Monday, 6 July 2015

6th July - Days of Speed and Slow-time Mondays

More moths over the weekend in keeping with the warmer weather, and one new moth for the garden.  However there still does not seem to be the numbers that were around this time last year.

As ever there were several Elephant Hawk-moths.  One thing that strikes me about these moths is the variation in size.  Sometimes I get a really small one and think it might be a Small Elephant, only to see the dashed pink lines on back of the abdomen.

In this picture you can see the difference in size of these two.



There are several moths that get overlooked mainly because they are brown or plain.  They are also usually the most numerous moths to be found in the trap.  One of these is the Uncertain.



A moth seen out by day in the grass areas but one I have never found in the trap is the Silver Y.  A well-known immigrant species, this moth can turn up in thousands under the right conditions, especially at coastal migration watch-points. It can occur anywhere in Britain, and in autumn, the breeding population from spring migrants is swelled by further migration.

A nice bit of information on the Silver Y, but it turns out I had this completely wrong.  This is in fact a Beautiful Golden Y, and indeed a new moth for the garden.  This moth is a resident species and can be found quite commonly in the UK flying between the months of June and July




Next was the brightly coloured Cinnabar.  It is generally nocturnal, but is quite often disturbed during the day from long grass, low herbage etc. At night, it comes to light.


A first for the year was a Clouded Border, these are not easy to move, and I took the opportunity to photograph it on the egg boxes.


Another moth difficult to get out of the trap and photograph is the Footman.  This was the first for the year, and as soon as I tried to move it then it was off, fortunately it settled on the patio.


A small pretty moth was yet another year first, this one is the Marbled Beauty.  This moth shows a good example of protective camouflage, this species rests by day on stone walls and rocks.  However in this instance I was able to photograph on the plain background.


Finally the one new moth was a Broad-barred White.  Found throughout England and Wales, though more commonly in the south and east, it has a scattered distribution elsewhere.  Its preferred habitats are downland, wasteland and suburban areas, where it flies from June to August.


The garden has been a very interesting place over the last few days, with a lot of the attention focused on the tray of mealworms.  These are proving to be a great attraction, and not only for the mealworms, others watching the comings and goings.

The House Sparrows have been taking a lot away, one female taking 9 trips from the tray away to young in a nest nearby.  Another observation is the fact that the male House Sparrow will change the tone of its chirps when the mealworms are put out as if to signal to the females there is food available, and then suddenly the females arrive.

The other visitor to take advantage is the Blackbird.  There are at least two males about, and also two young juveniles.  One of the males will collect the worms and hold as many as it can in its beak.  Its quite amusing to watch it try to pick one up while dropping another, as it drops them the sparrows nip in and take them.  It is only the male Blackbirds about, there is no sign of any females who are either still sitting on yet another brood or are away recovering from the breeding season somewhere else.  Blackbirds are known for guarding food, and in one instance a juvenile was fighting off the Sparrows, but when the adult appeared immediately started begging for food from it.

As well as the Mealworms there are also plenty of berries on the Amelanchier trees, and the Blackbirds can be seen feeding these to the young birds, performing acrobatics to get to the berries on the thinnest branches.

All this seems not to have escaped the attention of the local Sparrowhawk, and on Saturday evening then was an attack that we thought had resulted in the taking of one of the male Blackbirds.  Helen had watched it happen and said she saw a bird carried off.  The next day though both the birds were still there, both being recognisable by the white in the feathers, and the general state of the feathers, so we don't know if it managed to get away, or it was something else the hawk had taken.

Finally, Sunday evening saw another scene that I missed.  We have been visited by a very small Blue Tit, it seemed as if it was a juvenile.  It would come to the bird bath and wade about.  On Sunday evening Helen tried to get my attention as she had seen at least eight baby Blue Tits in the bird bath, in a scene she described as a like kids in a paddling pool.  I managed to see two of them, but missed the main event.



And another looking on.



The garden is providing plenty of entertainment at the moment in all manner of different ways.

Update: As we ran around badger Close this evening a cat was behaving strangely bythe side of the road.  As we got closer it was clear it had caught something and was trying to deal with it.  Even closer and the victim could be seen to be a Slow Worm without its tail.  I moved the cat on, and picked up the Slow Worm which seemed fine, and then took it to the end of the close where I let it go in a patch of long grass and shrubs.  A lucky reptile!

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