Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Amazing Moth night

After a long and extremely hot day, I switched on the garden Skinner 125W trap and set off for Hadham Hall with the battery powered Heath 15W trap. I planned to return to the same spot visited last month, between 2 ponds and surrounded by mature trees, some of them native.
Trap set to the right of this picture, on the edge of this well vegetated pond
By 8.30 the lights were on and, as it was not quite dark enough, I sat down and opened a beer. By 8.45 it was dusky and so off wandering with a bag of pots and headtorch and net. Agriphila tristella were everywhere, with well over 100 netted. After checking the first 30 for Ag. selasella (very similar) I became too busy to check anymore. I recorded 30 as the number encountered.
Things were slowly coming to the sheet next to the trap and I was potting these, then listing. I divided them all into 2 groups, release ones and need to take home for photos/identification confirmation.
I spent some time wandering the older woods near the carpark: green carpets and Pleuropyta ruralis but not too much else.
By 10.30 I had nearly run out of pots with several good species potted for photos, including Oak hooktip, lime speck pug, Tree lichen beauty, Achroia grisella (lesser wax moth) and Galleria mellonella (wax moth.) Clearly a bees' nest nearby. However, the highlight was what looked like Depressaria radiella (parsnip moth) which is listed as uncommon for Herts. Latter confirmed at home to be this species.
The lights were turned off at 11.15 and I headed home to check those I had retained. An excellent night. In all 98 moths of 32 species and 1 new for parish records and 2 new for 2016.
A surprise netting at 10.00pm, a flushed Holly blue!

Tree lichen beauty

Female Cataclysta lemnata

Achroia grisella

Galleria mellonella

Oak hooktip (NB This is a first gen insect, not the specific 2nd gen taken last night)
Hadham Hall Numbers and species.


5 Agriphila geniculea
30+ Agriphila tristella
3 Pleuropyta ruralis
1 Blastobasis adustella
1 Pyrausta aurata
1 Evergestis forficalis
3 Crambus perlella
1 Depressaria radiella (new for parish records)
1 Cataclysta lemnata
1 Achroia grisella (new for year)
2 Galleria mellonella
1 Acleris forsskaleana
1 Acrobasis advenella


1 Yellowshell
6 Green carpet
3 Snout
7 Brimstone
3 Square spot rustic
3 Orange swift
1 Six striped rustic
1 Angle shades
4 Setaceous hebrew character
1 double striped pug
1 Lime specked pug
1 Straw dot
1 Oak hooktip (new for year)
5 Flame shoulder
1 Small square spot
1 Tree lichen Beauty
5 Lesser BB yellow underwing
1 Garden carpet
1 Red twin spot carpet

Once home, I began potting all the insects that were on the fence and the top of the garden trap. There were a fair few and everytime I retrurned from identifying them and recording them in the moth shed, there were more. At 1.15 I had one last session ans potted a very bright micro. Confirmed as Enarmonia formosana, another new moth for the records.
This morning, slightly later than usual, I emptied the trap and in total, recorded, (including last night's garden haul) 86 moths of 41 species. These included new for year records of Treble Bar, Udea ferrugalis and Marbled Beauty. However, undoubted highlight, a Vestal. This a migrant moth from Europe that usually migrates north as from mid August, but an uncommon visitor as far inland as Hertfordshire. A pleasing capture indeed.

Enarmonia formosana

Udea ferrugalis

Dusky Thorn
Moth species and Numbers from the garden


2 Carcina quercana
1 Ypsolopha sequella
8 Emmelina monodactyla
5 Agriphila geniculea
2 Pyrausta aurata
1 Hypsopygia costalis
1 Pandemis corylana
5 Agriphila tristella
1 Enarmonia formosana (new for parish records)
2 Cochylis hybridella
1 Argyresthia goedartella
1 Agapeta hamana
1 Pleurpoyta ruralis
1 Yponomeuta malinellus
2 Celypha lacunana
2 Monopsis weaverella
1 Catoptria falsella
1 Acrobasis suavella
1 Udea ferrugalis (new for year)
1 Blastobasis adustella


1 Green carpet
8 Brimstone
2 Scorched carpet
1 Dusky thorn
1 Snout
4 Straw dot
1 Light emerald
9 Square spot rustic
3 Lesser BB yellow underwing
1 Common carpet
1 Marbled beauty (new for year)
1 Maple pug
3 Flame shoulder
1 Common wainscot
1 Yellowshell
2 Small square spot
2 Six striped rustic
1 Common rustic
1 Copper underwing
1 Treble bar (new for year)
1 Vestal (new for parish records)

All these additions take the total to in excess of 5700 moths identified this year of 428 species for 2016, made up of 205 micro species and 223 macro species.
The new additions to the parish list mean I have now recorded 635 species in total in Little Hadham, made up of 326 macro species and 309 micro species. With a bit of luck and hard graft, could get to 650 species for the village by the end of this year.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Hadham Hall lagoon

Quick visit this afternoon to check around the lagoon. Much as before with common blue damsels in big numbers, 2 emperor dragonflies as well as 1 migrant hawker, black tailed skimmer and brown hawker.
Bird wise, no sign of the common sandpiper noted on the 18th, but a cormorant and 2 little grebes were on the water. In the willows, small flocks of linnet whilst swallows and house martins scooped water in flight.
Moorhens and coots were on the small "dragonfly pond" and flying around, small whites, common blues, gatekeepers, small tortoiseshell and meadow brown butterflies.
A silver Y moth fled as I walked through the grass. An enjoyable hour with a picnic. I plan to return to the hall tonight with the moth trap. Weather indicates it could be a good night, but would benefit from a bit of cloud cover and a drop in the breeze. Temperatures reached 30C this afternoon, so it would be good if this only dropped by 10 degrees this evening.
2 juvenile coot

black tailed skimmer

same insect

Common blue damselfly


Silver Y moth darting for cover

small white

Male common blue

meadow brown

Distant common sandpiper


overhead cormorant after take off
A damselfly weather vane


Sunday, 21 August 2016

General round up

Highlight was a single common sandpiper at Hadham Hall lagoon on 18.08.16. Obsevred for an hour before flying high and heading south, calling continually. Other birds present at this site were coots, moorhen, linnets and corvids.
Overhead, the gull movement in the evening, normally an hour before dusk, continues to increase in number, with 125 lesser black backed, herring and black headed birds flying south down the Ash Valley. Suspect heading for overnight roost at Amwell Reserve. Also overhead, a kestrel on the 13th, hobby on the 16th and red kite and common buzzards daily.
Green and bull finches call in the garden and on 14th August a willow warbler was calling from a garden tree at 6.30 as I checked the moth trap. Autumn definitely here.

Several additions to both the year and parish list since last update:garden trap if not stated.
New for parish records were coxcomb prominent (15th) Gelechia seticetella (15th) Cochylimorpha straminea (11th) and Cochylis hybridella (18th)
New for the year records: Cloaked minor (11th) Svennson's copper underwing (Millennium Wood 11th) Apotomis betuletana (MW 11th) Plutella porrectella and Parornix anglicella (12th) Eudemis profundana (Chapel Lane 13th) Toadflax pug (13th) Juniper pug (13th) Nutmeg (15th) Currant pug (15th) Rosy rustic (Alder Wood 16th)Copper underwing (Brick Kiln Hill 18th) Vapourer (Brick Kiln Hill 18th)

These additions take me to 5469 moths, made up of 199 micros and 218 macros, total of 417 species. If dry tonight, Heath trap on the footpaths on the local golf course and then Tuesday night I plan to return to the ponds around Hadham Hall for netting and running the Heath. Could be good for wainscot sp and pond based micros.

Coxcomb prominent

The Vapourer

Plutella porrectella

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Butterfly check

As the weather was warm and sunny I thought a check on the butterflies around Stocking Wood was in order. On this day last year I discovered the latest butterfly for parish records, a silver washed fritillary and wondered if they would be present again.
Upon arrival the sun was behind cloud and no butterflies were on the wing. Within 15 minutes, the sun appeared along with large whites, a comma and a peacock. Shortly after, a white letter hair streak alighted on nearby vegetation and a presumed purple hairstreak flew past.
I wandered further up the overgrown ride, noting green veined white and a common darter dragonfly. A migrant hawker dragonfly flew up and caught a purple hairstreak, the wings of the butterfly quickly detached.
Upon greater knapweed, the first of three silver washed fritillary before more hairstreaks appeared and some posed for photos, the purple hairstreak being the least enthusiastic to have its photo taken.
Overhead, 2 juvenile hobbies called. before darting into the middle of the wood and calling vociferously. Clearly, successful nesting for the 3rd consecutive year in this wood.
All in all, a most worthwhile couple of hours.
Copulating small whites

White letter hairstreak

speckled wood

white letter hairstreak (2nd individual note clip on forewing of 1st insect)

green veined white

Silver washed fritillary

silver washed fritillary

Plenty of knapweed for nectaring

Distant purple hairstreak

white letter hairstreak

Common darter

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Mothing Landmarks

Small phoenix: 200th macro of the year.
Over the last few days been able to get out and trap away from home as well as leave the garden Skinner running as usual.
the 1st Aug was a colder than usual night and just  17 species to the trap and just the regular visitors: footman, waves, rustics and expected August micros.
On the 2nd I set the Heath Trap in Millennium Wood with a view to spend a few hours netting. I did, in the rain, so consequently, not too much taken, with, in total 43 moths with Aclersi emargana and Grapholita funebrana being new for year micros and the Small phoenix, shown above, the only macro. However, this was the 200th macro of the year. A moth that is found in most years, but in low numbers.
At home, a suspected well marked Brindled green and Orange swift took the total of macros for the year to 202 whilst Yponomeuta padella and a new for parish record, Acentria ephemerella became the 186th and 187th micros of the year, respectively. However, a message from Graeme corrected my error in identification as he pointed out the Brindled green was infact a tree lichen beauty. This is a new moth for parish records, one I had expected as the chapel roof, some yards from the trap is covered in lichens. Yp padella was the 300th garden moth species of the year.
Tree lichen beauty. New for parish records.
Acentria ephemerella

Acleris emargana

Last night, I ran the Heath trap along Valley Fields, returning to empty about 11.15. Several hornets had got into the trap, so were potted and put to one side to begin with! Plenty of moths, but many the same species: 9 Endotricha flammealis, 5 Blastobasis adustella, 6 Flame shoulder and 4 each of common rustic and Eudonia mercurella. Nothing new for the records in a haul of over 50. The garden trap gave up an Yponomeuta malinellus as new for year in a total of 68 of 42 species.

These additions mean records are presently at:
2016: 202 macros, 187 micros of 4465 moths
Total for parish records: 322 macros, 303 micros: 625 species
Below, 2 species, whilst not new for any records, were only the 2nd of each taken this year
Swallow prominent

Nomophila noctuella
Next targets: 5000 moths, 400 species for the year, 650 species in total. Some easy, i.e. the former will happen next week, the 2nd target sometime in August and the latter will need some considerable luck on the micros to achieve this year.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

JulyMoth Review

July is invariably the busiest moth month and so it proved again this year. In total, 2,652 moths were trapped, with the total on 1st August being 4210, made up of 199 macro species and 183 micro species.
In amongst this pile of moths were many new for parish record moths:

Latronympha strigana, Epinotia rubiginsana, Anania perlucidalis, Aglossa pinguinalis, Coleophora flavipennella, Syncopcama larseniella, Hedya salicella, Eudonia pallida, Epinotia signatana, Anacampsis populella, Mompha ochraceella, Coleophora paripennella, Oidaematrophorous lithidactyla, Endothenia genitianaena, Lobesia abscisana, Helcystogramma rufiscens, Catalysta lemnata, Stigmella trimaculella, Tinea trinotella

Small dotted buff, Mullein wave, Leopard moth, Brown veined wainscot, Olive,

Added to these there were 144 new for year records, so a most successful month. I trapped in the garden with the 125W Skinner every night apart from the 1st and 2nd as we were away and also ran the portable  15W battery Heath trap at:

Suffyldes Wood (03.07.16, 25.07.16,)
Valley Fields (07.07.16)
Ash Valley Golf Course public footpaths (10.07.16)
Little Hadham Place (13.07.16,)
Westland Green (14.07.16)
Hoecroft Lane (17.07.16,)
Alder Wood (19.07.16,)
Chapel Lane (21.07.16,)
Hadham Hall (27.07.16,)
Brick Kiln Hill (29.07.16)
Pigs Green (30.07.16)
Also spent time out with head torch and net at various sites. Now looking forward to a busy August with the first flush of the autumnal moths to add a little variety to the daily counting of common footman and riband wave. Now Common rustic and straw underwing will be the most regular visitors to the trap, but still plenty of time to find new for the parish records.

Brown veined wainscot

Camararia ohridella

Catalysta lemnata

Tinea trinotella

Leopard moth

This is me

This is me
At the end of another Norfolk Coastal footpath walk. 47 miles, 3 days 99 species of bird

Caley Wood view

Caley Wood view
sunshine through the canopy 29.05.08

A walk along the Warta Valley, Poznan, Poland. Feb 2007

A walk along the Warta Valley, Poznan, Poland. Feb 2007
Best birds on this walk: black and middle spotted woodpecker and short toed treecreeper

About Me

My photo
A primary school teacher for 30 years, I retired from teaching in July 2009 to set up my own science enhancement and communication company. The Primary Works offers science clubs, workshops and staged science shows nationwide. I have always been interested in bird watching since my early years. Apparently my first tick was after inquiring about a chaffinch and then receiving the Observer book of birds. By the age of 9 I had moved on to Tory Peterson's collins guide and was now involved on YOC birding holidays to Northumbria, Essex coast, Slimbridge and Yorkshire. My twitching rule is that I will willingly travel 1km for each gram the bird weighs. However, I have had many rarities just by being in the right place. I have travelled widely throughout Europe and also visited Australia and Sri Lanka. Further European destinations are planned and a bigger trip to The Crimea was planned for 2014 but now not possible. so 2014: Sri Lanka in January, Poland in April, Madeira in June and The Camargue in July. So far 2015 has been Sri Lanka in Jan, Poland in Feb, Sri Lanka in April and The Camargue coming up in 1st week of September.

Grey heron

Grey heron
Over the allotment 28.09.08

Southern Hawker

Southern Hawker
Ridge footpath 27.08.08

Juvenile green woodpecker (17.08.08)

Juvenile green woodpecker (17.08.08)
Note the stripes, denoting a bird fledged this year.

common blue

common blue
Ash Valley G.C. 15.08.08

Indian balsam (impatiens glandulifera)

Indian balsam (impatiens glandulifera)
River Ash

azure damselfly

azure damselfly
River Ash 28.07.08

marbled white

marbled white
Discovered at Westland Green 22.07.08

ruddy darter

ruddy darter
Bush Wood 21.07.08

honeysuckle 19.07.08

honeysuckle 19.07.08
growing in hedgerow in Chapel Lane

cinnabar moth caterpillar

cinnabar moth caterpillar
Photographed on ragwort 19.07.08


Study of petals 11.06.08

male yellowhammer

male yellowhammer

common blue butterfly

common blue butterfly

River Ash

River Ash
looking south from the bridge at Hadham Ford

Common poppy (papaver rhoeas)

Common poppy (papaver rhoeas)
in rape field 29.05.08

Caley Wood sunshine

Caley Wood sunshine

Millenium Wood fox

Millenium Wood fox

common comfrey (symphytum officinale)

common comfrey (symphytum officinale)
06.05.08 banks of the River Ash

Garlic Mustard or Jack by the Hedge,(Alliara petiolata)

Garlic Mustard or Jack by the Hedge,(Alliara petiolata)
flowers, leaves and fruit edible . Good in salad and pesto

April showers

April showers
Double rainbow 30.04.08

Caley Wood bluebells

Caley Wood bluebells

Yellow Archangel

Yellow Archangel
Chapel Lane (20.04.08)

sunlight 16.04.08

sunlight 16.04.08
looking south west from Bush Wood

snowy buds

snowy buds
06.04.08 in Bush Wood

Looking north west

Looking north west
05.04.08 evening shower approaching

Back Garden

Back Garden
Easter Sunday (23.03.08)

Brick Kiln Hill

Brick Kiln Hill
Looking east (23.03.08)

No play today

No play today
The 2nd hole at Ash Valley golf course

Teasel head

Teasel head
Bush Wood (21.03.08)


daffodils at Bush Wood pond (21.03.08)

Swollen River Ash

Swollen River Ash
The river at the bottom of Winding Hill 16.03.08

Daybreak over the chapel

Daybreak over the chapel
Thursday 13th March

Wild daffodils (narcissus pseudonarcissus)

Wild daffodils (narcissus pseudonarcissus)
growing in Bush Wood

January snowdrops

January snowdrops
Banks of River Ash, north of Much Hadham

Good Moon

Good Moon
From garden 24.01.08

Village Green

Village Green
Looking east towards Acremore Street

Looking south before Hadham Ford

Looking south before Hadham Ford
rare January blue sky

Useful sites

The following are some useful websites that may interest readers of this blog.
Firstly, Bishop's Stortford Natural History Society

Fellow birder, Gary Whelan's blog. Gives reports from our trips out together plus reports from his trips abroad. The official herts bird club website. Frequently updated, listing bird sightings around the county. Offers links to many other websites. Both of these sites also offer links to yahoo discussion groups. An international site. You can enter as a guest but become a member( free) to post comments, bird sightings and just about anything to do with wild birds. Good news updates, classified section for binoculars, cameras etc. A new site set up where you can contact people worldwide who will help you find good birds in their country. UK section being set up presently.
Fellow birders blog. Strtford resident, Graeme Smith regulary birds the area south of Stortford as well as around Spellbrook and the River Stort from Spellbrook to Twyford Locks. Some superb bird photography: Graeme uses a digital camera attached to his powerful telescope to get detailled images of the birds he sees. Well worth a browse.
Two local sites that may be of interest can be found at

South Easterly walk

South Easterly walk
black, normal, red extended walk

South Westerly route.

South Westerly route.
Black usual, red extended

North Easterly walk

North Easterly walk
black short, walk. Red, extended

North West Patch

North West Patch
black route regular. Red route the extended wander