Tuesday, July 26, 2005

More sticky treats!

The Herald attracted to sugar syrup mixture

With sticky rags and plenty of mixture left over from last night, I reheated it all, added a splash more - er hum - and was away. This time I concentrated one the best of last nights sites in the back garden and a new site in the front garden. Both were sheltered by trees and within half an hour the front garden was hoochin! Common Rustic, Bright-line Bright-eye, Nutmeg, Dark Arches, Common Wainscot and a new Herald (brighter and less worn than last nights individual) were all at the front garden rags.

Moths at sugar syrup rag

At the peak (about 11.30pm) I had 41 individuals of nine species at the four rags and several painted branches/posts, including three different Heralds, Common Rustic(19), Dark Arches (6), Large Yellow Underwings (3), Bright-Line Brown-eye (4), Common Wainscot (2), Nutmeg (2), several 'minors' and a Light Arches.

For a full list of Toadsnatcher's garden moths click here

All images | Nikon Coolpix 995 | © Steve Dudley

Sugar and spice

Bright-line Brown-eye at sugared rag

It was only last week I thought about attempting one of the so called 'dark arts' of mothing - sugaring. I knew The Natural Stone was a dabbler, so I sought his advice and he kindly passed on his ingredient list (an old traditional) and some dark art tips. So last night I cooked up the mix and soaked four rags and deposited them in various parts of the back garden at around 10pm. I had some of the mix left, so I daubed it on a couple of fence posts. Over the next couple of hours I didn't have a huge number of moths coming to the sweet, sticky treats, but none-the-less, I was happy with my first attempts which I already know I could refine on other occasions.

Dark Arches at sugared rag

All the rags attracted something and in all I attracted Bright-line Brown-eye, Dark Arches, Common Wainscot, Poplar Grey and, the star of the show (and one of the Natural's regular sticky treaters), a single Herald.

The Herald caught at sugar rag but photographed in daylight

The Herald was particular pleasing. I decided to retire just after midnight but decided that I would leave the rags in situ for the moths to enjoy throughout the night. Answering a call of nature just after 2am, I decided to take a quick look at the rags. The usual suspects were present, but attracted to the drips on the ground below the rags, slugs and snails were also enjoying a little tipple. And there under one rag was one of my fave animals - Leopard Slug.

Leopard Slug attracted to sugar mixture

I grabbed the camera and took a few snaps. A quick squint at the rags again before I return to my bed, and I noticed a new moth on one of the rags. I approached and it was a bit flighty. I stepped back and it flew to another rag. I knew immediately it was a Herald due to its distinctive shape, so I took a pot from my pocket and managed to pot in first time. I'll enjoy you in the morning in good light I thought to my latest garden find.

For a full list of Toadsnatcher's garden moths click here

All images | Nikon Coolpix 995 | © Steve Dudley

Monday, July 25, 2005

Toadsnatcher and the Herefords Bee-eaters!

Well, a tenuous link this may be, but its a good ruse to include a piccy of a cracking species!

Toadsnatcher's piccy (above) of two Bee-eaters (not the Herefords pair!) is being used by the RSPB to illustrate the breeding Bee-eaters in Herefordshire story on the RSPB website.

This photo is actually from Lesbos, Greece. For more of my photos check out this blog (scroll down) and archive links (below right) and my photo gallery (including more Lesbos beauties!) on Toadsnatcher.com.

Photo | Leica APO Televid 77 | 20xWW | Nikon Coolpix 995 | © Steve Dudley

Friday, July 22, 2005

Lesser Whitethroat - on the list!

Well, still rejoicing in the three recent garden ticks (and only chewing on these with Brian Stone this morning) when I quick shufty in the back garden found not one but two adult Lesser Whitethroats feeding in willow and adjacent trees. I've only recorded this species once on the fen before, so to bag a couple on the house list is a real treat! Garden tick no. 111. What will be next? Where's those Whimbrel I've been expecting for the last 20 or so additions to my list?!

Click here for full up-to-date garden list.

Some recent moths

Its been a bit cooler in recent nights, but none-the-less, the traps have been running and last night had a respectible 130 individuals of 45 species.

Pebble Prominent at MV light

Broad Bordered Yellow Underwings at MV light

Broad Bordered Yellow Underwing at MV light

Least Yellow Underwing at actinic light

Short-cloaked Moth at actinic light

Bordered Pug at MV light

Cabbage Moth at actinic light

Pale Prominent at actinic light

Blood-vein at MV light

Dusky Sallow at actinic light

Dog's Tooth at actinic light

European Corn-borer at actinic light

For a full list of Toadsnatcher's garden moths click here

All images | Nikon Coolpix 995 | © Steve Dudley

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Sooty Tern!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Adult Sooty Tern Cemlyn Bay, Anglesey

I would have liked this baby to have been scored on my birthday and make a fantastic double of Bridled and Sooty Terns on my birth date at the same site some 16 years apart. But the sporadic nature of this beauty has left me sweating it out since it was first found around the 8 July. Having spent all day at the site yesterday, it then flew out to see after 0500h this morning! Aaaaggghhhh! But it came back only for it to disappear again whilst I was on my way. But, thankfully, it came back, and although hunkered down in tern colony when I arrived, it eventually came out and gave fab views including a brilliant fly around at one point. Superb!

Photo | Leica APO Televid 77 | 20xWW | Nikon Coolpix 995 | © Steve Dudley

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

A Tissue!

Tissue caught at Actinic light on 17 July

Its taken a few days to confirm, but this is just a Tissue moth but so far no one I've shown it to has ever seen one with these pink tones.

For a full list of Toadsnatcher's garden moths click here

All images | Nikon Coolpix 995 | © Steve Dudley

Monday, July 18, 2005

My personal mega wildlife pond!

The Bogbumper popped down the fen for an hour so I took her for a wander around my 'personal mega wildlife pond' as she put it! I hadn't quite thought of it like that before - it might not be in the garden, but I can see it form my bedroom window! And now this four-year old irrigation res is beginning to mature and 'lush' up, its getting pretty funky for all things wildlife. With no fish in it, it should just get better and better for drags and other aquatic inverts.

Female Emerald Damselfly

Male Emerald Damselfly
One of the 11 species of dragonfly and damselfly recorded on it so far this year.

Male Gatekeeper
One of 11 species of butterflies recorded around the res this year.

All images | Nikon Coolpix 995 | © Steve Dudley

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Farcet Fen - looking good

Despite being an intensively farmed arable fen, Farcet Fen is a fantastic wildlife fen. The droves, dykes and irrigation reservoirs which are an important part of an arable fen's make-up mean that these areas are much more wildlife-friendly than similarly intensively farmed areas away from the fens which are little other than crop prairies with no dykes, ditches or hedgerows.

Fen drove weedy edges and (on right) lush damp dyke which holds breeding Sedge and Reed Warblers.

Fen dyke a medium-width dyke which is fantastic for aquatic life including many dragons and damsels and breeding site for both Hairy Dragonfly and Migrant Hawker.

Fen irrigation reservoir now beginning to get well vegetated and this year added Coot and Little Grebe to its list of breeders. Great for drags, the odd wader and a favourite haunt for feeding Tree Sparrows to collect emerging damselflies and other aquatic inverts.

All images | Nikon Coolpix 995 | © Steve Dudley

Here litte puss

A relatively cool night saw a slight drop in numbers of moths caught with 142 individuals of 42 species.

Sallow Kitten at MV light

Purple Thorn at MV light

Lime-speck Pug at Actinic light

Common Wainscot (top), Smoky Wainscot (left) and Fen Wainscot (right) at Actinic light

Dun-bar at MV light

Meal Moth A pyralid moth at MV light

Large Tabby A pyralid moth at Actinic light

All images | Nikon Coolpix 995 | © Steve Dudley

Garden ticks galore!

Having secured the ever dodgy Ring-necked Parakeet on the garden list in the week, late yesterday evening a female Shoveler flew into Crowtree Cottage airspace and on to the list, and this morning, a most unexpected and welcome addition in the form of a flock of 23 Crossbills over to the north-west at 0545h whilst emptying the moth traps. I certainly would have missed these if I had still been in bed (my usual place at 0545h on a Sunday) or been indoors, so more than pleased that mothing is not only enjoyable but now supplying garden ticks as well! Garden list now up to 110 in under three years. Only one behind my Thetford (Norfolk) garden list which took me 9 years to amass.

View Toadsnatcher's full garden list

Saturday, July 16, 2005

More Farcet Fen mothers

Chinese Character or bird poo moth! At Actinic light

Fen Wainscot At Actinic light

Dot Moth At Actinic light

Poplar Hawkmoth At Actinic light

Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet (left) and
Common Carpet At Actinic light

Red twin-spot Carpet - compare to Dark-barred above. At Actinic light

Early Thorn At Actinic light

All images | Nikon Coolpix 995 | © Steve Dudley

Friday, July 15, 2005

Farcet Fen mothing

Having just taken delivery of a 15W Actinic light trap I am now running this alongside my 160W MV light trap one night in the back garden and then on its own the next night in the front garden. Different locations, different mixes of light and different species being caught.

Last night started off slow but when I retired at 0100h, the back garden was humming with moths, beetles and flies. I left just after the big boys decided to wade in - two Privet Hawkmoths - not you don't want to get hit by one of these mothers when they are flashing around!

Over 250 individuals of over 50 species caught over night.

Male Drinker at Actinic light

White Satin at Actinic light.
You can even see the 'satin' sheen on the wings. Interesting, I caught this species on two different nights in different locations. Both times the moth sat within a few feet of the light rather than in or on the trap itself. This happens quite a lot, and a search of an area up to 5m around the trap will find moths roosting up on walls, fences etc. Finding them in vegetation is a bit more problematic.

Male Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing at Actinic light

Female Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing at Actinic light

Female Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing

Ruby Tiger at Actinic light

Ruby Tiger at Actinic light - starting to warm up

Shark at Actinic light

Brown China Mark at MV light

Dingy Footman at MV light

Clouded Border at MV light

Lesser Yellow Underwing at MV light

What's this?
The thing with mothing is that you get used to pawing over pages and pages of images trying to match some moths up to the books. Sometimes you give up in heated frustration. Other times you persevere, especially when you first ID your moth as something slightly out of the ordinary. I originally IDed this moth as a Grass Rivulet (not recoded in VC31 since 1998). I checked and checked. Blew up the image onscreen and have now decided it is simply a worn and faded Small Rivulet 0 a much more common and expected species!

Bird Cherry Ermine at MV light

Small Dusty Wave at MV light

Wormwood Pug at MV light. A common species but only new for the garden and catching them most nights now.

Elephant Hawkmoth at Actinic light

All images | Nikon Coolpix 995 | © Steve Dudley