24 September 2016

Staines Moor: 24 September

Another dull as hell day trudging around the moor seeing very few birds - birding in Surrey is so exciting! 'Highlights' were: 1 Whinchat (NW corner), 3+m Stonechat (1 NW corner, 2 east side), 2 (1m, 1f) Yellow Wagtail (NW corner), 14 Meadow Pipit, 2 Blackcap, 10 Chiffchaff (inc. 6 Bonehead Woodland), 5 Common Snipe, 1 Goldcrest (Bonehead Woodland), 5 Skylark, 1-2 Little Egret, 1 Eurasian Sparrowhawk, 1 Common Buzzard, 3 Kestrel and 2H Cetti's Warbler. Passage overhead amounted to 83 House Martin SW and 21 Barn Swallow (mainly S). Also 1 Red Kite and 3 more Common Buzzard were seen at distance over Wraysbury Reservoir.

First Parasol Mushroom Macrolepiota procera of the autumn noted today and a few Snowy Inkcap Coprinopsis nivea, and only 7 Red Admirals were seen on Staines Moor today - an amazing 530+ were present just 16 days ago!

Snowy Inkcap Coprinopsis nivea, on dung, Staines Moor, 24 September 2016 - a few of these tiny delicate toadstools today

Parasol Mushroom Macrolepiota procera, Staines Moor, 24 September 2016

A Speckled Wood in the garden on the 14th was one of very few records for the garden.

14 September 2016

Staines Moor: 14 September

A few more migrants at Staines Moor today in unseasonally hot conditions. Migrants on the ground included 4 Whinchat (3 SE corner, 1 NW corner), 1m Stonechat (SE corner) - the first of the autumn, 13+ Yellow Wagtail around the livestock (with others overhead), 1+ Common Snipe (calling high over the Colne early morning), 2 Northern Lapwing (also over the Colne early morning), 1 Sedge Warbler (beside Colne), 40 Meadow Pipit and 2 Common Whitethroat.

Some movement overhead with 20 Meadow Pipit S, 63 Barn Swallow (mainly S), and 1 imm. m Eurasian Sparrowhawk WSW.

1 of 4 Whinchats at Staines Moor today

1 of a single flock of 11 Yellow Wagtail, including males, females and juveniles, around the horses on Staines Moor today

Also noted were 1+ Hobby, 1-2 Kingfisher, 2 Little Egret, 6 Reed Bunting, 1 Skylark, 8 Linnet, 2 Red Kite, 3 Kestrel, 2-3 Common Buzzard and 1+ Grey Heron.

Still plenty of Red Admirals around in the NW corner, although much fewer than my last visit, and 7 were seen migrating (mainly S), and 1 Small Copper, 4 Small Heath and a Meadow Brown were logged. Stanwell Moor added a few more Red Admirals along the Colne Valley Way.

8 September 2016

Staines Moor: 8 September

A little better for migrants at Staines Moor today with 2 Whinchat, 6 Yellow Wagtail (around the livestock), 2 Sand Martin S, 118 Barn Swallow S (then W from mid afternoon) noted, and 2 Common Whitethroat and 1H Lesser Whitethroat in the hawthorns (which could be local birds). Also noted were 1-2 Hobby, 1 Red Kite, 4+ Skylark, 8 Meadow Pipit, 3 Reed Bunting, c50 Goldfinch (including many juveniles feeding on the thistles) and c100 Eurasian Starling (mainly around the livestock).

Red Admiral butterflies once again stole the show, with an amazing 530+ counted around the blackberries in the NW corner, west side, along the old railway, and in the NE corner, amounting to a spectacular sight. Their origin is a bit of mystery. They are very fresh and so presumably hatched fairly locally, and I suppose they are heading south stopping to feed on the abundance of blackberries currently on the moor. In addition another 24 Red Admirals were seen along the Colne Valley Way through Stanwell Moor in the morning.

Other butterflies on Staines Moor today include 1 Painted Lady (feeding with Red Admirals), 4 Small Copper, 9 Small Heath, 3 Comma and 2 Speckled Wood. Several Migrant Hawkers Aeshna mixta were also noted.

On Stanwell Moor 3 (2H) Chiffchaff were also noted.

Painted Lady Vanessa cardui feeding on blackberries with about 20 Red Admirals Vanessa atalanta in the NW corner of Staines
Moor today

Red Admirals Vanessa atalanta feeding on blackberries, Staines Moor, 8 September 2016

3 September 2016

Red Admiral invasion at Staines Moor: 3 September

My first visit to the patch this afternoon since May. A few migrants noted. A trickle of hirundines heading south-southwest amounted to 51 House Martin, 24 Sand Martin and 51 Barn Swallow, and 1 Whinchat around the swamp and a Northern Wheatear along the Colne were probably bought down by the persistent rain from mid afternoon. 1-2 Hobby, 1-2 Common Buzzard (including nice views of 1 perched on a snag along Bonehead Ditch), 33 (1H) Linnet, 3 Kestrel (including 1m and 1f), 1 Skylark, 7+ Meadow Pipit and 1 Little Egret along the Colne were the best of the other birds noted. 2 imm. Mallard and an imm. Moorhen on the Colne are noteworthy as signs of successful breeding.

Highlight of the day came in the form of an incredible number of Red Admiral butterflies present on site. Despite the windy and overcast conditions and rain setting in from mid afternoon, I counted a minimum of 196 in the NW corner alone, most feeding on blackberries. Most looked very fresh so presumably these are broods from this year's migrants? At one point I took shelter from the wind and rain next to a hawthorn and 20+ shot out at once! I estimate there must have been at least double this number at Staines Moor today.

Other inverts noted on Staines Moor include 2 Small Heath, 3 Meadow Brown, 1 Comma, 2 Green-veined White, and 3 (2m, 1f) Banded Demoiselle. No grassland fungi fruiting yet - probably too dry.

Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta, Staines Moor, 3 September 2016 - 1 of at least 196 on site today

Red Admirals Vanessa atalanta, Staines Moor, 3 September 2016 - 8 feeding on blackberries in this pic (click to enlarge)

At home this morning, found a White Point Mythimna albipuncta in the house - a long overdue addition to the garden moth list.

White-point Mythimna albipuncta, Worcester Park, 3 September 2016 - an immigrant species found mainly in coastal counties in
south-east England but spreading northwards

31 August 2016

Still quiet for moths: 30/31 August

Still very quiet for moths at home in Worcester Park despite the weather remaining warm, humid and calm. Last night there was a southerly wind so I put the moth light on, but the temperature dropped rapidly. No immigrants but a few nice common species though:

1 Small Blood-vein Scopula imitaria
1 Old Lady Mormo maura - very worn
1 Flame Shoulder Ochropleura plecta
2 Yellow Shell Camptogramma bilineata
2 Pale Mottled Willow Caradrina clavipalpis
4 Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing Noctua fimbriata - very worn
3 Willow Beauty Peribatodes rhomboidaria
1 Bramble Shoot Moth Notocelia uddmanniana

Small Blood-vein Scopula imitaria, Worcester Park, 31 August 2016

Bramble Shoot Moth Notocelia uddmanniana, Worcester Park, 31 August 2016

30 August 2016

REGUA meet up at the London Wetland Centre: 29 August

Rachel and I met up with our good friends Nicholas and Raquel Locke of REGUA at the London Wetland Centre yesterday, to see how some of the wetland habitats and infrastructure created at this excellent reserve might be adapted for the REGUA wetland in Brazil.

This was the first time Nicholas and Raquel had been to the London Wetland Centre but in just a few hours we managed to sketch out several ideas for REGUA, including a new air-conditioned viewing tower, a new hide, boardwalks, islands with muddy edges for rails and waders, new reedbeds and maybe even creating some wet grassland at REGUA.

We also managed to squeeze in a little birding. Avian highlights were 1 Hobby hunting over the Grazing Marsh, 2 Common Sandpiper on the Wader Scrape, several Sand Martin, and good numbers of Common Teal, Northern Shoveler and Northern Lapwing. A fantastic female Wasp Spider near the Peacock Tower was my first ever sighting of this Continental species - first recorded in England in the 1920’s and spreading across southern England.

Female Wasp Spider Argiope bruennichi, London Wetland Centre, 29 August 2016

Got home late evening after a four hour meal, where we were joined by another good friend Andrew Proudfoot, to find a superb Vestal Rhodometra sacraria in the living room (photographed this afternoon) - fantastic!

The Vestal Rhodometra sacraria, Worcester Park, 30 August 2016 - the first record for the garden of this immigrant species

26 August 2016

Late summer moths at home: 25/26 August

With warm temperatures and high humidity over the last few days I decided to put the moth light on at home last night. Had some good species but overall things were quiet:

1m Oak Processionary Thaumetopoea processionea - the first record for the garden. Males are strong fliers and so this could be either an immigrant or originate from the introduced population around west London. According to the Forestry Commission website, adult moths are not required to be reported. The caterpillars have tiny hairs that can cause skin and eye irritations, sore throats and breathing difficulties in humans and animals. In Britain it is illegal to knowingly keep, store or sell this species.
1 Waved Black Parascotia fuliginaria
1 July Highflyer Hydriomena furcata
4 Silver Y Autographa gamma (including 1 in the garden today)
1 Jersey Tiger Euplagia quadripunctaria
1 Dun-bar Cosmia trapezina
1 Marbled Beauty Bryophila domestica
1 Large Yellow Underwing Noctua pronuba
1 Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing Noctua janthe
2m Willow Beauty Peribatodes rhomboidaria
2 Brimstone Moth Opisthograptis luteolata
2 Small Dusty Wave Idaea seriata
1 Pale Mottled Willow Caradrina clavipalpis
1 Gold Triangle Hypsopygia costalis
1 Mint Moth Pyrausta aurata
10 Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana
1 Ruddy Streak Tachystola acroxantha
1 Dingy Dowd Blastobasis adustella
1 Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla
1 Brown House-moth Hofmannophila pseudospretella
Several Horse Chestnut Leaf-miner Cameraria ohridella

Male Oak Processionary Thaumetopoea processionea, 26 August 2016

A worn Waved Black Parascotia fuliginaria, 26 August 2016 - a Nationally Scarce B species with adults flying between June and August

July Highflyer Hydriomena furcata, 26 August 2016 - adults fly from July to August

Marbled Beauty Bryophila domestica, 26 August 2015

Weather conditions for immigrant moths are looking good over the next few days, with high pressure systems over western continental Europe bringing south-easterly winds on Saturday. Might be worth another mothing session.