Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Weekend moth results

The christening of my new Robinson trap at Black Park was a triumph. We had a super-early Poplar Hawkmoth (see weird-shaped moth below), Frosted Green, lots of Longhorns (with the triumphantly long name Nematopogon swammerdamella), Nut-tree Tussock, a yet-to-be-identified Tortrix, and my favourite 3 Great Prominents. We also got very cold.
All of this mothing lark has sparked a few questions. The wonderful Moth Count scheme runs all sorts of FREE moth awareness and training events. If you fancy having a go why not join an event near you. You can find details over at the Moths Count website. You can watch our new moth film over at the BirdGuides website.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

German, PBF's and a Robinson

It's been a busy old week. Yesterday I was visited by lovely Golo Maurer, who is a proper ornithologist, and who recorded lots of species names in flawless German for me. What a star (I have plans to do a German version of iDentify). It all went very well until Heathrow started routing flights too close to the building and we had a bit of a stop-start time of it. Oh and pigeons having noisy sex on the roof. The aforementioned rats with wings have made a nest between my neglected window boxes and the window shutter.I also went and filmed the first Pearl Bordered Fritillary of the year. Hurrah. This is a species that I managed to miss last year, so it's good to get it in the bag. We also managed some more Orange-tip, and lots of ovipositing Bee-flys (Bombylius major). Did you know that Pearl Bordered Fritillaries have blue eyes? No neither did I til I watched the footage back.

So - an exciting parcel arrived for me today. I finally decided to grit my teeth and buy a Robinson moth trap. I'm told it's a bit like buying good binoculars. Initially painful on the pocket but worthwhile in the grand scheme of things. I shall report back after it's christening at the Black Park mothing session on Saturday.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Easter weekend

I'm not very sure where this year is disappearing to so fast! One minute it's Christmas, the next it's Easter Weekend and there are butterflies to be filmed. Or at least there would be if the weather did anything remotely resembling the Radio 4 forecast.

I had (more than a touch of) cabin fever due to too much editing - so stumbled out yesterday afternoon into misty greyness. Grilling of the Met Office radar showed a glimpse of hope - a wee gap in the battleship blanket. Camera and Max were installed in the car, and we headed south in search of Orange-tips.
We eventually arrived at a ditch full of Lady's Smock, (with Blackcap and Chiffchaff in residence) but the afternoon remained persistently overcast. Most butterflies don't generally fly below about 15 C, and finding them roosting is some sort of ninja trick, and I haven't been bestowed with the necessary second-sight. What we did find was a bumbling Bombus terrestris.I have a new obsession with bumblebees. They're charming insects, and really fascinating when you get into them. This big, fat bumble was a queen searching for somewhere to nest. You often see them in early spring wandering in a seemingly aimless fashion a couple of inches above the ground. The commonest ones are terrestris and lucorum (or Buff-tailed and White-tailed if you prefer). They are what you might imagine a bumble to be like. Yellow-and-black stripey beasties, fat and fluffy with either a buff or white bottom. This particular queen was disappearing for minutes at a time down badger sett holes.

We also found a fresh Peacock basking in the ditch. Filming it kept us entertained for a while as the misty greyness began to thin. Eventually there was a five minute period of unblemished sunshine, and two female Orange-tips appeared. One of which disappeared across a field, the other nectared prettily on the Lady's Smock for a while and was filmed from all sides. Then the sun, and the butterflies vanished as quickly as it had appeared, and we sloped back to London.This morning I spent two hours on my tiny patch, and found nothing more exciting than a Long-tailed Tit (and the drake Mallard), ooh and some Cowslips. Still no migrants. Pah!

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Butterflies land on the app store!

Just a quicky. We're all FAR too excited for words. After jumping through all of Apple's myriad hoops, our new iPhone app has just hit the iTunes store. I won't go into all the tedious things you have to do to get on the store, but I have several additional grey hairs because of the whole thing.

You can find this shiny new app here. Thanks to the wonderful MisterG for telling me how to do cunning iTunes links. We have lots of plans for iPhone and iPod Touch. You can read more here. Also - I'm always interested in your ideas for things we should be developing. Please do let me know via the comments.

Friday, 3 April 2009

A message from the warden at FIBO

I am sure all birders are keen to know the latest about Fair Isle Bird Observatory...will it be open this year or not?

Well, as of yesterday (2nd April) I can tell you we will be CLOSED all of this year. The final (largest) funding package came through and we now have enough to proceed with the project. We are still £200,000 short of the required total but hope we can raise that through the coming year, so please do keep donating - no matter how small, it all adds up. Please help us to get that last amount. For more information check www.fairislebirdobs.co.uk

I hope all our regular visitors can find somewhere almost as good to bird this spring & autumn and i look forward to welcoming you in the brand new Observatory in 2010.

all the best
Deryk Shaw
Tel/Fax: 01595 760258
e-mail: fairisle.birdobs@zetnet.co.uk