Sunday 29 November 2020

Nine moths trapped, end of November!

I don't often run the traps at all this late in the year but it was warm and still. Put the Heath actinic in its usual back garden spot and the synergetic against the wall of the house. It was already well dark when I put them out as I didn't get in from work, bit of shopping and sorting the pony until nearly 6. Patrolling with the head torch and tubes a couple of hours later and there were moths. One on the wall by the synergetic and as many as six around the actinic or on it. Better still they were new for site Mottled Umber.

Mottled Umber - one smart beastie.

Later evening, watching "I'm Thinking of Ending Things", but after half an hour or so it started playing with our heads, I'll watch the rest another time. Anyway, M and I much enjoyed the next Small Axe film "Lover's Rock". Still references the racism of the time but not as heavy duty as Mangrove, which was depressing, in reminding how deeply institutionalised the racism was (and actually still is, just slightly subtler).

When I emptied the traps in the morning there were four Mottled Umber outside and four inside the actinic and one outside the synergetic. So a total of at least nine, more like 12 or so I suspect counting all those on the trees and flying the previous evening. All males, I'd like to see a female, they look smart (in the illustrations).

I think this larva might be Nebria brevicollis, I'll ask anyway. Out of one of the pitfalls.

Carabid larva, I think, Nebria brevicollis maybe.
 In the morning it was the lockdown bird race again. Not being locked down I got distracted after a bit but 40 species from the garden wasn't bad. Included Goosander x2, Slavonian Grebe and a distant few Stonechats. The Goldcrest in the Hawthorn Hedge was somewhat out of range and Little Grebe, Jackdaw, Hen Harrier, Shoveler, Gadwall and a few other bits and bats decided to hide for the morning.

Note the Shelduck, that's two months early, at least.

One reason for the distraction was Postie brought the new (actually 2nd hand) lens. Off to the coast with M. Tramped up Marwick. Light was pretty awful. The best shot was with the amazing 12-45 Pro but I got an idea of what the 100 - 300 could do.

Fulmar in front of the Kitchener Memorial, Marwick.

Fulmar and wave, 100 - 300.

Dusk from home.

We watched Blinded by the Light, a bit cringe/corny but it makes its point and of course the music is tremendous (if you like The Boss).

Light was grim Sunday morning but better at Northside. Trying things out.

Fulmars, Skiba Geo.

Skiba Shags. 

Winter sun from the garden.

Also at Skiba Geo, two Common Scoter and three Goldeneye.

So I have an approx two and a half year old Canon GX3 for sale, with eye piece, three batteries (Canon ones), filter holder, filters etc...., on EBay shortly.

Sunday 22 November 2020

Rain, hail, wind, dark, ice later.

 Saturday; ventured out and stung by hail in a strong westerly, absorbed into the deep gloom.

... and I left the bread in the Aga; and I burnt my hand cooking braised cabbage stew. The Small Axe film was mostly deeply gloomy as well.

Sunday, should have got up earlier, but out to The Brough car park for just after nine. Perfect conditions a solid WNW, Fulmars pouring past and steady Great Black-backed Gull passage. Difficult decisions, look with the scope and miss the gulls, look with the bins and miss the stuff further out. There not being an army of scope and bin touting comrades I elected to compromise and do both, this can mean I miss everything of interest. However, the trusty old Zeiss scope with x15 is a reasonable compromise, except the spotting on the inside lenses combines with my aged eye floatters to make things a wee bit trickier. Got the Glaucous Gulls in the first 25 mins with the bins as they sailed through with Geebs along the shore line, I'd have missed them if I'd been using the scope, both 1cys. A bit of luck with the scope and a late Sooty sheared distantly through. Getting the divers to species, a bit tricky as I'm well out of practice, struggling to go from bins to scope. Reasonably secure with the second GND, partial summer plumage, but the first one had hints of Bananabill, views just not good enough. They do go by here at just an awkward distance. Anyway the hour concluded and I'd got four Brents to go with the rest. The dog needed a walk. Better for gulls out of the car as can see well in every direction, buffeted about though, using the scope was tricky even in the sheltered gullies. Photographing waves. On the way back a 1cy Ice went by and there was a Goldeneye and a surprising Common Scoter feeding in Skiba Geo.

Iceland Gull, 1cy.

Radio 5 Live, 89th minute we're 1-0 up at Bramall Lane (Haller smashed it into the top  corner) - it's unbearable...... 3 minutes added....

Got there. Definitely a better day.

Geebs going by.

Sunday 15 November 2020 not always successful.

 No moths on Saturday night despite pretty good conditions, I ought to trap tonight really but I've got an early work start tomorrow and stuff to do tonight. Nothing much of interest in the trap but the house walls have yielded some bits and bats with piles of Porcellio spinicornis everywhere. I don't usually see many of these, but then I haven't examined the walls at night at this time of year previously.

Porcellio spinicornis.

Best though were these two weevils.

Otiorhynchus porcatus.

Only found two of these previously, both in the garden this year, smart wee beasts.

Otiorhynchus sulcatus (Vine Weevil).

Common, and a bit of a pest as well but still a good looking animal.

Althoough it was a Large White Butterfly pupa, it was striking looking. Not too well hidden on the Sycamore bough so this was not a surprise, Robin the culprit I suspect.

Large White pupa, RIP.

Woodcock in the garden yesterday. Blackcap again today. The Blackcap was trying to eat the apples on sticks but the territorial Robin would not let him, he'd land on the bamboo cane, get nearly to the apple and the Robin would fly in and chase him off. I've never seen the Robin eat the apples so odd behaviour.

Duck count days this weekend, nothing exceptional. A Chiffchaff (just an ordinary one) near Loch of Sabiston was the most interesting thing.

Watched the SEED Ensemble at the Barbican last night. It was a tribute to Pharoh Sanders, who was 80 yesterday. Amazing musicianship, but somehow much of it didn't work for me, perhaps the lack of audience (English lockdown) threw them off. However, the good thing, it got me listening to the man himself today. The Live in Paris album is well worth a visit plus the top five in the Spotify list. Love is Everywhere is better on the original album version (the list version), checkout 1973 Wisdom Through Music album; that's the song that worked best with SEED I thought (but very different). I'll probably pop along to the Barbican again on Wednesday with Shabaka Hutchings playing with the Britten Sinfonia - Shabaka's clarinet playing was a highlight from last night as he guested with SEED. Intrigued to hear Wednesday's music, might be a tad challenging tho. The Live in Paris Pharoh Sanders album will definitely be finding its way onto the (currently slightly neglected) 104 list (see my pages above).

Tuesday 10 November 2020

Moth trapping in November.

Some years I've put the traps away in early October until March or even April by now, but it's warm. Friday was overcast and still as well. I put out the actinic in its usual spot under the back trees, on the edge of the larger Sycamores. The synergetic was near a pale (it ought to be white) wall of the house also round the back. I patrolled regularly with torch, camera and tubes and investigated the trees as well as the wall and the traps. It was a rewarding evening. I'm still unsure of the id of the several Acleris that were buzzing around and hanging about the actinic (not the synergetic). At first I though they were Acleris variegana but I'm now wondering about hyemana, I'm heading in that direction.

I think this photo nails hyemana with the pointed apex to the fore wing.

The only other moth species was Depressaria radiella one of which found its way into the synergetic trap. (There was a White-shouldered House Moth in the kitchen as well.) 

It was a good night for other things though with an unexpected weevil in the synergetic, Sitona linealis.

Sitona linealis most likely.

Four species of cranefly was a good do, getting a female Tipula pagana nailed that species for the year as the males are apparently a tad tricky to be certain of.

Tipula oleracea, surprisingly, by the eyes nearly touching at the base.

Limonia nubeculosa.

Tipula pagana, female with reduced wings top and likely male below.

Trichocera regelationis.

On the trees at the back I found my specialiity, Oligolophis hanseni, I'm not sure anyone else has recorded these in Orkney, they are likely quite wide spread, I've found them in Binscarth as well as here. It's a matter of going out at night in late autumn with a torch.

Oligolophus hanseni.

This next opilione was on the kitchen window ledge, I haven't got around to identifying it yet, work in progress.

I'm guessing Paroligolophus agrestis but I haven't checked it out, could be miles out.

Porcellio spinicornis on the house wall.

Whalebone, Northside, Birsay.

Evening, from home.

Say something about the US election? Obvious, surely. It was so interesting how the Murdoch press just suddenly abandonned DT. Looks like much of the Republican party followed suit quite soon too. However, I wouldn't count on this being a lasting thing, they can't afford to lose all that MAGA support. Thanks are due to a huge number of people who have knocked on doors and talked for months. This is worth reading -

Sunday 1 November 2020


 Woke up this morning and it was freezing, lights, action, no! Electric, no. Hide under covers hope things improve. 

Last night, it being Halloween, I had to check work a couple of times. The second time I went down there I struggled to get out of the car as the wind was so strong it just blew the door shut. When I did get out it was like cycling up the Angiru (iconic Vuelta race climb) to get to the building.

So the other wonderful news when I woke up was the shed.

At least the window had the decency to fall out into the trailer.

So the day was spent....

A Grey Wag overhead being the only consolation. And there are still some Brambling hanging around.

Anyway by late afternoon some sort of job had been done. Pleased I'd bought some wood and fixing stuff the other week.

More wind forecast for tonight, it's already building. Hope the shed is still there tomorrow morning.

Yesterday I caught a cranefly on the outside of the kitchen window. It was a good opportunity to have a go with the focus stacking system within the Olympus EM5. Had a go at keying the fly out with the Shropshire key, unsuccessfully. I've stuck it on Twitter hopefully. (Tipula pagana, thanks BH.)

Tipula pagana, male (thanks BH).

Watched some interesting films the last few days, Octopus, My Teacher, a wildlife film (of sorts), highly recommended. And The Social Dilemma which has some important info about social media. Follow up info here -