Swallow-tailed Moth just avoids the Sparrows!

Monday 29th June 2015.

Swallow-tailed Moth

Swallow-tailed Moth.

I was too tired from the Durlston Head trip to get up early the following day to check the moth box, so I left it to last night to switch the box on. It paid off with two more nice year ticks and possibly a third, with a micro to be examined later today. There is a heatwave on its way this week, with temperatures set to soar into the eighties and overnight temperatures to be warm and muggy. Yep, horrible to sleep in but superb for moths; so I am expecting a good haul and many more new species for the year this week.

Dwarf Cream Wave

Dwarf Cream Wave.

This morning, a superb Swallow-tailed Moth was present within the box and a Dwarf Cream Wave was perched on the window of my back door. 44 moths of 23 species were recorded this morning, with one to be ID’d. I refound the Swallow-tailed Moth in my neighbours garden, though was quickly flushed by a House Sparrow. It narrowly avoided the Sparrow and a second Sparrow tried its luck, but the moth yet again avoided the determined bird and the moth safely flew into vegetation in my other neighbours garden. Phew!

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My second Argyresthia brockeella of the year.

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Spilonata ocellana. A new micro moth for the garden this year.

A superb Dorset day out at Durlston Head.

Saturday 27th June 2015.

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John Cronin and John Goodall by Tillywhim Caves.

John Goodall, John Cronan and myself took the drive down to Durlston Head for the annual Puffin tick off Durlston Head, in sunny Dorset. This is the third time in four years I have been coming here as we walk from the car park to the Dancing Ledge to view the Puffins and have lunch, followed by the long hilly walk back. It is a five mile round trip but it is challenging on the calf and thigh muscles with all the hill climbing we do. No matter how bloody fit you think you are, the last half mile is a killer on those poor feet!

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Razorbills and Guillemots offshore below the cliffs.

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Lulworth Skipper.

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Summer Chafer.

The weather was truly on our side today with a nice onshore wind and a clear blue sky enabling us to really enjoy all the superb wildlife we came across. It couldn’t have started any better, when as we were getting all our stuff ready from the back of the car, I heard something unusual flying overhead. Confused at first, it looked like a Siskin but with a very different call. I have heard singing Serins before but I wasn’t familiar with their flight call. When I got home later in the evening, I checked my bird app for flight calls of Serin and it was a dead match! I, therefore, quickly put it on Birdguides.

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Centaury.

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Fulmar flying below the cliffs.

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Roesels Bush Cricket nymphs.

Durlston Head has a wealth of wildlife to look at and we were quickly checking the sea down below the cliff path for the Auks. Both Guillemot and Razorbill were in good numbers and in attendance, the odd Fulmar flew past and a few Shags were seen perched on the rocks below. A scan out over the relatively calm sea revealed a few adult Gannets drifting past. A single Sandwich Tern flew past heading east low over the water and much further along the coast, I picked up several adult Kittiwakes over the water.

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Adult Gannet drifting west offshore.

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Oak Eggar caterpillar on the footpath.

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A Peregrine flying away from us after being flushed by a fencepost.

Peregrines gave everything the chase, seeing there was at least one pair with their two offspring all on the wing to harass the local Pigeons, Gulls and Crows! Occasionally, we would come across one of the beautiful falcons perched on a fencepost, but never allowed a close approach. We notched up over 32 species of bird on our journey and though the Puffins were seen (although probably just the one individual seen several times), we also found a pair of Black Redstarts searching for food where we had our lunch! I know they are present at this location, but it was the first time we had seen then here.

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Marbled White.

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Dock Leaf Shield Bug.

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Male Stonechat.

Other interesting birds included at least six Stonechat, Common Whitethroat, a couple of Yellowhammers, Raven, Linnets, a pair of Kestrels, up to two Common Buzzards and plenty of Rock Pipits. I have to be honest, I was more in search for butterflies, insects and plants and came across a huge variety to look at. We came across our first Slow Worm in many a year, which John Goodall spotted on the footpath in front of us. We quickly picked it up so I could take a decent photo of it and then carefully released it back into the tall grass.

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Slow Worm.

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Dingy Skipper.

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Peregrine flying overhead.

A couple of interesting Beetles were found and the good chaps on Facebook have identified them as a Summer Chafer and a Bloody-nose Beetle. Butterflies were abundant on the footpath near the cliff edge but there was definitely a lull in them up on the hill on our walk back. Probably Meadow Brown, Small Heath, Marbled White and Common Blue were by far the most common; though a Large Skipper and a Dingy Skipper were found. What I thought were Small Skippers were actually re identified on Facebook were in fact Lulworth Skippers, which are a ‘lifer’ for me. A pair of Small Tortoiseshells were seen all too briefly by the cliff edge and a superb Hummingbird Hawk-moth was seen too briefly also near where we had our lunch. Unfortunately, I was the only one who saw it.

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Common Blue.

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Peregrine perched on a post.

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Kittiwakes on the sea.

Other moths seen included a couple of Silver Y’s and a single Yellow Shell along the footpaths. A couple of Oak Eggar caterpillars were seen on the footpath and carefully replaced into the undergrowth to avoid them being trod on by the walkers. By 11.45am, we had actually reached are location by the Dancing Ledge. Here, we relaxed for about an hour, enjoying our lunch while watching the Auks, including a single Puffin, which preened on the sea. Rock Pipits flew overhead and the odd Oystercatcher was seen flying past low over the waves to add to our day total, along with a Raven. Amazingly, I watched a small passerine chase an insect on the small quarry wall and I released it was a male Black Redstart. I quickly called the guys over to view and both a male and female were seen, but the birds were quite secretive. I only managed a few half decent photos of the birds. Where we sat, the wall around us looked very unstable and likely to topple at any moment. We did have one fright when a rock landed not too far away from where we sat. I was convinced that a passer-by had deliberately thrown the rock over, but this couldn’t be proved.

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Female Black Redstart.

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And again.

After our lunch, we made our way back for the return journey. Skylarks and Meadow Pipits were singing overhead, while a pair of Common Buzzards gracefully hung in the air to survey their territory and what food they could find lurking somewhere in the grass. Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Stonechat were calling down below in some of the gulley’s and as we neared the Lighthouse road, we decided to follow it back up to the main car park. A few Swifts were seen flying around the cliffs and as I said to John G, they were probably nesting on the cliffs.

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Adult Shag.

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Raven passing by.

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Puffin on the sea.

I have not mentioned the wild flowers yet, but where do you start? The whole area was dominated by Pyramidal Orchids and among these, I did find a few Bee Orchids. I was hoping to find the Southern Marsh Orchid, but being unfamiliar with this species, I have sent a photo to my friend Geoff Farwell for his expert ID. Wild Iris were present as expected along the main footpath, while clumps of pink Centaury and lavender coloured Thrift were swaying in the light breeze. I would have a job to name all the flowers seen, but as we walked back up the hill and along the top, we certainly noticed a lack of butterflies up here.

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Bee Orchid.

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Bloody nosed Beetle.

It was nearly 4pm by the time we got back to the car and with very sore feet, I gratefully accepted a very warm bottle of Lucozade to quench my first from Johnny G and reflect on the way home, what a superb day we had.

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Compo, Foggy and Clegg alias myself, John Cronin and John Goodall!

More new moths for the year.

Saturday 27th June 2015.

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Light Arches.

I was up at 4.30am this morning for I was going to Durlston Head, Dorset, with John Goodall and John Cronin today for our annual trip to see the Puffins. But, beforehand, I had the moth box on overnight and I was glad I did. I had two more year ticks for the garden, within the box: Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing and a Light Arches plus my second Lackey and Anania coronata of the year.

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Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing.

In all, there were 31 moths of 21 species. There were probably more around, but even at this time of the morning, the predatory Sparrows were around the moth box when I ventured into the garden!

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Lackey.

More ‘new for the year’ in the moth box.

Friday 26th June 2015.

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My first Barred Yellow of the year.

It has been an interesting couple of days within the moth box with a few more year ticks added, though still only one Hawk-moth for the year in my garden. My friend Geoff Farwell had a Lime-Hawk Moth in his garden during the week, although he says he has a lot of Lime Trees down his road. Surely there are some near my house?

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Argyresthia brockeella. Another year tick.

Yesterday, there were 42 moths of 28 species, but although there were a few nice moths, notably Common Emerald and a Dark Arches, it was the micro moths that were a little ‘head scratching’. John Langmaid was currently busy, so he couldn’t ID a few of them and Ian Thirlwell said that my images were too blurry to get a correct ID. I must now consider in not using my iphone and use a much better camera instead to get a much better image of the moth to stand any chance of ID, should I send photos to anyone. Or I shall simply collect the moth and take it round either Ian’s or Johns.

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To be ID’d.

Today, there was 41 moths of 23 species of which, a superb Barred Yellow and a beautiful Argyresthia brockeella were found; the former was inside the back door, on the window, so I quickly caught it to be properly ID’d once I had done the rounds. Another moth, a Tawny Speckled Pug, was also new for the year, which I found on the nearby fence panel. I did put out a photo of an unidentified micro on the Facebook page to be ID’d.

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Crambus pascuella. This was found yesterday.

Acrobasis advenella new for the year.

Wednesday 24th June 2015.

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Acrobasis advenella.

I was up early again this morning to check the moth box and although it was probably a very clear evening, there were 39 moths of 17 species. Pick of the bunch goes to my first Acrobasis advenella of the year; a rather attractive micro that I seem to get every year. I was glad I now sent a photo of it to John Langmaid to ID as I had it down as A. suevella.  Another Treble Brown Spot, which I believe is my third of the year, was nearly taken by a Sparrow, as it sat on the back window. The most numerous moth were the Heart & Darts, with 7 present.

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Green Pug & Tachystola acroxantha.

Cycle ride from Southsea to Hayling Oysterbeds and back.

Tuesday 23rd June 2015.

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The Hayling Billy Trail on Hayling Island.

I have been nagged mercilessly about going out on my bike and getting more exercise, so I took a ride from Southsea to the Hayling Oysterbeds and back. Yes, even at my tender age, it was possible on my old steed and there was a good array of nature to look at and the weather was just superb. There was no need to go flat out on the bike as I took in the sights and sounds of Langstone Harbour all the way there.

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Poppies were abundant by the footpath.

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Meadow Browns were abundant also.

I have to say, these cycle routes that the Council have done for the public are second to none. Some were so smooth that there was hardly any need to pedal! I shall let the photos do the talking, this time, but I did come across a few stunning sightings. I set my sights on Hayling Oysterbeds, but I had to pass Farlington Marshes first. I have not cycled to ‘The Marsh’ for nearly 35 years and had a quick rest by the Car Park entrance. The tide was slowly coming up within Langstone Harbour when I arrived here, but a quick look over the Bushes area, I could hear a Common Whitethroat in full song and could even see it perched high up in one of the Blackthorns.

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Large Skipper.

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Common Terns on the spit.

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Meadow Brown.

I have walked the cycle path many a time on my visits here, but it was the first time I have ever cycled it. As I neared the east side of the reserve, I could see a wealth of plants on either side of the path. Mallow, Birds-foot Trefoil, Hogweed (I think?), Yellow Vetch and Vipers Bugloss dominated but as I cycled further nearing Broadmarsh, I found swards of Pyramidal Orchids. First there was a few dotted around then I came across a large stretch of them and promised myself that I shall take a photograph of them on the return journey.

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My first Marbled Whites of the year were along the Hayling Billy Trail.

Negotiating the unfamiliar cycle track (mostly the footpaths beside the roads) to Langstone, I soon made my way south through Langstone, over the bridge and then onto Hayling Oysterbeds. The Hayling Billy Line was teeming with life and I simply had to stop to take it all in. Butterflies were everywhere and I notched up several year ticks into the bargain. Meadow Browns were everywhere, while both Marbled White, Small Heath and Large Skipper were seen.

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Vipers Blugoss.

Within the harbour, on the edge of the Oysterbeds, a Common Tern was heard calling and quickly found on the shingle spit. I was thinking it was the female begging for food from its nearby fishing partner? As I neared the main area, the noise of the Gulls and Terns dominated. Meanwhile, I decided to rest by the shelter and take in all the activity going on. I took several photos and some video footage of all the action going on here and after a well-earned drink, I then took a cycle up the path to check the fauna on the small hill.

Hayling Oysterbeds in all its glory.

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Gulls and Terns on the Oyster Beds.

I was very pleased to find my first Hummingbird Hawk-moth of the year, busy feeding on nectar from the Vipers Blugoss. I took some video footage, which was a bit better than my photos! St. Johns Wort, a bright tall yellow flower, were abundant too among the Blugoss.

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My Bridge camera is good, but not as good as some of the DSLR cameras out there. However, this is one of the best photos of the Hummingbird Hawk-moth I saw today.

Hummingbird Hawk-moth by the Oysterbeds.

A Painted Lady butterfly was seen on the footpath busy searching for a nice flower to obtain nectar from. This one looked quite pale, but I have heard that the UK is expecting an invasion of them. Another look over the Oysterbeds and I found my first juvenile Black-headed Gulls on the water. Mediterranean Gulls, Common and Sandwich Terns were all seen among the throng of activity.

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A male Kestrel was hunting over the nearby fields.

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St. Johns Wort was also abundant on the Oyster Beds.

The cycle ride back was much harder than I anticipated (I really am not fit!) but I made it home, nonetheless. I did stop off briefly to photograph the superb Pyramidal Orchids, making sure I was out of the way of any passing cyclists (and there were a few!). I was hoping to find a Bee Orchid but they eluded me this time. I have to admit, I get a bit nervous on the roads and being a long time driver, I can see why some cyclists keep to the footpaths instead of the road. It is good to see both sides of the story and in future, will be much more considerate (I normally am) to those cyclists on the road.

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Pyramidal Orchid.

In Hampshire today, the summering Greater Yellowlegs was still present and correct on Titchfield Haven and in West Sussex, the Hudsonian Whimbrel was showing well to the appreciating crowd off Church Norton; although no sign of the Terek Sandpiper.The moth box, this morning, was much quieter than normal.  There were just 23 moths of 16 species, despite a dry night.

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Pyramidal Orchids along the footpath.

Terek Sandpiper in Pagham Harbour.

Monday 22nd June 2015.

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The Terek Sandpiper (honest!) within Pagham Harbour today. Again, apologies for the very poor photos, but the bird was distant and the overcast conditions didn’t help.

I had some time on my hands and despite the gloomy wet weather, I had to go for the Terek Sandpiper off Church Norton. The weather forecasters predicted the inclement weather would disappear south by midday – fat chance! I pulled up into yet another packed churchyard car park at Church Norton and was rather lucky to grab the last parking space.

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At least one can see the legs and bill shape well.

I had followed a chap to the site in his car and he apologised to me for driving so slow. He then told me he had driven from east Devon to see the bird! Fair play to him as we walked to the viewpoint overlooking the harbour and Tern Island. High tide wasn’t till later this afternoon but it didn’t take too long to locate my second ever Terek Sandpiper.

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The photos do not get any better!

There wasn’t many waders present within the harbour where we were looking; several Ringed Plover, three Dunlin and single of Oystercatcher and Turnstone. The Terek’s was busy searching for food and was a bit of a nightmare at times in catching up with it for it was very active and disappearing into the many small channels within the harbour. When it did show well, one could clearly see the long upcurved bill and yellowy orange legs, although it remained distant all the time and I soon realised my Bridge camera was not going to be of any use.

I had to settle in trying to digiscope the bird using my scope and iphone, so I apologise now for the quality of the photos. Plus, the bird was very active and keeping up with it using my gear was short of near impossible at times. The crappy weather didn’t help either as another belt of heavy drizzle came down. When the sun did reappear occasionally, it had disappeared.

There was a long spell where the bird had disappeared down a channel. A large gathering of birders were north of the Hide, viewing the Hudsonian Whimbrel, which is spending another week here by the looks of things and luckily for me, I picked it up in the scope from where I stood, which saved me a long walk. Again, it was like looking at a Curlew with a very pale face and supercillium! Who would have believed two major rarities in the same harbour?

A few Common and Sandwich Terns were fishing in the channel, but not a lot else around during the half and hour I was there. Parking was at a premium by Church Norton, so I thought I would depart early and let someone else have a turn. Though not a ‘lifer’, it was still good to get a quality year tick.

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The Caddis Fly species Limnephilus marmoratus.

I had an email today from Ian Thirlwell that he had ID’d a Caddis Fly species I gave him a few weeks back – Mystacides longicordis. A much larger Caddis Fly found this morning by the moth box was kindly also identified by Ian as Limnephilus marmoratus, which are fairly common.

A couple of Varied Coronets liven up a wet morning.

Monday 22nd June 2015.

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One of two beautiful Varied Coronets this morning.

Regrettably, I forgot to check the overnight weather forecast and almost paid the price. Heavy rain came down in the early hours of the morning and I didn’t have my rain guard on my moth box! Disaster beckoned, with thoughts of soggy egg trays and a couple of inches of water in the box loomed. However, remarkably, there was no water within the box, but I could see some moths drowning in my grandchild’s paddling pool!

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Crambus lathoniellus.

I quickly went into ‘Superman’ mode and quickly rescued a Heart & Dart, Riband Wave and my first Lackey of the year. Hoping for a photo of the latter were dashed when I emptied the pool as the moth drifted off on a tidal wave of water!

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The well marked Lychnis. My third for the year.

However, within the box, I found my first Varied Coronets of the year. These stunning moths livened up a very dull drizzly morning along with another Lychnis. Another Yarrow Plume was within the box, a species up until yesterday, was a new one for me and confirmed by John Langmaid as well. Despite the inclement weather, which is supposed to move south later today and lead to a much sunnier day, I still notched up 41 moths of 20 species, which I was more than happy with.

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Eudona mercurella.

Ian Thirlwell kindly identified a Crambus species of moth for me yesterday, which are now becoming much more apparent in the box. Ian identified a Crambus lathoniellus, which a couple were in the box this morning. When the rain stops after the local Sparrows have stopped searching for the moths to devour, I wonder what will be lurking in the flower pots?

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White Ermine.

Pagham Harbour kept the June bird rarities ticking along when a Terek Sandpiper was discovered just north of the bench at Church Norton yesterday. A lovely surprise for Fathers Day who were out birding. I didn’t have time to go and see it, so I am hoping that once the rain has departed, it might be still there today. To my knowledge, I think I have only ever seen one and that was on the 13th May 2008 in Christchurh Harbour, Dorset!

Single-dotted Wave added to year list.

Sunday 21st June 2015.

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Single-dotted Wave.

It was back to back garden mothing this morning and I was happy with the variety of moths in and around the moth box. With at least 41 moths of 29 species, there were a few surprises among them. My first Single-dotted Wave of the year was present along with a brightly coloured Carcina quercana micro moth. There was also an interesting Plume Moth which looks good for Yarrow Plume, a first for me.

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Yarrow Plume.

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Carcina quercana was new for the year.

My second Common Emerald of the year was sitting on the bike cover and also another Lychnis added a bit of variety. I have not seen the similar Campion yet in the flesh, so I am ever hopeful. A well-marked male Bee Moth was sitting above the box and another Small Magpie was within the box.

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Lychnis.

John Levy, from Basingstoke, got his second Striped Hawk-moth yesterday among another good haul within his garden. If only one would pop in this neck of the woods! On the birding scene yesterday (I was too busy over HMS Sultan, in Gosport, watching Hannah complete her 130 mile sponsored cycle ride), a summer plumaged Black-necked Grebe has been residing near the Hill Head area and my friend, John Goodall, managed to catch up with it.

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A male Bee Moth.

Bishops Waltham moth bonanza.

Saturday 20th June 2015.

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Privet Hawk-moth. One of three present this morning.

It was back over Bishops Waltham this morning, 6am to be precise, as I was hoping for a much better return than my last two trips with the moth box. The signs were good with warm overnight temperatures and a cloudy sky, which should summon up a reasonable haul. When I arrived, there were moths all over the back wall of the house and a huge amount within the moth box itself.

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Small Waved Umber.

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Clouded Silver.

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Coleophora mayrella. A new micro moth for me.

Over 102 moths of 55 species were counted, similar to the amount I used to get at Simons Cottage by Hazelholt Wood and among these, I had four new macro ‘lifers’ and four micro ‘lifers’ (thanks to John Langmaid for the ID on these). The macros were: Beautiful Golden Y, Double Square-spot, Shoulder-striped Wainscot and Buff Footman while the micros included Agapeta hamana, Cnephasia asseciana, Coleophora mayrella and Pammene trauniana.

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Small Yellow Shell.

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Sharp-angled Peacock.

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Broken-barred Carpet.

New for the year included up to 3 Privet Hawk-moths, Small Waved Umber, Clouded Silver, Small Yellow Wave, Sandy Carpet, Mottled Rustic, Light Emerald, Sharp-angled Peacock, Light Emerald, Smoky Wainscot, Cypress Carpet, Scorched Wing, Broken-barred Carpet, Mottled Beauty and Udea olivalis. My second Small Mottled Willow of the week was also present among the throng.

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Shoulder-striped Wainscot.

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Agapeta hamana.

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Beautiful Golden Y. Another lifer.

It took me well over an hour to photograph and record the moths and by 7.30am, after showing my host, Trudi, the Privet Hawk-moths (so she can show her girls later), I made my way home. After dropping off a friend later this morning, I popped into John Langmaids house and he helped me ID the C. mayrella and also a lot of the new macros and micros I had this morning via the photos on my iphone.

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Double Square-spot.

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Mottled Willow.