Saturday, 24 June 2017

300th moth species for the year

The warm weather continues and with it, good moth numbers. After the busy night on Wednesday, I have just run the garden trap the last 2 nights, still scoring with new for year records.
On Thursday night a year record of 136 moths of 65 species were taken in the garden Skinner trap. Numbers were supplied by 15 Riband wave, 11 Crambus perlella and 8 Common footman whilst the new for year Peppered moth and Scalloped oak.
Better still was a very worn moth at the bottom of the trap, a new for parish records Ruddy Carpet. Just enough scales on it to identify as shown here.
Peppered moth

Ruddy carpet, or what is left of it, a new moth for the parish

Scalloped oak
These three species took the year total to 299 and so the first new moth for the year out of the trap was going to be the 300th. This turned out to be a Dot moth, followed by a Phoenix and Lychnis. Also, a new for year micro in the form of an Acleris hastiana. Last year the 300th moth wasn't taken until 14th July, so it is turning out to be a really good year, after a pretty dismal start until mid May when things really took off. Have now recorded 3458 moths.
300th moth for the year: Dot moth



On this day last year I had just recorded the 200th moth for the year with a total of just 1514, so 100 moth species ahead and almost a 1000 more moths this year.
Finally, an identification issue was resolved yesterday when a tricky carpet species was finally nailed as a Twin spot carpet, not a common moth for the county, so most pleasing.
Acleris hastiana

Twin spot carpet

Hoverfly in the garden: Marmalade fly, Episyrphus balteatus

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Moth mayhem with a new County record.

Another moth update is needed following the brilliant weather we have experienced this week, culminating in me heading off to woods last night, with the temperature sitting at 26C at 10pm!
Sunday night I ran the portable 15W Heath trap along an overgrown footpath, near bee hives and damp land at Pig's Green TL420217.
I returned around 11pm to find a trap over running with moths. I listed and potted as much as possible, probably managing to record 80% of what was present. 41 species were noted including several new for year:
Eudonia lacustrata
Lobesia abscisana
Spruce carpet.
Cnephasia asseclana
However, I spent much too much time on one large micro. It showed signs of being Tineidae but couldn't place it  to species. A phone photo through my magnifier was sent to Graeme who requested the voucher. Upon dissection it turned out to be what he suggested Niditinea striotella, a new moth for Hertfordshire, so most gratifying. Thanks to GJS for his help in sorting it out.
Phone photo of Niditinea striotella, new for the county

At home, the garden Skinner gave up a record 118 of 64 species including new for year:
Heart and Club
Small blood vein
Yponomeuta evonymella
Lozotaeniodes formosana
Eucosma obumbratana
Cnephasia genitalana
Cloaked minor.

Having identified, recorded all of these I just ran the garden trap on the Monday night.  adding:
Ancylis achatana
Willow Beauty
all as new for years.
However, 2 micros, one large and easily identifiable (Ostrinia nubilalis) was a new for parish records and so was a Piniphila bifasciana
A good night!
Piniphila bifasciana

Tuesday night and I set the trap, just for an hour or so in an unmanaged, rough, deciduous woodland. I returned at 11 in shorts and flipflops to note a large amount of nettles, so a quick change before emptying the trap. New for the year list were:
Dingy footman
Crassa unitella
Acrobasis consociella

Moths continued at home that night with new for 2017 being:
Acleris forsskaleana
Large twin spot carpet
Hyposopygia glaucinalis
Short cloaked moth

However, 2 macros stood out that I potted, knowing I was not familiar with them but thought I recognised:
Tawny barred angle and Maple prominent, both new for parish records. This was now becoming seriously good!
A flapping Maple prominent just before take off

Tawny barred angle: 2nd  New for parish records of the night.
Wednesday night was forecast to be the hottest and, with things going my way big time, thought it would be a shame to miss out. Consequently, I carted the whole kit: trap, battery, seat, sheet, pots, books and beer a mile into Stocking Wood whilst leaving the Skinner trap on at home. I sat and recovered with a beer following the long wander with the gear and by 10.15 moths were slowly arriving. A few walks with headtorch and net gave up very little, so I settled down near the sheet to list and pot everything that came along.
By 12.30pm I had a box of potted moths for home identification as well as a good list, so packed up, finished the beer and headed home. Upon arriving at home I noted the garden trap was swarming with moths, but nothing too unusual, so I set about identifying everything I had potted. By 3 I was left with 7 unidentified and a list of 170+ of over 60 species. In this impressive collection were:
Small emerald
Lilac beauty
Poplar grey
Blastodacna hellerella
Epinotia tenerana
Hedya salicella
Acleris rhombana
Brachia blandella
Scythropia crataegella New for Parish records
Mompha ochraceela

By the time I came out of the moth shed I was too tired to deal with all the micros flitting around the Skinner, so returned this morning. Obviously by then, many would have disappeared at first light, but still enough to keep my interest with over 40 species recorded, but nothing for the record book.
Drinker moth

Lilac beauty

Lilac beauty

Large twin spot carpet

Presumed engrailed, a light or worn form
All this activity has added over 600 moths to the year list in 4 nights, with records now standing at 3167 moths of 177 macro species and 117 micro species. In total, 2017 has seen the addition of 20 species to my parish list, which now stands at 682. Pretty neat total, I reckon for a small parish in East Hertfordshire. Like to think I can pass 700 species this year.

Hot Day in North Norfolk

Last Monday (19th June) I set off for North Norfolk around 9am after sorting out a busy moth trap. I headed to Cley where, upon arrival, the temperature was already 30C. No wind meant I darted between hides and was happy to stay in these instead of my usual longer walks. Very little at Cley, but bright light leant itself to better photo opportunities.
Vociferous sedge warbler

Adult redshank on the hide roof keeping an eye on its juvenile in the grass

Good detail courtesy of the light

Juvenile redshank

2 distant spoonbills

Chirpy wren

Another singing sedge warbler
From here, following a coffee, I headed to Choseley
Male chaffinch that landed at my feet at Choseley
where I added a few farmland birds to the rather short list, before checking into Titchwell. Another coffee and chat with the staff before I set off for the Island and Parrinder Hides and then, around 5pm on to the beach. A distant spotted redshank and a few med gulls were the highlights, but with plenty of birds to check, I spent quite a will in the cool of the hides. A light breeze on the beach was pleasing as I checked out common, little and sandwich terns and a good sized flock of bar tailed godwits. Back on the reserve my first little gull of the year zipped past before a check around the car park for a turtle dove that didn't appear to want to be seen.
feeding avocet

distant summer plumaged spotted redshank

Another of the many avocets

Mediterranean Gull

left to right: black headed gull, moulting med gull, moulting black headed in background, med gull, med gull, black headed gull

Skulking magpie in Titchwell car park

Holme gates were shut when I arrived, so parked near them and took a short walk along the footpath. Not too much movement but a lesser whitethroat got on to the day list but flatly refused to emerge from the undergrowth, so I had to make do with a few photos of a common whitethroat. A good journey home saw me back at the moth trap and making a list of 77 species for the day. Lovely to be there again.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Mothing update

Since the very busy 300+ moth night last Tuesday I have managed 1 away trip to the graveyard at the bottom of the garden along with trapping every night in the garden. The Heath trap required a few simple running repairs as wires were becoming loose, hence the reason for it being out of action. All now fully repaired.
On the Wednesday Blotched emerald, Pine hawkmoth, Green silver lines and Luquetia lobella were new for the year.
The following night, the temperature was lower than the rest of the week, but still managed to add Smoky wainscot and Small square spot in a haul of 43 of 29 species.
Friday and off the the graveyard. Over the last few years this has been one of the poorest of my trapping sites, but is handy as only a few yards from the house, so good for when I am out for a social evening and having a few drinks that mean I can't drive to collect the trap. On this night nothing new for the list from the 20 moths, but the garden gave up Deep brown dart, Small yellow wave,  Anania coronata and fan foot.
Last night was the best of the week with 78 moths of 43 species, including 11 new for the garden and Eudonia mercurella, July highflyer, Batia lunaris, Eucosma hohenwartiana, Common emerald, Freyer's pug and Crambus perlella all new for the parish year.
All these additions move me on to 2573 moths with 161 macro species and 97 micro species. This is far ahead of this time last year.

Pine hawkmoth

Green silver lines

Batia lunaris

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Beating The Bounds: An 11 mile parish boundary walk

bee orchid

Tortrix viridana, Green oak tortrix alighted on Wendy's hand during our picnic at Westland Green

Cinnabar moth

Red kite at Hadham Hall

Dock bug Coreus marginatus

Pyramidal orchid at Hadham Hall

Azure damselfly
female blackcap

small tortoiseshell

meadow brown

small heath

Earlier this week, Wendy and I set off to walk the entire Little Hadham Parish boundary. In places there is no footpath actually on the the boundary, but we were never too far away. In total, the walk was just over 11 miles and the plan was to record all forms of the local natural history as we went. Consequently, we took the whole day to cover the distance, beginning at Tesco, Bishop's Stortford, just 800 yards from the boundary at 8.20 and returning to the car at 4.00pm. In all, we recorded 44 bird species, 11 butterfly species, several moths, 3 dragon/damselfly species and numerous flowering plants including bee orchid and pyramidal orchid.

4 spotted chaser dragonfly

Calf near Danebridge, Much Hadham

distant common buzzard

All along the route there were pleasing stands of wild flowers, such as these poppies and thistles on a field margin.

Black and yellow longhorn beetle, Rutpela maculata.

Bird species:

  • whitethroat
  • chiffchaff
  • blue tit
  • blackcap
  • green woodpecker
  • magpie
  • chaffinch
  • wood pigeon 
  • wren
  • yellowhammer
  • nuthatch
  • blackbird
  • skylark
  • great tit
  • robin
  • spotted flycatcher
  • song thrush
  • carrion crow
  • swallow
  • dunnock
  • great spotted woodpecker
  • buzzard
  • lesser black backed gull
  • jackdaw
  • rook
  • jay
  • red kite garden warbler
  • house sparrow
  • red legged partridge
  • herring gull
  • kestrel
  • pheasant
  • reed bunting
  • goldfich
  • mallard
  • goldcrest
  • moorhen
  • swift
  • linnet
  • house martin
  • coot 
  • grey wagtail
  • hobby
Butterfly Species:

  • Large white
  • small white
  • comma
  • small tortoiseshell
  • peacock
  • large skipper
  • meadow brown
  • small heath
  • ringlet
  • speckled wood
  • red admiral
Route in thick black line, parish boundary in thin pencil line. Comments refer Countryside Access Officer, Mr. Maddex, to parts of the route that require cutting back, which will be done in the coming weeks. Worst place were over the River Ash at Comment 2 and  Comment 5 where we had to knock back the encroaching nettles.

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