Monday, 28 September 2015

27th September - His Goal In Life Was To Be An Echo

Family commitments meant I was not able to get out around the patch this weekend, but events in the garden proved to be just as rewarding.

First thing in the morning the House Sparrows were gathering around the House Martin nest on the house opposite.  The nest is now empty, and it was n't clear if the sparrows were just curiously investigating the nest, or just enjoying the morning sunshine.

They were also pecking at the brick, as if they were getting something from the surface.

I put the moth trap out both days over the weekend, but I think the almost full moon, combined with the crystal clear skies meant the influence of the light was very low.  Consequently the quantity and quality of the catch was very low.  However when I was out looking through the egg boxes first thing in the morning , I heard a Jay call from the trees beyond the garden.  I turned to see if I could see the owner, and as I did I noticed two large dark birds flying from the south, and heading north towards the house.  As they came closer I could easily see that they were Cormorants, but unfortunately there would not be time to get the camera as they were moving away north quickly.

This was a big surprise, but not a new bird for the patch as I had seen another pair before flying over the house, but heading in a westerly direction back in March 2012.  I can only assume today's birds were commuting between Alresford Pond, and Kings Pond in Alton, as I suspect the birds in 2012 were probably doing as well.  There have been reports of Cormorant at both these sites recently.

Back to the moth trap, and the only moths caught were eight Lunar Underwings, all showing different degrees of colouring and pattern, and a single different species.  This individual had the best defined pattern of the Lunar Underwings.

Then lurking at the bottom of the box hidden away in the small egg boxes was a new moth, a Black Rustic.  A long-winged species, with little variation from the blackish-brown ground colour and whitish stigmata. The males have white hindwings, the females are a little more dusky.

The adults fly in September and October, occupying heathland and downland, and the larvae feed on low plants such as dock, as well as various grasses.

The air was still quite fresh, but as the morning passed into the early afternoon the sun became quite pleasant.  Standing in the garden talking Louise nonchalantly asked "is that a Hummingbird Hawk Moth?"  Which of course it was and caused an immediate dash for the camera.  Fortunately it was still there when I came back with it, but it wasn't going to behave of perform for me, and the best shot I could get was this one before., like a Hummingbird it was up and away, pausing just to check the Honeysuckle before it disappeared into the road.

It is an immigrant species which can sometimes occur in large numbers.  It flies in the sunshine and hovers in front of flowers, sipping the nectar with its long proboscis, very much like the hummingbird which gives it its name.

The larvae feed on bedstraw, and some of these may hatch and give rise to autumn adults in an influx year.

So I might not have gone too far, but I managed to get two species that while they were not new to the patch are not that common, and one new moth for the garden.  All that remains in this weather id to find the Clouded Yellow that will give me my best butterfly year around Four Marks, lets keep hoping.

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