"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Garden Birds, Moths and Butterflies

The first two butterflies of the year have visited the garden. Yesterday a small tortoiseshell briefly nectared on winter flowering pansies - its great to see this species in the garden again (had several sightings last year) as it has been in decline in recent years probably due to Sturmia bella flies. The flies lay their eggs on nettle leaves and the eggs are then eaten by the small tortoiseshell caterpillars. The larvae of the Sturmia bella fly develop inside the butterfly caterpillar eventually killing it. Today, I saw a male brimstone butterfly fly across the patio.

A pair of blue tits are still investigating one of the nest boxes - fortunately for us the box with the camera inside. We checked the camera was working yesterday and there is no sign yet of any nest material being taken in. Last year this happened around the 18th April so it will probably be a few weeks yet before nesting commences if they choose this box over others in the garden. A flock of 5 chaffinches have been feeding in the garden for the last 10 days or so. Hopefully, a pair will stay around and nest as they did a few summers ago.

Overnight temperatures have been so mild that I decided to run the moth trap again last night. Reading other people's blogs there are some large catches being made at the moment with a great variety of moth species. Well, I did trap a few moths - 3 in total! Two clouded drab and a March Moth - edit Diurnea fagella not March Moth (see photo below) which is new for the garden.

Edit - Many thanks to Stewart and Dean for identifying this month as Diurnea fagella and not a March moth!

Diurnea fagella

Not the best of photos - its going to be a long wait until Christmas when I can add a macro lens to my camera equipment! As always, if the id is wrong please let me know.

Summary of Moths Trapped Wednesday 23rd March

6.30 p.m. until dawn

Minimum temperature 3.4 degrees centigrade

Edit 1 x Diurnea fagella (NFG) Thanks again to Stewart and Dean for their help with id.
2 x Clouded Drab

Moth species 2011 - 5

Garden Butterfly species 2011 - 2

I spent an hour or so this afternoon looking round the gardens at Packwood House and I'll do a posting on this when I have sorted the photos out - the daffodils were beautiful.


Stewart said...

Hi Ragged Robin, Your March Moth looks to be very dark? Could it be a dark Diurnea fagella or it may just be a trick of the light...

Cheers Stewart

Dean said...

Hi Caroline. Your March Moth is in fact the micro Diurnea fagella.

Ragged Robin said...

Stewart and Dean - Thanks so much to you both for correctly identifying the moth as Diurnea fagella. I am very grateful because correcting my misidentifications will hopefully help my woeful moth id skills :D.