"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, 28 June 2013

Two New Moth Species for the Garden

I am so pleased I decided to put out the moth trap last night. In among the numerous Heart and Darts, worn pugs and unidentifiable micros were two rather special macro moths I have wanted to trap for a long time!

First of all Small Elephant Hawk-moth (Deilephila porcellus)

Secondly, Swallow Prominent (Pheosia tremula)

A very lively moth so I was I only really able to get the photo above. Within seconds of removing it from the fridge its wings were whirring ready for take-off!!

Whilst emptying the trap the friendly garden robin appeared within a foot of where I was standing looking for an easy meal! He did catch one of the escaping small moths much to my son's disgust! I know a lot of people have problems with birds eating moths in or near traps and it makes me wonder how many this particular robin has eaten from near the trap!

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Following in the Footsteps of an "Edwardian Lady" - Part 7 : River Blythe, Marsh and Meadow at Widney, Solihull

Two of my favourite books are the "Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady" and "Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady" written by Edith Holden in 1906 and 1905 in the form of Nature Diaries and published in facsimile form following their rediscovery in the 1970's.

Last year I visited a number of locations mentioned by Edith in her diaries and did a series of "Following in the Footsteps" posts. There are still many places she mentioned in her diaries that I am hoping to discover and visit.

In the "Country Diary" she writes of visiting the Widney area of Solihull several times in June 1906.

The week before last I drove over to Widney and parked by the River Blythe near to Blythe Bridge.

On 2nd June, 1906, Edith mentioned that at Widney "many of the meadows are golden with buttercups...." and on the 8th June when she cycled to Widney she mentions that "all the buttercups were flowering in the meadow - bulbous and creeping varieties".

So you can imagine my delight to find meadows shimmering with gold as far as the eye could see!

Unfortunately no public footpaths run through this particular meadow so I was unable to see if other flowers she mentioned later in the month such as sorrel, purple tufted vetch, yellow vetchling etc. were in flower.

One thing is certain Edith wouldn't have been listening to the hum of traffic from the M42 just a hundred yards up the road nor would her views have been cluttered by electric pylons!

Sadly nowadays you cannot access the River Blythe in either direction from the bridge at Widney but when I did my plant survey at the beginning of the month I did walk as far as I could along the public footpath towards Widney until eventually it petered out and I got quite close to the Widney area so here's a few photos of the river, woods and a stream.

Marsh Thistle

Edith mentions seeing yellow irises flowering in the marsh on 23rd June but when I visited there was no sign and I was probably too early for them - oh well, there is always next year! She also saw a Beautiful Demoiselle over the River which landed in the rushes. No sign of any dragon or damselflies when I visited.

And another photo of the beautiful buttercup meadow.

Edith and her family moved from the Dorridge/Knowle area in 1905 to a house which they rented in Kineton Green Road, Olton where she lived until 1911. They called the house Gowan Bank. At the time there were only four houses in the road and looking at an OS Map from 1901/02 the house was surrounded by fields and country lanes. Today Kineton Green Road has hundreds of houses and is surrounded by housing development.

Gowan Bank today

Friday, 21 June 2013

Moth Numbers are Finally Slowly Improving!

Moth numbers are slowly improving especially over the last two trapping sessions with warmer overnight temperatures. All were trapped in my 15w Actinic Skinner Trap

Monday, 10th June

2089 Heart and Dart (Agrotis exclamationis) x 2 (New For Year)

1834 Common Pug (Eupithecia vulgata) x 2

Heart and Dart

The dark mark (which always reminds me of the silhouette of a flying bird) on the patagia helps distinguish Heart and Dart from female Heart and Club

Saturday, 15th June

1920 Scalloped Hazel (Odontopera bidentata) x 1 (New for Year)

2089 Heart and Dart (Agrotis exclamationis) x 3

2334 Rustic Shoulder knot (Apamea sordens) x 1 (New for Year

Scalloped Hazel

I really am not 100 per cent sure about this moth. Is it a worn Heart and Dart? (couldn't really see a dark facial mark)

Rustic Shoulder knot

Sunday, 16th June

0656 Tachystola acroxantha x 1

1428 Bee Moth (Aphomia sociella) x 1 (New for Year)

1764 Common Marbled Carpet (Chloroclysta truncata) x 1 (New for Year

2089 Heart and Dart (Agrotis exclamationis) x 2

1834 Common Pug (Eupithecia vulgata) x 2

Bee Moth

Common Marbled Carpet

Tuesday 18th June

0998 Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana) x 4

1906 Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata) x 4

2089 Heart and Dart (Agrotis exclamationis) x 3

1776 Green Carpet (Colostygia pectinatasia) x 2 (New for year AND New for Garden)

2301 Bird's Wing (Dypterygia scabriuscula) x 1 (New for Year)

2060 White Ermine (Spilosoma lubricipeda) x 1 (New for Year)

1334 Scoparia ambigualis ??? x 1 (would be New for Garden)

Green Carpet - I have longed to catch one of these beautiful moths and I trapped two although the other individual was quite worn. This species shows how moths can be just as colourful as butterflies I think!!

Brimstone Moth - dreadful photo but this species is very lively and even after chilling for a few hours in the fridge (this does not hurt moths by the way just makes them more docile) it tried to escape as soon as I emptied it out of the pot.

Bird's Wing - another moth with lovely markings. I have only trapped this species once before.

White Ermine - one of the "teddy bears" of the moth world and you can see how it gets its name.

I think the moth in the photo below is probably the micro Scoparia ambigualis??

Please feel free to comment on any of the above identifications especially if I am wrong!!!Sorry again for lack of italics for scientific names - still can't get them to work!!!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

A Trip to my Favourite Local Nature Reserve

I felt the need to "escape" for a while today so decided to visit Brandon Marsh Nature Reserve.

Brandon Marsh is a Site of Special Scientific Interest located to the east of Coventry and is the headquarters of Warwickshire Wildlife Trust. The reserve covers around 200 acres and is a mosaic of pools, wetlands, grasslands, scrubland, reedbeds and woodland.

After walking through Hope Wood I spent some time near the Wind Pump overlooking Grebe Pool searching for Dingy Skipper as I knew one had been seen at the weekend. No Skippers but I did spot my first Small Copper butterfly of the year.

I walked round Grebe Pool (it felt very hot!!!) and paused by Goose Pool to take a quick photo of a Mute Swan.

I spent some time in the Jon Baldwin hide overlooking East Marsh Pool. There was an Oystercatcher on a nearby small island

and close by one of her young. - Sorry record shot only - sadly the 70-300mm telephoto lens with no IS has limitations!

In this photo you can see the artificial Sand Martin nest banks which were being used.

Common Terns were on the nesting rafts and I could see a Redshank on another of the islands. The former a new species for the year list.

Yellow irises are coming into flower on Central Marsh.

I walked along the path to Carlton Hide

View from Carlton Hide which overlooks a pool and Newlands Reed Bed. Saw a Common Whitethroat from this hide - another news species for 2013.

The dead tree in the distance often has Hobby (and sometimes Cuckoo) perched in it - sadly neither were showing today whilst I was in the hide. I didn't even hear a cuckoo today which was one of my main reasons for visiting!

Damselflies were flying round nettles as I left the hide. I am still trying to work out if they were Azure or Common Blue damselflies - I do wish I'd had an id guide with me at the time!

Edit: Many thanks to David Turner for confirming this as Azure.

Walking back along the path

I spotted a Cardinal Beetle crawling along.

Also this day-flying carpet - again not sure of species. Possibly either Silver-ground or Common Carpet??

Edit: Many thanks again to David for identifying this moth as Common Carpet

Greylag Goose

The reserve was fairly quiet bird-wise today although I did get sidetracked with butterflies and damselflies! I also saw several Brimstone and Red Admirals and various Whites.

A year or so ago Water Voles were re-introduced onto the Reserve and I did hear they had been quite heavily predated by Grey Heron :( However, it was good to see a note in the Sightings Book at the Reserve Visitor Centre that one had been spotted today.