Sunday, 30 September 2012

Out and about

Very little time this weekend so just some short visits to the patch. Mipits dominated and are now moving in good numbers. A few Skylarks and small groups of Siskins livened things up a bit but the mega Sibe must have been lurking unseen. Ringed Plover was a sad addition to a paultry year list!

There was a lot more insect action than in the last few weeks mostly on the Ivy:

Colletes hederae - very late out this year?
Leycesteria formosa - Himalayan Honeysuckle

Curry Moor - Premier birding site!

It doesn't look like much and is very very underwatched but Curry Moor (my old Somerset patch) has produced the goods again, this time with a Lesser Yellowlegs! Unfortunately, I have not been able to get up to see it.....

For an inland site, the list of rarities is quite impressive (and possibly unique for an inland site?):

Tundra Swan
Black-throated Thrush
Ring-necked Duck
Black-winged Stilt
White Stork
Lesser Yellowlegs

On the bad days it can be soul destroying like any patch but that list proves that it is at least worth looking at regularly.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Pentillie Bioblitz

On Saturday I had been invited to a Bioblitz at Pentillie Castle near Saltash. Apparently, I was the only birder available! Not a huge number of people wanted to make the trek down to the quay to see some birds when there were moths, Dormice and reptiles just by the car park. Fine by me as I got to do something I haven't been able to do in ages - sit on my arse and quietly watch an area for three hours! Nothing startling but 5+ Common Sands, a Teal, a Peregrine and plenty of Buzzards and Ravens were nice. The moth traps also held two ticks (Dark Sword Grass and Orange Sallow) and more importantly, lots of moths that I identified exactly the same as the experts!

My view

The bathing hut - people were actually swimming....

One the commonest species

The "castle"

Friday, 21 September 2012

In the pink....

Another pretty new moth amongst the measly fare (and numbers) of Large and Lesser Yellow Underwings, Setaceous Hebrew Characters and Common Marbled Carpets - Pink Barred Sallow

Despite this being quite striking, it took a long time to find in the book as it was very very small compared to the (life size) illustrations - confirmation or otherwise greatly received.

The great bit about my job is that it is really undefined. Being a biochemist means that almost everything I do can be related to any living organism. I do tend to take advantage of this where possible as I am meant to be teaching Biomedical subjects. The chance to get out and look at some more interesting stuff is too attractive to give up easily! Thus, as part of the induction week for the new students, I organised some activities at Mt Edgcumbe in Cornwall to keep them amused. These were based around the OPAL surveys and included looking at Lichens, leaf litter inverts, aquatic inverts and worms. These surveys are designed for the general public and are easy and fun. If you haven't done one, I encourage you to do so. Why? Because you can contribute to a massive data set on water, air, soil or hedge quality that scientists could not do on their own. Have a look at the website for more details and to order a survey pack or to look at your local data - they are great for keeping children entertained as well!

Having asked a massive favour from OPAL to give me all of the survey packs, I find myself doing a Bioblitz at Pentillie Castle in Cornwall tomorrow - tough life!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Everything's Rosy

A new moth from last night - Rosy Rustic

Also, this large Hoverfly - anyone any ideas on what it might be?

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Back to life, back to reality

Back to the here and now. As there was very little in the way of bird excitement today, here are some moths and some plants!

Trapping has been pretty unspectacular but there have been a couple of new species:

Large Ranunculus

Frosted Orange (a moth not an ice cream)
And some plants:

Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)
Sea Aster (Aster tripolium)
Vipers Bugloss?
An apparently important event of the week

Scared of DNA

Normal service resumed after returning from the Azores - nothing to write home/blog about on the last couple of days bar some excellent food, Caipirinhas and very little sleep! Head down till Xmas now!

Anyway, I had been landed with organising our bit of the annual Science and Technology Showcase event on the Hoe this year which was on Tuesday. To amuse the school children, one of the activities that we did was extraction of DNA from a Banana. The children loved it but some of the older members of the public who attended didn't. Some of them seemed angry and confused as to why we might want to isolate DNA and a few seemed scared!

This summary of some research reported in the Pittsburg Post Gazette (although it was in America) might point to the fact that ignorance is the problem!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Another Azores update

Last full day tomorrow before coming back on Saturday and seething slightly that I have managed to miss three patch ticks while here!!! If anyone is interested in what I am doing here, I am blogging on our Biological Sciences blog.

Still not having too much time for birding and the species diversity is also really low. The last few days have been mostly dealing with plants and lab work. Glances out to sea have revealed plenty of distant Corys and lots of Common Terns as well as Azorean Gulls.

Island Canary

Lots of endemic subspecies too:

Fringilla coelebs moreletti - bad photo - you get the idea!

Motacilla cinerea patriciae

Columba palumbus azorica

A trip to Pico da Vara also yielded 6-7 Azores Bullfinch but I didn't manage a photo although a colleague did (Grrrr). We were monitoring a reforestation project for the Bullfinch.

Laurisilva forest regeneration project that we were monitoring
Azores Bullfinch (Photo - John Moody)

Plenty of good insects too including the island endemic Grayling.

Sao Miguel Grayling (Hipparchia miguelensis)
Unknown Moth - Something like a Gothic?

Unknown moth

Only pumillio - didn't get time to look for hastata

As I said, most of the last few days have been concentrating on plants - Here are some endemics and invasives.

Laurus azorica

Juniperus brevifolius

Vaccinium cylindraceum

Ilex perado

Erica azorica
Hedychium gardneranium - Invasive Ginger Lily

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Azores Update

Hectic couple of days (work not birding unfortunately) so little to report.

Goldcrest (Sao Miguel race)
Iron rich biofilms

Lesser Yellowlegs at the Uni Campus