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

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Planes, trains and automobiles……

Well, not many planes these days (after 28 years in aviation) but more trains and automobiles than I have ever used…..

One of the benefits of travelling around the country is seeing some of Britain’s great scenery and while on the train is seeing some familiar places but from a different viewpoint.  Only last week on a drive to Aberystwyth I noticed a roadside RSPB sign with Ospreys on it.  Returning along the same route by train while looking out of the window in the Cors Dyfi Nature Reserve I noticed an Osprey sitting on a nest platform and another perched in a tree nearby, less than 100m from the railway.  Not even realising that Ospreys were breeding in Wales I have since looked into it and it seems they have at least attempted to breed in the Glaslyn valley since 2004.  Not a bad bird to see from the train but does not match the Great Bustard claimed by an eminent Victorian naturalist from a train on Shapwick Heath in Somerset, 22nd September 1870.....

On a different note I joined the Plymouth-Dundee train at Taunton heading north a couple of weeks ago.  It was some time before I noticed that a speck on the window just adjacent to the passenger in front was actually a tiny moth rather than a bit of nasal detritus….  On close inspection it was an Cameraria ohridella the Horse Chestnut Leaf-Miner and when the train was pulling into Leeds I attempted to scoop the moth onto some paper in an attempt to photograph it with my mobile.  Typically the moth took to flight and was lost to view; did it fly out of the opening door or remain in the cabin?  On thinking about the scenario I mused on whether this was an import into Leeds from down south possibly even from Plymouth, or could even end up in Scotland if it remained on the train.  Was this one of the dispersal methods (unintentional of course!) of this dramatically expanding species?  What if it was a purely southern species, could I count it for the counties we travelled through including Yorkshire?  Oh well, not really a valid argument.

No photos of either the Ospreys nor the micro-moth, so here is another car from recent weeks…..

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Three traps in a week!

On the night of Friday 5th July I spent the night at Brimham Rocks in preparation for a Bioblitz planned for the Saturday when various experts were due to be present to try and identify as many species as possible in a 24hour period.  So, I got the ball rolling operating three traps overnight and despite ideal conditions, only managed about 80 species of the usual suspects for Brimham.  The highlight, at least for me, was Ancylis myrtillana, a moorland micro which I had only seen for the first time at this site last year.  Fortunately, for the benefit of the general public who were due to visit during the daytime, I had a good selection of the more colourful moths for their benefit.  These included, Barred Yellow, Peach Blossom, Garden Tiger and Elephant Hawk-moth plus a few of the more regular brown jobbies.  Unfortunately I had to leave for work by 10:00am, but by leaving my potted specimens in a cool place for others to see worked ok.

Trap 2 was at Wellesbourne in Warks at my Brother-in-Law's garden on Wednesday night.  A well-stocked suburban garden adjoining farmland, and the prize was a Cream-bordered Green Pea.  This is a species that somehow never seemed to venture north of Dorchester when I lived in Dorset, and is relatively scarce up here in Yorkshire.  With the Warks County Recorder David Brown only living 3 miles away in Charlecote, I sent him my records as usual, and he commented that he had only had the 2nd and 3rd county records in his garden, so mine was a notable local scarcity.

With this fantastic run of warm weather continuing, Saturday night meant trapping at Staveley NR just 3 miles from where I live.  With three traps around the furthest hide, a double gladiator actinic in the reeds, a Robinson on the main path between the trees and the waterside herbage, and the 160 MVB over a sheet next to the reeds in the more open grassy area.  Despite the early morning mist that bordered on drizzle, there were almost 900 moths of 116 species was the prize, including a new one for me, a Beautiful China-mark.  I had had one before but it escaped before I could pot it and photograph it.
Beautiful China-mark
The highlights among the rest were two Large Clover Case-bearer, six Elachista atricomella, a Metzneria metzneriella, a Syncopacma larseniella/cinctella, a Brachmia blandella, nine Mompha ochraceella, an Endothenia quadrimaculana, three each of Lobesia abscisana and Phlyctaenia perlucidalis, two Adaina microdactyla, three each of White Satin and Double Lobed, 15 Silky Wainscot and two Blackneck.
Large Clover Case-bearer

Metzneria metzneriella

Brachmia blandella

Mompha ochraceela

Lobesia abscisana

Spilonota ocellana

Crambus pascuella

Adaina microdactyla

Green Pug

Shoulder-striped Wainscot

Silky Wainscot.
It is worth bearing in mind that the micro-moths featured here are mostly less than 10mm in length, indeed the plume moth shown microdactyla which is the smallest of the plumes and had a wingspan on less than 20mm. You do not have to be big to be beautiful....

Friday, 28 June 2013

Perks of the job...

What an odd start to the year.  The cool spring, hardly any moths on the very few nights out trapping, and something called work getting in the way of night-time trapping.  With a mileage in the last ten days the equivalent of driving from here to Athens and back, in a mixture of vehicles, the cream has to be three of these in this week alone.....unfortunately I did not get a photo of the black Vantage.
Aston Martin DBS

Aston Martin Vantage
The DBS was picked up in Bristol and returned to Boroughbridge...unfortunately due to the M1 closure just had to take the long way round via Manchester...  As much as a huge pleasure it was to drive, I cannot help thinking that a six litre V12 engine probably has contributed to the extinction of several species on this journey alone!

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Spring has sprung!

What a difference a week makes.  After such a cold start to the year, a touch of sun seemed to spur the hedgerows into life and the first real flush of green was very noticeable.  I saw my first butterflies of the year, a Brimstone and a couple of Peacocks early in the week, plenty of Swallows, House Martins and Sand Martins over the River Ure, Chiffchaffs singing everywhere.  So the promise of a mild evening on Tuesday (23rd  April) meant dusting off the moth trap, the first trapping session since what seemed the last mild night back in early January.
So, off to that old favourite, Pilmoor, on the old railway line, and in four hours trapping managed a very creditable total of 300 moths of 20 species.  No real surprises, the majority of the moths were Diurnea fagella a common birch-feeder, a few Orthosias, and a handful of Eriocrania sp., but did include one of my favourite spring moths, a Streamer.
Semioscopis steinkellneriana


Water Carpet - f. piceata

Pale Pinion

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Black sheep.....

The last eight weeks or so have been extremely busy on a couple of projects.  The first is the development of the new Dorset Moths website - more of that to follow when open for business!  The other project over the last three weeks when my elderly Mother was staying with us and we were going through many old photos which she had brought over from Ireland at my request.  One photo that started me thinking was an old one which I thought was me with my Grandad Box but which turned out to be my Dad, his Dad, Grandmother and Great Grandmother in Normanton about 1940.
David Allen Box, William Edward Box, Annie Box (nee Speight) and Katherine Speight (nee Rayner).
This got me on to looking at the four branches of the family tree; the Denyer (Sussex) and Lane (Reigate, Surrey) families on my Mothers side and the Box (Newcastle-under-Lyme and Normanton, Yorkshire) and Deyes (Yorkshire) on my Fathers side.  I got back to 1695 on the Box side and 1610 on the Denyer side and just keeping the tree fairly tight managed to get 427 people with 72 unique surnames.  It is amazing how starting with me that over 13 generations how quickly the tree spread out, and the only way I have managed is using the GRAMPS (no relation!) software.  

The Denyers of Bersted, Bognor, with my Grandad on the right. c.1920

The Deyes and Taylor families, 1st Jan 1903, Normanton, Yorkshire

Irene Denyer, William Denyer, Mabel Denyer, Ann Denyer (my Mum), Arthur Lane and Marjorie Lane. c.1942
I could not get over how many people were born, lived their lives and died all in the same small place.  On several occasions I spotted other families names on the same census pages of people who would end up marrying.  Most of the Denyers were in and around Bognor Regis, but a couple ended up moving to South Shields as sailors (one having a rather colourful sub-ordinate military record)  followed some years later by one of the Denyer girls travelling up and marrying a cousin (I was stumped by two with the same surname getting married....).  The Boxes were centred on Newcastle-under-Lyme and there were several entries for the Stafford Courts with one given 7 years and transportation to Tasmania for nicking lead off a roof and some years later his son of the same name getting a 6 month prison sentence for larceny.  Some of the Box family moved up to Yorkshire and were heavily involved in mining and the railways.  The miscreants aside, of the rest not all lived successful and fulfilling lives with one killed in action in Flanders, another ending up in the Doncaster Workhouse, and another getting injured as a policeman in Leeds and then dying of TB two weeks after his daughter my Nan was born.

So, every family has their black sheep, and I am sure that more interesting characters will appear over the coming weeks.  Fascinating stuff, and it has kept me occupied during these cold and wet days and nights although now am looking forward to catching a few moths and more regular updates.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Spoke too soon...

The 2nd-winter Iceland seen in flight twice today at Allerton, and my visit interrupted by a conversation with one of the contractors.....the pools ARE due to be filled in, progress stalled by the recent weather.  What a shame, and a wasted opportunity.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Allerton Tip Iceland Gull

The one advantage of these very breezy days is that the gulls at Allerton will at least be all pointing in the same direction!  This helps in looking at and assessing shades of grey and any darker (or paler) backed gulls stand out that much better.  With the winds from the north today, most of the gulls were actually rear-on, rather than the usual side-on.  No repeat of the 2nd-winter Iceland from last Friday, and the gulls were very flighty, being put up by a couple of Red Kites which looked fantastic in the low bright sunlight highlighting every hint of colour in the birds.  It soon became obvious that many of the gulls were actually in the dip the other side of the bank.  I drove round to look from the farm road parallel to the old A1, and waited for the gulls to fly up. With the sun now right behind me and the distant sky dark grey and dropping curtains of snow, when the gulls flew up they really stood out against the background.  Sure enough, the 2nd-winter Iceland Gull was soon picked out among the hundreds of Herring Gulls, and it lazily flew off to the north.
So, the threat of the first washing pit to be filled in may have passed, indeed the earth-moving equipment seem to have excavated another deeper pool just to the north of the main pit.  Perhaps my unacknowledged correspondence with the land-fill company actually worked - who knows.....

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Colour-ringed Godwits

Back in September I posted on my visit to south-west Ireland and added some photos on a couple of first-year colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwits at Roscarberry, Co Cork.  They were part of a flock of c.500 birds, mainly first-years, and the two colour-ringed birds were observed in close proximity for several hours on 19th September.  The rings are as follows:

Bird 1 on left:  Left leg - pale green over dark green    Right leg - red over yellow flag
Bird 2 on right:  Left leg - dark green over black    Right leg - yellow over yellow flag

Black-tailed Godwits
I scoured the internet and found several addresses for people who carried out Black-tailed Godwit ringing and sent off the details.  Not having heard anything I rather gave up hope, but out of the blue I received an email this morning from a Peter Potts with details on the birds.  Both birds, as suspected, were Icelandic, having been ringed there earlier in the year.  Their ringing details are as follows:

Bird 1 on left:  ringed in the southern lowlands of Iceland - details to follow.
Bird 2 on right:  ringed on 1st July 2012 at Klettur, road 60 north of Kroksfjardarnes in NW Iceland at 65 28 976'N 21 56.631'W.
Ringing site, photo P Potts
Ysbrand Galama and Dan Hoare, photo P Potts

Bird 2 in the hand, photo P Potts
1700km from ringing site to where I saw it in Ireland