Wednesday, 28 June 2017


Had a trial day today with taking a group of home school children on a nature field class (I've called the project NatureKidz (a name Dylan came up with). Things descended to chaos very quickly with everyone ending up in the river becoming nature themselves. Today's lesson was supposed to be on waterbirds of Beddington Park. I discovered I couldn't identify a Mallard! 

Here's today's NatureKidz lesson (for me) 

 Eclipse Male Mallards . Male Mallards (and other male ducks) moult into an eclipse plumage during mid-summer. The eclipse plumage is a female/juvenile-type plumage presumably providing camouflage/cryptic protection during the season when they moult their flight feathers and can't fly very well. 
 Hello Sir - male Mallard
 An adult female- note the contrasting face pattern and the dark on the upper mandible with straw colour bleeding up from the cutting edge. Females don't need to moult into eclipse as they are already cryptically plumaged. When male and female plumages are significantly different (called sexual dimorphism),  with the male being conspicuous and the female less so - its implies there are also significant role/behavioural differences i.e. in Mallards the female discretely incubate the eggs and raise the young while the males ponse about and occasionally form gangs and gang rape the females (I left that bit out of the lesson). 
 Juvenile female with  darker face pattern and largely dark bill with straw colour confined to the cutting edge of the bill . This is the one I struggled with ageing/ sexing and had to look it up. Still not certain as theoretically it could be a young male where the bill hasn't turned yellow yet but in comparison to the other young birds this one stood out so presumably a female
 Juvenile male- the yellow bill with the dark juvenile type head pattern are strong features. As the adult males go into deeper eclipse plumage I do believe they can start resembling this- will keep an eye on them.  Basically there are at least six potential plumages of park Mallards at the moment:  adult male, adult female, eclipse male, juvenile male, juvenile female, pullus (the precocial young) and also there's the aberrant plumages . 
 An oak gall that we still need to identify (I say we, by the time I found this they had found a dead Mallard and were obsessing on it -which was reported back as the highlight of the day). 
 Sunny in nature gear- the youngest group member. One of my nephews.

And meanwhile back at the Obs recently 
 Rosy Footman 
 From left to right: Smoky Wainscot, Common Wainscot and Shoulder-striped Wainscot 
 Argyresthia sp. 
 A worn Common Wave ?
A worn Flounced Rustic ?

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Latest from the Capitalist's Apocalypse

Here's the latest in the unfolding global apocalypse. As limits to economic growth are reached fundamental capitalist corporations are escalating the advance into the nature protected network in order to process additional natural capital into economic capital. In a European context it doesn't get much bigger than this (see message below from Spain's main birder Dani Lopez) in terms of the length these corporations will go to feed their addiction to growth at the expense of nature. These corporations are literally giant malignant organisms, like cancers spreading across the globe. On a local scale  to me Viridor are the manifestation of that global disease- a disease that if not eradicated will consume everything. All an individual like myself can do is to try and fight back the disease that is trying to consume me, my family and my local area.

Of course not all corporations are diseases but many are and it is these ones that need to be stopped. A corporation working closely within environmental and social value systems is the greatest force for positive progress on the planet. A primitive, rogue cancerous corporation, like Viridor, is the greatest threat to progress on the planet. 

Hundreds of working class people being burnt in their beds, many burnt to death a couple of weeks ago by the Capitalists (see more HERE from the Grenfell Action Group) and now other Capitalists burning one of Europe's great national parks- things are stepping up.  

The Apocalypse is escalating and everyone and everything is in mortal danger.  The fundamental Capitalists are the threat to humanity and the planet of our times- the modern equivalent of the imperialists, the catholics, the pillaging nomads  and other manifestations of distilled evil which pop up from time to time in history- and each time are successfully sent back to hell from where they have come. 

The Donana burns today.

A message from Spain's main birder Dani Daniel López Velasco
PLEASE, READ. Just in case you haven´t heard about it yet... The incomparable Doñana National Park is IN FLAMES. As you all know, Doñana has a biodiversity that is not only unique in Europe, but in the World, with sheer numbers of breeding and wintering birds, mammals, reptiles, fish, insects and plants. It`s home to critically endangered Iberian Lynx and Spanish Imperial Eagles, amongst many, many other things. The fire -which seems to have been INTENTIONAL!!-, has nearly reached the lynx breeding centre, and apparently only about 10 of the 30 lynx there have been captured by the staff. The rest, which accounts for a good percentage of the entire world population, might have run away, hopefully, but some might now be dead, burnt alive. Fucking disgraceful people who did this, you only deserve death. But wait, theres more. One of the major gas companies in Spain -Gas Natural- wanted to build gas tanks exactly at the place where the fire is. In 2015 they presented their project. The year before, the government approved a law which stated that land which had been burnt could be re-zoned as long as the project was of "public utilty". Guess what? Last year, our government declared the oil company project of "public utility". They only needed the land to be burnt in order to go ahead....In tears now.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Rainham etc

Holly, Jacob and I met up with Sue (and later David Lambert) at Rainham this morning. A moderate south west wind meant that insects were few are far between. Highlights included an eclipse male Garganey, a stunning pale and contrasting male Marsh Harrier, Bearded Tit, young Lapwings and Redshanks, a Grass Snake and Drinker moth caterpillars.

 Eclipse male Garganey
 Grass Snake 
  Drinker moth caterpillar

Back at the Obs this morning

Another pretty good night with the moth trap with a few new for years and also a tick for me. 
 Elephant Hawkmoth 
 Dusky Brocade- new for me
 Toadflax Brocade 
 Small Blood Vein 
 Hoary Footman and for comparison below, Common Footman 

Friday, 23 June 2017

Micros etc

A few from the trap last night:

 Crassa unitella I presume 
 Caloptilia rutipennella if I'm not mistaken 
 Endotricha flammealis indeed
 Bird Cherry Ermine I do believe 
 Cypress Carpet (centre), Ephestia unicolorella and Dwarf Cream Wave
 Small Seraphim 
 Clouded Border
 Common Emerald 

Been working on revising the local micro moths, here's a few links on past efforts: 

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Heat Wave

The heat wave continues. Been at Beddington over the last couple of days- another busy night in the moth trap yesterday and managed to do an evening walk yesterday evening. Plenty of bugs around- good numbers of Marbled Whites again this year. A few pics and highlights; 

 Hobby- 400+ Swifts in the evening around the lakes attracting Hobbies
 The Mute Swans on the Southern Lake have young now
 Plenty of other young birds around too including these Coots and also the first Little Grebe young
 Black-tailed Skimmer- at least 50 of these on my walk yesterday, also 3-4 Emperor, Common Darters, Common Blue Damselfly and Nick reported the Small Red-eyes again on the Northern Lake (also extending their population to the Southern Lake). 
 Loads of Meadow Brown on the MG5 habitat and grassland on the southern mound, also Essex Skippers, Marbled Whites, Large Skipper (above), Commas (above), Red Ad and Small Tort.
 These mating Grapholita compositella were nice find. Other day flying moths on the mounds including Sitochroa verticalis, Burnet Companion, Six-spot Burnet, Crambus perlella and Common Grass Veneer.
 Sitochroa verticalis (above) and European Corn Borer (below) for comparison 
 European Corn Borer
 Crambus perlella
 I'm going for Apple Ermine on this based on the sparse distribution of spots and the sub-terminal line of spots? If so I think a new one for the site? 
 A worn Codling Moth? 
 Clepsis consimilana (male) the faint bar on an otherwise plain straw coloured Tortrix is what I'm going on 
Crambus pascuella - what a beauty 
 Agonopterix heracliana- two of these, the first for year. Getting about 50 species or so a night at the moment. 

 Bud Moth 

Male (above) and female (below) Eristalis intricaria