Wednesday, 29 June 2011


944.  That's our TEAL score up until yesterday.  It would appear that the Nuns have a huge advantage in that they have more than just sand for soil, thus our plant diversity is low in comparison.  Oh, and they also have a huge lake too - that helps a little bit as well.

Was this ever a fair fight?  We'll see at the end of the year...

White-letter Hairstreak

Mark and I ventured down to Deepdale at lunchtime today and specifically to a stand of Elms known to support White-letter Hairstreak. Upon arrival, we split up and peered hopefully into the canopy.

Needless to say, I chose the wrong canopy, but M did manage two sightings - one from within the Lodge boundary. We also had good views of Purple Hairstreak (already on the list), Marbled White (ditto) and Brown Argus (still needed for the list).

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

1,066 and all that

Hard to keep up with the additions from the Nunnery, as ever at this time of year, but a nice selection over the last few days, including Small Skipper, Silver Y, Epinotia tenerana, Stigmella anomalella, Tufted Vetch, Greater Bird's-foot Trefoil, Marsh Woundwort, Roesel's Bush-cricket, Forest Bug and a shedload of moths from Mr Moran, highlights being Ethmia quadrillella, Pediasia contaminella, Festoon and Lunar Yellow Underwing. Working total now on 1,066, but that's probably gone up in the time it's taken me to type this...

Friday, 24 June 2011

Cool insects

Been watching the clouds pile in as lunchtime approaches but today, we had sunshine from 1pm and enought time to hang out the washing bags and attract a Yellow-legged Clearwing. Before that however, I found a Purple Hairstreak on the ground. Plus two. (Photos by Brian Reid)

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Another normal day at the Nunnery

Is there anywhere but the BTO where you could get an email like this from your line manager?

"Ok Nick, from a Dutch hotel (where I'm failing to log into TEAL blog), how about these from my notebook: Phyllonorycter maestingella, Stigmella tityrella, Buttoned Snout, Black Horehound, Large-flowered Evening Primrose, Stigmella plagicolella, Phyllonorycter salictella, Phyllonorycter platanoidella, Syrphus sp. and I've a feeling we may not yet have written down Cameraria ohridella. And has anyone else had Ringlet yet? Another possible 10 in my notebook but these (all from yesterday's walk along the river) safely see us into four figures."

Fantastic Andy - that's us safely into 4-figures: 1008 (not inc. the Syrphus sp.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Passage waders

Nipped out at lunchtime to look for the Green Sandpiper Dawn found yesterday morning; the 'Wimbledon weather' ensured that I came back soaked to the skin but at least the bird was there. Some waders are clearly already southbound... which means even more regular checking of the flood (which, thankfully, is far less overgrown than this at the moment!):

Messing about with new BirdTrack Explore My Records tool produced the graph below, showing all my Lakes records of 'passage' waders (i.e. Little Ringed Plover, Ruff, Jack Snipe, Redshank, Greenshank, Common, Green and Wood Sandpipers) since July '09. Apart from the obvious, it also shows that I was a bit slack at birding the Lakes in my first 2 Julys at the BTO...

Oh and one last thing - a bit of moth record-updating put the TEAL list to 998 so we're perfectly poised for the big 1000 by half time!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Spotted Flycatcher

Working at home today; fortunately home is a grand total of 1 minute by bike from where Dawn Balmer found a pair of Spotted Flycatchers whilst she was doing a Bird Atlas 2007-11 Timed Tetrad Visit this morning! Not new for the BirdTrack Challenge (Andy Clements had one land in front of him whilst he was lunching al fresco in mid-May) but my first on the reserve. It was really encouraging to hear that they were gathering nesting material when Dawn found them this morning.

For Darren's challenge-within-a-challenge that's 121 for my Nunnery Lakes year list, 139 in total.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

BTO: scores on the doors

OK, I'm feeling guilty for not contributing much since returning from my hols. Have now had a look through the list we've compiled and although there's a little tidying still to do, best estimate is that BTO are on at least 987 taxa for the year so far. I suspect we're really over 1,000 now, as there are still a load of unidentifieds still residing in pots or on cameras, but that's the score for now. Just to clarify, by "taxa", this means organisms mostly identified to species, but where we don't feel confident in our ability to do so, we're including aggregates at higher taxonomic levels (e.g. Dark or Grey Dagger; Unidentified Stonefly; etc).

A breakdown of the list then so far, which is quite revealing in the groups we really ought to try a bit harder with:

Fish - 14
Amphibians - 2
Birds - 130
Mammals - 25
Reptiles - 3

Springtails - 1
Mayflies - 3
Thrips - 1
Dragonflies - 10
Stoneflies - 1
Grasshoppers - 9
Earwigs - 1
True bugs - 23
Lacewings - 4
Scorpionflies - 1
Moths & butterflies - 208
Caddisflies - 4
True flies - 45
Bees, wasps, ants - 40
Beetles - 46

Other invertebrates
Worms - 2
Arachnids - 78
Centipedes - 2
Milipedes - 2
Crustaceans - 8
Molluscs - 11
Horse Hairworms - 1
Sponges - 1

Fungi - 10

Algae - 1
Bryophytes - 17
Horsetails - 3
Ferns - 4
Conifers - 4
Dicotyledons - 231
Monocotyledons - 41

One of the interesting things is to look at the daft things we're still missing. Frog leaps out at me (sorry) as a particular gap, but Bank Vole and Wood Mouse are also somewhat embarrassing. There are also some very obvious plants we just need to remember to look for, such as Smooth and Prickly Sow-thistles.

Better get back to work then. I could do with a few months' sabbatical to do this properly though...

Friday, 10 June 2011

Ancient Hoverflies

Yesterday was a good day for hoverflies at the lodge, with two scarce species found only in ancient woodland added to the list. First up was the striking Brachypalpoides lentus

Brachypalpoides lentus

then the equally distinctive Volucella inflata decided it wanted to hang out with the moths in the MV trap

Volucella inflata

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Clearing clearwing

Another mega insect was recorded at The Lodge on Saturday afternoon - Large Red-belted Clearwing.  Some Northants birders with clearwing lures came along to the reserve and asked to dangle them in appropriate areas in the hope of attracting one of these mythical beasties.  And amazingly they found at least three, with another coming in a little later when the warden Andy Schofield came along!

They are the first in Bedfordshire since 1957, and that was a single record from a site well away from The Lodge.  The hunt now continues for more sightings of these amazing insects...

Dingy tick

I'll be the first to admit that my butterfly identification isn't what it should be. Last Saturday I had a wander round the lakes and photographed a butterfly or dayflying moth that I couldn't immediately identify. On returning home I was able to identify it as a Dingy Skipper (albeit a faded one) which I was quite happy with, being first one I had (knowingly) seen. What I didn't know was that it may be the first record for the reserve, possibly the first local record since 1999.

Another good local record was a female Broad-bodied Chaser the previous evening, one we didn't expect to get.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

WT tick!

Nope, not some White Throated waif but a far more satisfying personal Lakes and ringing tick during CES this morning: Willow Tit! Well worth the 4am get-up; 129 OTL. Not forgetting, of course, a valuable record and important data on a scarce and declining species.

STOP PRESS: Not only has our satellite-tagged Nunnery Lakes Cuckoo (that was still here last Thursday) now appeared 160km south of Paris but Neil Calbrade has also weighed in with another long-awaited BirdTrack Challenge grip-back: Crossbill! A two-tick day in June?! Who'd have thought it? Nice one Neil - 130.

Friday, 3 June 2011

New to Beds

Pempelia palumbella in a pot (Colin Campbell)
This micro moth was sat on the side of our small actinic trap on the heath this morning. We almost ignored it, but its a good job we didn't as it appears to be Pempelia palumbella, a new species for Bedfordshire!

Holly Warbler

There's a Reed Warbler singing in there...
While sorting through the moth trap this morning, Mark Gurney's ears were surprised to find a Reed Warbler singing from some holly in the Lodge gardens!  Certainly not a regular visitor to the Lodge, but most records have come from the gardens.  127.