Thorndon Country Park - Brentwood
Enjoyed the first trip to Thorndon Park last night, after eventually getting there well after dark due to a massive hold up on the M25 near Brentwood, forcing me to go north to Chelmsford and get off on the wrong side of Brentwood!
The traps were assembled at about 9pm, all 4 which were 1x 125w MV Robinson Trap, 1x 125w MV Heath Trap, 1x 160w Homemade Robinson Trap and a hanging 22w Actinic.
Shortly after switching on the lights we were overwhelmed with Brindled Pugs and by the end of the session this proved to be the most common Macro (with 40+ examples), with Adela reamurella being the most common Micro (over 40 aswell)
Best moths of the night were a single Pine Beauty, a new one for me! and one fresh example of Barred Hook-tip
Here is a list of the moths recorded (without figures until I get these from my friend)
Wednesday - 20/04/11 - Thorndon Country Park
Least Black Arches
Lunar Marbled Brown
Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana
Bombylius major v small bee(sp/)
About 4pm on a fine and sunny afternoon my wife, grandson and I were walking in Highwooods Country Park, Colchester in the area of Friars Grove. As we came to the NW corner of the wood (TM010269) we became aware of intense insect activity in a bramble, covered dry ditch bank.
50+ bees resembling small honey bees, but with more prominent body stripes were swarming in and out of the brambles. We assumed them to be miner bees (sp?), but were unable to see their excavations without disturbing the vegetation. Around the edge of of the swarm 5-10, constantly moving bee flies (Bombylius major) hovered attempting to gain access to the area. However approaches were repulsed by the bees who vigorously attacked the flies, causing them to dart off, easily out manouvering the bees.
Since the beginning of March I've been haring round all the local woods looking for any wild flowers that dare to flower on my patch. If seen,they are photographed in all their splendour and examined in minute detail so that I can (hopefully) identify them for the wildflower diary I've started to keep. It started out as a fun way to improve my knowledge of wildflowers. My goodness, I didn't realise how little I really know. Every evening is now spent poring over Francis Rose guides and entering my new finds in my diary. Anyway, last week I was walking in Willow park, Langdon and came across a lone snake's head fritillary. What a find. I was so excited. I don't think i remember much of the journey home.
The find was duly reported to Ken. If you would like to see it, go to the old unused car park at the end of the reserve and walk back along the main path. It can be seen from the gate on the right hand side. Hope nobody has picked it.
From Slow to Fast Forward
After a very slow start spring has gained momentum, thanks largely to the warm sunshine and south or south-westerly winds of late. Seemed to wait forever for the first spring migrants but now species such as Cuckoo, Reed Warbler, Garden Warbler
and Turtle Dove
, which do not usually arrive until the second half of April, have already put in an appearance in several areas. Blackcap
, which mostly winter in Iberia, seem to have enjoyed a good season and are already here in excellent numbers but it remains to be seen whether those that winter further south, in sub-Saharan Africa, have experienced similar good fortune. A bonus for me, on 7th April, was a Stone Curlew
, which landed in front of the Hole in the Wall hide at Blue House Farm EWT Reserve, North Fambridge. It breeds mostly on stony fields in Breckland in this country but this one, having moved north from Africa, obviously felt unable to migrate the further hundred or so miles without a rest. Alas, it was quickly driven off by a pair of Lapwings, a bird I never thought I would swear at!
Another find at Blue House on 7th were several webs of Brown-tailed Moth caterpillars, like the ones illustrated (taken along the Dengie coast in April last year), a species that gets local councils in a panic when, as occasionally happens, the webs appear in large numbers along tree lined city streets as the shed hairs can cause painful rashes and breathing problems in a few people. The moth trap was set overnight on the reserve and yielded a Sloe Carpet, an Essex Red Data Book species new to the area. Other species included an Early Thorn, Red Chestnut and 3 Powdered Quakers while this fine Lime Hawk Moth was among the species caught in my garden at Ingatestone on the same date.
My garden is also playing host to large numbers of Bee Flys Bombylius major at the moment while the distinctive bee, Anthophora plumipes, the females of which are black and the males brown, has also begun to appear, buzzing around the flowerbeds like a manic bumblebee. With the sad exception of Small Tortiseshell (of which I have only seen one this year) it is also looking promising for butterflies; a transect locally, at Mill Green, producing 8 Peacocks, 3 Brimstone, 2 Green-veined White and single Comma and Small White. So things are definitely on the up.
Had a field trip out to Parndon Wood last night, setting up at 8pm and leaving two 125w MV robinson traps out amongst woodland, at 15c at dusk with slight cloud cover it was perfect conditions.
The trap that was positioned under a large Oak was certainly more prolific, although many more moths were found in the trap rather than the sheet this time, showing the shift of warmer flying conditions, and the catch comprising of mostly spring species as opposed to winter stragglers, whih tended to not fly too much!
On returning at 6am this morning I was pleasantly surprised with the catch, which included multiple new for years and countless Small Quaker (the total tally was 98)
Best moths included recent emergences of Lunar Marbled Brown and Frosted Green and a slightly aberrant Hebrew Character.
The micro's turned up in good numbers as well for the first time this year with Diurnea fagella and Eriocrania subpurpurella being the most common.
Friday - 01/04/11- Parndon Wood (total of 219 moths of 16 species) - 2x Robinson 125w MV Trap
19x Frosted Green [NFY]
3x Early Thorn [NFY]
7x Brindled Pug [NFY]
2x Nut-tree Tussock [NFY]
2x Twin-spotted Quaker [NFY]
1x Clouded Drab
2x Hebrew Character
24x Common Quaker
98x Small Quaker
18x Diurnea fagella [NFY]
22x Eriocrania subpurpurella [NFY]
1x Acleris cristana [NFY]
2x Acleris notana/ferrugana
Common Frog in my garden
Summer is almost with us by now! Really warm weather, and many wild flowers are leaping out to show their faces.
While removing a dead Cistus bush (it died in the December 2010 cold), a green Common Frog jumped out from the base. I caught him/her in my hands and took him/her to a damper part of the garden. Although definitely a Common Frog, this one was nearly green, well, sort of greenish-yellow-beige, but with the right shape and that dark patch by the eye. I have not seen one so nearly green before.