Saturday, 30 July 2016

Long Time No Action

Saturday July 30

Well, no Blog action.  We've been very busy moth-ing. As well as the regular twice weekly sessions, we have attended several extra sessions. At Holme and Strumpshaw (second time for both) arranged by David N and, at Middle Harling, Catfield Fen and Cley arranged by the Butterfly Conservation Norfolk group. All very successful, apart from Middle Harling, where only one trap out of six had actually worked after heavy overnight stormy rain.
Strumpshaw was notable for the heat (!!),  a rare micro and two new moths brought in by John G - Festoon - and a Golden Plusia  brought in by James Lowen.
James also especially lured and brought in for us a Yellow-legged Clearwing to last Monday's Yarmouth Bird Club meeting where he gave a very professional presentation promoting his latest book. The photo I took is quite embarrassingly bad, even for a record shot. The point and shoot camera I carry in my handbag, poor indoor light, an active little beast and a dirty pot. And the photographer........

At least, the yellow legs are visible.
Moths at home have increased in both species and number, still well down on previous years.  A few of the more attractive ones.

Marsh Carpet, very rare, brought to Greg's by David N.

Kent Black Arches - twitched at Steve's in Cantley. Caught our own very tatty one the same night.

Peach Blossom

Ruby Tiger

The 5-6 mm Micro Argyresthia Brockeelia

Rhyaconia Pinicolana - 6-11 mm

We made it to Titchwell yesterday (Friday the 29th) at long last. Not until mid-day as we had the moth trap to see to first. It was also a record slow journey in a quarter of a mile queue behind an enormous harvester. We turned off with relief only to find the harvester in front of us. Fortunately, it took a right turn soon afterwards.
Titchwell freshmarsh was heaving with birds, most of then waders, the most we've seen for a long time. Water levels looked good too. We ended up in Island hide as all the benches were occupied by families - school holidays. Handsome Black-tailed Godwits were in the majority - after more Avocets than I can remember seeing in one place. Good breeding season? I expect that the dastardly and unsightly fenced off enclosure will be given credit for that. Maybe with reason? A small flock of Knot amongst the Godwit, Dunlin, most with vestiges of breeding black belly, two adult Curlew Sandpipers moulting into winter plumage, 4 Spotted Redshanks, Teal. Shelduck, Lapwing, Redshank, a small flock of Ruff and 7 Spoonbills.  There were 15 of the latter reported later, we only saw 7, the others must have been behind the island.
The pathside vegetation was devoid of insect life apart from 1 small Blue Damselfly, a Gatekeeper and a Meadow Brown. Not even any Bloody-nose Beetles trundling along the path.
After a chat with a very sad and upset Sue B in the car park (wish I'd won that huge Euromillions pay out) I photographed a baby Robin near our car. Pam is convinced it was unwell......

I hope to do some butterfly searching this weekend, so few about. Several in our garden to-day gives hope, mostly Large White and 1 Red Admiral. The garden is full of flowers planted to attract insects, the Buddleias look great as does the Nicotiana and Borage. Where are the butterflies to enjoy them ? Will they recover and if so, in what numbers?

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Last Weekend, First in July

Sunday July 3

Nowhere near our best first of the month day, early July is in the doldrums, to-day was no exception. The birds are not singing much, Spring migration is over and Autumn migration is yet to begin, waders will soon start appearing. Add dismal weather........all day. Still enjoyable, despite Pam not feeling too good.
We struggled to see 60 species with no real highlights. It stopped raining for Snettisham, where we spent time trying to photograph the bees on the colourful bank at the end of the first pit on the reserve. Despite the wind waving the plants about, I took a few, less than wonderful, shots with my bridge camera set on C2 for close-ups.

A better photo of the Viper's Bugloss than of the bee

Acres of mud again at low tide, a few Avocets the closest birds.

There was also a flock of 30+ Black-tailed Godwits, all in breeding plumage, always good to see. Non-breeders returning or Summer stayers ?
A bedraggled Oystercatcher sat tight, keeping a wary eye on our passing car.

I was hoping to visit Titchwell to see the summer plumaged Great Knot . Pam was feeling pretty rough by then, so we went home. No wonder, she had developed Shingles by Wednesday, saw a pharmacist on Thursday - who diagnosed the suspected insect bites around her waist - and the doctor on Friday, after meeting PW for coffee at Cley. By Saturday the blisters looked like this, stretching from navel to spine on her left, making wearing waist bands very painful. 
By Saturday July 9 the vesicles looked like this. Hence to-day's flowing caftan !!
Stop reading now if of a squeamish disposition.

side view
close-up of a patch
back view

Friday, 1 July 2016

Mothing Rules

June 29/30

Wednesday the 29th was one of the group's 'extra' days, organised By David N. Unlike us - and distressing for me - we were a little late getting there. A tractor and trailer, followed by a fuel stop, the main causes. Barry and Ian, Scilly friends of Steve's, followed us through the gate where they'd been waiting, unaware that they could have opened it themselves ! They've been at all our sessions this week, staying at Wiveton. Barry actually shared the lft with us on the boat coming back from North Uist this year, Pam tells me......I'm hopeless, I just don't see people.
Sophie was there this time and led the opening of all three traps - chaotically. She had her back to us, writing the names down, muttering the names and passing the egg boxes in both directions. In addition, Steve and Andy were potting all the Micros so no-one saw them. A very strong, gusting wind did not help. The only new moth, in a poor overnight catch owing to the cold and wind, was a Fern. David was a happy man, it was new for him too. Very flighty, I only managed one poor photo of it on Mick's arm.

Barry and Ian are both avid photographers, Canon EOS with 100 mm macro lenses, ring flash and extenders. They posed the Pine Hawk-moth on the trunk of a pine.

A fairly quick drink for us at the cafe - we were meeting the Bridges and Neil Lawton at the White Horse in Brancaster to discuss next February's Thailand trip. Neil had brought his boat over from Scolt Head where he spends the summer working for Natural England. He seems to be very personable, knowledgeable and straight, I look forward to birding with him.
On the way home, in the rain, we diverted to Holt Country Park, where, we had been told by JB, we could find roosting Brown Long-eared bats. We found two little hunchy bodies which I attempted to photograph. The views were better after I'd edited the pics !



Our usual weekly meeting at Cley turned out to be an open to the public one, much to everyone's surprise. About fifteen 'others' had turned up to witness the opening of a low catch. Poor overnight conditions again, Cley is usually good at this time of year, with several specialities in the reedbed trap.  The highlight of the morning was a Hornet Moth, a Clearwing species, brought in by David N who had pheromone lured it, near Holt, on his way this morning. What a stunning moth, one I'd long wanted to see. I managed a few adequate photos of it in the pot

One of the visitors was especially pushy with his small camera,  he actually moved the pot with the lens and hogged the space, until Anne D intervened.
David later posted some lovely photographs on Facebook. He'd taken the Hornet back to its habitat and was able to photograph it when released.