"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

Friday, 26 October 2012

Moth and Badger Update

The number of moths caught is now really dropping with lower night time temperatures

Saturday, 20th October

Minimum Temperature 2.4 degrees centigrade

6.00 p.m. until dawn

15w Actinic Skinner Trap

Lunar Underwing (Omphaloscelis lunosa) x 1

There were 2 other moths which I was unable to identify as both escaped before I could pot them, one an Epirrita sp (there are 4 species and its difficult anyway to distinguish between them) and a possible Spruce Carpet (I only noticed this as I was putting the moth trap away and it flew off before I could get a pot. I really must check my trap initially more carefully!!!).

Wednesday, 24th October

Minimum Temperature 11.4 degrees centigrade

15w Actinic Skinner Trap

6.00 - 10.30 p.m.

Lesser Yellow Underwing (Noctua comes) x 1

Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana)

Sorry for lack of italics am still unable insert links or get Blogger to use italics, bold or underline!!!

The Garden Moth Scheme finishes on 2nd November so I will continue to put the trap out for a few more weeks. Still hoping for the "Holy Grail" - a Merveille du Jour!

Badger Update

I promised in one of my comments to keep Chris from "Las Aventuras" - see link on the right - up to date with the badger situation in England.

Earlier this week the Environment Secretary announced a postponement of the badger cull in England until next summer because farmers had run out of time to shoot badgers - the animals spend far more time in their setts during cold weather. It has to be remembered though that this is just a temporary reprieve for badgers as the Government is still committed to the badger culling policy.

The e-petition against the badger cull had attracted over 100,000 signatures (it now stands at 163,865 signatures) which led to a parliamentary debate on the issue yesterday. MP's voted against the culling policy by 147 votes to 28 calling instead for improved testing of cattle and biosecurity and vaccination. However, this vote is not legally binding as the motion was tabled by backbenchers.

Hopefully, in the intervening months between now and next summer the Government can be persuaded to drop this ill conceived, unscientific, inhumane, uneconomic idea. Whilst I have every sympathy for farmers who have to slaughter cattle due to bTB, culling badgers is not the answer to the problem. The main cause of bTB is cattle to cattle transmission. If the cull were to go ahead it would at best lead to a 16% reduction in 9 years leaving 84% of the problem. It has to be remembered that the methodology to be used i.e. free shooting of badgers has never been tried before and may not even result in a 16% reduction.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Autumn in the Garden

"Every leaf speaks bliss to me,
Fluttering from the autumn tree"

Emily Bronte

I love the colours of Autumn and the leaves in the garden are showing their beautiful Autumn tints.

It was very misty this morning with dewdrops glistening on cobwebs

There are still several plants in flower - cosmos, fuschia, michaelmas daisies, coneflowers and sedums

Ivy flowers - popular with butterflies and late flying insects

I grew some tomatoes this year for the first time in years and whilst some are still ripening, I plan to make Green Tomato Chutney with the rest.

Toadstools are starting to appear in the lawns.

Whitebeam, rowan and pyracantha berries have already been eaten by Blackbirds and Wood Pigeons but some holly berries remain.

And the fairies watch over the trimmed wildflower meadow!!!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Moths and a Surprise Pond Visitor

I put out the moth trap several times over the weekend but with the colder nights numbers caught were negligible!

Friday 12th October

Minimum Temperature 4.4 degrees centigrade

No moths

Saturday 13th October

Minimum Temperature 0.9 degrees centigrade

Lunar Underwing x 1
One very worn moth possibly Black Rustic??

Sunday 14th October

Minimum Temperature 2.5 degrees centigrade

No moths

(15w Actinic Skinner Trap)

I was really pleased yesterday morning when I looked out of the kitchen window to see a Grey Wagtail by the pond.

Luckily, the 70-300 mm lens was still on the camera from the Red Kite trip so I was able to get a few poor record shots through a rather dirty garage window!

I thought initially this was only the second time we had seen this species in the garden but I've just checked my BTO Garden Birdwatch records and there have been 3 visits.

2004 Week 45
2009 Week 46
2012 Week 42

So the sightings have all been around this time of the year and I assume the birds were just passing through.

It just goes to show though that you never know what sort of species might suddenly decide to visit :)

Monday, 15 October 2012

Red Kites at Watlington

We visited Watlington in Oxfordshire yesterday to watch Red Kites. We first discovered this small town a few years ago when we were in the Chilterns and looking for somewhere for lunch. We couldn't believe how many Red Kites were around the town. It was exactly the same yesterday every time you look up you can see one, two or more of these lovely birds.

We saw several Red Admirals mainly nectaring on ivy flowers but this one was on a noticeboard in the car park.

Watlington is a picturesque place to walk round - unfortunately the 70-300mm lens isn't the best to use for taking photos of buildings!

Here's a few record shots of the Red Kites we had come to see. To be honest the birds weren't close enough for the lens so these are heavily cropped. Trying to get the auto focus to lock was a nightmare!!! I did try manual focusing but that was even worse!!! I definitely need to practise flight shots!

We had lunch at the Carriers Arms again - really tasty and the Sticky Toffee Pudding with Ice Cream was really something special. The pub is on the outskirts and overlooks the lovely countryside

and as you eat lunch you can see half a dozen or more Red Kites soaring in the sky or flying low over the pub gardens - can't imagine many better places to have lunch!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

House Spider - Tegenaria spp

During a bout of domestic activity this afternoon (the dreaded dusting and vacuuming) I came across a huge spider which had fallen into a container containing cd's.

House Spider (Tegenaria spp)

It was huge - its body length being about 14mm so I suspect it may be Tegenaria gigantea (sometimes known as T. duellica)- though I much prefer the former scientific name! Sorry for lack of italics - even with new blogger I seem unable to get bold, italics or links to work.

This species is often seen running across floors or found in the bath at this time of the year when males go searching for a mate. Once the male finds a female close to maturing he will guard her until she undergoes her final moult and then mate with her several times. This species takes up to 2 years to reach maturity.

I've released it now - into the garage. Unfortunately some of my family do not share my interest in spiders!! In fact we have several arachnophobes - who will remain nameless :)

Monday, 8 October 2012

Time is Running Out for the Badgers

Time is fast running out for English badgers as, despite widespread opposition, the Government is determined to go ahead with the pilot badger cull. This cull could start at any time and thousands of badgers will be shot. The cull will be unselective and around 85% of the badgers killed will be healthy and bTB free. In addition badgers may well not be killed cleanly but return to their sett to die a painful death.

The shooting season will extend to the end of January and during this month there could be suckling badger cubs in the sett left to die if their mother is killed.

I know I have done several posts on this issue but if you do not agree with the badger cull please go to the stop the cull petition on the Government site and sign if you have not already done so. There are already nearly 150,000 signatures but the more signatures that appear the more likely it is that the Government may take notice.


Science has proved that badger culling does not work. The main cause of cattle bTB is via cattle to cattle transmission so the way forward would seem to be vaccination of badgers (this is going ahead in Wales instead of culling), pushing the EU to allow for cattle vaccination, increased biosecurity, increased cattle bTB testing and improvements in cattle husbandry.

It would be a tragedy if the badger, such an icon of the English countryside, were to become locally extinct in such an inhumane manner.

Most, if not all, mammals can carry bTB, and I am very concerned that once the Government has decimated our badger population it will then start culling other species.

Moth Numbers are Falling

Cooler overnight temperatures are leading to far fewer moths in the moth trap.

On Sunday morning I found just one Large Yellow Underwing and two Lunar Underwings.

Minimum Temperature had dropped to 3.7 degrees centigrade.

Lunar Underwing

I put out the trap again last night - Minimum temperature 6.1 degrees centigrade but again I caught just Large Yellow Underwing and Lunar Underwing.

What I am really hoping for is a rather gorgeous moth with the delightful name of Merveille du Jour. Have never caught this species but I live in hope!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Another Visit to Brueton Park and Parkridge NR

I gave my son a lift into Solihull Town Centre at lunchtime today but there was method in my madness as it gave me a good excuse to visit Brueton and Parkridge again!

The birds by the main pool are remarkably tame as they come looking for food. It reminded me of a few years ago when we used to get regular visits from a pair of mallard who took a liking to our garden pond. One year they stayed around for several weeks and used to waddle up to the garage door looking for food. I got that worried about the children feeding them bread that I bought a bag of proper "duck" food from the wild bird food supplier I use. It was interesting that they completely turned their beaks up at this and refused point blank to eat it. Lurking somewhere at the bottom of the dustbin I bought to store bird food is a huge bag of this duck food! Sadly, its probably well out of date otherwise I would take some next time I visit Brueton to see what the ducks there thought of it!

To return to today... Some more photos of

Greylag Goose (and Mallard)


Canada Goose


I popped into the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust reserve at Parkridge where there's a surprise round every corner!

A Grey Heron was still standing sentinel by the pool - even further away this time. Too far for the 70-300mm lens so a heavily cropped record shot.

I had a rather nice slice of Ginger cake in the cafe at the Visitor Centre.

Autumn colours are starting to appear

and I saw several jays collecting acorns as I walked round the park.