14th October 2017

Moth night tonight. Organised by Butterfly Conservation, once a year, it is held at different times of the year and this is a late season one. The weather is warm and set fair and they’d like people to go out with a bright torch over the weekend and see which moths are feeding on Ivy flowers, such a great source of autumn food for many insects. Even if you can’t identify them, you can look and enjoy the huge variety of moths we have in the UK. Conditions: unseasonably mild, sunny intervals. Temperature: Max 19-Min 13C.

Frosted Orange Moth, a moth that flies into late autumn

Frosted Orange moth

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10th October 2017

Goldfinch juvenile- just beginning to get its red head

Goldfinch juvenile

Goldfinch drawing- adults and one juvenile

Young Goldfinch are still showing up in our garden- these must be from a late brood. Goldfinches, recovering from losses in the 1970’s and one of the few birds to be increasing, come to feed on Niger and Sunflower seeds at garden feeders, and have 2-3 broods a year- hence the late showing of juveniles. Still to gain their red heads, they do have the black and white ladder-backs and gold wing stripe. I’m including a drawing I did of adults and young. Conditions: Mild with sunny intervals. Temperature: Max 16-Min 13C.

8th October 2017

Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers are hard to tell apart and both might be stopping off in your garden, like the Chiffchaff is in ours, filling up on their way south for winter migration. If you get the right view, you can see that Chiffchaff’s have dark legs, and, migrating shorter distances, have shorter wings. Willow Warblers have pale pinky-orange legs, are usually more yellow in overall colour, and have longer wings for longer migration. The photo’s should help! Conditions: Cloudy Temperature: Max 15- Min 11C.

Willow Warbler

Willow Warbler

Chiffchaff

Chiffchaff

 

2nd October 2017

Hornets- what is the point of wasps and their large relatives Hornets, people wonder. These highly social creatures which operate in complex colonies are often disliked for their propensity to sting. In fact the Hornet we have (unlike the Asian Hornet) has a fairly mild sting and only attack if disturbed. They chew wood, mix it with saliva and build intricate paper nests often in trees. They eat plant matter but also often hover around plants, like these were last week, down South, predating many garden pests. So, i fact, they are helpful to us humans! Conditions: Sun and a stiff breeze. Temperature: Max 15- Min 11C.

Hornet

Hornet

Hornet

30th September 2017

Butterfly Conservation reports that the wet summer (11th wettest on record) proved another bad year for most Butterflies and Moths, insects which help in plant pollination. The three most common Whites, (see photo’s)- the Green-veined, the Large and the Small White all suffered, though Meadow Brown and Red Admiral did fairly well (featured in earlier blogs this year). More people than ever took part in the Great Butterfly Count they run- 60,000– but, at an average of 11 butterflies per recorder, that is the worst numbers seen since recording began in 2010. Conditions: Sun and showers. Temperature: Max 15- Min 12C.

Large White Butterfly

Small White Butterfly

Green-veined White Butterfly

23rd September 2017

Angle Shades Moth– a distinctive, macro moth (wingspan 50mm) which can be seen in gardens throughout the UK and Europe, the bright green caterpillar feeding on herbaceous plants and the adult even flying in daytime sometimes. This one, looking typically like a dried autumn leaf, was one of very few species drawn to my moth trap down south last night. They raise several generations in a season but this one could have migrated as an adult from Europe. Conditions: Mostly cloudy. Temperature: Max 16- Min: 12C

Angle Shades Moth

Angle Shades Moth

Angle Shades Moth

16th September 2017

Two Nuthatches, (so named because of the way they jam hard seeds and nuts into the bark of a tree and hammer them open- ‘nut-hackers’), have been making repeated trips to our feeders. If you, like us, find sunflowers sprouting in the most unlikely places, Nuthatches are the likely culprits, since they eat some seed and store some for later. They used to be mostly confined to the south but have spread further north in the 20th Century, first breeding in Scotland in 1989! Feeding from bird tables has probably helped them extend their range. Conditions: Heavy rain showers and sunny spells. Temperature: Max 15- Min 8C.