31 December 2012

Staines Moor highlights 2012

2012 was a good year for me at Staines Moor, with some reasonable vis mig witnessed during both spring and autumn passage, some decent decked migrants for such a small urban inland site, and some excellent insects. Cold weather movements at the start of the year produced 2 Dunlin, 2 Pintail, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Water Rail and 3 Water Pipit all along the ice-free Colne, along with Woodcock and Goosander.

The spring saw another superb passage of Northern Wheatear, with the first, a pair, seen on 16 March, and numbers peaking at an amazing 18 on 2 May. From late April most birds showed characteristics of the Greenland/North American race leucorhoa. Amazing to think that just a few years back Wheatear was much less frequent at the Moor.

Male Northern Wheatear, probably leucorhoa

Other spring highlights included Ring Ouzel, Common Redstart, lots of Whinchats, Spotted Flycatcher, Yellow Wagtail, several Red Kites and a Little Owl.

Adult male Ring Ouzel

Whinchat mini-fall - at least 5 birds present 2 May

Male Common Redstart. I swear there's something about these anthills that draw
scarce migrants at the Moor, in much the same way those pathetically tiny grassy
clumps on Fair Isle attract crippling rare sibes (oh the analogies us rare-deprived
inland birders come up with to keep our motivation up)!

Also, during the spring and summer months at least 5 Redshank were present and I stumbled upon a single nest, which I think is the first confirmed breeding for several years.

Common Redshank nest. Given the number of dogs running around at the Moor
it's amazing that any ground nesters can successfully raise young here.

The summer months produced some excellent insect sightings, although the wet weather had noticeably and dramatically reduced butterfly numbers.

Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas

Male Banded Demoiselle Calopteryx splendens

Female Banded Demoiselle Calopteryx splendens

Autumn passage, produced Staines Moor's first Northern Gannet, a couple of flocks of Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 1 Ring Ouzel (with another 2 also seen by other observers), 2 Red Kites, 2 Golden Plover and Brambling.

Staines Moor's first Northern Gannet flew over on 7 November

27 Dark-bellied Brent Geese over on 25 October

1st winter male Ring Ouzel. At least 3 were seen at the Moor during the autumn.

Three (four reported by other observers) wintering Short-eared Owls have provided a great finish to the year.

Good birds I missed at the patch this year include Osprey, Firecrest, Treecreeper, Yellowhammer and Little Ringed Plover. National rarities and scarcities seen tantalisingly close to the Moor include London's first 2 Buff-bellied Pipits (less than two miles away), Black Kite, White-winged Black Tern, White Stork, Glossy Ibis, Great White Egret, Roseate Tern, Spoonbill, Tundra Bean Goose, Avocet, Wood Sandpiper, Oystercatcher and Iceland Gull. I can't wait to see what 2013 brings.

29 December 2012

More images uploaded to Flickr

White Peacock (Anartia jatrophae)Stinky Leafwing (Historis odius odius)Scarlet Peacock (Anartia amathea roeselia)Tropical Buckeye (Junonia evarete)Juno Longwing (Dione juno)Male Hemeroplanes ornatus
Pearly-breasted Cuckoo (Coccyzus euleri)Brown Longtail (Urbanus procne)Roadside Hawk (Rupornis magnirostris)Ring OuzelMale Pseudosphinx tetrioMale Syssphinx molina
Female Pallid Amberwing (Perithemis mooma)Micrathyria catenataYellow (Six-banded) Armadillo (Euphractus sexcinctus)Harlequin Beetle (Acrocinus longimanus)Cricket sp.Eucereon rosinum
Adeloneivaia boisduvaliXylophanes chiron nechusAgrius cingulataRufous-tailed Jacamar (Galbula ruficauda)Male Protambulyx euryclesMale Automeris annulata

I've finally got around to uploading more photos to my Flickr account. With all the mothing I've been doing this year, many of the latest uploads are moths and also butterflies, for which I've also created new sets. Most of these photos were taken in south-east Brazil, where the lack of field guides, especially for moths, makes identification to species level very difficult. This is very much a work in progress and I'll be adding more as I manage to identify them.

20 December 2012

More moths from south-east Brazil

One of my highlights of 2012 was the time I spent mothing at REGUA - my foreign patch in Brazil's Atlantic Forest. I took loads of photos of a huge diversity of unfamiliar and often bizarre moths, and over the last few months I've been trying to identify as many as I can (no easy task considering there are no identification guides for this part of South America). So following on from the posts about the hawkmoths, silkmoths and lappet moths found on my last trip back in September, here are a selection of the myriad of other moths, some of which I still can't identify, seen at REGUA during both of my trips to Brazil this year.

The diversity of moths in the Atlantic Forest is incredible and the actual number of species here could be many thousands. Many of these species appear to be widely distributed across South America, but with high levels of endemism generally within other orders in the Atlantic Forest, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that a good number of the moths we've seen here are found nowhere else.

Family: Cossidae (Carpenter Moths)

Morpheis xylotribus, 21 September 2012. Morpheis is a genus of 10
New World species belonging to the Zeuzerinae subfamily. There's few
references available for this genus, but I think the blackish line parallel to
the costa, near the apex on the forewing, together with the lack of white along
the outer forewing might be diagnostic, and helpful when separating from
the very similar Morpheis pyracmon.

Family: Megalopygidae (Flannel Moths)

Trosia cf. nigropunctigera, 18 September 2012. Trosia is a highly distinctive genus
(as yet not assigned to a subfamily). There are 17 species currently recognised,
but they are all extremely similar and difficult to identify. Moreover, there is almost
no literature available and virtually nothing of use for identification online either.

Family: Geometridae (Geometer Moths) - named after the way their larvae (inchworms) move along by looping their bodies, as if measuring as they go.

Epimecis conjugaria, 13 June 2012

Saddled Emerald Synchlora ephippiaria, 21 September 2012. Part of the
Geometrinae subfamily (Emeralds), the Synchlora genus comprises 47 species.

Synchlora gerularia, 11 June 2012. Another member of the Geometrinae
subfamily, I can find almost no information about this taxon.

Melanchroia aterea, 15 June 2012

Family: Erebidae - the former family Arctiidae is now a subfamily, Arctiinae, within Erebidae.

Great Leopard Moth Hypercompe scribonia, 11 September 2012. This species,
like most of this genus, has a bright reddish abdomen which it would display
when handled. I love the translucent ends of the forewings of this specimen.

Eucereon rosina, 14 September 2012

Eucereon sp. nr. rosina, 20 September 2012. Similar pattern to E. rosina but
note the bluish background colour and the pinkish-red abdomen.

Hyalurga fenestrata, 13 June 2012

Ornate Moth Utetheisa ornatrix, 16 June 2012.
Common throughout the Americas, this species is
often found resting on flowers or seeds during
the day but actually flies at night. This is the South
American equivalent of the Crimson Speckled
Utetheisa pulchella of the Old World.

Family: Noctuidae - the largest moth family

Letis buteo, 10 September 2012

Ceroctena grata (previously Sosxetra grata), 20 September 2012. From the
Calpinae subfamily. There are several beautifully coloured Ceroctena species
found at REGUA. Check out the scales on the front legs.

Family: Crambidae (Crambid Snout Moths)

Mung Moth Maruca vitrata, 11 June 2012. The larvae of this moth are a well
known pest across tropical regions (not only in South America), boring into
leguminous crops such as mung beans, soybeans and cowpeas, causing
significant loses in some areas. This species has also been recorded in Britain,
probably after hatching from imported crops.

Check out this excellent Brazilian butterfly and moth blog, which is very useful for identification, here.