Two new UK lifers

The weekend of the 12th was an opportunity for me, the wife and kids to go and stay in Norfolk with my parents.

Fortunately it also allowed me to connect with two UK lifers, Red-breasted Goose and Short-toed Lark. The former a bird id always wanted to see, flicking through bird books as a child I’d always land on that particular page and think ‘wow’. The bird didn’t disappoint in reality and we managed great views on the Blakeney fresh marsh.

Red-breasted Goose with the Brent flock
Red-breasted Goose

The Lark was a little less forthcoming, only giving itself up via fleeting views totalling no more than around 20 seconds of actual viewing time in a 1 hour window. Battling with high winds and a considerable chill, it was at least nice to nail the bird… not quite the same as when I saw these birds milling around a few feet away in the Tunisian desert but nice all the same.



Appreciate a lot of the content here recently has been moths, mostly because that’s all I’ve had time for but I have been birding, of course, here are a few of the recent highlights.

I was fortunate enough to be staying with my parents in Cromer when the Adult breeding plumage Sabine’s Gull appeared at Cley (found by my mum!). I popped over to add this bird to my British list. It’s a bird i’ve long admired, but always assumed would be added as a sea-watching tick miles off shore. I was elated to have my first experience of this elegant beauty be inland and a reasonable distance!

When i returned from Cromer, Josh Jones found a Sandwich Tern on BLGP Wader Pit, the bird appeared in the morning and had been commuting between wader pit and T-junction pit for most of the day, giving good views to most who attended. Again, this is a bird that you normally have to be in the right place at the right time for, it’s unusual for one to stick around at any inland location, especially for a whole day. A great addition to my Deepings list.

On the back of that success, i headed over to Deeping Lakes to see if I could connect with the trio of Ruddy Shelduck which had been touring the local pits after Mike Weedon’s discovery a couple of weeks ago. The birds were present and gave great views in front of the first viewing screen on East Pit. The origins of these birds are always going to be in question but they did arrive on the back of an apparent influx on the coast of up to 17 birds and none of them carrying any legwear, so let’s keep the fingers crossed. Also present was a lovely Curlew, a long overdue deepings tick for me.

Sandwich Tern – Baston / Langtoft Gravel Pits, found by Josh Jones.
Sabine’s Gull – over Brackish pool at Cley NWT
Sabine’s Gull
Little Gull – Also at Cley was this lovely Little Gull, over Snipe and Ruff off East Bank, Cley NWT.
Green Sandpiper
Ruddy Shelduck – Deeping Lakes LWT
Ruddy Shelduck – The trio together at Deeping Lakes LWT
Curlew – Deeping Lakes LWT

Fresh as a daisy

It wasn’t until 10:30pm that I decided i would put the trap out… overcast skies, a slight wind and acceptable temperatures but I wasn’t expecting much to be honest. Boy was I wrong! The trap was teaming with moths, some new, some common but all appeared to be very fresh.

Some great additions to the list including Small Ranunculus, a species previously declared extinct in the UK. Overall I had 21 species in around 80 individuals.

Red Underwing – Catocala nupta – New for the garden, absolute stunners!
Red Underwing Catocala nupta
Red Underwing – Catocala nupta – Not hard to see how they came about their name, Noah was particularly interested in these big beauties!
Cabbage Moth – Mamestra brassicae – New for the garden
Angle Shades – Phlogophora meticulosa – New for the garden, this one has been on my hit-list for a while!
Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing Noctua janthe
Lesser Yellow Underwing – Noctua comes
Large Yellow Underwing – Noctua pronuba
Nutmeg – Anarta trifolii
Toadflax Brocade – Calophasia lunula – A lovely fresh individual
Common Wainscot – Mythimna pallens – 9 in or around the trap last night
Vine’s Rustic
Small RanunculusHecatera dysodea – New for the garden, this moth was declared extinct in Britain in the early 19th Century but re-appeared in Kent in 2002. Since then it has been spreading Northwards yet the overall status is still very much unknown.

A couple i found in the backlog

Sifting through the trap in the morning can often be a time consuming process with sometimes hundreds of moths to look through. This means i often end up reviewing the photos at the end of the day / week to find a couple of new species which slipped through the net. Here are some of those such examples.

Poplar Grey – Subacronicta megacephala
Pale-shouldered Brocade – Lacanobia thalassina
Dingy Footman – Eilema griseola – Posed nicely for me on Noah’s pyjamas!

The rarest moth so far!

Last night was a poor night for trapping but it forecast 13 degrees, the highest for the next 10 days so I took a chance. The trap was quiet by recent standards with only around 30 moths either in or around, most numerous was flounced rustic at about 15 as well as a handful of Yellow Underwings (of various species).

But there were 3 interesting moths to be found in the trap, one of which was the rarest i have caught so far, Webb’s Wainscot. This is a locally restricted species (Nationally scarce) but seems to be expanding, by all accounts an excellent one to get in the trap.

Webb’s Wainscot – Globia sparganii
Bee Moth – Aphomia sociella – New for the garden, feeds on the debris from abandoned bee / wasp nests. We had a nest of tree bumblebee in the eaves of our roof this year which has now dispersed, perhaps this little chap’s food source.
Large Thorn – Ennomos autumnaria – New for the garden and very welcome, beautifully mottled on the underwing and body and a damn sight bigger than the dusky thorns i was catching two weeks ago!

Night time Safari

The problem with moth traps is that you probably only catch 30% of what you attract (at least in my case) and the best moths i have in the morning are often on the wall surrounding the trap, rather than the trap itself.

Last night i decided I would spend an hour or so surveying around the trap to see what I was missing… a fair bit it turns out! Of course photography in those conditions is nigh on impossible but I managed to add Lesser Yellow Underwing and Snout to the garden list, as well as a very interesting Sickle Wasp species. I had no idea we had nocturnal wasps in this country but the chap was really rather impressive, around two inches in body length!

A bonus on the birding front were two new noc-mig ticks in the form of Whimbrel and Green Sandpiper.

It was a fairly productive night in the trap despite pretty poor conditions, the most numerous of around 50-60 moths being Willow Beauty and Garden Carpet, closely followed by Flounced Rustic.

Bug Eric: Wasp Wednesday: Netelia
Netalia Tarsata – photo from Google
Treble-bar Aplocera plagiata – New for the garden
Copper Underwing agg. Amphipyra pyramidea agg. – New for the garden but another of those species which cannot be distinguished without dissection.
Flame Shoulder Ochropleura plecta – A common moth by all accounts but only the second time i’ve trapped one.
Setaceous Hebrew Character – Xestia c-nigrum – A couple of nice specimens of this species in the trap last night, never get bored of them. So named after the apparent resemblance to a character from the Hebrew alphabet in the centre of Forewing.
See above
Pale Mottled Willow – Caradrina clavipalpis – New for the garden

A week away

I returned home to Deeping yesterday after a week away on the North Norfolk coast visiting family. There were some definite highlights on the nature front for that week and once i have finished editing the photos, I will share what those were.

I was really excited to stick the trap out last night after a week away to see what had changed. Conditions were OK with a warmness in the air and partial cloud cover, however it was a full moon so i wasn’t expecting great things. Mothing however continues to surprise me with new species every time so far, here are the highlights from a productive evening:

Shuttle-shaped Dart Agrotis puta – a very pale individual clearly worn compared to the ones i’ve had in the garden so far.
Maiden’s BlushCosymbia punctaria – New for the garden
Double-striped Pug Gymnoscelis rufifasciata – New for the garden
Vines Rustic – Hoplodrina ambigua – New for the garden although i’m pretty confident it was just overlooked given how common they are.
Mouse Moth Amphipyra tragopoginis – an extremely worn individual, which isn’t uncommon for this species, new for the garden
Flounced Rustic – Luperina testacea
unidentified wave(?)
Large Yellow Underwing – Noctua pronuba
Large Yellow Underwing – female
The Nutmeg Anarta trifolii – I think that’s what this is, if so, it’s new for the garden
Toadflax Brocade – Calophasia lunula – New for the garden
Euzophera pinguis – New for the garden
Ringed China-mark – Parapoynx stratiotata – New for the garden

Another busy night in the trap

Last night was another good night for mothing with warm temperatures, overcast skies and very little wind. This morning was evidence of that with several new species for the garden as well as increased numbers of some of the regulars.

Dusky Thorn – back for the second night running
Orange Swift – Triodia sylvina – new for the garden, two in the trap.
Flame Shoulder – Ochropleura plecta – new for the garden, a single individual

Setaceous Hebrew Character Xestia c-nigrum – A questionable name for a lovely little moth, new for the garden, two in the trap
Large Yellow UnderwingNoctua pronuba
Common Wainscot – Mythimna pallens
New for the garden, two in the trap
Silver Y – Autographa gamma
KnotgrassAcronicta rumicis
Marbled Beauty – This one confused me as it has a particularly greenish / gold wash to it

Common / Lesser Common Rustic – Mesapamea secalis / didyma

Dusky Sallow Eremobia ochroleuca

Best trap night so far!

Yesterday I made the change on my moth trap from fluorescent to UV Blacklight. Doesn’t seem like a major change but actually the light the bulb you’re using emits makes a huge difference to the success of your mothing. UV Blacklight, on the light spectrum is a lot closer to sunlight than most other bulbs, the only better bulb being a Mercury Vapour bulb. I had high hopes for the change and expected big things.

I wasn’t disappointed! The variety and quantity of moths this morning was astounding, c.150 moths in and around the trap, most common today were the ermines (as usual) as well as pugs and footman. Here’s a roundup of the best bits:

Ruby Tiger – Phragmatobia fuliginosa

Ruby tiger was one of the moths on my hitlist for this week as i knew they were around in good numbers and what a lovely looking moth! Their underwing are a vibrant red contrasting with black, the photo doesn’t do it justice.

Mother of Pearl Patania ruralis
This little moth has a beautiful iridescence to the wings which, when seen in person, does look like the surface of a pearl.

BrimstoneOpisthograptis luteolata
Poplar Hawk-moth Laothoe populi
Still the only Hawk i’ve caught so far, this individual appears to be different due to the amount of wear on the wings and the thorax. The picture below shows the lovely burnt red colour on the underwings.
Poplar Hawk-moth Laothoe populi
Dusky Thorn Ennomos fuscantaria
Thats my best guess on ID but happy to be corrected to Canary-shouldered.
Lime-speck Pug – Eupithecia centaureata
Riband Wave (Plain Morph) – Idaea aversata
Carpet sp. TBD

Common but different

I put the moth trap out last night after a warmer day yesterday in the hopes that the heat would carry through the night. I awoke to a positively chilly morning this morning, however, there were still some interesting moths to be seen including species from several new families for me.

It’s great to start getting some consistency in the trap as I can now identify quite comfortably those which are most regular for me. By number, the most common species in the garden are definitely Bird-cherry Ermine and Willow Beauty. There are a lot of ‘grass moth’ species which end up in or around the trap, but these look to me to be almost indistinguishable from one another, so i’ll leave those to the experts.

Massive thanks, as always, to Josh Jones who is being very patient with me as I try to get to grips with these species, much appreciated!

Here’s the best from last nights trapping:

Pebble Hook-tipDrepana falcataria
Small MagpieAnania hortulata
Willow Beauty – Peribatodes rhomboidaria
Flounced Rustic Luperina testacea
Grey / Dark Dagger – These two species can only be separated by dissection and examination of the genitalia!
Common Rustic