Monday, 27 June 2011

They keep on Coming

Another warm night meant another good haul of moths coming to my bedroom light. It was very quiet until 12pm then all of a sudden moths started to appear every few minutes and I was quickly out of pots to keep them all in! I also went out this afternoon and found a Yellow Shell hiding away which is new species for my garden. Totals including the Yellow Shell were:
Magpie (pic 1)
2 Heart and Dart (pic 2)
Riband Wave (pic 3)
Mottled Rustic
2 Bee Moth
Small Fan Foot
Phlyctaenia Coronata (pic 4, nfm)
Chrysoteuchia Culmella (nfm)
Yellow Shell (pic 5, nfg)

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Massive Haul (by my standards)

A great night catching moths last night resulted in 13 moths of 9 species being caught. I catch the moths that are attracted to the light in my bedroom and this was my highest haul in a single night. The total list was:
Heart and Dart (pic 1)
Coxcomb Prominent (pic 2)
Dusky or Pale Shouldered Brocade (pic 3)
Mottled Rustic (pic 4)
2 Willow Beauty
Bee Moth
Common Pug
4 Brown House Moth

Friday, 24 June 2011

Highlight of a Butterfly survey - a Moth!

Me and Ash did a butterfly survey around the Marton Mere and the golf course north of it, same area that I was in on Monday, to count the numbers of each species in the area. Passing the area with the Bee Orchids we soon got out list underway with several Meadow Browns, Small Skippers and a Common Blue. It soon became obvious that Meadow Brown was easily the most abundant species in the area with Small Skipper quickly following in second. Further round we added Green Veined and Small White, Small Tortoiseshell and Speckled Wood to the list and this made up the 7 species we saw, 4 less than Monday. The totals for each species are as follows:

Meadow Brown - 75

Small Skipper - 43

Speckled Wood - 22

Small Tortoiseshell - 7

Common Blue - 3

Green Veined White - 2

Small White - 1

However it was as we rounded the top of the golf course that Ash spotted the best species of the day. He flushes a medium sized moth from an area of rough grass and after a brief chase he caught in a collection tube allowing us to get a good view. It was immediately obvious that it was a new species for both of us with obvious black markings on the wings meaning we managed to find it right at the back of the moth book and identify it as The Blackneck (appropriately named when you see the photo). A very pretty moth and when Ash text Dave Mcgrath the results of our survey also mentioning the moth, he got a reply saying the it could be the first record for Blackpool! Both photos taken by Ash.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Beyond Belief

What an awesome evening, certainly has to go down as one of the best I have ever had. Me and my dad went in search of a Quail that was heard near Eagland Hill yesterday. Well a birder already present said it was still singing when we arrived and sure enough it didn't take long before it's 3 note call wafted over the field to where we were standing. After a while my dad walked a bit further along the road to look for a Whitethroat we could hear and it was then that we both heard a second Quail calling much further to the right than the original bird, had we missed it in flight? No as the original soon piper up once again meaning that there were 2 birds in the field. Amazingly just a few minutes later we picked up the sound of a third bird, this time on the opposite side of the road and a lot closer than the previous two. We moved down to where it was calling and reached a point where it could only have been 15 metres from us at most, but we still couldn't see it, argh! Quail is a species I have yet to see in Britain having heard them on two prior occasions, but hopefully with the birds present here I may be able to see one before the summer is out. Also in this area we had a distant Barn Owl, 2 Buzzard, Kestrel, 2 Grey Partridge, Red Legged Partridge, Yellowhammer, Corn Bunting and several Brown Hares.

However the best part of the evening came when we were driving home through Rawcliffe and a Barn Owl flew across the road ahead of us, quickly followed by a second individual. We stopped the car and I got out and went to a gate that looked out onto a square field that they were hunting in. Both birds were doing circuits of the field so they flew along the side I was on aswell, and from where I was stood I got some incredible views as they quartered past about 5 foot from me at times! I didn't want to disturb them too much so only managed 1 good shot before they moved off and I walked back to the car with the biggest smile on my face, one of the best wildlife moments I have ever had.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Tackling the Jungle

Behind the bottom of my garden is an old railway track bordered by thick brambles, nettles and other plants. It is a haven for butterflies and moths however since I have only recently got more knowledgable about them I have never actually done a proper survery along the track to see what species are lurking along it. For a few years we had cut path behind the fence that we had cut and maintained which allowed easy access to the path, however I hadn't done anything to it for over a year and this meant that it had become completely overgrown once again. So a couple of days ago I started attepmting to cut back the jungle and after nearly 6 hours of work I finally finished this evening, so will hopefully be able to get up and do some surveys in the coming days. Luckily whilst doing the work I found several moth species that were sheltering amongst the plants and managed to catch the 4 larger species I found. White Plume (pic 1) and Small Fan Foot (pic 2) were both new for me, Snout (pic 3) was new for the garden and Small Magpie (pic 4) is one of the most beautiful species I have caught.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Robins are back

Almost a week since they fledged the young Robins finally reappeared in the garden today whilst I was eating my tea. The adults have been feeding constantly and I managed to get a few rubbish record shots of the 3 young birds today as they hopped around at the bottom of the garden.

Butterflies and Moths Yesterday

Finished sorting out the photos from yesterday so here are some more of the various insects that we saw. In total we had 11 species of butterfly including Common Blue (pic 1), Speckled Wood (pic 2), Meadow Brown (pic 3), Comma, Green Veined White, Large and Small Skipper. Along with the butterflies we also saw plenty of day flying moths especially micros around the many meadows we searched. Along with the awesome Hummingbird Hawkmoth (picture 5 shows it's egg we located) we also saw plenty of Narrow Bordered Five Spot Burnet (pic 4), and singles of Shaded Broad Bar, Straw Dot and Common White Wave (all new for me).

Bee Orchids

A few more shots from yesterday of the Bee Orchids near to the golf course. This is the second species of Orchid I have seen however this was definately the species at the top of my list simply for there charm and the brilliance of the evolution that led to what we see today.

Monday, 20 June 2011

It keeps getting better!

Another bright and very warm day meant another day looking for insects with Ash and Aaron. We headed to the mere where we hoped the meadows around the golf course would provide plenty of day flying moths, and the ponds around Staining Nook might hold several dragonfly species. First stop however was to visit a patch of Bee Orchids, a species that I have always wanted to see, and I wasn't disappointed with these beautiful little plants; the flowers do look surprisingly like bees and we counted 26 plants in total. Also in this area were the first of 11 species of butterfly that we saw during the day, with 1 particularly tame Common Blue allowing a good photo opportunity close to the path. Nearby Ash found one of our target species, a Shaded Broad Bar moth along with several other species such as Straw Dot, Narrow Bordered Five Spot Burnet and a couple of new for me micros. More butterflies were also found on the walk round the edge of the course including plenty of Small Skippers, some of which sat still allowing for close views as you can see below.However it wasn't till we reached Staining Nook that the highlight of the day showed up. Ash stopped to try and catch another micro moth (Common White Wave) and whilst he was doing that Aaron spotted a medium sized insect hovering around a patch of plants just next to the path. He pointed it out to me and at first we both thought it must be a dragonfly, however as it came slower we realised that it was actually a Hummingbird Hawkmoth! It continued to come closer and closer to us until at one point it was just a foot or so from us giving us the chance to see all the features of this exotic looking insect. I managed one shot of it before it started to move away from us and eventually out of view, and when we looked at the shot afterwards we realised it was laying an egg on the plant in the shot. We lines up the photo where I was stood and found the stem that it had laid the egg on, and sure enough there was a single green egg, so hopefully later on in the year we may have several more flying around the area.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Odonata photos

Yesterday at Brockholes was the first day this year that I have noticed plenty of Dragonflies and Damselflies flying around and with the help of Ash and Aaron we managed to identify 5 species without really looking very hard. The best and most beautiful was by far the male Banded Demoiselle that was flying around the edge of the Nook Pool, however a Broad Bodied Chaser in the same place was pretty stunning itself and allowed great views without moving. Plenty of damselflies flying around the grasslands surrounding the pools and we spotted several Blue Tailed Damselfly which like the previous two species was new for me. Along with these were plenty of Common Blue Damselfly and a few Large Red Damselfly as well, and I bet that if we had looked properly there would have been several more species found.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Irresistible Insects

It has reached that time of the year when everything gets very quiet, the summer migrants have all now arrived and are well under way with breeding; very few birds are still migrating so there are few vagrants to entice a twitch, which means that the yearlist comes to a stand still and it become difficult to find anything new. This afternoon I met up with Ash and Aaron and after looking at a few moths they had caught the previous night including Dusky Brocade and Small Clouded Brindle (both new for me) we headed to Brockholes Quarry to see if we could see a Hobby that had been seen recently. On the way we stopped off at Preston Docks where we were treated to fab views of the nesting Common Terns, watching them come and go with fish as well as seeing young and watching the adults courting. In total we counted 16 adults and 6 young however the birds were coming and going so there were most likely many more adults and some pairs were sitting on eggs still, 9 nests in total.
At Brockholes we decided to walk round through the woods and then round the top and west of number 1 pit as this would hopefully produce the most moths. It didn't take long before Ash located a Snout moth and I found an ermine species on a thistle however after this the moths became a lot harder to catch as they were a lot more flighty. We spent a long time in the woods chasing after moths and catching a few species which we are waiting to be identified. The best insects of the day were found when we came out of the woods and along the path which was bordered by long grass up to a medium sized pool, and as we stopped to check a patch of thistles Ash suddenly shouted Banded Demoiselle! It promptly immediately disappeared as it landed however it soon took to the air again and I got my first view of this truly beautiful creature. It was a iridescent blue colour with dark black patches on the end of it's wings which made it stand out in flight from other dragonflies. Unfortunately it didn't land close to us for very long so I only got a few shots, however a Broad Bodied Chaser that landed right next to us was much more obliging. Walking back along the western edge of the reserve the others managed to catch a Narrow Bordered Five Spot Burnet moth which was another new one for me and as we were leaving Ash found a pair of Large Skippers along the entrance road, one of my target species for the day. I will post a full list of the species we saw tomorrow when we have identified the last few moths, and also add a few more pictures.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Garden Pics

A few photos from today, weather hasn't been good and as usual the Robins are the only birds that come close to the window so they are the only birds I can get good shots of! Plenty of young birds visiting the garden today, recently fledged broods of Blue and Great Tits as well as a juvenile Goldfinch coming to the niger feeder. Both of the Sparrowhawks have been around hunting although in my garden at least they have been unsuccessful recently missing Starlings and House Sparrows. Little interest from more unusual birds recently with a Chiffchaff yesterday and an Oystercatcher flying north today being the highlights.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Robins have Fledged

Lots of revision this past week has once again crippled me from getting out much and improving my yearlist, however I can report that the Robins that were nesting next to my house have now fledged. We saw one bird leave the nest late on Monday evening and since then the parents have been busy feeding the young which are hidden away amongst the brambles behind my garden. Unfortunately this means I haven;t actually had good views of them and thus far do not know how many there are, 2 I have seen but that is the minimum as I suspect there could be more. I will try get some pictures in the next few days if the young venture into the garden, although the increasingly common visits by the Sparrowhawks may cause them some concern when coming out of their shelter.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Evening Stroll

The weather has been a bit hit and miss over the past few days so I've not really got out as much as I would have liked, however this evening the sun was shining so me and my dad went down to Todderstaffe Farm to see what birds were in the area. One of the first birds I spotted was a Swift flying over the farm which surprised me as I didn't know they were in the area, and throughout the walk we saw plenty more, probably in excess of 20 birds in total. Other migrant birds around the farm included at least 3 Whitethroats along the hedgerows (1 of which I think was a juvenile), quite a few Swallows around the farm buildings and a Willow Warbler in one of the woods. Oystercatchers and Lapwings were conspicious in the crop fields, flying around making lots of noise when gulls and crows came too close, presumably defending young that were hiding away. As we were leaving a group of 15 Swifts flew over us giving great views and allowed me to take a few shots of this tricky species.

Robin Update

Sorry for the lack of postings this week, back into exam time so not done much birding. Luckily I've only got 3 exams left (maths on friday, geography next week and tech the week after that) which leaves me with some free time to get some birding done. In the meantime I've been watching the Robins that are nesting in the ivy next to my house come back and forth with food for their recently hatched chicks. They have been feeding regularly for about a week now with feeding rates varying from 20-60 times an hour. Whilst I have been watching them I have seen all variety of flies and beetles being brought in, as well as 2 species of moth (Brimstone and Silver-ground Carpet). I'm hoping to photograph them more soon but here are a few shots I managed a couple of days ago.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Marvellous Moths

(orange = new for me, green = other, red = bird, blue = mammal) A few days without any birds has led to me focusing more on moths, and what a few days it has been! In the garden I have caught several new species for me including a gorgeous Flame Shoulder (pic 1) and a Small Magpie (pic 2), and yesterday I went out with Ash to Lytham Nature Reserve to look for day flying species and to see how many we could catch.
Before we set off I went round to his house and he showed me some of the species he had caught the night before. Scalopped Hazel (pic 3) and Riband Wave (pic 4) were very impressive moths along with plenty of Common Marbled and Garden Carpets and a couple of those dreaded pugs.

We then set off to the sand dunes of Lythan Nature Reserve and started at the pontins end, walking around the areas of long grass and bushes to look for any moths or caterpillars. It soon became obvious that the most abundant moth species was Silver Ground Carpet, with at least 15 seen with some interesting variants noted between the individuals we caught, such as paleness of the wings, width of the black bar and size. There were plenty of micro moths about in the grass however we concentrated more on the macro species and it total we caught: 1 Latticed Heath (pic 5), 2 Yellow Shell (pic 6), 1 Grass Rivulet and 1 Common Wave. There were several Swallows flying around the east end of the reserve and as Ash was photographing one of the Yellow Shells less than a foot in front of his head, one of them swooped down and plucked it out of thin air and carried it away! This was heading towards being the best moment of the day for sheer humour however it was surpassed by beautiful views of a vixen Fox that appeared ahead of us in the marsh area and watched us for a while before disappearing under a bush possibly to tend to cubs. Shots below courtesy of Ashley Baines.