Thursday, 22 June 2017

Prey

Small Fan-foot, Herminia grisealis. On the wall near my garden light trap in Crowborough.
Small Fan-foot, Herminia grisealis. On the wall near my garden light trap in Crowborough.
Just a brief post.  In this hot weather I looked out at my light trap in the middle of the night, to photograph the moths I could see on the wall, in case any of them flew away before the morning.  And that's what I thought this Small Fan-foot had done.

Remains of Small Fan-foot, Herminia grisealis. On the wall near my garden light trap in Crowborough.
Remains of Small Fan-foot, Herminia grisealis. On the wall near my garden light trap in Crowborough.
But after clearing the trap in the morning I looked all around carefully, and I saw what looked like a small moth high above.  On looking at the photo, I can see that it used to be a Small Fan-foot .. no doubt the very same one, which has had an unfortunate encounter with a spider in the night.  (Fortunate for the spider, of course.)

Friday, 16 June 2017

Garden Birds

Jackdaw, Corvus monedula, in my garden in Crowborough. 15 June 2017.
Jackdaw, Corvus monedula, in my garden in Crowborough. 15 June 2017.
So, I have been lounging on my sofa with a longish lens in my camera (200mm with a 1.4x extender) taking shots of birds through my window.  There are several familiar species.  A few are missing, so far at least.  This one, the Western Jackdaw, never appeared in my old garden so it was a surprise to see two of them eyeing up my lawn.

House Sparrows, Passer domesticus, in my back garden in Crowborough.  15 June 2017.
House Sparrows, Passer domesticus, in my back garden in Crowborough.  15 June 2017.
House Sparrows used to be very common but are now less so, and are another species I didn't see in my Hayes garden, so I am pleased that a little flock of them like my sunflower heart feeder.  The one in flight is a male.

House Sparrows, Passer domesticus, in my back garden in Crowborough.  Male feeding young.  15 June 2017.
House Sparrows, Passer domesticus, in my back garden in Crowborough.  Male feeding young.  15 June 2017.
He was taking the sunflower seed hearts to feed this young one on my back fence.

Young Bluetits seem more capable of finding their own food.

Young Bluetit, Cyanistes caeruleus, in my back garden in Crowborough.  15 June 2017.
Young Bluetit, Cyanistes caeruleus, in my back garden in Crowborough.  15 June 2017.
Tits like peanuts, which they take to a safe spot to eat bit by bit.  I saw a Great Tit earlier, but didn't get a photo.  No Coal Tits as yet, though.

Another of the crow family has also appeared.

Magpie, Pica pica, over my back fence in Crowborough.  15 June 2017.
Magpie, Pica pica, over my back fence in Crowborough.  15 June 2017.
A Magpie.  And there are two of the dove family:

Collared Dove, Streptopelia decaocto, on my back fence in Crowborough.  15 June 2017.
Collared Dove, Streptopelia decaocto, on my back fence in Crowborough.  15 June 2017.
A Collared Dove, and several Wood Pigeons:

Wood Pigeon; Columba palumbus, on my back lawn in Crowborough.  15 June 2017.
Wood Pigeon, Columba palumbus, on my back lawn in Crowborough.  15 June 2017.
Several birds like to investigate the lawn when it has just been mown.  The Wood Pigeons stroll around as though they own the place.  Most of the birds are more cautious.

I have seen (but not photographed) a pair of blackbirds, and there are sometimes a few starlings:

Common starling, Sturnus vulgaris, on my back lawn in Crowborough.  15 June 2017.
Common starling, Sturnus vulgaris, on my back lawn in Crowborough.  15 June 2017.
Starlings usually work over the lawn in groups, looking for grubs such as leatherjackets - which are cranefly grubs that eat grass roots, so the starlings are a good thing.  I suspect I won't have much slug or snail trouble, either, given the high general level of bird activity here.

It's not just birds that like the garden:

Cat on my back fence in Crowborough.  15 June 2017.
Cat on my back fence in Crowborough.  15 June 2017.
But I think this visitor likes the birds rather than the lawn.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Crowborough! Moths!

Alder Kitten, Furcula bicuspis.  Luxford Lane, Crowborough, 28 May 2017.
Alder Kitten, Furcula bicuspis.  Luxford Lane, Crowborough, 28 May 2017.
I have moved house!  I now live in Crowborough, East Sussex.  It's more countrified than Hayes, but the size of the local community is similar.

So, I started moth trapping immediately.  These are some of the lovely things I got on my first night.  First, an Alder Kitten, one of the moths you can point to if people think moths are dowdy.  It lives in wooded areas in the south of England, and the larvae feed on Birch as well as Alder.  I am not as close to the woods here as I was in Hayes, but they are only a mile away and that must be within the flight capacity of this Kitten.

Notocelia cynosbatella.  Luxford Lane, Crowborough, 28 May 2017.
Notocelia cynosbatella.  Luxford Lane, Crowborough, 28 May 2017.
This Notocelia cynosbatella is a much smaller moth, one of a very large family, the Tortricidae.  Some of these are hard to tell apart, but the orange whiskers make this one very easy to identify.

It's common throughout Britain, and the larvae feed on roses.

Peppered Moth, Biston betularia forma carbonaria. Luxford Lane, Crowborough, 28 May 2017.
Peppered Moth, Biston betularia forma carbonaria. Luxford Lane, Crowborough, 28 May 2017.
I have to include this very smart black moth.  It's the dark form of the Peppered Moth, much quoted as an example of industrial melanism, that is, darker forms surviving better in soot-coloured parts of the country.  The common explanation is that darker forms are better camouflaged from predators in industrialised areas, but no-one has yet provided direct proof of this attractive theory.  Rather than tell the whole story here, may I point you to the Wikipedia article on industrial melanism, which gives a fair precis.

I see lots of the typical peppered form, but hardly any of these pretty creatures.