Saturday, 31 October 2015

Ophion obscuratus and other miscellany

 The moth trap is just about ticking over with the odd late autumn macro. New for the year over the last week have been Large Wainscot (pictured below) on the night of the 22nd, and last night, the 30th, Feathered Thorn and November moth spp along with the striking ichneumon wasp Opheon obscuratus pictured above. Fortunately the last named is readily identifiable from the stiking cream markings on the abdomen and the white mark in the corner of the stigma on the wing illustrated in the cropped images left and right.
Out on the levels things have been very quiet with a distinct lack of late autumn excitement. One of the features of the autumn has been the good passage of finches so a few Lesser Redpoll which were present on White Dyke on the 25th were unusual for the patch though hardly surprising. A Kingfisher appears to have taken up residence along White Dyke, being seen there regularly, and along with subsinging Cettis' Warblers, will hopefully form a weekly padder through the winter.

So finally to todays final of the Rugby World Cup and a fitting triumph for the All Blacks. Sadly I failed in my application for tickets to the final but I musn't complain! What a wonderful tournament, full of great matches, sporting behaviour, and great bonhomie. The four games I was lucky enough to attend were seperated by just 16 points in total and were all absolutely wonderful battles shared with the best of friends and wonderful fans from all over the world. Hopefully my youngest daughter will carry the memory of Japan beating South Africa and everything that that performance demonstrated about teamwork and willpower in her memory bank, but perhaps more importantly the sportsmanship demonstrated by both players and fans on and off the field. For me as a passionate Englishman the loss to Wales was a bitter pill, but the occassion was fantastic and the welsh fans amazing, sometimes you just have to doff your cap and applaud however much you are hurting inside. Well played RWC 2015 and New Zealand, lets hope for more of the same from Japan 2019!

Monday, 19 October 2015

Early Whitefronts and the kick that broke a nations hearts

Another week of rarity filled entertainment on the patch, not. Winter is coming and the harbingers of doom reckon el Nino has a rough one in store, and perhaps this will prove the case since this months WEBS on the 18th yielded 2 adult White-fronted Geese and 50+ Wigeon along with the usual motley crew of residents. Migrant Hawker and Common Darter were both still on the wing along White Dyke. The moth trap continues to provide spartan fare with the best on offer being a Sallow on the night of the 10th and the Yellow-line Quaker pictured right on the 18th.
So to the highlight of the week, the Rugby World Cup, which to coin a cliche is a gift that just keeps giving. Yesterday saw me taking the well worn path back to the cabbage patch for the quarter final between Australia and Scotland courtesy of old friend Mr Paul Chapman. To say this was a meeting where I would qualify as a neutral (hence the donning of my beloved, poorly fitting, old school Tigers jersey) would be an understatement, and my intention was to watch the game and applaud quality football from whomsoever played it while being pretty ambivalent as to the final result. The scarf in the picture below was purchased by James whose colours were firmly nailed to Australia (why I know not, perhaps he too has a criminal past?), however I surprisingly found my supposed neutrality vanishing during the second half... I think this commenced with a "deliberate" knock on which resulted in a barely believable yellow card. My neutrality was wavering and I found myself on my feet when the Scots went over in the corner, before ultimately shouting "Scotland, Scotland" as the game entered the last ten minutes and the Scots took an unlikely lead, although the consumption of beer and a hip flask of the levels finest Sloe gin, used only for myself, Paul, and Paolo to toast quality try time, may have been contributory factors. To say the Scots were robbed would be an understatement, however once again it was another truly great game in a tournament of great games, and ultimately respect to Foley for slotting that final penalty in the Twickenham cauldron. Keep the faith.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Yellow-broweds' at the double

After last weeks first for Britain things were always likely to be a bit of an anticlimax this week, however birding on the whole was pretty good with plenty of bits and bobs to keep up the interest.
Out on the levels things have been pretty quiet with an immature male Marsh Harrier on the 1st and 4th the best bird on show. Common Darters and Migrant Hawkers remain in double figures with the picture below taken on the 1st in particularly pleasant weather. Also on the 1st a single Small Copper was on White Dyke along with a smattering of Speckled Woods'. Moths have been particularly poor recently with nothing at all of note, this may partly be due to the bat spp swooping around the garden the other evening intent on finding its evening meal...
Elsewhere a couple of potters to Beachy over the weekend provided good fare. On Saturday (3rd) a Yellow-browed Warbler was at the top of the lane at Birling along with at least one Continental Coal Tit. A walk around Holywell on the 4th produced the Black Redstart pictured left along with at least 300 House Martin. It has not been a good year for Clouded Yellows' so singles seen on the 1st, 3rd, and 4th were very welcome, with the latter pictured right. However highlight of the week has to go to the Yellow-browed in the bushes at my work place in St Leonards on the 6th, this has to be the best bird I have had on site topping the 4 Waxwings that were present in the car park for a couple of days a few years back! Unfortunately last weeks lowlight was the rugby... Never mind, learn from your mistakes, onwards and upwards, come back bigger and stronger, KEEP THE FAITH!