Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Black in Bexhill on a recurring theme

Following on from my last post a recurring theme began to occur whereby I would drive to Bexhill, fail to see a Black Stork, and then return home. This occurred on consecutive days until Wednesday (19th) when I decided to stake out Little Common recreation ground (the home of Little Common Ramblers CC for those who are interested in such things) where there had been intermittent reports of Bexhill Black in flight. So it came to pass that at 09.55 the aforementioned juvenile Black Stork appearred from the local gardens and gained height over the cricket pitch before drifting off towards Sidley. Clearly there is a lot of Heron fodder available in Little Commons multitude of sub-urban gardens with Grey Herons dropping in periodically along with the Stork, which is still present at the time of writing and periodically perching on fences, by ponds, and in the road for the fortunate few...
Out on the levels the autumn hirundine gatherings are taking place with birds preparing to head south. On the 21st I watched 3 Hobby hawking dragons over Horse-eye, consuming them on the wing, and a Kingfisher was watched along the drain at Hankham. The main reason for visiting Hankham was to look for Small Red-eyed Damselflies which was successful with at least two males seen. Other dragonflies included Ruddy and Common Darters, Emperor, and Brown and Migrant Hawkers.
Continuing the insect theme the Hornet Hoverfly, or more correctly, Volucella zonaria, pictured right was in the garden on the same afternoon.
Mothing continues to provide interesting immigrants with the Scarce Bordered Straw pictured left found on my Tomato plants on the 24th. Other immigrants and moths of interest over the past week as follow: Swallow Prominent (15th), Common Carpet (17th), Bordered Straw, Dark Sword-grass, Dingy Footman, Hoary Footman, Peacock, Sharp-angled Peacock, Yellow-barred Brindle, and Yellow tail (20th), Gold Spot, Orange Swift, and Satin Wave (21st). Peak night was the 20th with 88 macros' of 31 species and 28 micros' of 12 species. Over the same nights two new micros' for the garden turned up in the form of Acleris variegana (17th) and Acleris laterana (21st), other bits and pieces included Cydia splendana (pictured above right) (20th) and Cydia amplana (21st).

And so to return to my opening theme of cricket, hence the reference to Little Common Ramblers, Sunday saw myself and middle child taking the trek to the Oval for an urn lifting experience to follow on from Edgbaston day one. My eldest daughter has been fortunate indeed in that her first live experience of ashes cricket was day one at Edgbaston, oh Jimmy Jimmy, and that she has not had to experience the eighteen years of hurt that both myself and Mr Paul Chapman, noted lister and mother extraordinaire had to put up with prior to my last urn lifting experience on the final day of the 2005 series. Regrettably aforementioned PC's rain dance (pic left) failed to get England out of jail despite filling up Justin Langers ditch, reprise "are you standing in a ditch" c2005, however any day you get to see the urn lifted is a good one! The cricket pictured below is a Speckled Bush-cricket found in the garden on the 12th that I have just got round to identifying, a somewhat tenuous series of links I know, but one that I like, better anyway than the Gooch, lbw, bowled Alderman I had in my younger days!

Sunday, 16 August 2015

The day of the Greenshank

It's been a great week on the moth front with the highlight being the Convolvulus Hawkmoth my eldest daughter found on my boxers which were hanging on the washing line on the 9th. This represents my 3rd record for the garden but is comfortably the earliest, and the freshest as the picture above demonstrates, with the others being in September 2005 and October 2006.
 The garden moth list has also had
two new macro additions this week in the form of the Webbs' Wainscot pictured left on the night of the 11th, and the Straw Underwing pictured right on the night of the 13th. Whilst the overall numbers remain down it seems that immigration is the best it has been for a few years, Small Mottled Willow, an immigrant I had not trapped before has now reached a total of 6 with a singleton on the night of the 5th and two on the night of the 13th. Another immigrant, Dark Sword-grass was trapped on the nights of the 5th and 9th with an unprecedented 6 on the 13th. New moths for the year list included the second Lunar Thorn for the garden on the 9th pictured below, along with Pale Mottled Willow on the night of the 5th, Blood Vein, Cabbage Moth, and Pebble Prominent on the 7th, Lychnis, Poplar Hawkmoth, and Yellow Shell on the 9th, Cypress Pug, and that harbinger of the autumn Setaceous Hebrew Character on the 11th, Copper Underwing, and finally Maidens Blush on the 13th. 
Micros' have been booming as well with new for the garden Calamatropha paludella (pictured below) on the night of the 5th, Epinotia nisella on the 9th, Galleria mellonella (Wax moth), and Ypsophola scabrella on the 11th, and Pyrausta purpularis on the 13th. Calamatropha paludella is a scarce moth of fens and marshes the larva of which feeds on Bulrush so perhaps it is not surprising one has found its way into the garden! The nights of the 11th and 13th yielded my first Cydia amplana of the year.
Out on the levels "Bexhill Black" was searched for but unfortunately not connected with, quite where this Black Stork gets too who knows? I trawled the area from Cooden Beach north to Hailsham on the 15th with no joy at all, perhaps he heads east to Filsham? Todays WEBS count was a step up on recent efforts with the recent rain having refreshed the flashes to such an extent that proper waders were present! In fact Down and Horse-eye were covered with them, relatively speaking that is, with 12 Greenshank, 1 Green Sandpiper, and 7 Snipe on Down, and a further 11 Greenshank, and 25 Snipe on Horse-eye. Raptors included another indicator of autumn with an immature male Merlin together with one of the semi-resident Marsh Harrier mooching around the dykes. The regular Red Fox was on Down and 3 Brown Hawkers were seen along White Dyke. Floral accompinent was provided on White Dyke by the Amphibious Bistort pictured above right.
Finally to a few other bits and pieces from the garden in the form of the Acorn Weevil pictured left which was frequenting the moth trap on the morning of the 14th and the fly Volucella inanis pictured below which was pottering around the garden on the 16th. All useful additions to the pan list along with the leaf hopper Iassus ianio which was also seen on the 14th. Keep smiling.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Its a jungle out there

Well its been a while in the making but the night of the 3rd saw my 300th macro species for the garden in the form of the Dark Spinach pictured right. Also on the 3rd my 100th micro species for the garden was trapped - Hypsopygia costalis or Gold Triangle - and my 101st - Dioryctria costalis. I am slowly getting to grips with the micros' now and know that if the conditions are calm and warm there are going to be plenty of them about so better get the pots lined up! Mothing has been pretty quiet over the past week with clear cold nights and a bright full moon resulting in only 22 moths of 8 species being trapped on the night of 27th July, truly appalling, but things have now picked up again with the 3rd producing a total of 104 moths of 40 species.
The weekend saw me wandering around Hankham and Manxey as well as Horse-eye and Down in pleasant enough weather. Bird wise things were very quiet with the only sign of return migration being a couple of Sand Martin mixed in with the Swallows at Rickney. Buzzards were much in evidence with birds recorded all across the levels and 4 together were soaring over Herstmonceux on the evening of the 3rd. Bird highlight though were the small party of Crossbills that chipped there way over the garden early on the 2nd as I was sorting through the moth trap. Dragons comprised Brown Hawker at Downash along with the commoner blue damsels on Hankham and Down but no sign of any Small Red-eyeds despite searching. The Water Plantain pictured right was out on Hankham on the morning of the 1st.
In fact the levels were so quiet on the 2nd that I resorted to pottering in the garden in an attempt to get the Pan species list up. Top of the garden potter was the fly Sicus ferrugineus pictured at the top of the page. First things first - this creature isn't winning any beauty competitions - it looks singularly unpleasant with its brown and yellow colouration and unusual posture. Secondly if you have buddhist leanings better hope you are not reincarnated as an insect, this particular fly is a parasitoid of Bumble-bees, all of which is rather unpleasant... Other additions to the garden pan list were the fly Neomiya viridescens, and hoverfly Eristalis pertinax, along with the spider Steatoda grossa pictured above. This species is one of the "False Widows" that cause periodic hysteria in the press and whilst it looks quite intimidating (for a beast about an inch across) its bite is unlikely to cause much more discomfort than a bee or wasp sting unless you are unfortunate enough to be allergic to the venom.