Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Bank holiday weekend by the coast...

What a glorious weekend here on the west side of the UK! We've been back to our coastal caravan on Gower peninsula where it was scorching - caught some of us out! I forgot to pack sun creams so kids have burnt whilst out on our walks! 
Anyway this weekend's wildlife....
Our first evening walk produced great excitement, and photo opportunity, when we chanced upon a small muddy puddle where House Martins were collecting nesting materials, in the form of mud! So confiding and not bothered by our presence - we watched from a very short distance away, keeping very still.

Not usually observed on the ground. Completely white underside, blue sheen-black back and head, feathery legs. White rump seen in flight. 

A Barn Swallow joined in too...
Blue-sheen dark back and head, red throat edged with blue and a cream underside.

Along the wooded edge footpath towards and through some dunes, to one side beach other side farm fields, we heard Bullfinches. A very shy bird but we've often heard them in this area. Finally we caught sight of them, trying to hide in bushes, but then the male appeared on the telegraph lines and after this the female was spotted on the ground ahead of us, feeding.
The male has a gorgeous bright pink breast, black head, grey back,  black wings with pale wing bar, and black tail .

The female is almost the same - just a beige-brown breast .

On a morning walk near some marshes, resting on a bramble bush, we found a Large Red Damselfly...
 The difference between Damselflies and Dragonflies is that Damselflies rest with their wings closed, like this photo, whereas Dragonflies tend to keep their wings open - splayed out.

There were several butterflies on the wing too, although very flighty and wouldn't always keep still for a photo. However I did capture this image of a Green-veined White...
A species of White butterfly with obvious green coloured 'veins' on the underside of the wings.

And before we left I followed a female Orange-tip butterfly trying to get a photo of it in gusty wind and only managed this....
See how this one has 'blotches' on the underside of the wings as opposed to the 'veins' on the Green-veined white above. And of course the male of this species has orange tips to the wings. 

Thanks for reading! I hope this inspires you to get outside and look at the wildlife around you! 

Monday, 23 May 2016

absence and moth trap

Hello again, massive apologies - been off the radar for a week being unwell again. 
I have started to photograph some trees however in readiness for a tree blog. 
In the meantime this morning's moth trap contents were....

The amazing Poplar Hawkmoth...


Heart and dart ....


Flame Shoulder....


Back soon!

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

highlights of moth trap

It turned out to be quite cold overnight. We started to pick up in the number of moths with the warmth. Then numbers decrease in the cold.
So, in the trap this morning were 6 species, 9 individuals ;
Brimstone, Early Grey, Bright-line Brown-eye, Treble Lines, Cinnabar and the new one was.......

 Spectacle !
How amazing is this ?! So aptly named!!

Side on view of the Spectacle moth

And another view of it!

Also in the trap was a large bumble bee! Appropriately named Large Red-tailed Bumblebee. It was very cold and in a sleepy state. I carefully released on some fragrant flowers in the garden where there were several bees hanging around last week.

I would like to post about trees soon, weather and time permitting. Keep a look out for it.
Thanks for reading.

Monday, 16 May 2016


Today we had a clear out of the shed. I'm always wary of any spiders that are hiding. Well, there sure was...

This is one of the False Widow Spider species. We found 2 of these.

These are Tegenaria domestica. Also known as Common House Spider. A good size too.

Possibly a type Amaurobius spider - Lace-weaver spider.

And finally the monster catch of the day! Likely to be Eratigena atrica -
 Giant House Spider. 

Moth trap is out tonight ! See you tomorrow. 

Friday, 13 May 2016

Moth news and yesterday's news

Yesterday I went on an outdoor learning training day in a local country park. We were outside all day, learning of course but with the added bonus of being surrounded by birds and wildlife. It was glorious weather. The bird songs were fantastic to hear, all at once .... Whitethroats, Blackcaps, House Sparrows, Barn Swallows, House Martins, Robins, Song Thrush, Blackbirds, Raven calling, Buzzards soaring and even a Cuckoo calling. A Red Kite flew over our heads too! The Canada Geese had goslings, House Martins were nest building and Blue Tits feeding young in their nest box. There were Fallow Deer and Red Deer. Great Spotted Woodpeckers drumming and Green Woodpecker 'laughing' - http://www.british-birdsongs.uk/green-woodpecker/
I was in my element! I wanted to go back today with my camera but a few things need doing at home.

Anyway, overnight moths in the moth trap and grass were... 

Chocolate-tip. A cute little moth, not very common. Primarily found in southern half of England, Wales and certain parts of Scotland.

Bright-line Brown-eye. Description is pretty accurate really - self explanatory. You can see a bright (white) line and a brown eye just above that. Easy to remember and identify. Common in UK. This one is a little worn on the right wing.

Peppered Moth - another one whose name is a good description. Blends in well on walls like this. Very common in UK.

Pyrausta aurata - a micro moth, tiny, usually seen in daytime. Easy to see and identify. Stunning purple with gold-ish markings and a dark hind wing with cream line.

Muslin moth - according to our daughter using the in-phrase of the year "cute 'n' fluffy"! this delightful little moth is not very colourful but always lovely to see. Males are brown in colour like this one and females are white. Quite common in the UK.

Cochylis atricapitana - a micro moth. Well distributed throughout UK but slightly tricky to identify as there are so many similar ones. Use the micro moth guide book for help or ask an expert.


Light Brown Apple Moth, another micro species. Very common and numbers start to increase now. We usually end up getting into the low hundreds during a hot summer! It was an Australian species but may have been accidentally introduced in to England in the 1930s http://www.ukmoths.org.uk/species/epiphyas-postvittana/adult/

Treble lines - another moth whose name describes it's look. Again, common throughout the UK.

After all this, we walked our daughter to school whilst she rode her bike again - trying to do it every Friday weather permitting. We got to school and she spotted a Brindled Beauty moth on the school wall.
Having then gone round the corner into school yard she ran back to calling us saying there was an Eyed Hawkmoth on the wall too. Armed with camera today and husband with mobile phone camera we immediately realised it wasn't that at all - it was in fact an Emperor Moth! 

 A truly magnificent moth. Quite large. Day flying moths and occasionally attracted to light. It was on the wall near the night light of the school. Amazing! You just don't see many of these. Make the most of it when you do.

I hope you've enjoyed today's moth news and that it inspires you to have a go at looking for and identifying moths where you live.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

monday morning's moth trap

Sunday night was mild so we put the moth trap out in the garden.
I got up at about 0520 as it's light so early now and I need to get out there before the birds find the moths.
When I post the moth trappings I will just tell you the new species we get, as we will always get some species for a few trappings, it saves me repeating them, especially the photos.
So Monday morning's new moths were....

the beautiful Waved Umber

Least Black Arches

Small Phoenix

Cinnabar moth as I found it.

It moved and I quickly placed a tube over it . It fluttered and opened its wings and I took a quick photo so you can see the hind wing. Cinnabar moths are often seen in flight during the daytime. 

Also in the trap was this Common Cockchafer, a type of beetle. There was also one on the grass.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

caravan weekend

Finally we made it to our caravan for the weekend. It was dry, except for overnight rain, and very windy which was south easterly today.

Saturday afternoon I took our daughter and son to the play park. Darling daughter found a Millipede - we have always seen so many along the coastal path . 


We were also teased by a Lesser Whitethroat again. He was very mobile and singing constantly! Record shot below.

There were some bees too. I've yet to ID these using our insect book.

Saturday evening we headed towards some barns and a small wooded area either side of a footpath which opened up into sand dunes. To one side of us was the beach and sea, high tide though, and to the other side fields, small wooded areas, some marshy patches and a large hill.
From here we saw;

Collared Doves 
Barn Swallows
Rooks in a distant Rookery
Carrion Crow
Cuckoo was heard calling and

When we openend the curtains this morning we were greeted by a female Blackbird gathering grubs and a Magpie.

Female Blackbird

Magpie - usally seen pretty much everywhere here in the UK

After breakfast we went towards the other end of the caravan site, by the entrance actually, and walked through the sheep field again towards the moors/marsh and dunes in the distance. Our thinking was that last night's rain might have knocked down some migrants, partcularly an unsual bird. 
As it happens we heard many Sedge Warblers. They've clearly arrived in good numbers  and are setting up their territories. I managed to get quite close to one.

Sedge Warbler - summer visitor to the UK. Produces quite a varied song which often includes some imitations of other birds. Noticeable eye stripe.

We saw a pair of Stonechats and a few Whitethroats.

Female Stonehcat. Not as brightly coloured as the male.

Whitethroat. Several seen displaying this weekend.

Meadow Pipits were pecking around for bugs in the grass next to the main footpath. Quite camouflaged. They have a beautiful display flight and song, similar to that of a Skylark.

We then pursued a singing Reed Warbler. Not an easy bird to see as they hide themselves very well in reeds. But as the reeds are very pale in foliage at the moment and it was breezy I managed to track it down. At first it was low in the reeds, singing and looking at me but the size of my large camera lens wouldn't let me take the photo! The bird was that little but too close to me. Thankfully as if the Reed Warbler read my mind, it hopped onto a fence, in the open but still slightly obscured by the reeds and a bit further back. This was the result.


On our return route, a Cetti's Warbler (pronounced 'CH-etti's) called really close to us in a large bramble bush. Do you think we could see it ?! No! Another very elusive bird but a delightful and distinct song.
Here is a link from a recent radio progrmame called 'Tweet of the day' with a renowned bird lover and expert here in the UK, Bill Oddie, playing a recording of the Cetti's Warbler song and a some information about them.  
Be sure to press the 'play' button when this link takes you to the page.

Back through the sheep field we saw 3 Common Buzzards soaring over the dunes and back over us. Once we had gone through the field and back in the caravan site some Ravens flew over.
Got this shot first of one.....

Raven - largest of the Crow family in the UK. Much more thick set looking, obviously bigger when in flight. Wedge shaped tail.

...and when scanning the sky for more this one appeared being harrassed by a Common Buzzard. Fascinating agility these birds have.

On the beach this afternoon our daughter carried out her latest favourite hobby - rockpooling. Here's what she loves to catch and look at, amongst other things. More to come in the future. Watch this space.

She tells me it's a Shanny. I do believe her - we just get mixed up between a Shanny and a Goby.

Lastly on the way home we stopped in a village overlooking Loughor Estuary. The tide was way out. Part of the estuary diverts off near the village creating a river. Here we saw some Black-headed Gulls.