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

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

That sinking feeling.....

So, there I am, half way to 108 today, the same day 100 years after the launch of the Titanic in 1911.  And what a beautiful day it has been, with bright sunny skies and fair-weather cumulus, although a cool breeze.
A visit to Nosterfield NR, where I was greeted to the sight of a stoat tackling a rabbit, with two other rabbits trying to distract the mustelid - a bit one-sided, with the stoat, although smaller, being able to drag the rabbit off into the long grass where it was swiftly dispatched.  The adult Mediterranean Gull was still on the island in exactly the same place among the Black-headed Gulls, and continued to be harassed.  Were the Black-heads making half-hearted mating attempts, or just mobbing it?  The chicks on the island wandered around the Med Gull, and one received a sharp peck.  Is the Med Gull breeding?

A drive on up to Dallowgill, one of my favourite places, where I had Whinchat, and brief flight views of a Ring Ouzel, which was later heard singing.
There were some of my favourite butterflies around, the exquisite Small Coppers, and plenty of Grouse about, uttering their distinctive calls, and bursting into their flickering flight over the heather moors.
Red Grouse, male
Red Grouse, female
Back to the Titanic.....
Launch of the Titanic, Belfast 1911
................which of course sank without trace within a year of its launch.  Today, officially my last day before redundancy, let's hope I fare rather better!

I can't finish on a down-beat note so here is my favourite Titanic joke....

The Great Magisto, was pleased to have got a job as the ship magician on the maiden voyage of the Titanic.  On the first night in front of the enthralled crowd, the magician started to perform his tricks, but was constantly interrupted by the ships parrot.  He would do one of his tricks, and the parrot would squawk 'it's up his sleeve, it's up his sleeve'.  He did another trick, and again the parrot screeched 'it's in his cloak, in his cloak'.  And so it went on, for the next few nights much to the exasperation of the Great Magisto.....
Then disaster struck, the ship hit the iceberg, and the magician was thrown into the water with the impact, but managed to cling to a bit of flotsam.  Much to his annoyance, the parrot fluttered down and perched on the same bit of driftwood, but for several days just did not utter a word.  The magician eventually spoke to the Parrot, and said 'I can't believe you have not said a word for days, especially when you did nothing but interrupt me during my act'.  The parrot cocked its head to one side, looked quizzically at the magician and said 'ok, I give up!...Where did you put the boat?'.

Monday, 30 May 2011

A load of new 10k square records

The 10km square SD85 north-west of Skipton, has only eight moth species recorded on the Yorkshire database.  Having identified a good and accessible site and sought the necessary permissions, I spent last night in the wooded grounds of Coniston Hall.  The wind eased, and the temperature dropped no lower than +12, but rain was forecast in the early hours.  I set the alarm for 0200 to make sure I did not caught out, and shortly afterwards it started spitting, so the decision to finish before dawn was a good one, and back in bed by 0400.
So, 92 moths of 24 species was the result, which meant that 23 of the 24 species were new for the square (only White Ermine had been recorded before).  The Campion was a new one for me in Yorkshire, and a fine specimen it was...shame about the picture.
0017  Common Swift (Hepialus lupulinus)  4
1727  Silver-ground Carpet (Xanthorhoe montanata)  19
1738  Common Carpet (Epirrhoe alternata)  1
1750  Water Carpet (Lampropteryx suffumata)  1
1759  Small Phoenix (Ecliptopera silaceata)  3
1764  Common Marbled Carpet (Chloroclysta truncata)  2
1834  Common Pug (Eupithecia vulgata)  2
1906  Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata)  2
1920  Scalloped Hazel (Odontopera bidentata)  2
1931  Peppered Moth (Biston betularia)  2
1955  Common White Wave (Cabera pusaria)  3
1956  Common Wave (Cabera exanthemata)  1
2060  White Ermine (Spilosoma lubricipeda)  13
2064  Ruby Tiger (Phragmatobia fuliginosa)  1
2102  Flame Shoulder (Ochropleura plecta)  1
2120  Ingrailed Clay (Diarsia mendica)  15
2123  Small Square-spot (Diarsia rubi)  7
2158  Pale-shouldered Brocade (Lacanobia thalassina)  6
2166  Campion (Hadena rivularis)  1
2289  Knot Grass (Acronicta rumicis)  1
2305  Small Angle Shades (Euplexia lucipara)  2
2334  Rustic Shoulder-knot (Apamea sordens)  1
2422  Green Silver-lines (Pseudoips prasinana britannica)  1
2442  Beautiful Golden Y (Autographa pulchrina)  1
Knot Grass

Thursday, 26 May 2011

A new moth...and what a cracker!

The wind of the last few days has rather curtailed trapping activity, but I braved the still gusty breeze at Kilburn woods last night, as there was cloud cover and the temperature likely to remain reasonable.  Two traps set at Spruce Bank wood and the actinic at Hag Wood.  A shower at 0140 dampened the enthusiasm somewhat, so a measured withdrawal was undertaken, completed by 0250.  There was over 450 moths of around 50 species, but the best was saved until last when I did the actinic.  A superb Clouded Magpie in the trap and a Blomer's Rivulet attracted to the car headlights, both of which indicated that the trap was set rather close to an elm tree.
Clouded Magpie

Blomer's Rivulet

Pug sp. now considered Larch Pug
Four Coleophora species, 28 Common Swift, two Map-winged Swift, nine Syndemis musculana, four Celypha lacunana, a Epiblema cynosbatella, Common Lutestring, Flame Carpet, 16 Silver-ground Carpet, 30 Common Carpet, seven Small Phoenix, nine Common Marbled Carpet, three Spruce Carpet, two Green Carpet, six Rivulet, four Sandy Carpet, five Common Pug, two White-spotted Pug, 13 Larch Pug, a Blomer's Rivulet, Clouded Magpie, 76 Brown Silver-line, three Scorched Wing, 13 Brimstone Moth, 18 Scalloped Hazel, a Peppered Moth, two Engrailed/Small Engrailed, two Grey Birch, 91 Clouded Silver, four Poplar Hawk-moth, a Sallow Kitten, seven Pale Tussock, 20 White Ermine, 12 Buff Ermine, a Least Black Arches, four Heart and Dart, 25 Flame Shoulder, a Large Yellow Underwing, two Ingrailed Clay, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Bright-line Brown-eye, Smoky Wainscot, Small Angle Shades, five Clouded-bordered Brindle, four Rustic Shoulder-knot, six Marbled Minor agg., nine Green Silver-lines, two Beautiful Golden Y and 11 Spectacle.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

A new moth for me.......is it the Yorkshire Brown?

The first night out for a short while, and the woodland around Kilburn beckoned.  The wind dropped and the temperature remained above +9, and the half-moon was low enough in the sky so as not to impact on the trapping.  The trapping session was brought abruptly to a close with a rain shower.....water and very hot bulbs do not go well together.  While going throught the assembled moths, there was one in the egg boxes that immediately stood out....was it the legendary Yorkshire Brown.....no it was a Lutestring but which one?  A quick check in Waring and Townsend and my Lutestring cribsheet, it was soon narrowed down to Poplar Lutestring. 
Poplar Lutestring
Poplar Lutestring
On returning home, a quick check of Sutton and Beaumont suggested only a couple of old records, but the NMRS website showed several other squares in a small group in the Yorkshire area.  The County Recorder Charlie Fletcher kindly confirmed the pictures and sent the current distribution map for the moth for the previous ten records, and my record was a new 10km square and the earliest county record.
A total of 98 moths of 26 species, with 33 Brown Silver-line and 11 Pale Tussock the commonest, and new for the year were singles of Common Lutestring, Poplar Hawk-moth, Alder Moth and Rustic Shoulder-knot.

A trap for the unwary....

Back in mid-March on the 12th at Pilmoor, I caught a moth that was immediately different from the Pale Brindled Beauties I had been catching and rashly identified it as a Brindled Beauty.  Following comments that the record was rather early for that species I checked the photos I had taken, and withdrew the claim.  While perusing the photos again this evening, I checked the identification again, and conclude that the species involved is the rather scarce dark variant of Oak Beauty.  On reflection, the specimen is rather worn, and should have raised alarm bells for what would have been a very early emergence of Brindled Beauty.
Oak Beauty abb.

Friday, 20 May 2011

A gem of a place

Just 5 miles or so south-east of Boroughbridge is a small wet carr nature reserve, at Upper Dunsforth.  It is a small oasis of scarce damp habitat surrounded by improved (?!) grassland, and monocultural crop fields.  It consists of several rough meadows with juncus and rough herbage, and a boardwalk through some damp woodland and a small amount of reeds and phragmites.
On the odd occasion that the sun peeked through the clouds, a few butterflies braved the cool breeze, and a small number of daytime moths were flushed from the grass.
Small Copper
The highlight was a Small Yellow Underwing, a daytime moth of damp heath, and of the butterflies the bright and beautiful Small Copper.

Adela reaumurella, eight Crambus lathoniellus, an Orange-tip, three Small Copper, a Common Blue, two Red Admiral, two Peacock, a Silver-ground Carpet, five Common Carpet, a Silver-ground Carpet and a Small Yellow Underwing.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Not a bad night out

With 100% cloud cover and the temperature not dropping below +13, it was only the breeze that one had to find shelter from.  Silton Forest on the north-west side of the North Yorkshire moors was the chosen site and at least 238 moths of 56 species was the reward.  
Dwarf Pug
19 Coleophora species, an Eriocrania subpurpurella, 18 Syndemis musculana, two Crambus lathoniellus, a Fox Moth, Scalloped Hook-tip, three Pebble Hook-tip, Peach Blossom, two Common Lutestring, two Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet, a Silver-ground Carpet, four Common Carpet, two Water Carpet, seven Small Phoenix, a Common Marbled Carpet, two Spruce Carpet, a Broken-barred Carpet, May Highflyer, two Oak-tree Pug, Dwarf Pug, Clouded Border, Tawny-barred Angle, 24 Brown Silver-line, a Barred Umber, Scorched Wing, three Brimstone Moth, three Engrailed/Small Engrailed, two Grey Birch, six Clouded Silver, a Poplar Hawk-moth, five Elephant Hawk-moth, two Small Elephant Hawk-moth, two Pebble Prominent, nine Lesser Swallow Prominent, a Swallow Prominent, Coxcomb Prominent, Pale Prominent, 22 Pale Tussock, an Orange Footman, 11 White Ermine, two Buff Ermine, 24 Flame Shoulder,  two Shears, two Pale-shouldered Brocade, a Bright-line Brown-eye, ten Broom Moth, a Pine Beauty, eight Hebrew Character, five Dark Brocade, two Alder Moth, a Brown Rustic, three Small Angle Shades, a Clouded-bordered Brindle, four Green Silver-lines, a Spectacle and a Small Fan-foot.

What was interesting about the Dwarf Pug besides the very obvious small size was the noticeably patterned underside to the wings, shadowing the pattern towards the wingtips on the upper surface.

Monday, 9 May 2011

A few days away.....good news and bad news

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel to Hungary for a few days R&R the end of this last week.  The omens bode well with the registration of the car being very apt - LEP!  I was fortunate to have one of those cars that can go literally anywhere...yes, a hire car!  I will be honest it did me proud, 1000km and did not ground once, despite some of the very challenging off-roading....
Registration LEP 748....
The fabulous blue skies of Yorkshire seemed to be Europe-wide, and I spent Friday about Hortabagy, looking mainly at birds, as the cool wind seemed to suppress any butterflies until the afternoon.  The hungarian plains have loads to offer, and were a bit wetter than previous visits.  Loads of Marsh Harriers, summer-plumaged waders including magnificent Spotted Redshanks with Ruff, Quail and Golden Orioles from every field and copse, plus Cranes, Storks, various Herons, of which Great White Egret was by far the commonest, and Pygmy Cormorants.
Pygmy Cormorant
Great White Egret
White Stork 

Purple Heron
Friday night was cold, and 3 hours with an actinic produced just the two moths.  Saturday was spent on the limestone ridge in the north-east of the country around Aggtelek on the Slovak border.  The cold weather and increasing cloud and wind was just not conducive to butterflies, and most of those I saw were ones I could see in the UK...except for the Woodland Ringlet I suppose...

Silver-studded Blue
Dingy Skipper
The morning started fine but cool, but the deteriorating weather getting cooler, windier and eventually wet too made butterfly watching rather difficult.  Checking out the valleys north of Szin (an interesting place to live in I'm sure...) produced a few more butterflies.
Some proper meadows..
Wood White
Woodland Ringlet
The rain eventually closed in and a drive through the beech woods of Bukk produced dozens of Hawfinches, probably the commonest bird, seemingly collecting roadside grit.

Beech woodland in the Bukk hills
On the last day with the weather starting poorly and improving, gave me a last stab at the plains area again, and was lucky enough to get good views of Imperial Eagle and a fine Montagu's Harrier.
Imperial Eagle
So a great few days, with perhaps not as many moths/butterflies as I had hoped for, but was still an incredible pleasure just to immerse myself in many common and not so common species of Hungary.

So that was the good news, and the bad....well I lost my job today.  So every silver lining has a cloud.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Farne Islands

Another fantastic day with wall to wall blue sky and unlike previous days, the wind dropped to give a more manageable 3 or 4 on the Beaufort scale.  Took Mum and Raine on a boat trip from Seahouses round the Farne Islands, and had fantastic views of Razorbills, Guillemots and Puffins.  There were plenty of splendidly plumaged Eiders, the immaculate Kittiwakes, and of course a few seals beached on the rocks.
Kittiwakes on the nest

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Requiem For A Moth - BBC Radio 4, Friday 6th May, 11.02am

The details of the programme which several of us contributed to can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b010t6nr