Saturday 29 August 2020

Moth (several) night(s)

 I've trapped for each of the three nights. Thursday's trapping went to work and entertained quite a lot of children who all got to handle moths (if they wanted to) and admire them. This created a degree of excitement (understatement). I do this every now and again and moth night seemed the ideal opportunity. Nothing special in the traps but Pink-barred Sallows and Autumnal Rustic were the nicest looking.

Then I trapped last night for myself, two traps in the garden.

Large Ear seems the most likely ID for this, I'm attempting gendet.

Small Autumnal Moth.

These were both NFY. Some interesting intruders including Melanostoma scalare and Stenophylax permistus (thanks SF).

I seem to have got the hang of the Stenophylax / Micropterna issue thanks to @Riverflies pointing me to some resources. (A bit complicated to get at, but join the FBA and then join the Caddis fly Group within that, the ID resources are under "Ecology" - I'll place a link on the blog, or email me and I'll send a copy). The illustrations in Barnard and Ross drive me nuts. It is such a shame because it could have been such an excellent book. The genitalia illustrations are sometimes very difficult to understand and then all the photos of the forewings are upsidedown. There are just not enough photos of adult animals and those that there are are on the whole not very good. SF and IW are close to publishing their new guide I believe (at least in a beta form), very much eager to get my hands on a copy as I have a fridge full of specimens to ID.

These are all of a male Stenophylax permistus, I'll try and get some better genitalia photos tomorrow.

Limnephilus marmoratus, the commonest caddis here summer and autumn.

Male, Melanostoma scalare.

Excited for the morn as I obtained permission to trap in Finstown, two traps are operating there as I type. Excellent habo so every chance of some new things for me. I'm also running the synergetic down at the Wee Wood tonight.

Rabbits do not come into our back garden, due mostly to our tom cat who really enjoys rabbit for tea. However, this one has been coming for a while and has so far evaded his attentions. It is still growing but not large enough to avoid predation I suspect.


I have not abandonned the 104 page, just having a break and doing a bit of research. I have four or five albums lined up to add. I am realising that it is a bit biased between the 70s and very recently, as I have more access these days to a wider variety of music. So apologies to the 80s, 90s and 00s but those years will be underrepresented. However, unlike SMac I will try to avoid the same artist getting more than one shout (except for Gil Scott-Heron who already has two entries and might be getting three via collaborations with other artists, but why would anyone complain about that?).

This will be album 52 (halfway) one of my favourites ever, and from the 80s too. (also included on the Freakzone list). It so reminds me of warm summer days in rural SE England, a gem.

Sunday 23 August 2020

Wren and Chilian adventive



Chilenocaecilius ornatipennis.

An adventive from Chile / Argentina, found it here last year, loads in the garden today primarily in Ash but willow and honeysuckle too. First found UK 2016.

Acleris emargana/effractana, thanks SS and SG - kept for someone? to do the gendet.

I'm thinking Depressaria daucella but I'm unsure - thanks SS, will get gendet as I think new for county.

I'm thinking this is Ichneumon xanthorius sp (GB, thanks), not xanthorius and despite it likely being new for the county embarking on the id will be a formidable struggle.

Saturday 22 August 2020

Too many tubes

 So I bought 1,000 tubes earlier this year thinking they would last me a long time. I did give away and sell a few but I seem to have got through 400 or so. There are quite a few recycled in my use-again tub, I broke a few, a fair few in pockets, bags, cars etc but the specimen fridge is rather full. A lot of identifying needs to happen at some point.

Gratuitous Fulmar photos.

Insect of the day was Lesser Willow Sawfly, I found a few feeding in... willow.

Euura pavida.

You can see the damage they can do to a plant from the remains of the leaf in the background. They have been recorded in Orkney previously but there are very few records on NBN.

In the garden today Goldcrest, quite early in the year for one. Common Crossbill flew over.

Sunday 9 August 2020


 I've not seen Neowise as it has been overcast to the north every night for more than a month. Thursday night it was clear so, rather than a celebratory GT I headed out to try to see it. It might have been wise to have checked that it was still visible from here (it isn't) so thinking it muct have been behind the one large blob of cloud to the north that seemed immovable I gave up from The Brough and moved on to The Ring.

The Brough of Birsay at night, lighthouse on.

Planets were showing well. Not being practiced at night photography with the Canon (the Nikon P8700 was such an excellent camera in that regard) I couldn't get the shots I wanted with the Moon and the stones. However, this one with Mars is not too bad.

Ring of Brodgar, Mars.

Last night I was being taxi and it was clear again, perfectly. This when a little research found the comet was not visible from here anymore. Mars and the Moon to the east and stunning views of Jupiter with Saturn close by to the south, well worth a look.

More time is being spent on habitat work in the garden, cutting grass now, scraping bare ground to sow collected seeds, especially of Yellow Rattle but also of finer grasses like Sweet Vernal and Crested Dogstail. I'm making daily trips to the fields below and returning with pocketfulls of seeds. I've also been sowing some seed trays, hoping to have some plug plants for the spring.

Anyway whilst on my hands and needs sowing the seeds by opening up bare ground in the turf I came across one of my favourite beetles, the snail hunter, Cychrus caraboides.

Cychrus caraboides.

You really would not want to be a snail faced with that. Interestingly, whilst I was trying to get hold of it in the grass it made a weird sneezing noise. It didn't do that in the pot, but as soon as I put it back in the grass and chased it a bit it made the noise again.

Friday 7 August 2020

Blair's Mocha

Blair's Mocha.

Wednesday night was ideal for light trapping, warm, still and overcast and I set two traps in the garden. 10 p.m. and the Heath trap with synergetic light and car battery are in the wheelbarrow and I'm off down the hill to set up at the Wee Wood, 400 metres away in a small line of trees down the track.

Woke at 4 a.m. on Thursday morning and got the traps closed and in. This involving the wheelbarrow down and up the hill as the first light showed. Then back to bed.

Mid morning on Thursday I started working on the traps sorting through the catches. The back actinic was ok but the front Robinson, also running an actinic light, was a bit of a nightmare with rather a lot of intruders, some egg trays and the middle of the trap were deep in a mass of Diptera and combined with fairly high numbers of Large Yellow Underwings this was an uncomfortable experience.
Robinson trap intruded.
Large Yellow Underwings have an uncanny knack of getting in  your clothes, it is not an entirely pleasant experience. Anyway, there were a few nice things, first Dark Marbled Carpet for the year, a pristine beast, and plenty of interesting looking caddis.

Dark Marbled Carpet.

However, when it came to the trap running the synergetic from the Wee Wood the intruder situation was a tad more annoying. I had an inkling this would be so when I'd closed the trap as the lamp and vanes were covered in (mostly) Limnephilus marmoratus.

Limnephilus marmoratus on the synergetic.

This caddis tends to flap around in the trap and when you get a lot of them they damage the moths and make them restless. On top of this there were huge numbers of Diptera and Large Yellow Underwing in the trap.

On opening the first moth I saw was a damaged Lempke's Gold Spot which made a rapid escape before I could get a camera on it. 


I persevered for a while but it became obvious that as well as being a very uncomfortable experience this was a pretty futile exercise. I removed the egg cartons to a large cardboard box, shaking off most of the caddis and flies.

Time for lunch.

Into the kitchen where daughters had kindly made me something to eat, sat down and then noticed a moth on the kitchen radiator. I scooted over and took a look at it; panic! Camera and collection pots were outside. Rushed out to get these issuing instructions as I went that no one was to go near that moth. Fortunately it was still there when I got back in a minute later and took some rather shakey photos. 

I subsequently learned that Louise had seen this moth much earlier and had forgotten to inform me about it....
Blair's Mocha on the kitchen radiator.
Later in the day the county recorder arrived, confirmed the ID and I learned that this as well as being a first for Orkney was perhaps a first for Scotland. Still a bit stunned.

Wednesday 5 August 2020

A day of four parts, or maybe five, or more.

 Results day. Fortunately younger daughter had elected to receive these electronically, rather than has occurred in the past, us tortuously watching the postie delivering to half of Harray as he headed towards our house. Despite all the furore around this year's results someone's were just fine and her university place to study Anatomical Science was secured. Actually it had been fine anyway as she had missed the email earlier in the week changing her offer to unconditional, but a boost to get the grades.

I went out for a walk with the camera to Birsay Links. There were gulls feeding on the seaweed and piles of Kittiwakes and Eider.

I spent some time identifying things, especially caddis. They are hard, it will be useful when the new book is published as I believe it has good images to aid identification from photos. Certainly there will be species that can't be identified that way but it will be a big help as the current main reference makes it a bit of a struggle. The Croft FSC book is much more friendly but doesn't take many to species.

Rhyacophila dorsalis, with a distinctive diamond shape on its back.

This may be Stenophylax pernistus but the genitalia don't match so I suspect it is the closely related Micropterix lateralis.

This little soldier fly is quite uncommon in much of the UK, I catch it frequently in my light traps Microchrysa cyaneiventris.

Dolichovespula sylvestris, Tree Wasp

There have been wasps in the garden all summer, unusually. Finally I located the nest, in the wall of our house. Pleased to have these around such interesting insects.

Short of some parts.... I think included in another post. I'm writing retrospectively having posted twice since starting this one, life in the holidays can become a bit of a blur...

Better get my act together shortly, back to work.