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Friday, 27 December 2013

A final find, and what lies ahead...

2013 has been all about Moths and Butterflies.So many new species seen in what was a good recovery year for them. The year held one final highlight. Whilst out for a walk recently, I managed to find a Purple Hairstreak egg. This was especially pleasing, not only because they are tiny and tricky to find ( especially with eyes that require increasing distance to see small things ! ) but it was at a site I have yet to see any adults, so hopefully I will have a new tree and colony to study.
I hope you have enjoyed the variety on the blog this year. The intention is to get more into Pan Listing and Bio Blitzing in 2014, with a bit of friendly rivalry from another nature botherer down the road,Shenstone Birder. Happy New Year

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

December Moth, Winter Moth,and a change for the blog

A forecast of a slight increase in the minimum temperatures persuaded me to roll the dice for possibly the last time this year with the moth trap.
 It's been a great full first "proper year" after the washout of 2012, and I have managed to identify 157 of the moths that have visited my Garden in 2013. My Garden list is now 167, and I think there a lot more to come given a bit of decent weather in 2014.I will also be trapping at other locations.
Anyway, I had 2 species in mind, December and Winter Moth. The former is 'the looker' of the two, and nicely marked moth, the male having great feathery antennae.
The moth gods were kind....

Larger ♀ on left, ♂ on right

♂ December Moth solo shot !

Winter Moth
Finally, a change of Blog title.
Since coming back to birding a few years ago, my interests have diversified. I will still include birding in the blog, in fact January will concentrate on the "Foot It" challenge...This is how many species of bird  can be seen within a 1 mile radius of home in the first month of the year,using leg work only. A bit of exercise and something to help get through the bleak winter months.
However, birding is just one element of what I enjoy, do, and indeed blog about... so I think it's time the title reflcted this. I will include more pan listing especially with respect to a 1 square Km I am, and will continue to survey over 2014. So hopefully lots of new creatures, flora ( and good birding ) next year !

Cheers !

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

November still buzzing

Still plenty of life and interest on the patch, despite reaching the penultimate month of the year ( already !)
First off, I found a Northern Wheatear on the 9th November on the paddocks, a nice late record from a brief foray.
The sun came out the following day, complete contrast, warmth and inverts aplenty. The Ivy blossom was teaming with various Diptera and Wasps, hundreds of individuals, a marvellous November sight !.

Noon Fly  ( Mesembrina meridiana)
Tapered Drone Fly (Eristalis Pertinax)

Yellow Dung Fly (Scathophaga stercoraria )
Vespula vulgaris ( probably ! )

A Peacock and a Comma Butterfly were noted.

The nettles and posts were teaming with Ladybirds, and 4 species were seen, 2 were patch lifers, Pine Ladybird and 16 Spot Ladybird. There were very big numbers of 7 Spot and Harlequins on the wing.

16 Spot Ladybird
Finally, a subject I had started to read about recently, and it was nice to get acquainted with my first galls, these two occur on the underside of Oak leaves, and house a wasp that hatches in late winter and early Spring.

Silk-Button Spangle Gall

Common Spangle Galls

Many thanks to Brett Westwood, who supplied  fine company and great information on some hitherto unfamiliar flora and fauna during our walk.

Sunday, 27 October 2013


October, a month with the hope of passage birds, and still a few Inverts around if the weather is kind.The first and last weekends have been the most productive. Lets start with the first.
From the moth trap, some more lifers. September and  October are the months the much sought after. Merveille du Jour can be trapped. It's a lovely looking moth with a fancy name to match. It's quite a trophy species for moth botherers like me. Every morning visit to the trap brings a tingle of anticipation in case a 'Merv' is lurking. Anyway, these two fella's were a decent start..

Green-brindled Cresent ( f.capucina ) )

Angle Shades

Whilst a trip up to Titterstone produced no Stonechats, and only 1 Wheatear it did  produce a decent immigrant moth.

Rush Veneer

 And a caterpillar I had never come across.

Broom Moth Caterpillar

Ironically , my first ever patch Stonechat was waiting for me back home, found by local birder Terry H.

Stonechat ( Patch Lifer )
Another patch rarity this year has been Red Admiral. This one was enjoying the ivy blossom that afternoon on the patch

Only the 2nd patch Red Admiral of 2013
Also that afternoon was the first time I managed to get a record shot of a Hawker on my patch

♀ Southern Hawker
The rest of the month , locally,was pretty pants, until this weekend, except for a Rock Pipit at Grimley. I made a sojourn to Norfolk for a couple of nights, and suffice to say, I had plenty of good birds. Eider's, Velvet Scoter, all the waders and Geese you would expect, Marsh Harriers by the score...Thankfully, the moths have kept me going on the home front....Back to them...
Grey Shoulder Knot 12/10/2013


Juniper Carpet 12/10/2013

I've had quite a few Junipers this month, and November Moth's have been the next most common. Indeed final trapping of the month on Friday 25th, I had 3 and 2 respectively. Also, another nice lifer, Figure of Eight moth.

Figure of Eight

But the jewel in crown was settled just next to the trap as I checked it that evening, the much sought after MDJ !!!  Get In !!

Merveille du Jour    :-)

Sunday, 1 September 2013

One Good Tern...and more

The highlight of the Bank Holliday weekend was finding a Black Tern when I visited Grimley on the Sunday morning. This was a really pleasing bird to pick up. It performed wonderfully giving great views over 90 minutes as it hawked insects and took 1 fish. It was nice to really be able to study a species like this on the Doorstep , a rare treat.

This weekend I popped up to Titterstone Clee. Seems bizarre that I have not been back since early November 2012, but the weather during early Spring passage was so poor, and the place was covered in snow until about June ( well maybe not quite)..I had also intended to get up there for some invert investigation this Spring and Summer, but with the dates being all to cock I never made it.

Anyway, up on "TheTit" yesterday were high numbers of Swallows feeding up ready for the off.  2 Kestrels were noted and regularly landing on the slopes around the many Meadow Pipits.Buzzards and Ravens screeched and Kronked respectively.

Near the car park I noted 6 Wheatears, and just below a vocal extended family of Stonechats. Possibly a couple of broods worth ..?


The 'highlight' bird was a Yellow Wagtail that split from a group of Pied, gave a nice flight call and put down for a minute or so before heading off for warmer parts.

It was quite nippy up there, but I did see a ♀ Common Hawker ovipositing, and a couple of ♂'s kicking around. A nice session in all.

♀ Common Hawker ovipositing at Titterstone
One the way home I dropped into the patch. It was nice to see a Couple of Common Blues about, as well as a couple of Small Copper.

Small Copper

The highlight was seeing Purple Hairstreak for the 1st time on the Oak where they had initially been recorded on the patch 12 months ago. It was a bit worn, but it came down nice and low, which does not happen too often. This is the 4th site on my patch I have seen them this year.

Purple Hairstreak

There was a definite nip in the air Sunday morning as I checked the moth trap. Treble Bar was my weekend highlight, a lifer. I later swung by Grimley, hoping some of the waders that I had missed there over the bank Holliday may be about. I was not disappointed. Little Egret, Little and  Ringed Plover, Black Tailed Godwit, Dunlin,and Greenshank were all encountered. The Snipe count was well into double figures and it was nice to see a few Kingfishers darting around again. Common Tern numbers were dropping off rapidly from the week before.
Autumn has arrived on the Doorstep.

Treble -bar

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Clouded Yellow and Painted Lady...Doorstep Butterfly Invaders !

As you may or may not know, there has been a recent influx of butterflies from the continent lately. I know some people will be up in arms "they come over here, drinking our nectar "..but the influx of Clouded Yellows really has been quite exciting. It's been a good few years since the last invasion of any significance, and getting to see one locally became a priority by last weekend.
 Around 6 pm last Sunday I twitched a find made by my blogging patch neighbour JK. Despite a bit of panic on arrival when the Yella Fella slipped away, we relocated it and I had good views and a record shot.

Clouded Yellow

The weather Saturday was not butterfly friendly, so I concentrated on the birding. I was done and dusted for the day when a message from fellow local birder TH informed me there was a couple of Wheatear down on the paddocks,( probably put down by the gloomy drizzle). I was there in 5 minutes and grateful for the heads up.


 The venerable informant had also mentioned a good spot down the road for Clouded Yellows, so with the weather looking brighter Sunday I scooted a few miles Southwest to the site he had alluded too. Finding a field full of Fat Hen as described, it was chuffing with Whites, and soon I had counted 4 Clouded Yellows. Those I photographed were a little worn, but I managed to observe at length a very smart male. They really shift, and I settled for observation rather than chasing my tail trying to photograph them.
Also on the wing were Common Blues, including some nice blue females, as well as Small coppers and Speckled Wood.

♀ Common Blue

 However, the highlight  of the morning was finding a Painted Lady, my first of the year, and only my second ever.

Painted Lady

 I was in for a couple of Surprises when I stopped off on my patch on the way home. Not only did I find the second colony of Purple Hairstreak in successive weeks, but also spotted my second Painted Lady of the day. Just like buses ey ? !

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Spotted Flycatcher and Purple Hairstreak, great weekend on the patch

Saturday I started what was intended to be a circular walk of the patch. It started well when I spotted a nice Hoverfly, but rapidly went pear-shaped when I realised there was no memory card in the camera. Fortunately the Hoverfly, A Great Pied, was still hovering about when I returned after my false start.

Great Pied Hoverfly

A section of woodland that rarely yields much, was alive with birds for a change. Initially I had spotted a Great Spotted Woodpecker, but the clearing containing a collection of dead trees also hosted Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Nuthatch and Treecreeper. However the reason I lingered and made no further progress that morning on the walk was discovering a family group of Spotted Flycatchers.

Spotted Flycatcher

Last year, I had a similar find, about 300 yards from that spot, and  almost on the same date.
It was only my second sighting of the species this year anywhere. It was a show stopper and I had no time to complete the circuit. On heading home a Heron gave a rare opportunity for a patch record shot, which I gladly accepted.

I recorded Purple Hairstreak on the far south side of my patch last year, but this year so far had not had a sniff ( anywhere). However as I neared the end of Sundays tour, I stopped at an Oak I had not thought to check out before. Within a few minutes I saw a small butterfly move. They are little butterflies and never easy to find as they spend so much time lurking within the leaves of oaks. When I finally located it, I was absolutely thrilled to see it was a Purple Hairstreak, a new and  second site for them on the patch. Getting a record shot was a challenge,  but it was all about the find. A great weekend on the patch.

Purple Hairstreak

Interestingly this sighting was within 3 days also of when I saw it on the patch in 2012

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Black Wave moth, and other homegrown delights

My bespoke, hand crafted Bee hotel ( a spare lump of wood with some holes drilled in it ) has so far been an unmitigated success. In all now 7 of the holes have been sealed by the leaf cutter bees, whom I had great pleasure observing throughout July. There were often half a dozen vying for entry to one of the residences larger suites.

My other hobby horse has been the moth trap. What  a contrast that has been to my inaugural 1st year of 2012 ! Things started ticking along nicely once winter finally left after Easter, but July was a veritable mothfest ! I was regularly getting 50 plus ( bear in mind its only fitted with 20w eco bulb )

The species list scooted along and I am currently over a hundred up on last years total. bear in mind I rarely count Micro's at the moment, unless they are very obvious, that's something for later. Of late, the bobby dazzlers have been the likes of these.
Burnished Brass

Buff tip

 However, the last week or so things have settled down, so while numbers trapped have still been good, the number of new species appearing has slowed down. A trap full of Willow Beauty, Riband Wave and Common Footman was losing it's gloss. On Saturday I prayed the Moth Santa would deliver something good, and set the trap out as dusk fell.

Next morning, it seemed to be standard fare ( oh how blasé we become, last year at the same date I had just 1 Riband Wave!! ) save for a couple of Silver Y's, which were garden lifers, but not unexpected given the southerly winds and general sightings elsewhere. However I potted a dark 'carpet like' moth, took his mug shot and let him go. Eventually I pinned an ID on it  a Black Wave . I was seriously pleased with this, not exactly a common moth in North Worcs,  and nationally scarce category B. A great moth for the garden trap !

Waved Black

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Small Copper Butterfly, a rare treat

A trip to Grimley produced an instant pleasing result when it became apparent there was a fresh emergence of Common Blue Butterflies. They have been so thin on the ground the last couple of years.

No Red-vein Darters seen this time, I suspect they have gone over now, but an Emperor showed really well. I sat down a while hoping he would settle, but he just glided past every few minutes, nice and close though. While sat there. a Common Darter gave a nice photo opportunity instead.

I had only seen one Small Copper all year, happily on my patch at least, but I was chuffed to find a pair copulating nearby. Lying on the floor I was able to film them, and get some close up's you probably don't usually see

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Red-veined Darter..a delayed surprise !

In the heat of last week, it was necessary to get the nature stuff done in the morning. I got to Grimley around 10am and spent a couple of hours enjoying the activity around one of the pools at the north end.
The water was fresh and clear but receding alarmingly, potentially stranding the fish that were clearly visible in one part. All around the Pool Marsh Frogs were either calling or hoping out of sight as I passed.

Marsh Frog
A stick relatively close to the boggy shoreline afforded me the opportunity to get reasonably close to a recently emerged Damselfly. Below it, it's exuvia, and below that lots more exuvia of the ones that had preceded it.

Newly emerged Damselfly with exuvia
Within a few minutes the teneral damselfly made it's maiden flight a few meters into the longer grass where it stood a chance of maturing further away from predation.
Also on the wing were Emperors and the smaller but more numerous Black-tailed Skimmer. Many of the latter were copulating. Teneral Common Darters were also present in decent numbers.
I then bumped into fellow nature nerd and birder JT. We spent a good while speculating on a few red coloured darters that were ,well, darting around and occasionally perching up. Unfortunately the perching point was that bit too far off for my close focus x 6.5 bins I had chosen for the morning, and a bit too close for his scope !
The general initial feeling was possible Red-veined Darter, but the lack of optical assistance and very harsh light made picking up the salient features very difficult, despite a fair stint of observation. In the end the feeling was they were probably Ruddy Darter's, still a year first. However, I had my superzoom camera, so took the best pics I could of the pesky beast.
Fast farward a few days and I was trawling through my pics, and checked out the mystery darter. To my surprise I had a reasonable-ish image that showed yellow pterostigma with a black border,and a definite red veinining to the wing ..!
To be sure, I contacted the county expert Mike Averill who confirmed the ID as a muture Red-veined Darter.
This was the first recording of the species this year in VC37. It occurred on the same site in 2012 ( when I was lucky enough to see and photograph them ), and previous to that was recorded in the county on that site  in 2002,2003,2006.

Red-veined Darter 17th July 2013

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

A pleasant surprise in the woods

Well I did go down to the woods today, and I had a nice surprise.
I was not surprised to see plenty of butterflies on the wing at Trench Wood, owned by Worcestershire Wildlife Trust. But it was another 'Scorchio' day and  the two species I was most intent on seeing were invariably the most flighty. White Admiral and Silver- washed Fritillary are powerful flyer's and zip around at quite a rate, often preferring the high canopy.
So initially I contented myself with fleeting views from afar, and took a few snaps of the more common and obliging species

Green-veined White 
Meadow Brown

Eventually though I tend to find that if you are patient, and study a spot, they will come to you, and at least show a little better. There were good numbers of both Silver-washed Fritillary and White Admiral which was pleasing to see after last year's dire weather.

The Frit was the first to settle for a couple of seconds, they are big fellas really. At least a record shot was possible in the end
Silver-washed Fritillary
White Admiral
As I was sweating up a bit by now, and the light was already too harsh anyway for decent pics, I quickened my pace, just stopping off at a small body of water to check out the odonata situation.
Not seen many Broad-bodied Chaser's this year but there was a pretty fresh male perched up in the rapidly drying out pool. When I looked at it more closely through my bins I realised it was a nice male , with an exuvia next door ! What a stunning sight !

  ♂ Broad Bodied Chaser with exuvia next to it

From there it was over to the Grimley area to see if there were any Marbled Whites about as I hadn't had any decent views of any thus far this year.
Fortunately they were in reasonable numbers, and I enjoyed 20 minutes of them giving me the run-around before seeking the shade for the afternoon.

Marbled White