Two new micro moths by the moth box.

Friday 29th May 2015.

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Coptotriche marginea.

The temperature has dropped a lot this week, which has probably resulted in the decline in moths numbers around Hampshire. This morning, I had 20 moths of 13 species, of which only one couldn’t be identified. It was a very small micro moth and I don’t think my iphone really picked up a sharp enough image of it, to help with its ID.

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Mompha subbistrigella.

However, John Langmaid kindly ID’d a couple of new moths for me (again, very small micros): Coptotriche marginea and Mompha subbistrigella. There were no new macro moths this morning and pretty much the same species as yesterday. My Field Guide to the Micro Moths of Great Britain and Ireland came this morning through the post and I look forward in reading this over the weekend.

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On a more controversial issue, I am enjoying this series of Springwatch (while the rest of the family watch those awful soaps!). Based at the superb RSPB reserve at Minsmere, on the Suffolk coast, they are watching intendedly, the exploits of the local Badgers, of which last year, they wiped out all the Avocet chicks. They have put GPS monitors on some of the Badgers and the RSPB have put a huge wire fence all around the main scrape, to stop the Badgers entering the Scrape. It looks pretty successful so far. My point is, that not one word has been mentioned about the Badger Cull going on by this Government. Have the presenters all been told to NOT mention it? And also the proposed repeal vote regarding bringing back Fox Hunting? And what about the superb footage of the Hen-Harriers on the Orkneys? All that was mentioned is that there is just ONE breeding pair in the whole of England! That’s because the rich landowners are paying their Gamekeepers to shoot anything that could eat the grouse chicks! Slaughter on our own doorstep!

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Cypress Tip Moth Argyresthia cuppresella. My second of the year.

I know it is a family show, but come on. We are not stupid and the public NEED to know what is being done to our wildlife. We have hardly any wildlife programmes on our terrestrial television anymore, what with bloody soaps, quiz shows and dreadful ‘reality’ programmes; I think the British public are simply being brainwashed with a tide of shite! So, you guys on Springwatch, SPEAK UP FOR NATURE, PLEASE! Love the show, by the way.

Marbled Minor new for year.

Thursday 28th May 2015.

Marbled Minor agg.

Despite overcast conditions last night, there were even less moths on show early this morning than yesterday. However, I have a sneaking suspicion that a Blackbird is coming down to the box to feast on my moths. A male flew down very close to where I stood as I was checking the box; so maybe he has taken a liking to them?

Least Black Arches. This individual is still present.

There were 23 moths present of 11 species this morning. Pick of the bunch was my first Marbled Minor of the year, a very dark individual which could quite possibly be Tawny Marbled Minor, although one has to check its genitalia to be absolute certain! No thanks.

White Ermine.

Less moths than yesterday, but still good.

Wednesday 27th May 2015.

This Caddis Fly species, Mystacides longicornis, which had me fooled for a Rush Veneer!

Due to clear skies overnight, I didn’t expect to get anywhere near the numbers of moths as I did yesterday. In fact, 32 moths of 17 species wasn’t too bad, I guess; again, far better than last week. There were no new moths for the year, just a mixture of yesterdays species. I also had a bonus of a couple of Common Terns flying high over, calling as they flew east towards Langstone Harbour.

Prays ruficeps.

After yesterday’s Argyresthia cuppresella being identified, there was another similar micro by the box last night and also a possible Rush Veneer. The former, I am still awaiting ID for along with another micro, but the latter turned out to be a small species of Caddis Fly (Mystacides longicornis)! Egg on my face again, especially as I put it out on various sites about my sighting! Never mind, I have to take the rough with the smooth!

Blastobasis lacticolella. These were kindly ID'd by John Langmaid.

Four ‘NFY’ moths in highest moth total this year.

Tuesday 26th May 2015.

Small Dusty Wave

This morning’s haul of moths was by far the highest I have had this year. 61 moths of 25 species were on show and proof of it being a good morning for them, was when I checked the moth box last night. Before retiring to bed, at least 20 moths were already on show!

Flame Shoulder.

The ‘new for year’ moths included Flame Shoulder (for my garden, as I did see one in Bishops Waltham recently), Small Dusty Wave, Bee Moth and Cydia pomonella. With fine weather predicted for the rest of the week, it shall be interesting what will turn up next. Bordered Straw or Striped Hawk Moth is the flavour of the month so far, with several turning up in migrant hot spots.

Bee Moth.

Cydia Pomonella.

Stop press: a little micro has been identified by Mike Wall of Hants Moths and the chaps from Garden Moth Scheme (Facebook site). It is my first Argyresthia cuppresella. Photos below:

Argyresthia cuppresella.

Argyresthia cuppresella

Highland Road Cemy & Petersfield Lake.

Monday 25th May 2015.

Footpath leading east through the Cemy.

I was ordered to take the dog for a walk this morning as my wife wanted to get the house clean and tidy. Without hesitation (anything to get out of housework!), Scruff had his lead on as we made our way to Highland Road Cemetery. Though overcast, it was still quite mild, with hardly any wind, when we arrived at the entrance gates. The pair of Swallows were still present around the entrance of the Cemy and high up, at least four Swifts were seen.

Herb Bennet. A new plant for me, I think. This was growing in various areas of the Cemy.

A beautiful display of Ox-eye Daisies.

Yet again, birds were at a premium and thankfully, insects and plants grabbed my attention. Up to three species of butterfly were seen this morning, which included a couple of Holly Blues, one Small White and my first Common Blue’s of the year; though none lingered long enough for me to grab a photo. A few Bee’s and odd looking insects were also seen, of which I have sent one to be ID’d on the Facebook page. I did find a Queen Wasp looking for somewhere to lay her eggs by a graveside, but even that was difficult to photo, whilst she was in flight.

One of the Chestnuts overlooking the Mausoleum.

The whole Cemetery was alive with the sound of juvenile Starlings and their parents, which were in family flocks throughout the area, especially in the clump of Holm Oaks. Several Blackbirds were present, searching for worms within the short grass. The odd Blue Tit was seen occasionally and a Wren sang for a brief while. My hat goes off, incidentally, to my friend John Goodall, who successfully twitched both the Bonaparte’s Gull (yesterday) and the Greater Yellowlegs (this morning). Well done that man.

A pair of the Egyptian Geese at Petersfield Lake.

This afternoon, I took the family for a walk around Petersfield Lake (Heath Pond to the locals). Parking was a bit of a nightmare as there was a small fairground on the north side of the lake. I was surprised to see so many Egyptian Geese here, with at least five birds present on the north shore. A lone Great Crested Grebe swam on the water and both Whitethroat and Reed Warbler were holding territories nearby. Overhead, we watched both Swifts and House Martins chase insects high up over the water; the latter were also seen building nests under the eaves of the houses on the north side.

Good moth numbers continue in the garden.

Monday 25th May 2015.

Pale Mottled Willow. A year tick.

Another relaxing Bank Holiday coming up? Fat chance! House work etc planned for the morning (I was up ironing shirts at 7am!), but I did get to check the moth box, which is going through a purple patch in numbers. I was too busy to log what I saw yesterday morning, but there were 33 moths of 23 species. New for the year was my first Pale Mottled Willow – a really common moth I get regularly in the garden from now on in.

Common Marbled Carpet.

This morning, there were 35 moths of 17 species. No ‘new for the year’, but another Least Black Arches, 2 Common Marbled Carpets, single Garden Pebble and a worn Freyer’s Pug. Yesterday was spent moving the garden plants and furniture around and generally tidying up and yes, my wife wanted me to put my moth box by the back door instead of where it normally sits. I have to keep the peace and obey her every command!

Least Black Arches.

Little Terns on Farlington Marshes this morning.

Saturday 23rd May 2015.

Reed Warbler on the Lake.

After my superb early morning check of the moth box, I decided to go birding around Farlington Marshes. Though I wore a fleece, it was generally quite mild and warm when the sun occasionally came out. Recently, three Spoonbills have been present on the reserve and a Curlew Sandpiper (one on Titchfield Haven today) had popped in one afternoon only during the week. What could I find?

How beautiful is that. This Little Egret was by the Sluice gates.

Gadwall near the Point Field.

In truth, I was hoping to find my first Little Terns of the year as quite a few had been seen in this area during the week. The tide was going out on my arrival, so my chances on the west side of the reserve proved slim, but there was always a chance on the west side of the harbour, by the islands. I was really pleased to see there have been some improvement on the reserve and therefore, my hat goes off to those guys filling up the uneven ground around the harbour wall and also this installation of a new bench to sit on. Fantastic. I hope there is more of them to come.

Great Crested Grebes flying north over the channel on the west side.

Sedge Warbler.

Walking through the Bushes area to the Lake, Common Whitethroat, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Cetti’s Warbler and Song Thrush were all in good voice. A Sedge Warbler was by the small gate, doing its display flight every so often. A check in the harbour revealed just a few Gull and Shelduck on the mudflats, but no sign of any Terns in the creek or by the Eastern Road Bridge.

The lone Brent Goose on the Deeps.

Female Reed Bunting by the Deeps.

The Lake was fairly quiet too, though several Reed Warblers and another Sedge Warbler were showing well. By the Sluice, a gorgeous Little Egret stood out well in the early morning light, fishing in the still water. Starlings were literally everywhere and the sound of their calling offspring could be heard all over the reserve. It looks as though they are in for a good year due to the amount of young birds present.

The new bench overlooking the reserve on the west side.

Med Gulls looking for worms in the fields.

Nearing the Point Field, a pair of Gadwall were seen rummaging about on the grass and maybe a second pair were seen in the Deeps area. Linnets were all over the place within the brambles and the occasional Meadow Pipit ‘parachuted’ close to the footpath. A pair of Skylarks were flushed by something unseen and flew off into the fields. Out in the harbour, I could hear almost immediately, the excited call of Little Terns. It didn’t take me long to pick one up, fishing over the still water near the RSPB islands along with at least ten more! Even a Common Tern joined them followed by a flock of 9 Great Crested Grebes flying north over the water! A real surprise, was when a small group of 3 Sanderling flew overhead, calling, then flew off high southbound.

Common Whitethroat.

Common Whitethroat in song near the Deeps.

The Deeps held nothing that exciting despite a good search in all the small inlets, for a small wader could be easily hidden within one of these. A sorry sight was the lone Brent Goose grazing all by itself and destined to spend the summer here, which happens quite often. While watching another Sedge Warbler singing, a female Reed Bunting flew out of cover and landed on the opposite side of the small stream, intent in picking off small insects within the grass.

Some of the many juvenile Starling present on the reserve.

Another Reed Warbler, near the Info Centre this time.

Sedge Warbler singing near the Deeps.

As I passed the Blockhouse, I came across the new bench that has been placed here looking north west over the reserve. A commemorative plaque for the late Katie Haines, just 18, who passed away recently was on the bench. Sad. But a lovely tribute for what was probably a lovely girl. RIP Katie. I for one, will be using that bench often. While sitting there, I noticed a flock of Mediterranean Gulls feeding on probably earthworms on the grass, in front of the Lake. They suddenly all took off then settled again, to feed some more, with at least 20 birds being present.

Coming up to the Info Centre, where ‘our friend’ sleeps overnight (some homeless chap who kips there every night, it seems), I heard a Bearded Tit calling in the reedbed to the north of the footpath. Sure enough, a female flew low over the footpath and landed out of view in the reedbed opposite. Another bird, a male, was seen further south and a Reed Warbler was also showing well where the reeds had been cut over the winter. A pair of Cetti’s Warblers showed well by one of the tall bushes by the footpath. On the water near the Info Centre, there was one Black-tailed Godwit feeding and a pair of Lesser Black-backed Gulls preening in the water. Further along the stream, at least 20 or more Black-tailed Godwits were feeding in the water, but no sign of a possible Hudsonian among them! Grumble! The Bushes area was fairly quiet but a Chiffchaff showed well and I caught sight of my first Small Heath butterfly of the year.

Light Brocade – a new ‘lifer’ in my moth box this morning.

Saturday 23rd May 2015.

Light Brocade.

With warm overnight conditions and the weekend looking very good, the moth box looks set for a busy few days. If yesterday’s moth haul was good, then this mornings was better! At least 45 moths of 25 species recorded this morning and a few more yet to be ID’d.

Common Marbled Carpet.

Psychoides filicivora.

Mystery moth?

Pick of the bunch easily goes to my first ever Light Brocade, a really smart looking moth. There were year ticks of Common Marbled Carpet, White-point, White Ermine, Current & Freyer’s Pug, Ephestia parasitella and another micro finally nailed down and ID’d by John Langmaid, a Psychoides filicivora, which have been present all week by the moth box. Apparently, they feed on Ferns but I have none in my garden!

The Light Brocade and White-point.

Hobby and Lesser Whitethroat NFY on Thorney Island.

Friday 22nd May 2015.

Drinker Moth caterpillar.

I took a walk with Scruff down the west side of Thorney Island this afternoon and I was pleased to notch up another two year ticks. It was relatively mild this afternoon, with little wind and when the sun did poke through occasionally, it was pleasantly warm. The tide was up within Emsworth Harbour, so I was hoping for a few Terns to be fishing around.

Mystery Beetle.

A male Kestrel hovering near the footpath.

Almost immediately as I got out of the car, I clapped eyes on my first Hobby of the year. Several Swallows gave off their alarm call and suddenly, a superb Hobby belted past me at great speed heading towards the east side of the island. Now that was a good start to any trip here. Sedge Warblers and Common Whitethroats could be heard singing in the distance, as was a male Cuckoo, which I watched flying south east over the fields towards the farm buildings. I found a Drinker moth caterpillar down in the grass by the gate, which was a nice surprise.

Swallow on overhead wire along the footpath.

Med Gulls flew overhead, while Swallow numbers built up as I made my way along the footpath. A small group of four House Martins darted overhead, heading northbound. The ‘pinging’ of Bearded Tits could be heard to the south and sure enough, I spotted a male flitting about in the reedbed. The vegetation on both sides of the footpath has really grown including a nice variety of wild flowers and plants. Common Vetch was growing everywhere along the footpath along with Winter-cress, Meadow Buttercup & Forgetmenot. Large clumps of White Campion was seen along the footpath south. A male Kestrel was seen hovering over the field’s close by, but no sign of any Turtle Doves in the small Copse, despite a good search.

Forget me nots.

Sedge Warbler.

Once I reached the seawall, I kept an eye out for any Terns on show. I still have not seen a Little Tern this year, although they seem to be showing well off Farlington Marshes of late. However, both Sandwich and Common Tern were seen fishing in the harbour. The unusual sight of a pair of Mallard with six young offspring on the water took me by surprise, but the female soon led them up the sea wall then down to the Little Deeps for safety.

Mallard ducklings climbing the sea wall.

This brood were on the Great Deeps.

The reedbed by the Little Deeps held good numbers of both Reed and Sedge Warbler. Reed Buntings were seen singing, while overhead, the solid sound of Skylark could be heard as I watched a bird high up in the sky. A few Little Grebes and Tufted Ducks swam on the calm water, but nothing else of note. The Great Deeps was fairly quiet too, though a pair of Great Crested Grebes swam on the water and on the water’s edge, a flock of around a dozen Oystercatchers were resting. A few Redshank were nearby and in some brambles, there was a singing male Lesser Whitethroat, my first of the year. It took a while, but eventually, I saw the little mite on top of the brambles. A second bird was heard singing somewhere south of the gate.

Singing male Common Whitethroat.

Record photo of the singing male Lesser Whitethroat.

On the way back, I encountered a second Mallard brood, swimming on the water on the Great Deeps. All the usual birds were seen again on the way back, but a Cetti’s Warbler showed well briefly. I didn’t see one butterfly this afternoon, which was unusual here; however, I did find a micro moth – Notocelia cynosbatella, flitting about in a bramble. That was unexpected! A female Stonechat was seen on the wires just south of the Little Deeps along with numerous Linnets on show.

Female Stonechat on the wires.

A male Linnet by the footpath.

Scruff flushed a juvenile Starling from the edge of the footpath, but the bird flew up to safety into a bramble. I don’t even think he saw it, to be honest. It was a good afternoon for finding young birds, as I found my first young Coot being fed by its parent by the edge of the Little Deeps. Several more Common Whitethroats were seen along the walk back to the car and a Chiffchaff was heard calling somewhere in the Copse. A Goldcrest was also heard singing in the tall Pine by the Water works. A very pleasant afternoon’s walk. Now to bath the dog, seeing he rolled in something! Grrrr!

Young Coot being fed by its parent on the Little Deeps.

The juvenile Starling.

Best haul of moths this year in the garden.

Friday 22nd May 2015

Swift over my house.

This one was in my neighbours box.

Not easy to photo with the Bridge camera, but I was pleased with this shot.

Well, it was the best mornings haul of moths for the year so far for me this morning. Dave Owens prediction of a warm evening came true when I noticed last night, the amount of moths already by the moth box at 11pm with my first Heart & Dart of the year and a super little micro moth – Phyllonorycter leucographella – measuring only 2mm long!

Phyllonorycter leucographella. Sorry its not a sharp photo, but I took this using my iphone and being very small, it still shows the unique markings on such a small moth.

Orange Footman.

Earlier in the evening, I noticed the Swifts were back in my nest box under the eave of my house and also occupying the nest box on the opposite side of the house as well (see photos). I am going to see if my neighbours are willing to have a box under their eaves. We have at least 18 Swifts over my area of Southsea at present. It was great watching one of them skim low over my head to check if it was clear to fly into the nest box.

Heart & Dart. Another year tick.

Willow Beauty.

This morning, it took me at least half an hour to count and record the moths this morning as I notched up 27 moths of 19 species. ‘New for the year’ included Willow Beauty, Heart & Dart, a superb Orange Footman and micro moths Agonopterix arenella, Ephestia unicolorella and Notocelia cynobatella.

Diamond-backed Moth with a Notocelia cynosbatella.

Ephestia unicolorella