Tuesday 30 August 2022

Beet moth invasion

I'd only recorded Beet moth, Scrobipalpa ocellatella a week or so ago for the first time and if I understand correctly it was only recorded in Bucks county for the first time recently too. However last night I had 72 in the trap so presumably an invasion occurring perhaps linked to the weather this summer? 

Also new for year was a Small Ranunculus and also another Dark Sword Grass.

Not much else happening round here, 31 species on the garden bird survey this morning, Ebird list here. Main change has been a couple of flocks of House Martins and Swallows that must be gathering in the village somewhere. Up to 35 House Martins and 18 Swallows. Grey Wagtails are regular again after a long break through the summer. The first Raven in months yesterday. The tit flock is mainly Blue Tit this year (about 20) with lesser numbers of Long-tailed and Greats. Migrant wise it's just the odd Blackcap and Chiffchaff and the occasional Yellow Wagtails calling overhead. Stuck on 76 species for the year HERE

Been using the Obsidentify app to record beetles, flies, bugs and spiders etc in the garden and light trap. The Old Vic pan species list is now on 1153, the all time moth list is 588 and moth year list is 456.  

The dog keeps killing our garden fledglings- it's had three Song Thrush this year, another one yesterday. Also another Woodpigeon yesterday. If it wasn't for Bird Flu around this year I'd eat these with our garden vegetables (did that in the past with Woodpigeons).   

Beet moths (above and below). Most of those dark spots on the below image are Beet moths. 

Small Ranunculus 
Feathered Gothic - a stunner . Three of these last night. 

Sunday 28 August 2022

Last few days

Been a busy few days, did a couple of days in London working, visited the farmlands and went to see a show with Fran in Central London, more family days out this weekend (Black Country Museum, a break from a nature themed attraction) and trying to keep up with everything at the Old Vic. Spent all day today doing stuff round here, starting with moths and quick bird survey, cleaning and filling the feeders , then had to prune the pumpkin plants, dig out a load of potatoes, harvest carrots and tomatoes, muck out the chickens, clean the aquariums and also move the small aquarium from Jacob's room to the office ahead of Jacob starting year 2 school next week. 

Mark Constantine called last week with the exciting news that Roy Dennis and Co are looking into the possibility of a high profile bird  reintroduction project in London . We shared some ideas and I’ve put out feelers for feedback too. Fingers crossed this develops further with the possibility of Beddington being involved . 

Less than two weeks before the trip to West Papua so still preparing for that . The Azores pelagic ended yesterday - sounds like a good success (see my Twitter for reposts ).  Basically all good on all fronts . 

The mini-farm, in our attempt to keep the whole thing 'chaining', Bryan has put in a load of broad beans that are beginning to grow. Still got Sweet corn and Pumpkins to come and loads more Tomatoes, Cabbages,  Green Peppers and Potatoes, Runner beans, Apples and Pears and Carrots. This year in addition to the above we've had Beetroot, Sugar snap peas, Broad Beans, Early Potatoes, Plums, Strawberries, Raspberries and Gooseberries (a bad year for them), Lettuce, Rocket, Garlic and Onions. Can't wait for the Chickens to start laying eggs (should be November).  
The prize potato harvested today
Pruned the Pumpkin plants today- we've got about 10 of these this year (from over 20 plants) so not a great year (we did put them in quite late) but some of the first food we've grown from our own seeds from the previous year
Not sure if our cockerel is a pedigree Light Sussex with brown areas appeared recently around the nape and scapulars. Still a good looking bird though and after a bit of practising over the last two or three weeks it's now doing full on 6am cockadoodles. If the neighbours complain will have to eat it for xmas and just keep the hens for eggs. The tails feathers have grown now, an incredible rate of growth, born in early June and it's already nearly mature and the three hens we've got should start laying around six months (November) 
Literally shocked to see that this Yellow-bellied Toad is still alive and well in the Paludarium. We haven't seen it for about four months. Amazing that even a tiny microcosm habitat can have pretty big secrets. 
Another surprise in the Paludarium was this wax moth that has pupated from the wax worm grubs we feed the Common Frogs. It did well to get to adult stage (but was eaten soon after). Not quite a Bioactive system yet but one small step closer. 
Dark Spectacle- don't get too many of these 
A couple of these recently, Common Marbled Carpets (second brood presumably) 
I presume just a Square-spot Rustic variant. More of these appearing now. Still getting 250 moths a night but only of 40 or 50 species and mainly dominated by five or six species. Still getting good numbers of Rush Veneers but looks like moth migration has shifted back to being concentrated on coast during these low pressure systems, there's been huge number of migrants at places like Portland but no corresponding up tick here. The best migrant period here was during that sustained period of high pressure where we were disproportionally doing well here in relative terms to the coast (with not that much going on there). 
Feathered Gothic- new for year
The closest I can get to this is Ginger Button
A couple of gelechiids- the one above I think is Dark Groundling and the one below another Beet Moth (had three of these in what appears to have been an influx last night with numbers reported in other sites in the Upper Thames area) . Update 300822- nope they are both Beet Moths (thanks Stephen Palmer). 

Wednesday 24 August 2022

The moth migrants keep coming

Two Vestals yesterday in the moth trap, one of them 'fresh-as' with an almost felt tip drawn line. The Rush Veneers keep coming. According to Steve Nash (admin of Migrant Lepidoptera facebook page) this is the best year for migrants since 2006. On the subject of insect migration check out my twitter feed for posts (always best to view this blog on website view to see all the cool stuff I'm picking up that other people are doing)  from Will Hawkes on research he has been doing on insect migration in Cyprus- mind blowing stuff! 

Centre-barred Sallow- first for the year and presumably pretty early too 
A stunning Vestal 
I presume this is a dark Marbled Piercer- nice looking moth  
Birdswing- according to the Upper Thames Moth site this is not a rare county species but it's the first I've had at the Old Vic
Hoary Footman? 
This week's school holiday outing with the kids was a visit to the Living Rainforest HERE. Another addition to my 'nature finds a way in the home counties' list. Fischer's Touraco and Yellow-billed Carrosaw  (below) are hiding out in Berkshire. Another great family nature attraction- Jacob loved it. This site is  really hot on plants too which is great to see. For plants the best family attractions are here and Cotswold Wildlife Park. 

Sunday 21 August 2022

The Old Vicarage, migrants and more

The moth migrant activity continues at the Old Vic. We haven't been trapping here regularly enough to know for sure but this year seems to be exceptional (compared to last year for example). Up to 27 Rush Veneer in one night and many records of Dark Sword Grass, Vestals and also Pearly Underwing, Bordered Straw, Dewick's Plusia and now Small Mottled Willow with smaller numbers of Diamond-backs and Rusty-dot Pearls and other migrant suspects. It's been great and not been feeling too bad about being inland this year (so far). Would be nice to get a Striped Hawkmoth or some other top drawer moth as the cherry on top. All time moth list for the Old Vic now on 585 and year list 449 (unverified). 

 Been harvesting some of the mini-farm food this weekend- it's been a bumper season on that front too. 

Not much happening on the garden bird front, the Robins are singing again, it seems like the silent summer period is coming to an end. A Buzzard is using the Spruce again to patrol from (same as this time last year so presumably same bird) and there has been the odd Blackcap about and a Willow Warbler a few days ago. Ebird list from yesterday HERE.

Been busy getting ready for our trip to West Papua which begins on 9th September. Beefing up on the bird species were are likely to encounter and also been purchasing some tropical camping gear for the night we are roughing it in the rainforest. 

The Azores Pelagic 2022 starts this weekend, led this year by Vincent Legrand. The trip has got off to an exceptional start as a White-winged Crossbill (the American race of Two-barred Crossbill) was found yesterday and the group twitched it successfully this morning. More on these annual trips HERE

Here's a few photo highlights from last few days:

Small Mottled Willow
I went for Dark Pine Knot-horn on this
A bit of Dark Sword Grass size variation
Pale Eggar
Six-stripe Rustic- a couple of these this morning. 310 moths in the trap this morning but mainly Setaceous Hebrew Character, Flounced Rustics, Common Wainscot, Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwings and Flame shoulders . About 40 species in total. 
Tawny-speckled Pug- first for year here
September Thorn, Dusky Thorn and Canary-shouldered Thorn (female) from left to right (I think) 
Harvest time at the Old Vic (above and below) 

The August mini-farm

Saturday 20 August 2022

Portuguese Rarities Committee Report No 14

We recently published the latest PRC report HERE

Beddington Farmlands

Did the farmlands yesterday afternoon before heading back to the Old Vic after work. It was pretty quiet, not much of note, a couple of Peregrine, a few Lapwings hanging on in there and a few autumn waterfowl Ebird list here. The whole area seems particularly affected by this year's drought with several burnt out areas due to wildfires (including Horse Field and an area along the path alongside 100 acre), lots of dead young trees and most other trees showing drought stress, the wet grassland area is very dry and by the looks of it all of the old sludge beds have dried out too. 

Green Sandpipers and Lapwings (from a visit there a week ago)
Little Egrets etc on the North Lake 
It's all looking a bit like the Upside Down - seems like the dark side is certainly winning over there at the moment as a result of continual delays with the restoration (following a burst of progress which has now stopped) and the drought (and lack of emergency response to it).  
Brown Hairstreak from last week
A dried out wetland during the carbon influenced climate crisis and the incinerator (pumping 300,000 tonnes of carbon a year into the atmosphere)- there are few places in the UK where the world's main environmental problems are so condensed and so clearly exposed. I think it's safe to say there is no chance at all that this reserve will be complete by the end of the 2023 legal deadline. With Viridor having now sold the restoration to a holding company Valencia (Formerly/ a subsidiary of Frank Solutions Ltd) the next development will be any planning application re-submission that they put in (which will presumably aim to extend both the deadline and water down the scope of the restoration- no doubt the council/government will give them anything they want as usual with minimal/token concessions). Whether they can carry out their coup de grace without either the council or the holding company breaking any laws will be scrutinised very carefully but ultimately will be a largely fruitless task attempting to legally challenge that (but one that needs to be done for symbolic reasons- just to shine a light  on it). The main lesson to learn from all this in the context of the current cost of living crisis, soaring inflation, escalating inequality, pandemic threat and the climate and ecological emergency is the 'system' is reaching maximum corruption/collapse/late stage and every individual who wants to ace the collapse and the re-boot of the new system (which will presumably be a computer based system)  needs to prepare for collapse (increase personal resilience/self sufficiency/off grid capability, get to the top of some business or organisation so you can collapse on top of others,  diversify income, own land, reduce debt to 0.5 to 1 debt ratio, minimise exposure to collapse,  build multi-indices embryonic parallel structures, ensure security, spend more energy and time in the moneyless society etc)  and help accelerate that collapse by shining lights on the corruption, the complete impotence of existing political structures, the absolute farce of 'democracy' and the need for a new global computer system (a social-environment-economic credit score system that governs corporations and societies) and world government. Before that happens there's the small matter of world war three which will be the process that world government evolves from  (a war of individual disempowerment (via low carbon narratives etc), transfer of wealth, chaos, collapse, authoritarianism, social disorder and climate and ecological chaos- and a bit of traditional guns and tanks stuff and maybe the odd nuclear detonation).  

Thursday 18 August 2022

Stubcroft Farm

Spent the last few days at Stubcroft Farm with the family, on the Selsey Peninsula. Despite being within a few miles of both Medmerry and Pagham Harbour I didn't manage to get out birding  which was a shame as there was Squacco Heron,  Temminck's Stint, Glossy Ibis and Pied Flycatcher in the area. On the bird front the best I could muster up was Green Sandpiper , Sandwich Tern and Yellowhammers over the camp site and lots of Mediterranean Gulls at West Wittering/East Head.  We visited Arundel WWT, there was a flock of 17 Cattle Egret from the Ramsar Hide and quite a few Kingfishers darting around. 

I did manage to get the moth trap out in the Farm House garden, thanks to Simon and Michaela.  40 species in the trap including a few migrant Rush Veneers, Diamond-backs, European Corn Borers, Rusty-dot Pearls and Silver Y. 

Hopefully I can get back down there later in the autumn to do some more trapping and birding. Will have to be without the family unfortunately as it is now literally impossible to do anything remotely focused with both a 5 year old and a 7 month old boy. Fun times though, plenty of Monopoly, BBQs, Beach time, Bognor arcade, Fun fair, far too much food and games. Visiting Arundel WWT is a good family day out too with plenty of stuff for the kids to do.   

Cattle Egrets at Arundel (above and below)

Mandarin in flight- a distinctive and unique jizz
Harlequin duck in the collection at Arundel WWT  (without clipped primaries) - they've got a large aviary in there now with free flying birds including Redshanks and Avocets and a range of wildfowl. Also Dalmatian Pelicans are now the star attraction. 
Peacock moth at Stubcroft 
I presume this is a Small White Wave- nope it's a Satin Wave, even better, a lifer. One day I'll get these the right way round see here
Black-headed (above) and Ox-tongue Conch (below) at Stubcroft 

and for comparison a White-bodied Conch back at the Old Vic