Tuesday 29 August 2023

Slowing down

Latest bird list from the Old Vic HERE which has recently been hovering around 30 species of up to 140 individuals in or from the garden. A few notable absentees at the moment including Mistle Thrush, Blackcap, Song Thrush, Dunnock and very low numbers of Great Tit. Not sure if the breeding Dunnocks and Song Thrush move out before the migrants come in or if they are just laying low. Also Carrion Crow has a low profile at the moment. Very little in the way of migrants just the odd Chiff and Willow Warbler and the local hirundines are often overhead. 

Cooler shorter evenings and more autumnal conditions has seen a real slow down in the light traps with only 43 moth species in the last few days. Numbers are still holding up with 260 moths last night but the diversity now is pretty low.  The year list is 421 and today was the first day this season that there were no NFYs.  

More apple, plum and rhubarb crumble and sweetcorn from the mini farm and there are plenty of potatoes to harvest and also cabbages and the tomatoes are nearly ready.  

A few additions to the mini-zoo which has bounced back to 93 species. What with only about 40 moths, 30 birds, a handful of mammals and other taxa plus  the usual 150 plants and tree species in the garden at the moment, the 'zoo' element to the Old Vic biodiversity is really quite significant.  Just to beat this drum again, in this age of anthropogenic biodiversity collapse within the wide 'original' environment, creating safe havens for species within the anthropogenic environment through the pet/domestication/zoo evolutionary route is another high impact way to be nature positive. Important to challenge the anti-human purists definition of biodiversity (which has become a tool for oppression) which in no way is exclusive to being nature positive in other ways such as owning and managing land for nature through private nature conservation and wildlife gardening or through the more traditional narrative surrounding biodiversity and nature conservation through reserve creation through collectives and charities. If the most widest view of biodiversity can be embraced, there is still no time for complacency over the ecological emergency but it is certainly a much more manageable and achievable challenge to address. The exaggeration of the problem appears to be a symptom of human power struggles where sensationalist disaster narratives are used to create states of hopelessness for control purposes, justify certain funding streams, maintain established inequalities and to prop up obsolete traditions.    

Dark Spectacle- the latest NFY, obviously not a good year for them locally 
Three Silver-Y last night indicated some migration.

Best I can do on this is Pointed Groundling, Scrobipalpa acuminatella 020923 update- yes confirmed (thanks Stephen Palmer) 
Quite a few of these recently- Burnished Brass
The mini-farm this week. Really going to miss the garden when we move which could be as early as October
Common Frog in the Paludarium - this was a garden rescue from the dog and we put it in the tropical tank where it seems to be doing fine 
Latest from the mini-zoo. 

Saturday 26 August 2023

Wild Cockroach at the Old Vic

A steady few days with usual daily dramas playing out in the garden, moth trap, mini-zoo and mini-farm. Highlights have included a Variable Cockroach (a new species for the garden) and a nice selection of new for year moths and a Brown Mompha, also a new species for the garden. 

The garden birding has been steady with a welcome uptick in the size of the autumn tit flock, Ebird list from this morning HERE. Two first-winter Willow Warblers showing well today were well appreciated. 

The moth year list is now on 420 and the all time moth list is 629.

News from the mini-zoo include our Death's Head Hawkmoth eggs arrived and the tiny caterpillars have emerged and after stabilising the reef tank after a phosphate spike caused a tank crash we re-stocked today with a new mushroom coral, replaced the Cleaner Wrasse and also bought a pencil sea urchin. One of the summer holiday targets was to get back up to 100 species of 'pets' so heading in that direction. 

Obsidentify has this as Variable Cockroach, Planuncus tingitanus s.l. . News to me that there are wild cockroaches in the UK although according to Wikipedia this species complex is adventive, although I did find out in the process that there are three native cockroach species in the UK (and some other adventives too) 
Brown Mompha, Mompha miscella . If correctly identified this is a new for garden and lifer
Feathered Gothic- a welcome new for year
Centre-barred Sallow- a new for year and a sign of the approaching autumn 
Small Ranunculus- another classic mid-autumn moth which has just appeared 
Back in London this week I had the actinic out at my mum's house- the usual swarms of Jersey Tigers but nice to get Garden Tiger with them too. Also had Oak Processionary there which I didn't record at the Old Vic this year
Death's Head Hawkmoth eggs and caterpillars. We ordered these from the excellent Bugs and Butterflies supplier HERE
As the sale of the Old Vic goes through following contents valuation, antique and valuable auctions and private sales today we have started a garage sale (I've done more buying than selling)  to shift the remaining contents that we won't be taking with us 

Wednesday 23 August 2023

A few migrants at the Old Vic

Been a few migrants round here since the last update, on the bird front there's been a Spotted Flycatcher today,  fly over Yellow Wagtails, Chiffs and Willow Warblers and presumably the local Swallows and House Martins. I had a Yellowhammer flying over calling a couple of days ago. Also had the first Grey Wagtail in a long time this morning and also the first Raven in a while. Latest garden Ebird count HERE. The garden tit flock doesn't seem as large as in previous autumns. This is all I could see yesterday HERE whereas in previous years it's been three or four times the size. Particularly noticeable is the lack of Great Tits and the relatively low numbers of Long-tailed Tits with Blue Tits doing most of the work with keeping the numbers up. 

A few bits on the moth migrant front too with Vestal, Rusty-dot Pearl and Rush Veneer with good numbers of Turnips, White-points and Angle Shades too. The moth year list is 415 species and all time garden list is an unverified 627. 

On the mini-farm front the sweetcorn is ripe and ready and our experiment with the crucifers has also paid off with plenty of brussels, cabbages and one cauliflower maturing nicely despite zero pest control (although the same approach with the peppers and chillies has proved to be largely sacrificial). Also been harvesting apples and plums and making crumbles. 

In the sun today (one of the few sun worshipping days this summer) there's been a Ruddy Darter, Red Admirals, Speckled Wood, Gatekeeper, Common and Holly Blues and Small Whites around the garden. There's also been a Migrant Hawker around in recent evenings. 

Spotted Flycatcher- not seen the breeding birds round here in weeks so presumably a migrant today
Vestal- the first for the year. This time last year we had already had about 6 or so. 
Crescent is a rare visitor to the garden
Coxcomb Prominent is another rare moth for us here
Poplar Kitten- both Sallow and Poplar Kittens are out at the moment. Poplar is larger with a straighter outer cross line/border to the dark band.  
Pale Eggar was also a new for year
This is what is mainly in the moth trap nowadays- Large Yellow Underwings. Getting over 300 moths a night and a lot of them are these. 
Wax moth- another recent NFY
Small Dotted Buff- another scarce garden visitor from this week 
Closest I can get to this is Poplar Cosmet- a large gelechid whatever it is
Bordered Carl, Coptotriche marginea (I think) 
Black-headed Conch 
Dark Fruit Tree Tortix (I think) 
The Walnuts are also ready but we don't get a look in 
Jacob with the biggest apple in the yard 

Sunday 20 August 2023

Dark Crimson Underwing at the Old Vic

Seem to be on a roll here, another top drawer moth last night, this time a Dark Crimson Underwing, a lifer and first for the Old Vic. Also a Rusty Dot Pearl and a Silver-Y in the trap this morning plus Angle Shades, a handful of White-points and a Turnip, so seems like picking up a bit of moth migration here.

Happy days. 

Dark Crimson Underwing with Red Underwing (had two Red Underwings this morning too which provided a nice comparison) 

Angles Shades- not many of these this year

Jacob releasing the Underwings 

Saturday 19 August 2023

Beautiful Marbled at the Old Vic

Moth migrants have been very thin on the ground this season so I was quite surprised to find a top drawer migrant on the side of the MV yesterday. A stunning Beautiful Marbled. The Upper Thames Moths Atlas reports 6 previous records for the Upper Thames region but I'm not sure how up to date that is. 

That's the 624th species for the Old Vic (mainly verified) and the year list is now a round 400 species.

Other news from the Old Vic traps include far too many wasps in the MV (the twin bulb actinic doesn't seem to attract them).  On Thursday night there were 65 species of over 250 moths again and things are beginning to feel more autumnal with the species diversity reducing but overall numbers still high meaning a dominance of a few species such as Large Yellow Underwing, Common Wainscot, Flame Shoulder and Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing. There's been some high numbers of Brimstone Moth and the Thorns seem to be doing well with plenty of Dusky's and Septembers and a few Canary Shouldered too.  

Beautiful Marbled (above and below)

I was thinking more like Dark-barred Twinspot (with the isolated twin spots) rather than the usual Red Twin-spot Carpet.
Six-striped Rustic- a sign of the times 
Neocochylis hyrbidella 
Cannot get enough of Catocalinae- another beautiful Red Underwing 

Wednesday 16 August 2023

Stubcroft Farm holiday

Spent the last few days on the Selsey Peninsula based from Stubcroft Farm. Mainly just family stuff (visited a Roman Palace, the Pier, Arcades, Beaches etc) but kept my eyes open and ran the actinic heath trap at the camp site on two nights and at Church Norton last night.

A few highlights below.

Ebird list from Pagham this morning HERE was the only couple of hours targeted birding I managed to get. Quite a few migrants about including a Wheatear at the campsite and several on the beaches,  Whimbrels, Tree Pipit, Whinchat and lots of pylloscs and warblers. A few nice moth migrants too. 

Wheatear at West Wittering Beach. There were up to 12 on the beach, one at the camp site and a couple at Pagham Harbour. Also Whinchat and Tree Pipit at Pagham. 
Juvenile Med Gull- a flock of nearly 300 Med Gulls on West Wittering beach was great to see

 Med Gulls at West Wittering 
Cattle Egret at Ferry Pool Field- about 15 or so but from the Selsey blog looks like over 50 in the area
Med Gull and Wheatear (above and below) amongst the holiday chaos 

Vagrant Piercer, Cydia amplana (above and below), from the Camp Site 

Epinotia nisella 
Pug sp, maybe a Tawny Speckled variant? Nope Maple Pug (see comments, thanks again Stewart!) 
Blair's Mocha- lifer
Satin Wave
Pearly Underwing
Synaphe punctalis
Portland Ribbon Waves (above and below) - lifer

Shore Crab

Fuller's Teasel at the Roman Palace at Fishbourne- a new one for me 
Holly and Jacob at East Head
Our camping set up now complete with trailer 
Cliften Nonpariel- stunner!