Saturday, 31 July 2010

Come Dine With Me... Hawker Style

Despite the not so perfect weather at Tophill Low NR, we still managed to find some numbers of dragonflies today, Saturday. This Southern Hawker was observed catching a Bombus spp and then landed to devour it at leisure over 20 minutes. Despite finding the most awkward place to hang up for lunch, I was able to get some pictures...

The best...

This could be a big meal!

Starting to feel full...

... but just a little more

On finishing it flew away in search of another feed. Makes you wonder just how much they actually eat each day.

The count was rather low this week: - Common Blue Damselfly, very few Azure Damselfly, Blue-tailed Damselfly. 5 Emerald Damselfly, 10 Southern Hawker, 7 Migrant Hawker, 3 Black-tailed Skimmer, 39 Common Darter (many newly emerged and fresh, and some making maiden flights) and 8 Ruddy Darter.

Mothwise, it was rather unspectacular. The variety of species, and numbers trapped, was down on earlier in the month when it was much warmer. However, there are always new macros to see for the year. Highlights today included the first Lesser Swallow Prominents of the year and a free-flying Red Underwing was found at the southern end of the site, another first for the year.

Lesser Swallow Prominent

One of the other smart looking posers was this Pale Prominent.

Now for the scientific name part! There appears to be a new addition for the site list with Acrobasis consociella being trapped.

This photo from Doug Fairweather - and all credit for the identification.

One of the more common ones we encounter, and one of the more beautiful is Agapeta zoegana

Meanwhile, one that does have an English name is Bird-Cherry Ermine... this one posed well.

Other than that, one or two Hummingbird Hawkmoths were encountered, the large increase in hoverflies saw us see some potentially interesting ones (depends on the photos if we can go further with them), a Common Sandpiper made up the bird interest and the butterflies are more noticeable in the fact they are lacking in number rather than being present.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Another week chained to the desk

Too much work, not enough time out! How I look forward to the weekend, though I'm sure that could be said for everyone in full time employment.

Highlight of the week was a Hummingbird Hawkmoth, albeit briefly at The Ashes in Howden on Wednesday. The dragonfly highlights there included single Migrant and Southern Hawkers recorded during breaktimes. Holly Blues on Monday and Wednesday also brightened up my walk every two hours or so - I think this may be a third flight period. Not quite sure how recording Howdens Odonata and Lepidoptera could be recorded on my daily work log... but it is good to exercise the mind and better than being ignorant! Perhaps I may draw up a checklist of things to see on my walk around for current and future employees in the town. Sadly, I've not seen any sign of any Spotted Flycatchers this year. Now two years since I've seen any in the park.

Meanwhile at home, several Silver Y have appeared where the lights shine and The Magpie appeared in the garage Thursday night in Beverley. Currently 'chilling' in the fridge in may pose for photo tomorrow... warmed up way to quick this evening!

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Widening The Narrows list

Escaping the humidity, another Sunday afternoon at The Narrows. It was mixture of species passing through the thin strip of land.

Two Migrant Hawkers were the first I had seen there this year, Six-spot Burnet and Small Fan-foot the best moths, Common Blue, Large White and Peacock butterfly passed in small numbers, a Harbour Porpoise went south and a Seal spp was bloggin.

The best of the birds was an immature Glaucous Gull which landed on the beach then flew west up the Humber, 102+ Swallows went south with a few bloggin, 60 Swift south and an Arctic Skua bloggin.

It passed the time without moving far!

Monday, 26 July 2010

A very easy moth count

A typical Saturday saw me at Tophill Low NR once again. Plenty of moth traps - just a lack of moths due to temperatures plummeting to an overnight low of 5C.

The best of the moths in the boxes was a single Coxcomb Prominent, an Early Thorn and the first Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing of the season.

The lepidoptera was better away from the traps with Broad-bodied Yellow Undering (first of the year) and Dingy Footman among the species encountered 'in the field'.

Three Hummingbird Hawkmoths showed rather well, this the best of the pictures.

Still no incredible numbers of butterflies on the wing but a couple of Painted Lady brightened up proceedings.

While this was one of the 3+ Brown Argus found across the site.

A Green Sandpiper was at Watton Nature Reserve, 2 Marsh Harriers flew south and 2 Buzzards lingered around most of the afternoon. The highlight was 2 Whimbrels south early afternoon and early evening.

A few more Hawkers one the wing this week. A total of 13 Southern Hawkers were encountered, our first Migrant Hawkers of the year and a rather impressive total of 24 Emerald Damselfies, though that is way sort of the three figures of a couple of years ago. Highlight of the day was this Four-spotted Chaser of the form praenubila which posed rather well.

Always fancied an Old Lady

The latest addition to the garden list last week was this Old Lady which decided that suitable habitat to fly around in was the conservatory.

Despite not having a trap in the garden, additions to the list this summer include Clay, Green Arches, Small Angle Shades, Engrailed and Scalloped Oak.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Lifting the lid on Pyrallids

Here are some pictures of the Pyrallid moths encountered in the traps.

The easiest to identify - the straight forward Small Magpie.

Another of the common species is the Mother Of Pearl.

And some of the others...

Donacaula forficella is one of the more numerous.

Looking similiar, but perhaps best described as 'the thuggish looking big brother of Donacaula forficella' is Chilo phragmitella.

And finally Phlyctaenia coronata.

The spellings are a nightmare for the scribes, and most of the time they don't strike a pose so hence most of the backgrounds are eggboxs!

Passing The Narrows

Taking a day off from suffering with the pollen and unwelcome encounters with East Yorkshire's huge Horsefly and Cleg population, I decided to spend a few hours at The Narrows at Spurn.

A trickle of birds moving over 4 hours mid-late afternoon all south (unless stated): 1 Grey Heron, 3 Manx Shearwater, 1 Curlew Sandpiper (among the small numbers of Dunlin and Knot flying south) several Whimbrel, 15 Common Tern, 15 Little Tern and 33 Sandwich, a few Swift, 18 Swallow and 100+ Sand Martin. The tide was on the way out on the Humber, and coupled with the strong wind I didn't pay much attention.

A handful of butterflies around made up of Small Whites, Large Whites, a Peacock and 3 Small Tortoiseshell, with a couple of Porpoise and a Grey Seal slightly brightening the quietness.

Silkys herald the start of Wainscot season

Another warm night ensured a busy morning was in prospect at Tophill Low NR on Saturday.

The usual five traps were set, though two moved to the centre of the site to see if any of the more unusual Wainscots recorded in the past are still present.

As expected the season kicked off with 3 Silky Wainscot.

The first Fen Wainscots of the season were trapped as well as the numerous Smoky Wainscot and the odd Common Wainscot. Hopefully, more brown reedbed moths to look forward too.

This Orange Footman (above) was the best of the catch and another addition to the sites Lepidoptera list.

The best of the rest included a Ghost Moth, a Herald, several Scalloped Oak and a couple of Early Thorn.

And some of the pictures...

Garden Tiger

The Engrailed

Clouded Silver

Peppered Moth

Light Emerald

Ghost Moth

White Satin

One of the Scalloped Oak

And a Poplar Grey

Again no impressive numbers of butterflies, though perhaps Commas would have reached double figures had they been counted. This Red Admiral the best of the pictures.

The bird front saw the list start and finish at Common Sandpiper on the passage migrant front, and only 4 Ruptela maculata - Black and Yellow Longhorn beetle were seen.

A few dragonflies about despite the less than favourable conditions of wind and heavy showers. A single Emerald Damselfly was noteworthy. The rest being 3 Brown Hawker, 3 Southern Hawker, 4 Four-spotted Chaser, 5 Black-tailed Skimmer, 7 Common Darter and 77 Ruddy Darter.

Southern Hawker

Ruddy Darter

Black-tailed Skimmer

An aged Four-spotted Chaser

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Weather spoils everything for some... but not all

A rather wet Monday saw me visiting Wheeldale Gill and Transmire Bog in North Yorkshire. Hoping the weather improved it remained rather wet and cold all day.

So there are no pictures of Golden-ringed Dragonflies or Keeled Skimmers to show as there was to much rain to bother looking (well getting out of the car) and my folks were rather disappointed too. Still that is the way it goes - can't win all the time. The highlight was a family of Spotted Flycatchers at Wheeldale Gill.

My friend Neil Hart has had a bit more luck with a few Little Gulls, an Arctic Tern and a Greenshank at Hornsea Mere on Monday, while on Tuesday he was watching the King Eider off Filey Brigg... following on from the House Finch and a few Balearic Shearwaters in Devon last week - obviously a couple of uncommon birds has seen the elusive tripod making an appearance in the field. Next time I see it I will photograph it!!!

Very frustrating to be in the office, working hard and receiving news of 'I'm looking at this' or looking at some pictures of Small Ranunculus taken by my pal Nic Orchard... Perhaps I need to find a window in the office to sit near and spot something worthwhile.

Ah... Grasshopper! Why are you so difficult to identify?

On my tours around various localities I've been taking an interest in some of the other things that I've not really spent much, or any, time looking at over the the many years I've enjoyed the countryside, and it is very rewarding.

Inspired by 'a telling off' for being in the wrong place somewhere last summer, and the two hour 'isn't nature great discussion' that followed, I've started to delve into new things and if some of these are captioned wrong, then feel free to comment - all constructive help and advice is welcomed. I've got a sore brain from trying to work out the variations and the costal buldges, but throughly enjoying trying to get to grips with something new. These are the best of the pictures I've taken.

These, I think are Common Green Grasshoppers.

This one I think is a Meadow Grasshopper.

And this one I think is a Field Grasshopper.

As mentioned, any constructive comment is welcomed regarding whether the photos are captioned correctly. No doubt I'll be out at the weekend trying to find more of these which wish to pose, and throughly enjoying being a total novice on the subject!

Little but smart

One of the micro moths I've noticed in the last few weeks in small numbers is Pammene aurana.

A rather smart little moth with brown and orange spots. Seen only in small numbers along Pocklington Canal, a couple at Tophill Low Nature Reserve and a single seen along Leven Canal. Apparently a local species, all the ones recorded have been on the hogweed.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Hawkers of Houghton Moor

Yet another blustery Sunday but at least rather pleasant and warm in sheltered spots.

The woods of Houghton Moor as usual held good numbers of hawkers, and as expected plenty of Common Hawkers were on the wing with 14 counted. Easy to see as they hawked up and down the main footpath through the centre of the woods.

Also on the wing were a 20+ Common Blue Damselfly, 2 Brown Hawker, 8 Southern Hawker, 1 Emperor Dragonfly, 3 Four-spotted Chaser, a single Black-tailed Skimmer was a surprise, and there were single Common Darter and Ruddy Darter.

Butterfly wise it was rather quiet though a Dingy Footman and a Bordered White provided some interesting Lepidoptera, while a vocal Green Woodpecker was the highlight on the bird front.

The Little & Large Show

It was another busy Saturday with the moths at Tophill Low Nature Reserve. Once again 5 traps set, and though the lights not attracting the same number of species as last weekend, once again the moths trapped ensured that it was worth the effort.

Understanding records, understanding what you catch, and the history, is something that makes the exercise a pleasure.

So the little... at about 2cms (if they grow that big)

Short-cloaked Moth... the first record I believe since 1992

Then there is the large - at around 10-12cms - and a first for Tophill Low NR...

Privet Hawkmoth

After the two 'megas' the rest of the cast was also impressive - 2 Beautiful Hook-tips - I think less than 10 recorded since 1997 - though neither lingered long enough in warm, and busy conditions. Tawny-barred Angle is also rarely caught, perhaps only trapped on 7 nights since 1996 with only 12 individuals. This one was missed in the trap but fortunately took up residence on my shirt and then posed.

The best of the rest included, in no order: - 16 Poplar Hawkmoth, 2 Cream-borderd Green Pea, 1 Buff Footman, several Dingy Footman, 1 Marbled Beauty, 1 Ruby Tiger, 5 Blackneck (becoming a regular feature of the trapping) and several, expected for the period, Buff Tip and Buff Arches.

The heat ensured the dragonflies stayed on the wing, even if the sun wasn't always shining. Several unexpected surprises along the way in terms of species encountered, and potential latest records set: Common Blue Damselfly, Azure Damselfly, Blue-tailed Damselfly, 2+ Red Eyed Damselfly, 6 Emerald Damselfly, 1 Emperor Dragonfly (first record for us this year on site and no exuvia found), 1 Hairy Hawker (perhaps the latest VC record), 1 Brown Hawker, 4 Southern Hawker (though the ongoing recording shows plenty have emerged), 14 Four-spotted Chaser, 1 ovipositing female Broad-bodied Chaser, 20 Black-tailed Skimmer and 16 Ruddy Darter.

Taking advantage of the habitat, and watching those that don't see, were these Ruddy Darters on one the benches.

And difficult to find in their usual haunts, at last a posing Southern Hawker.

Still no butterflies in number to speak of, just a few Marbled Whites to see.

Birding wise 5 Black-tailed Godwits brightened up the marshes, while in the rough margins, and showing well for the longhorn enthusiasts, Ruptela maculata and Agapanthia villosoviridescens.