Sunday, 27 May 2012

A pleasant walk on the fell

The nice weather continued and a very pleasant morning was spent wandering around the fell.
Most of the summer visiting birds have arrived in their usual numbers but the House Martins are still scarce. I heard at least 4 Cuckoo calling and watched a Tawny Owl being chased through the woods by a posse of Jays, Blackbirds and Chaffinches but probably the best bird was a Red Kite soaring over the Cong Burn Woodland.

Red Kite over the Cong Burn

Dingy Skippers were at their usual spot on the fell and more unusually there was one feeding on the Common Daisies by the side of one of the rides through South Burn Woods. Try as I might I could not find any Green Hairstreaks today but the commonest butterfly was the Wall, I saw them all over the fell this morning.

Dingy Skipper - at a new site in the South Burn Woods
I did put the moth trap out again last night having taken the previous night's catch away for a walk and released them away from the garden. The first hawkmoth of the year, a Poplar Hawkmoth was present as was an Iron Prominent amongst the increasing numbers of Heart & Dart & Shuttle-shaped Darts and a normal coloured Pepper Moth

Poplar Hawkmoth

Iron Prominent

Also in the trap was a Cockchafer. It's always this month they appear, hence their other name of May-bug.

Standing by one of the new bunds at Wanister Bog turned up both Large Red and Blue-tailed Damselflies 

Large Red Damselfly

amongst the vegetation and the large stand of Water Horsetail

Water Horsetail

and with that tiny longhorn micro moth Adela reaumurella , waving it's antennae around.

Adela reaumurella

Belated for some strange reason

Scalloped Hazel
For some reason Saturday's post sort of disappeared, so here it is again.

The moth trap had a few more species when I checked on Saturday morning, new for the year being -

Scalloped Hazel

Twenty-plume Moth and

the first two (of very many not doubt) Heart and Dart.

Heart & Dart

Spent most of the day pottering around in the garden where lurking in the front border was another moth, a migrant this time, my first Silver Y moth of the year.

Silver Y

Other invertebrates seen included a Wall butterfly and another Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum) that visited the Buddleja globosa.

Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum) 

Surprisingly, the commonest hoverfly in the garden today was Merodon equestris, one of the hairiest and most variable of the UK species.

Merodon equestris
Apart from a quick visit for some shopping where a Chiffchaff was singing in Tesco's carpark, I never left the house and garden today, I'll leave that until tomorrow.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

More Moths

With the weather still very pleasant, the moth trap went out again last night. A few more new ones for the year, namely
2 Pale Tussock
Pale Tussock

3 Shuttle-shaped Dart
1 Clouded-bordered Brindle
Clouded-bordered Brindle

1 Lesser Swallow Prominent
1 Currant Pug 

Currant Pug

1 Red-Green Carpet

Back this evening just in time to catch the last bit of flight of a couple of Speckled Wood.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Black Pepper

After many weeks of cold nights the temperature kept to double figures last night and at long last more than 1 or 2 moths were in the trap this morning. Nothing really unusual but after all this time it was nice to see something a bit different.

The best was a Peppered Moth, but of the melanistic form ab. carbonaria. This is a famous type of moth. During the early decades of the Industrial Revolution in England, much of industrial Europe was blanketed with soot from the new coal-burning factories. Many of the light-bodied lichens died from sulphur dioxide emissions, and the trees became covered with soot. This led to an increase in bird predation for light-coloured moths, as they no longer blended in as well in their polluted ecosystem: indeed, their bodies now dramatically contrasted with the colour of the bark. Dark-coloured moths, on the other hand, were camouflaged very well by the blackened trees.
These days with the cleaner air the dark form is scarce again, but one appeared in the garden, my first of this form since 2007.

There is a whole article on the evolution of this moth and its dark form on wikipedia

Peppered Moth ab carbonaria

Also present were a Common Pug, Spruce Carpet, Flame Carpet and several Brown House Moth

Flame Carpet

Spruce Carpet

Common Pug

Sunday, 20 May 2012


Back from a couple of weeks away and some sun, to the cold northerly winds again but at least a bit of sun. And what is the first thing I see, South Burn Woods is up for sale!

It's been split into three lots as cam be seen on the info off the agents website.

What will happen it's too early to tell and depends on the buyer(s), I hope the best bits such as the beech wood and willow thickets at least are left.

Perhaps soon to be gone ... disaster

A couldn't really concentrate during my walk on the fell which did produce  the usual summer residents such as Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Common Whitethroat and 2 Cuckoo. A flock of 14 Golden Plover, sporting their summer coats of the northern race flew over.

Common Whitethroat

A pair of Cuckoo flying off

Very few butterflies, actually a single Peacock and a female Orange Tip, but rather static, hiding from the wind.

Female Orange tip
This male (well wing of)  wasn't so lucky

What with the weather and the woods for sale I wish i hadn't come back from holiday

Sunday, 6 May 2012

What a difference a bit of sun makes

What a difference a bit of sun makes. The temperature overnight just failed to drop to zero and a little frost was around at first light. But the sun came out, it wasn't particularly warm, in fact quite cool when it went behind the cloud, but it made a difference. Seven species of warbler around including a Lesser Whitethroat in the big hedge, a Garden Warbler in the scrub next to Wanister Bog and a Grasshopper Warbler singing in gorse at the south end of Felledge Wood. In the same clump as last year. A couple of Wheatears at Daisy Hill  and my first Marsh Tit on the patch since 2000. This latter bird was in the few Beech trees in the small wood north of Waldridge Lane opposite Felledge wood.

A couple of Reed Bunting at Daisy Hill

A Kestrel trying to be something else

Some butterflies were out in the sun but after such a prolonged cold and wet spell it was not surprisingly there were not many,  Orange-tip and Green-veined White were the commonest but a single Peacock and Speckled Wood were also seen. Despite a fair bit of waiting around and looking there were no sign of any Green Hairstreaks. A few Heath Moths were on the wing however.
Hoverflies were seen today, mainly Syphrus ribesii with well over 50 of both sexes counted mainly feeding on Dandelions but apart from a couple of Platycheirus albimanus, they were still not that common.
Syphrus ribesii  (lots of females about to confirm this males identity)

A Green Tiger Beetle at Wanister  was the first of the year.

Green Tiger Beetle

Good numbers of Tawny Mining Bee were seen at many spots. The commonest invertebrate  today was the St. Mark's Fly (Bibio marci). There were thousands everywhere in the woods and on the fell.
The spring woodland flora is at last making a decent show, many of the Bluebells and Wood Forgetmenots are now out, quite a bit later than their hybrid and garden relatives to be found dumped in the more open ditches and hedgerows.
Field Woodrush
Wood Forgetmenot