Birds, Leps, Observations & Generalities - the images and ramblings of Mark Skevington. Sometimes.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Foggy Moths

So yeah, I've been busy/distracted and done nowt worthy of bothering the blog about.

I have sorted out all of my 2017 garden moth records (381 species including 17 additions, garden list up to 684). I'm also just about finished putting together a garden moth report, quite some time since I last bothered. I've not run the garden traps since November, but I have stuck a 20W actinic CFL into an old outdoor light fitting that was still live and conseqently I've had one or two moths so far this year. Mostly Winter Moths, but also a Scrobipalpa costella and then last night a couple of surprises.

Conditions were far from good, not too cold but certainly not unseasonably warm, fairly still but a quite dense fog early in the night. Quite a surprise then to find two Early Moths and a Grey Shoulder-knot resting on the wall under the pale blue glow of the actinic. Trouble is that it is pitch black when I go to work and the same when I get home, so these are compromised shots using the daylight bulbs I have. Doesn't help when both moths were not playing ball ..... not much use putting winter-flying moths in the fridge!

Early Moth

Grey Shoulder-knot

Sunday, 10 December 2017

"Sunflowers on a snowy day ...

... makes my soul, makes my soul, trip trip trip away". That song by Zoe back in the early 90's was obviously written specfically for this blog post.

We had a bit of snow overnight, maybe 3 inches, certainly enough to bring the whole of the country to a grinding halt and spark fears of being snowed in until after Christmas has finished. Luckily, for the garden avian visitors, I'd topped up the feeders yesterday so no need to wade out into the deep drifts. As usual for my garden visitors, it's sunflower hearts or go somewhere else. I have a had a problem this year with the feeders but that can wait for now. Today with lying snow and persistant tiny flakes coming down throughout the day the regulars were all taking in much needed sustenance. And the regulars are mainly Goldfinches, Starlings, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits, Collared Doves, Woodpigeons, Blackbirds, Robins, Dunnocks and one or two Greenfinches. No Sparrows. Today we also had a couple of less regular visitors .....

Great-spotted Woodpecker

Roll up, roll up, get yer sunflower hearts here.

Bullfinch pair

Much maligned Starling

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Northern (at the) Lights

Okay, I've not completely fizzled out though it's been slow going lately. And I'm also scuppered at the moment as we're decorating the room that I laughingly call the 'study' - which is actually a room in the extension that was the kids play room when they were toddlers, but is now a junk repository where I happen to have some book shelves and a desk with the PC on. It will more of a video gaming snug / study when I'm done, but for now I have no access to books or the PC ......

So here I am on my phone posting a poor 'off the phone in bad light' shot of a garden tick. And it's one that wasn't on the garden list radar.

Northern Winter Moth
Larger, paler, slightly more well-marked with hind-wing 'petticoats'.

As seen here next to a regular Winter Moth.

I'll have to look more closely at garden winter moths now - this only stood out because it was alongside x4 Winter Moths.

The only other recent news relates to me actually going out birding for a change. I've been out and about seeing Hawfinches at Burbage Common, not seeing Ferruginous Duck at Eyebrook Res but jamming a County Tick Merlin in the process. There's every chance that I'll do some more bird-spotting this winter for a change.

Posting on the phone has done my head in for now so I'm off.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Garden List Redemption

I wonder if anyone reading this post remembers this post, when my daughter managed to strongly suggest that a Woodcock had been in our garden whilst I was out ............

That was nearly seven years ago, and unsurprisingly there has never been any expectation or sniff of one popping up since. Until this week! On Tuesday morning, just in the first throws of proper light, I happened to walk out onto the front drive and go to look under an outside light that I'd left on all night. I was of course hoping that I'd see a moth or two on the wall (I didn't) but the last thing I expected was a Woodcock exploding out of the leaf-litter that has blown up against the wall. It very quickly and pretty directly headed over the neighbours front garden and looked to ditch down in the scrubby embankment, never to be seen again. I was stunned - a feeling something like when this happened.

Meanwhile, I've had a new tortrix confirmed by gen det. It was a Grapholita funebrana from back on 23/08/2017, the 683rd Moth, 365th micro and 108th tortrix for the garden and a full British tick for me.

Thursday, 2 November 2017


Every now and then you see a piece of bird news that really does make you stop in your tracks and proclaim expletives to yourself (or sometimes out loud). Of course this is usually some ridiculously rare and stunning looking individual that is inaccessible. Occasionally it is a lesser rarity, but completely out of context or in a non-sensical location. Cory's Shearwater at Rutland Water on a flat-calm day in November for example ........

As it happens I was able to leave work early today, and so I headed off to RW where my twitching sucess record is heavily weighted on the dip side. But not today - what a bird! And what a compete tart I am for not only gaining a fantastic County tick, but a full British tick to boot. Great find by Andy Mackay, and there will no doubt be some great photos on the tinterweb in due course.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Late October Geos

Here's a couple from the garden traps this week, starting with a very welcome one ....

Mottled Umber
Only the second for the garden, first was back in Jan 2009

Feathered Thorn

Juniper Carpet

This last one usually signifies that the end is nigh for me - I'll keep trying but there will be a few blanks coming up now. Always a chance that I could still see Scarce Umber, Sprawler, December Moth, Chestnut and maybe something unexpected.