Saturday, 25 July 2015

Dog days pending moth landmarks

The dog days of July and August are well under way from a birding perspective with the July WEBS producing only Yellow Wagtail and a rather tatty female Marsh Harrier to brighten the notebook. Fortunately the quiet times for birding are the peak time for moths so the garden moth trap has been providing the action for the last couple of weeks even with the intermittent inclement weather putting a damper on things.
As this is only my second year taking in micros' they have been taking up a significant proportion of my time, mainly due to my short sightedness and inability to nab the little beasts before they head off to the borders. Nonetheless new species have been coming along thick and fast recently the best of which was the Spatalistis bifasciana (pictured above right) trapped on the night of the 14th. Other new micros since my last posting have been the bright yellow and brown Agapeta zoegana (18th), Clepsis consimilana (10th), Coleophera albidella (15th), Depressaria radella (Parsnip moth) (10th), Eudemis profundana (10th), Euzophera pinguis (pictured above left) (18th), Falsuncaria ruficiliana (17th), Nomophila noctuella (Rush veneer) (2 on the 23rd), Pammene fasciana (15th), and Synaphe punctalis (10th). Rush veneer is a moth that I must surely have overlooked in the past when I was only taking notice of the macros'!
On the macro front the best night in the period was the 14th with 104 moths of 35 species however there have been a number of notables (well for me at least) recorded over the period as follows: Small Mottled Willow (10th & 21st), Bordered Straw (9th), Dark Sword-grass (14th), Four-spotted Footman (21st), and Toadflax Brocade (15th). The Bordered Straw and Toadflax Brocades were both the third records this year for the garden and the Small Mottled Willows (the one trapped on the night of the 10th is pictured below) were the first records. All of this activity leaves me waiting for three insect landmarks! The garden macro list currently stands at 299, the garden micro list at 99, and the overall moth list therefore at 398, my money is on the micros reaching a hundred first but you never know....

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Pan species listing and Bioabundance

The current edition of the excellent British wildlife has a short piece by Simon Barnes, in which he proposes a new term, Bioabundance, as a better subject for discussion than the rather trendy and glib biodiversity. He goes on to suggest that, as naturalists, what we should really be doing is moving away from the notion that as long as we have a diverse range of species, albeit many of them close to extinction, that the environment is ok, whereas what we should really be doing is pushing for an environment where species can be successful to the extent that they are present in large numbers in ecosystems that can support them. Now I don't agree with everything that Barnes' says, however as we went to the same school (hello Old Emanuels' everywhere) I have to say that in this case he makes an excellent argument. If you get the opportunity its' well worth a read as is the article on the re-introduction of the Short-haired Bumblebee co-authored by Jon Curson.
Anyway, this has rekindled a notion that has been in my head for a while relating to pan-listing, advocates of which suggest having a target of a thousand species in a square kilometre in a year, I am therefore targetting a thousand species in my small suburban garden. I suspect that this will take me significantly longer than a year, however I am certain it will be achievable once I get down to some of the groups that I have neglected over the years. One of the benefits of a moth trap for the amateur naturalist can be the presence of bycatch (although angry Hornets are not great!) and the Orange Ladybird pictured left was on the moth trap on the morning of the 4th and was a welcome addition to the garden list.
The good run of local birds continued on the 3rd with a Squacco present on the river Ouse at Southease. Needless to say the presence of a rare, and indeed my favorite white heron, resulted in a short car journey and walk in blistering sunshine to see the bird perched in reeds before flying to the bank of the main river. I was reminded on site that the last gettable Squacco in Sussex (that I also saw) was in 2000! On the patch the flashes have dried out though the Yellow Wags are still very active with both pairs on Down on the morning of the 4th. Also on the 4th the patch contained my first Common Emerald Damselfly of the year pictured above, along with numerous Variable Damsels, and whilst looking for Odonata I came across a plethora of the reed beetle Donacia versicolrea, 3 of which are pictured. On the mammal front a Brown Hare was walked up near the flashes, unfortunately it is difficult to avoid disturbing the Hares at this time of year as they are often close to the footpaths in knee high grass. They are far easier to observe in spring when they can often be watched feeding, washing, and occasionally boxing, at distance and downwind.
So finally to the moths which have surpassed expectations since my last posting with new macros' and micros' a plenty! Best night of the year yet numbers wise, was the 3rd of July with 49 macros' of 25 species and 38 micros' of 11 species, including a new macro species in the form of Common Lutestring. New macros' for the year on the 3rd were as follows: Common Wainscot, Double Square-spot, Fan-foot, Straw Dot, Sycamore, Treble Brown-spot, and White Ermine. The micros on the same night included 3 new species for the garden - Argyresthia cupressella (Cypress Tip moth) , Eucosma campoliliana (pictured above left), and Monopis crocicapitella, as well as first records for the year of Argyresthia goedartella, Endotricha flammealis, and Yponomeuta evonymella (Bird-cherry Ermine).
The night of the 1st though was better for quality with the 36 macros' of 23 species caught including new for the garden Scallop Shell (pictured above) and Beautiful Hook-tip (pictured left) as well as first records for the year of: Barred Yellow, Clouded Border, Common White Wave, Flame Shoulder, Green Pug, Green Silver-lines, Lackey, Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, Miller, Single-dotted Wave, and Varied Coronet. Micros' on the 1st totalled 20 individuals of 10 species with Ancylis achatana, Ditula angustiorana (Red-barred Tortrix), Syncopacma taeniolella, and Zeiraphera isertana all being new for the garden! With Carpatolechia proximella also new for the garden on the night of the 29th of June things look like they are finally beginning to pick up in earnest.
And finally too flowers, which I am guilty of neglecting. The Flowering Rush pictured right is a particularly attractive and striking plant of the levels and is seemingly in more places this year than last, which cannot be a bad thing. The Cut-leaved Crane's-bill pictured left is a much smaller and daintier flower that I struggled to identify until JE gave me the heads up. Tame botanists are few and far between!