Friday, 30 May 2014

Moths & Butterflies, And A Little Quiz For You All....

It was Moth Box Night last night. No rain and reasonable temperatures brought one hundred and thirty moths of forty seven different species to the box, thirteen of which were new for the year, bringing my total to about one hundred and fifteen.

Amongst them there was a very small moth I have been wanting to see for ages, having only seen him in books before. He's a Chinese Character, and to be honest, he looks like a lump of bird poo. He's about twelve mm in length and seven in width, so not a big moth, but a very sweet one...


As if to make up size-wise, there were two Giants of the Moth World in the box beside the diminutive Chinese Character....an Elephant Hawk and a Privet Hawk, both of which visited last year but this is their first appearance in 2014. They bring my total of Hawks to three. I am still hoping hawk-wise for a Lime, a Death's Head, a Pine and a Hummingbird, but time will tell on those.

The Ele Hawks are very sweet and friendly natured souls who are generally Quite Happy to sit on your finger and pose for pictures. This one (believe it or not) was a little on the small side for a ele, but I just adore those colours.....Isn't nature amazing?


Here's looking at you, kid.


The Privet Hawk (below) hides a secret, which he will reveal if asked politely....




The pink and black under-stripes are beautiful and doubtless an adaptation to warn off predators.

Also new in the box was the delicately pretty Peach Blossom...


And the aptly named Snout.....


There were a Few Familiars also in the box, which I am setting for you as a little quiz (you can thank Amy at Love Made My Home for this as she gave me the idea in an earlier post). The answers are at the bottom of the post. Good Luck! And let me know how you did.....

1.......

2.....

3 & 4......

5......

6....

7.....
8.....

9..... 

10....

L had his mate Will over today, and after lunch with the weather improving, I crow-barred them off their computers and took them over to college to look for slow worms, voles and flutters. L was overjoyed (not) but Will, who is a bit younger and therefore still pretty amenable to going looking for wild creatures, was thrilled when we found several voles curled up in little nests beneath the pieces of corrugated iron, a shrew who ran towards me rather than away, owing to poor eyesight (if I were to draw a shrew I would add small round spectacles on the end of his long nose), and several slow worms.

I began to tell them about the colony of Small Blues we have there, and how precious they are because not only is this a nationally declining species, but it is extinct in certain areas of the country, but L's interest had peaked with the old trees way back and even Will only managed a polite 'oh yes?' before they both scuttled off to climb the trees again, leaving me to have half an hour of enjoyable wandering taking pics of the fluttering folk and the plants that are blossoming on the transect.....


Burnet Companion Moth

Common Blue Butterfly

Common Blue

Common Blue

Common Blue

Common Blue

Common Orchids

Greater Birds Foot Trefoil

Kidney Vetch (sole food plant for the Small Blue)

Orange Tip (male)

Self Heal

Small Blue

Small Blue (female- no blue scales on the wing, unlike the male)

Small Blue

Speckled Wood
After that Feast Of Flutters, I'll leave you with a pic of our Blue Tit, who has produced a nest-full of noisy babies in the house my friend Mrs M gave me for my birthday back in April which we put up on the side of the garage under the sheltering arms of the Corkscrew Willow. Apparently, it came from the Ideal Home Exhibition, so these are possible the Smartest Homed Blue Tit babies in the world.....:-)


Peekaboo!

Have a good evening all,

CT :-)

RESULTS FOR THE QUIZ:
1. Brimstone
2. Pebble Hook-Tip
3 & 4. Buff-Tip and White Ermine
5. May Highflyer
6. Broken-Barred Carpet Moth
7. Peppered Moth
8. Cinnabar
9. Puss Moth
10. Poplar Hawk-Moth


Now, be honest- how did you do? If you got 5 or more I reckon that's pretty good going, especially as I was mean and numbers 5 and 6 are not easy moths to know. Under 3- well, stick with the blog and you'll get plenty more practice. By the end of the year, you'll be an expert! :-)

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Water Vole Signs, Some Moths, A Trip To The Isle Of Wight And Garden Babies Begin To Arrive At Last

It's been a Mixed Bag weather-wise here over the last couple of days, with a general trend of Downwards.

We donned waterproofs and all trooped off to Cow Common near Wherwell on Monday so I could look for water voles (which I have yet to see, and am still waiting....). I found signs of them, which was pleasing, because unless you know what you're looking for they are very hard to spot....

Latrines, used by the females to mark the extent of their territories

A Larder, or Food Store. Water Voles cut small lengths of grass and reeds at 45 degree angles and leave them in a pile for later
This is a view of their river, snaking through the Water Meadow. In summer it is PACKED with people, so I'm not sure how the voles cope with kids and dogs splashing about....

I'm still on the look out for actual voles, but it was nice to know they are there. Whilst on the meadow we also saw....
 


Early Marsh Orchid

A Stately Heron

A meadow full of Yellow Iris
 And this Novel Way Of Transporting A Sleepy Or Aged Dog....


Yesterday, we took the kids to the Isle Of Wight for the day. It's not far from here- half an hour to Southampton and then an hour on the ferry (it would be less, but it takes ages to get up Southampton Water), but it somehow feels like you've crossed over into another world. Something to do with crossing water I suspect. The island was born when the last Ice Age ended and the Solent Valley which connects it to England flooded. A high ridge of chalk running through it lends it some beautiful scenery and there are lots of lovely beaches rich with fossils, including dinosaur footprints on one. 
We followed this ENORMOUS container ship up Southampton Water. It was loaded high with goods being taken around the world...


J was desperate to go to the Model Village at Godshill.....

Tiny weeny cakes in the cake shop

Dino Excavation....

Streaker on the pitch :-0

Providing a Sense Of Scale...

Thatched cottages clustered around the Old Church
After that we tried to go rock pooling but it was proper brass monkeys weather and after a quick look in the lifeboat station at the end of a very long pier just off Bembridge, we opted to go to Brading Roman Villa instead, where there is a mosaic of a man who has a cockerel's head....

 
He is a unique feature of the mosaics and is thought to lampoon the Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire Gallus (from 251-253CE), whose name means "cockerel" in Latin. There is a belief that the mosaic was designed by a man named Palladius, who was magister of Antioch before being banished to Britain. Gallus was his persecutor.

The island was conquered by Rome in 44 AD and the first villa was already on the site by the middle of the first century. There are twelve rooms in the ground floor and a really beautiful mosaic which I'll show you in a second. The villa suffered a terrible fire during the third century, after which it continued in use for farming purposes for another couple of hundred years. It finally collapsed in the fifth century and remained hidden for a further thirteen hundred years until a local farmer rediscovered it whilst making sheep pens in 1879.

Mosaic in the main room

Vectis Pottery, made on the Isle Of Wight 1-3rd century
Hairpins made of pig's trotters

Roman Hand Print in a tile

After that we all went outside and had a handstand and roly-poly competition near the amphitheatre, which is a Perfectly Normal thing to do if you have been born into our family... I expect the Romans would have approved anyway.



And then  it was time to come home. We got back and I found a New Moth waiting for me on the window. He is a Common Swift, and he was Rather Lively, so I had to put him in the fridge to calm him down for a few minutes before I could take a picture (this doesn't hurt them at all, it just takes the edge off the whizzy ones)...


This inspired me to put the Moth Box out, which I duly did, only the temp dropped in the night and the rain came in, so there weren't hoards of moths in the box this morning and only a couple of new species. It is due to improve towards the weekend, so we'll try again later in the week...

Cinnabar

Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet

Light Emerald

Marbled Brown

Peppered

White Ermine
I'll leave you with some shots of various Bird Children who have started to appear in the garden (at long last). There are 3 or 4 Great Tit babies, as far as I can tell. They make a right old racket yelling for their parents in the trees around the house and have suddenly discovered the feeders...


Also, the Sparrow Chicks have finally left the nest. Interestingly, the kids from last summer have reappeared and I remember them doing the same thing last year- the previous batch seem to come along and help out with the new babies, which makes sense, given that sparrows are gregarious people....

Mrs Sparrow with one of her chicks
And finally, one of our Nuthatches, who is not a Child, but I just loved the expression on his face in this shot....


 Hope you're all having a Good Week? Half term here, so it's all systems go at the moment....

CT :-)