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find out more... Dark Umber 2 Copyright: Ben Sale

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The weblog below is for naturalists to use to report interesting sightings, ask questions, report on field meetings and generally post pictures and any information or questions generally relevant in some way to the wildlife and geology of Essex. You will need to register and be logged-on to post to the forum, and you need to upload pictures first, for use in posts. Find out more


Thu 24th March 2011 16:23 by Graham Smith
Sunshine at Last!
Spring is at last getting a move on round here. At Poors Piece/Pheasanthouse Bog, Danbury last Saturday there were 2 Brimstone, 2 Comma and a Small Tortiseshell on the wing and at Blue House Farm, North Fambridge, 7 Peacock and a Small Tortiseshell yesterday. Inbetween times, 20+ Black Oil Beetles (provisional ID only)were counted along the Dengie coast between Bradwell St Peter's and Howe Outfall on Sunday. Set the moth trap at Blue House for the first time this year on 22nd and caught 4 Small and 2 Common Quaker, 2 Hebrew Character, and single Dotted Border, Clouded Drab, Twin-spotted Quaker and White-shouldered House Moth. The garden trap (a 40WUV) here at Ingatestone has been averaging 10-15 moths a night, mostly the same as Ben's been catching + a few Double-striped Pugs. Birds have been very slow to move north though. There are a few Chiffchaffs around and I have heard of several Wheatears, Black Redstarts, Firecrests and Sand Martins but no big push from the continent as yet.
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Wed 23rd March 2011 07:46 by Ben Sale
Tuesday - 22/03/11 - Bishop's Stortford Garden (total of 18 moth
Put the trap out for a few hours tonight, under cloudy skies it stayed warm, the moth count was slightly lower than yesterday evening but did include the first two Early Grey's for the year.

Macro Moths

2x Early Grey [NFG] 12x Common Quaker 3x Small Quaker 1x Hebrew Character

Micro Moths

None recorded!

Early Grey 3 Copyright: Ben Sale

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Tue 22nd March 2011 07:58 by Ben Sale
What a difference a day can make! beautiful rays of sunshine got the temperature upto 15c yesterday here, clouding over nicely for the evening, it seemed perfect conditions for moths...and it was! with 19 moths of 8 species trapped in 4 hours. The best moth of the bunch was a pristine Lead-coloured Drab, a female this time given the size of it. Luckily I also trapped a Clouded Drab for comparison (just look at the rounded wing-tips of the Lead-coloured Drab as compared to the Squared-off tips of Clouded Drab)

5 species were new for the garden as well.

Monday - 21/03/11 - Bishop's Stortford Garden (total of 19 moths of 8 species) - Robinson 125w MV Trap

Macro Moths

1x Lead-coloured Drab [NFG] 1x Clouded Drab [NFG] 1x Engrailed [NFG] 2x Chestnut [NFG] 10x Common Quaker 2x Small Quaker 1x Hebrew Character

Micro Moths

1x Agonopterix heracliana/ciliella [NFG]

Lead-coloured Drab 4 Copyright: Ben Sale Engrailed 4 Copyright: Ben Sale

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Mon 21st March 2011 07:57 by Ben Sale
Moths in the garden
Last night just 3x Common Quaker and 1x Small Quaker to 125w MV Robinson Trap.

Common Quaker new Copyright: Ben Sale

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Thu 17th March 2011 07:37 by Ben Sale
Moths in a suburban garden
I decided to trap in the garden tonight, the first time since last August, after getting permission from my girlfriend's dad, I set the 125w MV Robinson Trap up.

With a stiff cold wind I didn't expect too much in four hours but was pleasantly rewarded with 8 moths of 5 species! from a newish developed suburban garden that's not too bad going.

Total Catch

2x Oak Beauty 1x Yellow Horned 2x Common Quaker 2x Small Quaker 1x Hebrew Character

Not strictly in Essex, but i'm right on the border in Bishop's Stortford!

Moths Copyright: Ben Sale

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Wed 16th March 2011 20:57 by Mary Smith
agreed - slow old spring
Yes, it is taking its time. Night-time temperatures are indeed critical, and should be higher where I live in sunny Upminster (which actually has been as dull as anywhere else recently) than in Graham's Ingatestone, but I can't say I have noticed much difference! Cool days prevent growth as well.  The 'growing degrees days' have been very sparse. The actual minimum temperature for each species of plant to start growing is different, as you might imagine, but many common plants including most grasses don't do much until temperatures are above about 6°C, which has not happened much yet. Cherry Plum has been out here for a few days, and Blackthorn is now opening well. Lots of Colt's-foot is open, and the smaller speedwells such as Green Field-speedwell V. agrestis and Grey Field-speedwell V. polita are open, and we have quite a few plants of the bright blue flowers of Early Forget-me-not M. ramosissima. But I would have expected a bit more by now.
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Mon 14th March 2011 17:13 by Graham Smith
Slow Old Spring
It's been a slow old spring round here so far, after what was apparently the dullest opening two months of the year on record. You can understand why we used to worship the sun! Bumblebees have been elusive, the only species positively identified so far being Bombus terrestris in a garden at Boreham on February 24th, B.pratorum at Blue House Farm on March 9th and B.lapidarius at The Backwarden on 11th. Butterflies are even more reluctant to venture forth but a male Brimstone did turn up in my garden at Ingatestone on 12th, even though we are a long way from any Buckthorn bushes and it's the best part of a mile to the nearest Alder Buckthorn. Milder nights have also led to an increase in moths in the trap, species so far being similar to what Ben has caught, including this beautiful Oak Beauty. Best micro has been the plume moth, Amblyptilia acanthadactyla which unfortunately nosedived into my pond! Perhaps spring has been quicker to get under way close to London. I imagine the slightly higher night time temperatures might make a difference. Mary would know! Perhaps now the Cherry Plum is finally in bloom insect numbers will now increase.

Oak Beauty Copyright: Graham Smith

Can anyone tell me what has created the large number of holes that have sprung up on bare soil at The Backwarden recently, each with a near pile of earth encircling the rim. Is it something burrowing in or burrowing out? I thought perhaps Tawny Mining Bee but I could see no sign of any adults and, anyway, I am sure there are around forty-three almost identical species! Each hole is around 5-8mm across.

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Sun 13th March 2011 10:46 by Ben Sale
Had a productive night at Harlow Museum last night with the expected species turning up between two traps.

Saturday - 12/03/11

Marks Hall Gardens - Harlow Museum (total of 66 moths of 8 species)

Robinson 125w MV Trap ( 39 moths of 7 species)

Macro Moths

6x Small Quaker 20x Common Quaker 7x Hebrew Character (NFY) 3x Oak Beauty 1x Clouded Drab (NFY) 1x Chestnut

Micro Moths

1x Tortricodes alternella

Robinson 160w MBT Trap (27 moths of 6 species)

Macro Moths

6x Small Quaker 11x Common Quaker 5x Hebrew Character 3x Clouded Drab 1x Chestnut

Micro Moths

1x Emmelina monodactyla

Oak Beauties Copyright: Ben Sale Yellow Horned moths Copyright: Ben Sale

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Fri 11th March 2011 21:12 by Sue Grayston
Thanks Peter, that's wonderful. I'm really pleased. It's great to be able to add to the database.

Sue Grayston

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Fri 11th March 2011 07:15 by Peter Harvey
Dendroxena 4 maculata
If you search the website for Dendroxena quadrimaculata you will see it is listed as an Essex Red Data List species, with an Essex 1950-1969 record; VC18 pre-1970 record; VC19 pre-1970 record. So your find is a good one! I will notify Peter Hammond, the County Recorder for beetles.
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Wed 9th March 2011 23:42 by Sue Grayston
Dendroxena 4 maculata
Hi there,

I was browsing the species list and noticed that Dendroxena 4 maculata is not mentioned. I found this species in Mark's Hill reserve in May 2009. It just caught my eye at the time so I took a photograph of it. I've uploaded the picture to my photos if someone would like to confirm my identification. Hope I've got it right.

Sue Grayston

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