Sunday 31 July 2022

New Micro-moth Book

My copy of the excellent Common Micro-moths of Berkshire here by Nick Asher and the Berkshire Moth Group arrived this week. Through a combination of 200 common species and 200 similar looking less common species, it covers over 400 species which could be found in  this part of the world (or anywhere in Southern England). The large format high quality images, clearly annotated with comparison species side by side and concise descriptions is a highly effective formula for an identification guide- the best gateway guide to micro-moth identification that I have come across. Using this book in combination with the BWP micro-moth bible (Sterling et al) and comparing with on line resources such as Norfolk moths micro-moths flying tonight and the  UK Moths website and using feedback from various apps, facebook groups and help from Irecord validators means that micro-moth recording is completely accessible for everyone.

Here's a few highlights from the Old Vic moth trap over last couple of days. 

Dewick's Plusia- a first for the Old Vic. Nice to get this Beddington speciality here too . All time Old Vic moth list now on 566 and year list is 407 (480 across all the sites I've done this year). 
Tufted Button- a cracking little moth 
I presume this is just a Barred Fruit Tree Tortrix 
The double grey patches and the two spots perpendicular to the dorsum suggests Thicket Knot-horn, Acrobasis suavella 
I presume this is Poplar Cosmet 
Golden Argent 
Red Underwing- gorgeous! 
Rosy striped Knot-horn- a great looking specimen 
These have started appearing- male Oak Processionary moths. Apparently no need to worry about the highly dispersive males. If we catch a female will need to report them to the Forestry Commission. 
Water Plantain Conch I think . 311222 update- all these are gen dent jobs. 
I was wondering whether this might be a Southern Wainscot- looks like a lightly marked Smoky Wainscot with what appears to be a dark mono-eye brow (above and below) 

I know these grey looking ermines can't be done but presumably they are not the usual Willow or Bird Cherry Ermines 
Dark Sword Grass
Pale Bordered Piercer- still not managed to get a sharp photo of this tiny moth
Using the new micro-book I was wondering whether these might not be Common Marble (what I usually presume). There doesn't seem to be a cross streak between the two pale patches (that produces a H). If not Common Marble maybe the top one is Orthotaenia undalana and the bottom Thyme Marble (more streamlined in shape, also lacking longitudinal streak and more contrasting? 311222 update- the CMR team aren't having any of these so presumably need to retain any suspects for gen dent. 

Flounced Rustic- a new for year 
Kent Bent-wing- another tiny beast, a first for site if correctly identified . 311222- Rejected by CMR Team. Could be Phyllonorycter harrisella. 
Honeysuckle Moth
Marbled Bell- always stunning to see
Cats get a hard time for killing birds but the Old Vic dog (Izzy) is a relentless killer of our garden birds. A Red Kite stole this off her (after she left it unattended briefly). 
Sunday roast- plenty of food now ready for harvest in the mini-farm 

Friday 29 July 2022

Beddington Farmlands visit

A nice evening at Beddington yesterday. Zach tipped me off on Brown Hairstreaks along the path so we met up in the evening and indeed Zach found another one (a Beddington lifer for me) and we also had a bonus Marsh Harrier flying high over towards the north east. Also Common and Green Sand, Lapwings and also Shoveler and Teal numbers beginning to build. Autumn migration is well and truly underway. 

Brown Hairsteak (at last!) 
Marsh Harrier picked up as dot by Zach 
Always fashionably late to the breeding party- the first Tufted Ducks have appeared recently 
An Old Lady in the North Lake hide

Wednesday 27 July 2022

Bonus day

I got the day off today as things tend to slow down at work for the summer holidays. It gave me a chance to catch up with things at the Old Vic (mucking out the chickens, setting up more arboreal features in the Paludarium, backing up files, catching up with paperwork, doing some garden birding etc). I've been trying the Raspberry Clearwing lure for a couple of weeks now and finally today (and luckily that I was off) I got a result. It's still a rare moth in Bucks so a good find. I also had Common Roller moth in the trap - so two lifers in a day which is a bonus considering I was supposed to be in London.  

Raspberry Clearwing. That's the 5th species of Clearwing in the garden this year now including Red-belted, Orange-tailed, Currant, Red-tipped and now Raspberry. There's also evidence of Hornet moths in the poplars. I've tried for Yellow-legged and Six-belted too but despite many days trying, no luck. The Raspberry Clearwing is only four or five known sites in the whole county so one of the rarest moths I've had here (but presumably will more records with the use of more lures). More from Upper Thames Moth blog here
Common Roller, Ancylis badiana
I thought this might be a Bank Conch, Gynidomorpha luridana but Irecord has come back with very scarce in the region so it's presumably something else.
I lump all these as Coleophora sp. Be nice to be able to put names to some of them. This one looked pretty distinctive. 
Wakely's Dowd- don't often get one so well marked
Swallows gathering on the wires in the Sheep Field. Early autumn is underway (also had a Rosy Rustic moth this morning).  I usually switch back to birds this time of year, prime time for adult waders but not had any opportunities yet to get away. Hopefully will have a day in Kent next Friday. Despite advice to the contrary, having a second child has been a real deal breaker for time to go birding. Having one puts things on a knife edge but the second one really does tip things over the edge. I refute the claim that having two children makes little difference to having one as they do everything together and amuse each other. That might be true for twins or closely aged children but with one at five years old and one at seven months, they have very different needs and demands and schedules which basically results in a somewhat uncompromising situation. A good excuse to concentrate on garden wildlife and homestead skills as the children really enjoy that too. 

Tuesday 26 July 2022

The week that was

Another busy week and a quick catch up post. After the UK's hottest day last Tuesday , I was in London for two days (had the moth trap up at my mum's) and then back in Bucks Friday before back to London with the family for a wedding (Steve and Trish's) on Saturday. Since Sunday been here at the Old Vic, on Monday it was a day at Cotswold Wildlife Park (School holidays have started) and today was the usual shopping at Thame Market (highlights as always were chatting with the Guru Fishmonger, Sharkey and going to Patrick and Kitty's Cafe) before back to the Old Vic.

Best on the bird front was a singing Treecreeper on Sunday morning, the first juvenile Red Kite for the year and the tit flock continuing to build. 

The good run of moths continues. All time Old Vic list is now on 555 and the year list is 384. Some interesting comments on this Upper Thames Moths blog post I did about some of the July stand out moths here . 


Vestal. Migrants here are so special (as so rare). There's also been up to 7 Rush Veneers on one night, several Diamond-back Moths, Turnip and single Rusty Dot Pearls. 
Coxcomb Prominent was a first for the year 
Mere Wainscot- new for year
Rosy-striped Knot-horn, a new for year.  
Grey-streaked Diamond-back 
Wainscot Smudge 
Sycamore Piercer- this photo was from my mum's garden but had two of these in the Raspberry Clearwing lure
Brown-line Bright eye- seems to be have been a good run of these here this year 
I very rarely see this moth, Bordered Beauty at the Old Vic and on at least two occasions I've found them inside rather than in the light trap 
Green-veined White this evening in the potatoes 
Izzy (the dog) caught this Hedgehog which we took to the local Tigglewinkles Wildlife Hospital. It just needed some antibiotics after being in the dogs mouth and some care to an injured leg.  
Finally extended the chicken run after they outgrew their brooder house
Our family at Steve's wedding 

Tuesday 19 July 2022

The Old Vicarage, UK's Hottest Day

Today was officially the hottest day in the UK ever with the 40 C barrier finally broken. It was an incredible day and eclipsed yesterday in terms of intensity and duration (a mere 37 C). We kept cool in the pop up pool and had a BBQ in the evening as the first storm clouds rolled in bringing the heat wave to an end. 

With excellent mothing conditions since I got back from London on Friday the last few days have been full on. The garden moth year list is now on 362 and the all time garden moth list on 549. Across all the UK sites I've been recording my personal year list is 440. 

Highlights have included a Hummingbird Hawkmoth feeding on the Lavenders on Friday, finally got Scalloped Hook-tip, a Large Twin-spot Carpet and been plenty of micros to identify and also Common Darter and Migrant Hawker were great to see as don't get many dragonflies in the garden. 

On the bird front, pretty quiet especially in the heat but nice to see the tit flocks building now.

Juvenile Long-tailed Tit, the first signs of autumn with the garden tit flock forming now
Common Darter
Poplar Shoot- I think this is a new one 
Sallow Kitten
Large Twin-spot Carpet
I've taken a shot with Citron Plume on this. More like Dingy White Plume (see here comments from Will Langdon) Update 311222- CMR team says can't rule out Common Plume. 
Gone for Pale Lettuce Bell 
Poplar (above) and Small Elephant Hawkmoth (below). Plenty of hawkmoths in these conditions but Privet Hawks look like post peak now. 

Magpie- the first for the year
Had three of these (Box Tree Moths) and fed them all to the chickens. The most I've caught here. I did say that if I ever get Jersey Tiger and Oak Processionary here along with Box Tree moths I would declare that climate change has finally reached Bucks but its already a close thing what with 3 of these and the UKs hottest day this week. 
I thought this looked more like Dioryctria sylvestrella ? Probably can't be done from photo and may not even by a Dioryctria see comments here from Upper Thames Moth blog group
Waved Black- had these at the North Downs already this year but nice to get it in the garden too
Scalloped Hook-tip. Was on the wish list. Lifer. 
Still working on it - maybe a Teasel Marble 
Least Yellow Underwing- a scarce moth here
On the night of 19th-20th  (following the UK's hottest day) there wasn't the diversity of moths I was expecting. Not sure if dispersal or migration can 'burn out' if a heat wave continues for 'too' long. There was only 71 moth species but accompanying them were lots of other bugs and beetles including this presumed Dark Bush Cricket- a new species for the garden pan species list. 
Chickens getting on well- over six weeks old now. Will be extending the run soon. 
All good in the Paludarium. Made an error this weekend and bought two Red-clawed Crabs and a Mozambique Shrimp. Not only did the crabs eat the Shrimp (£20! and lasted an hour) but we also found two of our African Dwarf Frogs dead too (either related to the heat or crab meat).
Jacob with an Eyed Hawkmoth from last week
One of the Butterfly beds with Common Loosestrife is enjoying the sun. Plenty of butterflies in the garden over last few days; Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns, Brimstone, Red Admiral, Essex Skipper, Large and Small Whites and Commas
Been busy keeping the mini-farm watered which is really relaxing at the end of a very hot day
Managed to get in a strim the pathways and also managed to finally strim the Pumpkin field
Hummingbird Hawkmoth on the Lavenders- the first for the garden