31 May 2013

More lounge moths

A few more moths in the lounge last night: 1 Common Carpet Epirrhoe alternata, 1 Brimstone Moth Opisthograptis luteolata, 1 Bee Moth Aphomia sociella and a Twenty-plume Moth Alucita hexadactyla. Nothing fantastic but good fun was had with the macro lens.

Common Carpet Epirrhoe alternata

Common Carpet Epirrhoe alternata

Female Bee Moth Aphomia sociella

Off to Northumberland tomorrow for a week.

27 May 2013

A few more moths

With temperatures still low at night, there's few moths about. However, I managed to see a Poplar Kitten Furcula bifida, a Knot Grass Acronicta rumicis and a Green Carpet Colostygia pectinataria that Pete caught at Beddington Farmlands (well, actually at his flat, The Obs).

Poplar Kitten Furcula bifida, Beddington Farmlands, 27 May 2013 - a first for Beddington, and what a beauty!

Poplar Kitten Furcula bifida, Beddington Farmlands, 27 May 2013

Check out Pete's pics here.

25 May 2013

11 hours patching

An 11 hour session at the patch today produced virtually no migrants, while simultaneously elsewhere in London and the south-east, scarce migrants and rares were cropping up all over the place!

On Staines Moor, 1 Greenshank along the Colne at 06:30 for an hour before being flushed by dog walkers and flying off high north was the highlight, and 1+ Cuckoo, 1 Red Kite NW, 57+ Common Swift, 2 Barn Swallow, 2-4 Shelduck, 1+ Redshank, 1 Little Owl in the NW corner, 1 Lapwing, 1 Little Egret, 3 Grey Heron, 1+ Lesser Whitethroat (H), 1 Reed Warbler (H), 1+ Kingfisher and 1+ 'Commic' Tern were also noted. Missed a Spotted Flycatcher in the north-east corner seen by another birder.

Greenshank along the Colne at 06:30 for an hour before heading off north

An emergence of thousands of adult mayflies, Ephemera danica, especially along Bonehead Ditch, attracted 4+ Hobby, 40+ Black-headed Gulls and Common Swifts overhead.

A major emergence of Ephemera danica mayflies at the patch today. There are 51 species of mayfly in Britain, this one is over two
inches long! The three tails are diagnostic of this species.

Lots of other inverts around today in the warmer weather. Saw my first Banded Demoiselles Calopteryx splendens of the year, a Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas, several Nettle-taps Anthophila fabriciana, lots of Yellow Dung Flies Scathophaga stercoraria, and a Wasp Beetle Clytus arietis.

Newly emerged male Banded Demoiselle Calopteryx splendens

This insect was crawling around on the wing of the above demoiselle. Any ideas what this is?

Nettle-tap Anthophila fabriciana, several of these day-flying moths were along Bonehead Ditch around Common Nettles Urtica
, it's larval foodplant.

Wasp Beetle Clytus arietis

Also spent some time photographing wildflowers.

Cut-leaved Crane's-bill Geranium dissectum is flowering on some of the anthills

Silverweed Potentilla anserina

On Stanwell Moor, 1 Lesser Whitethroat (H), 3+ House Martin, 2 Tufted Duck and 1m Shoveler were noted, and Common Vetch Vicia sativa and Common Comfrey Symphytum officinale are now flowering.

Common Vetch Vicia sativa

Common Comfrey Symphytum officinale

18 May 2013

The Margate Dusky Thrush

Britain's ninth Dusky Thrush less than two hours drive was a little too much for me to resist today. The bird showed extremely well for two hours from 2 pm in Margate Cemetery, fly-catching from the tops of trees and very occasionally dropping down to the ground to feed.

There's some debate over whether this bird might be an integrade between Dusky and Naumann's Thrush Turdus naumanni (the two species hybridise where their ranges overlap). The bird did show much more rufous tones to some of the breast and flank spotting than I was expecting (although it was amazing how much this seemed to change in different lights), and perhaps less rufous in the wings than I was expecting as well, but in general the plumage pattern looks good for Dusky to me (although this is the first of either that I've seen so what do I know?) - with a typical Dusky facial pattern (I think the dark streaks on the throat help age this bird as a 1st summer female), a mainly dark brown tail, plenty of dark brownish to blackish spots below, especially around the upper breast, a double breast 'band', no obvious rufous in the tail and no rufous on the under-tail coverts.

I'll be digging out some references later to read up, but I suspect the variation within pure birds of both species as well as their integrades is poorly understood. The photos I've seen online of integrades so far look quite different to this bird. A beautiful and interesting bird regardless and a fantastic find by Steve Tomlinson. Some video can be seen here.

17 May 2013

Quiet at the patch

Very quiet on the patch today. On Stanwell Moor the Grasshopper Warbler was still singing east of the boardwalk (heard only) and 3 Garden Warbler were logged.

On Staines Moor, 150+ Common Swift feeding low over the moor and KGVI Reservoir, 1 Sand Martin, 1 House Martin and 13 Barn Swallow were the only passage migrants noted. 1 Tufted Duck W, 1 Shelduck N, 5 Jackdaw (1S and 4 NW), 1 Hobby, 2 Garden Warbler (1H), 1 Sparrowhawk, 1+ Redshank, 2+ Little Egret, 5+ Coot (a high site count) and 1f Mallard with 9 chicks on the Colne were the best of the rest. Lots of Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Linnet and Reed Buntings about.

Several pairs of Reed Bunting are holding territory on Staines Moor

Mallard are not a common sight on Staines Moor nowadays, especially with chicks.

I'm conducting my own biodiversity study of the moor and as there wasn't much doing in terms of migrants I spent a while photographing a few wild flowers including Red Campion Silene dioica, Wood Speedwell Veronica montana, and Herb-Robert Geranium robertianum along the old railway, and a few other species that I'll post photos of once I've identified them.

Wood Speedwell Veronica montana along the old railway. Hairs all around the stems, leaf shape and petal colour clinch
the ID.

Red Campion Silene dioica along the old railway

Herb-Robert Geranium robertianum along the old railway

Fly sp. Any idea which species? Anyone?

Weather: Sunny early clouding over (1 okta to 8 oktas by late morning), calm and misty early morning, cold, very light north-easterlies increasing throughout the morning.

12 May 2013

A few more passage migrants

A few hours at Staines Moor this morning produced a few more migrants, the best of which was a Dunlin frustratingly flushed from the Colne right under my feet at 06:30. Also, 1f Whinchat in the north-west corner, 4 (1m, 3f) Northern Wheatear around the anthills at the north end, 1 Yellow Wagtail S, 1 Pied Wagtail, 46 Common Swift (mainly west), 5 House Martin W and 2 Barn Swallow. Also logged; 1+ Redshank (possibly nesting), 5+ Northern Lapwing (no birds have nested on Staines Moor this year), 1+ Hobby (including a bird hunting Starlings around the cattle), 1 Red Kite S, 1f Gadwall and 2 Little Egret along the Colne.

No significant change on Stanwell Moor. 2 Common Swift W, 1(H) Cuckoo, 1 Garden Warbler, 1(H) Lesser Whitethroat and 3(2H) Sedge Warbler were the most noteworthy birds, and I saw my first Green-veined White of the year.

Today's female Whinchat

One pair of Redshank are showing signs of breeding this year, but maybe on Stanwell Moor

Thread-leaved Water-crowfoot Ranunculus trichophyllus are currently flowering in the shallow pools on Staines Moor

Female Green-veined White Pieris napi

8 May 2013

Lounge lepidoptera

Caught a grand total of four moths in the living room last night (I must buy a moth trap).

Waved Umber Menophra abrupyaria male

Twenty-plume Moth Alucita hexadactyla

Double-striped Pug Gymnoscelis rufifasciata

Brindled Pug Eupithecia abbreviata

6 May 2013

Bank holiday patch tick

A few migrants today, the best of which was a patch tick in the form of 2 distant Whimbrel on the grass on the east side of Staines Moor for a few minutes before flying off west towards Wraysbury Reservoir calling at 07:30. Other migrants seen were 1 Common Swift W, 3 (1m, 2f) Northern Wheatear in the north-west corner, 2 Common Tern following the Colne north before heading off east, 1 Sand Martin and 9+ Barn Swallow. Also noted; a brief Treecreeper in the north-east corner along Bonehead Ditch (my second patch record), 2 Hobby, 1 Cuckoo, 1 Red Kite S, 1 Common Buzzard W, 3+ Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Reed Warbler (Butt's Pond), 1-2 Redshank, 2+ Northern Lapwing, 1 Sparrowhawk, and 3 Little Egret along the Colne.

Common Tern over the Colne

A lot of Orange-tips around today. Other butterflies seen include a Small Tortoiseshell and 2 Speckled Wood.

Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria

On Stanwell Moor the Grasshopper Warbler was still singing east of the boardwalk (and could be heard from some way out on Staines Moor) but remained hidden, and 2 Garden Warbler, 1m Lesser Whitethroat, 5 Northern Lapwing, 3 House Martin, 10+ Barn Swallow and 1 'commic' tern W were seen.

Weather: Sunny, warm, dew early morning, 1 okta building to 2 oktas later, light north-westerly.

3 May 2013

Large Bee-fly

Another morning at the patch but with clear conditions today and over the last couple of days it was no surprise to find little sign of migration. 2 Cuckoos over north calling early morning, 1 Common Tern E and 1 Barn Swallow S were the only migrants seen actually on the move, and 4 (1m, 3f) Northern Wheatear around the anthills in the north-west corner could be some of yesterday's birds. Other notables on Staines Moor were 2+ Hobby, 2 Red Kite, 1+ Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Garden Warbler, 2 Little Egret along the Colne, 1 Kingfisher along the River Wraysbury, 1 Mistle Thrush, a pair of Gadwall over, 5 (3m, 2f) Reed Bunting, 5+ Northern Lapwing, 1-2 Sparrowhawk and lots of Linnet.

Found some cool bugs including a brilliant Large Bee-fly (or Dark-edged Bee-fly) Bombylius major feeding on Bugle Ajuga reptans flowers along the railway embankment footpath. What an amazing creature! Even though it's quite a slow flyer it still gave the macro lens a run for it's money.

Large Bee-fly Bombylius major

Large Bee-fly Bombylius major

Also found a couple of hoverflies including this one.

Syrphus sp. I think the hairless eyes make it a female?

Butterflies seen include 2 male Orange-tip Anthocharis cardamines, several Peacock Aglais io, and a Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni.

Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni

On Stanwell Moor; 1 Cuckoo, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Garden Warbler, 3+ Barn Swallow, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers (potentially nesting) and 1-2 Northern Lapwing over were noted. No sign of the Gropper today but I didn't wait around for long.

Weather: Sunny, warm, clear sky (1 okta), no wind early morning increasing to a light westerly.

2 May 2013

Close encounter with a Hobby

Lots of summer migrants at the patch today including 1 Common Tern E, 1 Cuckoo, 5 (2m, 3f) Northern Wheatear around the anthills, 1+ Lesser Whitethroat around the hawthorns, 2 Barn Swallow, 1 Northern Lapwing briefly around the anthills, and 1 Kingfisher along the Colne. The highlight was by far the very best views of a Hobby that I've ever had - a bird watched for about an hour down to 8 m resting on the anthills.

Adult Hobby resting on a Yellow Meadow Ant anthill

Check out the pinkish-buff patches on the nape


Dozing off. Check out the yellow eye-lid

Coughing up a pellet

On Stanwell Moor the Grasshopper Warbler was heard several times but frustratingly remained out of view, and 1 Cuckoo (same as earlier on Staines Moor?), 2+ Garden Warbler, 1(H) Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Red Kite N, 1 Common Buzzard, a pair of Gadwall, 2 Shelduck E, 1 Egyptian Goose W, 2 House Martin, 3 Barn Swallow and a Sparrowhawk were noted.

Butterflies seen include several Holly Blue Celastrina argiolus on Staines Moor and 2 Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria on Stanwell Moor.

Male Holly Blue Celastrina argiolus