Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Moths Galore And A Baby Blue Tit Chick

Surprisingly, given the warmth and the general lack of rain, last night was not a Big Moth night in terms of numbers. Sometimes, you just can't tell what kind of haul you're going to get. There were 58 in the box this morning with only one new species- a Plum Tortrix, which is a tiny wee moth and therefore almost impossible to get a decent picture of. I took plenty of all the others instead, so you can revise for the next quiz :-)

For some reason, even the normally flighty ones were quiet and sat contentedly on my finger while I took their pictures.....

A Perfect Blood Vein, sitting on a Waitrose recipe card for a Rather Yummy Dessert

Buff-Tip

Buff-Tip

Cinnabar

Clouded Border

Iron Prominent

Iron Prominent

Light Emerald

'Who you looking at?'

Light Emerald again

One of the Longhorns...

The twig-like Pale Prominent

Peppered Moth

Oh Dear. I seem to have accidentally killed a White Ermine....
Fooled you! They are masters at playing a Very Convincing Dead at the drop of a hat :-)


White Ermine
And just to confuse matters and keep you On Your Toes, here is his cousin, the Buff Ermine...

Buff Ermine

Buff Ermine
Cousins Together- Whiter Ermine (top) and Buff Ermine (below)

I was out volunteering for Butterfly Conservation with Jayne who runs all the Hants reserves yesterday. We were trialing scything as a method for cutting the paths through the meadows. There is a knack to scything which, it turns out, I don't have. Despite repeated attempts by Jayne to demonstrate (which involved us standing side by side thigh deep in grass wiggling our hips from side to side and swinging our arms, until we collapsed with laughter at the thought of what anyone would think if they happened to see us), I could not get it. I think it must take time. Still, as a management tool for working the reserves it is great and Jayne was pleased. 

While we were there, I received a text from Ma to say she'd found a baby blue tit on her patio who, although fully feathered, seemed very small to be out on his own. She put him in the honeysuckle and waited to see if mummy would return for him, but he never made a sound and there were no blue tit mummies around.
By 4pm it became clear that no parent was going to turn up, so L and I popped round after school and brought him home. I managed to get him to take some special anti-dehydration salts in water that I keep for baby-bird emergencies, and tucked him up in a shoe box for the night, fully expecting him not to be with us by this morning. I could not persuade him to take any food. He wasn't gaping and he wasn't making a sound, his eyes were mostly shut and he was very fluffed up and sleepy.

He surprised me by still being with us when I went in at 6.30 this morning, but he still wouldn't take any food and although he hopped up on my finger and then fluttered on to my shoulder, I just couldn't see how he was going to make it without accepting food or showing any inclination to feed himself. The lack of peeping was worrying too- baby birds that make no sound are usually not long for this world.

In the end we decided to put him out in the garden in the hope that seeing the other birds would stimulate the feed reflex, but sadly it didn't and I found him dead on the path when I got back from the school run.
I'm afraid this is nature in the raw, which is why we never interfere unless it's obvious that the animal will die without help. It's the difficult part of living in the country cheek-by-jowl with all these wonderful wild things.


I'm off to prepare supper for a colleague of M's, who has moved all the way over here from Australia and knows not a soul. I think she is feeling lonely and in need of company, so we're looking after her tonight. I think coming half-way round the world on your own to a place where you know no-one for a new job is a very brave thing to do, don't you?
I haven't made a single thing yet, having been too busy a) watching the THREE Smooth newts who have moved into the pond (including at least one male in full mating colours, so long wavy crest, bright orange streak down his tummy and lots of impressive big blotchy spots all over him), b) watching a Red Admiral flutter who has appeared today and has presumably come over the Channel during all this warm weather we're currently experiencing (Admirals are migrants here), c) emptying the Moth Box and recording everyone who was in it, while at the same time trying to field off Poppy's increasingly desperate attempts to lick my leg. She's taken to doing this furtively when she thinks everyone's ignoring her. It is not a very nice sensation. And finally d) driving my mum to an appointment because she's getting dizzy spells and can't drive at the moment. 

I am hoping I can ply our guest with wine when she gets here until everything is ready. Hopefully by the time supper appears she'll be far too merry to notice how long it has taken... :-)

I think I have also accidentally just made an old man's day. I was parked up waiting for L to arrive after the end of school and, seeing him walking along the road towards the car, waved and shouted: 'Hello Gorgeous! How has your day been?'
Only to become suddenly aware of an old man on the other side of the road who was grinning broadly at me and shouting back: 'it's been fine, thanks love!'

Oops...

CT x

10 comments:

  1. Great photos of the moths.. some really pretty ones. Shame about the little blue tit.. he looks really cute on your shoulder.. it just wasn't meant to be.

    Haha .. lovely to hear the old man had a great sense of humour bless him :o) x

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    1. It's been Quite A Long Day, one way or another- a great deal seems to have happened since I got up this morning so the little Blue Tit seems ages ago, bless him.
      Yes, I love it when people respond with humour to things too- same wave length I guess! x

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  2. Very sad about the bluetit, but you know that you did all that you reasonably could, so at least it had the best possible chance. I hope that the dinner goes well, perhaps you will all have some new friends by the end of the evening. It is very kind of you to invite her, and as you say, very brave to move all alone so very far from home! Happy mothing! xx

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    1. Thanks Amy :-) Supper went down well and I have learnt a lot about Australia that I didn't know. All Good Stuff. xx

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  3. Brilliant photos, as always!! The White Ermine is still my favourite, the Buff is quite gorgeous too!!
    Poor little blue tit, at least you tried your best, he does look cute on your shoulder.
    Glad supper went well.
    Have a good day xxx

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    1. White Ermines are beautiful moths, although I am keeping everything crossed that I have a Large Emerald to show you before long, because I think you will ooh and ahh over it as much as I do :-)

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  4. Still not getting many moths here :( But I did get my first Buff Ermine of the year the other night and a Small Magpie was a pleasant surprise this morning. Sorry the blue tit chick didn't make it :(

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    1. My catches have been down the last few nights too, despite the sticky warm weather. I love small magpies- such colourful little things. We've got 5 new baby blue tits in the garden from yet another nest. I think the species is having a good year so can probably absorb the odd loss here and there.

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  5. Those moths are astonishingly beautiful. why don't I know anything about moths? That is a terrible hole in my education. Must have a go at putting it right!

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    1. It's the whole night-time thing. We don't often see them close up. People think that moths are all small, brown and boring but in fact there are over 2500 different species of moth in the UK alone (compared to 60 odd butterflies), some fly at night, others during the day and while some are a little brown and nondescript, there are a great many more who are fabulous colours, from bright green to bright pink, and all sizes from a few mm long to half the size of your hand.
      There are loads of moth pics on my blog, and info about them if you fancy knowing a bit more :-)

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x