17 January, 2011

4 Moths, I Mean Months Later

4 Moths, I Mean Months Later...

Whilst most of the population of British birders are currently trying to grab views of a Lesser Black-backed Gull Slaty-backed Gull at a dump in Rainham, I've been quietly adding to my ever growing T.V. year list, which coincidently encourages me to lounge about on the sofa and watch T.V. After skipping through some bird documentary or something the other day, my year list is already way over 100, and all of those species seen without actually moving.
Of course, I'm joking. I'm not quite sad enough yet to make a T.V. year list... but I'm contemplating it, with my real year list not yet past 20... and that's including a trip to Suffolk just gone! I am hoping to have a slight bit more success with my moth year list this year, and after a few unsuccessful trapping sessions in the garden, I decided to take the trap up to the relative's, in Suffolk, this weekend to see if I could start off my year list.

They have an unclaimed area of woodland at the back of their house which was very moth productive back in the summer, so thats where I set the trap up. Apart from a howling wind, it was relatively idealic conditions, although it could have been a tad bit warmer- but I'm not complaining.

It was dark, very dark, and I can't say I was enjoying going out into the woods at 1 o'clock in the morning, but sure enough, by the end of the night, I had finally had my first successful trapping session in 4 whole, agonising, cry-myself-to-sleep-at-night months. Final count, 4 moths of 3 species: 1 Spring Usher, 1 Mottled Umber, 2 Winter Moth.

Spring Usher...

Mottled Umber...

Winter Moth...

These are all males, the females are wingless, and look more like spiders than moths.

They may be some of the most boring moths you're likely to see, but I hope this post has somehow cheered you up on what is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year... who comes up with this kind of rubbish anyway? God, it makes me so depressed.

02 January, 2011

Hello 2011

Hello 2011

First off, I'd like to wish everyone a happy new year, and I hope that, for those of you who can remember what you did on New Year's Eve, you had some good celebrations.

As I write this, my 2011 year list currently stands at 9, with the addition a few minutes ago of Redwing flying over. I don't know if I can be bothered to do a year list again this year (make the year list 10, Sparrowhawk over the garden), what with the failure of last year's list only coming to 140, and AS Levels coming up. Of course, I'll still birdwatch, but just not list.

The scale of how rubbish I was at year listing in 2010 really becomes apparent when you look at the birds I missed... Gannet, Shag, Puffin as well as all Divers and any kind of Petrel or Shearwater. No Little Stint or Ruff, and I didn't even bother to go for a Common Sandpiper (the name of this wader gives you an idea as to its status). I only just managed to get Common Tern onto my list, nothing more. One species of Owl, a Little Owl, as well as one species of Lark, a Skylark.

Despite generally failing miserably with the year list, I did manage some avian goodness. My first ever Nightjar and Dartford Warbler came on a beautiful evening out in a quiet woodland opening on the 8th July in Suffolk, and my first Redstart came on 1st September on Old Winchester Hill. I also managed my first Lapland Bunting, Red necked Grebe and Waxwing, as well as finding my own singing Firecrests out in bluebell woods in the South Downs.

Best wildlife moment 2010? Either watching Nightjar in a woodland clearing out on Blaxhall Common, Suffolk on a warm summer evening, or searching for rare butterflies out on one of the most beautiful places in Britain, Old Winchester Hill.

Best Bird 2010? Very little competition for this award as I really didn't see any very special during the year. In terms of rarity, prehaps the the Lapland Bunting at Staines, in October will just about tip it, or the Waxwings at Teddington at the beginning of December. If I include a holiday to Menorca, then many many more birds come in to play; Purple Swamphen, Audouin's Gull, Spanish Sparrow, Eleonora's Falcon, Marsh Sandpiper, Egyptian Vulture (absolutely massive things), Woodchat Shrike and of course, Bee-eater.

Embarrassingly, I'm going to give the prize of best bird to the Lapland Bunting, despite it being quite common in winter. Just about sums up 2010...

Best View 2010? Of course, I would usually say Old Winchester Hill, but there was just something else about staring through the bluebell woods in the Downs at Guildford, back in April.

Best Patch Moments 2010? I'm quite surprised at how much I was dedicated to my patch in 2010, the patch being Bushy and Home Park. It didn't manage 'Mega' quality birds, but it did work some magic in producing Wheatear in Bushy Park in March, and I managed Hobby on a number of occasions over Heron Pond. Home Park had flocks of Wigeon and Gadwall towards the end of December, which was nice.

In terms of butterflies, I managed 26 species in 2010, which was down on the previous years total of 31, and pretty rubbish really. It was a different story with moths though, and taking into consideration I only started trapping from May onwards, and only at weekends, my garden year list of 190 isn't too bad, I guess.

Here are a few moths I've caught in the garden in 2010...

Tree-lichen Beauty...

Scarce Silver-lines...

Black Arches (aka. smiley face moth)...

Elephant Hawk-moth...


Moth of 2010? This one goes to a boring looking moth I caught in a woodland in Bury St. Edmunds, during a stay at the grandparents house back in early July. Early July is traditionally the time when most moths are on the wing, but I never expected the nationally rare and declining Lunar Yellow Underwing. The moth is declining so fast, that it is now only found in a few woodlands in Suffolk, and a few other locations in the South. Lets hope it hangs on in my grandparents back garden!

It doesn't get much more beautiful than this...

I think I'll get all nostalgic if I write anymore, so I'll leave it here and look to 2011.

New Years Resolution?

1) See a British butterfly I've never seen before.
2) Take it easier on New Years Eve 2011 so that I actually move more than an inch on New Years Day.
3) Be as dedicated to Bushy Park and Home Park as I was in 2010.

... Yeah, I think they're achievable. Well, the second one will take some practise.

Have a great 2011, and lets all make the most of it, cos' there are rumours going around that the worlds going to end in 2012, and who knows the damage this may cause to people's lists.