Thursday, September 30, 2010

Garden life


Garden Spider with Rhododendron Leafhopper
Rhododendron Leafhopper - meet Garden Spider

'orrible looking fly
'orrible looking thing

Slightly more pleasant-looking fly

The owl and the dragonfly
Owl and a friend

Sweet Chestnuts
All the squirrels' Christmases have come at once

Honeysuckle berries
Honeysuckle bearing fruit, but who's going to eat it?

photos taken with Canon EOS 30D, EF 300mm f/4L IS USM

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Feathered and Frosted

Feathered Thorn
Feathered Thorn

Frosted Orange
Frosted Orange
Another low(er) catch, of 45 moths, but 13 species so a bit better than last time.

One was new for the garden list - Feathered Thorn. I didn't actually find it until the evening, when I went out to photograph some moths which had been in the fridge (it was too dark before work). Very kind of it to wait for me.

I will be quite happy if 8% of my catch every night is made up of Frosted Oranges.

Moth list follows...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mmm... Frosted Orange

Today's catch was 51 moths - the same as last time - but only eight species this time. I think this is a new low! But there were a couple of new ones - Frosted Orange and Large Wainscot (its caterpillars feed on Common Reed).

Frosted Orange
Frosted Orange

Large Wainscot
Large Wainscot
Dawn was misty.

Misty dawn

Moth list this way...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Flight fantastic

Southern Hawker in flight

Southern Hawker in flight

Southern Hawker in flight

Southern Hawker in flight

My lawnmowing today was interrupted by the arrival of a male Southern Hawker at the pond. It was quite breezy and he made repeated sorties across the water, trying to keep away a few Common Darters which wanted their place by the pool.

Now I've finally sussed out that autofocus is pretty useless on flying dragons, I had a much higher success rate. Yay!

I like the jaunty angle of the first one, but the slightly more blurred wings of the others.

photos taken with Canon EOS 30D, EF 300mm f/4L IS USM

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Biscay to Bilbao

I'm just back from a trip on the Pride of Bilbao, one of the last few before it's taken out of service on that route.

Whalewatching on the Pride of Bilbao
Whalewatchers in the evening

You can read the Biscay Dolphin Research Programme's official sightings list, but here are a few personal highlights...

  • Not-too-bad-considering views of Fin, Pilot and Sperm Whales, Bottle-nosed, Common, Striped and Risso's Dolphins, and Harbour Porpoise
  • Little flock of Grey Phalaropes bobbing on the sea
  • Storm Petrels across the bows
  • Sabine's Gulls
  • Melodious Warbler on the boat for a few hours, before flying off high towards the Channel Islands
  • Swallows and Sand Martins heading south strongly
I opted to get the train into Bilbao city centre, where we did a circuit of the outside of the Guggenheim - well worth it! Breakfast (tortilla and cafe con leche) nearby was much needed

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
Giant flowery puppy outside the museum (House Sparrows nest in it)

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
Mysterious mist and sculpture

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
Giant spider

Abando-Indalecio Prieto station
Inside the station

South coast
Up the Channel on the way back into Portsmouth

There seemed to be a lot of whalewatchers on board. I'm sure we must have looked strange to some onlookers, but I don't really understand the people who got off the boat and headed directly to the nearest bar in Santurtzi for a pint, then headed off to the shop to stock up on tobacco. Oh well. I still think that's weirder than we were.

photos taken with Canon Powershot A640

Monday, September 13, 2010

Not a lot of moths

Large Thorn
Large Thorn

Orange Sallow
Orange Sallow

The Snout
The Snout

... only 51 moths, of 12 species, but three of those were new to the garden, so I suppose that's not too bad. And one of those - Large Thorn - is Nationally Scarce, so I'm quite pleased about that (check the distribution map).

I was kind of hoping to catch a Frosted Orange, like we did at Beeston on Sunday, but I got an Orange Sallow instead. It's pretty, but not quite as nice as the Frosted Orange. Maybe next time.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

The best birds in the world. Ever.

I'm back from five nights away on a ringing course. I was a bit worried before I went (it sounded full-on and rather intense) but once I found my feet and got the hang of how the procedures worked, I really enjoyed myself.

When a person is tired of Wrynecks, they are tired of life.



TWO Wrynecks!
Not only are they astonishingly beautiful, they also do crazy things (video not mine, but ours did similar things. The birds aren't hurt; it's a threat display intended to confuse a would-be predator).

We were too busy to take many photos, but here is a small selection...

Bearded Tit
Male Bearded Tit!

Fabulous juvenile Whinchat

Female Nuthatch

Tufted Duck
Repeat-offender Tufted Duck - caught in a duck trap that works on the same principle as a lobster pot

Banoffee pie
Migrant warblers eat loads of berries. This is what ringers fuel up with at the pub...

We also caught Yellow Wagtails, House and Sand Martins, Swallows, Redstarts, Nightingales, Grasshopper, Willow, Sedge, Reed and Garden Warblers, Whitethroats and Lesser Whitethroats, a Mistle Thrush, a few Wrens, a Goldfinch, a mercifully small number of Blue and Great Tits, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a load of other stuff I can't remember...

Oh, and while I was away, garden bird number 99 made it onto the list - Wigeon!

photos taken with Canon EOS 30D

Up early again...

After waking up at 5.15 every morning since Saturday, I thought it wouldn't hurt to set the moth trap and get up early once more. The weather forecast was dry and cloudy - good for moths. And when I looked out of the window at 6am, there was a Barn Owl sitting on the beanpoles in the garden! So it was worth it.

The moths themselves weren't terribly spectacular this morning, but I suppose 190 moths of 20 species is not too shabby for September.

List follows...