Tuesday 30 June 2020

Comments on this blog!

A big sorry to everyone who have been leaving comments on this blog. I forgot I had put the moderator function on, after someone persistently kept trying to sell me parrots and have just been told by the Cream Tea Birder that I keep ignoring his comments :-). I've just published a load of past comments and will have a good read and correct my stringing- thanks for picking up on any wrong identifications, greatly appreciated and thanks for all the comments!
I did wonder why there weren't many comments recently.. I was beginning to think my moth id skills had reached guru status- alas... a big No.

The Old Vicarage

Enjoyed a very 'Norman' last few days, shopping, bbq, family time and gardening. What with the wind and rain I didn't even bother going to Otmoor, Farmoor or the Airfield to look for rarities (not the right wind and rain). I've spent a lot of time responding to the latest Viridor planning application too. They say 'Dare to be Dull' but it is very frightening.

So in order to knock myself into line I booked a trip to New Guinea to see Birds of Paradise (for my 50th in 2022). Also trying to get out to Bulgaria in August and September to move the Black Sea obs project forward. If I don't get out of this country soon I will be wearing crocs! I saw some for sale in LIDL yesterday and actually thought 'they would be handy for the garden instead of having to put my walking boots on and off'- that's how it starts!  

Anyway had a few new for years for the Old Vic moth list (191 for the year) and.... that was about it. The terrible thing about it all is that it was rather relaxing. 

 Early Thorn 
 All looking pretty good on the mini-farm 

Potatoes in pots- I know nothing about food growing (first time this year) but for anyone else as clueless as me if you put potatoes in pots and gradually fill up the pots to the brink as they grow you increase your yield and they are easier to harvest instead of having to dig them out. 
 A few spoils of our labour- Strawberries and Sugar snap Peas

Sunday 28 June 2020

More trouble at Farm

This is coming in fast now. We knew that problems would cluster considering that Viridor only have until the end of 2023 to catch up with a ten year delay on creating the reserve and in the last month alone we have been dealing with water level management problems, foxes raiding Lapwing and Little Ringed Plover nests, the official extinction of our Tree Sparrows, rogue developers exploiting lockdown and a sneaky bid by Viridor to alter the route of the public cycle paths and impair public access across the main site. Click on facebook post below or follow Beddington Farmlands on facebook for all the exciting adventures of how our local community are all pulling together to bring our Capitalist exploiters into the family and into the future. 

Saturday 27 June 2020

Moth trap at Little Oak HQ

Since I've had the Robinson's Trap I've wanted to try it up at our work base, at Little Woodcote on the North Downs chalk next to the Downs Project. As the weather was perfect for moths this week with night temperatures in the twentys I went for it and was gobsmacked with the volume of moths. Approximately 500 moths in the trap including Privet (3), Lime (1), Elephant (6) and Small Elephant (5)  Hawkmoths. Here's a few that I don't often get at my other trap sites (The Old Vicarage and Beddington Farmlands). 

 Just a small sample of the trap, I ran the trap on two nights through the main heat wave (Wednesday and Thursday nights) 
 A Mottled Beauty variant (?) It's a Dark Umber (thanks Edward!) 
 Brown-line Bright-eye. While I get the odd one at Beddington the trap was full of these. 
 Crambus pascuella
 Midget sp? I'm going for a worn Batia sp on this 
Mompha epilobiella or maybe Mompha ochraceella (Buff Mompha) ? 
Acorn Piercer, Pammene fasciana
Privet Hawkmoth- always stunning 

Tuesday 23 June 2020

Oxfordshire weekend

Another rather pleasant session in Oxfordshire. 

Unfortunately I've not been able to escape the stress of Beddington Farmlands completely as been working on the Save the Lapwings campaign (after my startling visit a couple of weeks ago)  and Viridor have also put a planning application in to clear a planning condition that involves putting a cycle path across the farmlands so been responding to that (yes they have put in a planning application to cop out of an existing planning condition to create a cycle path ) . On Friday also had a meeting with new campaigners who have moved into the neighbourhood and there's been discussions with Extinction Rebellion and various local activists about re-escalating campaign activity in light of recently exposed quagmires in both the CSG and CAMC and the stalling of progress on the restoration and attempts at reversing existing planning conditions. To crown the whole mess back in the crack, a planning application has been submitted here in Oxfordshire to build a 200 acre lorry park on green belt next to Waterstock Local Nature Reserve which the locals are beginning to fight. I really am getting sick of these people destroying what's left of nature.  There is a lot of extremely clever and wealthy people fighting the capitalists here, Oxfordshire has overall been very well preserved from the capitalist pandemic (still Spotted Flycatchers all over the village, Yellow Wagtails and Corn Buntings, Grey Partridges, breeding Curlews all on the doorstep)- maybe I can swap some street savy tactics for some high brow stuff? Might be just what we need? So much for my escape from eco-politics- within two weeks I have been completely sucked back in at even more fronts than before! 

Anyway on the sightings and outings front, the moth trapping has been pretty good, on Monday morning I did Otmoor and we had a family visit to Kirtlington Quarry in the afternoon. This morning I visited the airfield. The mini-farm has been doing well. On Sunday we had a roast dinner with home made and grown horse radish sauce, snap dragon peas, spinach and for pudding garden raspberry and strawberry pavlova. I'm hoping within a few weeks we will have at least some days when we will be completely self sufficient. 

 Curlew over Otmoor- several singing birds out on the MOD land . Also had a Grasshopper Warbler singing, Cuckoo and Marsh Harrier. 
Yellow Wagtail on the airfield- great to see these birds nesting in farmland crops. Also great to see nesting are Goldfinches in our wisteria at the Old Vic. The Spotted Flycatchers have also been in the garden and I also had them on the airfield and in the village.  Our Great Spotted Woodpeckers have fledged from the Walnut. 
 Corn Bunting at the airfield- great to see Yellow Wagtails and Corn Buntings doing well up there
 Common Starlings.  There were about 1000 on the MOD land at Otmoor but I couldn't find a Pinkie. 
 Plain Golden Y- what a stunner. A moth lifer 
 Saturday night was good for Plusiinae with 6 Burnished Brass (above) and 3 Plain Golden Y
 Orange Pine Twist 
 Orange Spotted Shoot 
 Light and dark morph Pepper Moths . Comment from county recorder Dave Wilton Nice! When you get one of the two melanic forms (the partial f.insularia or, as here, the fully melanic f.carbonaria) it would be very helpful if you could mention it as a comment. They are becoming much rarer these days.
 Fenland Pearl 
 Thyme Marble, Celypha cespitana . Comment from county recorder Dave Wilton Might be, can't be sure from the picture unfortunately. C.cespitana is not at all common in Bucks so would really need dissection to confirm.
 Sandy Longhorn . Comment from county recorder Dave Wilton Very difficult to separate metaxella and schwarziellus from a photo, I'm afraid.
 Dusky Pearl
Lappet, Elephant, Pine and Poplar Hawkmoth and Buff-tip
 Kirtlington Quarry (above and below). A Middle Jurrasic geological SSSI, where early mammals where found and a few dinosaurs. Had a few Pyramidal orchids. The walk along the canal was nice with all the long boats- another little local nature reserve gem in the local area. I've been toying with the idea of starting a new project (once I finish a couple of major papers I'm currently writing) - looking for fossil birds! I studied geology for years as I originally planned to go into mine restoration. There are some good Eocene deposits in North Kent which have been good for fossil birds. Recently on the Azores new rail species and quail species have been discovered which have been fascinating to read about. I might give it a go considering I live so close to some decent deposits. Will be good to get the old hammer out again and combine birding with geology! 

 The moth trap tonight lighting up the mini-farm 

Saturday 20 June 2020

High Summer Week

It's been so busy this week at work I missed a day in the field on Wednesday to catch up with paper work. Fortunately we seem to be very busy at work, it appears that the pandemic has sparked more interest in gardens. As we move into high summer it's almost impossible to keep up with all the new and interesting wildlife and garden ecology . It's been busy on the moth front at the Beddington Obs, Wednesday night saw a good influx of migrants in the stormy conditions with 8 Silver-Y, 2 Diamond-back Moths, White Points, L-album Wainscot, Neophopterix angustella and 3 Acrobasis repandana (more likely local dispersal than true migrants). 

Here's a few pictures of a few moths from the Beddington trap which we don't get so often. 

Blue-bordered Carpet
Barred Yellow
Pale Water Veneer, Donacaula forficella
True Lover's Knot
Brown Scallop (Can't think else what it can be) - a moth lifer for me 
L-album Wainscot 
Acrobasis repandana
Nephopterix angustella- presumably a migrant as associated with other migrants that night 
Anania perlucidalis
Cock's Head Bell Zeiraphera isertana
I'm going for Bud Moth, Spilonota ocellana on this one. Not an uncommon one at Beddington but every year these bird dropping mimics get me confused so good to get this one firmly in my head. 
This is the sort of thing that confuses me- I don't think this is the same as above. Maybe a Common Cloaked Shoot, Gypsonoma dealbana
One from earlier in the month, I think this is Scrobipalpa costella 

and here are three micros that I am currently stuck on 
Presumed Hollyhock Seed Moth, Pexicopia malvella 
Maybe a worn Crescent Bell, Epinotia bilunana
Maybe a Cherry-bark Moth, Enarmonia formosana? Update 130622, Probably a Common Cloaked Shoot, dark morph 
Little Oak Garden of the week was this chalk grassland themed garden in Coulsdon on the North Downs- no orchids unfortunately but Yellow Rattle, Marjarom, Sage etc fashioned in swathes in two areas of the garden, set amongst an interesting mix of plants for pollinators and fruits. 
This Artichoke Thistle (Cardoon) in the front garden although not quite flowering yet was nonetheless stunning. Its about 10ft! 
Nephew Sid has reared this Woodpigeon from a chick