Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Bathroom drama

These eggs were laid a few days ago, I think the spider is Tegenaria domestica (a small Teg)?? The spider has been identified for me as Zygiella x-notata (the English name is odd, Missing Sector Orb-web spider). The female hung around the eggs for a day or so and then disappeared up the wall and away. This evening I noticed something was taking an interest in the eggs. It looked to me as if the ovipositor was probing the nest. If I'm correct this is an interesting relationship, the adult would find the wasp a prey sized item, however, the parasite may well be gaining the upper hand! I'm hoping that identifying the spider correctly might lead to identifying the wasp? Any ideas on the spider ID very welcome - thanks to LJ for ID.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Deerness visit

I don't often go birding east but the Deerness peninsular can be very good for migrants and Sandside Bay is quite a hotspot with a quality list of migrants recorded there. However, yesterday there were Swallows and a Chiffchaff.


Along the way at East Denwick Plantation there were hundreds of larvae of Striped Alder Sawfly.

Hemichroa crocea

Saturday, 2 September 2017


That moment when you lift the egg tray (or bit of egg tray) out of the trap and you glimpse something special is brilliant. It doesn't happen often, but when it does it's the thing that keeps you going through the tangled cables, the temperamental electrics, the escapees that must have been special and the midge bites and stinging nettle burns. So today was a good day, third trap, last but one egg tray and.... drum roll - Great Brocade.

Great Brocade

I've only caught this species once before here. A migrant with a supporting cast of two Dark Sword-grass.

Dark Sword-grass.

Other than the GB there were a good few other NFY this morning with Setaceous Hebrew Character, Ear agg (I've kept this to dissect out) and Small Wainscot.

 Small Wainscot

Setaceous Hebrew Character
(The Ear doesn't want to upload.)

There was also a nice selection of micros with Acleris rhombana, Acleris variegana and Acleris sparsana, all species I like to see.

 Acleris rhombana

On the avian front all rather quiet just the first Goldcrest of the autumn in the garden, a few Robins and at Palace the usual wader selection and resident Whooper. (Except for the warbler that bobbed up in front of me in the garden for a second and then disappeared - unstreaked Accro maybe.)

Shed, Palace.

Lastly a Psychodidae (90 odd species swines to ID) was in the kitchen this evening. It posed nicely, only 5mm or so wing tip to wing tip.

More lastly; after an exciting and unexpected trip to Kirkwall yesterday afternoon, after work, to deliver the forgotten driving license, elder daughter passed her Theory Test, just the practical to go then.

Sunday, 27 August 2017


The midge situation in the garden is such that emptying the moth traps is farcical. It is currently not possible to carry out counts of common species, there is just no time for that before the hapless counter (that would be me) is enshrouded in a cloak of tiny biting demons.The greenhouse is no longer a safe haven, indeed, being in an enclosed space, unable to move away, it has become more like a torture chamber. So today a new tactic, egg box in hand, coat on, hood up, hat smeared in repellent, I walk around the garden trying to identify the moths. Photography and note taking on the hoof.

On the outside of the trap today a new moth, one I think that may be NFM, certainly NFG, Small Autumnal Moth.

 Small Autumnal Moth

A NFY today were two specimens of Haworth's Minor.

Haworth's Minor

Today's triumph (perhaps, it will need confirmation) might be this Trypeta zoe, not listed on the NBN for Orkney, so maybe a first for county. Whatever, a smart wee beast.

Male Trypeta zoe, I think

The trap also contained two Pink-barred Sallow, and the usual suspects.

Pink-barred Sallow

We went over to Deerness and managed to dip on both the pod of Risso's Dolphin and the four Pec Sands (being too lazy to walk over to the pool). At home though a nice male Hen Harrier showed from the kitchen, much to the delight of our visitors, and there were four Ruff in the fields below the house. Later there were three Ruff at Marwick and Hen Harriers, a Shortie, a Greenshank and Water Rails at The Loons.

 Hen Harrier

Deerness produced many hoverflies, the Rosa rugosa at Denwick being covered in a species that I am yet to identify. There was an Eristalis intricaria as well as more common things. 

Common Carder I think

Although this one looks like Moss Carder, I think it is actually Bombus pasquorum, there are a few black hairs on the abdomen.

Scathophaga stercoraria, common as muck but attractive none-the-less.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Lemke's Gold Spot I hope....

Whilst I was on my hols in Arran a NFM moth was Lemke's Gold Spot, I was really delighted to see this species and to be able to work out the ID for myself. Trapping the other night, first run with my new LED light in the Robinson and on the very last egg tray...

I'm pretty sure this ticks all the boxes but I have sent it to the CR for final judgement.

All the traps are out tonight, here's the LED in action, it is amazingly dim so would be good in a built up area but seems pretty effective.

The Hoy High lighthouse (actually on Graemsay) is the light in the distance.

Also new for the year was Barred Yellow, a lovely moth (but it flew off too sharpish) and Rosy Rustic.

Rosy Rustic

Numbers of Square-spot Rustic are starting to build up now and Small Square-spot and Ingrailed Clay declining.

Square-spot Rustic

I've been catching a lot of these Eudonia alpina recently, an attractive micro, and a little tricky sometimes from E. angusta (CR has been very helpful with these).

Eudonia alpina

A 1cy male Crossbill has appeared in the garden and like last year's is very tame and likes Niger seed. It uses its tongue to extract the seeds from the tiny hole in the feeder.

Also recently a Greenshank at Evie but not much else doing.

The fridge is again full of tubes as I've been sweep netting through our meadow again... insects = 15 minutes in the field and three days trying to identify the blighters.

Exam results day has passed and elder daughter is largely very happy. Far too stressful the whole malarkey if you ask me, and that's just for the parents, let alone the students.

The Honda's mystery ailment may well have been diagnosed, although I'll be towing briefly tomorrow with  still a possibility of stop/go behaviour. It's days may be numbered, I think our patience is wearing thin, to say nothing of the bank balance, 102,000 miles though. It is the annual Dounby Show and the day will be spent encouraging younger daughter and ponies. I somehow think I may avoid the Stereo Lobsters in the evening though, it tends to be an alcohol fueled event.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Buddlia nectaring

Loads of moths on the Buddlia tonight including: Large Yellow Underwing (100+), Silver-Y (probably worn Beautiful Golden Y(4), Dotted Clay, Square-spot Rustic, Snout, Dark Arches, Eudonia alpina and possibly another Eudonia (in a pot). Also Scoparia subfusca buzzing around the actinic and a likely Agriphila tristella around this computer screen (got away).

 Large Yellow Underwing

 Square-spot Rustic

Silver-Y  Most likely a worn Beautiful Golden Y, see comments below.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Shapinsay day

Popped over to Shapinsay on Wednesday and walked about; it would be better by bike. However, we had a nice tramp round, a bit of insecting and a decent late lunch in the cafe.

 Grey Heron.

 Black tangles (Tangles = Orkney word for seaweed).

 Tree Wasp, I was especially pleased with these, a county tick at least.


 Back in Kirkwall at the car park by the police station, nectaring Starling.