Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Book review: Antpittas and Gnateaters

Antpittas and Gnateaters

Harold F. Greeney
Helm (Bloomsbury) | 2018
496 pp. | 18 x 24.7 cm | 24 colour plates, 250 colour photographs
Hardback | £50 / $65 | ISBN: 9781472919649

Just finished my review of Harold Greeney's magnum opus, to be published in Neotropical Birding 24...

Monday, 12 November 2018

Book review: Birds of Nicaragua: a field guide

Birds of Nicaragua: a field guide

Liliana Chavarría-Duriaux, David C. Hille & Robert Dean
Comstock (A Zona Tropical Publication) | 2018
480 pp. | 14 x 21.7 cm | 1332 colour illustrations, 9 colour photographs, 810 maps
Softback | £32 / $39.95 | ISBN: 9781501701580

Just finished my review of the handy new guide to the birds of Nicaragua, to be published in Neotropical Birding 24...

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Wildflower meadow management at Chapel Green, Rocklands

Today villagers got together to carry out the annual cut of Chapel Green wild-flower meadow. Further posts on this wonderful local asset, managed by the community on behalf of Rocklands Parish Council, are to be found here.

The green had unfortunately grown quite long and rank, because we were unable to carry out the annual cut in 2016.

Thanks to the loan of a wheeled petrol strimmer by the kind people at the village's Walnut Tree Garden Nursery, we made short work of the cut.

Our late afternoon break, with the hay almost cut, consisted of Carolyn's locally harvested, home-made elderflower cordial, freshly harvested apple (from our garden) crumble, and tea.

After a further mow with the lawnmower, the green is ready for the coming year's growth.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Butterflies of the Pyrenees

Some of the butterflies encountered on a family camping trip to the Huesca Pyrenees in late July-early August.

[Text to follow. Some IDs tentative]

Pyrgus alveus centralhispaniae / P. armoricanus ?, Torla, 21 July

Argynnis pandora, Torla, 21 July
Apatura iris, Torla, 21 July

Parnassius apollo, río Ara above Bujaruelo, 22 July
Hesperia comma, Valle de Otal, 23 July
Lasiommata maera, Valle de Otal, 23 July
Polyommatus escheri ? , Valle de Otal, 23 July

Pyrgus sp. Valle de Otal, 23 July

Lysandra cordon, Valle de Otal, 23 July

Argynnis paphia, Valle de Otal, 23 July

Polyommatus escheri ? , Valle de Ordesa, 24 July

Plebicula dorylas ♀, río Ara above Bujaruelo, 25 July

Nymphalis antiopa, Lac d'Orédon, 29 July

Lycaena vigaureae, Lac d'Orédon, 29 July
Brassy Erebia sp cf gorgone, Ibón de Plan, 31 July

Ibón de Plan, 31 July

Melitaea phoebe occitanica & Zygaena filipendulae, Revilla, 1 Aug

Melanargia galathea, Revilla, 1 Aug

Iphiclides podalirius, Laguna de Pineta, 3 Aug

Friday, 9 September 2016

Chalcolestes viridis Willow Emerald Damselfly, a new Norfolk garden arrival

[full text to follow]

Chalcolestes viridis, Willow Emerald Damselfly began to colonise the UK only a few years ago. The first British record was a dead adult found at Pevensey, E Sussex in 1979, followed by a larval exuvium collected at Cliffe Marshes, N Kent in 1992. Adults were seen near Felixstowe, Suffolk in 2007, but in 2009 there were at least 400 reports from N Essex, E Suffolk and S Norfolk, and in subsequent years the species has pushed westwards.

Having never seen its widespread British cousin, Lestes sponsa, in our garden I have never expected to encounter this new arrival. First seen yesterday, but it took flight and disappeared before I could get photos. Despite the stiff breeze it was on the same low perch today, 50 cm up next to bushes, well away from water.

Chalcolestes viridis current UK distribution (Biological Records Centre)

Chalcolestes viridis current UK distribution (Biological Records Centre)

2016 and pre-2016 UK records of Chalcolestes viridis (British Dragonfly Society)

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Norfolk moths: Rocklands School Playing Fields Moth Breakfast, 16 July 2016

The moth whisperers (Simon Best)
To coincide with a Friday night camping event on our village playing fields organised by Rocklands School Council, I ran a moth trap so that pupils, parents and villagers might have a chance to see some of our local moths. Although it was warm (17°C minimum), humid and overcast, the strong breeze at this exposed site and losing the first hour in order not to irradiate the barbecue (light was on from 23h00) made for a slightly smaller haul than expected. I turned off the trap at 04h00, but had been beaten to the moths by an early-rising Blackbird. We opened the trap at 8 am and examined our catch, as we juggled our bacon and sausage butties. In the morning turmoil, with moths quite flighty in the sunshine, the list was not complete, but thanks to our scribe we did manage to note down most of the catch.

Trap full of moths (Ian Scholes)
The first to catch everyone's attention were several showy Swallow-tailed Moths, but they were immediately eclipsed by Elephant Hawk-moths. A fresh Peach Blossom and a Buff Arches that had settled outside the trap, just below the bulb, were next; then two striking Brown-tails, white micro teddy-bears with feathery antennae. Common, Buff and 'melon seed' Dingy Footman obligingly posed almost side-by-side. Early Thorn perched butterfly-like with wings pressed together over its back. Small Magpies were a favourite with the children.

Shaded Broad-bar Scotopteryx chenopodiata (Ian Scholes)
Shaded Broad-bar is a UK Biodiversity Action Plan species, being common and widespread, but rapidly declining (by 73% over the last 35 years). A couple of species that were new for tetrad TL99Y: Brown-tail and Peach Blossom.

Swallow Prominent Pheosia tremula (Ian Scholes)

Elephant Hawk-moth Deilephila elpenor in good hands (Ian Scholes)

The moth breakfast in full swing (Simon Best)
I had not realised that several dozen Lesser Black-backed Gulls use the playing fields as a roost, leaving behind blizzards of moulted feathers. 

Click on the links to see photographs from the superb Norfolk Moths website, managed by Jim Wheeler.

Macro-moths (81 moths of 34 spp.):-

Thyatira baits Peach Blossom 1
Habrosyne pyritoides Buff Arches 1
Deilephila elpenor Elephant Hawk-moth 2
Idaea aversata Riband Wave 2
Scotopteryx chenopodiata Shaded Broad-bar 1
Opisthograptis luteolata Brimstone Moth 2
Selenia dentaria Early Thorn 1
Crocallis elinguaria Scalloped Oak 2
Ourapteryx sambucaria Swallow-tailed Moth 7
Lomographa temerata Clouded Silver 1
Pheosia tremula Swallow Prominent 2
Pterostoma palpina Pale Prominent 1
Hypena proboscidalis Snout 1
Euproctis chrysorrhoea Brown-tail 2
Spilosoma lutea Buff Ermine 3
Eilema depressa Buff Footman 1
Eilema griseola Dingy Footman 1
Eilema lurideola Common Footman 4
Herminia tarsipennalis Fan-foot 5
Subacronicta megacephala Poplar Grey 1
Hoplodrina octogenaria Uncertain 7
Apamea monoglypha Dark Arches 4
Mesapamea secalis agg. Common Rustic agg. 4
Lacanobia oleracea Bright-line Brown-eye 1
Melanchra persicariae Dot Moth 3
Mythimna conigera Brown-line Bright Eye 3
Mythimna impura Smoky Wainscot 3
Mythimna ferrago Clay 4
Agrotis exclamationis Heart and Dart 3
Axylia putris Flame 1
Noctua pronuba Large Yellow Underwing 3
Noctua fimbriata Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing 1
Noctua comes Lesser Yellow Underwing 1
Xestia triangulum Double Square-spot 2

Micro-moths (7 moths identified, of 3 spp.):-

Pseudargyrotoza conwagana Yellow-spot Tortrix 5
Anania hortulata Small Magpie 5
Pleuroptya ruralis Mother of Pearl 1