Wednesday 8 November 2017

Good Moth Night

Last night the temperature was still in double figures at dusk, so off to Westland Green with the heath trap. I set it in my usual place, near rose hip in unmanaged woodland at 5pm.
I then popped into Millennium Wood to check on the hips and guelder rose berries, only noting satallite, but 11 of them on one bush.
At 9.00pm I checked the outdoor temperature, only to find it was pouring down, so off to the actinic, none too hopeful.
Upon arrival a feathered thorn zipped past me and 4 more were on the sheet, along with 2 December moth and a November moth. Inside the trap, a satellite, chestnut and 2 sprawlers, so a good haul for a wet and breezy November night.
3 site records for the year: satellite, sprawler and December moth.

December moth

Sunday 5 November 2017

Leaf Mines in Millennium Wood

Today I organised a leaf mine hunt in Millennium Wood. Wonderful to have Gracie, Ruby and Leo, along with parents, helping me find evidence of micro moth larvae on hazel, hornbeam, bramble, oak, apple and field maple. The children were brilliant at finding these, with a list of 10 species found.
4 were new for my parish year records:
Phyllonorycter nicelli
Parornix devoniella
Lyonetia clerkella
Stigmella floslactella
Back home, I rigged up a very simple light box to photograph the mines of some.
Ruby, Gracie and Leo with their evidence of micro moth caterpillars

Stigmella microtheriella on hazel

Stigmella aceris on field maple

Stigmella aurella on bramble

Stigmella microtheriella on hornbeam

Monday 30 October 2017

Moth update

After the first frost of autumn where I got my first blank night since Spring I thought time for an update.
The trap set at Westland Green on the 15th gave up my 1st vestal of the year whilst at home an orange sallow was new for parish records, a pleasing find as not common in East Herts.
Whilst running the actinic trap on the local golf course footpaths, I took, in a catch of 5 moths of 4 species, a Vapourer, not a moth that comes to light on a regular basis and a new for 2017 species, so a pleasing find.
Orange sallow

The next new for the year species was an Acleris schalleriana in the garden on the 22nd, followed by another on the 23rd (garden.) This was a different specimen, the 1st was still in the fridge awaiting a photo. It flew off before I could get a shot. On the 23rd I ran a trap at Stocking Wood, with the temperature at 10pm still around 16C. An amazing 93 moths taken, including 33 feathered thorn. On the same night at home, another new record for the parish, a pine carpet, again, disappearing before I could get a good photo.
The only other new for year record was a surprise, being a little early for East Herts, a December moth, taken at Pig's Green on the 28th.
Also of note, my 2nd for the year of Amblyptilia acanthadactyla in the garden on the 27th, when 5C meant it was one of just 2 moths to the Skinner.
Amblyptilia acanthadactyla

December moth
 Latest activity takes totals for the year to 10,063 moths, with a willow beauty being the 10,000 moth for 2017, taken on 25.x.17.
I now have identified 280 macro species and 203 micro species for the year and, with latest additions, my list for the parish of Little Hadham stands at 705 species.


a dark form of Satellite, frequently found on rosehips and guelder rose berries in Millennium Wood
Realistically, there is probably only one more macro species to see this year, a Sprawler. Anything else would be a real bonus, all other possibilities for this time of year, such as winter moth were noted in January.

Sunday 15 October 2017

Amwell Visit

Yesterday, I had been asked to lead a walk around HMWT Amwell Reserve, near Ware, Herts, for the South Leicester Bird Club. We met in Amwell Lane at 10.00a.m. and headed to the Viewing Point where we met voluntary Warden, Darren. Bearded reedlings had been present, but had flown off high to the south just 15 minutes before our arrival. From this vantage point we noted a few wigeon, lapwing, greylag geese, mallards, coots and a variety of gulls. A grey heron was motionless in front of us and a male stonechat sporadically posed on top of the reeds and willows.
From here we headed to the hides, noting comma and red admiral butterflies whilst over the other side of the water, ravens, red kites, buzzards and a solitary sparrowhawk circled, attracting the attention of carrion crows and jackdaws.
We noted several species of leaf mining moths on leaves of bramble, sycamore and hazel as we headed along the boardwalk to the main hide. Tufted duck dived on the adjacent pool and from the hide: pochard, wigeon, grey heron and overhead several meadow pipits and a linnet.

Red admiral

From the viewing point

Greylag, black headed gulls and lapwing

Distant raven, on of 2 present over the Easeneye Estate

From here, we set off to meet Darren again along the dragonfly trail. A flock of blue, long tailed and great tits were working their way through the willows as we came across a single goldcrest, Common blue damsels, common darters and migrant hawkers were on the wing as were plenty of caddis flies. Red signal crayfish made the day list and soon after we watched as a kestrel dived from a telegraph pole into the grass, to then be chased by a magpie. Overhead, a sparrowhawk flew by after a Great Spotted woodpecker. A green woodpecker called as we checked the buddleia for butterflies and finches but a Speckled cricket on the fence was all we noted.
Tufted duck washing

tufted duck

grey heron

drake pochard

great crested grebe

Over the bridge and through the coppice finished the 2.5 hour stay where several flowering plants were noted along with more comma and red admirals as well as one Large white.
In all, a wonderful morning in great company. I then drove the group to Rye Meads RSPB Reserve just a few miles the other side of Stansted Abbotts. Here, it was picnic time, so after a check on the board to see what was about and having enjoyed a coffee, I left the group to go in search of green sandpiper, kingfishers, wildfowl and more stonechats. With a bit of luck, the day list of bird species may have reached a most creditable 70.
Thanks to Darren Bast for helping with this trip and giving up his morning to show us around the dragonfly trail. Most grateful.
Great crested grebe


Distant red kite

Comma, showing the "comma" marking on the underwing

  1. Little grebe
  2. Great crested grebe
  3. Cormorant
  4. Grey heron
  5. Mute swan
  6. Greylag goose
  7. Canada goose
  8. Mallard
  9. Gadwall
  10. Shoveler
  11. Wigeon
  12. Pochard
  13. Tufted duck
  14. Red kite
  15. Common buzzard
  16. Sparrowhawk
  17. Kestrel
  18. Red legged partridge (feathers only!)
  19. Pheasant
  20. Water rail (heard)
  21. Moorhen
  22. Coot
  23. Lapwing
  24. Black headed gull
  25. Herring gull
  26. Lesser Black backed gull
  27. Wood pigeon
  28. Collared dove
  29. Green woodpecker (heard)
  30. Great spotted woodpecker
  31. Skylark (heard)
  32. Meadow pipit
  33. Pied wagtail
  34. Wren
  35. Dunnock
  36. Robin
  37. Stonechat
  38. Blackbird
  39. Ctti's warbler (heard)
  40. Goldcrest
  41. Great tit
  42. Blue tit
  43. Long tailed tit
  44. Nuthatch (heard)
  45. Magpie
  46. Jay (heard)
  47. Jackdaw
  48. Carrion crow
  49. Raven
  50. Chaffinch
  51. Goldfinch
  52. Linnet
Large white butterfly
Red admiral
Speckled cricket
Red signal crayfish
Migrant hawker
Common darter
Common blue damselfly
Various caddisfly
White tailed bumblebee
Harlequin ladybird
Merveille du Jour (released, trapped in Little Hadham)
White point moth (released, trapped in Little Hadham)
Stigmella aurella leafmine
Phyllonorycter coryli leafmine
Phyllonorycter messaniella leafmine
Phyllonorycter devoniella leafmine
Stigmella microtheriella leafmine
Cameraria ohridella leafmine
Herb robert
Common comphrey
Indian balsam
Scarlet pimpernel
Common field speedwell
White dead nettle
Bristly ox tongue
Merveille du Jour (Pleasure of the day)

Friday 13 October 2017

New species for parish records

Had a really good moth day yesterday. Firstly, spent an hour collecting leaf mines from Pig's Green area and then identifying them at home, with assistance from the leaf mining page on Facebook and These took my total of micro moths to 202 species for the year.
I then set the Heath trap at Pigs Green on Muddy Lane, my regular site for this area and thenoff to net with headtorch. Just a Feathered thorn from Ash Valley Gold Course whilst at Westland Green my 1st November moth agg of the year. This was swiftly followed by another in Alder Wood. They are different in shape and size; be good if one was the less common Pale November moth.
Back at the trap I had a good selection;
3 Snout
Red green carpet
5 Chestnut
3 Yellow line quaker
5 Common marbled carpet
Blastobasis lacticolella
2 Satellite
barred sallow
Red  line quaker
and the highlight of the session, a very late 2nd brood Flame carpet or even an unheard of 3rd brood, yet to be recorded withing Herts. Just have to wait to see if any others turn up or if this was just a one off.
Large wainscot: garden 12.x.17. 705th moth species for Little Hadham

Same specimen

Mottled umber, taken to net, Millennium Wood 11.x.17

Angle shades: Garden 10.x.17

Pink barred sallow: Millennium Wood Heath trap 11.x.17

At the garden Skinner just 4 moths of 3 species: green brindled crescent, 2 Barred sallow and a real surprise, a new for parish records: Large wainscot. Always good to get a new species so late in the year. This was my 41st new species this year, taking the overall total of moths identified by me in Little Hadham parish to a creditable 705 species. Suspect it will be a long time before I make 800!

Friday 6 October 2017

Back to Norfolk

Setting off reasonably early on Wednesday for another Norfolk day, it was at Swaffham traffic lights when it dawned upon me that my binoculars were not in the car, but on the bookshelf at home. Consequently, just telescope, tripod and 400mm lens on camera. However, I managed to blag a pair at Cley NWT centre so all was not lost.
A grey day with a cold northerly wind meant 3 layers of clothing as I wandered to Kelling Water Meadows where the usual suspects, Egyptian goose, several dunlin, finches and tits were to be found. First highlight of the day: 2 spotted redshanks.
From here, off to Cley, coffee and a wander along the East Bank to the Richie Richardson hide. Hard to believe it is 40 years since Richie died, a real character in his leather trousers, leather jacket and Norton bike. H appeared to be ever present on the East Bank in the 70's before his illness.
Off to the hides in the centre of the reserve where, going through plenty of dunlin on Pat's Pool, I came across several curlew sandpipers and a flock of 8 little stint. Marsh harriers put these up just as I was pointing them out to several in the hide. Fortunately they landed closer to the hide and all got good views of the stints.
Stonechat at Cley

5 Little stint

Pair of Dunlin at Cley

2 Little stint


From here, after a quick check at Holkham, to Titchwell. Not much of note at Choseley drying barns but a yellow browed warbler, briefly, in the car park at the RSPB reserve. Here, without binoculars challenged my id skills as redshanks and curlews flew over Thornham marsh. Several bearded tits pinged in the reedbed but it was far too windy for them to show themselves. From the island hide, plenty of ruff, teal, shovelers, a few black tailed godwits and a large flock of golden plover.
On to the Parrinder Hide in now rapidly failing light but nothing to add.
As I headed back to the car a solitary sandpiper called overhead, the nervous sounding, scratchy call of another curlew sandpiper.
A good day, but, again, the light did not lend itself to any good photos. A selection here, all taken in windy, grey conditions.
Golden plover coming in to roost for the night

Overhead golden plover flock

Sunday 1 October 2017

3rd quarter Round up.

On the 1st of July I had recorded 197 macro species and 131 micro species with, in total, 4166 moths identified.
By 30th September these numbers had increased tom 266 macro species and 185 micro species of 9445 moths in total. Consequently, as expected, the 3rd quarter of the year is a busy time, with traps not going on until 9.30 and several nights per week trapping until the small hours.
July began warmish, without too much in the way of night time high temperatures, but 100 moths in the 125MV garden skinner trap were common as were 70+ in the battery powered 15W heath trap, placed at a variety of parish locations.
The 1st week of July saw additions to the year list, namely:
Agriphila straminella
Caloptilia betulicola
Agriphila geniculea
Acentria ephemerella
Shaded broad bar
Oak eggar
Yellowtail (200th macro species for 2017)
Black arches
Cochylis hybridella
Psoricoptera gibbosella (New for parish records)
Spilonota ocellana
Bordered beauty
Acleris variegana
Galleria mellonella
Pandemis heparana
Acrobasis advenella
Grey dagger (gen det GJS)
Large emerald
Stathmopeda pedella (New for parish records)
Eulamprotes atrella (New for parish records)
Scarce silver lines (New for parish records)
Gypsonoma dealbana
Argyresthia pruniella
Helcystogramma rufescens
Prays fraxinella
Epinotia signatana (new for parish records)
Dark umber
Agonopterix alstromeriana
Monochroa palustrellus
Lunar spotted pinion
Slender brindle (new for parish records)
Lesser broad bordered yellow underwing
Silver Y
Phycita roborella
Caloptilia cucupennella
Marbled white spot (new for parish records)
Buff arches
Ruby Tiger
Lesser common rustic
Common rustic

The list here is a long one due to the fact that the last 21 species were all trapped on a night (7th) where 5 traps were run for a community event in Millennium Wood. These traps ranged from 15W to 150 MV watt, plus several folk netting with headtorches.
The 5000 moth of the year was taken on this night, a Hedya nubiferana.
Acentria emphemerella

Oak eggar

Black arches

Prays fraxinella

Bordered beauty

Large emerald

Stathmopeda pedella

Scarce silver lines

A trip to Sri Lanka between 11th and 19th July halted progress, but not before a few more expected regulars made the year list. Upon my return, a Yarrow pug on the 21st was a new for parish record, as was a Least yellow underwing on the 25th.
A Bordered pug on the 26th was another parish record. My 6000th moth of the year was an Agapeta hamana on the 30th and July concluded with 6088 moths identified, of 224 macros and 172 micros. Indeed, a busy month.
Bordered pug

Least Yellow underwing

August and a trip to local Suffyldes Wood on a warm night. In total: 60 moths + with a Lesser spotted pinion being a new addition to the parish list and a Cabbage moth making the year list. Over the following few weeks, new for years were very frequent and a Yponomeuta plumbella was the 400th moth species for the year.
On the 3rd August, a pleasant surprise, with a Garden tiger, new for records in the garden along with the first of many orange swifts. The same night the first Straw underwings hinted at forthcoming autumn. I was still trapping plenty of moths, just nothing new for year or parish. An Agriphila tristella was 7000th moth of the year on the 16th before a Wood carpet was a pleasing find, both in the garden trap and at Suffyldes Wood on the 16th.
The following night brought a Jersey Tiger, basically an annual visitor to both garden (on buddleia) and on the trap.
Yponomeuta evonymella

Garden carpet (new for parish records) 

Jersey tiger

Wood carpet.

The new for year records continued: Udea ferrugalis (18th,) Agriphila selasella (20th,) Old Lady (23rd,) whilst a very worn Clay triple lines, also 23rd was a new for the parish records. My 8000th moth for the year was a Flame shoulder on the  27th, which also saw a Pinion streaked snout being new for the year. The month concluded with another new parish record of Endothenia marginana on the 28th along with Ypsolopha dentella as new for the year and, finally, a small wainscot on the 28th.
The 30th was the coldest night since early March, with just 33 moths trapped in total from Chapel Lane and garden. This total included 13 Setaceous hebrew characters.
Udea ferrugalis

Old Lady

Clay triple lines

Ypsolopha dentella

The 250th macro moth for the year, a Feathered gothic, arrived on 1st of September, a Red underwing (2nd) followed the next day be another new for parish record of Argyresthia semifusca.  An Acleris emargana was trapped on the local golf course on the 4th, as was a Centre barred sallow and a final new for parish records for the year so far, an Anacampsis populella, identified by gen det. At home on the same night, an Oak hooktip was new for year. Things were now beginning to quieten down, with totals per night dropping below 50 moths of less than 25 species. A Snout was the 9000th moth identified for the year on the 7th September. The 9th was a particularly cold night with a bright moon, leading to just 6 moths trapped. The final micro new for year record so far for 2017 was a Ypsolopha sequella, taken at Westland Green on the 11th . Further addtions came in the form of Turnip moth (12th,) Brown spot pinion (13th,) and on a very cold 14th, a Black rustic. This was the last new for year moth before a week's break in Kefalonia.
On the 24th, a Barred sallow, Mallow and Lunar underwing were all NFY whilst on the 25th Beaded chestnut and Grey pine carpet made the year list and these were followed the next night by a Sallow.
The 27th gave up Large ranunculus. A Pink barred sallow was the penultimate moth new for year of the third quarter with a Red line quaker being the final moth, taken on the 30th.

Recent annual total comparisons up to 30.ix.17. These statistics don't stand too much scrutiny as in 2014 I only had the garden Skinner 125MV trap which I occasionally took out with a generator, 2015 found me out in the evening with head torch and net at a variety of sites, whilst 2016 saw the addition of the portable Heath 15watt trap as from mid March. The reason the micros are down this year compared to 2016 is I have done considerably less day time flushing and netting of micros from grassland areas within the parish, especially the golf course and Westland Green.

2014: 3498 moths, 195 macros 120 micros
2015: 5620 moths, 196 macros 180 micros
2016: 9104 moths, 242 macros 221 micros
2017: 9445 moths, 266 macros 185 micros
Feathered gothic

Argyresthia semifusca

Acleris emargana

Centre barred sallow

Barred sallow


Oak hooktip

Turnip moth

Ypsolopha sequella


Feathered gothic

Red line quaker

Final installment near the end of December. By then hopefully will be past 10,000 moths of over 500 species. Now is the time of year where I am out and about checking for leaf mine evidence of larvae of micro moths such as this:
Leaf mine of Stigmella aurella found on bramble throughout the parish
 Last year I finished with 11,130 moths identified made up of 255 macros and 259 micros, 514 species in total. With a little searching this should well be within my compass this year.

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