1 Jul 14

Priorslee Lake: 4:25am – 5:55am // 7:05am – 8:42am

10.0°C > 15.5°C. clear and hazy; calm with lightest of SE breeze later: good visibility.

(68th visit of the year)

Small numbers of Black-headed Gulls coming and going, with at most 8 together. All those seen well full adults.
First Kingfisher post-breeding: shot down the line of the Wesley Brook alongside Teece Drive.
More Reed Warblers singing today with two in different locations – birds about to start 2nd broods?
Garden Warbler not noted today either.
First Meadow Brown butterfly of the year.
First Small Tortoiseshell butterfly at this site.
Very many Ringlet butterflies today: also a Speckled Wood.
Clouded Border moth noted: new for the year
Very worn carpet moth on lamps likely a July Highflyer moth: to be confirmed.
Several of the flushed grass-moths were Common Grass-veneers (Agriphila tristella) but not all examined in detail.
Straw Dot moth flushed from the grass: also new for the year2 species of ladybird: one 7-spot; the other to be identified.
Hawker-type dragonfly seen in flight only: otherwise the expected damselfly species only.
2 moths in the tunnel under Priorslee Avenue: one of these the same Willow Beauty moth; the other a Small Dusty Wave.

1 +1 (1 brood) Great Crested Grebes
2 Grey Herons
2 + 1 Swans
17 (14) Mallard
3 + 1 (1 brood) Moorhens
32 + 22 (10 broods) Coots
c.20 Black-headed Gulls
2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls
c.10 Common Swifts
4 (4) Song Thrushes
8 (7) Reed Warbler
3 (2) Common Whitethroat
15 (12) Blackcaps again
6 (5) Chiffchaffs
Corvid roost dispersal: 255 Jackdaws and 180 Rooks
1 (1) Reed Buntings

A calm and slightly hazy start to the day ....

With the customary ‘burning bush’ – if you stand in the right place.

Fast disappearing out of the shot this Rook is in wing-moult with both inner primaries and outer secondaries re-growing. It is carrying food in its bill which somewhat disguises the conical-shape bill that it uses to poke in to grass to get to grubs and which separates this species from the crows which have bills designed to tear apart carrion – dead things.

There are almost no obvious markings on this moth specimen but on wing-shape, time of year and relative abundance the most likely species is July Highflyer.

A rather scruffy-looking Robin. While they are moulting like this they have no wish to be seen by other Robins before they feel bold-enough to defend their winter feeding territory and you may well have noticed that even Robins are almost silent at the moment.

Looking closely at this photo this moth is not a Willow Beauty as I thought at the time. I suspect it is a rather similar species – Mottled Beauty. The almost orangey tone is, I think, due to the early morning sun shining through from the other side of the street light!

Perhaps the most common of the grass-moths, this is Chrysoteuchia culmella (or Garden Grass-veneer) resting on grass.

Well: I like flies anyway. But I have no idea how to identify most of them, this one included. Whatever it has clearly been around a while – just look at the wear / damage on the wing-edges.

This is easier: it is a Greenbottle (Lucilia caesar).

This is a rather bizarre creature and I cannot recall seeing anything like it. It seems that it is a tachinid fly, probably Tachina grossa. If so then the females lay their eggs on caterpillars, especially hairy caterpillars like those of the Oak Eggar moth. When the eggs hatch they eat their way out of the still living caterpillar. Nature can be very unpleasant.

As hinted yesterday here are the underwings of a Ringlet butterfly showing why it is so-named.

A freshly-emerged Small Tortoiseshell butterfly with all the blue markings along the wing-edges intact. Clubbed antenna as well-shown here means that this is a butterfly: all other shaped antenna mean it is considered a moth. Most, but not all. moths fly at night. Butterflies only fly at night when they are migrating and cannot find anywhere suitable to rest.

These frothy white flower head belong to Meadowsweet / Mead Wort (Filipendula ulmaria).

A detail of the Meadowsweet flower head (complete with a fly to give scale!).

This Giant Willowherb (Epilobium hirsutum) with 4 petals and the characteristic 4 white lobes on the stigma.

Not too hard to identify this ladybird – 7-spot Ladybird (Coccinella 7-punctata).

This much smaller ladybird is more of a puzzle: it seems likely it is the rather variable 14-spot Ladybird (Propylea 14-punctata) (the people who gave ladybirds their scientific names seem not to have been very inventive). It is a common insect but its small size means it is easy to overlook. Like all ladybirds is a gardener’s friend as it eats aphids.

A casual glance at part of this moth would like result in a predator thinking ‘fallen petal’ or ‘bird-dropping’. A full-on view shows otherwise. This is an attractive Clouded Border moth.

Can’t do much about the unfortunate shadow across the left wings, but my first Meadow Brown of the year. Easy to confuse with Gatekeeper though that is slightly small, has more extensive orangey marks on the forewing and had a pair of white dots on each forewing. Both species will be flying for much of the summer now.

This moth is this is a Straw Dot moth

The business-end of a hoverfly gets to work on the flowers of an umbellifer – a family of plants that are very important for all nectar-loving insects. It is Eristalis tenax.

Butterflies in unusual positions can be confusing: who would immediately identify this as nothing more than a Speckled Wood on this underside view?

(Ed Wilson)


Priorslee Flash: 6:05am – 6:55am

(58th visit of the year)

Still unable to confirm number of juvenile Great Crested Grebes.
Additional earlier brood of 6 Mallard ducklings noted today.
One of the Coot broods seemed to be of 5 well-grown birds – problem is I have not noted this sized brood before!
Persistently singing Willow Tit in the copse by the surgery was my first at this site this year – bird dispersing post-breeding from the lake?
Willow Beauty moth on lamps.

2 + 1 Great Crested Grebes
2 Swans
83 Greylag Geese
1 Cackling Goose
219 Canada Geese
[the all-white feral goose not seen]
16 (11) + 11 (2 broods) Mallard
[again neither feral Mallard-type ducks noted]
7 (7) Tufted Ducks
1 Grey Heron
1 + 1 (1 brood) Moorhen
12 +8 (2 broods) Coots
6 Common Swifts
4 House Martin
3 (3) Blackcaps
3 (3) Chiffchaffs

A study of a Grey Heron taking the morning sun. 

(Ed Wilson)