Friday, 30 September 2016

2 firsts for the year in 10 minutes

Sometimes in nature watching you see nothing new for a while and then, for no good reason, several happen together. Yesterday afternoon was such an occasion with a visit to collect barn owl pellets near Hadham Hall. As I approached the lagoon a small copper flew by before settling for a few photos. Only 4th time I have seen one in the parish and this was a new site. A few feet further on I viewed the water of the lagoon and on the far side of the water were a pair of eclipse wigeon. This represented only the 2nd sighting of this over wintering duck. A good record indeed.
Little else was noted so I headed back, checking a few trees for leaf mines. A mine of Stigmella aceris was found on field maple at the site I was planning on setting the moth trap later in the evening.
When I returnedat 7.00, I set up and then checked the long ivy clad wall of Hadham Hall. By 9pm I had a very short list, so headed off to check Millennium Wood, where I recorded a single herald and then on to Westland Green. By now the temperature had dropped enough to see your own breath. An Acleris rhombana was the only moth netted, so back to Hadham Hall for a final check and to empty the trap.
Species list:
Hadham Hall:
Barred sallow (new for site)
Setaceous hebrew character
Angle shades
Common marbled carpet (new for site)
Lunar underwing (new for site)
Eudonia angustea (new for site)
Large yellow underwing

Home Trap;
Large yellow underwing
Setaceous hebrew character
Epiphyas postvittana
Lunar underwing
Snout
Lesser yellow underwing
Acleris variegana
Garden carpet

Plus Herald at Millennium Wood and Acleris rhombana at Westland Green
Small copper near Hadham Hall

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Autumnal moths and a few surprises

Mainly straight forward, regular fare at the moth trap of late: square spot rustics, setaceous hebrew character, Acleris variegana and large and lesser yellow underwings along with good numbers of lunar underwings.
In smaller numbers are brown spot pinion and beaded chestnut, but in amongst all these have been some better autumn flying moths.
Beaded chestnut was, in fact the 238th macro moth of the year, taken on 24th along with a much less common visitor, a grey pine carpet. The morning of the 26th, my 3rd of the year black rustic along with new for year deep brown dart, red line quakerand my forst autumn Acleris sparsana. The latter is a moth seen regukarly early in the year.
This morning, nothing new but 2 barred sallow were pleasing with a supporting cast of regukars as mentioned above as well as a brindled green, Epiphyas postvittana, and a real surprise, a Carcina quercana.
However, the most surprising was a moth not previously taken in Herts in autumn, although records do exist, a common quaker. This was a freshly emerged specimen. Its shape attracted it to me immediately, not a shape I was expecting to see in September! A very common May flying moth with about 100 records from this year alone.
A late, but not wholly unexpected, Carcina quercana

Acleris sparsana

Red line quaker

deep brown dart

Barred sallow

Common quaker

Presumed grey pine carpet, found roosting on the patio umbrella.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Quick check for migrants

In previous years, the lagoon at Hadham Hall has been an attraction for migratory birds, using the willows for cover and the water for drinking and refuelling on insects. A wander out there this afternoon gave just 2 chiffchaffs, several moorhen, a flock of 14 linnet, corvids, wood pigeons, 2 distant buzzards and 3 grey wagtail. Latter feeding at the water's edge.
Weather was not migrant type, too warm and still. For best results, need a strong easterly with occasional rain. Sunday looks better.
Butterfly wise, plenty of small whites along with this splendid red admiral. A solitary brown hawker was also noted near the small pond.
grey wagtail

one of three present this afternoon


red admiral

Monday, 19 September 2016

Falco subbuteo

The game subbuteo got its name from the Falco subbuteo, the hobby as that is what the manufacturers of the table football game wanted it to become. Here endeth the 1st lesson!
A walk back from town today, my first for quite a while had me watching good numbers of chiffchaff but little else along the borders of East Wood. However, in the distance, I could hear juvenile hobbies calling. Last year they were to be found on the pylons between East Wood and Stocking Wood, the same again this year. They are so high up that photos were extreme, as can be seen here.
1st view on fully extended 400mm lens

Closely cropped: who's watching me?


Not only was the distance poor, the light wasn't good either!

Overhead

Two juveniles together

Juvenile, showing pale yellow, not red around the legs
As well as these magnificent birds, little else of note. I continued to walk through Bury Green. Millennium Wood, the polo fields and down the footpath adjacent to Muggins Wood back to home. Green and great spotted woodpecker, nuthatch, more chiffchaffs, goldfinches, yellowhammers along with long tailed, blue and great tits were noted. On the polo field 200+ rooks and plenty of wood pigeons whilst overhead, a smattering of migratory house martins, but little else.
Ruddy and common daters by the River Ash and a migrant hawker near Muggins. Only butterflies were large whites along hedgerows and speckled woods in Millennium Wood.
Lovely walk and great to be out in the parish again.
Distant East Wood chiffchaff

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Millennium Wood Moth Night: Thursday

We had a super turn out of locals for the moth night organised in Millennium Wood. Graeme and I set up plenty of traps throughout the 3.75 acre wood and, whilst Graeme and visitors Paul and Andrew monitored these and checked the brambles for feeding moths, I took the rest of the party on a wander around, netting anything that came to our lights. Only snouts and square spot rustics were netted but the children were excited to see them.
Most of the families had left by 8.30 and with little flying we spent time chatting and potting insects on the sheets next to the traps. Two members of Bishop's Stortford Camera Club spent time photographing potted moths.
We eventually began checking and emptying the traps around 11pm and had completed this and packed up just after midnight. In all 140 moths, with 3 to dissect to ascertain species.
List as follows

  • Emmetia marginea (New for parish records)
  • 2 Anthophila fabricana
  • Plutella xylostella
  • Yposolopha horridella (new for 2016)
  • Carcina quercana
  • Agonopterix arenella
  • 2 Clepsis consimilana
  • Acleris variegana
  • 5 Acleris emargana
  • 8 Epinotia nisella
  • Eudonia pallida
  • Emmelina monodactyla
  • Scrobipalpa costella
  • Celypha lacunana
  • 5 Common marbled carpet
  • 2 Green carpet
  • 4 Brimstone
  • Dusky thorn
  • Willow beauty
  • 6 Large yellow underwing
  • 10 Setaceous hebrew character
  • 25 Square spot rustic
  • 8 Brindled green
  • Centre barred sallow
  • Barred sallow (new for 2016)
  • Pink barred sallow
  • Sallow (new for 2016)
  • 5 Angle shades
  • 35 Snout
  • red green carpet
  • 2 Light emerald
These additions take to total for 2016 on the 15.09.16 to 236 macro species and 217 micro species. With a little hard work and some leaf mining expeditions, should get 500 species for the year.
Locals out for a moth night. Great to have so many along.

Sallow: great camoflauge
The second form of sallow

Barred sallow

 Both sallows

Lunar underwing, taken at the home trap on 15.09.16

Eared leafhopper: (Ledra aurita)

Acleris variegana

Centre barred sallow

Acleris emargana

Brindled green
Ypsolopha horridella (not a common moth for Herts)

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

And the moths keep coming

The warmest September since 1929 and the hottest 3 days on record for September have brought a steady stream of regular moths to the trap. Monday night was cold and cloudless, so numbers dropped but Tuesday night saw an increase to over 50 trapped in the garden Skinner trap. Last night of note were new for year specimens of Agonopterix alstromeriana, Eudonia angustea and pale pinion. This followed on from the previous night when a Black rustic was taken, a first in the garden since 2014.
Total moths now identified this year stands at over 8400 and with several nights out with a variety of traps there is still a chance of reaching the original target of 10,000 moths in a year.
Small blood vein

Black rustic

9th vestal this year.

Same insect

Pale pinion

Brown spot pinion

Eudonia angustea

Agonopterix arenella

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Rare bug



Sent from my iPhoneUpon emptying the moth trap this morning I encountered a colourful bug that looked like one of the mirid bugs.
A photo was sent to County Recorder and bug expert, Joe Gray, who confirmed my suspicions. It is indeed a Pantilius tunicatus, a seldom found bug as this map shows. The squares are tetrads where it has been recorded, a good find indeed.

Weekend round up

The moths are still arriving in unprecedented numbers, with an all time high of 72 Setaceous hebrew characters taken on 9th Sept. This number dropped to 28 the following night.
A night trapping at Westland Green was hard going, running the trap from 7.15 until 11.30pm by which time I had identified 18 species from 85 moths, of which 50 were square spot rustics.
New for the year moths have been Epinotia ramella (5th) Nymphula nitidulata (6th) Brown spot pinion (8th) pale mottled willow and yellow line quaker (9th.) The last 2 showing that autumn really has arrived.
Total wise, the garden species list for 2016 is now up to 355 whilst in total, 8130 moths have been identified this year made up from 232 macro species and 210 micros.
Also of note, a sub species was taken in the garden trap on the 7th, a Silver Y diminutive specimen of the sub species gammina, shown below with a pen nib for comparison.
Nymphula nitidulata

Silver Y ssp gammina

Epinotia ramella


Dichrorampha simpliciana

Oak hooktip

Brindled green

Flame carpet

Acleris rhombana

Acleris emargana

Yellow line quaker

Pale mottled willow


Another Vestal!!


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

Bittersweet

Bittersweet
Study of petals 11.06.08

male yellowhammer

male yellowhammer
08.06.08

common blue butterfly

common blue butterfly
06.06.08

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
29.05.08

Millenium Wood fox

Millenium Wood fox
24.05.08

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
22.04.08

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)

Reflections

Reflections
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 http://bsnhs.webplus.net/

Fellow birder, Gary Whelan's blog. Gives reports from our trips out together plus reports from his trips abroad. http://hairybirders.blogspot.co.uk
http://www.hertsbirdclub.org.uk/ 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.
http://www.birdforum.net/ 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.
http://www.guidedbirdwatching.com/ 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.
http://www.britainsbirder.co.uk/
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
http://www.thehadhams.com/ www.thepelhams.net/content/section/12/139/

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