Sunday, 31 July 2011

Cold nights are rather autumnal

Despite yet another cold night, the lights have to be set to keep up the records. With numbers and species trapped at Tophill Low NR hardly challenging the ink left in the pens that were bought to write in the notebooks for the season, there is always the odd surprise. An August Thorn in one of the boxes,the first trapped for 9 years, was the highlight. Unfortunately, it took off before a photo could be taken!

Otherwise it was signs of the end of the season. A couple of Rosy Rustics and a Bulrush Wainscot in the 'target' traps indicative that we'll soon be seeing Red Underwings. Four good weeks left unless it stays warm into September. I'm thinking we've missed the summer!

A Black-necked Grebe on 'D res', a Quail singing east of South Marsh and 11 Little Gulls the best of the birds on Sunday... Saturday was dire!

But the quietness allows for enjoying some entertainment... this one of two Stoats unaware of our presence until they got within a few feet

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Searching hard for a tiny reward

Well the weekend weather continues to put a spanner in the works for Lepidoptera recording. This weekend no rain, just the joys of autumnal temperatures. Fair to say moth trapping was a disaster at Tophill Low in East Yorks. A 2nd generation Purple Thorn was the only moth of note among the 20 trapped!!!

The wind ensured dragonflies were hard to find. Maybe we did see more than most visitors will have seen but 4 Southern Hawkers, a few darters and the odd Emerald Dam - it was hardly worth the time spent searching for them... let alone typing them on here.

So it was desperate measures to find something different, and perhaps new for the site list.

Trying hard, we found these... less than a centimetre in length, ensuring great difficulty to find on a 300 acre site as we saw perhaps 8! I assume a new species for Tophill... Cicadella viridis

The other highlight of the day was viewing of the new Watton Nature Reserve management policy that sees free range sheep and cattle roaming around giving the area a good grazing and tramping down the water edges, perhaps making it more attractive to waders.

The sheep and the cows seemed rather happy going about their work. This young bull looked most narked...

Not a happy chappy!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

All the things you can see on a wet weekend!

So after the Striped Hawkmoth at Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire, how good can a weekend get? Always good is a wet day as it means no-one ventures out!

So what did folk miss?

Emerging Southern Hawkers...

Emerging Common Darter

Good numbers of Little Gulls were present on D res. 37 appeared around lunchtime as rain became torrential before moving south and another 6 appeared an hour later. Interesting the numbers of Little Gulls Tophill gets as reports suggest maybe up to 2000+ are in Bridlington Bay, plus 500 were off Spurn Saturday. Nothing on Sunday! I spent 5 hours dodging showers by sitting overlooking D res, however a small number of Lesser Black-backs moved through south. A Common Sandpiper plummeted down from a height to announce it's prescence by constantly calling, and a Little Egret came in from the southwest, before flying northwest and landing just north of the site.

Good birds are available to some though. The blog's North Sea correspondant was ashore in the week, and able to tick the Blacktoft Sands RSPB Marsh Sandpiper. I couldn't go as it meant breaking my golden rule of twitching... travelling for a bird further away than one I've twitched already... so the extra 200 yard walk meant I had to pass on seeing it!

However, somehow the blog's North Sea correspondant has picked up a job in the Atlantic off the northwest coast of Ireland... Stormies, Sootys, Manxies and Bonxies seem like regular foddy... a Wilson's Petrel drifted past the rig on tow this evening. Be nice to have a day at work like that!

Striped Hawk...

Knowing the lights were set on Friday night, and having kept track of the weather forecast... heavy rain overnight and the promise of a dull, wet Saturday... I wasn't expecting anything other than 'run of the mill' species in the moth traps at Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire.

A stunning Striped Hawkmoth sitting on an eggbox in one of the traps was a massive surprise... here it is perched up! albeit after some time in the fridge...

A new addition to the Tophill Lepidoptera list that gets added to week in week out.

Apart from the spectacular, the traps held 'the expected' number of moths. A single Diamond-back was the other smart beast, while the first Silky Wainscots of the year helped pad things out along with 4 Southern Wainscots, something we haven't trapped many of in recent years.

But... Striped Hawk! It has been a long time since I've seen Striped Hawk in the UK. Still young, my memory is good and I remember summer evenings in Suffolk back in 1996 when we had Striped and Silver-striped Hawkmoths nectaring on the honeysuckle in the garden at a house near Sizewell power station.

I've no pictures of 'that' Silver Striped Hawk, but to increase 'the list of species mentioned/photographed/listed' on the blog, I'll post a few pics of one that was collected for me to photograph by a friend in the Algarve, Portugal, two years ago.

Who knows, with a bit of luck, and more dispersal of species from where they occur according to outdated surveys... (for those that call themselves environmentalists, who hate this sort of thing... I believe it is called progression) both might, one day, be nectaring on the Tophill buddleias! Until then... it will probably be just Hummingbird Hawkmoths!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Hummer tops the bill

This one of the 2+ Hummingbird Hawkmoths that were the highlight of a tour of Tophill Low NR, East Yorks on Saturday. Showing well on and off in the evening sun, these by far the best of any moths encountered during the day, with the moth traps reportly turning up nothing more than the norm while I was trying to find a suit suitable for the Little Bro's forthcoming wedding day.

With no count of the Marbled Whites this week, I opted to photograph one instead. I'm sure this isn't the best looking of the number on the wing.

This cracking Comma was at the south end of the site.

Quiet day birding. A Common Sandpiper on D Wall a sign of autumn and a '2nd summer' Little Gull drifted through.

Other than 2 Common Darters, the dragonfly numbers were low... so no more typing on the subject.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Giving a plug

Just been spending a little time perusing the web and a few sites.

This one in Sweden, Blogbirder, is well worth a look. Plenty of great pictures and an excellent read.

This one from Portugal,, is built by Simon Wates. I've bumped into Simon a few times in Southern Portugal and he is a mind full of knowledge and knows the area like the back of his hand. Well worth a look... the photos are stunning.

Stunning beetle... stunning wasp

So while I spent Sunday enjoying the best looking dragonflies that take to the wing, Doug Fairweather was out and about just south of the North Yorkshire Moors.

Taking time off Odonata and Lepidoptera he was busy photographing something which needs to appear on the blog... Lesser Stag Beetle.

Doug has also been trying for ages to get a picture of Chrysis ignita - Ruby-tailed Wasp.

Next time... it won't be sat in the lid of pot!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Emperors and Golden Rings cruising around

After weeks and weeks of poor Odonata days, warm weather and a change of month altered fortunes with 18 species encountered over the weekend.

A tour of Tophill Low NR in East Yorks, in the company of Doug Fairweather and EY Dragonfly himself, Paul Ashton, turned up plenty. The highlights including Emerald Damselflies, Emperor Dragonflies and c47 Ruddy Darter.

For more cracking photos and the day’s numbers, click on the Yorkshire BDS site here.

Sunday saw me join Paul and Daniel Ashton for a trip up north. First stop was Ganton. Not famous for much but a good spot for photographing both Demoiselles together. Needless to say, with the sun out, and the Beautifuls and Bandeds constantly dancing around, there was little chance of one posing for a picture.

After that we headed onto the North Yorkshire Moors. With good numbers of Keeled Skimmer seen recently at Fen Bog, we opted for Tranmire Bog instead. Excellent little site and no walking required to see Keeled Skimmers – I think it is about 30 strides from where you park the car! However, despite the recent rain, the bog ‘appeared’ rather dry, though we did manage 5 Keeled Skimmers, Broad-bodied Chaser was a site tick, small numbers of Large Red Damselflies flitted around and the Golden-ringed Dragonflies put on a cracking show cruising up and down the stream.

With Cropton Forest providing a change of habitat, and a couple of sheltered pools, a quick hour in the forest added both Brown and Common Hawker to the day list, more Large Reds and more Golden Rings.

Find of the day, picked out by sharp-eyed Daniel, was this Common Hawker larvae.

We ended in Wheeldale. More Golden-ringed Dragons here, and by far the best site to photograph them. Here are the best!

For a summary of the day counts, and more photos, click Ganton, Cropton, Tranmire Bog and Wheeldale on the Yorkshire BDS sightings page.

I haven’t counted up the butterfly species total for the weekend. The highlights though involved a massive 133 Marbled Whites at Tophill Low NR on Saturday, while the moors turned up good numbers of Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, 1 Dark-green Fritillary and an unexpected Marbled White flying around Tranmire Bog.

The lights of the Tophill Low NR moth traps caught lots - but nothing much of real significant interest. The best of the haul included Map-winged Swift, Light Emerald and our annual Orthopygia glaucinalis. Normally we catch one a year, so having two in the traps probably means we won’t be seeing another for 12 months! No new site ticks this weekend, but 2+ Hummingbird Hawkmoths whizzing around was a site year tick for us.

The first Leptura quadrifasciata (Four-banded Longhorn) of the year was at Tophill Low NR on Saturday while a few Rutpela maculata (Black and Yellow Longhorn) were noted.

Finally the birds. Two ‘1st summer’ Little Gulls at Tophill on Saturday and a Little Egret at Tophill Low NR on Sunday the best there. Click here for all the latest Tophill news. Up on the moors, the Crossbills of Cropton Forest on Sunday ‘chipped’ away all afternoon.