Tuesday, 17 July 2018

On the Fence

Moths on the fence near my light trap.  Crowborough, 14 July 2018.
Moths on the fence near my light trap.  Crowborough, 14 July 2018.
On any good mothing night there is a collection of moths near, but not inside, the light trap.  It's interesting that the moths that have chosen to rest on the grey wood are more or less neutral in colour, with some patterning that might help to disguise their outlines.

Black Arches, Lymantria monacha.  On the fence near my light trap in Crowborough on 13 July 2018
Black Arches, Lymantria monacha.  On the fence near my light trap in Crowborough on 13 July 2018
Though, disguised or not, some of them, like this Black Arches, are quite worth a closer look.

Nearby, on a patch with a little bit of alga and lichen growth, was a moth with a more colourful pattern.

Sallow Kitten, Furcula furcula.  On the fence near my light trap in Crowborough, 13 July 2018.
Sallow Kitten, Furcula furcula.  On the fence near my light trap in Crowborough, 13 July 2018.
A Sallow Kitten, the only one I have seen this year.

And here are a couple of photos from that night just because I like them

Udea olivalis.  In my light trap in Crowborough, 13 July 2018.
Udea olivalis.  In my light trap in Crowborough, 13 July 2018.
 A mugshot of Udea olivalis, which usually rests with its antennae flat along its back - here, it's become alert.

And when I released the moths, this Canary-shouldered Thorn decided to park upside down ...

Canary-shouldered Thorn, Ennomos alniaria.  From my light trap in Crowborough, 13 July 2018.
Canary-shouldered Thorn, Ennomos alniaria.  From my light trap in Crowborough, 13 July 2018.
I'll do something non-mothy next time.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Country Park Butterflies

Gatekeeper, Pyronia tithonus.  Crowborough Country Park, 6 July 2018.
Gatekeeper, Pyronia tithonus.  Crowborough Country Park, 6 July 2018.
Crowborough Country Park is a small but scenic area managed by our local ranger.  It was a clay quarry as recently as 1980, and has since been improved as an amenity and nature reserve.  I walked round today and saw many butterflies.  We have had two weeks of hot dry weather, and yesterday a thunderstorm gave everything a thorough wetting.  The sun's back today and the butterflies love it.

The top photo is the first Gatekeeper I have seen this year.  It was in a pleasant glade.

Holly Blue, Celastrina argiolus. Crowborough Country Park, 6 July 2018.
Holly Blue, Celastrina argiolus. Crowborough Country Park, 6 July 2018.
On the way up to the glade I saw this Holly Blue on the path.  I had to follow it round to get this photo.  That is true of almost all my butterfly photos and all the day-flying moth shots, too.

Speckled Wood, Pararge aegeria. Crowborough Country Park, 6 July 2018.
Speckled Wood, Pararge aegeria. Crowborough Country Park, 6 July 2018.
The glade was being shared by Meadow Browns, Ringlets, Speckled Woods like this one, Gatekeepers like the one at the top, some white butterflies - some definitely Large Whites, some might have been Small Whites but they didn't stop near enough for me to tell.  And this big orange beauty feeding on a Marsh Thistle:

Silver-washed Fritillary, Argynnis paphia.  Crowborough Country Park, 6 July 2018.
Silver-washed Fritillary, Argynnis paphia.  Crowborough Country Park, 6 July 2018.
A male Silver-washed Fritillary.  It was keeping high and I could not get really close, but this photo shows it nicely.  These Fritillaries are not really rare, their population is fairly stable, but they are still marked as of some concern, so it's good to see them. 

Also in the glade was a small moth, a Straw Grass-veneer:

Straw Grass-veneer, Agriphila straminella.  Crowborough Country Park, 6 July 2018.
Straw Grass-veneer, Agriphila straminella.  Crowborough Country Park, 6 July 2018.
Properly called Agriphila straminella.  This and other similar moths do not fly by day by choice, but they are very easily disturbed and they fly around to look for another resting-place.

On my way out I passed one of the park's ponds and photographed this Large Red Damselfly:

Large Red Damselfly, Pyrrhosoma nymphula.  Crowborough Country Park, 6 July 2018.
Large Red Damselfly, Pyrrhosoma nymphula.  Crowborough Country Park, 6 July 2018.
There were no dragonflies there at that time, but I had seen one earlier and I was told there were nymphs in the pond, so I'll probably see more later.


Wednesday, 27 June 2018

A Boxful

Moths from a garden light trap in an egg box.  25 June 2018.
Moths from a garden light trap in an egg box.  25 June 2018.
When I have counted and photographed moths from my garden light trap, I tap as many as I can into one or two of these small egg boxes and then tap them out over concealing plant life.  If I am not careful, blackbirds scour the fence and the ground and pick off what they can.  In fact I have to get out just as it gets light or the blackbirds beat me to it.

Some species will fly off when tapped or persuaded out of their resting place, but many more don't seem to have the energy.  This selection includes 8 Noctuidae, 5 Geometridae, 2 Erebidae and one Sphingidae.  That relates to the numbers in the trap as well as their normal energy levels.  Noctuidae tend to just sit there, and sometimes lie on their backs.  Sphingidae hang on grimly but will fly if they can warm up.  Many Geometridae are quite frisky, and some usually escape before they can be counted.

Monday, 25 June 2018

To continue ...

Swallow-tailed Moth, Ourapteryx sambucaria.  In my garden light trap set on 22 June 2018
Swallow-tailed Moth, Ourapteryx sambucaria.  In my garden light trap set on 22 June 2018
Nearly two months since my last post!  I keep getting material together and thinking it's not yet complete enough.   That isn't working, so I'll just post ... some stuff.  Starting with moths.

This is a Swallow-tailed Moth, one of our larger and prettier species.  Above it's on my finger.  Here it's on my garden fence:

Swallow-tailed Moth, Ourapteryx sambucaria.  In my garden light trap set on 22 June 2018
Swallow-tailed Moth, Ourapteryx sambucaria.  In my garden light trap set on 22 June 2018
I've been running my garden trap three times a week in the warm weather, and seeing some interesting moths, including several I have not seen before.  For example:

Bordered White, Bupalus piniaria.  On the fence near my garden light trap set on 20 June 2018
Bordered White, Bupalus piniaria.  On the fence near my garden light trap set on 20 June 2018
A Bordered White, which would not open its wings while at rest, rather like a butterfly in that respect.  There have also been a few with plush upholstery, like this Purple Clay:

Purple Clay, Diarsia brunnea.  In my garden light trap set on 20 June 2018.
Purple Clay, Diarsia brunnea.  In my garden light trap set on 20 June 2018.
And this Rustic Shoulder-knot.

Rustic Shoulder-knot, Apamea sordens.  In my garden light trap set on 12 June 2018
Rustic Shoulder-knot, Apamea sordens.  In my garden light trap set on 12 June 2018
Moths got the name "shoulder-knot" for those dark streaks beside the shoulder fur.  Knots they are not, but "shoulder" is reasonably accurate.

So, this is not a very well organised post, but at least it is one.

Monday, 30 April 2018

Eridge Rocks

Eridge Rocks,  26 April 2018
Eridge Rocks,  26 April 2018
This part of the High Weald has quite a few sandstone cliffs and outcrops, something we did not have in the Hayes area where I used to live.  That area was mostly on chalk or gravel.  Eridge Rocks consists of about 600 metres of what you see here, a small but impressive cliff.  You can walk out along the bottom, where these photos were taken from, and back along the top. 

Eridge Rocks,  26 April 2018
Eridge Rocks,  26 April 2018
Today, the Sussex Wildlife Trust led a walk along the rocks and through the woodland they sit in.  It's a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest for the mosses, liverworts, ferns and lichens that grow on the rocks.  Climbers come here too, and you can see their chalk on some of the drier rocks.

I expect it counts as a cheat if you go up that dead tree.

Eridge Rocks,  showing the erosion patterns.  26 April 2018
Eridge Rocks,  showing the erosion patterns.  26 April 2018
Erosion has produced cracks in two directions, and a lot of unusual honeycomb patterns on the surface. 

The Victorians loved this place and apparently were known to have dined out here in luxury at least once.  The people who care for the rocks have had to remove a lot of Rhododendron (the Victorians loved Rhododendrons) and now they try to keep the damper rock faces in dappled shade.  This lets the mosses, etc get some light without being shaded out or burnt dry. 

The surrounding woods are full of bluebells.

Woods by Eridge Rocks, 26 April 2018.
Woods by Eridge Rocks, 26 April 2018.
Not quite fully out yet, but nearly.  I saw a number of other ancient woodland indicator plants too, such as Redcurrant and

Yellow Pimpernel, Lysimachia nemorum.  Woods near  Eridge Rocks, 26 April 2018.
Yellow Pimpernel, Lysimachia nemorum.  Woods near  Eridge Rocks, 26 April 2018.
Yellow Pimpernel, which likes to grow beside paths.

We saw quite a few beeflies, some hoverflies, bumble bees and a couple of butterflies. 

Beefly, Bombylius major.  Woods near  Eridge Rocks, 26 April 2018.
Beefly, Bombylius major.  Woods near  Eridge Rocks, 26 April 2018.
Interesting woods - I'll be back.

Woods by Eridge Rocks, 26 April 2018.
Woods by Eridge Rocks, 26 April 2018.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Another Thorn!

Purple Thorn, Selenia tetralunaria.  In my garden light trap on 21 April 2018.
Purple Thorn, Selenia tetralunaria.  In my garden light trap on 21 April 2018.
Thorns are my choice for the UK's most dramatically beautiful moths.  This one was in my light trap, but flew out and landed on my fence while I was looking in.

I have had a few colourful species recently - about time, after such a slow start to the year.  Here's a Pine Beauty:

Pine Beauty, Panolis flammea.  In my garden light trap on 21 April 2018.
Pine Beauty, Panolis flammea.  In my garden light trap on 21 April 2018.
It's the first time I have seen one.  But I knew it as soon as I saw it.  It's unmistakeable.


Herald, Scoliopteryx libatrix.  In my garden light trap on 21 April 2018.
Herald, Scoliopteryx libatrix.  In my garden light trap on 21 April 2018.
This Herals is an old favourite.  It's one of those moths that hibernates in garages and outbuildings.  There were two in my trap this time.

Finally ...

Early Thorn, Selenia dentaria.  In my garden light trap on 21 April 2018.
Early Thorn, Selenia dentaria.  In my garden light trap on 21 April 2018.
An Early Thorn, more brightly coloured than the one I showed in March.  I'll stop repeating Thorns now.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Walshes Park


Alder Brook, Walshes Park, Crowborough, 2 April 2018.
Alder Brook, Walshes Park, Crowborough, 2 April 2018.
Walshes Park in Crowborough is almost a secret.  A huge, empty secret.  It's a new park, and it's not mentioned in the town guide booklet, and although it's easy to find a map on line you can spend some time looking for any information about how to get in.

I found a passing mention of a small car park eventually.  This car park is very small, with room for 3 or perhaps 4 cars.  Walshes Park itself is large and open, a shallow dome on a south-facing clay slope, crossed by a footpath and a few mature hedge lines.  Paths have been laid out around it, and some of those have been gravelled.  A stream, the Alder Brook, runs along one edge.

There are plans to open up the river bank and increase access.  That seems to be why some mature alders have been felled, though no thought seems to have been given to preserving the local ecology.  Once I knew what to look for it was easy to find some information ... Trees Felled at Alderbrook. The photo above shows where those alders used to grow.

Alder Brook, Walshes Park, Crowborough, 2 April 2018.
Alder Brook, Walshes Park, Crowborough, 2 April 2018.
Here's another look at the brook.

Anyway .. I went for a look round.  The weather was wet, lots of rain recently.  It was raining when I took these photos.

Gravelled path in Walshes Park, Crowborough, 2 April 2018.
Gravelled path in Walshes Park, Crowborough, 2 April 2018.
Some of the gravel paths are going to need regular maintenance.  The general feeling is of open ground, but when it's dryer I will have a look at some of the wooded land around the edges.  

Meanwhile .. at the moment it is really wet ...

A rushy slope in Walshes Park, Crowborough, 2 April 2018.
A rushy slope in Walshes Park, Crowborough, 2 April 2018.
Rushes don't grow in such profusion if the ground is not always moist.

Quite a bit of preparation has been done.

A laid hedge in Walshes Park, Crowborough, 2 April 2018.
A laid hedge in Walshes Park, Crowborough, 2 April 2018.
I saw more than one carefully laid hedge - this is where thorn bushes have all had had a cut made in their trunks and been bent over, and the stems and branches woven into a lattice of uprights.  It grows into a thick impenetrable hedgerow.   It's not clear to me what this is intended to achieve in this park, unless some grazing is planned for the future.  It takes some time and expertise to make these hedges well.

I'll be back to see how this changes with the seasons.