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

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

More Banana-ing

I can't quite believe how simple and effective this 'hanging a banana off a bush' technique (banana-ing) is - certainly feels more immediately successful than sugaring in my garden at least.

First night up : a just-ripe banana
Old Lady x1

Second Night up : now a sun-ripened and fly/wasp chewed banana
Old Lady x1
Copper Underwing agg. x2
Dun-bar x1
Blastobasis adustella x4
Red-barred Tortrix x4
Endotricha flammealis x1

Third night (tonight so far) :  banana getting quite brown now
Old Lady x1
Copper Underwing agg. x5
Dark Arches x2
Mother of Pearl x1

Not to mention the numerous flies and wasps that I'm only seeing a fraction of late in the day - wonder what else has been on it! I'm going to leave it up as long as it seems to be working.

The garden trap was busy last night with warm humid conditions and the threat of thundery downpours. In the end we got the downpour at around 03:30 but no thunder and lightning show. I'd constructed an additional rain cover over the trap which worked well - no apparent impact on trap effectiveness and no rain-soaked egg trays. Another Gelechia rhombella plus a few new for year species - all safely recorded on my dictaphone, but I do need to work on catching up on my record entries for the last couple of weeks.

No trapping tonight - too knackered!

Ruby Tiger

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Banana smeller / G. rhombella

Well that didn't take long. Barely an hour after dark last night I found this .....

Old Lady sucking my banana ...... sorry.

When I got home after work today, there were lots of flies and a couple of wasps on it, and it's looking a lot mushier. This would be a good recording technique for dipterists! This evening there were at least four Red-barred Tortrixes on it, so early evening tonight could see a banana bonanza.

Not so much in the garden trap though, but I almost missed by far the best moth. In the early morning light and with tired eyes I almost dimissed this as a worn Brown House Moth, but it isn't. It's actually a completely new moth for me, of course therefore another garden tick and looks like it could also be effectively a VC55 first (in so far as there are no other modern/documented records - it's not VCH listed, and there is just a paper record with no voucher/photo/credence from an unknown recorder).

Gelechia rhombella - 677th moth and 361st micro for the garden

A few other recent micros ...

Gelechia senticetella

Catoptria pinella

Donacaula forficella
Done well for wandering 'reedbed' Crambids this year, with this, Calamatropha paludella, Ringed China-mark and Anania perlucidalis all re-appearing. Only this one managed to avoid completely flapping itself useless in a pot before photography .......

Rhodophaea formosa - another name change  .....

Monday, 17 July 2017

Banana Republic

We've not got any viable fruit trees in our gardens. The flowering cherry on the front does just that, flowers with no end product. We also have a small grown-from-a-pip apple tree that is currently way too small to fruit, and maybe never will anyway. However, we do now have a banana tree .......

I saw a post on a facebook group showing just such a fruit dangling from a tree with openings cut in the side. The only difference was their photo showed the banana with four Old Ladies and a Large Yellow Underwing hanging off it. I've seen ripe bananas being used in tropical butterfly houses, and I'm sure a long while ago I mashed up a banana into a sugar mix, so I though I'd give it a go.

It will go one of three ways: roaring success, pathetic failure, or wife notices and protests about an errant banana hanging at head height from the lilac bush before the trial has concluded. This actual banana may not be ripe enough yet, but let's see what a happens after a day in the sun tomorrow.

ps: just had a quick peek and the fruity drug has attracted a large number of small fruit flies and one large fly before dusk, so patently it has potential!

We've also cleared a load of redundant crap from behind our shed and it's created quite a big space, albeit one that useless for anything practical. Or so the wife thinks. I've relocated my 'log pile' to one corner - I say logs but in reality they are just quite thick twigs from a silver birch sapling, an old conifer, the flowering cherry and next doors huge buddleia (not that there were any neighbours there when I cut lots of it down ......).

Whilst not exactly logs fit for saproxylic beetles, it does create a nice retreat for all sorts of inverts. I'm also thinking that starting from next year I'm going to run one of the traps from this area. I've run my MV in the same spot since 2000, but this year it seems to be struggling more than usual and I think that's partly due to it now being competely overshadowed by the lilac, birch and a big sallow growing from the neighbours garden. But I'm reluctant to start experimenting now - I'll wait for a complete new season and give it a proper go.

Otherwise, some of my bamboo tubes (over 50%) have been eagerly tenanted by Willughby's Leafcutter Bees. I really need to get my act together and make more homes for these and other solitary bees next spring.

And here's a couple of obligatory recent moths to sign off .....

Brimstone Moth

Riband Wave

Foxglove Pug

Scalloped Oak


Sunday, 16 July 2017

Sugar, do do do do do do

Ah honey, honey, do do do do do do ....... sorry, is it just me that remembers the popular music hit by the manufactured band The Archies - loved that when I was a toddler.

I've not gone completely mad by the way, it's just that I've had the mothing sugar out a couple of times lately. It's not a new batch of sugar, in fact it's the same recycled batch that I've had going for years - the same batch I was using back in 2009 at least. I've re-heated it, given it a stir and added some more alcohol (Drambuie this time) which helps give it a lift as the alcohol evaporates and carries the scent. Anyway, it still works .....

Old Lady - two on 14/07/2017

Old Lady - one of three to the dried-up dregs on 15/07/2017

Both these shots were complete point, shoot and hope efforts with my phone - not too shabby I reckon. I'll keep trying the sugar through the autumn, leading up to the National Moth Night Ivy & Sugar theme. So far just the Old Ladies and one Large Yellow Underwing. And one mahoosive unidentified Teg.

Doubt it was actually imbibing!

Otherwise, here's a few recent noctuids from the garden traps .....

Knot Grass



Least Yellow Underwing

Lesser Common / Common Rustic agg.
Although I'd bet a large sum on this actually being Lesser if detted.

Dot Moth

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Where's the Mugwort ...

Had a nice tortrix in the trap on Monday night, one of my favourites in fact, but I've only just got around to grabbing a quick shot. I knew I'd had several before, though it felt like a while since I'd last seen it so I checked my records. I was surprised to find that I'd had it annually between 2000 and 2008 with a total of 24 individuals, then two in 2010 but none since. It feeds on Mugwort ... so where has all the Mugwort gone from around here in the last seven years! Certainly an odd pattern of records. This one also had an odd broken white 'U'.

Epiblema foenella

Last night also brought some tortrix interest.

Eudemis profundana

A Spilonota sp.
Probably just a Bud Moth, but I'm going to get this one gen detted just in case it is
a garden-first S. laricana

Another possible Epinotia cinereana?

And amongst the tubes of specimens I've saved for formal gen det I've got another Acleris - although this one is almost certainly A. laterana.

Acleris laterana / comariana

And whilst I'm posting torts again, here's one that's also got an odd pattern of records in my garden/ I had a few (6 individuals) between 2000 - 2005, then none until 6 individuals between 2010 - 2016. So far I've had 3 this year alone.

Cyclamen Tortrix

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Overdue - Bordered Beauty

Time to highlight another moth that turned up in bygone years and is now overdue for a re-appearance in the garden. I've got two records of Bordered Beauty, both of singles, on 21/08/2001 and 05/09/2006. This is not an especially scarce species in VC55 (equally not common), but it feeds on sallow with a preference for damp woodland etc. There is no reason why it should not turn up in the garden more than it has done, and certainly it should of appeared in the last 10 years! It is quite possible that I've missed it through apathy - even in good garden-mothing years I lose a bit of impetus in mid-August to early September after the summer rush is over but the autumn noctuid flush has not quite started. Must make an effort to trap through that period this year!

Bordered Beauty - 21/08/2001

Monday, 10 July 2017

False Start

Hmmm. Just as I start taking out the camera to the garden at 04:30 in the morning, the catches ease off and there aren't any interesting bugs or beetles to bother with it. This morning though, there was something different but it wasn't one for the camera, what with it flapping about the bulb constantly like a big angry bastard. It was a large (very) Ichneumon that I managed to pot up before going through the moths. I'm sure it is harmless, but there was no way I was taking a chance! I've subsequently identified it using the new NHM Guide as Opheltes glaucopterus - new for me and the garden.

As for the moths, numbers down over the last couple of nights but the NFY species keep coming with one or two more interesting species each night.

Monochroa lucidella - 3rd garden record

Blue-bordered Carpet - 5th garden record

Small Yellow Wave - 5th garden record

Oak Eggar - garden speciality!
Lazy quick snap with my phone to upload to Leics. Moth Facebook group
at stupid o'clock this morning.

This Oak Eggar is the 13th individual for the garden, and 12th female (in 2003 I managed to 'assemble' a male to a female I caught at light the previous night). Whilst that might not seem many, my garden records alone account for c15% of all VC55 record, and those records go back decades before I started recording. Aside from these, I've recorded it at two sites fairly close by (Enderby Quarry and Huncote Embankment) which means my personal records are nearer to 20% of all VC55 records.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Smart Trapticks

I'll be making an effort to remember to have the camera on hand from now on whilst I empty the moths traps through the summer. The traps are starting to pull in a few bugs and other bits and quite often I get better shots of them on the eggboxes than afterwards!

Very early in the morning on Friday whilst emptying the traps, I noted three mirid bugs. All looked familiar but I had no idea of a name for any of them. Subsequent checking of the photos revealed that two of them were actually a male and female of the same species and complete British tick for me - so either I've seen but ignored them in the past (possible) or they were just superficially similar to one I have seen. Either way, just as well I bothered grabbing the camera!

Stenotus binotatus - male

Stenotus binotatus - female

The other was one that I've recorded from the garden traps before:

Stenodema calcarata

There was also a chunky leafhopper that I see in the traps quite frequently ...

Iassus lanio

And to cap all that, there was also a small weevil that looked interesting enough to pot up (which was just as well as the photos I took were actually complete crap!). It looks like this is going to be another British tick, and more importantly another good beetle record for VC55 with only three previous and none for c21 years.

Dorytomus ictor

I'll round off with a few moths that have been left to one side during the photo catch-up - the decks are now clear for whatever tonight and the week ahead brings.

Possible Argyresthia glabratella - pending gen det

Ptycholomiodes aeriferanus

Chrysoteuchia culmella

Catoptria falsella

Small Fan-footed Wave