The Green Silver-lines Moth is another beauty that turned up in the garden the other night. I’ve never seen it before but, unlike many moths, it is easy to identify. Common in England and Wales in and near woodland, the caterpillar feeds on oak, beech and birch. This moth overwinters as a pupa. It is attracted to light so use a bright lamp or torch near woods in June and July and you might just see it. Conditions: Cloud turning to rain- well, it is Wimbledon season. Temperature: Max 17- Min 12c.
Moth trapping back in our garden in North Sheffield a couple of nights ago, this absolute beauty turned up. Called the Buff Arches Moth, and frequently found in or near woodlands in June and July, I hadn’t had it turn up on a moth watch before. It is attracted to light and to sugar. My home made moth ‘trap’ uses light. Moth night was a few nights ago but it was too wet to do then but always exciting as you don’t know what will turn up. Conditions: Heavy rain and sunny periods. Temperature: Max 20- Min 13 C.
Two young, fledged Peregrines at the Catsfield site, high on a pillar, await their next meal. One is very vocal, replying to the adult I showed calling the other day. Now they are protected birds, insecticides are less damaging and egg collecting reduced, the range of Peregrines has extended by 40% since the 1980’s. Conditions: Showers, thunder, breeze and sun. Temperature: Max 18- Min 13C.
Peregrines, in their fifth year of nesting in Catsfield, Sussex. In the 1938 ‘A History of Sussex Birds’, John Walpole-Bond says: ‘When I first started searching Sussex systematically, seven pairs of Falcons held sway on our sea bastions’ but he knew persecution from gamekeepers was already taking it’s toll, being ‘almost a mania’. He added that ‘even today , despite less game-worship. a good many Peregrines come to an untimely end’. As we know in Sheffield, with the nest on St George’s Church, Peregrines are making a comeback and finding new nesting sites in addition to cliffs, showing a 40% expansion in their breeding range since the greater protection of such species, hence them appearing here. Conditions: Torrential rain and hours of thunder overnight in East Sussex, easing later. Temperature: Max 22 Min14C.
Hoverflies– harmless and very helpful pest controllers and pollinators. There are over 200 species in the UK and many are hard to identity, but you can always tell a hoverfly because they have only one pair of wings and the vein in the wing does not reach the edge, as you can see in these photo’s. Here are two species which are less often noticed than the wasp mimics which frequent gardens. The White-banded Hoverfly, Leucozona Lucorum, is a bee mimic that appears in spring and early summer. The other I can’t identify…yet! It may be another Leucozona. Conditions: Mist clearing to sun. Temperature: Max 21- min 17C.
Wild Flowers- Yellow Archangel, the most beautiful of the dead-nettle family, is widespread in ancient woodlands, old hedgerows and damp shady areas, following on from Bluebells. Sometimes called the Yellow Deadnettle, it has a very high back lip, giving it the archangel name. The honey guide markings are reddish and very visible. Its specific Latin name, ‘galeobdolon’ means ‘smelling like a weasel’– if you don’t know how Weasels smell, just crash the leaves- it is not pleasant! There is a variegated garden form of Yellow Archangel which is useful as it is a great food source for Bees and other insects. Conditions: Heavy rain and thunder down South. Temperature: Max 16- Min 11C.
Swallows- today’s acrobats, flying fast over Monyash pond and dipping in for water are the incredible Swallows. They will migrate from Africa to nest as far north as beyond the Arctic Circle. Before migration was understood, Swallows and other Hirundines, were thought to bury themselves in the muddy bottom of ponds over winter. To build one of their mud nests takes around 1,200 journeys– male and female share the building. Sadly their populations are greatly reduced in many areas of the UK, and some of this is thought to be linked to the loss of dairy farming. Conditions: Cloud and some heavy rain over the past few days. Temperature: Max 16- Min 12C.
House Martins– another beautiful bird in decline (amber-listed) in many parts of the UK. Little is known about why, so if you are lucky enough to have a nearby nest to monitor, the BTO would like you to carry out their simple survey. Here are some of their acrobatics feeding on Monyash Village Pond. Originally cliff-nesters, these summer migrants from Africa took to nesting on built structures- the earliest written records in this country are Anglo-Saxon. Their little mud nests take around ten days and over a hundred beak-sized pellets of mud to construct. Conditions: A little cooler with showers and cloud. Temperature: Max 20- Min 13C.
Common Toad- going under the wonderful Latin name of Bufo Bufo, we were lucky to see a Toad in Monyash (Peak District) as, though widespread throughout Britain, Toad numbers have declined rapidly in recent years. This is partly due to loss of pond breeding sites and partly through roads and traffic disrupting their migration routes each spring as they travel to ponds to breed. We rescued this one by moving it from a busy road. Walking rather than hopping, they are more subdued in colour than Frogs, and have a warty skin which exudes toxins to deter predators, some of which, like Otters, know to avoid eating the skin. Conditions: The sweltering conditions continue. Temperature: Max 21- min 11C