Thursday, 30 June 2011

Micro moths

For the first time on here I’m going to dedicate a full post to micro moths.

Everyone sees them. To most, they are I guess, the tiny thing seen flying off through the grass that probably then lands somewhere and they can’t see it again. To Doug Fairweather and I, they are a little challenge to photograph and identify.

It has taken a while to photograph a selection in the field, not the easiest task taking reasonable shots, or sometimes record shots, when they are flying about, but here are some of the species Doug and myself have been seeing in recent weeks at Tophill Low, East Yorkshire. All are common, some are firsts for the site, and one species only had single record documented back in 1997 - until we had a little tour around and found 30+ a few days ago.

Nemophora degeerella

Nemapogon cloacella

Anthophila fabriciana

Agapeta hamana

Pseudargyrotoza conwagana

Celypha lacunana

Orthotaenia undulana

Eucosma cana

Grapholita compositella

Dichrorampha alpinana

Dichrorampha plumbana

Chrysoteuchia culmella

Crambus lathoniellus

Homoeosoma sinuella

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Wet my lips

A cracking summer tune, and for the hottest day of the year that was Sunday, a Quail singing south of the river, audible from South Marsh West, was the highlight of the day at Tophill Low, East Yorkshire.

It was a quick tour round as I wanted to check out waterbodies for Odonata, whilst, as someone noted the small lens on the camera, looking for things that didn't require the bigger gear!

Finally managed to nail an Emperor Dragonfly up here for the year. Having seen a few in Northants earlier in the month, it was about time one was flying around... the hot day producing a lone male whizzing around the East Pond area. Also managed a good number of Black-tailed Skimmers spread from SMW to North Marsh and onwards to the road that runs up to Top Lock. Add in a Hairy Dragonfly at SME, plus one was seen at the north end earlier in the day, meant my quick tour was rather productive... before I needed to wet my lips with a much needed cold beer!

Monday, 27 June 2011

Cracking hoverfly

With Dipteria lacking somewhat on the blog at the moment, Doug Fairweather noticed this striking Chrysotoxum bicinctum in Ryton, North Yorkshire, on some hogweed. It is definately true that the bigger the beast the more stunning they look!

Sunday, 26 June 2011


Not a word often said out loud seriously inland, but shouted at Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire, for the first time since 1998 on Saturday. The picture above, is from records available to me, only the 5th ever Shark, attracted to light, and trapped on site!

Amazing how despite the three decades or so of moth trapping, some species are so elusive, yet are possibly there all the time. Certainly on par with last week's Lime Hawkmoth, and to be honest, a proper good moth. A tick for the regulars, and the first I've seen since living in coastal Suffolk in 1996.

The best of the rest in the traps included a Gothic, Barred Straw, Ghost Moth and the first Eyed-Hawkmoths of the year.

It was quite a good birding day too, with 3 Crossbills, a '1st summer' Med Gull and a '1st summer' Little Gull through the site early-afternoon, with a '2nd summer' Little Gull on site late-afternoon, and the odd Hobby sighting.

The iffy weather of late has allowed us some fungi interest. Found some nice Pholiota flammans and Common Inkcap last weekend, but this cracking Common Stinkhorn was a surprise.

The poor weather means little on the odontata front, a low count involved only 2 Emerald Damselfly, 2 Four-spotted Chaser and 4 Southern Hawkers to note amongst the sundries... disappointing numbers for late June.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Lime Hawkmoth surprise

A surprise in one of the many moth traps on Saturday morning... a Lime Hawkmoth. I think on typing this is Tophill Low's fifth record in about 30 years of moth trapping. I guess if compared to recent avian scarcities, a Lime Hawk is more of a 'Tophill rare' than Purple Heron, Red-necked Phalarope, American Wigeon... more on a par of Lesser Yellowlegs, though slightly more regularly seen than Collared Pratincole and Nuthatch... only a single record of each!!!

Plenty of other nice bits in the traps as some of the summer stuff comes out - the first Barred Straw of the year, several Green Arches, Pinion-streaked Snout and a few Blacknecks, which are now annual.

With the weather not great for Odonata, we still managed Common Blue, Azure, Blue-tailed, Red-eyed and Emerald Damselflies on the wing, with 3 Southern Hawker, 4 Four-spotted and a single male Broad-bodied Chaser to pass the time.

Little Gulls seem to be around at the minute, still up to 5 in the week, though only 3 '1st summer' birds were on D res late afternoon.

Also the first Rutpela maculata of the year was seen - Black-and-Yellow Longhorn Beetle.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Red-necked Phal brightens the gloom

Dull day, pretty wet. But the first Red-necked Phalarope at Tophill Low NR, East Yorks, for about 25 years was a cracker and well worth getting a soaking for.

What a stunning little bird. Click here for a picture.

Four Little Gulls over D res mid-afternoon - 3 1st summers and a 2nd summer and the Odonata highlight was my first Black-tailed Skimmer of the year.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Agapanthia appreciation

It would have been rude not to post these. This stunning Agapanthia villosoviridescens the highlight of the day at Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire. Just outside the WNR hide, this beast was huge!!!

This cracking Hairy Dragonfly was hung up right next to the huge beast above!

Two Emerald Damselflies were noted, one at each end of the site. Disappointing numbers, but on a par for recent years.

The moth traps disappointing... a Lychnis the best of a small overnight haul.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Down in Northamptonshire

Spent some of last weekend visiting my old friend Nic Orchard, and fortunately that happened to coincide with the fact that part of Yardley Chase, owned by the MOD, was open for the only time this year to the public for guided walks.

It has to be said it is a cracking woodland, and the species list is incredible. Having spent the Saturday evening drooling over a report written by a member of the aptly name ‘Wild Bunch’ who have spent decades recording everything on the site, I was eager to be away.

After permission was granted from the site Commandant, armed with a map, I was sent on my way (with a warning to be back before they locked the huge gate) to go and have a look around whilst everyone else enjoyed their guided tours.

Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t great but I did manage plenty of damselflies and despite only managing to get around little more than a quarter of the site in the 2 hours before the rain came, I picked up numerous Hairy Dragonfly, Southern Hawker, Emperor, Four-spotted Chaser and Broad-bodied Chaser without having to search.

Wood Whites were particularly numerous, and the Burnet Companion was the first I’d seen in nearly a decade as I don’t seem to go to sites where they occur.

Monday dawned grey, and got greyer, but dragonflies are sometimes easier to spot in bad conditions, so Nic took me on a tour of some of the sites. First stop was Waddenhoe. A pretty little village on the Nene pathway. The site is rather pleasing on the eye and after a little while kicking we turned up some cracking Banded Demoiselles… but no Scarce Chasers.

As it got greyer, we headed into White-legged Damselfly country on the edge of Kettering. Not the most picturesque of places… A14, railway next to the river, but still we managed plenty of White-legged Damselflies, Banded Demoiselles, Red-eyed Damselfly and Four-spotted Chasers.

Although late in the day, it did get warmer so we headed off back to Waddenhoe in the hope of Scarce Chaser. This one posed in the late-afternoon sun.

Not a bad selection given the weather, and add in plenty of Red Kites, Buzzard, Hobby and numerous other common niceties, it was a rather pleasant weekend. Thank to Nic for the invite, I shall have to return again to see if the sun ever shines in that part of the world!!

Here is the Northamptonshire Dragonflies blog... worth a look, and even more so if anyone is heading that way.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Exuvia find reveals Southern Hawker is on the wing

You don't have to see a dragonfly on the wing to know they have emerged. An exuvia found at Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire, by Doug Fairweather on Friday evening (3rd June) set a new earliest date for Southern Hawker, beating the previous record of 11th June 2006. A follow up visit on Saturday produced another 16 exuvae, and one pre-flight emergent.

Before the weather ended the day dragonfly counting, several Four-spotted Chasers of the form praenublia were noted, along with a single Broad-bodied Chaser and the expected damselflies.

Despite the warm days, the evenings are rather cold and the moth trapping is still pretty average for the time of the year. An Elephant Hawkmoth was in the traps along with the many Treble Lines (photo below) and Heart and Darts.

Birding wise, the day was pretty quiet. The Osprey flying over the car park was just a little too high for a decent photograph. Only the 4th I've seen in 11 years at Tophill... nice when surprises happen!