Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Brown and green

Two days, two year ticks. Unfortunately neither of them seen by me.

The first was a Nightjar seen on the new heath briefly on Sunday evening by Graham Wilton-Jones. A few of us gathered at dusk hopeful of hearing a churring bird, but the heath was unfortunately silent.

The second was a Ring-necked Parakeet that zipped over the same area on Monday morning, seen by Andy Schofield.

The bird list moves up to 130.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Week round-up.

Bit tied up with work this week, but the arrival of the weekend has given me the chance to check some of my photos from the week, mostly from a walk along the riverbank on Monday lunchtime. A closer look at one of our very few Wych Elms revealed the presence of two new leaf-mining moths (Phyllonorycter schrebella and Stigmella leminscella) and the gall of the aphid Tetraneura ulmi. The other new leaf-mine of the day was of the fly Agromyza alnivora on the alders. Nearby, the hoverfly Myathropa florea was netted from a thistle head. The other additions on Monday were all plants: Wood Dock, Water Figwort and Fen Bedstraw. In addition, I peered closely at the path outside the Nunnery and found what appears to be one of the pearlwort (Sagina) species, although now having done my homework I clearly need to go back to it next week for a closer look to clinch which one (or two) it is.

The only notable birds I recorded at work this week were a few Crossbills heard flying past the window, and a Hobby over the river, neither new for our list unfortunately. However, further close inspection of the thistle flowers on Friday produced the bee-mimicking hoverfly Eristalis intricarius (below).

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

All action on CES 8

A busy Constant Effort Site session kicked off at stupid o'clock this morning with a Willow Tit calling and eventually showing near our base, before conveniently jumping into one of the nets half an hour later! Despite not being much smarter than the first bird (which we also retrapped this morning), close inspection indicated that it was a juvenile.

Next came a few interesting fly-overs: a Yellow Wagtail and my first Crossbills from the Lakes this year. Other goodies in the nets included a Kingfisher and this fine male Bullfinch:

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Tern up

Dave Leech made an impressive start to the year's Lakes listing but has been otherwise engaged with his own challenge of late, that of recording 300+ Reed Warbler nests! Despite spending most of his time swamped by Phragmites, Dave managed to see enough sky this evening to record something even more exciting than a Reed Warbler nest (in TEAL Cup terms anyway): Common Tern! A day short of 3 months after The Lodgers chalked this one up, species 131 is now on our list, and not a moment too soon - the possibility of this one escaping our clutches had been looming large. Nice one Dave!

[Picture below taken the following morning, proving that Dave still occasionally handles a juvvie Reed Warbler that does have feathers!]

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Second for Norfolk

After turning up the first Box Bug for Norfolk on 28th April, it was a surprise to find apparently the second for Norfolk yesterday! On an alder leaf, not a box in sight.

Other additions from yesterday so far include the Sulphur Beetle Cteniopus sulphureus and the hoverfly Helophilus pendulus.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Award for bravery?

While ringing birds on the BTO reserve, we occasionally get bird parasites "abandoning ship", and jumping on to us instead. Sat back at my desk after a morning's ringing, I was concerned to find one of these crawling out of my clothes....

It's a flat-fly, or louse-fly, and I came across the perfect quote to describe these beasts in the New Naturalist 'Fleas, Flukes and Cuckoos; a Study of Bird Parasites":

"They never fly forward but sidelong, as it were, hopping and skipping as they go. For reasons which defy analysis, louse-flies are particularly repellent insects, and most people experience a shudder of disgust at the sight of them, and are filled with a quite unreasonable feeling of horror if they happen to dart up their sleeves or into their hair while handling the host"

I fully agree with this assessment, and so I consider it a rather heroic act on my part that instead of squealing like a little girl and flicking it away, I not only caught the creepy scuttling thing in a pot, but then spent time studying it closely in order to identify it as Ornithomyia avicularia - new to the list. Do I get some kind of TEAL medal for bravery?

Lesser Stag Beetle

Today I popped to the kitchen for a cup of coffee, and met this coming the other way. Not sure what a Lesser Stag Beetle was doing walking down a corridor inside the Nunnery, but it's new to the list, and after being photographed (complete with carpet fluff) it was released outside into a safer environment, with no chance of being trampled by caffeine-deprived BTO staff.

South bound

We finally got another bird species for The Lodge list this morning - Yellow Wag.  One flew over the fuel dump as I was collecting a moth trap at 8am this morning, and Dave Buckingham had another flying south about an hour later. 128.

New Order

No, not the 80's band, but this odd-looking creature which I photographed back in May on the reserve. Thanks to the nice people using iSpot to help beginner-entomologists like me, it transpires that this is Graphopsocus cruciatus. Not only is this new for the Nunnery list, it's an entirely new Order of insects for us - the Psocoptera (or booklice, barklice or barkflies).

Monday, 11 July 2011

New, new, new

The Lodge is one of the best recorded of all the RSPB's nature reserves. We have commissioned several invertebrate surveys over the years; one of the former wardens is an expert mycologist who accumulated a large fungus list for the site; and staff with expertise in various groups have been based here for some of their careers. So I have been surprised by how much we have been able to add to the reserve list this year. Our current total of 1146 for the year includes 253 species new to the reserve, so over 20% of what we have found has not been noted here before. One of my favourite new finds was Platystomos albinus, a weevil that lives in dead wood (above). The taking part really has been good, regardless of who wins.

Common Frog!

Found a froglet on Saturday afternoon (with no help from my 2-year-old, who was too busy playing with thistles) - at long last! Other things sorted out at the weekend included Masked Hunter Reduvius personatus and the localised - if otherwise rather uninspiring - Dotted Fan-foot. The 1200 mark has now been passed...

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Twitching with a ladder

No, not another White-throated Robin, but Chris Gregory kindly showed us one of the Nunnery's rarest and most specialised species - Wall Bedstraw Galium parisiense. OK, possibly not the most stunning addition to the list, but they all count and this is presumably (?) one that doesn't occur at the Lodge anyway. Not easy to see here either!

Other additions today were Richard's Hummingbird Hawk and Dawn's Agriphila straminella , whilst I could only chip in with yet another leaf-miner, Parornix anglicella.

Monday, 4 July 2011

More Leps

In addition to the fantastic night's mothing that Moth(-)er Musgrove initiated, I managed a few more micros at the other end of the reserve the following night - namely Phlyctaenia coronata, Epagoge grotiana and Helcystogramma rufescens. Better still were the Purple Hairstreaks that eventually yielded to my scoping of the 4 mature oaks that mark the boundary of my front garden and the reserve - from the reserve, of course! I make that 1138, give or take.

Whilst initially scanning the canopy with bins, a Little Egret flew through my field of view! There was another one on the flood a few minutes later, along with an obliging pair of Little Ringed Plovers that I scoped from the meadow.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Mothing at the Nunnery Lakes - Act 1

Although we've notched up a fair few moths so far, we hadn't actually got round to any trapping down on the main part of the reserve. So ten of us (seven staff and three visitors) were out on Friday night until late (in fact, it was getting light as I got home). A very enjoyable evening, especially after Kate showed us that the generator worked much better with the air inlet open.

Not a bad haul, with 2 MV traps and 1 Actinic producing at least 97 species of moths, of which 34 were new to the BTO's TEAL list. Not a huge amount in the way of the real Brecks specialities though, so we'll have to go back a few more times. Also various beetles and bugs potted by the team.

For interest, the moth additions to the list were:

MACROS - Scalloped Hook-tip, Common Emerald, Lesser Cream Wave, Wood Carpet, July Highflyer, Toadflax Pug, Bordered Pug, Rosy Footman, Yellow-tail, Short-cloaked Moth, White-line Dart, Lesser Yellow Underwing, Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, Gothic (not Bordered Gothic as we hoped for a few moments), Southern Wainscot, Suspected, Oak Nycteoline;

MICROS - Roeslerstammia erxlebella, Carcina quercana, Cochylis atricapitana, Pandemis cerasana, Aphelia paleana, Acleris forskkaleana, Thiodia citrana, Epiblema uddmaniana, Epinotia bilunana, Gypsonoma dealbana, Chilo phragmitella, Calamotropha paludella, Agriphila inquinatella, Catoptria pinella, Schoenobius gigantella, Elophila nymphaeata and Dipleurina lacustrata

In addition, a handful more micros reside in the fridge at Chez Musgrove, to be considered more fully when I feel more awake. There's an interesting looking plume moth here though.

1130+ now


Friday, 1 July 2011


Whilst the light traps were running last night, I had a look round the reserve for nocturnal beetles. It is a very different place after sunset, and many of the insects that hide away during the day were sitting out on tree trunks. I was hoping to find one of our most spectacular residents, the huge Tanner Beetle Prionus coriarius. I got lucky, and discovered this one was emerging from the soil at the base of a larch. It has been delighting or horrifying people for most of today. We were not far over the 1000 species mark yesterday, and there should be a few more moths to add in once I get lists back from all who came out to help last night.