May 2014

 

Saturday 31st May

If Thursday night was quality over quantity then tonight was the opposite. Over 100 moths of 50 species and every one of them unremarkable. OK, the likes of Small Angled Shades and another Pale Oak Beauty were nice, and Orange Footman was only my second here following my first on Monday, so it wasn't all bad, but with that many species, including a fair few micros, I'd have expected something better! Quite a few were new for the year at least: Fulvous Clothes Moth Tinea semifulvella, 2 Privet Tortrices Clepsis consimilana, 2 Yellow-spot Tortrices Pseudargyrotoza conwagana, Triple-blotched Bell Notocelia trimaculana, Treble Brown Spot, Common Footman, 2 Double Square-spots, Straw Dot and Snout.

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Orange Footman (left) and Yellow-spot Tortrix Pseudargyrotoza conwagana (right), Bawdeswell, 31st May

 

Friday 30th May

A cool clear evening meant fewer moths - just 11 (all different). Among them two were new for the year: Clouded Border and the magnificent, if somewhat sinister-looking, Privet Hawkmoth.

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Privet Hawkmoth (left) and Clouded Border (right), Bawdeswell, 30th May

 

Thursday 29th May

An excellent evening for moths - definitely quality over quantity as there weren't that many moths, just good ones! Two were new for the house - Crescent Bell Epinotia bilunana was my first anywhere and an attractive little micro, while Maple Pug I had seen elsewhere once before. The very beautiful Beautiful Golden Y was only my second at home and 2 Rivulets were my second and third at home. At least 5 Diamond-back Moths Plutella xylostella were migrants and two common species were new for the year: Little Grey Eudonia lacustrata and Riband Wave. That lot made up nearly half of the evening's haul which also included Currant Pug and Ingrailed Clay.

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Crescent Bell Epinotia bilunana (left) and Maple Pug (right), Bawdeswell, 29th May

 

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Beautiful Golden Y (left) and Rivulet (right), Bawdeswell, 29th May

 

Wednesday 28th May

I got a call from Dave this evening asking if I wanted a lift up to West Runton to see a Black-headed Bunting. Naturally I did, having never seen one in Norfolk and soon we arrived on scene to find that it hadn't been seen for a good while. Two people were walking towards us through the grassy strip in which it had disappeared and soon they flushed what looked like the bird as it flew past the crowd landing in the roadside hedge. Dave had carried my scope out for me and I quickly located the bird in there - it was indeed the Black-headed Bunting! We got good enough scope views for a short while before some bumbling twerp flushed it. It flew up to a nearby roof and trees where it showed briefly before dropping down and disappearing out of view. Fortunately for the late-comers it was seen again but not until after we had left.

I also found a small green Phyllobius weevil which I was interested in having recently found some info on the net which enables identification of this genus of beetles. This one proved to be Phyllobius virideaeris, far from the commonest of the group it seems. Birds weren't the only migrants arriving today - we kicked up several Diamond-back Moths Plutella xylostera too. More migrant moths at home in the form of 2 Diamond-backs and 2 Silver Ys but the best moths were 2 Pale Oak Beauties. I don't see this species at home very often - just 2 in 2011 and now 3 in 2014.

Black-headed Bunting, West Runton, 28th May

 

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Phyllobius virideaeris, West Runton (left) and Pale Oak Beauty, Bawdeswell (right), 28th May

 

Monday 26th May

My shoulder seems to be on the mend but I'm not up to driving yet. I was asleep when news of the Slender-billed Gull at Titchwell came through (the painkillers are making me sleep a lot). Dave called to make sure I knew about it and kindly offered to give me a lift up there. Shortly before we arrived we discovered that it had flown off east and, unforturtunately, it wasn't seen again. We decided to try Arnold's Marsh instead, as that's been where previous Norfolk Slender-bills have been. No sign there, but it was nice to be birding, of sorts - lifting bins was painful and I had to get Dave to carry my scope for me! Watching the 3 Spoonbills that flew over hurt but it's a big improvement - for the last 3 weeks I've not been able to do that at all. Thanks Dave!

A few moths in tonight including an Orange Footman - the first time I've recorded one at home. A fine Lime Hawkmoth was new for the year, as was Ingrailed Clay.

Update December: A Coleophora that I thought was going to be one of the milvipennis types (milvipennis, Buff Birch Case-bearer being the most likely) has been gen detted by Jon - it was in fact Buff Rush Case-bearer Coleophora caespititiella - not a new species for me after all but new for the house.

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Lime Hawkmoth (left) and Orange Footman (right), Bawdeswell, 26th May

 

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Flame (left) and Buff Rush Case-bearer Coleophora caespititiella (gen det by J Clifton, right), Bawdeswell, 26th May

 

Sunday 25th May

After a poor night for moths last night there were a few more tonight. Another Eyed Hawkmoth was the best - seems to be a good year for these with lots of people reporting them at the moment. New for the year were False Cacao Moth Ephestia unicolorella (formerly parasitella) and Common Wave.

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Eyed Hawkmoth (left) and White-point (right), Bawdeswell, 25th May

 

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Common Wave, Bawdeswell, 25th May

 

Saturday 24th May

Managed to sound-record (using my iPhone) a call I've heard from my bedroom once or twice but not been sure what it was. I get Tawny Owls regularly but only occasionally hear Little Owls, but this one proved to be the alarm call of a Little Owl. Learn something new every day, or rather night.

 

Friday 23rd May

Freyer's Pug was new for the year - one of my favourite pugs.

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Freyer's Pug (left) and Mottled Pug (right), Bawdeswell, 23rd May

 

Thursday 22nd May

Very few micros tonight but the only two non-Pyralids were both good. Spotted Shoot Moth Rhyacionia pinivorana and Sandy Long-horn Nematopogon schwarziellus were both new for my house. Having shied away from identifying a lot of the Nematopogon that I've seen elsewhere the schwarziellus was also my first identified example anywhere. Pale Oak Beauty was my first this year and the first I've seen at home for 3 years.

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Spotted Shoot Moth Rhyacionia pinivorana (left) and Sandy Long-horn Nematopogon schwarziellus (right), Bawdeswell, 22nd May

 

Wednesday 21st May

Relatively few moths tonight but the first two in were good ones. First up was a Dark-barred Tortrix Syndemis musculana - not uncommon but the first one I've had at home. Second in was another Buttoned Snout - or as I suspect, the same Buttoned Snout that got away yesterday. Middle-barred Minor and Silver Y were new for the year.

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Scorched Wing (left) and Buttoned Snout (right), Bawdeswell, 21st May - the Scorched Wing was missing an antenna

 

Tuesday 20th May

Well, this frozen shoulder may be preventing me from getting out to see things but it certainly isn't stopping things from coming to see me! 40 species of macro tonight! The clear highlight was an Eyed Hawkmoth - I don't get many of the large hawkmoths here and this was my first Eyed at home. Also new for the house was one of the relatively few micros - Brassy Tortrix Eulia ministrana. Scarcer than either of those was a Buttoned Snout, but unforunately the extra time it takes using a camera when your right arm isn't functioning meant it got away before I could get a shot.

Quite a few species were new for the year: 2 London Dowds Blastobasis lacticolella, Small Phoenix, Oak-tree Pug, 2 Scorched Wings, Light Emerald, Marbled Brown, 2 Heart and Darts, Flame, Setaceous Hebrew Character, 2 White-points and Brown Rustic. Some good counts too: 12 Mottled Pugs (among twice as many Common Pugs) was double my previous best and 6 White Ermines was also a house record.

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Eyed Hawkmoth (left) and Small Phoenix (right), Bawdeswell, 20th May

 

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Brassy Tortrix Eulia ministrana (left) and Rustic Shoulder-knot (right), Bawdeswell, 20th May

 

Monday 19th May

Best moth this evening was my second ever Broken-barred Carpet. Also new for the year were 2 Foxglove Pugs, Willow Beauty, White Ermine, Small Square-spot, Bright-line Brown-eye and Small Angle Shades. Other noteworthy were Currant Pug, White-spotted Pug, Clouded Silver and Pale Mottled Willow.

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Broken-barred Carpet, Bawdeswell, 19th May

 

Sunday 18th May

Only half the number of species I recorded over each of the last two evenings, and micros were especially in short supply (three quarters of tonight's species were geometers). New for the year were Clouded Silver and Marbled Minor agg. Otherwise the best were Cream Wave and another White-pinion Spotted - that's 4 in the last 3 days - I've only ever seen 1 at home before. Another 3 Waved Umbers brought the year's total up to 18, again far more than I've ever recorded in a year before.

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White-pinion Spotted, Bawdeswell, 18th May

 

Saturday 17th May

I'm getting a bit fed up with having to stay in thanks to the frozen shoulder - not being able to go birding in mid May is a nightmare! At least it's been a good weekend so far for moths coming to me. Nothing outstanding tonight, although Common Oak Midget Phyllonorycter quercifoliella was new for the house, but a good variety. Another oak-feeding Phyllonorycter, White Oak Midget Phyllonorycter harrisella, is one I've seen a lot recently but only once before at home. A Narrow-winged Grey Eudonia angustea was a surprise as it's usually the last of the Scoparines to appear towards the end of the season. Looking it up I see there are a few spring records but I gather that spring emergence is a recent phenonemon for this species.

Probably the scarcest moth recorded tonight was Daisy Bent-wing Bucculatrix nigricomella, though I've seen nearly as few Common Slenders Gracilaria syringella at home. White-spotted Pug was the best macro and 2 White-pinion Spotteds doubled the number I've seen at home. Brown House-moth Hofmannophila pseudospretella, Common Carpet, 2 Green Carpets and Small Fan-foot were new for the year and others included Flame, Grey Pine and Sandy Carpets.

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Flame Carpet (left) and White-spotted Pug (right), Bawdeswell, 17th May

 

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Skin Moth Monopis laevigella (left) and Daisy Bent-wing Bucculatrix nigricomella (right), Bawdeswell, 17th May

 

Friday 16th May

An excellent evening for moths! Probably the best record was another example of what I'm sure must be Fen Flat-body Depressaria ultimella (update Dec - yes, Jon has gen detted & confirmed it). A new moth for me was Winter Groundling Scrobipalpa costella but better looking was my second ever Oak Hook-tip and there were quite a few others that were new for the year: Cork Moth Nemapogon cloacella, Small Clover Case-bearer Coleophora alcyonipennella (gen det by Jon), Common Marble Celypha lacunana, Sharp-winged Drill Dichrorampha acuminatana, 2 Bee Moths Aphomia sociella, Flame Carpet, Sandy Carpet, White-pinion Spotted, Iron Prominent, Lychnis, Rustic Shoulder-knot and Treble Lines. A count of 6 Scalloped Hazels was unprecedented.

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Winter Groundling Scrobipalpa costella, Bawdeswell, 16th May

 

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Oak Hook-tip (left) and Pale Tussock (right), Bawdeswell, 16th May

 

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Fen Flat-body Depressaria ultimella (left) and Small Clover Case-bearer Coleophora alcyonipennella (right), Bawdeswell, 16th May - both gen detted by Jon

 

Thursday 15th May

I'm still struggling a bit with photographing and catching moths in the bedroom, what with not being able to use my right arm. I did manage to record a few tonight though, including 2 Bird's-nest Moths Tinea trinotella and 2 Currant Pugs. The results of shaky left-handed photography don't seem to be much worse than what I used to get using my right hand!

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Chinese Character, Bawdeswell, 15th May

 

Wednesday 14th May

Mottled Pug was new for the year tonight.

 

Tuesday 13th May

The new stronger painkillers are finally starting to kick in so I decided to risk letting a few moths in again tonight. Buff Ermine was new for the year but better was a second chance for a moth I found last May. I had thought it was Fen Flat-body Depressaria ultimella, but with with no Norfolk records since 2002 I felt I should get it checked. It had other ideas, however, and escaped while I was photographing it, so it was never confirmed. Tonight I got another moth resembling Fen Flat-body Depressaria ultimella - I shall be careful not to let this one get away but I really can't see what else it can be (update December: I was right - Jon's gen detted it and confirmed).

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Fen Flat-body Depressaria ultimella, Bawdeswell, 13th May

 

Thursday 8th May

On Tuesday my shoulder had been painful but that was just the start. I've not been able to do anything at all for the last couple of days and the pain in my arm has been unbearable - the doctor reckons I have a frozen shoulder. Tonight I figured that just because I can't go anywhere that shouldn't stop the moths coming to me, so I put the light on for a short while. I quickly realised that I was unable to photograph or catch the moths and was in too much pain to look at the ones I could reach, so I turn it off again. The few moths that came in included my first Common Swift of the year and a Chinese Character.

 

Tuesday 6th May

Having booked the week off work I started as I meant to go on and headed first up to Burnham Overy for some birding and then inland for some mothing. I've had arm ache for the last 3 weeks or so but today my shoulder was especially painful, especially when I lifted my bins or stretched to take pics of moths. Driving was a bit awkward too, but I managed ok and still managed to have a productive day.

At Burnham Overy the most notable event was the first big movement of Swifts and hirundines. I counted what I saw, but bearing in mind that most were going through out of sight from where I was at any given time the true number moving through will have been many times higher than my counts. I saw 65 Swifts, 220 Swallows, 18 House Martins and 6 Sand Martins moving west. Also a Merlin west was excellent to see - once a bird I could expect to bump into several times over the course of a year, this was my first in Norfolk for over 2 years! There was still a Ring Ouzel in the dunes but generally very few grounded migrants. I'd been surprised in recent visits not to see Sandwich Terns so good to see 19 offshore today. Not much else of note - 2 Spoonbills and 2 pairs of Mediterranean Gulls. Also larval tents of Spindle Ermine Yponomeuta cagnagella.

In the afternoon I popped in to Alderford Common. There were a few interesting moths, including another Muslin Moth following my first on Saturday. I netted a tortrix which looks like Lead-coloured Drill Dichrorampha plumbana (update December - now confirmed thanks to Jon). Also my first Cream Wave and Hook-streaked Grass-veneer Crambus lathoniellus for the year, and Feathered Bright Incurvaria masculella and Green Long-horn Adela reaumurella.

I then decided Whitwell Common would be worth a quick look before I headed home, and so it proved! The first smallish oak tree I could see as I entered the common was smothered in Scarce Oak Midgets Phyllonorycter kuhlweiniella! In the end I counted 71 (not just on this tree) - the first vice county record since 1995 and yet another completely new site for this supposedly rare beauty - and more than the total the number of adults ever recorded in Norfolk, including the ones I've discovered elsewhere this year. Other highlights included 120 Plain Golds Micropterix calthella, 42 White Oak Midgets Phyllonorycter harrisella, 6 Common Oak Midgets Phyllonorycter quercifoliella, Red Birch Midget Phyllonorycter ulmifoliella, Dark-barred Tortrix Syndemis musculana and 5 Vetch Piercers Grapholita jungiella.

It was good for moths at home too. Maiden's Blush was unusual here, 4 Pale Tussocks represented my first record of more than a single here. Several species were new for the year including Bird's-nest Moth Tinea trinotella, Garden Pebble Evergestis forficalis, Small Dusty Wave and Pale Prominent - all except the first were my earliest ever.

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Lesser Whitethroat, Burnham Overy (left) and Cream Wave, Alderford Common (right), 6th May

 

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Lead-coloured Drill Dichroramphus plumbana (left) and Hook-streaked Grass-veneer Crambus lathoniellus (right), Alderford Common, 6th May - thanks to Jon for confirming the Dichrorampha

 

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Muslin Moth, Alderford Common (left) and Small Copper, Whitwell Common (right), 6th May

 

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Vetch Piercer Grapholita jungiella (left) and Common Oak Midget Phyllonorycter quercifoliella (right), Whitwell Common, 6th May

 

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Scarce Oak Midgets Phyllonorycter kuhlweiniella, Whitwell Common, 6th May

 

Monday 5th May

Last night when processing my photos of White-bodied Midgets Phyllonorycter joannisi I had some doubts about my ID - the commoner Maple Midget Phyllonorycter acerifoliella is very similar indeed and one or two features supposed to belong to that species were apparent on my moths. Looking at photos taken at odd angles wasn't enough - I needed to have a close look at some of the insects themselves, just to make sure. So this morning I returned to Bittering, and I'm glad to say confirmed my original ID. It was worth being quite sure - this is a species which has only been recorded as an adult in Norfolk once before, apart from my recent observations (though there are quite a few records of their leafmines). A more thorough search of the Norway Maple trunks turned up a total of 35 joannisi, including at least 4 copulating pairs. Among them was a single Scarce Oak MidgetPhyllonorycter kuhlweiniella and then a further look at the Copper Beech turned up another 2 kuhlweiniella, bringing the total in this area since yesterday to 6. Also here were 3 Stigmella sp. - a very tricky family to identify and usually recorded from their mines. I think they were Beech Pigmies Stigmella hemargyrella.

Nearby Creaking Gate Lake produced 2 Four-spotted Chasers. Moths there included 5 Green Long-horns Adela reaumurella and a Dingy Shell. With little in the way of migrants being reported at the coast I decided to abandon my plans to head up there and headed instead to Honeypot Wood. There are a few oaks here but you can't get close to many of their trunks without trampling the vegetation, which probably isn't a good plan on an NWT reserve with decent orchids present. There were a few close to the path though, and the first ones I checked instantly revealed what I was looking for... I had found another site for Scarce Oak Midget Phyllonorycter kuhlweiniella. I found 4 on 2 trees (plus one of the Acer-feeding species which I couldn't get close enough to resolve). Other moths included my first-for-the-year Cocksfoot Moths Glyphipterix simpliciella.

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Red-legged Partridges, Creaking Gate Lake, 5th May

 

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White-bodied Midgets Phyllonorycter joannisi, Bittering, 5th May

 

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Green Long-horn Adela reaumurella, Creaking Gate Lake (left) and possible Beech Pigmy Stigmella hemargyrella, Bittering (right), 5th May - this individual Stigmella actually keyed out as Scrubland Pigmy Stigmella pelagicolella but one of the three seen in the same area showed a clear row of dark-tipped scales before the pale cilia; I suppose it's possible two species were involved, but my working assumption for now is that all three were the same species and on two the wing-tips were too worn to see this feature

 

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Green-veined White, Honeypot Wood, 5th May

 

Sunday 4th May

From a birding perspective this afternoon's visit to the patch wasn't at all successful, the only notable sighting being Great Crested Grebe chicks being carried on their parent's back. Although I've always had a patch with breeding Great Crested Grebes these were my earliest ever chicks. On the insect front it was very much more interesting!

I started off checking the Norway Maples where I counted 18 White-bodied Midgets Phyllonorycter joannisi among 50 Horse Chestnut Leaf-miners Cameraria ohridella - although I've seen a few here before it was only seeing such large numbers that prompted me to find out that Norway Maple is indeed listed as one of their foodplants, they don't just like Horse Chestnuts! Further on I checked a trunk of a large Copper Beach tree among Beech, Hazel and Willow, among other trees. I only realised these included a few smallish oaks after being surprised to find some oak-feeding moths on the Copper Birch. Most amazing of these were 2 Scarce Oak Midgets Phyllonorycter kuhlweiniella! This, for those who aren't in to micro moths and may not have remembered, is the moth caused a bit of a stir when I discovered some at Syderstone Common recently as they were previously only known from south Norfolk and not recorded there since 1996! And now I've found them on my patch at Bittering! Wow!

I then popped across the road to Creaking Gate Lake where I discovered some more interesting moths, including another Scarce Oak MidgetPhyllonorycter kuhlweiniella! A couple of much commoner Phyllonorycter were new to me: a Rowan Midget Phyllonorycter sorbi and a Common Alder Midget Phyllonorycter rajella, both tapped off their respective foodplants. My first dragonflies of the year were also found here: Azure Damselflies.

At dusk I joined Rob for our first joint mothing session of the year, at Cawston Heath. A check of oak trunks failed to turn up any more kuhlweiniella, but 3 Pale Oak Midgets Phyllonorycter heegerella were notable, along with White Oak Midget Phyllonorycter harrisella and Common Oak Midget Phyllonorycter quercifoliella. Other interesting micros that turned up tonight were Brown Birch Slender Parornix betulae, Rowan Midget Phyllonorycter sorbi, Black-speckled Groundling Carpatolechia proximella, Dark-barred Tortrix Syndemis musculana and Grey Birch Button Acleris logiana.

Smartest of the macros was a Chocolate-tip. Others included 4 Scalloped Hook-tips, 3 Pebble Hook-tips, Frosted Green, 4 Birch Mochas, 6 Grey Pine Carpets, 3 Narrow-winged Pugs, Tawny-barred Angle, Pebble Prominent, Lesser Swallow Prominent and 2 Great Prominents. None of these were new to me but there was one new moth I was particularly hoping to find after seeing Keiran's photo of one recently. I could easily have missed it as it didn't come down to the sheet, but scouring the trunks I came across one in full camouflage, a Grey Birch.

Another heath produced my earliest ever churring Nightjar. Not much at home after all this - my first Scorched Carpet of the year was best.

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White-bodied Midget Phyllonorycter joannisi (left) and Scarce Oak Midget Phyllonorycter kuhlweiniella (right), Bittering, 4th May

 

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Scarce Oak Midget Phyllonorycter kuhlweiniella (left) and Rowan Midget Phyllonorycter sorbi (right), Creaking Gate Lake, 4th May

 

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Rabbit, Creaking Gate Lake, 4th May - the sandy-coloured bunny remains but I haven't seen its long-eared black-and-white friend for a while

 

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Grey Birch (left) and Chocolate-tip (right), Cawston Heath, 4th May

 

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Scalloped Hook-tip (left) and Tawny-barred Angle (right), Cawston Heath, 4th May

 

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Black-speckled Groundling Carpatolechia proximella (left) and Grey Birch Button Acleris logiana (right), Cawston Heath, 4th May

 

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Pale Oak Midgets Phyllonorycter heegeriella (right), Cawston Heath, 4th May

 

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Birch Mocha (left) and Dark-barred Tortrix Syndemis musculana (right), Cawston Heath, 4th May

 

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Pebble Prominent, Cawston Heath (left) and Scorched Carpet, Bawdeswell (right), 4th May

 

Saturday 3rd May

Another trip to Burnham Overy, this time with my brother and our wives. We started late and didn't give it as long as two of us would have liked but still managed a few interesting observations, inlcuding Peregrine, 3 Velvet Scoters, 5 sigthings of Spoonbills, 2 Barnacle Geese and one remaining Ring Ouzel. There were at least 30 Little Terns present, a good deal more than I've seen up to now. Butterflies included several Wall Browns and moths included 2 Yellow Belles among the Cinnabars.

This evening was the first Norfolk Moth Survey event for the year, a larval hunt and moth trapping session at Weston Park. I don't think I was the only one looking harder for dusk-flying moths than their larvae but with clear skies the temperatures were falling fast and they weren't playing ball. Someone found a Sulphur Tubic Esperia sulphurella, a new moth for me. Among the larvae perhaps the most interesting were 4 Orange Sallows on the trunk of a large lime tree. Not many moths came to the lights, but enough to make it worthwhile - the highlights were Maiden's Blush, Spruce Carpet, Ochreous Pug, 2 Great Prominents and Muslin Moth. I was surprised that the Great Proms were new for one experienced moth-er, but I expect he was equally surprised that the Muslin Moth was new for me!

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Spoonbill, Burnham Overy, 3rd May

 

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Muslin Moth, Weston Park, 3rd May

 

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Muslin Moth, Weston Park, 3rd May

 

Thursday 1st May

Another day off so another morning at Burnham Overy. There were notably fewer grounded migrants compared to Tuesday, with Wheatears down to 11, Whimbrels 5, for example. There were still 2 Ring Ouzels by the staithe and 2 more in the dunes included a new bird. A few other common migrants were new too but there weren't many of them. Viz Mig was in progress, but not the typical early May arrival of southern birds - it consisted mainly of gulls (especially Herring) and Gannets! A ringtail Hen Harrier may have been the bird that's been seen intermittently for a while and a Velvet Scoter added to the wintry feel (along with plenty of Fieldfare still present)

A Grasshopper Warbler was reeling from the reedy pool first thing and other birds of note included 2-3 Mediterranean Gulls, a Spoonbill and a nice drake Pintail in the reedy pool.

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Hen Harrier (left) and Meadow Pipit (right), Burnham Overy, 1st May

 

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