Sunday, 11 October 2009

A day of scarcities

This rather distant view of the Wryneck at Bockhill today reminds me of my first encounter with a Wryneck in Kent. When Pam and I moved into Crayford in 1971 we lived a couple of hundred yards into Greater London (Bexley) but with Dartford Heath at the top of the road. In those day it was safe to walk across the heath with out being accused of being there for various antisocial activities. I used to walk across it before turning towards Dartford and work in the morning. One morning in the spring of 1971 I suddenly heard what I though was a small bird of prey calling. The noise sounded as if the bird was flying round in a circle. I slowly realised that, it was in fact, above my head and on looking up there was a Wryneck sitting in the tree directly above me. I heard them for the next two years, but by then the new A2 had been cut through the heath and destroyed much of their favoured habitat. Additionally one of the most infamous egg-collectors of the time came from Hawley, so who knows how much damage he caused to a declining population.

The most pleasing thing about today's bird was that although it was on show all the time it did come out into the open enabling lot of people to get really excellent views. On chap I was talking to told me it was a first, causing my reminiscence above. I suppose that my days of teaching an evening class still mean that I get a buzz when someone gets to see something for the first time. There were other scarce birds reported in the area including a Barred Warbler and a Dartford Warbler. Two or three Ring Ouzels put in brief appearances loudly announcing their presence with their rattling calls.

Scarce Bordered Straw (Helicoverpa armigera)

Mothing last night was a bit more interesting than of late. I was pleased to find this Scarce Bordered Straw in my MV trap. It is the first for two years and apart from the phenomenal year of 2006 when I caught 163 it is a rather scarce migrant.

Large Wainscot ( Rhizedra lutosa)
Large Wainscots are typical autumn moths, they seem somewhat slow and furry, as if prepared for the cold nights. Despite this passive appearance this one was quite awkward once I move it and kept wandering away from the position I wanted to photograph it in. As the light was poor I had the camera on time release, to try to avoid the shake that pressing the shutter creates. This is OK if the subject sits still, but twice I was left with a blank piece of log when it walked away as the seconds ticked down.

Green-brindled Crescent (Allophyes oxyacanthae)

Another of the moths that only appears late in the year, the Green-brindled Crescent is a common moth of woodlands, hedgerows and suburban gardens. The caterpillars hatch in the spring and feed on Hawthorn and Blackthorn.

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