Wednesday, 20 April 2011

The Forewood, More Moths, and a suprise

Yesterday we had a lovely day out to Crowhurst, the highlight of which was a walk out through the Forewood, and a picnic out by the former pumping station. The Forewood is an RSPB reserve, and has been for about 20 years I guess. It was quiet for birds, mainly 'cos our walk didn't start until nearly midday, but we did clock 3 soaring Buzzards high up over the Pepperingeye end of the wood. All the trees have recnetly been felled from around the pumping station, leaving a boring modern brick structure, the old engine house and engines being long gone
The Forewood is a beautiful place just to be at this time of the year

Bluebells just coming to their best were a treat, and the perfume - wow

Butterflies were on the wing in numbers, these were the only ones I managed to photograph

A Speckled Wood 

and a brand spanking new Comma
The ones I missed were Brimstone, Large White, Wood White, Orange Tip, Peacock, and Small Tortoishell

Also out were several Early Purple Orchids - this specimen was about a foot high

Today in my moth trap were 34 moths of 11 species:-
Early Grey 3
Common Quaker 12
V Pug 2 ( I think - see pics below)
Lychnis  1, and ever so early, but definitely not a Campion like the one trapped over in RX land -
Hebrew Character  10
Red Twin Spot Carpet 1
Fern 1
Clouded Drab 1
Brimstone 1
Streamer 1
Waved Umber 1

 pictured are, first of all, these two V Pug

At least I think this is a V Pug, just very well marked, but if I'm wrong, Tony, I should be obliged to be put right

Tiny little creatures and so beautiful - see just how small

Next was this superb Twin Spot Red Carpet, a real stunner and much more moth-sized

The first Fern of the year, such a delicate insect

and finally, thisWaved Umber

Later in the day, just as Grandchildren and friends called to take me swimming, Nancy found (and very rapidly left) this beautiful Slow-worm, which gave the children the rare chance to see and handle - carefully and under supervision - a reptile before releasing it under the Ivy and frass in the hedge away from Pheasants and cats

Monday, 18 April 2011

Survey, Buzz, Buzz,Buzz, Buzz, Buzz, Buzz, Buzz, Buzz, Peep, Peep

Out at Sparrows fart to do the first Breeding Bird survey in Deal town for this year. I decided that walking the streets at first light with binoculars staring at roofs gardens and chimneys was dodgy enough without taking photos too, so you are spared the pictures, but 2Km of Deal streets produced just 205 birds of 22 species. Most numerous was Starling - 41 - followed by Herring Gull - 32 - and Collared Dove - 21. All exciting stuff. I suppose lurking would be a truer description than surveying. The highlight was a single House Martin by Deal Castle

Later at home there was this pristine Orange-tip to admire, the underneath of the hindwing in particular very attractive

There was movement in the sky as we took coffee, as 4, then 1, then 2, then one more Common Buzzards appeared overhead from the direction of Dover and flapped off Eastwards into the light air. Try as I might I couldn't turn them into Honey Buzzards, but we were much amused by the hard-case local Carrion Crow flying up from his nest-site down New Townsend to chase the last one on it's way  - coo, wasn't he brave!!

Later dogwalking out beyond Freedown wood towards Kingsdown, I found 2 Bullfinches separately whistling their single-note call in suitable breeding habitat - will keep an eye on them, discretely.

Yesterday morning there was another (or the same re-trapped) Streamer moth in the trap, so I was able to take care to get better pics of it this time - voila!

Plan A for tomorrow is a visit to the Forewood in Crowhurst to see the Bluebells and maybe even find a Hawfinch - I live in hope, so watch this space

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Welcome back!!

"Our" swallow apparently first returned to his nest in the garage on the 28th March, an unusually early date. He was absent again for a couple of days as usual on arrival - we always believe the feeding round here not  very good and assume he goes off somewhere better, maybe Worth marshes or something. More recently he's been back for increasing periods, but don't roost in the garage. Yesterday he was around most of the day, singing and displaying with increasing vigour until late afternoon the female appeared. What a wonderful sight and sound they made dashing about, singing, chasing and generally delighted to see each other. Now we can look forward to sights like this through the summer

True to form they were away most of the day - she will need to find the best feeding now in order to get into egg-laying condition - hope they think I made a satisfactory job of cleaning their nests out back in February. They have 2, the original artificial, and one they built last year for their 2nd brood

This morning I stooged off along the cliffs to see what had arrived - well, whatever had, it kept going under the clear skies. There was one Swallow in off the sea, a Garden Warbler singing, and in the top wood at the head of the South Foreland Valley, a male Bullfinch calling - smashing. Out to sea all was calm and misty, making this jack-up rig on it's way down channel look a bit spooky

When I got home I checked out the moth-trap, again the fine clear night not on my side, just 3 Hebrew Characters, and this new moth for me - I've checked and re-checked it, Tony, and I believe it really is a Streamer. The book says it gets it's name from the marking on the wing which streams away from the blob on the forewing leading edge - not the best pic ever of a moth, sorry

As I type this the trap is again alight and, as its cloudy - fingers crossed for tomorrow

Monday, 11 April 2011

Moths, surveys, counts

Such a hard life started this morning with a "new" moth species in my trap for the year, an April regular, but nevertheless an attractive little insect - Dotted Border - look closely at the trailing edges of the forewing and you'll see why it's so called - ignore the date, the pic was made last spring!

After breakfast it was off out birding for the day, first to Lympne Park Wood, calling in to see the tenant farmer to renew my permission to go in and count the Heron's nests. This is part of the British Trust for Ornithology's oldest, or longest running survey. I been counting in this wood for 20 years, and ah noah what ah'm talking aboot, champion. You will need to read the italics in a Geordie accent, and be familiar with the Keith Fit character in Giggle Bizz on CBBC, if not, forget it. Numbers been declining severely from a high of 24 nests 10 years ago, a low of 8 last year - hooray, 10 today and the recount in  3 weeks time may increase this with luck

This is what to look for, and shows why the count needs to be timed before full leaf cover

Concerned parents tend not to fly off too quickly, allowing snatched pics like this

Some of the nests are hard to see, there are 2 in here

If in doubt about occupancy, just check out the ground beneath the nest

After this it was off across the Marsh for an early Atlas breeding count on the 2 tetrads covered through the winter. At least stuff is beginning to green up
 Masses of Hawthorn blossom beautiful to see, too

The tract of land where I picked up so much mud in the winter only recently been drilled, Linseed presumably, but a bit of a desert today!

Out along Melon Lane, a hint of possible problems for someone later in the summer

Browntailed Moth (Euproctis chrysorrhea)  larva just emerging from their tents, hairy little pests, the hairs cause severe problems for those sensitive to them,causing painful rashes late in the summer.
Further along the lane, more blossom was home to some obliging birds today

First, this coy Yellowhammer

 and then a more "in your face" male Chaffinch 

The count?
Yellowhammer - 14
Reed Bunting - 9
Carrion Crow - 9
Mallard - 4
Woodpigeon - 54
Skylark - 19
Pheasant - 4
Linnet - 15
Chaffinch - 18
Green Woodpecker - 1
Magpie - 2
Corn Bunting - 1
Great tit - 9
House Sparrow - 22
Dunnock - 1
Greenfinch - 4
Longtailed Tit - 1
Wren - 11
Robin - 1
Blue Tit - 2
Blackcap - 1
Sparrowhawk - 1
Starling - 1
Tree Sparrow - 2
Meadow Pipit - 1
Wheatear - 3
Blackcird - 3

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Nationally Scarce A

Welcome to the world of taking things ever so seriously - there was a moth new to me in my trap this morning, and when I found it in my copy of Waring and Townsend, I discovered it to be a Barred Tooth-stripe (Trichopteryx polycommata) - a Nationally Scarce A species, one down from red data book stuff - wow. How it got it's name escapes me completely tho'
What I don't know is just how common (or uncommon) they really are round here, probably fairly common as they seem to prefer chalk scrub - oh well, enjoy the pics

Lovely delicate moth, pics taken with 2 cameras, hence the different hues!

Thursday, 7 April 2011

It's party time

Balloons, balloons, balloons - when I went to let the hens out this morning, I flushed a Buzzard from the fence beside Winklands Lane, then noticed one hot air balloon over Pineham way - then another, then several more, so I took this pic with my trusty phone -

Realising something going on, quickly home for my camera and off to Wanstone where I was treated to this spectacle

A sponsored record bid, apparently, see tomorrow's papers

Later, while turning out my moth trap, there was a Willow Warbler singing in the garden hedge, accompanied by the Blackcap arrived 3 days ago
In the moth trap were
Early Grey - 8
Common Quaker - 24
Hebrew Character - 16
Twin spot Quaker -1 - pic below

Bright Line Brown Eye - 1 - supposed not to fly 'til May!! - pic below

March Moth - 1

Clouded Drab - 1
Early Thorn - 2

Small Quaker - 3 - with a Common Quaker
Shoulder Stripe - 1 

This evening promises even better, and when I went to shut the hens back in, there was a large Bat hunting around the farmyard, where yesterday's new arrival, a fine male Black Redstart, was still singing away
A very good day, I reckon