Saturday, December 28, 2013

Burghley House

OK, so the deer are captive but also rather cool. The Goosander however is one of 6 wild birds on the lake: 4 males like this one and a couple of females.


Fallow Deer

Canon Powershot SX50 HS

Acleris hastiana and a garden first

It's not only Winter Moths in the winter. This attractive little micro came to a window on Boxing Day. Only the second record for the garden.

Acleris hastiana

In other news my local recorder has finished microscopic identification of the few moths taken throughout the year. There are a few oddities to sort out but this one at least was a garden first.

Haplotinea insectella

Canon Powershot SX50 HS

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Sitta

Over the past few days there have been a few birds that are a little out of the ordinary. Not rare, just not that frequent. Last Sunday a male Bullfinch flew high south along the Nene and a Chiffchaff was in the garden, on Tuesday a Tree Sparrow flew over the house calling (and it took me a few minutes to register that call I hear so rarely these days) and this morning the first Fieldfares and Redpoll of the autumn flew over.

So I nipped up Greenhill this morning to see what was about and came across a couple of Nuthatches slightly out of place around the horse paddocks. Otherwise just some Woodpigeons on the move and a few more winter thrushes.

Nuthatch Sitta europaea
Canon Powershot SX50 HS

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Black Rustic

Black Rustic is not an uncommon moth in the autumn but for some reason this is only the second record in 11 years of recording in my garden. Quite striking with its velvety black colouring and subtle golden markings.

Black Rustic Aporophyla nigra

There were also a couple of migrant moths in the trap as well (Silver Y and Diamond-back Moth) and some late ones not normally associated with autumn (Common Wainscot and Heart & Dart). Here's the full list from last night:
0464 Diamond-back Moth (Plutella xylostella) 1
1048 Garden Rose Tortrix (Acleris variegana) 1
1764 Common Marbled Carpet (Chloroclysta truncata) 3
2089 Heart & Dart (Agrotis exclamationis) 1
2107 Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) 2
2109 Lesser Yellow Underwing (Noctua comes) 3
2126 Setaceous Hebrew Character (Xestia c-nigrum) 6
2199 Common Wainscot (Mythimna pallens) 1
2232 Black Rustic (Aporophyla nigra) 1
2240 Blair's Shoulder-knot (Lithophane leautieri) 4
2245 Green-brindled Crecent (Allophyes oxyacanthae) ab. capucina 1
2267 Beaded Chestnut (Agrochola lychnidis) 14
2270 Lunar Underwing (Omphaloscelis lunosa) 2
2272 Barred Sallow (Xanthia aurago) 2
2306 Angle Shades (Phlogophora meticulosa) 1
2441 Silver Y (Autographa gamma)

Canon Powershot SX50 HS

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Autumn Moths

A selection of autumnal moths.

Orange Sallow Xanthia citrago

Pink-barred Sallow Xanthia togata

Barred Sallow Xanthia aurago

The Sallow Xanthia icteritia

Blair's Shoulder-knot Lithophane leautieri

Brindled Green Dryobotodes eremita

Brown-spot Pinion Agrochola litura

Green-brindled Grescent Allophyes oxyacanthae

Canon Powershot SX50 HS

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

We only went to Frampton Marsh RSPB reserve as somewhere for a walk but it was nice to see plenty of birds after the relative dearth in the Peterborough area recently. Apart from the Brent Geese, Little Egrets, Ruff and Black-tailed Godwits there we quickly found Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Spotted Redshank and Knot but it was extremely windy so anything other than wildfowl and waders keeping its head down.

Then heading along the road to the sea wall a small party of Ruff flew from the meadows and onto the freshmarsh nearvy. There was a small wader with them that sparked my interest so I scoped the flock on the deck and picked up this Buff-breasted Sandpiper. Not all that easy to get good views at it was being chased around the vegetation on an island until it had had enough and flew off on its own. Frustratingly there was not another birder in sight and no way of getting a message to the visitor centre so I reported the news to Birdguides and caught Karen up to continue the circuit.

An hour later I was meeting birders arriving to see the bird and of course there was no sign so it was relief when I got home and found that it had been relocated, back on the grassland, a couple of hours after my first sighting. Among those relocating it were the current and former county recorders, John Badley and Steve Keightley and through them I have this photo by Steve.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper Tryngites subruficollis, juvenile with 2 Ruff Philomachus pugnax
© Steve Keightley

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Corizus hyoscyami

Bug time again. Several of these disturbed from hedging while pruning this morning. A formerly coastal species that has spread inland in recent years.

Corizus hyoscyami

Canon Powershot SX50 HS

Sunday, September 22, 2013


A couple of bugs from a corking warm September day.

Broad Damsel Bug Nabis flavomarginatus

Common Green Shieldbug Palomena prasina

Canon Powershot SX50 HS

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Nut Weevil

Another non-lep at the moth trap last night. Curculio weevils are a bit tricky but with the aid of a bit of magnification you can see the shape of the segments on the antennae confirming the ID. The inset picture below comes from here and shows the Acorn Weevil (C. glandium) on the left and this species on the right.

Nut Weevil Curculio nucum

Canon Powershot SX50 HS and USB microscope

Sunday, September 01, 2013

West Penwith Wildlife

Our annual pilgrimage to the far west of Cornwall yielded a excellent haul of wildlife images. This post very nearly didn't happen due to the mysterious case of the disappearing SD card. The card then miraculously and happily appeared at the bottom of a very unlikely rucksack on our return. Phew!

The wildlife was dominated by a strong passage of Manx Shearwaters over the sea on several days but the only Balearic Shearwater to show, which landed very close to the house and well within filming range, unfortunately left before I could fire up the equipment. Otherwise the highlights were an amazing Ocean Sunfish, several Basking Sharks, a single Harbour Porpoise and a couple of playful Grey Seals that approached the canoe near the Minack Theatre. I'm sure one was purposely surfacing just behind the boat and expelling air suddenly to try and make us jump.

Ocean Sunfish Mola mola

You get an idea of scale as this medium sized Basking Shark passes the Pilot Gig 'Brisons' just off Sennen Cove.

Basking Shark Cetorhinus maximus

This Slow Worm appeared on the path in front of us during a long walk in the Bosigran Farm area between Zennor and Pendeen.

Slow Worm Anguis fragilis

One of the more intriguing beasts was this tiny, early instar nymph of a scarce bug spotted by Alex while climbing in the idilic, secluded cove of Green Bay near Porthcurno. It really is very small indeed but rather distinctive with the spiky and hairy legs and antennae and striking colouring. It is a specialists of soft cliffs and dunes.

Boat Bug Enoplops scapha, 2nd instar nymph

The Emperor Moth is striking enough as an adult, but as a caterpillar it is a mean, green, eating machine.

Emperor Moth Saturnia pavonia, larva

OK, some more insects. No pics of the Red Admirals, Clouded Yellows and Painted Ladies that were around the coasts (and over the sea at times) though I'm afraid.

Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum

Field Grasshopper Chorthippus brunneus

Oh yes, and birds. Sennen Cove has had increasing numbers of Mediterranean Gulls every time I return and this year there were 30 or so. Here are a few in different plumage states and a Kittiwake, a species that joined them in varying numbers on the shoreline.

Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus

Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla

The default passerine of the clifftops:

Stonechat Saxicola rubicola

Canon Powershot SX50 HS

Monday, August 19, 2013

Athalia Sawfly

This genus of sawflies is difficult to identify to species but I've read that the arrangement of teeth on the ovipositor of the female can be used and, happily this is a female. The USB microscope has revealed some detail so posting this on the offchance that someone has the necessary literature and can help.

Athalia sp. female 'saw' detail

Honeysuckle Moth

Another addition to the garden moth list. Quite a common moth so surprising it hasn't turned up before. A rather distinctive little fella with the characteristic ypsolopha 'headstand' resting posture but a more individual upturned and divided wingtip.

Honeysuckle Moth Ypsolopha dentella

Thursday, August 15, 2013

More microscopic fun

A couple more insects identified with the help of the little USB microscope. The first is a possibly scarce leafhopper dependent on elm. Unfortunately deceased, but the closeup shows the three spurs on the tip of the hind femur typical of the genus. The only other species has no all-green form.

The fearsome large red ichneumon is a common species, one of two with these yellowish markings around the head and thorax. The other differs in the distance of the ocelli (the black 'eyes' in the middle of the head) from the occipital carina (the faint brown suture line at the back of the head) and the shape of the abdomen.

Iassus scutellaris

Ophion obscuratus

Canon Powershot SX50 HS and USB microscope

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Black Arches and a garden first

Not a huge catch but some properly scarce moths among them. Black Arches is a real favourite with those amazing antennae and the striking black and white 'plumage'. It is a woodland species so can be unusual in less arboreal gardens and this is only the second here. Chequered Fruit-tree Tortrix however is a garden first and a moth I've only ever recorded once before elsewhere. There was also a third for the garden in the shape of a Tawny Speckled Pug but I didn't get a photo unfortunately.

Black Arches Lymantra monacha

Chequered Fruit-tree Tortrix Pandemis corylana

Canon Powershot SX50 HS

TL0894 insects

Alder Spittlebug is a common froghopper but it was interesting to see this pair in cop. Speckled Bush-cricket appeared in the garden as well as out in the wider 1km square where there were also Lesser Marsh Grasshoppers. List creeping up to 456.

Alder Spittlebug Aphrophora alni

Speckled Bush-cricket Leptophyes punctatissima

Lesser Marsh Grasshopper Chorthippus albomarginatus

Canon Powershot SX50 HS