The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Monday, 14 July 2014

Morden we were Expecting

In terms of proper Portland birding, I've just been restricted to a few short walks in the Barleycrates and Suckthumb area, with not a great deal to be seen.

On one day, every flower was swarming with hoverflies, mostly Episurphus balteatus.

But not all made it out alive.  Misumenia vatia, the Common Crab Spider (or White Death) laid in wait.

On an Apple tree in Barleycrates Lane I came across these large unidentified moth eggs, possibly of one of the larger species such as Oak Eggar.

But, also on the same tree was this fantastic Chinese Character caterpillar, the first of these I've seen.

Later, a walk at Tout Quarry produced this unidentified caterpillar on Viper's-bugloss.  These green caterpillars could be any number of things!

On Friday night, I joined a few members of the Dorset Moth Group in moth trapping at the wonderful Morden Bog reserve near Wareham.  I'd never been there before, and I have to say it looked really nice, most like my beloved Thursley Common back in Surrey.

We set up seven traps, although it wasn't easy getting to them on the bog with no wellies! Once started we were soon seeing quality moths coming in.  The first of an incredible six lifers was this well-named Beautiful Brocade.

And I netted the scarce micro, Biselachista albidella.

At least two Rosy Wave were about, another rare species.

I potted a Highflyer sp., which I wrongly assumed to be a May.  The next morning it was confirmed as the new for me, Ruddy Highflyer.  Also at this time, the ultra-rare Dingy Mocha was found in a trap, just before I had to leave.

There was even plenty of quality amongst the species that weren't lifers, with the likes of Plain Wave, Dotted Border Wave, Silver Hook, and this worn Purple-bordered Gold.

But, about halfway through the night, I netted a moth by one of the traps that looked promising for the species that had brought us here in the first place.

Indeed it was, a fabulous Reed Leopard, which only occurs here and at one or two sites in Norfolk.  A second was later found in a trap.  Phwoar, look at that abdomen!

I fell asleep in my car to the sound of churring Nightjar.

On Saturday evening, I did my usual Little Tern wardening shift. 

They continued to be harassed by a male Kestrel, but the hard work of the entire wardening team have meant a minimum of 30 fledglings as I write, still with 30 odd chicks to go.

Unlike with my other stints, this evening I spent most of the time down by the shoreline, where I got amazing views of all the action.




And finally, whenever you're down there, keep an eye out for the rare Siamese twins!

I did another mothing event yesterday morning, as I took a look through the traps at Lankham Bottom Butterfly Conservation reserve.  Not a great deal to shout about, but the likes of Shark, Reddish Light Arches, Ghost Moth, and Plain Golden Y (a lifer) were notable.

I'm determined to get out early birding soon.  Will I be able to tear myself away from my bed tomorrow?

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