As things moved into April it remained cold and wet. I was now quite concerned for moth and butterfly numbers as they had been dwindling for the previous 2 years and another late frost, plenty of cold and rain, would have proved very difficult for them to build up numbers. However, by mid July my concerns were no longer relevant as we had a good summer. However, numbers of spring moths remained low and it will be interesting to see how numbers manage this coming spring.
My first good moth of the month was taken on the 9th, this splendid oak beauty. By far and away the most striking of spring moths.
In the garden moth trap quaker numbers were increasing, with both common and small being taken. Here, a selection with the small quaker disappearing out of shot, stage left. The other 4 being common quakers.
The first few days found me in The Algarve, firstly in Tavira and then on Lagos, with a day visit up to the Baixo Alentejo region. Here, the birding was magnificent, with much seen, including roller, black vulture, griffon vulture, lesser kestrel, black bellied sandgrouse, little and greater bustard and iberian grey shrike. Other noteworthy birds were montagu's harrier, golden oriole, black winged kite and greater spotted cuckoo.
|The end of a trusted old hat, blown into the Atlantic!|
|Iberian Grey Shrike|
Back in Little Hadham, May continued to be unseasonably wet, which meant alarm bells were ringing re moth and butterfly numbers. On too many occasions, the garden trap was a wash out and numbers were dreadfully low.
However, as spring was in full flow, I decided on a plant survey wander. I find it difficult to bird and plant watch at the same time and so, on the 10th, I left my binoculars at home so as to concentrate on plants. As it was, I found nothing new but good numbers of the regular May plants, such as greater stitchwort, red campion, bluebell and cowslips. Also, ground ivy and white deadnettle were in flower. Greater stitchwort and cowslip shown here.
A drier morning on the 21st brought a few new for year moths to the trap, including this brimstone and poplar hawkmoth, but numbers still disappointing. Also in the trap, as they always are in mid May onwards, a superb cock chafer, shown here. Whilst looking fairly fearsome, they just make a lot of noise as they career around in what appears to be a display of very unorganised flight. I found one outside the local pub one evening around this time of year and took it in to show customers. The barmaid was considerably less than impressed as it escaped and battered around the pub for most of the evening, until re caught and thrown out.
At last, June brought some most welcome warm days, t shirts and shorts weather and with it, a huge increase in insect flights.
On the 2nd I led a walk to Standon with several villagers. Of particular note was this yellow wagtail, found near Wellpond Green and this muntjac, on the green and Westland Green.