30 March, 2016

Spring flowers

Winter always wrecks havoc on my natural history knowledge, and I find my first few spring outings are usually spent getting to grips with the various flora and fauna I've simply forgotten the names of since I last saw them a year ago.

This is especially true when it comes to plants. People often tell me that all moths look brown and confusing, but plants are a whole new level of baffling - especially when all you have to go by are the leaves! Last year I bought myself one of those vegetative keys; completely devoid of pictures but with a promise on the blurb that the key will make identification of wild flowers 'swift and easy' for beginners with use of a 'minimal number of technical terms'. Excited and eager, I turned to the description for Bluebell and my heard sank:

"Lvs 3-6, 0.7-1.6cm wide. Raceme 1-sided. Fls all soon nodding, fragrant; stamens unequal; anthers cream"

I've been too frightened to use the key since. Luckily, the plants in flower today on my stroll to the local woods weren't quite so hard to identify...

Greater Stitchwort


Ivy-leaved Speedwell

Barren Strawberry

Lesser Swine-cress


Wood Anemone

A carpet of Lesser Celandine

It well and truly felt like spring, but I'm now beginning to wonder whether the lure of such fantastic countryside just a 15 minutes walk from my student house is going to prove detrimental in the last few months of my degree!

28 March, 2016

Last week's haul

Last Tuesday saw the return of the balcony moth trap to our student house for the first time since a highly productive session in late October last year. The result was 18 moths of 8 species, including a spring moth that has eluded me for eternity - the Shoulder-stripe.

2 Shoulder-stripe
7 Hebrew Character
1 Chestnut
2 Clouded Drab
3 Common Quaker
1 Small Quaker
1 March Moth
1 Depressaria daucella

A stunning Twenty-plume Moth (Alucita hexadactyla) was flying around the lounge on Friday morning.

Twenty-plume Moth

March Moth


14 March, 2016

The power of the sun

Coming off the back of a cloudy and drizzly week, I love the way that early spring sunshine has the ability to warm crisp March air and accentuate bright colours displayed by hardy, early season roadside flowers - particularly Lesser Celandine and Daffodils. It also has an unrivaled ability to send my motivation to get out and appreciate wildlife into overdrive (much to the annoyance of my dissertation!), so you can imagine I've been making the most of this little spell of golden weather we've been experiencing up in Worcester these past few days.

On Saturday morning I took a stroll down a local wooded footpath with a moth net - more out of hope than expectation - but soon stumbled across Mompha jurassicella flying weakly in the dappled sunshine. This is the 4th individual I've found locally over the past two years, suggesting that isn't quite as rare as the lack of Worcestershire records might imply.

Yesterday saw myself and a couple of friends head over to Grimley Camp Lane Pits in search of early migrants - Sand Martin and Little Ringed Plover being top of the wish list. Neither materialised, but it was just nice to be out with the binoculars again. We had the luxury of a car to ferry us between locations which meant that I could afford to carry a little bit more gear - I opted for the the telephoto lens which, only a couple of posts ago, I said I'd more than likely never use again...

Mompha jurassicella

 Beautiful bird, rubbish photo. It's a start though.