Thursday, 11 October 2018

Third quarter moth review VC20 East Herts.

With the remarkably high temperatures and no rain until the 27th July, this month has been my best on record for numbers of moths.
On 30th June I had recorded 3309 and by 31st July this total had increased to 8114. Therefore: 4805 moths had been logged in 31 days, an average of 155 insects a night.
In terms of species, 30th June saw me having recorded 171 macros and by the end of July this had risen to 234, 63 new macros whilst micros had risen from 111 to 180, an increase of 69! Remarkable figures for 31 days of running the garden 125W Skinner trap each night. I also ran the portable 15W actinic trap at 9 sites around the parish on 9 nights.

Week 1: Sunday 1st - Saturday 7th July
Cydalima perspectalis was taken on the 1st, a now annual visitor to the trap, having taken the 2nd for Herts in 2012. A Maple pug in the garden was a good moth for that site whilst a Ostrina nubalis was only my 3rd record, taken in the garden on the 3rd. The 4000th moth for the year, a Dwarf Cream Wave was taken this night, too.
A Dingy shears was a new for the parish records, also garden on the 3rd before a much awaited Small elephant hawkmoth made its first parish appearance on the 6th, again to the garden. On the 7th I took another new for parish record of a Marasmarcha lunaedactyla, my 327th micro for Little Hadham.
Small elephant hawkmoth

Beautiful Golden Y

Scalloped oak
Week 2: Sunday 8th - Saturday 14th July
The records kept coming, with a new for parish Kent black arches from Westland Green on the 8th, along with 11 moths new for the year. At home that evening a Sycamore was a first for the parish.
The following night a Barred red got on to the parish list and this was followed on the 12th by another new record: Buccaltrix bechensteinella. This had been attracted to the portable trap set on a footpath that crosses the local golf course and placed under grey willow.
An Uncertain on the 10th was the 5000th moth of the year and a Dark umber from the garden on the 12th was the 350th moth species for me in 2018. On the 13th I was checking field guides to identify another new moth for Little Hadham, a Metalampra italica. A quick check of county records showed this to be a rapid coloniser of Herts, so not as rare as I had anticipated.
Kent black arches

Lesser spotted pinion

Ypsolopha sequella

Week 3: Sunday 15th - Saturday 21st July
This week began with a new record in the garden trap: Cream bordered green pea and a rarely seen this year, Nomophila noctuella . The 6000th moth was taken on the 16th, a Riband Wave. On the 20th the garden trap gave up an all time record of 214 moths of 94 species, including just 2 new year records: Ypsolopha scabrella and lime specked pug. The 21st saw just one new year record, an Agapeta zoegana.
Ypsolopha scabrella

Agapeta zoegana

Nomophila noctuella
Week 4: Sunday 22nd - Tuesday 31st July
Ypsolopha vittella from a local unmanaged woodland (Suffyldes Wood) on the 22nd was another new parish record in a good haul to the heath trap, whilst at home the same night I took a Pyralis farnalis, another new record. The 400th moth species of the year, a Aspilapteryx tringipennella was taken on the 23rd as was the 7000th moth for the year, a Dunbar. A twin spotted wainscot was a good surprise new moth on the 25th at home and the following night I ran the trap in an oak and hornbeam wood where Lathronympha strigana was new for the records. Upon arriving home in the early hours I checked around the garden trap and noted another new one, Gypsy moth. The final new for parish record was last night and probably the best moth of the year, a Gold spot. Not too many records of this well marked insect for Hertfordshire, so a great end to a busy month!
The Gold spot constitutes the 736th moth species for the whole of the parish, a not inconsiderable total, but one that will soon be past 750 I suspect, especially if the warm and dry conditions continue into August and beyond. The 8000th moth, an Eudonia mercurella came on the 30th
Ypsolopha vittella

Gold spot

Jersey Tiger, one of 2 taken on the 26th

After the very hectic July, things calmed down a little during August, but still plenty of new records for the year and several new for Little Hadham Parish.
All didn't start well as I left the portable 15W heat trap in a local wood on the first and returned having given a presentation on The Birds of The Camargue to find the trap switched off and overturned, probably a nosy fox or badger. I set it up again, checked the battery life and returned at 5am to find not a lot had flown in during the night. At home, a straw underwing was NFY. An inauspicious start to the month.
The following afternoon was warm and sunny and I had come across a patch of raspberry canes on a now disused allotment. I set the pheremone trap for Raspberry clearwing and left it there for 24 hours. Upon returning, 8 had flown inside the trap. A new record for the parish, my 737th moth species. Several local lepidopterists requested one for their collection.
One of the 8 Raspberry clearwings
Another Jersey tiger on the 3rd along with a Canary shouldered thorn and Rosy Minor were both NFY as was a Plutella porrectella, Tawny speckled pug, Cabbage moth, Currant pug and Nephopterix angustella, all from the garden 125W MV Skinner trap.
The 4th brought more records: Webb's wainscot, Mouse moth, Stenoptilia pterodactyla and Hypatima rhomboidella, the latter being new for the parish. All remained the same until the first of many Chrysoteuchia culmella appeared in the garden trap on the 9th. The following night was the coldest since May, just 10 moths, but this did include  the first of Agriphila geniculea. Another expected August species arrived on the 13th, a Square spot rustic, followed the following night by the first 6 striped rustic. All as anticipated and nothing too exciting. Centre barred sallow (15th), Flounced rustic (16th) Parapoynx stratiotata (18th) and Cochylis dubitana, also the 18th. The latter being another new species for parish records.
Plutella porrectella

Parapoynx stratiotata

Canary shouldered thorn

Centre barred sallow
Moths were beginning to hint at autumn, with regular catches of yellow underwing sp, Setaceous hebrew characters and Square spot rustics in good numbers.
The Heath trap, set on a village green attracted an Acleris emargana on the 19th along with 2 Square spotted clay, which I don't see too many of. This constituted the 250th macro of the year and was followed by finding a Tawny barred angle at home the same night. Again, not a common moth for these parts, this record being my only one for the year.
Piniphila bifasciana was a new micro for the parish on the 20th whilst the first Lesser yellow underwing arrived on the 22nd, along with another new for the year, a pink barred sallow.
A new for parish Peacock moth was taken on the 23rd
The P. bifasciana became the 740th species for the parish.
An Old Lady and Small dusty wave were NFY, both on the 27th whilst a Pyrausta purpuralis on the 29th became my 10,000 moth recorded for 2018. No other new records for the month left me with totals of 256 macros for the year and 191 micros, with the total moths 10,092.
Acleris emargana

Old Lady

Pink barred sallow

Piniphila bifasciana

Small dusty wave

Tawny barred angle
These numbers are the most I have had up to the end of August and I shall certainly beat last years record of 10,978 moths made up of 282 macro species and 214 micros, totalling 496 species for 2017. This year it looks likely that I shall surpass 500 species in a calendar year for the first time, especially if I find time for some leaf mining visits to the local sites. By the end of August 2018 I had trapped in the garden 199 times and been out to one of 10 chosen sites 97 times. By the end of August I had recorded 34 new species for the parish, a total that should, come December, be close to last year's total of 43 new parish records. Still await a few that I suspect are around along with Death's Head hawkmoth, Clifden Nonpariel, and Crimson Speckled  (I can but wish!!)

September continued warm and dry with many opportunities to get the portable 15W Heath trap out to the chosen sites for the year.  A feathered gothic on the 2nd to this trap was a NFY  as was a Brindled green the following night in Millennium Wood. The same night the first Barred sallow of the year appeared in the garden, one of what was to be a fair few this year. In contrast, I took my, so far, only Rosy rustic of the year on the 5th, along with a new moth for parish records, a Dioryctria abietella.
The following night, the trap on the local golf course gave up Bryotropha affinis and this was followed the next night by a Cacoecimorpha pronubana and leaf mine evidence of Stigmella anomalella in the garden. the C. pronubana was my 200th micro of the year.
A session of leaf mining in Millennium Wood on the 6th gave up 7 new micros for the year, including Phyllonorycter umifoliella as a new for parish records. The first Frosted orange of the year also came to the garden 125W Skinner that night.

On the 9th a brown spot pinion was taken in the garden and this was followed over the next two days by: Brick (Westland Green,)  Lyonetia clerkella ((garden,) Lunar underwing (garden,) Sallow (garden) and my only Treble bar for the year, also  garden.
A leaf mining visit to Westland Green gave up 10 new micros for the year and two: Ectoedemia heringi and Stigmella continuella were new for parish records.

An Enormia formosana was NFY on the 17th  and on the same day a Brindled green constituted my 11,000 moth record for the year.  A Deep brown dart on the 18th, and a Black rustic on the 19th were additions to the year list before another leaf mining outing on the 21st to Pig's Green/Caley Wood. This visit added 5 new for year records including Ectoedemia quinquella and Caloptilia alchemiella were new parish moths. The numbers were mounting as the temperature dropped. The 23rd was a particularly chilly, clear night but gave up a Beaded chestnut and the following day, yet another leaf mining expedition, this time to Millennium Wood where 8 NFY species were recorded, of which Stigmella tiliae on lime, Stigmella ruficapitella and Antispila petryi on dogwood were new for the parish. This took my total for parish moths to an impressive 750 species.
The first overnight frost on the 24th didn't stop an Orange sallow becoming my 270th macro for the year. Two nights later an Eudonia angustea was NFY. 
The month concluded with a final visit for leaf miners, this time to Alder Wood where 3 micros were added to the year list.
Therefore, by 30th September I had recorded 270 macros and 232 micros in a total for 2018, made up from 11,417 moths.
In early October I received an email with photos attached of a convolvulous hawkmoth taken in the parish on the 26th September, a great record and the first of this species since Geoff Senior recorded one in the late 1990's 

  • Brick
  • Brindled green
  • Barred sallow
  • Sallow
  • Black rustic

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Norfolk day Guiding a Canadian Couple

Species list.

  1. Little grebe
  2. Cormorant 
  3. Little egret
  4. Grey heron
  5. Spoonbill
  6. Mute swan
  7. Greylag goose
  8. Canada Goose (over here, eating our food at tax payers expense!)
  9. Shelduck
  10. Egyptian goose
  11. Mallard
  12. Gadwall
  13. Wigeon
  14. Teal
  15. Tufted duck
  16. Marsh harrier
  17. Common buzzard (briefly from car)
  18. Kestrel
  19. Red legged partridge
  20. Pheasant
  21. Moorhen
  22. Coot
  23. Oystercatcher
  24. Avocet
  25. Ringed plover
  26. Grey plover
  27. Lapwing
  28. Knot
  29. Sanderling
  30. Turnstone
  31. Dunlin
  32. Curlew sandpiper
  33. Green sandpiper
  34. Redshank
  35. Spotted redshank
  36. Black tailed godwit
  37. Curlew
  38. Snipe
  39. Ruff
  40. Black headed gull
  41. Herring gull
  42. Lesser Black backed gull
  43. Great black backed gull
  44. Sandwich tern
  45. Stock dove
  46. Wood pigeon
  47. Collared dove
  48. Sand martin
  49. Swallow
  50. House martin
  51. Meadow pipit
  52. Pied wagtail
  53. Wren
  54. Robin
  55. Wheatear
  56. Blackbird
  57. Chiffchaff
  58. Great tit
  59. Blue tit
  60. Coal tit 
  61. Long tailed tit (heard)
  62. Jackdaw
  63. Rook
  64. Carrion crow
  65. Starling
  66. Chaffinch
  67. Linnet
  68. Goldfinch
  69. Greenfinch
  70. Bullfinch (heard)
  71. Reed bunting.
Photos here are of just the species recorded on the day unless site is stated, in which case, they were taken whilst guiding Bruce and Babs. A report to follow.
Sites visited;
Kelling Heath
Kelling Water Meadows
Salthouse beach
Snipe's Marsh
Cley Visitors Centre
Blakeney harbour
Stiffkey Fen
Holkham Hall for Fallow deer
Titchwell Reserve



Black tailed godwit


Black headed gull



Red legged partridge




Little egret

Egyptian geese at Kelling Water Meadow

Wheatear, Salthouse beach near Gramborough Hill

Grey heron, Snipe's Marsh, Cley

Little egret, Snipe's Marsh, Cley

Red admiral, footpath to Stiffkey Fen

Common darter, footpath to Stiffkey Fen

Juvenile moorhen, Island Hide, Titchwell

Teal, Island Hide, Titchwell

Ruff, Parrinder Hide, Titchwell

Wind swept ruff, Parrinder Hide, Titchwell

Linnets, Parrinder Hide Titchwell

Redshank, Volunteer Marsh, Titchwell

Little egret, Volunteer Marsh, Titchwell

Titchwell Beach: 6.40pm

Little Grebe


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. In 2016 I spent time at Portland Bird Obs and two trips to Aviero, Portugal. 2017 found me back in Sri Lanka in Feb/March, then July and back for New Year's Eve celebrations in December. Also returned to The Camargue in May for a 4 day trip. Few plans for 2018, but nothing yet booked apart from a trip to the IOW.

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