Thursday, 19 August 2010

Everything's purple and rosy

The fell is at it's best at the moment with the purple of the Heather and Purple Moor-grass inter-mingled with spots of yellow, blue and white of other wild flowers.

Heather, Common Toadflax and Harebells

Though early morning a crowd of 20 noisy people could be heard some distance away. I thought they may be doing some conservation task or other but on closer inspection they were all carrying plastic containers already brimming with Blackberries. It looks like its going to be a good year for berries in general with the Rowan trees laden with red fruits and the Bilberries have got a good crop too. Even the couple of wild(-ish) Plum trees in the woods are now full of purple fruits that the wasps have yet to find.

2 separate Green Woodpeckers were calling and a  male Stonechat chacked just by the far car park. There was  no sign of his mate but like my Dunnocks I know them having three broods in a year so she may be brooding. Though it had been light for several hours, a Tawny Owl hooted on a couple of occasions and reminded me to try again to get a photo of the one that's been roosting in the wood. I was as quiet as I could be but there was no sign or it or of any small birds mobbing it. About 50 metres away a got a  very brief view of an owl I had obviously flushed ahead of me. But even with this briefest of views it did not seem right for Tawny Owl, though difficult to say why I am sure it was a Long-Eared Owl.

Usually I put the moth trap out every other night to give the ones I catch a chance to feed in case I catch them again. But yesterday I took my moths with me and released them in a small wood by the fell so I could trap again last night. 89 moths of 24 species with a Barred Chestnut my first of the year and only my 4th ever for the garden. 

Barred Chestnut - 4th for the garden

The Butterbur moth is quite a local species and as its name suggests it's food-plant is Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) and it rarely leaves that habitat. It is quite similar but larger and lacks the pinkish hues of its close and common relative the Rosy Rustic. The only one I have ever had was caught using a torch and net in a huge patch of it's food-plant, here in Chester-le-Street,  despite before and after placing an actinic trap in the same patch. Quite jealous of Stuart's Butterbur he caught in his Northumberland garden the other day as I reckon there's no chance of one appearing in my garden trap as the closest Petasites is well over a mile away. However the excitement is still there when next to a Rosy Rustic on the egg box in the trap is a much larger Rosy Rustic look alike.  I hadn't appreciated the size range of this species with 28-45mm, 34-50mm and 30-46mm  all being given as wingspans in the literature.

Two Rosy Rustics showing their variability in size.

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