Sunday, 14 June 2015

One good day deserves another

The Safari's good fortune the other day continued into the next. We'd put the moth trap out and fortunately the weather overnight remained calm and muggy resulting in easily our best catch of the year. There were a number of Heart & Darts as expected but some 'new for the year's' too like this spankingly fresh Brimstone.
Not quite so dapper but still a beaut, Pale Shouldered Brocade.
And a 'New for the Garden' in the form of a May Highflyer.
The larvae feed on Alder and to be honest we couldn't tell you where the nearest Alder tree is, it's not a tree planted in gardens parks or along the roadsides although it would be far more interesting and useful to a wide range of wildllife than the cultivars of Sycamores that have appeared along the roads in recent years.
Also in the trap were three micromoths, all the same species, which on looking in the field guide showed them to be Tachystola acroxantha. We did record it in the garden last year but our Mapmate spreadsheet told us a specimen was required for confirmation of the ID. Luckily we'd taken some super-macro shots
Apparently it is an Australian species spreading northwards (as an introduction not naturally we'd guess) and still scarce/almost unknown north of the Ribble hence the warning on the spreadsheet.
While we were out mothing a little bit of a cloudy front developed and we heard the first screaming of Swifts (Garden #31) from Base Camp this year. They took some finding as they were way up high and there were five of them that moved on as quickly as they'd appeared. We're really missing these aerial beauts screaming round the rooftops in the evenings. They have bred (or at least roosted regularly) in a local roof for the past several years but we've not seen them around there this season. Hope putting up our Swift nestbox hasn't frightened them off - that'd  just be our luck!
As we were packing up another unusual bird turned up in the form of two House Sparrows, a male and without bins a presumed juvenile. This week and next as the juveniles fledge and leave the nest is the only time we see them in the garden why they don't keep returning to the abundant food on offer for the rest of the year is a bit of a mystery. A couple of Blue Tailed Damselflies were flitting around over the pond too which was good to see, they've been few and far between so far this season here.
Later that afternoon we took a walk down to the North Blackpool Pond Trail. News that the Heron's Reach Bee Orchids were now in flower had reached us so it was time to check the local ones. The wildflower area was looking a picture and we soon disturbed a couple of Common Blue butterflies, one landing close by and giving us our best views of the year as it perched on a rather windblown flowerhead of Yorkshire Fog.
One of our favourite wildflowers grows in abundance here, Tufted Vetch, we've tried on many occasions to get it to establish in the several gardens we've had in the past but never been successful. It shouldn't be anymore difficult than growing Sweet Peas shouldn't it?
However, it was Bee Orchids we came specifically to see and it was only a matter of minutes before we found the first little cluster of them.
A thorough walk-over of the site gave us a final count of 35 of which three had already been trampled probably by dogs as the area is too popular with the mutt n ball brigade. Then a bloke and his daughter arrived with a fishing rod and he started to practice casting. The little girl ran along the length of the line to free it from the vegetation then he reeled it in - right over the meadow with her running behind - - a real hand to forehead slap moment - - will any orchids survive the onslaught? After a few casts his line snapped and the lead went speeding over the railway fence like a missile, a really good job there were no trains coming along. He thought it landed elsewhere and he and the little girl and teddybear promptly started stamping down the vegetation to look for it. Fortunately this was in a much ranker and far less botanically diverse area of the meadow. Minutes later they gave up their fruitless search and he looked at the sole of of boots - dogsh*t!
One of the Bee Orchids we found had a slightly unusual form in that the markings on the lip were very indistinct, fairly certain we've not seen one like that before.
We also had a look for the Common Broomrape  that occurs here but not every year - it would seem that this year is another of those 'not every years'. It is a parasite of the clover family several species of  which are very numerous in the meadow so why it should be so fickle in appearances is a bit of a mystery. Looking for it gave us a couple more Common Blue butterflies and our first Silver Y moth of the year. Despite the warm sun and only light breeze thee number of insects was very poor barely a bee or a hoverfly in sight.
This morning the sun was out early but we got to the moth trap late and found the moth trappers worst nightmare, no not Wasps, even worse than that there were feathers inside! Some small birdy had been in there no doubt scoffing a way. Consequently we only found four moths inside (+ one escapee micro), three Heart & Darts and a Garden Carpet. The latter was lively in the pot and escaped while we were trying to get a pic. It landed just out of arm's length on our neighbours chimneybreast.
The warm sun had brought out about half a dozen Blue Tailed Damselflies and they were keen to bask on the edge of thee pond to warm up for the day's proceedings.
 Their being fairly settled allowed us time to go indoors for the super-macro lens.
We'd love to know just what they see through those impressive eyes
We watched a new queen and a drone Tree Bee mating and the Goldfish in the pond spawning and then the sun went in and the rain started and all the interesting garden activity came to a grinding halt.
Where to next? Back to Patch 2 tomorrow and the beach beckons again.
In the meantime let us know who's keeping a beady eye on who in your outback


Warren Baker said...

Nice to see you getting into Damselflies Davyman :-) Bet the house sparrows use your swift box!

Ian Doyle said...

Great photos.

cliff said...

Some cracking finds & photos there Dave, love the Brimstone Moth & common Blue, great closeups of the damselflies too.