Wednesday, 19 July 2017

19th July

Perfect conditions on Saturday night meant it was a record-breaking moth catch in the Magic Garden. We caught a total of 876 moths of 115 species (plus six still to be identified/confirmed with the county recorder). This included 14 new species for the parish including this rather worn Blackneck…

Pebble Hook-tip…

Iron Prominent…


Southern Wainscot (a good record for this area and reflection of placing a trap near the reed bed)…


Note the John McEnroe headband!
And this locally rare micro Rose Tortrix…


Together with the strikingly named Dotted Oak Knot Horn, Summer Rose Bell, Two-coloured Bell, Brown Elm Bell, Spruce Bud, Purple Argent, Poplar Cosmet, Small China Mark and Hawthorn Ermel.   
It’s not been a bad few days for birds either. Chris Knight rang me to say he was listening to a Quail by The New Inn. I dashed round to hear at least one calling from a cornfield by the road.

John and Ann from Langlands then rang to say they had seen a Red Kite on the farm. I dashed down but no sign (although there were seven Curlew and three Oystercatcher here).


Then a couple of days later a villager said he had seen what he thought was a kite near the solar farm. Another fruitless search but as I was looking I got a call from a couple of friends who were watching it circling over Thrintoft! To rub it in even further my wife and son spotted the bird down Back Lane and had excellent views of it circling low over the fields here yesterday.
My only compensation was in looking for the kite I stumbled across a Hobby hunting in the fields to the east of the church. It gave excellent views, at one point even turning over on to its back as it stooped after a Swallow.  

I’ve had to go in for an emergency operation for a torn retina this week so not sure how long until I can use binoculars/camera again so might be a gap to my next blog. 

Thursday, 13 July 2017

13th July

The only ‘guaranteed’ bird I hadn’t seen this year was Spotted Flycatcher so when Jim and Sue rang to say they had one in their garden I shot round. There was no sign but after a slightly nervous wait it reappeared…



It was later seen singing in a tree in the rectory garden. This is my 100th species of the year – well behind last year (mainly reflecting the drying up/draining of the remaining wader habitat in the parish).

On Tuesday evening the Magic Garden was alive with Willow/Chiffs and I counted at least 20 very actively feeding in the trees around the lake. I presume these were migrants passing through and yesterday evening I only found a single bird.


More surprisingly I had a singing Reed Warbler. Was this a bird singing on passage or the one from earlier in the year?
Talking of warblers we have now received details of the French-ringed Blackcap trapped in the Garden in May. It was caught in October 2016 in Villeton, a small community in south-west France down towards the Pyrenees. 

Insects continue to fascinate/frustrate but here’s a couple of identifiable hoverflies. Great Pied or Pellucid…


And Episyrphus baltreatus…



Sunday, 9 July 2017

8th July

It’s inevitable when you are known as 'the birdman' that you get calls at this time of year. Last night it was a friend in the village ringing about a young Swift that had fallen down their drainpipe. I’ve never seen Swift in the hand before…


We tried relaunching it a couple of times but it wasn’t quite developed enough to take flight so we ended up fetching a ladder from the church and heroically Tracey, who has no head for heights, slipped it back in to the nest…


Then last week there was an envelope slipped through the door containing this…


This Treecreeper had flown into a neighbour’s window. It’s doubly unfortunate because they are so scarce in the parish these days (although I did see one in the Magic Garden today and another prospecting the lime trees on the village green).
The week before that it was the guitar group knocking to say one of the young Swallows had fallen out of its nest in the church porch. I only had a pair of step ladders but thanks to a particularly tall member of the group we were able to put this back too and it has now happily fledged.

There seems to be the first early signs of birds on the move this week. I added Hobby to the year list and a Yellow Wagtail and a small group of Curlew flew high over the Magic Garden. Four Oystercatcher flew over the house and I had a brief glimpse of a chat down Back Lane today, most likely a young Stonechat. There were also four young Yellow Wagtails along the lane.

It’s been a productive week on the dragonfly front too adding Southern Hawker, Common Darter…


Common Blue Damselfly and this ovipositing Emperor to the year list ….


All of these were in the Magic Garden.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

25th June

Only time to visit the Magic Garden today. There were two Sedge Warblers singing and I saw the Little Grebe for the first time in a while. It appears to have lost its only chick…


A Grey Heron was catching frogs in the shallows of the lake but also made an opportunistic attempt to catch a Large White butterfly as it flew past


I also thought I had seen my first distant Hobby of the year yesterday but it was just a wind-blown, aerobatic Kestrel which eventually flew right over to perch in the Garden…


Given yesterday’s conditions it wasn’t entirely inappropriate that a Hurricane also flew over…


Seven species of butterfly were seen. The first Ringlet was spotted on Monday…


And yesterday I ticked off my first Meadow Browns


There was also a ‘fall’ of Red Admirals. I hadn’t seen any as I walked around the village green and down Greenhills Lane but on the way back up (half an hour later) I tallied up 14 individuals.

Other insects included this hoverfly…


Which is distinctive enough to identify as chrysotoxum bicinctum (or at least distinctive enough for my youngest son to identify!). I was also trying to photograph another fly when this wasp flew in and made short work of it…


The more you look the more you see and there were about 50 of these tiny creatures on the surface of a beech tree. Not sure what they are…


And this caterpillar which, given its host plant might have been a Valerian Pug moth…


Actually turned out to be from a Valerian Sawfly. I didn’t even know that’s what sawfly larvae looked like but you can apparently tell by the number of prolegs, six for sawflys, never more than five for moths.
Finally, the talk on Wednesday went well and more than 50 people turned up, we almost ran out of chairs!



Saturday, 17 June 2017

17th June

Good news that the Sedge Warblers have bred in the Magic Garden…


This is the first confirmed breeding in the parish for quite a few years and it sounds as if there is a second pair present as well. The Reed Warbler, on the other hand, has gone quiet but perhaps on with the business of nesting?
Five singing Blackcaps are also in the Garden this year along with at least two Whitethroat (this one is carrying a ring)…


A Four-spotted Chaser was in the Garden on Wednesday but didn’t pose unlike this cracking Banded Demoiselle…


I recently purchased the new Wildguides hoverfly identification guide. You can tell it’s not going to be easy when they categorise species by whether you need magnifying glass or microscope to identify them! However, I am reasonably confident this is a Pellucid Hoverfly…



On Wednesday (21st) I am doing a talk on The Birds of Ainderby & Morton at Morton-on-Swale village hall at 7.00pm. Entry is £4 and money will go towards my youngest son’s charity work in Moldova.   

Sunday, 4 June 2017

4th June

A Reed Warbler is still settled in the reeds in the Magic Garden and singing vigorously. I finally managed to get a shot of it today. I was reasonably pleased with this given it was singing from deep in the reed bed and I could hardly pick it out even with binoculars…


Close by I saw around 15 of these cracking little Longhorn moths (Nemophora degeerella) in a strange slow- motion ‘dance’. Look at those antennae!

This is a new species for the parish and one that is not very common in this part of Yorkshire.

In my steep learning curve of insects I have also started looking at bumble bees so this is I think a Common Carder Bee…


And this a Garden Bumble Bee…


But then just to confuse things this apparent bumble bee is actually a bee-imitating hoverfly Volucella bombylans…


It has two forms, one like this that imitates White-tailed Bumblebee and another that imitates the orange tailed bees. Nature never fails to amaze!

Saturday, 3 June 2017

3rd June

This morning I headed down Greenhills Lane. After trouble with my Achilles tendon this was the first time I have hobbled further than the Magic Garden for some time. Pick of the birds were at least six Lesser Whitethroat either calling or singing down here. Two were carrying food but these were the best shots I managed of very elusive birds…



Three Red-legged Partridge were also down here…


Along with the first big congregation of gulls since the late winter (around 150 mainly Lesser Black-backed) and a total of four Buzzards. I also tallied up 15 Speckled Wood along the route…


Back in the village the first Spotted Flycatcher has at last made an appearance, around two weeks later than the average arrival date. It was in the Garth and in Jim and Sue’s garden next door I had two Painted Ladies. 

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

31st May

Still one (or possibly two) Reed Warblers singing in the Magic Garden this evening. The last confirmed breeding in the parish was as far back as 1946 so here’s hoping. A pair of Sedge Warblers are also still here but remain stubbornly elusive for photography, but whilst waiting for them to appear I did snap this Whitethroat carrying food for its young…


The final tally of Saturday night’s mothing was an impressive 417 moths of 58 species. This included eight new ones for the parish:- Eyed Hawk Moth, Orange Footman, Brown Silver-line, Winter Groundling, Cork , Alder…


May High Flyer…


And Shears…


And talking of moths I found this impressive Drinker moth caterpillar in the Magic Garden last night, happily munching on Common Reed…


Bird Year List to End of May - 98 species (six species behind last year)

Sunday, 28 May 2017

28th May

John set the moth traps in the Magic Garden last night and it was a good catch for May with over 400 moths of more than 50 species. Highlight for me was the first parish record of Eyed Hawk Moth. A superb creature…


An excellent first record of Orange Footman too. this was a new moth for John of this mainly southern species (although it has been moving northward in recent years).


Other new species included May High Flyer, Alder and Brown Silver-line. This latter species is associated with bracken so it is a long way from its natural habitat.
This is a beautiful Green Arches, one of my favourite moths..


And this is a Pale Tussock doing a very effective job of disguising itself against an egg carton…


Unlike this Poplar Hawk Moth’s feeble attempt to hide underneath a leaf!