Friday, September 29, 2006

Death's Head Hawkmoth

Still having troubles with connectivety but hopefully getting through tonight. Not a bad week really, the first Pink footed Geese (40) of the autumn made an appearance on Monday (25th) about a week latter than in recent years, these birds were moving east first thing , undoubtedly heading for the broads. On Wednesday (27th) I 'twitched' a glorious Death's Head Hawkmoth that was on show at Bird Ventures in Holt. Caught in the owners garden at Binham these moth performed well and was in excellent condition, this was my first 'wild' caught encounter of this species- great stuff

Death's Head Hawkmoth the ghoulish human skull marking on the thorax can clearly be seen

Inspired by the brute above, the moth trap was out Wednesday evening for the duration. No Death's Head come morning but two new ones for the year in the shape of Barred Sallow and Green-brindled Cresent, the latter making a hasty exit!. GYL 178

Barred Sallow

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Raptor Rarity

The reason for the late posting is that blogger is being a right so'n so and not uploading my pics, I know some of them are abit ropey but their not all bad!
After sweating it out all day yesterday I couldn't resist a trip down the coast to Winterton on sea today to see a rare bird of prey, a Pallid Harrier, that had been found here yesterday morning. After an anxious half hour wait, scanning the area where the bird had last been seen, a few people were starting to sound a little desperate, with puzzling calls of 'I think that might be it' being atoned to a distant 1st year Marsh Harrier looking very slightly smaller than the two adult females it was soaring with! A few minutes later however the real juvenile PALLID HARRIER appeared, thankfully much closer than its larger cousins and showed well on occasions for the next 20 mins or so. At one point it did settle in the open but was just a bit too far away for any quality shots to be gained on my digi set up, but just for the record I reeled off a few shots as best I could.

Pallid Harrier juvenile, although occasionally tricky to identify, the head pattern was particularly striking on this bird.

After well and truely securing our main target we decided to pop into Winterton village to try and see another rare bird that had recently turned up here, a Rose-coloured Starling. The adults of this species are striking to say the least having a shocking pink body and bill with jet black head, wings and tail, but this bird was a more subdued tawny juvenile, at one time derided as 'boring' by birders their subtlness has eventually won it more fans now. This one didn't look in the best of health,but if nothing more, I should think the huge Tick anchored to its throat wasn't the most pleasurable feeling!

Rose-coloured Starling
Despite my best efforts I have been unable to up load the photos of this bird, somewhere in cyberspace there are several Rose-colourde Starlings flying about! I will try again shortly.

National Moth Night

With last night officially being National Moth Night, it would have been rude not to put the trap on, so on it went! The morning had already started well yesterday with a total of 3 Convolvulus Hawkmoths which were all docile enough to be coerced into photographic poses, as well as being settled securely camoflaged for the day.

Convolvulus Hawkmoth...nice

Later in the morning I had a couple of hours at the bottom of the garden scanning for raptors and managed a respectable 4 Common Buzzard, 2 Hobby and a Marsh Harrier moving east.


Back to National Moth Night, and it proved a well worth exercise to run the trap all night, as along side the expected Large Yellow Underwings and Setaceous Hebrew Characters was another Convolvulus Hawkmoth, a Grey Pine Carpet*, a Large Wainscot* and best of all 2 fabulous Merville du Jour, the latter being a real jewl of a beast, judge for yourselves! GYL 176

Grey Pine Carpet

Large Wainscot

Alongside the smaller Common Wainscot

Merville du Jour ( the translation appropriately being 'Wonder of the Day'!)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Convulvulus HM...bit like buses!

Well wouldn't you know it, you get your first one and then two come along! Another visit by Convolvulus Hawkmoth last night the first was actually onthe washing line post at around midnight when she was duely potted, the second, well he was in the trap this morning, and being a cool start to the day, both were docile enough to be moved without disappearing immediately. Also taken over night was a Pale Mottled Willow (who did disappear immediately!) and a Blair's Shoulder-Knot ( not back pain suffered by a P.M!) GYL 175

Convolvulus Hawkmoth

The females are larger than the malesand the markings are not as heavy.

The smaller, darker male (click for big pic)

Family shot!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Convolvulusly Brilliant

Ran the trap most nights this week with the wind to strong only for one or two nights. Numbers are definitely dropping but as the seasons continue to change, so do the species being caught, so one week is never the same as the previous. New for the year were Beaded Chestnut, Lunar Underwing and Dark Sword-grass, and new for me was an Orange Sallow* , that made its escape as I tried to get a pic.

Beaded Chestnut a very fiently marked individual showing the grey hindwing

Dark Sword-grass

Lunar Underwing

On one night as I stepped out of the door I nearly trod on a Hedgehog that was on the back door step! I nipped up stairs to fetch the camera and when I came back there was my hedgehog, gone! Hearing some scrabbling in the utility shed, there it was trying to get under the boiler! At this point I intervened, donning some gloves, the little thing snorted and grumbled like anything then went into the obligatory ball.

( 'I like trucking, I like trucking, I like trucking and I like to truck....') target audiance only!

' ...I'm only sleeping'

Highlight of the week however came this morning, as I peered into the moth box, having given it a quick glance before breakfast, and what had obviously been hiding underneath had now moved to the top - a big bruiser of a moth-a Convolvulus Hawkmoth*!!! These moths do not breed in Britain but are an immigrant in varying numbers, but are by no means common. Because of their size, markings and scarcity, along with the Death's-head Hawkmoth, these moths are really prised by those that are luck enough to catch them, like us! GYL 173

Convulvulus Hawkmoth

Sunday, September 10, 2006


A couple of moth sessions in the early part of the week produced fewer numbers but the new ones just keep coming, this time we had Brown- spot Pinion*, White point*, Pearly Underwing* and Frosted Orange. Towards the end of the week the evening weather became poor for mothing- clear with a bright moon and a fair bit cooler. Macro moth garden year list now stands at 168, I'm hoping to reach 200 by the years end, if I do, its gonna be close!

Brown-spot Pinion

White point

Pearly Underwing

Frosted Orange

Saturday morning I had to do a little work from home, so with that done I had the scope at the bottom of the garden and was soon rewarded with Common Buzzard, up to 3 Hobby and best of all a Red Kite. The kite drifted in from the west and then just hung about for about half an hour before finally gaining height and moving off. I managed to get a couple of 'record' shots (another way of saying crap!) but was impressed that even at the distance the bird was, had it have been something really rare, the pics would have still shown some detail. The bird I was really hoping for was Honey Buzzard, with this and next weekend really my best hope. I did see my one and only Aylmerton record last September but alas I was out of the garden!

Red Kite...honest!

After being visited sporadically throughout the summer by Hummingbird Hawkmoths, with seemingly their only pattern of occurance being that I have not got my camera handy, one was finally drawn to the Buddliah long enough for me to dash up stairs and grab my camera to get a couple of shots. If there is one creature in the animal kingdom that is perfectly named, it's this one!

Hummingbird Hawkmoth

Monday, September 04, 2006

Steve Irwin 1962-2006

Not everybodies cup of tea, this enigmatic Australian, the original Crocodile Hunter died today. Our trip to Australia in the spring had to include a visit to Australia Zoo, Steve's home, for my son, who was thrilled at the prospect of maybe catching a glimpse of his hero. This was Steve Irwin's gift, his 'over the top' enthusiasm and passion for wildlife was lost on most sensible, 'serious' adults, but the kids absolutely loved him! For all his faults and what ever you thought of his methods, for someone to be able to inspire so many youngsters to 'turn on' to wildlife in this day and age, well that would be the type of legacy we would all love too leave. Steve Irwin had an influence on my lads life, and compared with some influences so widely available to kids these days, it was one that I would have willingly encouraged for years to come.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Marbled Clover

Being Friday, the moth trap was run all night, with an overcast sky and temperatures not dipping too much. This morning there was the usual hatful of Large Yellow Underwings, Setaceous Hebrew Character, plenty of Square-Spot, Small Square-spot, Rosy Rustic Large Broad bordered Yellow Underwing and Smokey Wainscot, 2-3 Green Carpet, Brimstone Moth, Svensson's Copper Underwing, Flame -Shoulder, Lattice Heath, Common Marbled Carpet and Flounced Rustic and singletons of Angle Shades, Light Emerald, Cabbage Moth, Common Rustic and Silver Y. Additionally there was a second (darker) Scarce bordered Straw, and cream of the crop, a Marbled Clover*. Marbled Clover is a Red Data Book species in Britain, meaning that it is only found in less than 15 10km squares in the whole of Britain. Though the breeding population is found mainly in Breckland, they are known to be migratory in europe which would be the more likely origin of this one. Thats the beauty of creatures that fly, they have no boundaries and can end up anywhere, even Aylmerton! GYL 164

Marbled Clover

Scarce Bordered Straw darker than the mid-week individual

Green Carpet

A couple of presumed first year Hobbies were watched over Rounces Covert mid morning, sparring in the air, looking to sharpen their hunting skills and panicking the House Martins at the same time!