31 August 2013

Autumn migration increases at Staines Moor

A lot more migrants in evidence at the patch today, including: 2 Greenshank that flew off east from the Colne early morning, 5 Whinchat and 3 Northern Wheatear ranging widely at the north end, 4 Yellow Wagtail around the livestock, 1 Common Snipe along the Colne, 1 1st yr Red Kite N, 1-2 Common Buzzard, 1 House Martin N, 1 Sand Martin NW, 32 Barn Swallow, and 1 Pied Wagtail over (H). Also, 1+ Hobby, 1 Common Whitethroat and 1 Reed Warbler still (Butt's Pond), and c400 Starling, c60 Goldfinch, 3 Grey Heron, 5+ Linnet, 1+ Sparrowhawk, 2+ Kestrel, 9 Meadow Pipit, and 1m and 1f Common Pheasant noted.

1st winter Whinchat - one of five today

Fewer butterflies around now with 3 Small Copper, 3 Small Heath, 1 Large White, and still a fair number of Meadow Browns. Also still several Migrant Hawkers Aeshna mixta about. Photographed some flowering Tasteless Water-pepper Persicaria mitis along one of the iris channels - a fairly scarce plant in Britain (many thanks to Rob Innes for the tip-off).

Tasteless Water-pepper Persicaria mitis

26 August 2013

Migrant meagerness

So yet again autumn migration is well underway everywhere in the northern hemisphere except at Staines Moor. Seemingly every other London site has decent migrants turning up. But at Staines Moor there is hardly a single bird, let alone any migrants! Three hours this morning (26th) logged just 1-2 Garden Warbler, 5 Blackcap (3H), 4 Chiffchaff (3H) and 16+ Barn Swallow. 3 Hobby (not migrants so these don't count) and 2-3 Collared Dove were about the only other birds seen. Spirits are in desperate need of raising.

Butterflies put on a better show with a Clouded Yellow that belted past and refused to settle, 1 tatty Brown Argus, 1 Small Copper, 1 Comma, and 1 Small Tortoiseshell, several Small Heath (second brood?), 1 Large White, several Green-veined Whites, Small Whites and Gatekeepers and lots of Meadow Browns. Also 4 Silver Ys (including 2 actively feeding) and 1 Straw Dot noted.

Silver Y Autographa gamma

Brown Argus Aricia agestis

Female Meadow Brown Maniola jurtina

24 August 2013

First garden moth trap session

Finally got around to trying out my new moth trap - a Ranger Capio Actonic - last night (23rd). I originally planned a mothing session at the patch, but I've been ill over the last week so instead had a trial run in the garden with Rachel, Andrew Proudfoot and Peter Alfrey. We ran the trap from 20:30 to 00:15 in fairly good weather - warm, humid, overcast and no wind. Species caught and identified include:

2-3 Red Underwing Catocala nupta
2 Tree-lichen Beauty Cryphia algae
1 Marbled Beauty Cryphia domestica
1 Oak Hook-tip Watsonalla binaria
3 Maiden's Blush Cyclophora punctaria
1 Cypress Pug Eupithecia phoeniceata
4 Double-striped Pug Gymnoscelis rufifasciata
5 Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing Noctua janthe
1 Large Yellow Underwing Noctua pronuba
1 Straw Underwing Thalpophila matura
5 Willow Beauty Peribatodes rhomboidaria
2 Flame Shoulder Ochropleura plecta
1 Vine's Rustic Hoplodrina ambigua
2 Square-spot Rustic Xestia xanthographa
1 Common Rustic Mesapamea secalis
1 Barred Rivulet Perizoma bifaciata
1 Yellow Shell Camptogramma bilineata
1 Brimstone Moth Opisthograptis luteolata
2 Straw Dot Rivula sericealis
Also, 1 Convolvulus Hawkmoth Agrius convolvuli flew around a few times but avoided the trap and evaded capture!

Micros included:
1 Carcina quercana
1 Mother of Pearl Pleuroptya ruralis
1 Catoptria falsella
1 Diamond-back Moth Plutella xylostella
1 Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla
1 Brown House-moth Hofmannophila pseudospretella
1 Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana
Several Common Grass-veneer Agriphila tristella
Several Elbow-stripe Grass-veneer Agriphila geniculea

Red Underwing Catocala nupta

Tree-lichen Beauty Cryphia algae

Marbled Beauty Cryphia domestica

Straw Underwing Thalpophila matura

Barred Rivulet Perizoma bifaciata

Oak Hook-tip Watsonalla binaria

Maiden's Blush Cyclophora punctaria

Carcina quercana

Mother of Pearl Pleuroptya ruralis

Many thanks to Peter Alfrey, Bill Dykes and Alan Martin for help with identifying some of the more tricky species.

Also, this Red-legged Shieldbug Pentatoma rufipes made an appearance.

Red-legged Shieldbug Pentatoma rufipes

23 August 2013

A few moor migrants

A few migrants moving through at the patch this morning, with 3 Yellow Wagtail (2W, 1 around the livestock), 2 Willow Warbler, 1 Garden Warbler, 2 Common Whitethroat, 9 Blackcap (3H), 12 Chiffchaff (5H), 1 Sand Martin S, 27 Barn Swallow (some S, some lingering) and 1 Common Buzzard (E then W). Also, 1+ Hobby Still, 1+ Sparrowhawk, 2+ Kestrel, 1 Mistle Thrush, 1 Kingfisher (H along Bonehead Ditch), 1 Pied Wagtail over (H), 6 Skylark, 1f Reed Bunting, 1 Grey Heron, lots of Starling feeding around the livestock still, 32 Goldfinch, 1f Mallard with a few chicks on the Colne, and 1f Common Pheasant flushed from the one of the iris channels that was really unhappy with my presence - late breeder?

Juvenile Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris moulting into 1st winter plumage

Lots of good inverts seen. Quite a few Migrant Hawkers Aeshna mixta around, as well several Common Darters Sympetrum striolatum and lots of Banded Demoiselles Calopteryx splendens still. Butterflies noted included 2-3 Brown Argus, 4+ Small Copper, several Common Blue, 2 Speckled Wood, 1 Small Tortoiseshell, 3+ Small Heath, lots of Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers, Green-veined Whites and Small Whites, and 3+ Silver Ys also seen. Orthoptera seen include 1 Short-winged Conehead Conocephalus dorsalis, 2 Long-winged Conehead Conocephalus discolor and lots of Meadow Grasshoppers Chorthippus parallelus and Field Grasshoppers Chorthippus brunneus.

Male Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta

Male Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum - note the diagnostic yellow stripe on the legs

Meadow Grasshopper Chorthippus parallelus

Meadow Grasshopper Chorthippus parallelus. Quite a variation in colour

Field Grasshopper Chorthippus brunneus

Short-winged Conehead Conocephalus dorsalis

20 August 2013

A moth that plays dead!

Never seen a moth play dead before, but that's exactly what this Spectacle Abrostola tripartita moth did a couple of times. Last night as I put it in a container, it flipped over and assumed it's 'I've been swatted' position, then this afternoon while I was getting it out of a container to take some photos it did the same again. I could pick it up, roll it over, and it still didn't flinch! After a while it flipped back over and flew strongly around before coming to rest.

The Spectacle Abrostola tripartita - resting normally one minute...

...playing dead the next...

...then resting normally again.

Here are a few other moths caught and photographed last night at home.

Flounced Rustic Luperina testacea

Shuttle-shaped Dart Agrotis puta

Common Rustic Mesapamea secalis

Elbow-stripe Grass-veneer Agriphila geniculea

Common Grass-veneer Agriphila tristella

Many thanks to Alan Martin for help with identifying some of these.

19 August 2013

Birdfair 2013

Back from another very successful Birdfair. For Rachel and I it was the seventh year we have organised a stand at the Birdfair for REGUA, but only the second year where we have have not shared a stand. The stand this year was better than ever, down to Rachel's hard work, and as usual attracted a lot of interest. Alan Martin, Rachel and Sue Healey did a wonderful job telling people about REGUA, but a nasty and perfectly timed cold wiped me out for all three days! I lost my voice so was of no real use on the stand on Saturday and Sunday, but it was nice to see many past guests from the lodge, as well as catch up with lots of friends and attend a few talks. Many thanks to everyone who came by the stand to say hello.

From the right: Alan Martin, Sue Healey, Rachel Walls and me - REGUA's UK team

One of the highlights for me this year were the several species of caterpillars and moths on display on the Butterfly Conservation stand. Spent a little time watching the ringing demonstration on Sunday, with a juvenile Reed Warbler, Blue Tit and Great Tit all seen processed, and on Friday (16th) a Magpie Moth at our B&B at Stamford, Lincs did its best to take my mind off my streaming nose.

Privet Hawkmoth Sphinx ligustri caterpillar

Poplar Hawkmoth Laothoe populi caterpillar

10 August 2013

Early autumn at the patch

Some early signs of autumn passage at Staines Moor today, with 1 Green Sandpiper along the Colne this morning, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Sedge Warbler, 3 Garden Warbler, 4 Blackcap, 1 Common Whitethroat, and 8(3H) Chiffchaff all along the old railway (and 2 heard elsewhere), c.25 Meadow Pipit in the NW corner could be local birds, and 7 Barn Swallow over S. Also 1+ Hobby still, 1+ Kestrel, 2 Mistle Thrush, 1+ Grey Heron, 1-2 Kingfisher and 4+ Canada Geese.

A flighty Green Sandpiper on the Colne early morning

Shed loads of Lepidoptera around today: 1 Brown Argus, 3+ Small Copper, several Common Blue, (just) 1 Small Skipper, 2 Comma, 2 Peacock, lots of Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns, Green-veined Whites and Small Whites. Elsewhere 2 Small Heaths were noted, and a Holly Blue on the mud along Bonehead Ditch.

Brown Argus Aricia agestis

Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas

Male Common Blue Polyommatus icarus. I love how you can see the ventral side pattern through the wings on this pic.

Gatekeepers Pyronia tithonus are everywhere on the Moor at the moment!

Green-veined White Pieris napi

Small White Pieris rapae

A few moths also noted: 6 Silver Ys, and hundreds of Pearl Veneers Agriphila straminella (there must be thousands present on the Moor at the moment), and a couple of Pale-streak Grass-veneer Agriphila selasella.

Six Silver Ys Autographa gamma disturbed from the grass today - a mini influx!

Pearl Veneer Agriphila straminella

Pale-streak Grass-veneer Agriphila selasella

Other bugs included: 1 Long-winged Conehead Conocephalus discolor, and lots of hoverflies including a Eristalis horticola, a Female Helophilus trivittatus, and a male Long Hoverfly Sphaerophoria scripta.

Long-winged Conehead Conocephalus discolor

Eristalis horticola

Female Helophilus trivittatus

Male Long Hoverfly Sphaerophoria scripta?