31 July, 2009

Micros and Macros

I don't know what it is about them, but Moth watching is actually quite addictive; when you are looking for them you really don't want to stop. Sometimes I find myself going to bed at 1am after spending a couple of hours in the garden watching absolutely nothing, but still not giving up hope! However, these last couple of nights have been especially good, weather wise for Moths, both Macro (the larger families) and Micros (the 'minute' families)

The Brown House Moth (Hofmannophila pseudospretella) is one of those Micro species which you really don't want in the house. They will eat through clothes and curtains and can easily pass by un-notice due to their small size...

Brown House Moth (Hofmannophila pseudospretella)

The Micro Moth, Blastobasis adustella is another species that can easily find its way inside the house if attracted to a light, but I don't think they do any damage. These Moths have a very distinctive long, thin shape with a V-pattern on across their backs.

Blastobasis adustella

The night before last, this Shuttle-shaped Dart (Agrotis puta puta) appeared at the back-door. I always get excited when a Macro turns up in the garden, but couldn't ID this guy without the help of members at BirdForum... and yes I know the door need a clean!

Shuttle shaped Dart (Agrotis puta puta)

Occasionally in the garden, I find species of Moth on the wing during the day.
The Garden Grass-veneer (Chrysoteuchia culmella) is one of these such species and can easily be flushed from long or short grass in any garden during the day. It even has a snout!

Garden Grass-veneer (Chrysoteuchia culmella)

Garden Grass-veneer (Chrysoteuchia culmella)

My personal favourite 'Micro' Moth is the Mintmoth (Pyrausta aurata) which has recently reappeared in the garden after an absence of over a year. These tiny Moths fly only in sunny weather and are attracted to the mint and thyme in the garden. It can be very hard to tell them apart from the Small Yellow Underwing which also visits the garden. I took the following shots last Autumn when they disappeared.

Mintmoth (Pyrausta aurata)

Mintmoth (Pyrausta aurata)

27 July, 2009

Wetland Wader Wonder...

It was a staggeringly hot day yesterday, brilliant weather to go birdwatching, and what better place to go than the Wetland Centre (its a rhetorical question by the way!). As we walked to the visitor centre, frogs were croaking and there was an unusually high number of Six-spot Burnet Moths on the wing. They seemed to have a particular liking for a pretty purple flower, thats abundance around the reserve could account for the abundants of the Moths themselves...

Six spot Burnet

Swifts were constantly skimming along the surface of the main lake in search of midges, butterflies and anything else they could fit into their gaping beaks.

Swift feeding over Wetlands

Over in Wildside it was evident that 'flying-ant day' was approaching (eugh!) with swarms of ants gathering on the tops of fence posts and blades of grass. The highligh of the day came at Wildside hide, when I got a call from mum that she had a funny looking Wagtail out on the Scrape. Convinced it was just a Pied, I slowly made my way over to the hide. When I finally got there, she pointed out the bird and I immediatly realised it was a Common Sandpiper! It never came close and was, most of the time, impossible to tell apart from the shingle on which it was walking. Amazing shots, I know! ;)

Common Sandpiper

Common Sandpiper

A Common Tern flying over Dulverton Hide gave an opportunity for shooting into the sun and producing a slightly 'fried' image! And this Grey Heron was 1 of 8 fishing through the wader scape whilst Sand Martins darted past.

Common Tern

Grey Heron

And finishing off with some slightly cuter images as another breeding season comes to a close...
A sudden shower meant mum had to act quickly and shelter her babies...


And at this 'teenage' age, it can be quite difficult to tell apart Coots from Moorhens... this youngin' being a Moorhen


22 July, 2009

Loss of a Gem

This morning I went out into the garden, only to be confronted by a dying Peacock butterfly. It looked like a chunk of this beautiful insect had been taken out of it by a bird, maybe one of the Swifts or Swallows flying above the garden. As I watched, a wasp flew in and hovered above the butterfly. Immediately knowing that this was a predator that meant trouble, the Peacock frantically tried to get away from the wasp, to no avail... it was horrible to watch.

Peacock Butterfly and Wasp

Peacock Butterfly and Wasp

The wasp soon realised this was prey and and began to attack the butterfly with bites and stings...

Peacock Butterfly and Wasp

Even though I knew it wasn't natural to interfere with nature... I couldn't stand to watch this butterfly die the way it was going to; so I picked it up gently using a stick and placed it on a Buddlia in the sun. That way it could feed happily for the last couple of hours of its life.

Peacock Butterfly and Wasp

... and if your wondering, I came back a little while later and the Peacock was nowhere to be seen.

20 July, 2009

Two New Butters at Chobham Common

Bought a book on walks in Surrey the other day to do in the Summer Holidays and so I decided to start with a walk at the 1000 acre National Nature Reserve, Chobham Common... recognised for its population of Dartford Warbler, Woodcock and Nightjar (none of which I managed to see on the day!!).

Those of you who have been to Chobham Common will agree with me that it is a very weird, sandy and Silver Birch Treeie (Tree-e) place to be and is very prone to arson... and although it did not catch fire whilst I was there, there were certainly signs of recent activity...

Chobham Common

However, this doesn't stop the birds. I saw countless numbers of Stonechat, Wheatear and Linnet fit about in the gorse and on a number of occasions even heard Woodlark. Here is a female Stonechat...


The best surprise came when nearing the end of the walk through woodland. A butterfly resembling Speckled Wood flew past. When it landed, I reaslised that it was far from a Speckled Wood... it was a brilliantly coloured Grayling and an addition to my butterfly list!



I can bet you will have a hard time trying to find this beautifully camouflaged butterfly in the next shot!


But the fun wasn't over yet. Just as I adjoined the path leading back to the car park, I noticed a Skipper resting on a plant with markings on it. I immediatly identified it as a Large Skipper... another first for me!

Large Skipper

Large Skipper

A nice way to start off the book I'd say. Now, must get on with History Coursework for tommorow on whether the Nazis were responsible for Kristallnacht!

17 July, 2009

More Garden Moths from Two Nights Ago...

Just a quick update on a few more garden Moths I found the night before last using the Cat-and-Camera method (don't ask!).

'Micro' Moth, Celypha Lacunana appeared on a plant dangerously close to a sleeping Crab Spider, another addition to my ever growing garden list, and again IDed by a user at BirdForum!

Celypha Lacunana
Sadly this Moth isn't blue (that would be pretty cool!)- its just another illusion caused by damn flash
Looking a bit like the Light Brown Apple Moth in the previous post, is Lozotaenia Forsterana. I managed to attract this beauty with the focus light on the D60! A very striking Moth when viewed up close... its brown and grey colouring help it to camoflauge against tree trunks during the day...

Lozotaenia Forsterana
I'm saving up for material to make a moth trap at the moment so I don't have to Flight of the Concords... I am a lazy sod!

11 July, 2009

Recent Moths...

There is nothing better than setting your alarm to Heart FM for 0:00pm and going out into the garden, armed with nothing but an alert cat to find moths and a camera to capture them (ok, there are hundreds of better things to be doing at that time of night!!). Over the last week or two, weather has been brilliant for moths so I went out on a couple of occasions to see what I could get my hands on.

Probably the moth common in our garden at the moment is the Australian Light Brown Apple Moth or Epiphyas postvittana (don't even try to pronounce it!). It is thought this moth managed to sneak past Border Line Police from its home country of Australia and has since established a thriving population. I took this shot as it perched on the brakes of a bike...

Light Brown Apple Moth

This very sneaky Copper Underwing (Amphipyra pyramidea) managed to find it's way into my bedroom last night and began to happily munch away at my curtains. Look at those intricate brown patterns!

Copper Underwing

But my favourite moth has to be the beautiful Orange Footman (Eilema sororcula) which I attracted to a torch last month. These large moths really are striking when seen up close. What's more is that its not very common either, being mainly confined to the South East- score!

Orange Footman

I must give my thanks to members at BirdForum who took the time to identify some of these moths that I just couldn't get my head around, and UKmoths for having Latin names for all these moths for me to copy and paste onto the post instead of having to write it all out myself!

10 July, 2009


Overall, the weather has been pretty crap these last few days. However, sudden breaks in the clouds reveal sunshine and a chance for butterflies to stretch their wings. Here are a few of my favourite flutters from the garden these last couple of days...


Red Admiral

Painted Lady

05 July, 2009

Getting Soggy for Skippers...

I remembered my bike lock today as I made my way to Bushy Park but decided not to use it as I was hoping to cover the whole of the park on two wheels. Starting off at the main lakes, the usual ducks and deer were washing off in the midday heat, but a new family for the lake consisted of a beautiful female Pochard and her brood of 4 cute little ducklings.

You forgot to wash behind your ears!

Female Pochard

Pochard duckings

Singing from within the ferns all around the park were the usual Meadow Pipits and also a stunning male Reed Bunting in full breeding plumage.

Meadow Pipit

Reed Bunting

Reed Bunting

I was faced with a flooded path as I walked my usual route along the canal. I soon regretted my decision to try and manouvre my way over the newly created stream, as what I though was solid ground turned out to be a pit full of water! As you can guess, the socks and shoes had to be ditched for a while, but I did get to see a Common Blue Damselfly whilst I dried off...

Common Blue Damselfly

And to end the journey, a Small Skipper showed brilliantly in front of the camera in the early evening light...

Small Skipper

Small Skipper