Four more moths new for the year.

Tuesday 28th June 2016.

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Single-dot Wave.

Not a bad morning within the moth box though relatively few moths outside of it due to the ever hungry Sparrows! They are on their second brood by the sound of it! New macro’s for the year were Common Emerald and Single-dot Wave, while micros new for the year included Synaphe punctalis and 4 Rusty-dot Pearls. A total of 46 moths of 26 species. It looks like persistent rain tonight so I might leave the moth box for tonight.

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Common Emerald trying to blend in with the Ivy.

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Synaphe punctalis.

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Rusty-dot Pearl.

Our annual pilgrimage to Durlston Head.

Saturday 25th June 2016.

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Selfie comprising of yours truly, John Cronin and John Goodall at the start of our long walk to Dancing Ledge to see the Puffins.

Where has the last year gone? Our annual pilgrimage to Durlston Head with John Goodall and John Cronin was back again and, yet again, we got to see the Puffins and a host of other superb birds and nature along the way. It seems to take it toll on our legs and feet every time and by the time I got back to John Cronin’s car, my feet were severely barking! The local weather forecast predicted possible heavy and thundery downpours in the afternoon, but though we had a few short showers, it was all good as we arrived in blazing sunshine around 8am.

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Razorbills and Guillemots on the sea below the cliffs.

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John Goodall checking out the seabirds below the cliffs.

Guillemots and Razorbills at Durlston Head.

Meeting up at the Farlington Marshes car park, it didn’t take us too long to get to Durlston Head; especially with a pit stop to pick up a MacDonalds breakfast along the way! I have yet to see any Auks in 2016 and today made up for that. Good numbers of both Guillemot and Razorbil showed well below us on the sea and as we neared the Dancing Ledge area, we picked out two Puffins on the sea that showed very well. Though no Kittiwakes were seen on this trip, sightings of the occasional Gannet and Shag over the sea were had as well as the graceful Fulmars. Both Ravens and Peregrine patrolled the cliff faces and Rock Pipits were abundant along the grass edges. The sea state looked fair though there were ‘white horses’ over on the horizon; indicating a bit of wind out there. But, all in all, it looked very tranquil out there with just a few sailing boats on show.

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Fulmar.

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A rather tatty Raven.

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A better looking one.

The footpath provided good views of Stonechat (at least ten individuals seen including a few juveniles) and at least four Yellowhammers. Common Whitethroats were in good numbers and John Goodall found a family group of Dartford Warblers within the coastal gorse area. A small flock of 3 Siskins were a surprise as we enjoyed the Auks near the beginning of our walk; a year tick for one of the guys.

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This Jackdaw posed in the tree below us.

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Horsefly basking in the sunshine.

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Large Skipper.

As well as the Peregrines, other raptors seen today included at least four Kestrels, a female Sparrowhawk and at least two Common Buzzards. With all the juvenile birds present, I am not surprised there were a good number of Raptors present. Swifts were an ever present sight, screaming high overhead and riding the sea breeze with ease.

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Marbled White – my first of the year.

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Pyrausta despicta moth.

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John Goodall and John Cronin on the walk.

As well as birds, I am always on the look out for all sorts of nature and kicking off with butterflies, I was pleased to find my first Marbled Whites of the year. At least two were seen, maybe three, but I noticed that there was a severe lack of butterflies this today. Meadow Browns, Small Heath, a couple of Common Blues and one Small Tortoiseshell were seen. Both Large and Small Skippers were seen in good numbers and a couple of possible Lulworth Skippers, although I am awaiting ID on some of my photos. A few moths were seen including several Silver Y’s on the wing; a Pyrausta despicta and on Crambid moth I hope to have the ID on shortly. Just the two caterpillars were seen: an Oak Eggar and a Brown-tailed Moth.

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One of many male Stonechats seen today.

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Female Stonechats were abundant too. Quite often we would stumble into their nesting area and so made a hasty departure.

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Common Whitethroat showing well along the footpath.

One of the best sightings today, albeit a bit grisly, was a Stoat attacking and killing a young rabbit (although this was done out of sight in some bramble bushes) then walked across our footpath in front of us. It was my first sighting of a Stoat this year and quite a dramatic one too. Now to the wild flowers. I am no expert and I will leave some of my photos for my friend Geoff Farwell to ID, but some of them could be ID’d and up to three species of Orchid were seen. Pyramidal Orchids were abundant though I came across several spikes of Bee Orchid along our walk. Just the one spike of Common Spotted Orchid was seen and that was right by the car park!

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The Stoat with its prey.

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Pyrimidal Orchid.

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The beautiful Bee Orchid.

Once we reached the Dancing Ledge, we had lunch and enjoyed good views of the Auks, including the Puffins. A juvenile Rock Pipit came down to walk among us while we had lunch (see video), while its anxious parent was nearby calling to it. More auks were flying through, which kept us entertained, but the views here are just amazing. A shower reminded us that we should be on our way and so packing up after a good hours rest, we made our way up the hill to walk the footpath back to the car park.

The confiding Rock Pipit.

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A Puffin in flight close to the Dancing Ledge.

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A Puffin on the sea.

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Adult and juvenile Shag near the Dancing Ledge.

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A very confiding Rock Pipit.

More Stonechats, Whitethroats and Yellowhammers were seen and we even had sightings of Chiffchaff, Linnet and yet more Ravens. It was a lot more cloudier on the journey back and a few showers came over but it was still relatively warm as we took in the peace and quiet of this superb place. It was 3pm when we reached the car park and guzzling on lemon drink, it was time to go home. I believe this is the 5th year running I have done this trip with the ‘Johns’ and will look forward to the same time next year.

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Oak Eggar caterpillar.

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A male Yellowhammer holding territory.

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A male Stonechat in full song.

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A great day out with these two guys.

Lime Hawk-moth finally on my life list.

Thursday 23rd June 2016.

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Lime Hawk-moth last night.

Flaming June, eh? Last night, we had thunderstorms over the south coast, which caused local flooding in places and this mornings traffic was nearly at a stand still in places! But despite the expected heavy torrential rain due, I put my moth box on nonetheless and I am glad I did. I was watching the football on the telly when the heavens opened and the noise on our conservatory roof was near deafening!

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Mottled Pug.

Around 10.30pm, I was knackered, so a quick check of the moth box paid dividends when I found my first ever Lime Hawk-moth sat on my bike cover near the moth box. Elated, I rushed back indoors to grab my phone and took several photos of the moth; although I must say, it is a lot smaller than I anticipated, compared to say the Eyed Hawk-moth, but still stunning all the same. There was also a White Ermine, Willow Beauty and a worn Common Marbled Carpet by the box also.

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Vapourer Moth.

This morning, there was no sign of the Lime Hawk-moth, which was a shame, but my first Vapourer and Mottled Pug of the year were present within the box. A total of 46 moths of 27 species were present and included new for the year micros: European Corn Borer, Spilonota laricana and Clepsis consimilana. Migrants included 3 Silver Y and just the one Diamond-back Moth. Unfortunately, while trying to take photos of this mornings moths, the rain was getting heavier and heavier by the minute and so the quality of the photos are not up to my usual standard!.

I saw a couple of Green Woodpeckers today, both very well too; one in Kingston Cemetery in Portsmouth and the second at Portchester Crematorium. Several Mediterranean Gulls flew over there also. It looks like another balmy night coming up with the potential of more thunderstorms; so I shall put the moth box on again tonight.

Another new micro to add to my life list.

Wednesday 22nd June 2016.

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Drizzle welcomed me this morning in the garden at 6.30am and made photographing moths from my moth box a little challenging. A total of 50 moths of 27 species were present and a couple of micro moths needed a second opinion. I therefore sent photos of them off to John Langmaid to ID and I glad I did as I claimed my first ever Notocella rosaecolana. There was also my first Ailemma loeflingiana of the year.

I finally got down on a spreadsheet, a life list of all my micro moth sightings although I still feel there might be more to add at a later date. Currently, I have seen 178 species of which 95 have been seen in my garden. Not too bad seeing I have only been doing it 5 years now. Along with 327 species of macro moth, I have seen well over 500 species in the UK now!

Two new moths this morning.

Tuesday 21st June 2016.

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Tawny Marbled Minor.

Another new moth for the year this morning by my moth box, when I found a Tawny Marbled Minor resting on my bike. I thought it looked interesting and so potted it for a better view of it this evening. I also found an interesting micro moth, which I believe is a Timothy Tortrix, a species I do not recall in having seen before. There was a total of just 31 moths in and around the box of 21 species; a lot lower in number than this time last year. But, I am sure it will improve later in the year.

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The Hornet I found today in Durrington Cemetery.

I didn’t bother putting the box on Sunday night as a long weather front was coming in and right on cue, a huge deluge of rain came our way throughout the night and most of the following day. Some good news came my way when Becky and I noticed that our Swift nest box is being inhabited by a brood of Swifts and they have young. We could hear the youngsters calling to be fed as we watched an adult enter the nest hole. Just down the road from us, the Herring Gull chicks rare doing fine with three youngsters calling relentlessly to the adults for feeding.

On my travels today, I was in Durrington Cemetery, near Worthing, and whilst waiting by my vehicle, I spotted a Hornet resting on a leaf and bathing in the sunshine (see photo). Several Common Buzzards and Kestrels were seen today while I was driving along the A27 along with a Green Woodpecker flying low over the road. June can be an exciting month for the unusual birds and a Great Knot has taken up residence at Titchwell RSPB Reserve, North Norfolk; and looks resplendent in its summer plumage. Closer to home, a summer plumage Cattle Egret has been hanging around the fields by Siddlesham Ferry Pool for the past few days.

A superb morning’s walk by Woolmer Pond.

Saturday 18th June 2016.

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A well watered Woolmer Pond.

Though overcast, it was relatively mild this morning and I was wondering where to take my dog for a walk. I have not been to Woolmer Pond for sometime and so I opted to take him around here for a nice change. Though good for birds, the area is a haven for other wildlife and this morning, was no exception when I came across an awful lot of things to grab my attention!

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Moorhen chicks searching for food.

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A couple of Grey Lags near the footpath.

My trip kicked off with a sighting of a Peregrine flying low over the rooftops of Southsea, while making my north to Woolmer Pond. On reaching my destination, I came across the sign by the car park that the car park area was closed. However, I parked my car just inside the entrance and then made my way with Scruff to the Pond. Willow Warblers, Blackcaps, Common Whitethroats and Chiffchaffs were in full song as I walked anti-clockwise around the perimeter, but sadly, the red flags were flying, which meant no full walk around the Pond today. The water level on the Pond was quite high, which was due to all the recent rain of late.

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Common Blue Damselfly.

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Nettle-tap moth.

A good scan over the water revealed at least 30+ Sand Martin hawking for insects low over the water – always a pleasing sight for a bird that used to breed here. A pair of Grey Lag Geese were present near the main footpath, while on the water, good numbers of Mallard with their respective broods were present along with a Great Crested Grebe and some calling Little Grebes. The aforementioned Warblers were all seen well in the neighbouring woodland and both Great Spotted and Green Woodpecker were seen.

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Scorpion Fly.

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Tree Bumblebee.

I was hoping for Tree Pipit holding territory here but I couldn’t find any nor any Woodlarks. A lone Common Buzzard was seen being chased by some Crows over the woodland behind the Cottage and was the only raptor seen here this morning (though many more were seen on the journey home along the A3). Arguably the best birds seen this morning were the family of Redstarts in the Cottage garden. At least two youngsters were seen with the parents in close proximity, but I didn’t hang around too long in case I spooked them.

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Azure Damselfly.

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Female Emerald Damselfly.

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Blue-tailed Damselfly.

I soon got about studying the various insects along the nettles and plants beside the footpath and came across some exciting finds. Common Blue Damselfly, Blue-tailed Damselfly and the very delicate Emerald Damselfly were present in good numbers. Unfortunately, I didn’t find one Dragonfly this morning, which didn’t bode well in seeing any Hobbies this morning. Other interesting insects on show included Scorpion Flies, Harlequin and 6-spotted Ladybird and a couple of moths species: The diminutive Nettle-tap and the stunning Cinnabar Moth (two to be exact). The latter was my first of the year. I even found a Nursery Spider Pisaura mircabilis. which was waiting patiently for something to pounce on if it got to close.

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Cinnabar Moth.

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Nursery Spider.

Several bees were present including the attractive Tree Bumblebee Bombus hypnorum and the Early Bumblebee Bombus pratorium, which were feeding on nectar on the bramble flowers. I found a multitude of unusual flowers and plants on my walk round of which I shall be sending photos to Geoff Farwell for their ID. My most exciting find was of a tiny froglet which I perched on my hand for a photo, until it simply hopped off.

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Early Bumblebee.

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Froglet.

I thoroughly enjoyed my walk this morning for there was so much to look at and if I had the time, I could of easily spent the day here. I shall update my blog later once I have the identification of the plants I found this morning.

Again, low numbers of moths.

Saturday 18th June 2016.

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Anania coronata.

Moth numbers have certainly dropped this week with this morning producing just 24 moths of 15 species. Yes, the weather might have something to do with it as does the local House Sparrows feeding on the ones by the box, but, the good news is that I am still getting new moths for the year.

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Freyers Pug.

This morning, the attractive and striking Anania coronata was in my box but nothing new among the macro moths. Before retiring to bed last night, during a quick check of the moth, I found a couple of Chrysoteuchia culmella and potted them for the following day to photograph. Apologies for the crap photo! Three Eudonia angustia were present as well as my second Riband Wave of the year. The latter is a common moth in my trap and no doubt, will be in double figures soon. I have yet to have my first Garden Tiger of the year, but surely not too long away.

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One of the two potted Chrysoteuchia culmella.

Last night, I took up the task in documenting all my micro moths I have seen and have a long way to go to go through all my records over the past 6 years! But at least I am well over the hundred species. Good to see so many Swifts over my house this morning while I was checking the moths. I am not sure if they have taken to my nestbox yet, but they were certainly inquiring this week when I caught one individual perched up by the nesthole. A Greenfinch flew high over heading south this morning.

Less moths but still a lot of interest.

Friday 17th June 2016.

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Udea olivalis. New for the year.

I gave it a break from the moth box Wednesday night, but put the moth box on last night, despite the inclement weather of late. It has been showery all this week and today, there was some very heavy showers crossing over our southern region. Nevertheless, it is still quite warm and muggy at times, which is very encouraging for the moths.

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A deceased female Common Swift moth. This was found at Portchester Crem today and died probably due to the strong spider web stuck to its leg.

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Small Dusty Wave also at the Crem.

A couple of Pipestrelle Bats species (now recently split into two species by their calls!), have been seen flying over my garden this week, late evening; which is always good to see. I assume they are roosting in the roof of someone nearby? Among the 40 moths of 17 species, which is well down compared to a week ago, were 2 Lychnis, my first Udea olivalis of the year and my first Common Plume for several months. Only 5 Diamond-backed Moths were present, so I assume the recent eruption of them from the Continent is now over?

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Apple Leaf Miner. Thanks to John Langmaid in ID’ing it for me.

Over Portchester Crematorium today, I found a few moths present which included a deceased (appropriate I suppose!) female Common Swift; 1 Small Dusty Wave, 1 Common Pug, 2 Garden Carpets and a Bee Moth. As mentioned before on my blog, they are all resting on the glass within the flower bays. A Hobby was seen very briefly flying over the woodland by Hilsea Creek heading south-west; seen whilst driving westbound along the M27. Dip of the month for a lot of people, including myself, was a Pied Wheatear, which was found near Freshwater on the Isle of Wight. It seems it was a ‘one day bird’, for it couldn’t be found subsequently the following day. Grumble! I have never seen a Pied Wheatear and always wished to see one, especially in fresh Spring plumage. Wow!

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A slightly worse for wear Uncertain in the box this morning.

Other gripping birding news comes from Titchwell RSPB Reserve, in North Norfolk. A Great Knot is spending its second day there with a large flock of Knot. The photos are not bad of the bird too, in its breeding plumage. There will be an almighty ‘twitch’ if that bird hangs around over the weekend.

Scorching for Kittens!

Tuesday 14th June 2016.

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Sallow Kitten. Only my second for the garden.

After getting a near no-show of moths at Center Parcs over the weekend, I was pleasantly surprised with my haul within my garden this morning, which included 3 nice year ticks and including one new for the garden as well. The overnight rain obviously didn’t hamper the moth numbers as I totalled 80 moths of 21 species.

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Lychnis – another year tick.

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Scorched Wing – a first for the garden.

Most notable were a Sallow Kitten (2nd ever in the garden), Scorched Wing, which was a first for the garden and my first Lychnis of the year. Among the best of the rest included 2 Dark Arches, 23 Heart & Darts and a single Silver Y. The variety of micro moths was rather limited to just three species with 23 Diamond-backed Moths and a couple of Brown House Moths present. There was one other micro which I have to do a little digging to get the ID.

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Common Lutestring.

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Awaiting ID.

I was working at Portchester Crematorium today and checking the flower bays, I came across a few interesting moths which included my first Common Lutestring of the year and another macro which I am not quite sure of and awaiting ID from the experts. There was also a Buff Ermine lurking there too plus at least three Bee Moths.

Center Parcs: not bad for birds but quiet for moths.

Monday 13th June 2016.

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There was plenty of vegetation at the back of our cabin, but though the moths were poor, the birds were plentiful. This was arguably, the best cabin we have stayed in yet.

My wife and I have just returned back from Center Parcs, Longleat, having had a four day trip there staying in one of the rather ‘plusher’ cabins with family. My father-in-law, Trevor came along, as did my step-kids Hannah and Russell, along with his partner Sinead and their daughter Isabelle. The weather was a tad indifferent, with drizzle at times and mostly overcast, but it remained warm, nonetheless.

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One of the three Ravens seen in the woodland behind our cabin. There calls were heard frequently within the woodland. They even perched on the cabin roofs.

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I awoke to early morning drizzle more or less everyday but this didn’t upset the local birdlife, including this female Blackbird, from searching for food in the short grass at the back of the cabin.

Of course, I took my Moth box which I built a few weeks ago and was very surprised that very few moths took a liking to it. Possibly the light isn’t as strong as my main one but I was only averaging 4 moths per morning! But, despite the low numbers , there were two ‘lifers’ : White-spotted Pug and May Highflyer. Other moths present included Common Marbled Carpet, Green Carpet, Silver Ground Carpet, Common White Wave, Scalloped Hazel and several Diamond-backed Moths. I did find some other moths within the woodland during the daytime, which included Large Yellow Underwing, White Ermine and Red-necked Footman.

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The gang outside the Cabin.

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My first May Highflyer, which I found perched on the roof above my box this morning.

Our cabin was located in the Maple area of the Forest and large Spruce conifers were at the back of our Cabin as well as areas of grassland and bushes in the front. The usual birds were within the Forest and from the back garden, I watched at least 3 Ravens perched up within the wood and a couple of soaring Common Buzzards riding on the thermals overhead. A pair of Common Crossbills flew over, calling in doing so. Siskins were everywhere, though most remained very high up in the trees. Blackcaps, Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs sang within the bushes and trees and both Nuthatch and Treecreeper were seen. A pair of Bullfinches were seen briefly in the bushes from the back garden early one morning.

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White-spotted Pug. Yet another new moth which is easily told by the white spot at the end of the pointed abdomen.

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A Small Phoenix, my second ever, was found on Sunday morning and quickly potted to grab a half decent photo.

Both Goldcrest and Firecrests were heard in the woods but none were seen, though I fared better with the Coal Tits. The big lake held nothing out of the ordinary although it was very busy with guests using the boats and canoes. A Lesser Black-backed Gull swam on the water until a boat got too close.

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My first Common White Wave of the year.

Though our visit was short, it was a nice break for all of us and will probably pay another visit next year for Isabelle’s 3rd birthday.