Welcome to my world..............

Monday, 31 December 2012

2012 and all that...

Far too long since the last post, although to be fair I have been rather unwell for five weeks and just not had the energy or inclination to do anything demanding on the computer let alone go out and do some natural history watching!

So, 2012, a year of ups and downs at best, and continues the run of cloudy and often unsettled weather of the last six years, due to the more southerly path of the jetstream.  Presumably as a direct result of the shrinking polar icecaps and unlikely to reverse anytime soon, and rather depressingly a portender of summers to come.

On the ornithological front, probably the worst in 40 years of active birdwatching.  Other than the occasional visit to Nosterfield, watching the gulls at Allerton and a brief few days in Ireland, the impetus to get out and about has been further dulled by the modern birding scene and obsession with rarities, and opinionated mediocrity.  The few highlights were the decent run of white-winged gulls in the spring, fantastic regular views of Red Kite, dawn-choruses of waking marshland birds at Staveley, some decent seabirds and wonderful Choughs on the Irish west coast and the only BB rarity of the year, a Semi-P on a beach in Ireland.  Hardly a vintage year.
Red Kite
A productive year on the moth front with just under 10,000 identified of at least 435 species, despite coverage during the year being very patchy.  No trapping was attempted during the very wet April into mid May, mid August to early September, and thereafter were just single visits to Pilmoor in mid-October and November.  The range of sites was much more restricted this year, concentrating effort on the sites closer to home, mainly Pilmoor and Sessay area and Staveley; there were no visits to my usual sites on the North Yorkshire moors or visiting under-recorded 10km squares around the county.  With 36 nights out against 45 in 2011, the reduced number of sites and the gaps in coverage, makes the totals achieved rather more respectable.  There were five macro-moths which were new to me, and about 35 new micros, their identification assisted greatly with the new book by Sterling and Parsons, and the status and distribution of moths in the county made available for the first time on the Yorkshire Moths website. Referring to the website, which currently is up-to-date to end of 2011, I have tentatively applied some figures to my rarer catches.

481 Epermenia falciformis 1st VC62
849 Syncopacma cinctella 2nd VC64 and 3rd Yorkshire
854  Anacampsis blattariella 5th VC62
878  Batrachedra praeangusta 5th VC62
930  Gynnidomorpha alismana 1st VC64 and 6th Yorkshire
968  Cochylis nana 3rd and 4th VC62
1086  Hedya salisella 4th and 5th VC62 (the 3rd was mine too)
1089  Apotomis semifasciana 4th to 8th VC62 (all the others are mine)
1104  Endothenia quadrimaculana 5th to 8th VC64
1106  Lobesia reliquana 1st and 2nd VC62 and 7/8th Yorkshire
1123 Ancylis laetana 3rd to 7th VC62 (all of which are mine, one other site in Yorkshire)
1132  Epinotia subocellana 2nd VC62
1135  Epinotia demarniana 6th to 12th VC62 (all VC62 records mine from 1 area and confirmed)
1137  Epinotia tetraquetrana 3rd VC62 and 4th VC64
1217  Eucocosmomorpha albersana 2nd Yorkshire record since 1987, the 1st was mine in 2011, a handful
of older records
1225  Pammene obscurana 2nd VC62 and 5th Yorkshire (I had 1st VC62 too)
1348  Parapoynx stratiotata 2nd VC64
1473  Ephestia elutella 1st VC65 and 12th Yorkshire
1517  Adaina microdactyla 5th VC64
1523  Oidaematophorus lithodactyla 3rd VC64

Once all of the 2012 records are included and published in the Yorkshire database some of these figures may have to be updated, but it is certainly an indication of the quality of the years trapping.

My moth of the year?  Well, it has to be this one, a Bordered Pug at Staveley, not particularly rare but a stunning pug all the same.  This was followed very closely by the remarkable sight of six Lunar Thorns together at Brimham, my only previous ones being a single at Brimham and one in my Dorset garden.

Bordered Pug
What for 2013?  Other than the pressing requirement to achieve a more stable economic base for the family, I look forward to concentrating my efforts locally again, with perhaps also some selective effort on the southern fringes of the NY Moors, and looking at other orders to broaden my interests.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Bugs ... and everything

Too cold at night to tempt me out trapping but a very pleasant afternoon on Thursday 1st and a brief excursion to Pilmoor.  I suppose I have developed a further interest in the site after preparing a report for Natural England who manage part of the site as a SSSI.  As I was short on time I concentrated checking the beech trees at the SE corner looking for leafmines; on the same date in 2009 I had seen a few mines of Stigmella tityrella and I wanted to repeat this and also to look for the other beech miner Stigmella hemargyrella.  Despite a thorough search of the beech I could not find any mines at all.  However I did find a shieldbug at rest on a sycamore which I photographed.
Hawthorn Shieldbug
Having got home and looked up the literature and web resources ( http://www.britishbugs.org.uk/index.html a superb site!) the bug was identified as Hawthorn Shieldbug Acanthosoma haemorrhoidella.  

Buoyed by identifying such a good-looking insect I trawled through my photos and located another three shieldbug species all for Pilmoor: Birch Shieldbug, Red-legged Shieldbug and Common Green Shieldbug, all of which are reasonably common.  It did set me thinking especially after visiting Mark Telfer's site (superb for beetles) where there was a section on pan-listing.  I did a quick tot up of the species in which I was interested and was surprised to come up with a total list of c.1700 species.  With about 73% of this made up with moths and birds with many fewer (now that's an oxymoron...) vascular plants, butterflies, mammals, fish etc., there seems to be plenty of scope for bumping the list up...if I could be really bothered ;-)

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

A new one for Pilmoor

Having not done any trapping for weeks now, probably mainly due to the lack of mild, calm and dry nights, along with a general malaise that sets in as moth numbers plummet, Saturday 20th Oct looked a good night to do some trapping.  Pilmoor was the easiest and closest site to home and four hours in perfect conditions produced 46 moths of 12 species.  The highlight, although not realised at the time, was a December moth, which was new for site.  Amazingly I have only had one other record, and as its name implies is a late flier, and obviously under-recorded due lack of trapping effort in late autumn.  

1044x  Acleris ferrugana/notana  1
1048  Garden Rose Tortrix (Acleris variegana)  2
1062  Acleris emargana  1
1631  December Moth (Poecilocampa populi)  1
1769  Spruce Carpet (Thera britannica)  1
1795x  November Moth agg. (Epirrita dilutata agg.)  27
1923  Feathered Thorn (Colotois pennaria)  8
2126  Setaceous Hebrew Character (Xestia c-nigrum)  1
2247  Merveille du Jour (Dichonia aprilina)  1
2258  Chestnut (Conistra vaccinii)  1
2263  Red-line Quaker (Agrochola lota)  1
2477  Snout (Hypena proboscidalis)  1
Acleris emargana

Friday, 12 October 2012

Noah can rest easy now....

Now ten days or so since the floods here in Langthorpe it was time for some photos of what the river should look like.  Not entirely true as there was torrential rain last night and the rather muddy water is about 50cm above normal levels; this is still 5.5 metres lower than last weeks record level.  The following pic shows some Giant Hogweed suspended in the willow to the left, which gives an indication of the flood level.  
In addition, the white water level scale attached to the bridge which tops out at 15.75 metres cannot be seen in last weeks photo!
Also compare the next photo with last week, now the detritus that was backing up against the bridge has gone.  Such blockages cause extra strain to the structure and the bridge was closed for 4 days allowing engineers to check the integrity had not been compromised.

Our house is actually just west of here and the water levels are artificially kept higher there due to the weir and the lock gates on the Milby Canal.  So the water level needs to 'fill in' the lower level river east of the weir before the level rises on our bit of the river.  It was still squeaky bum time for a while....
Here is a photo of our building, then a brewery for Mustill Brothers, and looking at the vehicles it must be around the 1920's.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

It's a bit wet here.....

Arriving home from Ireland in the rain, it did not let up until the early hours of this morning, Wednesday.  The water levels on the River Ure outside were fairly high, and I spent much of a sleepless night keeping an eye on the Environment Agency websites.  With each update the levels were rising and the previous record was broken in the early hours, peaking 20cm higher than previous highest at around 7:00 this morning.

It actually peaked at 15.79 metres above datum point, some 6 metres higher than earlier in the week....

The access road to Waterside, the main road through Boroughbridge closed.

A view of the R. Ure from the front door.

From the main road bridge looking back towards Langthorpe

Just after taking these photos the Police removed everyone from the bridge to allow an inflatable to rescue stranded elderly people in sheltered accommodation in the buildings on the right and a couple from a barge that could not get off on the canal cut.

The only way to get back to our side of the river was to go right round on the old A1, the A168 by-pass to Kirby Hill and then head back south.  Where the A168 crosses over the R. Ure views back towards Langthorpe gave rather more of an impression of the scale of the flooding.  Our building is hidden by the large building with the chimney in the distance, the old Laundry, and the river is normally contained in a far more manageable strip between the willows...thank heavens for flood plains.

Still, could be worse, it could be raining....

A week in Ireland

Having found an exceptionally cheap way of getting to Ireland (just £67 plus £4 booking fee Return to get from Leeds Bus Station all the way to Limerick) I just had to give it a go.  When you consider the foot-passenger fare on the ferry from Holyhead to Dublin is £28 each way this is amazing value.  The only downside was that it was by coach, as fairly comfortable as it was, the spending of 17 hours travelling overnight brought back dark memories of two months on Greyhound buses and three days on a coach from Athens to London all those years ago....

So having got all the way to Limerick, and 45 minutes on a local bus got me to Shannon Airport where a pre-booked hire-car awaited, I was on my way.  Another hour or so later I was happily tucked in with four other birders at the Bridges of Ross on Loop Head looking at seabirds in a good stiff westerly gale.  To be greeted with 'You should have been here this morning...' was not what I wanted to hear, and the passage up to 1100 had included over two hundred Sooty Shearwaters and several Long-tailed Skuas.  After a quiet start, the late afternoon haul did produce at least six Sooties, 12 Bonxies, an Arctic Skua, two close adult Sabine's Gulls, and c.25 Grey Phalaropes.  Several hours sat on a rock after sitting for so long on a bus was hard to take, so with movement tailing off I had a look for an American Golden Plover that had been seen irregularly, to no avail.

The next morning the wind had moved round to the north, the spray was bad and very few birds, so decided to drive round the Ring of Kerry (oooer Matron!) with fantastic scenery and occasional stops at sandy beaches looking for waders.  Looking for Reenroe beach at Ballingskelligs which had hosted several yank waders over previous days, a place not on any of my maps and apparently unknown to the odd locals I spoke to.  As it turns out I did find the actual beach, but the state of the tide and bloody fisherman meant that the only waders on the beach were on a fisherman....


The next day was spent at Rosscarbery on the south Cork coast, a wonderful sandy estuary surrounded by minor roads giving full uninterrupted views, and with plenty of waders just screaming out for a yank wader hiding amongst them.  I spent the whole day there scanning every nook of the estuary and looking carefully at all the waders but could not squeeze any rarities out.



However, great views were had of up to 18 Little Egrets, c.500 Black-tailed Godwit, 17 Greenshank and a sprinkling of Sanderling and Knot among the Dunlin and Ringed Plovers.  At least three adult and a first-winter Mediterranean Gull were seen among the gulls.

Black-headed Gull

Little Egret


The Black-tailed Godwits were in all manner of plumages from almost full summer plumage through to moulting juveniles, and presumably most if not all were Icelandic birds en route to wintering quarters.

Black-tailed Godwit

The next image has an interesting example of rhynchokinesis on the left-hand bird, the elasticity of the upper mandible tip which allows grasping and manipulation of prey without opening the bill.

Of interest among the Black-tailed Godwits were a couple of colour-ringed individuals, the details of which I have sent off to the Icelandic authorities for further information.

colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwits

Overnight at Rosscarbery, gave me another chance to look for waders the next morning.  In fact many of the smaller waders seem to have moved out, the only notable addition was a 1st-year Little Gull.  So, a drive east to the nearby Inchidonny and Clonakilty estuaries again looking for waders and a possible Azorean Yellow-legged Gull.  They are odd estuaries in that from being totally full, it seems like it takes only minutes for all of the water to drain into the waterways, so flood to desert in a blink of the eye.  Waders were much fewer in number and it was the muddy pools at the north end by the embankment that were best, with several hundred Black-tailed Godwit, a half-hidden Knot that had me going for a while and a Green Sandpiper.  Parking here is extremely difficult here and you take your life in your hands birding on the narrow roads....and then the rain came.  Views of the gull flocks bearer the estuary moth and especially off the Ring gave up a couple of first-year Mediterranean Gulls and a sleeping Yellow-headed Gull displaying some heavy streaking around its head, but not quite as much as I was expecting as the crown was much clearer of streaking.  A close Guillemot off the Ring on the incoming tide gave reasonable passing views.

A evening drive and beach-side overnight stop next to Garretstown beach near Kinsale, and I awoke to a beach totally devoid of any waders at all.  On cursing my luck on managing to avoid all the yank waders, I drove on a couple of hundred metres and found the real beach.  This was more like it.  Dozens of Turnstone, Ringed Plover, Dunlin and Sanderling spread the length of the seaweed strandline with the sun behind me...and sure enough I found the first-year Semi-palmated Sandpiper.  What cracking views of a stunning bird, no problems in identification, and plenty of video footage taken.  When I decided to try and photograph it, the pesky dog-walkers arrived and ensured that every bird took to flight, completely oblivious to the disturbance they were concerning despite my animated attempts to wave them away....bah humbug!

The afternoon further east in Co Wexford at the estuary south of Wellingtonbridge produced yet more Black-tailed Godwit,  including two more colour-ringed birds; unfortunately they were both sleeping with one leg tucked up so could not get the full colour combination.

I spent the night with my Mother and family near Duncormick, close to a village which appears on the maps but impossible to locate in real life...Bastardstown.  It would have appealed to my Dad to have had that in his address...  So Saturday was a visit to Tacumshin, a superb place, but host to about a dozen dudes displaying absolutely no field-craft and walking right out to the muddy margins and wondering why all the waders were flying off.  Having been denied a pleasant spot of wader watching at one of Ireland's premier sites by thoughtless birders who should know better rather than thick dog-walkers, a visit to the nearby Lady's Island rounded off by some goujons of cod from the world's best fish and chip shop at Kilmore Quay was divine.

Saltee Chipper

Turn round from the Saltee Chipper and the boats that brought the fish in are tied up in the small harbour.  I do not know how you would measure the carbon foot print of walking across the road with a box of fish...

Kilmore Quay
A Sunday evening drive to Tipperary and on to Limerick on Monday morning where rather disappointingly the locals did not talk in rhyme...  Hire-car dropped off at a very rainy Shannon departing in the same weather as I arrived, a local bus back to Limerick before the coach trip overnight back to Leeds and yet another local bus to Harrogate where I picked up Em's car to get home.

Epic travelling, a numb bum, some great scenery, super birds, a superb meal at The Yard in Wexford with Mother and family and those unbelievably good cod goujons all made for a great experience.

Sessay wood, 20th August

A distinct decrease in numbers and species as is customary from mid-August, signalling the end of major hauls, but also the onset of autumnal species.  No real surprises in the catch, 232 moths of 55 species, but an opportunity to take a few photos.

Hypatima rhomboidella

Helcystogramma rufescens

Ancylis badiana

September Thorn

  Cnephasia species (Cnephasia sp.)  11
0228  Monopis weaverella  2
0411  Argyresthia goedartella  4
0453  Honeysuckle Moth (Ypsolopha dentella)  1
0460  Ypsolopha parenthesella  7
0858  Hypatima rhomboidella  1
0868  Helcystogramma rufescens  1
0874  Blastobasis lacticolella  1
0969  Chequered Fruit-tree Tortrix (Pandemis corylana)  6
1036  Acleris forsskaleana  4
1093  Apotomis betuletana  17
1126  Ancylis badiana  1
1134  Epinotia ramella  6
1155  Epinotia brunnichana  8
1260  Cydia splendana  1
1293  Garden Grass-veneer (Chrysoteuchia culmella)  1
1388  Udea lutealis  2
1413  Gold Triangle (Hypsopygia costalis)  3
1439  Trachycera advenella  1
1632  Pale Eggar (Trichiura crataegi)  1
1645  Scalloped Hook-tip (Falcaria lacertinaria)  4
1657  Common Lutestring (Ochropacha duplaris)  1
1713  Riband Wave [non-banded form] (Idaea aversata ab. remutata)  4
1725  Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet (Xanthorhoe ferrugata)  2
1738  Common Carpet (Epirrhoe alternata)  1
1759  Small Phoenix (Ecliptopera silaceata)  6
1764  Common Marbled Carpet (Chloroclysta truncata)  6
1777  July Highflyer (Hydriomena furcata)  2
1811  Slender Pug (Eupithecia tenuiata)  1
1887  Clouded Border (Lomaspilis marginata)  1
1915  September Thorn (Ennomos erosaria)  1
2000  Iron Prominent (Notodonta dromedarius)  3
2003  Pebble Prominent (Notodonta ziczac)  1
2006  Lesser Swallow Prominent (Pheosia gnoma)  36
2007  Swallow Prominent (Pheosia tremula)  3
2008  Coxcomb Prominent (Ptilodon capucina)  1
2044  Dingy Footman (Eilema griseola)  4
2049  Buff Footman (Eilema depressa)  1
2102  Flame Shoulder (Ochropleura plecta)  3
2107  Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba)  31
2109  Lesser Yellow Underwing (Noctua comes)  3
2110  Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (Noctua fimbriata)  1
2111  Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (Noctua janthe)  1
2126  Setaceous Hebrew Character (Xestia c-nigrum)  9
2133  Six-striped Rustic (Xestia sexstrigata)  1
2269  Centre-barred Sallow (Atethmia centrago)  1
2274  Sallow (Xanthia icteritia)  5
2297  Copper Underwing (Amphipyra pyramidea)  1
2298  Svensson's Copper Underwing (Amphipyra berbera)  1
2313  Angle-striped Sallow (Enargia paleacea)  6
2318  Dun-bar (Cosmia trapezina)  4
2343x  Common Rustic agg. (Mesapamea secalis agg.)  1
2387  Mottled Rustic (Caradrina morpheus)  1
2474  Straw Dot (Rivula sericealis)  5

Pilmoor two nights running

A belated post of the last trapping events on 7th and 8th September.  The first night produced 55 moths of 16 species, fairly unexceptional with the of an Epermenia falciformis which I had only had elsewhere only recently, and was a new species and first record for VC62.

0460  Ypsolopha parenthesella  14
0481  Epermenia falciformis  1
0972  Dark Fruit-tree Tortrix (Pandemis heparana)  1
1048  Garden Rose Tortrix (Acleris variegana)  1
1062  Acleris emargana  2
1093  Apotomis betuletana  1
1134  Epinotia ramella  2
1764  Common Marbled Carpet (Chloroclysta truncata)  5
1776  Green Carpet (Colostygia pectinataria)  10
1913  Canary-shouldered Thorn (Ennomos alniaria)  4
1955  Common White Wave (Cabera pusaria)  1
1981  Poplar Hawk-moth (Laothoe populi)  1
2006  Lesser Swallow Prominent (Pheosia gnoma)  4
2107  Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba)  1
2474  Straw Dot (Rivula sericealis)  6
2477  Snout (Hypena proboscidalis)  1

Epermenia falciformis, new for VC62
The second night was all set up in the same area but targeting the aspen trees in the hope of aspen-feeding species (in particular the micro Epinotia maculana which has not been recorded in Yorkshire since 1997).  On returning just before dawn next morning to be met with the fact that the bulbs were out...but the generator was still running?  It would appear that the vibration had shaken the plug splitter loose enough to break the connection.  The bulbs were cold, but had been on for at least a while as a few moths were still in the traps, with just 26 moths of eight species, and nothing of interest.

0411  Argyresthia goedartella  1
0460  Ypsolopha parenthesella  5
1405  Mother of Pearl (Pleuroptya ruralis)  1
1764  Common Marbled Carpet (Chloroclysta truncata)  3
1776  Green Carpet (Colostygia pectinataria)  5
1913  Canary-shouldered Thorn (Ennomos alniaria)  1
2006  Lesser Swallow Prominent (Pheosia gnoma)  9
2267  Beaded Chestnut (Agrochola lychnidis)  1

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

A bit if a conundrum.....

Another decent night forecast for Saturday 18th August and traps set at the furthest hide at Staveley.  Not a bad haul in the end with 574 moths of 82 species, with just small numbers of the target reed-bed specialities: 17 Limnaecia phragmitella, one Chilo phragmitella, two Calamatropha paludella, 15 Water Veneer, a Southern Wainscot, three Bulrush Wainscot, one Brown-veined Wainscot and a Fen Wainscot.

So, where's the conundrum?  I caught a Mompha that I was perfectly happy matched one that we had caught there a couple of weeks ago.  However, there were two other white-headed Mompha that defied easy identification.  A trawl of the internet suggested Mompha divisella only recorded once in Yorkshire as a willowherb plant gall, obviously a rare moth but I kept coming back to the same conclusion.   Several opinions from learned colleagues seemed to support my thoughts so I forwarded the details to Harry the County micro-recorder.  While waiting for his reply I checked MBGBI and the illustrations there made me even more confused.
Mompha sp.
Harry came back with the opinion that it was Mompha propinquella, which suggests to me that some of the published photos of divisella may actually be incorrect, and that gen. det. is required to be sure.

A selection of other moths of interest follow.
Ypsolopha scabrella

Epermenia falciformis

Cochylimorpha straminea

Acleris emargana

Fen Wainscot

Thursday, 16 August 2012

The heathy bit of Pilmoor

A slight change in venue for Tuesday night, three traps out on the heath bit at Pilmoor, set among the cross-leaved heath and rushy areas, so slightly different habitat.  It turned out to be a pretty reasonable night with 820 moths of 103 species, many birch-feeding species including several new ones for me and a few new for Pilmoor.

The highlights were an Ypsolopha nemorella, six Anacampsis blattariella, three Hypatima rhomboidella, two Batrachedra praeangusta, an Apotomis semifasciana, a Large Twin-spot Carpet, September Thorn, White Satin, Four-dotted footman and six Angle-striped Sallow.
Caloptilia alchimiella/robustella

Anacampsis blattariella

Batrachedra praeangusta

Epinotia ramella f. costana
For once the forecast was spot-on, a fine clear night, muggy with little or no wind, a beautiful dawn with a hint of mist hanging over the marshy bit.  Sure enough the cloud rolled in and rain and wind later in the day, so at least I had taken advantage of the fine window.

There were plenty of Siskins flying around calling, and a wonderfully evocative Whimbrel was heard calling as it flew over.  A few days rain and wind with hopefully a fine weekend coming up.  Trapping peak about over now, so must take advantage as and when.  August is probably the worst covered month for me and could be due to a number of factors: the odd weeks away are normally in August, the weather is often poor, and fatigue setting in feeling all 'mothed out'.