoth, Magpie, White Ermine, Buff-tip, Pebble Prominent, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Dot Moth, Coronet, Lychnis, Mottled Rustic, Poplar Grey, Straw Dot, Spectacle, Fanfoot and Small Fanfoot.

Sunday night one trap gave me 96 moths of 30 species, this included a gorgeous first for the garden...

Barred Yellow

The rest of the catch was: 21 Heart and Club, 9 Riband Wave, 8 Uncertain, 7 Heart and Club, 6 Flame, 4 Common Marbled Carpet, 4 Willow Beauty, 4 Elephant Hawkmoth, 4 Buff Ermine, 3 Pug sp., 3 Dark Arches, 3 Flame Shoulder, 3 Straw Dot, 2 Eyed Hawkmoth, 2 Large Yellow Underwing, 2 Minor sp., 2 Coronet, 2 Spectacle, 2 Fanfoot and singles of: Foxglove Pug, May Highflyer, Scorched Wing, Brimstone, Buff Arches, Buff-tip, Grey Dagger, Small Clouded Brindle, Double-square Spot and Lychnis.

Rewinding back even more, and Friday night gave me 128 moths of 41 species. A new for the garden was this...

Small Clouded Brindle

The rest of the catch looked like: 22 Heart and Dart, 12 Heart and Club, 8 Minor sp., 7 Riband Wave, 7 Willow Beauty, 7 Uncertain, 6 Dark Arches, 4 Flame, 4 Bright-line Brown-eye, 3 Figure of Eighty, 3 Buff Arches, 3 Grey Dagger, 3 Flame Shoudler, 3 Straw Dot, 2 Common Marbled Carpet, 2 Pug sp., 2 Elephant Hawkmoth, 2 Buff Ermine, 2 White Ermine, 2 Double-square Spot, 2 Clouded Brindle, 2 Green Silver-lines, 2 Silver Y and singles of: Common Emerald, Pine Carpet, Sandy Carpet, Swallow-tailed Moth, Peppered Moth, Eyed Hawkmoth, Pebble Prominent, Buff-tip, Brown Silver-lines, Scorched Wing, Lychnis, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Small Angle Shades, Light Arches, Spectacle, Fanfoot and Snout.

Saturday day, after some very nice sun bathing on Lyme Regis beach, a Scarlet Tiger was nice to see near the Pitch and Putt course.

It's not just moths the garden has offered, as yesterday I saw a new butterfly for the year flying around the back garden...


I shall finish this post with a couple of photos of one of three young Barn Owls I ringed yesterday. They were at a regular nest site for this species near Stockland Mast.

Always a pleasure to handle this exquisite species :-)

Friday 25 June 2010

A Night Of Pure Pleasure

No this is not an 'adult' post... but if you love Storm Petrels as much as I do, then this is pretty hardcore stuff!!

On Wednesday I finished work as usual at 22:15, but instead of driving home, having a beer then going to sleep, I drove northwards...

At 00:20 (now Thursday) I rolled up at Hartland Point, north Devon. Here, after my little Peugeot 106 had it's 4x4 abilities tested to the max driving through various fields, I met up with two of north Devon's finest ringers. Up until when I arrived, the full moon ensured the night had started quiet, but thankfully a bank of cloud moved over from the north and it got dark proper.

We sat back, supping red wine, listening to the speaker blasting out a fine mix of Storm Petrel calls. Within half an hour, I had one of these super critters in my hand....WOW! We had the nets up and 'tunes' playing until 3:30am, in which time we caught six Stormies. Five of these were 'fresh' birds (un-ringed) and one a control. I had the pleasure of being able to ring four of the five, and I processed the control. I can't thank Jon and Patrick enough... thankyou SO MUCH!

When I saw the first dark blob nestled in one of the top shelfs of a mist net I nearly screamed with excitement!

Storm Petrel is without doubt the best bird in the hand EVER! They are so small, their feathers so soft, yet they are so tough! They have the most amazing smell, and the oil on their feathers leave your hands feeling like they've been working in a fish mongers all morning!

Anyway here's a few pics of the first bird, they are just soooooo brilliant....

A thing of absolute beauty

For their size they are so long winged. I guess they have to be!!

Sooooooooooooo cute!

And look at those tiny webbed feet!

At 4am I crawled into the tent Jon had kindly set up for me and was just falling to sleep as the first Skylark began to sing!!! I was up again at 7am, and not only has this experience got me hooked on Stormie ringing, it has got me hooked on camping too! Waking up with Yellowhammers, Skylarks, Whitethroats and a single Gropper singing is just incredible. Love it!

It was nice to see the ringing site in the daylight, and I was surprised how high up we were. This is the view from where we had the nets set...

100 foot cliff face down below!!

Base camp

My bedroom!

I left Hartland at 10am, and was home by 12:15. I checked the contents of the moth trap I'd left out in the garden, and then grabbed a few hours kip before I had to go to work.

It was hard work, it was tiring, but I would do it again tonight! I am in love with Storm Petrels and I'm not afraid to show it!

So, now to moths, and I had a single trap out last night and Stormie night, and have had three firsts to show for it!

Wednesday night's new moth was this stonker...

Green Silver-lines, nice!!!

And last night I got these two new'uns...

Broom Moth

Small Seraphim; it really is small!

Wednesday night saw 83 moths of 30 species; 23 Heart and Dart, 5 Willow Beauty, 5 Heart and Club, 5 Bright-line Brown-eye, 5 Flame, 3 Common Marbled Carpet, 3 Elephant Hawkmoth, 3 Small Square-spot, 3 Flame Shoulder, 2 Light Emerald, 2 Foxglove Pug, 2 Setacous Hebrew Character, 2 Grey Dagger, 2 Large Yellow Underwing, 2 Uncertain, 2 Straw Dot and singles of: Buff Arches, Common Swift, Riband Wave, Flame Carpet, Pine Carpet, Double-striped Pug, Clouded Silver, White Ermine, Vine's Rustic, Ingrailed Clay, Dark Arches, Minor sp., Small Fanfoot and the Green Silver-lines.

Last night offered 99 moths of 34 species; 24 Heart and Dart, 13 Heart and Club, 6 Uncertain, 5 Flame, 4 Willow Beauty, 4 Flame Shoulder, 4 Minor sp., 3 Buff Ermine, 3 Grey Dagger, 3 Ingrailed Clay, 2 Figure of Eighty, 2 Pug sp., 2 Small Square-spot, 2 Bright-line Brown-eye, 2 Spectacle and singles of: Buff-tip, Riband Wave, Common Marbled Carpet, Flame Carpet, Foxglove Pug, Double-striped Pug, Clouded Silver, Brimstone, Elephant Hawkmoth, Swallow Prominent, Rustic, Vine's Rustic, Dark Arches, Small Angle Shades, Lychnis, Common Wainscot, Straw Dot plus the Broom Moth and Small Seraphim.

This morning I enjoyed a bit more ringing, which included four young Spotted Flycatchers and four young Song Thrushes. I hope all fledge and live long...but it's unlikely!

Tuesday 22 June 2010

An Exciting Day On Patch!

Yesterday was a good day - unless you were the female Goldfinch in our front garden... (see earlier post).

We spent the morning ringing on Colyford Common, and it was nice to catch plenty of young birds - including our first juvenile Kingfisher of the year! We also caught an adult...

We trap so few adults Kingfishers compared with first year birds, so this really is notable

In total we caught 63 birds of 16 species - this included ANOTHER 14 adult Reed Warblers! They are thriving here!!! Just why are we trapping so many in a relatively small reed bed!?? Do birds roam about the entire river valley from reedbed to reedbed? It is quite astonishing!

It was also great to hear about some really fascinating re-traps and controls, which really makes all our hard work worthwhile... I'll list the best few, with the first one being the most interesting I think...

Cetti's Warbler:
A first-year (juvenile) female was trapped and ringed on 13th Septemeber 2009 at Farlington Marshes, Hampshire. The Axe Estuary Ringing Group caught it in a mist net at Colyford Common on 19th April 2010. That's a distance of 144km, and it will be interesting to see if we capture it again.

Sedge Warbler:
The Axe Estuary Ringing Group trapped and ringed a juvenile on Colyford Marsh on 27th August 2009. On 1st May 2010 it was re-captured in Derbyshire at Poolsbook. Nice to know it got to Africa and back in one piece! I presume it was born in Derbyshire, and we caught it during its southward migration.

Reed Bunting:
One of several The Axe Estuary Ringing Group trapped and ringed on 30th October 2009 in the crop field on Colyford Common was controlled on 14th Marsh 2010 at Westonzoyland, Somerset. We can presume that this bird breeds on the Somerset Levels and came to our patch for at least some of the winter, I wonder if it will return here again?

Brilliant...just bloody brilliant! This is why I love bird ringing so much, and I am simply over the moon! FANTASTIC!

Birds we didn't catch but saw included four Black-tailed Godwits and a Bar-tailed Godwit on The Estuary. It was also great to see our home grown Oystercatcher, it is now fully-fledged and looks almost identical to its Mum and Dad! The darker bill being the main give away.

After our busy morning, I hunted down a butterfly tick for me...on patch too! Thanks to Karen for the gen, mid afternoon I was looking on the lower slopes of the undercliff just east of the harbour mouth for Small Blues. I found two, both males, one much more worn than the other. Here's a few pics of the fresher individual...

A very delicate butterfly, nice to see on patch :-)

Moth time now I'm afraid! Have had one trap out over the past two nights, but have no new species for the garden to show for it!!! Numbers weren't too bad though...

Sunday night; 89 moths of 24 species; 45 Heart and Dart, 5 Minor sp., 4 Heart and Club, 3 Pale Tussock, 3 Bright-line Brown-eye, 2 Riband Wave, 2 Common Marbled Carpet, 2 Elephant Hawkmoth, 2 Flame Shoulder, 2 Uncertain, 2 Vine's Rustic, 2 Ingrailed Clay, 2 Small Square-spot, and singles of: Garden Carpet, Rivulet, Pug sp., Willow Beauty, Orange Footman, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Treble Lines, Shark, Knot Grass, Spectacle and Snout.

Last night; 102 moths of 26 species; 36 Heart and Dart, 6 Heart and Club, 6 Minor sp., 5 Pug sp., 5 Bright-line Brown-eye, 5 Ingrailed Clay, 4 Elephant Hawkmoth, 4 Uncertain, 3 Riband Wave, 3 Willow Beauty, 3 Sycamore, 3 Flame, 2 Buff Ermine, 2 Lychnis, 2 Dark Arches, 2 Grey Dagger, 2 Spectacle and singles of: Common Marbled Carpet, Foxglove Pug, Green Pug, Peppered Moth, Flame Shoulder, Large Yellow Underwing, Vine's Rustic, Mottled Rustic and Shears.

I won't be trapping tonight, as I need to get plenty of sleep! If all goes to plan, tomorrow night should be a busy, tiring, but very exciting night for me! Watch this space.....

R.I.P. Mrs Goldfinch

I wanted a separate post for this, it was a very bizarre event that I witnessed yesterday morning...

I was in the front garden, emptying my moth trap, when I heard an unusual call from our largest tree.

It was a Goldfinch, uttering a single noted call, one I hadn't heard before. Then all of a sudden, from it's perch high up in this tree, it dropped like a stone to the ground. She flopped around in grass very briefly, but then stopped moving altogether. I walked over to find her dead.

We have had a pair of Goldfinches in the garden for a few months now, and the male was out there this morning, singing away - hoping to find a new mate I presume?

Here she is, for the last time...

...Rest in Peace

Saturday 19 June 2010

Green Is Good

Have been trapping for the past two nights. On Thursday night I had both traps out, last night just one. Had one new for the garden on each night!

The first was probably the least exciting new moth for me ever...

A Brown Rustic...not far from being an ex-Brown Rustic me thinks!!!!

But today's was one of my best ever...

Green Arches....Phwoar!!!

The full lists are as follows....

Thursday night; 151 of 46 species; 44 Heart and Dart, 9 Bright-line Brown-eye, 8 Elephant Hawkmoth, 7 Minor sp., 6 Dark Arches, 5 Figure of Eighty, 5 Pug sp., 5 Grey Dagger, 4 Willow Beauty, 4 Spectacle, 3 Common Marbled Carpet, 3 Flame Carpet, 3 Pale Tussock, 3 Buff Ermine, 3 Small Square-spot, 3 Straw Dot, 2 Riband Wave, 2 Foxglove Pug, 2 Poplar Hawkmoth, 2 Brimstone, 2 Heart and Club, 2 Flame, 2 Treble Lines and singles of: Oak Hook-tip, Green Carpet, Common Carpet, Spruce Carpet, Rivulet, Scorched Wing, Clouded Border, Mottled Beauty, Pebble Prominet, Lobster Moth, Buff-tip, Scalloped Hazel, Flame Shoulder, Middle-barred Minor, Ingrailed Clay, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Rustic, Uncertain, Brown Rustic, Coronet, Alder Moth, Sycamore and Silver Y.

Friday night; 130 moths of 39 species; 55 Heart and Dart, 7 Heart and Club, 5 Flame Shoulder, Small Square-spot, 5 Minor sp., 4 Poplar Hawkmoth, 3 Foxglove Pug, 3 Willow Beauty, 3 Flame, 3 Large Yellow Underwing, 3 Vine's Rustic, 2 Riband Wave, 2 Green Carpet, 2 Elephant Hawkmoth, 2 Bright-line Brown-Eye, 2 Knot Grass and singles of: Figure of Eighty, Light Emerald, Maiden's Blush, Common Marbled Carpet, Purple Bar, Double-striped Pug, Pug sp., Scorched Wing, Brimstone, Lobster Moth, Pale Tussock, Buff Ermine, Shuttle-shaped Dart, Mottled Rustic, Uncertain, Brown Rustic, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Grey Dagger, Dark Arches, Green Arches, Coronet, Straw Dot and Fanfoot.

Here's my second Brown Rustic...

Much fresher than my first!

A Marsh Tit was a very notable (albeit brief) visitor in the front garden this morning, and our two Bullfinches are still present regularly, and posed nicely on one of our feeders yesterday...

Hopefully they have a nest nearby?

Over the garden I've had a single Siskin on two of three days during the last week, I wonder if they are breeding in Couchill Woods?? Also Linnets have been unusually regular for a non-passage period.

Am working all of tomorrow, and with a cool night forecasted I won't be trapping tonight.