Saturday, 13 August 2022

Pearly Underwing at the Old Vic

The good run of migrant moths continues during this heatwave. Last night the garden's first Pearly Underwing and also Rush Veneer and Silver-Y and possible migrants Kent Black Arches, Tree-lichen Beauty, White-points and Turnip. Also the first Engrailed for the year and the first big numbers of Common Wainscot (presumably set to dominate the trap now for the foreseeable). 

There's also a few dragonflies in the garden including Ruddy and Common Darter and Southern and Migrant Hawker. 

I was reading a few observatory blogs last night and looks like moth migrant activity at places like Sandwich and Portland aren't particularly that impressive. Presumably these clear skies and high pressure situations are more favourable for us inlanders with potential for more pervasive dispersal and less concentrated migrant activity with moths just keeping going when they get to the coast and going over and in. Although we are not experiencing any concentrated 'falls' due to the broad front nature of pervasive dispersal it seems like these are the best conditions (in my limited experience here) to stand a better chance of getting migrants. 

Pearly Underwing - a first for site 
Kent Black Arches
Tree-lichen Beauty
Engrailed- a small one so presumably a typical second generation moth 
Ruddy Darter- at least five dragonflies (of 3-4 species) around the garden yesterday which is unprecedented here 

Friday, 12 August 2022

Bordered Straw at the Old Vic

Despite being a hundred odd miles from the coast there has actually been quite a bit of migrant activity lately. I think in these sustained high pressure conditions we get a better chance of inland migration as plenty of time to disperse from the concentration areas along the coastlines. I was hoping to get a higher league migrant eventually and finally got a Bordered Straw a couple of days ago. Luckily on seeing the weather I decided to overnight at the Old Vic instead of going to London and got up at 5am instead to travel to work. Having put the trap out the night before and knew I only had about 10 minutes to avoid the M25 morning gridlock so I did the quickest look through the moths possible and the result was one of the best nights I've had here with Bordered Straw, Dark Sword Grass, Rush Veneers, Angle Shades, Nephoperix angustella, Turnips  and White-point on the migrant (or possible migrant) front and a new for site Cream-bordered Green Pea. 

Back to the Old Vic today and with all the time in the world to go through the trap- nothing particularly exciting  apart from what I presume is a Bittersweet Smudge. 

Bordered Straw (above and below) with Angles Shades (above) 

Dark Sword Grass
Bittersweet Smudge, Acrolepia autumnitella 
Silver Y- only the odd one of these. Rush Veneer has been the most numerous migrant recently with up to 8. 
Cream-bordered Green Pea- a new for garden 

Wednesday, 10 August 2022

A bit of moth migration

Currently experiencing another 'heatwave' with day temperatures above 30 C, although seems like we haven't got out of the last one yet with no rain and sustained 'summer' conditions (high 20s during day often)  for the last two or three weeks. The all time Old Vic moth list is now on an unratified 575 species (the target this year was to reach 500 so smashed that). Year list is 430 so slowly creeping up for 500 in a year  so looks like the all time 500 target was a bit under ambitious. Members of the county moth recording scheme get up to 700 species a year in their gardens so really could do with pushing it a bit (although are only trapping three or four nights a week maximum due to work commitments ). 

Another summer holiday week and another zoo visit with the kids- this time Whipsnade- had a family party of Spotted Flycatchers there and the usual Lapwings were in the Asia area feeding amongst the Bactrian Camels and Asian Elephants. 

Willow Warbler singing this morning, the odd Blackcap about. the odd Yellow Wagtail going over and that's about it on the bird front.

Vestal (above) and Hummingbird Hawkmoth (below)- any half decent migrant is gold round here. Been getting up to 8 Rush Veneer a night, the odd Diamond-back, the odd Turnip and a couple of White-points today. 

According to certain sources on social media this square cut dark leading edge to the upperwing underside is a key feature of Langmaid's Yellow Underwing. A couple of other shots below (below the comparison shot). As far as I know Langmaid's has not been recorded in Bucks in the past and from various discussions sounds like a full suite of features is required to achieve the 'currently recognised criteria' for what sounds like a controversial split. The full suite of features include the broad hind wing border with small orange spot and a particular jizz too. I've sent the specimen off to the CMR who says he will set it and check it and if need be get the genitals examined too. Will be interesting to hear back.  
A typical Lesser for comparison

I went for Yellow-tipped Dwarf, Elachista bisulcella on this. The yellow border to the hind edge of the white bar is supposed to diagnostic although not too sure whether it's that obvious. 
I wasn't sure if this was your standard but a bit worn White-triangle Slender, C.stigmatella or semifascia
The closest I can get to this is Hemp-agrimony Plume, Adaina microdactyla
Sharp-winged Drill, Dichrorampha acuminatana ?
Italian Tubic again
This looks like White-headed Ermel, Paraswammerdamia albicaptella- seems to have white head and thorax, hint of grey dorsal cross band and black spots running along wing fold 
The vanguard - my first Square-spot Rustic at the Old Vic. They are coming. 
Spotted Fly at Whipsnade- about three or four of these , presumably a family party
The usual Lapwings at Whipsnade- about 100 or so in the Asia area 
Scarlet Macawas- really need to get back to South America to see these in the wild - stunning creatures and so mind blowing in flight 
The 2022 UK drought- view from the Chalk at Whipsnade 

Sunday, 7 August 2022

Rachel and Lee's Wood - Southroad Wood Mothing Session

While we all wait for some big tech global corporation to create an algorithm that can manage global biodiversity and the economy using big data, machine learning and AI and integrate it into a new Computer  World Government Global System there isn't actually much to do (which isn't exhausting, polarising and harmful) on this planet for most of us while the old system collapses into chaos and corruption before the new one is re-booted.  Keeping busy and positive nowadays is not easy when it seems like everything is crumbling all around.  

Doing things small scale and independently and integrating it into new global systems seems to be a very good way forward (the only way?) for most of us (not working in Big Tech and IT)- things that can grow in a better environment (a multi indices, post GDP paradigm one).  So it's a great time to get involved in 'de-centralised nature conservation' and basically 'go it alone' and build some things and let them float off to see where they go . My life long mates Lee and Rachel have taken this bull by the horns and have not only  bought up 9 acres of Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest and crowd funded tree planting on it but also recently bought up 20 acres of Kent ancient woodland. It's been a great demonstration of what private ownership nature conservation and private crowd funding via social media can achieve by 'going it alone' , taking a passionate personal lead and then integrating that lead into existing effort (e.g in Brazil they have bought land that is now integrated into the REGUA project) and emerging global digital systems (Ebird, Inaturalist, Irecord, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Google etc etc). 

So basically its about taking a strong personal lead  (not just paying subs or volunteering), zoning out all the noise of the collapse, resistance to change, endless drivel of middle managers and scavenging within traditional nature conservation and pushing in the direction of travel of the advancing community and emerging systems. The great thing about Rachel and Lee's example is  that, Rachel is a sustainability officer and Lee is a freelance ecological consultant (so regular people of moderate means) and have clearly shown that 'anybody' (with the will and few thousand quid- its really not expensive) can do this - this is not millionaire led nature conservation such a Knepp or huge wildlife charity led- this is independent small scale nature conservation that can contribute immensely to solving the biodiversity crisis and one that puts individuals and independence at the centre- not trustees or boards of directors (and certainly not government conservation officers).  If everyone who could bought a private nature reserve instead of a second home (or first home and live on the reserve), time share, stocks and shares or holiday home that would be a perfect natural and economic capital investment (and would stimulate a degree of speculation in that market too). So this could be a great time to get in on this, already woodland is increasing in price as more people buy woodland for family projects and carbon offsets etc. An era of private nature conservation (not just corporations but also individuals) that compliments and interconnects the existing nature protected network is well and truly emerging/escalating. Certainly firing me up to keep saving up and looking for our family 10 acre nature reserve that we are aiming for. 

So it was with great excitement and pride (to be friends with these pioneers!) that we all met up (Lee, Rachel, Andrew, Sue and I)  at their 20 acre woodland in Kent (Southroad Wood) to start some entomological recording there.  It was great night with BBQ and Pimms and we set up five moth traps (I discovered I can run at least 3 traps from my generator) . I slept in the campervan which was perfect as could drive in to the heart of the woodland. Presumably because of the drought it was pretty quiet on the moth front but 51 species was a good start for the moth recording there. Black Arches was the most abundant species. 

All decent photos below by Lee Dingain and all the not so good photos by me. 

Musotima nitidalis- we had five of this Australasian adventive which feeds on bracken.  A lifer. 
Oak Lutestring - a lifer. Check out the quality of Lee's images here- I really need to get a new macro set up.
The closest I can get to this is Satin Wave, if correct also a lifer. Update 080822- this is a Small White Wave (thanks UK Moths Identification Twitter). Still a lifer :-) 
Large Emerald- we had a few of these magnificent moths 
I've been checking for a Langmaid's Underwing all autumn but all the ones I've checked in Bucks have been Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwings. All the ones we checked here looked different to the ones I've been checking (with small orange areas to the hindwings above)  but perhaps because its late in the season the underside of the upperwing looked like dark edges (below image, couldn't see the diagnostic dark right angle and dark edge for Langmaid's). Maybe the detail has been lost with wear? We decided that they were presumably worn Langmaid's? Will be a lifer if correct. 

Peacock moth- quite a few of these too
We went for Clay Triple Lines on this 
Looks like Hypatima rhomboidella- another potential lifer (if cleared by Irecord)
A bit of gear - 51 species of a 150 or so individuals from this lot presumably means that abundance and diversity is being knocked back a bit by the lack of rain 

The Southroad Wood Moth Team 

Oare Marshes

Actually got a chance to go birding so no need to change this blog title to Non-stop Mothing quite yet! After the London work session I headed down into Kent to meet up with the gang. I first stopped off at Janina and John's in Tonbridge Wells to say hello and pick up a book on Saudi Arabia. A visit to Worth Marsh was then aborted due to traffic and re-diverted to Oare Marshes to meet Sue before heading down to Southroad Wood south of Ashford for a night's moth trapping with Lee, Rachel and Andrew.

Ebird list here . It was only a quick visit and a glance but picked up the adult Bonaparte's Gull (now in it's 10th returning year there I believe), an adult Curlew Sandpiper, a Hobby sitting on the scrape amongst the waders and a flock of 34 Whimbrel were the highlights. Great to see the water levels are suitable for waders again - although considering the drought conditions it's a shame that it now takes critical environmental conditions to achieve good water management levels (all to do with a non-functioning weir as far as I understand).

Adult Bonaparte's Gull 
Juvenile Med Gull
Adult Curlew Sandpiper 
Fledgling/juvenile Avocet 
Whimbrel- the quintessential sound of August in the Thames Estuary