With the enforced lockdown (which we Peglers are more than happy to abide by) due to Covid-19, this blog is going to take on a somewhat different look for the foreseeable future. It's my intention to post on a weekly basis with my day-by-day garden wildlife sightings. Initially, I also intend to do a bit of a catch-up with some of my other garden sightings since we returned from the Isles of Scilly on 16th April, and went straight into lockdown. Whether I manage to stick to this intention remains to be seen!
And just in case anyone thinks that the Week 17 refers to week 17 of lockdown, it doesn't - it's the internationally recognised calendar designation of weeks, and the basis of my wildlife recordings.
Monday, 20th April
Just 13 species of bird put a foot down in our garden (I don't record fly-overs), with nothing particularly exciting being seen. This is par for the course in late-spring, with numbers in winter usually around the 20 mark.
Butterflies included a Small White, and an Orange-tip.
|Small White (Pieris rapae) - garden on 20/04/2020|
A solitary Grey Squirrel graced us with its presence that day.
That night, Elon Musk's Starlink satellites were due to pass overhead at around 22h00. Lindsay and I went outside to look for them but failed, in spite of it being a totally clear night. However, by torch light, I did spot this spider. It's a poor photo, not helped by the fact that I'd dialed an exposure compensation of -5 (!) into the camera in anticipation of photographing Starlink and had to apply massive correction afterwards, but I think it's a Rabbit Hutch Spider.
|possible Rabbit Hutch Spider (Steatoda bipunctata) - garden on 20/04/2020|
Tuesday, 21st April
The number of bird species was down to just 12 - again with nothing remarkable.
We had 2 butterfly species visit:- Small White and Green-veined White.
|Green-veined White (Pieris napi) - garden on 21/04/2020|
Wednesday, 22nd April
Just 12 bird species once more.
The 3 butterfly species were Green-veined White, Small White, and our first Large White for the year.
The Grey Squirrel was back again
No photos this day
Thursday, 23rd April
The garden trail cams revealed an overnight visit by our first Hedgehog for a few days (we had been getting up to three a night, but numbers suddenly dropped a couple of weeks ago).
We also had a rare visit by a Red Fox.
Birds in the garden were up slightly to 14 species. Here are a few:-
|House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) (male) - garden on 23/04/2020|
|House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) (female) - garden on 23/04/2020|
|Dunnock (Prunella modularis) - garden on 23/04/2020|
|Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) - garden on 23/04/2020|
Butterflies were Orange-tip and Small White, but not photographed.
I did take a quick shot of 'nothing', just to check the camera settings before I started, and decided to keep the image which is of bluebells - sadly, not the English Bluebell but an introduced foreign species/cultivar.
|Bluebells - garden on 23/04/2020|
That night I put out the moth trap, and caught just 3 moths of 3 species - and two of the three were from the outside of the trap! I was surprised that one of these was a Cinnabar - sadly a bit tatty. My thanks to @MothIDUK for the ID on the pug.
|Bright-line Brown-eye (Lacanobia oleracea) - garden moth trap on 23/04/2020|
|Cinnabar (Tyria jacobaeae) - garden moth trap on 23/04/2020|
|Oak-tree Pug (Eupithecia dodoneata) - garden moth trap on 23/04/2020|
Friday, 24th April
We managed 15 bird species this day, although nothing remarkable was seen, and no bird photos taken.
We had three butterfly species, being Peacock, Small White(2), and Orange Tip.
|Orange-tip (Anthocharis cardamines) (male) - garden on 24/04/2020|
I was also attempting to photograph other insects. This bee was difficult to photograph.
|Hairy-footed Flower Bee (Anthophora plumipes)|
I was rather pleased with the photo of this St. Mark's Fly.
|St. Mark's Fly (Bibio marci) - garden on 24/04/2020|
I'd been pondering for some time about my moth trap. I often find as many moths outside, or on, the trap as I do inside it - and I suspect that there would have been many more outside if the local Robin hadn't plundered the surrounds. It's structurally all clear plastic, and I've been wondering if it would be more productive if the collecting box was painted black. As the light cover is also clear plastic, I've been finding the occasional moth sitting on that.
I usually limit myself to once a week for the trap, mainly for the sake of the moths, but also to save my time! However, with a very low catch the previous night I decided to experiment as weather conditions were predicted to be similar. I made temporary modifications by wrapping black plastic round the outside of the box and covering the clear top of the light unit with reflective foil in the hope that this would reflect more light down onto the collecting vanes (the idea is that the moths bump into the vanes and drop down through the funnel into the box where they have a nice bed of egg-box sheets to rest in) rather than attract them to the top where they'd sit until flying off again.
It seemed to work in that I only found one moth outside the box, and there were six moths inside the box. The total was 7 moths of 4 species. I'm only showing one of the three Early Grey as they were all very similar. However, I'm showing both of the Shuttle-shaped Dart as there is considerable colour variation between the two. Sadly, the last two specimens I'm showing were a bit the worse for wear. Confession time! When I first trapped an Early Grey and looked it up in the field-guide, I misread the name - for several months I had it as an Earl Grey. Lindsay and I even had discussions as to what other moth species might be named after teas!
|Early Grey (Xylocampa areola) - garden moth trap on 24/04/2020|
|Shuttlle-shaped Dart (Agrotis puta) garden moth trap on 24/04/2020|
|Light-brown Apple-moth (Epiphyas postvittana) (female) - garden moth trap on 24/04/2020|
|Brindled Beauty (Lycia hirtaria) (male) - garden moth trap on 24/04/2020|
We had a return visit from a Hedgehog in the early hours.
Bird species were back down again, with just 13 species. We did have some excitement, however, in the form of our first 2020-fledged bird of the year - a Robin that was already full of attitude, and showing its first red feather on its breast. I must try and photograph it as it has become a regular visitor.
Only one butterfly was noted that day - a male Orange-tip.
That night, I broke my 'once per week' rule yet again as I wanted to see what would happen if I put the moth trap over on the other side of the garden. It resulted in 9 moths of 8 species, of which only Light-brown Apple-moth and Brindled Beauty were repeats of the previous night's catch - the latter unfortunately being a re-trap of the same specimen. Muslin Moth, Brindled Pug, and Powdered Quaker were all 'garden lifers', although not at all rare.
While I was photographing the Bee-fly, this spider crept out onto the wall beside me. I have absolutely no idea of the species, and would welcome any suggestions.
Just over a week later, this was my first shieldbug of the year. As it was final instar, I expect that it had over-wintered.
The next day I photographed this Red Mason Bee that was high up on the wall of the house.
OK, so not wildlife, but I couldn't resist a shot of the moon that night.
A few days later, I took this shot of a hoverfly in flight.
Two days later, I was in the garden with the camera once more. This spider was tiny - the 'cannonball' that is sitting on is an Ivy berry about 6mm (quarter inch) in diameter. I have no idea what species it was, and help would be welcome.
This hoverfly was also one of the smaller species.
I have no idea what species this bee is. I think that these two shots are probably of the same specimen.
The next day I was out with the spiders on the Ivy berries again.
That brings me to the end of this rather long blog post. Looking at the weather forecast, I suspect that next week's report will be rather shorter, so I will probably add butterflies as the subject of the catch-up.
Thank you for dropping by. Take great care, and stay safe in these difficult times.
|Garden Carpet (Xanthorhoe fluctuata) - garden moth trap on 25/04/2020 (1 of 2)|
|Pale Prominent (Pterostoma palpina) - garden moth trap on 25/04/2020|
|Muslin Moth (Diaphora mendica) (male) - garden moth trap on 25/04/2020|
|Powdered Quaker (Orthosia gracilis) - garden moth trap on 25/04/2020|
|March Moth (Alsophila aescularia) - garden moth trap on 25/04/2020|
|Light-brown Apple-moth (Epiphyas postvittana) (female) - garden moth trap on 25/04/2020|
|Brindled Pug (Eupithecia abbreviata) - garden moth trap on 25/04/2020|
Sunday, 26th April
This day we had 15 species of bird visit the garden. One of them - a Dunnock - has taken to spending much of the day probing for food round the moss on a garden wall. It seems to have become a daily ritual.
|Dunnock (Prunella modularis) - garden on 26/04/2020|
Only one butterfly was seen, but it did pose nicely for me - eventually!! Here she is, ovipositing.
|Green-veined White (Pieris napi) (ovipositing) - garden on 26/04/2020|
That ends the round-up for the week. We ended with just 15 species of bird and 5 species of butterfly for the week.
OTHER INSECTS & SPIDERS - 16th March to 19th April, 2020
Moths and butterflies for the period have been left for later posts. Here are some of the other insects and spiders that were seen during the period
The Dark-edged Bee-fly is an insect that I first noticed in the garden last year. This year they have been plentiful. That long proboscis looks quite formidable, but is purely for collecting food! I think that they're really cute.
|Dark-edged Bee-fly (Bombylius major) - garden on 27/03/2020|
|spider sp. - our garden on 27/03/2020|
|Common Green Shieldbug (Palomena prasina) (adult) - garden on 06/04/2020|
|Red Mason Bee (Osmia bicornis) (male) - garden on 07/04/2020|
|the Moon - from the garden on 07/04/2020|
|Cheilosia grossa - our garden on 12/04/2020|
|spider sp. - our garden on 14/04/2020|
|Eupodes luniger - our garden on 14/04/2020|
|bee sp. - our garden on 14/04/2020|
|spider sp. - our garden on 15/04/2020|
Thank you for dropping by. Take great care, and stay safe in these difficult times.