Monday, 15 June 2015

The Return Of The Moths, Breeding Bird Surveys & News Of Bop

I was up on The Chalk at 5.30am yesterday. The air was damp and the paper I was writing on softened and twisted beneath the pencil as the moisture in the air infiltrated it. We were completing the second element of the BTO's Breeding Bird Survey and recorded the songs of Yellow Hammers, White Throats, Blackcaps, Skylarks, Swifts, Swallows, Wrens, Chaffinches, Chiffchaffs, Robins, Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, Wood Pigeons, Great Tits, Blue Tits, Greater Spotted Woodpeckers, a Tree Creeper. Apart from a solitary lady watering her six dogs outside her cottage who scuttled off as soon as she saw us, there was not another soul about. 

We came down off The Chalk an hour or so later and walked back to the car through the village of ancient, crook-beamed thatched cottages that hugs the river valley. In the driveways, expensive four-by-fours with not a splodge of the countryside on them competed with those next door. There was no one around- the entire village was asleep and soundless. I was suddenly struck by how different it would have been a few hundred years ago when 7am would not be considered an early hour to be up and doing. When perhaps you had to be up long before 7am if you were going to get all the work done for the day.

I found my thoughts straying to the people who lived in these cottages then, and to the cottages themselves. Much valued and highly prized these days, these old wonky wattle and daub constructions would have sheltered people who lived and died according to the dictates and vagaries of the weather and the resulting harvest. Today, the inhabitants make brief detours from hectic city lives to sleep the best hours of the day away inside them.

Have we grown lazy I wondered, or just so disconnected from the cycles of the earth and the way the land moves through the year that so few of us feel the urge to get up and go outside to enjoy the world in the early hours of a summer morning? 

Talking of Earth Cycles, Bop is still with us. He is moving to a quieter location at Jill's. Tawnys can become used to people if hand reared and Jill wants to make certain he has every chance to return to The Wild. We talked about him coming home to be released- that's probably still six weeks away, but it is On The Cards and I am pleased. It feels right, like a circle completing.

I've been getting Moth Withdrawal Symptoms- I've been too busy over recent weeks to put the Light Box out much- but today I have a clear day ahead of me so last night out it went.

The nights are cool here still and moth numbers and species are down on last year as a result. I've seen no Ellie Hawks yet and normally we get lots. Still, numbers are improving and this morning's wasn't a bad haul.

Two blood-veins, one new, the other so faded there was no pink left on it at all and it had me scratching my head for a moment until I worked out what it was.

Two bright-line brown-eyes

Two brimstones (although one had provided breakfast for the robin)

My first buff ermine of the year

A beautiful grey arches

And a green arches to match

The first clouded silver of the year

Three clouded borders

A burnished brass

Four heart and darts

An elderly Light Emerald

A tiny marbled white spot

Four peppered moths (all non-melanistic forms)

A plume moth (emmelina monodactyla?)

A rather unusual scorched carpet (they feed on Spindle and are therefore usually moths of The Chalk, so I'm not sure why this one has turned up here)

The first small angle shades of the year (I'd love a velvet cloak like his)

Three small magpies

A treble brown spot

Two treble lines

And I think this is a willow beauty (although it could be a mottled beauty- I find them hard to tell apart)

So, Not Bad but not as good as last year I think. Let's hope the nights warm up a bit and they can all Get Going.

I've a Busy Week coming up- talks on flutters and moth ecology, a dormouse survey, a glow worm survey and then a school educational day on countryside things. Not to forget T and P have a hair cut with Mrs Danning on Thursday too :o)

I'll leave you with some shots from the weekend, starting with Poppy's New Club, which is The Vole Watching Club. She has set this one up herself after becoming obsessed with it- it has even over-taken Teddy's Pigeon Watching Club in terms of the hours she devotes to staring at the various vole holes she's found round the garden. No doubt she will be Canvassing For Members in the not too distant future....

Brian is now 16mm long!

Goldfinch Children who are Very Noisy Indeed
Eclairs for tea. All Gone.
Hope you've all had a Nice Weekend and have a Good Week Ahead,

CT :o)


  1. A good moth gathering last night!!! Lots of different ones again. If Poppy needs a friend for her new club I will come and join her, but I will need a chair to sit on!! Oh, and one of those eclairs! Shame they are all gone! xx

    1. Poppy would LOVE you to come and vole watch with her. I've never seen her sit so still and concentrate on something for so long! It must be her age- she will be two in September after all :o) xx

  2. Nice photos, especially those of the moths. I like the Goldfinch photos too and know what you mean about their children being very noisy lol. We have some visiting our garden and I noted that they were making a lot of noise. It is understandable as to why those eclairs are all gone lol.

    1. The Goldfinches have never brought their children to the garden here before, so it is lovely to see them, but blimey they don't half make a racket!

  3. I nearly forgot, good to read Bop is doing okay.

    1. Yes, a huge relief. I'm so looking forward to seeing him again.

  4. Ooh, an eclair, I could just eat an eclair, lucky you. Fantastic moths, beautifully photographed. You do have a busy week ahead, I'm very impressed and inspired. Your comments about people in their cottages resonated with me too. I feel far more connected with nature and the seasons now I don't live in the city any more. I always used to think it was sad that the partners at the law firm where I worked had enormous beautiful houses that they almost never spent any time because they were working so hard. Much better to take the time to enjoy everything I think. Anyway, I hope your week goes well. I shall follow your lead and try to be similarly busy and hardworking. Thanks for the inspiration. CJ xx

    1. I find if you make the eclairs small enough you can totally justify eating three or four :o) Have a good week, my friend xx

  5. Hello. I have just found your blog and really enjoyed reading it today (although I have moth-phobia I love looking at pictures of them and have a friend who does a moth-count for our local nature reserve every Wednesday).
    Tess (my Border Terrier and mostly black like yours) will join your vole-watching club - is she the first new member?
    Pop over and see me.

    1. Hi Weaver :o)

      Yes- Tess is Officially the First New Member of the Vole Watching Club. Poppy will be thrilled.

      Thank the comment- will be over to visit you shortly.

  6. I think some time back I did join The Vole Watching Club but have had no communication from her but I suppose she is too busy watchin vole holes!! Fantastic number of Moths. must take you hours to do all this work of photographing them.

    1. Hi Margaret,

      I think you were one of the first members of Ted's Pigeon Watching Club, but Poppy says to tell you she'd be thrilled if you joined Vole Watching too (good job it's not Mole Watching or you'd struggle in Ireland :o) ) x

  7. ooooh! vole-watching! i'm sure Emma-dog would love to be a member, but her "criminal record" might prevent her being accepted. it's so hard to just *watch*, you see. :/

    all sorts of mothy delights here -- i had my own moth-spotting adventure the other day...i immediately thought of you!

    i love what you wrote about the long-ago people living more attuned to the seasons. there's such a sense of quiet rhythm to live like that. the early mornings are my absolute Best Favourite....i love being awake when the rest of the [human] world is still asleep...

    1. I suspect Ted would also eat a vole if he could, but as it's Poppy's club she sets the rules :o)

      Great to hear you've been moth spotting- would love to see pics of your moths at some point...

      I also love being up an about early (equally, I then feel justified sleeping in till 8.30 on a Sunday!) xx

  8. Glad to hear that Bop is doing well, and that's a great selection of moths. My cats do the vole hole watch as well! Those eclairs look good...... :-)

    1. Perhaps the cats would like to join? xx

  9. So impressed by your latest haul of moths. And I just love the way the names describe exactly how they look - scorched carpet and blood-veins are particularly wonderful!
    Amazing to see baby goldfinches - I rarely even see adult ones. Our noisiest baby birds in the garden are the great tits clamouring to be fed.
    Glad Bop is maybe on the way back into the wild.
    Thanks for caring for nature for us all :)

    1. Moth names are wonderful things - some are very amusing :o) Have also never seen infant Goldfinches in the garden before. Baby birds are certainly noisy people x


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