Friday 31 July 2015

Quiet mothing

After the rush of moths within the first 2 weeks of July, it has now gone amazingly quiet. Numbers this week: Monday 89 moths, Tuesday 32, Wednesday, 35, Thursday 22! This is mainly due to colder days along with clearer nights so the temperature continues to drop and the fact there is almost a full moon, so not too dark.
Therefore, mainly typical late July moths, with the bulk of the catch being common rustics and Agriphila straminella.
However, an Agapeta zoegana was new for parish records on Wednesday morning. Today, I spent an hour netting at Westland Green and, again, Ag straminella in big numbers. shaded broad bar, latticed heath and a new for year Agriphila tristella were all I got, along with peacock, small skipper, Essex skipper, small and large white.
A single dotted wave from the trap this morning was moth number 3500 for the year.
Agapeta zoegana

Latticed heath

 Latticed heath, head on

Agriphila tristella

Thursday 30 July 2015

North Norfolk Day: 29.07.15

A whole day in North Norfolk, leaving home at 5a.m. after the moth trap had been checked. A coffee near Ely, as usual meant I was at Titchwell before 7a.m and the only one on the whole reserve. A slight, light drizzle and north westerly breeze meant I wasn't expecting too much, but this reserve offers so much, there is always something to see and hear.
A check around the car park trees gave up little (a male golden oriole was recorded hear in the late afternoon!) so on to the reserve. Waders galore on the freshmarsh, but before arriving to check these, a wood sandpiper called and flew off north towards the coast, over Thornham grazing marsh. I suspect it rose unseen from the mud and pools on Thornham Marsh. First year lister. The light was not good for checking Freshmarsh etc, so off to the beach. Breezy conditions with a good swell meant hard to view through the scope. Huge numbers of oystercatchers on the beach, along with sanderling and turnstone with several curlew and bar tailed godwits.

confiding black headed gull: Titchwell beach

Superbly plumaged black tailed godwit

This redshank was hiding from some ground predator. Very adgitated.

Distant bar tailed godwit in early morning light

Black tailed skimmer: Titchwell footpath

feeding little egret

Back on the reserve regular fare was noted: reed buntings and linnets over Thornham way, looking towards Holme, skylarks, little egrets and curlews in the ditches and a constant flow of black headed gulls. Into the Parrinder hide and plenty of avocets, black tailed godwits with smaller numbers of bar tailed. In amongst a party of 15 feeding ruff were some dunlin and a solitary curlew sandpiper, showing the fading summer plumage and emergence of the tell tale white supercilium of winter plumage. The white rump showed as an unseen raptor or predator put all waders and terns up. A few sandwich terns and moulting common terns before I headed back for the opening of the moth traps. Having been a breezy and cold night, low expectation of the contents was proved correct, but an old lady and purple thorn were good to see. Another coffee and the Titchwell special bakewell tart had me raring to go. As with my previous trip, I then decided to head east to Cley, check out the Cley square and then just pop into other noted sites.
As I drove along the A149, at reference 835435 an owl sp caught my eye shortly after the sharp left hand bend. I turned as soon as I could, parked and checked the field. Nothing of the suspected barn owl, so back to the car and onwards. After 25 yards, the owl was again seen, now on the right hand side. Fortunately, a parking spot and I was out, firing off many photos. A superb sight, which I enjoyed for  half an hour before the presumed 1st year bird disappeared from view. Over 130 photos taken, which was soon reduced to 20 in the car and then even fewer on the laptop!
Barn Owl from A149 north of Burnham Market

Light was tricky as this bird ranged over the field. sadly, a little over exposed.......

..........but it was a very white bird, all the same. Probably 1st year.

Before Cley I popped down to Stiffkey Greens for a quick scan. A distant spoonbill was added to the list, but nothing else of note, so onwards.
At Cley, a  wander along East Bank was worthwhile, with Arnold's Marsh holding over 200 sandwich terns, curlew, cormorant, redshank, avocet but not the 300 whimbrel that some swaro carrying camo clad birder had informed me of as I photographed a rather worn sedge warbler on the east bank by the car park. 300 whimbrel would be incredible, (unheard of, I suspect) but there were several hundred black tailed godwits, so, mis-identification from a new birder, perhaps.
Good pose

Worn sedge warbler with breakfast

shelduck and avocet from Daukes, Cley

Black tailed godwit, further moulted than that shown at the top.

Cley avocet

From here, after the 3rd coffee of the morning and managing to get away from the book shelves without making a purchase, a side trip, firstly to Kelling Heath, but just a few finches etc on show and then to Sheringham cliffs, but nothing of note during a 20 minute sea watch so back along the A149 to Kelling and a wander to one of my favourite quiet spots on the coast: Kelling Water Meadows. This is always a pleasant walk but little of note in the high hedges before the water meadows. A good site for wood sandpiper, but clearly not today, as there only were plenty of black headed gulls and a few of the now dangerous and infamous attack gulls formerly known as herring gulls. I left unscathed!
Stiffkey Fen was next on the agenda, another quiet and relatively unbirded site. Here, a moulting med gull made the day list and waders such as godwits and avocets were noted. Teal, gadwall, mallard were evident and several egrets and a grey heron. The latter having issues with a family of greylags. A scope scan of Blakeney harbour offered little, so a return to Cley for an afternoon sea watch and, if time permitted, a quick visit to Daukes Hide on the reserve.
Nothing on the sea, so off to the hides. a green sandpiper from Daukes, briefly and a little ringed plover made the day list as I scanned through endless ruff and godwits for any unusual waders. There were none, so a slow wander back to the car. The light had not been good for most of the afternoon, with a couple of light rainfalls, but nothing as predicted on the met office weather forecast on Radio 4 earlier in the day. Strange these forecasts, as the BBC website, as viewed on Monday evening, was spot on for Wednesday whilst the morning forecast for that day, on the BBC was clearly not correct!
Off to Wells to meet Gary in The Edinburgh for a couple of jars before heading home. Good to catch up again with Gary, but due to tiredness, increasing old age and basic forgetfulness, I bought 2 pints and promptly forgot to pick up my wallet from the bar. This error was not noted until I arrived home, a few hours later and a phone call to The Edinburgh informed me that they could not find it. Consequently, cancelled bank cards, £50 lost and more importantly, a few old photos and driving licence, the latter which of course can be replaced. Silly sod!!
All in all, apart from my error at the end of the day, a great day out and a pleasing set of photos. Strange how sometimes you get a good set, whilst for no apparent reason, you return on occasions with a poor and disappointing set that really are not worth putting here.

Species list;
cormorant, little egret, grey heron, spoonbill, mute swan, greylag goose, canada goose, shelduck, mallard, gadwall, (10 sp) shoveler, teal, tufted duck, red kite, marsh harrier, common buzzard, kestrel, red legged partridge, pheasant, moorhen (20 sp) coot, oystercatcher, avocet, little ringed plover, grey plover, lapwing, sanderling, turnstone, dunlin, curlew sandpiper (30 sp) wood sandpiper, green sandpiper, common sandpiper, redshank, black tailed godwit, bar tailed godwit, curlew, ruff, black headed gull, mediterranean gull,(40 sp) herring gull, lesser black backed gull, greater black backed gull, sandwich tern, common tern, stock dove, wood pigeon, collared dove, barn owl, little owl (50 sp) green woodpecker, skylark, sand martin, swallow, house martin, meadow pipit, pied wagtail, wren, dunnock, robin, (60 sp) song thrush, blackbird, chiffchaff, reed warbler, cetti's warbler, sedge warbler, great tit, blue tit, long tailed tit, magpie (70 sp) jay, jackdaw, rook, carrion crow, starling, house sparrow, chaffinch, goldfinch, greenfinch, linnet (80 sp) reed bunting.

Saturday 25 July 2015

National Moth Week: Little Hadham Moth Night 23.07.15

Graeme, Steve and I set up a series of 6 traps throughout Millennium Wood near Bury Green TL447216 and were ready to start netting at dusk. We had a good turn out of 6 locals who had come to see what we were catching. The weather was spot on, having been sunny all day and the evening turning overcast. A mild evening somewhere around 14C meant there were plenty of moths attracted to the sheets, traps and head torches.
Graeme and I sorting out a tricky identification
Still pondering

and still!!

With so many additions to both parish and year lists, thought it worth checking the numbers:
2015: 3310 moths trapped for 2015
2015 micro species: 164
2015 macro species: 169
Total moth species for 2015: 333. This already beats last year's total of 331!
Total macros for parish: 298 species
Total micros for parish:221 species.
Total moths caught in Little Hadham parish: 519 species.

Huge thanks to Graeme for the dissections of the rarer and tricky micros and thanks to all who turned up and helped catch and empty traps. A thoroughly enjoyable evening. Next one: Wednesday 26th August. Venue to be confirmed, but planning on seeking permission for a new site within the parish.
The results as we emptied the traps around 11.30 were really pleasing: 401 moths of 86 species. Not a bad return for such a pleasant evening.

Agapeta hamana

Agriphila straminella

Argyresthia bonnetella

barred yellow

Yponomeuta evonymella

Flame shoulder

Large yellow underwing

Peppered moth

Dark arches

Black arches

  • 1 Nemapogon cloacella
  • 1 Argyresthia bonnatella (NFY)
  • 8 Yponomeuta evonymella
  • 1 Yponomeuta plumbella (NFY)
  • 1 Paraswammerdamia nebulella
  • 1 Coleophora lutipennella (NFM)
  • 1 Batia unitella
  • 8 Carcina quercana
  • 3 Agonopterix heracliana
  • 1 Metzneria metzneriella (NFM)
  • 10 Limnaecia phragmitella (NFY)
  • 6 Agapeta hamana
  • 2 Pandemis heparana
  • 1 Archips podana
  • 3 Archips rosana (NFM)
  • 1 Choritoneura hebenstreitella (NFM)
  • 1 Epagoge grotiana (NFM)
  • 1 Ditula angustiorana
  • 1 Cnephasia genitalana (NFM)
  • 2 Acleris forsskaleana
  • 1 Acleris aspersana (NFM)
  • 2 Hedya nubiferana
  • 1 Eudemis profundana
  • 1 Rhopobota naevana
  • 2 Zeiraphera isertana (NFM)
  • 3 Gypsonoma dealbana
  • 1 Epiblema foenella (NFM)
  • 1 Eucosma cana
  • 1 Spilonota ocellana
  • 1 Calamotropha paludella (NFY)
  • 20 Chrysoteuchia culmella
  • 1 Crambus perlella
  • 80 Agriphila straminella
  • 2 Catoptria falsella
  • 1 Scoparia ambigualis
  • 3 Scoparia bastistrigalis (NFM)
  • 3 Eudonia mercurella
  • 1 Anania hortulata
  • 25 Pleuropyta ruralis
  • 2 Endotricha flammealis
  • 1 Acrobasis consociella (NFM)
  • 1 Phycita roborella (NFM)
  • 1 Pterophorus pentadactyla
  • 2 Emmelina monodactyla
  • 2 drinker
  • 3 least carpet
  • 15 small fan footed wave
  • 3 dwarf cream wave
  • 3 single dotted wave
  • 4 riband wave
  • 5 large twin spot carpet
  • 8 yellowshell
  • 1 barred yellow
  • 30 july highflyer
  • 3 green pug
  • 1 double striped pug
  • 1 small yellow wave
  • 1 magpie moth
  • 1 clouded border
  • 1 scorched carpet
  • 3 brimstone moth
  • 1 canary shouldered thorn (NFM)
  • 1 Scalloped oak
  • 1 peppered moth (NFY)
  • 1 common white wave
  • 1 buff tip
  • 4 yellowtail
  • 1 black arches (NFY)
  • 10 dingy footman
  • 2 buff footman
  • 1 flame shoulder
  • 9 large yellow underwing
  • 1 lesser yellow underwing (NFY)
  • 3 lesser broad bordered yellow underwing (NFY)
  • 8 double square spot
  • 5 clay
  • 15 dun-bar
  • 9 dark arches
  • 1 dusky sallow
  • 4 uncertain
  • 1 mottled rustic
  • 1 silver Y
  • 1 spectacle
  • 1 herald
  • 15 snout
  • 1 fan-foot.

Wednesday 22 July 2015

Busy night: 21.07.15

Weather last night was perfect for mothing, so I stayed up until 1 and returned to the trap shortly after 5. Usual procedure, pot any I was unsure of and list all others. Consequently, quite a few to id this morning before emptying the trap.
On the macro front, new for year were: Dusky sallow, lesser broad bordered yellow underwing, small waved umber, small fan-footed wave and flounced rustic, whilst microwise: Hysopgia costalis, Aclersi forsskaleana, Plutella xylostella were new for the year whilst new for parish records were Argyresthia pruniella and Aethes rubigana.
In all: 190 of 81 species.
dot moth
small waved umber

dusky sallow

Ypsolopha scabrella

Acrobasis suavella

Macro list:

  • 3 common footman
  • 4 least carpet
  • 4 July highflyer
  • Scorched carpet
  • 2 dusky sallow (NFY)
  • Lesser broad bordered yellow underwing (NFY)
  • willow beauty
  • 3 engrailed
  • small waved umber (NFY)
  • Small fan-footed wave (NFY)
  • 9 Riband wave
  • Early thorn
  • 7 common rustic
  • scarce footman
  • 4 single dotted wave
  • mottled beauty
  • V pug
  • 7 heart and dart
  • dwarf cream wave
  • buff footman
  • 2 clay
  • 3 fan-foot
  • dun-bar
  • swallow tailed moth
  • Chinese character
  • 2 clouded border
  • dot moth
  • 2 scalloped oak
  • nut tree tussock
  • Bright line brown eye
  • Brown line bright eye
  • 2 green pug
  • 4 rustic
  • Silver Y
  • 2 double square spot
  • 4 uncertain
  • dark arches
  • 5 comnmon wainscot
  • smoky wainscot
  • poplar hawkmoth
  • lesser common rustic
  • grey dagger
  • snout
  • small yellow wave
  • yellowtail
  • wormwood pug
Total:97 moths of 46 macro species
Acleris forsskaleana

2nd form of Acleris forsskaleana

Aethes rubigana

Tinea semifulvella

Argyresthia pruniella

Micro list:

  • 3 Anania hortulata
  • 5 Cydia pomonella
  • 2 Crambus perlella
  • Pandemis cerasana
  • 3 Carcina quercana
  • 21 Chrysoteuchia culmella
  • 3 Pleuropyta ruralis
  • 5 Scoparia ambigualis
  • Agapeta hamana
  • 3 Pandemis heparana
  • 2 Catoptria falsella
  • Ypsolopha scabrella
  • 4 Eudonia lacustrata
  • 6 Eucosma cana
  • 3 Endotricha flammealis
  • 2 Archips xylosteana
  • 2 Yponomeuta evonymella
  • 5 Udea prunalis
  • Catoptria pinella
  • Hypsopgia glaucinalis
  • Hypsopgia costalis  (NFY)
  • 3 Eudonia mercurella
  • Acleris holmiana
  • Teleiodes vulgella
  • Yponomeuta cagnagella
  • 3 Acleris forsskaleana
  • Plutella xylostella (NFY)
  • Paraswammerdamia nebulella
  • Aethes rubigana (NFM)
  • Acrobasis suavella
  • Cnephasia asseclana
  • Hedya nubiferana
  • Bryotropha terrella
  • Argyresthia pruniella (NFM)
  • Tinea semifulvella
Total: 93 moths of 35 micro species

This is me

This is me
At the end of another Norfolk Coastal footpath walk. 47 miles, 3 days 99 species of bird. September 2009

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