Friday 14 October 2022

Early October Thrills

Last night was quite chilly, and I wasn't surprised at the meagre moth tally. Yet among the 13 caught, three were migrant species: Rush Veneer, Rusty-dot Pearl, and this pretty little Vestal...

A subtly pink-blushed Vestal.

New moths have been hard to come by in the last couple of weeks, but I'm hanging in there in the hope of a Merveille du Jour. Here's why...

What a stunner! A real Merveille du Jour laughs at its washed-out image in our old field guide. This beauty was supplied (for photographic purposes) by fellow blogger Karen Woolley back in 2009. I've yet to see another.

Some highlights...

Our first Large Wainscot. Love the line of dots and dusting of fine black pepper.

The one and only Beaded Chestnut so far. Its superficial resemblance to the common Lunar Underwing almost caught me out.

Box-tree Moth. Had a couple recently.

A pleasing nocturnal find in the garden's new wildlife hedge: Brimstone Moth caterpillar.

Another magnificent Black Rustic - our fourth now I think. I really struggle to capture the colour in a photo. Almost looks like a purple tint here.

Plutella xylostella. This poorly-marked one not really living up to its vernacular name of Diamond-back Moth.

That's about it on the moth front, and there isn't a lot to say about birds either. Nocmig has been ticking over gently, with just enough interest to keep me hopeful. Grey Wagtail was a surprise new species on Tuesday night, but otherwise it has been the usual suspects. Max counts of Redwing and Song Thrush in the mid-thirties so far, but it is early days.

In order to give a feel for what it might look like when you come across the various blips and squiggles generated by the audio software in response to bird's nocturnal call, here is a spliced-together selection from various recent nights, exactly as they appeared at the time...

The scale (28 seconds' worth on the screen) is what I use when going through a night's recording, and each example is unedited. Note differences in background noise. For example, Redwing and Song Thrush both during quiet moments on a still night.

Experience is a great teacher. Even a very faint Barn Owl usually leaps off the screen at me these days (this example is not faint) and many of the above were instantly identifiable to species before I even listened to them. The single Snipe call, though, looks very non-birdy, and I'm not sure what made me stop to check it out. Glad I did. Snipe is a nice prize here.

The month of October is famously excellent for assorted migration events, so any self-respecting birder is obviously going to ignore all that thrill potential and photograph Cormorants...

Cormorant on the river at West Bay. Its gular pouch angle looks pretty good for sinensis.

A different bird. It too has a gular pouch, and an angle, but those vaguely reptilian good looks are far too distracting, and I cannot be bothered to ponder for even a second longer the topic of its subspecific identity.

No protractors were harmed in the production of this post.


  1. Gav, great post as usual. Yes, the moths. After reading the latest posting from Portland I couldn't help but think, 'Wouldn't it have been amusing if that Southern Brindled Green had appeared in your trap'?

    1. Cheers Ric. 😊 👍
      Catching 2 Orache Moths in Baz's garden at Lyme Regis in the summer really brought home to me that almost anything is possible. All I have to do is stick the trap out, and blind chance will do the rest! 😄