Sunday, 20 April 2014

Sunday 20th. April 2014

Just a quick post with some incredible news on the small moth that I posted following a visit to Old Lodge Reserve on Ashdown Forest . I spent ages trawling through photographs of UK moths , finding nothing like it , and to be honest , getting frustrated at not finding it . I would love to be able to say that I eventually solved the ID , but I can't . The caterpillar that I also needed help with was identified by Spock as a Clouded Buff , for which I am very grateful  . Later , another comment from Spock , informing me that the moth was Musitoma nitidalis , an Australian species , introduced to the UK on imported ferns . I immediately Googled the name , to which I got the reply that it 'did not match any documents' , and I was back to square one again . I tried searching a list of Australian moths and drew a blank , and was just about to give up when I Googled ' Australian moth found on imported ferns' , and bingo , up came a couple of entries , and a photo , and an name , Mustoma
nitidalis / Marbled Fern . A few more clicks and I found that it was first recorded in Dorset and most recent records were from the East Grinstead area . I also found a report of the first person to record the species here , which turned out to be a similar drawn out venture like mine , but he got his name attached to the moth . I have since sent the record to the Sussex Moth Recorder , but haven't heard back from him yet . So there you have it , a little moth , a long , long way from home .
And finally , a visit up to Burnt Gorse at High Elms LNR , is search of Green Hairstreak and Dingy and Grizzled Skipper failed , not helped by cloud rolling in on my arrival and a chilly wind blowing
up the slope , But on my way found Yellow Archangel / Lamiastrum galeobdolon , a member of the
Labiate family , in flower , a single shot of a male Bullfinch , just before he spotted me , and on my
way back to the car under grey skies , a male Kestrel looking for a meal .

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Saturday 19th. April 2014

A morning visit to Hutchinson's Bank , meeting up with Martin in the Cutting , who does the butterfly transect for the site , confirmed that with luck , Glanville Fritillary will be on the wing again this year . We searched for the caterpillars of the species , which Martin photographed and posted on his blog a few days ago , but failed initially , and assumed that they had moved off to pupate in the surrounding vegetation . A final look , before leaving Martin to start his transect , which included year firsts for Green Hairstreak , and Dingy and Grizzled Skipper , and a single fully grown
caterpillar was found , thanks to Martin's sharp eyesight . So now it's down to a three week wait till the adults hopefully emerge . After lunch , I headed off to High Elms LNR to do the full butterfly transect , in almost ideal conditions . Two and a half hours later , just five species had been recorded , 4 Orange Tip , 9 Brimstone , 12 Peacock . 3 Small White and a single Comma . I didn't hear of Martin's finds till later , but they were the three species that I had hoped to find , bit didn't . The only
shot I took on the way around was this of the high rise bank buildings of Canary Wharf , across the golf course , in the haze , through a gap in the trees on the horizon . On the way back home , I stopped to see if there was any sign of House Martins around their favoured farmhouse , which there
wasn't , but on one of the outbuildings , a Pied Wagtail posed on the ridge against clear blue sky , but
everything scattered on alarm calls , when this male Sparrowhawk appeared on the scene , but he left 'empty taloned' . On the bottom lane I found two Swallows , and with the sun in a better position , got
a shot of one of them , before they both flew off .
A morning visit to the feeders in the woods , found them empty , no doubt the supply stopped for the
Summer , but a few birds were still turning up , like this Marsh Tit , but having to find their own food for the time being . Whilst standing at the feeders , rustles could be heard and the odd movement amongst the fallen leaves . I managed to find some odd seed in one of the feeders , and put it down
under one of the feeders . I didn't have to wait long until the cause of the rustling , and spent a very
enjoyable time photographing at least three Bank Voles that were coming for the seed , whilst I stood just 3/4 metres away , with no cover between us . Tearing myself away , I did find a very photogenic
Grass Snake under a corrugated sheet , that allowed four shots before disappearing down one of the holes , tunnelled by the Bank Voles , under the sheet .
Yesterday , with fellow enthusiast Keith for company , a return visit to Old Lodge Reserve on Ashdown Forest was made , with a report of a sunny day from the forecasters . It might have been sunny , at times , but a very chilly wind kept the temperature well down , and the birds tucked up as well . We did hear some good species , but sightings were few and far between . Common Redstart ,
Wood Lark , Tree Pipit ( one pictured ) , Cuckoo , Common Buzzard , Lesser Redpoll , Common Crossbill , Goldcrest , Siskin , Swallow , Willow Warbler , Common Whitethroat and Stonechat all put in appearances , or were heard , along with the expected species , but I must admit that in the
conditions , it was hard work . Other interest included busy Wood Ant nests , with unknown numbers swarming all over , all very industrious . It was little surprise that after walking away from this nest ,
it felt as if they were climbing my legs , under my trousers . We returned home via Bough Beech Reservoir , and although quiet , managed to add House Martin and Common Tern to the list from the causeway .
And for those who have been worrying about the rugby players and the Great White Shark , no need , as the two pitches are still flooded and un-playable , unless of course you are a Grey Heron like this
one , who has taken up residence . The rest of his team consists of 8 Mallard , 4 Coot , 49 yellow plastic ducks , 1 Pied Wagtail and a traffic cone . The GWS fin has gone , to be replaced by -
HMS Coney .
Nearly forgot , some help please , with a caterpillar and a moth , both found at Old Lodge yesterday .
About 3/4 cms. in length .

About 1.5-2 cm. wingspan .

Monday, 14 April 2014

Monday 14th. April 2014

First , a quick catch up on the weekend , which involved a Bird Walk for one of the LNRs , which went well , even though the sun disappeared as we were starting . Highlights were , good views of a pair of Treecreepers , great views of two Stock Doves , plenty of Blackcap , Chiffchaff and Wren song , and watching a Blue Tit with nesting materials , drop into a hole in a tree just above our heads . Surprisingly common species like Chaffinch , Greenfinch didn't show , but a Mistle and Song Thrush on the ground together , gave good views of their differences . A close up view of a female Slow Worm found under a piece of felt was enjoyed by some , others noticeably eased to the back of the group , but all in all , the group seemed well pleased with what was found .
On Sunday , a visit up on the Greensand Ridge was treated with two short spells of combat , nothing

like the 36 minute epic battle though , and this time it was mostly amongst the vegetation .
This morning , I decided to go and look for Nightingales , and arrived at New Hythe just after 0800 to sunshine , but with it a very chilly wind . Walking in from the industrial estate , bird song was almost non existent , and by the time I arrived at the scrub areas , I was still waiting to hear a single note . Turning left along the ditch , it wasn't until I had almost reached the diver's bridge before I finally heard a few notes . Heading up towards the railway crossing , a couple of other birds broke into song , but not in full stream . In all , I heard 5 possibly 6 singing males , but when one of the rangers came by on his electric cart collecting rubbish , with camera at the ready on the seat beside him , he said he had heard 10 singing males on his round , but like me , hadn't seen a single one . I made my way down towards the fisherman's car park , usually a good spot and en route met Alan / Snodland and Surrounding Area ( link on my side bar ) , who was just returning with his two dogs from that area , having found none there either . We chatted , and I mentioned his brilliant shots of the over wintering Hoopoe ( please use the link and have a look yourself , especially the ones when a raptor was probably overhead ) . I said that I would love to see the bird , but couldn't work out where it had been seen . Alan then kindly offered to show me on his way home , so off he set with the dogs , whilst I headed back to where I parked the car , then drove to meet up again on the other side of the site , near the Shell garage . A short wait after parking again , then along came Allan and dogs , and we headed up some footpaths , climbing most of the time . Suddenly , Alan leading took a worn path to the right and came to a stop at a fence , overlooking an area of short grass at the back of a big house . Alan had not seen the bird on his way down earlier , but quickly spotted it , almost as far away as it could get , but it was there . Alan headed off home , and I watched the bird , feeding and resting , but hardly moving out the 1m. square that it start in . Not knowing how things would pan
out , I attempted a few distant shots like this one . An hour went by , and still it had hardly moved ,
but I was able to point it out to two birders who arrived . Slowly , very slowly , it came a bit closer ,
and whilst I waited for it to get closer still , I managed to get several shots of a pair of Green
Woodpeckers , a species that I normally only manage the odd shot before they fly off . This was the
closest the Hoopoe came , after which it slowly made it's way back towards where it started from , and I left it in peace . Had it not been for meeting Alan , I would never have found the bird , so a big thank you to him . Arriving back at the industrial estate and making the same entrance , it appeared that all the birds were having a siesta , with hardly any song at all . I did find a family of Coot
youngsters , waiting for their parents to return with food , and in the ditch heading down to the diver's
bridge , a Water Vole watched my every step as I passed by , and by the diver's bridge , found the
first of two Large Red Damselflies , the other one in the scrub on the other side of the ditch . A couple of very short burst of Nightingale song from deep in the scrub , and where the path passes under the power lines , another hidden singer , this time a Reed Warbler in a small reedbed .
A look under the refugia on the side of the scrub produced lots of slugs , a few Slow Worms and this
Devil's Coach Horse /Staphylinus olens , a member of the Rove Beetle family . Butterflies seen on site , Sm.Tortoiseshell , Orange Tip , Speckled Wood and Peacock , this one nectaring on Ground
Ivy /Glechoma hederacea , a member of the large Labiate family . Before leaving , a last look where I
found the Water Vole found it eating lunch , and had me wishing I had brought some with me .
And finally , I've looked every time I've passed by without success , but on my way home , on the
wires outside a barn on the bottom lane , my first 'local' Swallow .

Friday, 11 April 2014

Friday 11th. April 2014

A catch up on the week starts with the first full butterfly transect at High Elms LNR . Being elevated and cooler than the surrounding area , always a slow starter , but I was pleased to record 2 Small Tortoiseshell , 9 Brimstone ( all males ) , 11 Peacock  , 1 Orange Tip ( female ) and one Comma . The
main butterfly areas were very quiet and most were found in warmer , small glades containing
flowering Bluebells . As I walked the butterfly-less  Conservation Field , 4 Common Buzzard were
calling and interacting overhead and alongside the golf course , a very confiding Chiffchaff allowed a
few shots , not like the male Blackcap in the same tree . Back home in the garden , Brimstone ,
Speckled Wood and both male and female Orange Tip were recorded .
An afternoon look up on the Common found several Cowslips / Primula veris on the open glades , no
doubt the seeds brought in on the grass cutters which mowed them at the end of last year . Lots of Brimstone were seen , including at least 4 egg laying females . I spent quite some time chasing them
around , and was rewarded with a shot of one of them actually laying one of her eggs . If you look closely , the egg is just emerging from her abdomen and about to be stuck to the Buckthorn plant .
And here's what it's all about , the lozenge shaped egg that will continue the species . Also found ,
another Green Tiger Beetle / Cicindela campestris , a more colourful specimen this time .
This morning I had a run down to Old Lodge Reserve on Ashdown Forest . A chilly start with a keen breeze , opened into blue skies before closing back up again . Lots of Chaffinches as usual and good numbers of Willow Warblers singing as I walked the top path . At least 3 pairs of Stonechat were


on the way around , along with a Green Woodpecker that flew up from the ground , and for once ,
didn't hop around the far side of the trunk . Sight and sound of the visit was on the high ground bordering the MoD land , where up to 6 Woodlark were singing / displaying , and every now and
again , acting like Black Grouse on a lek  , but still carried on singing . After a scrap , they would
carry on feeding and singing till the next one . At one point , three took to the air together and with a
couple more singing on the ground , made for a few minutes that I won't forget for a long time . I heard the 'cronk' of a Raven a couple of times but never saw it , then on a third occasion , I followed it with the camera as it flew behind trees and as it passed a small gap I managed just three shots , the
first was out of focus , the second reasonable and the third it had gone behind trees again . I had three glimpses of Common Redstarts , all in the valley of the little stream , but never managed a shot . By the time I got back to the top path , that blue sky was gone , but another distant 'cronk' alerted me to
another Raven who was sorting out what looked like a Common Buzzard , but it was too far off to be certain .
On my way home , I stopped off to see if the Early Purple Orchids were out on a verge . I could only

two plants on the verge , but there were more in the small woodland behind .