Sunday, 11 August 2013

More moths, birds and bites

On Friday evening I went back to the reedbed site to put out the actinic moth trap for National Moth Night and to ring more Swallows at the roost. I had been on my own for the two previous Swallow roost sessions but this time I was joined by Mike C, a trainee ringer. We caught 73 Swallows which was a comfortable number to deal with and I limited the catch by careful use of the MP3 lures.
The next morning I was back there at daft o'clock to check the moth trap and to join John G for an early morning ringing session. The moth trap produced a smaller catch than I expected especially as I had placed it near a patch of Purple Loosestrife that was in full flower. However, the catch included a few reedbed / wetland specialists that I don't or rarely catch at home.
Brown-veined Wainscot (Archanara dissolute)
Wainscot Veneer aka Reed Veneer (Chilo phragmitella)
Silky Wainscot (Chilodes maritimus)
Typical form left and form 'wismariensis' right.
The final tally was 8 Brown-veined Wainscot, 1 Chilo Phragmitella, 5 Silky Wainscot, 3 Small China-mark, 2 Small Phoenix, 2 Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet, 3 Oblique Carpet, 1 Pale Prominent, 1 Currant Pug and 1 as yet to be identified micro moth.
Pale Prominent (Pterostoma palpina).
This species has amazing camouflage and looks like a fragment of dead wood.
It is one species that appears to be expanding its range northwards.
Oblique Carpet (Orthonama vittata)
I had to photograph this species in a plastic pot hence the less than sharp photo.
We had 8 nets up and catching was what you might call slow but steady. The target species were Reed and Sedge Warblers and they made up just over half the catch. There doesn't seem to be any evidence of late nesting by Reed Warblers as often happens and no retrap adults were caught. Mixed flocks of tits and warblers, as would be expected at this time of year, were conspicuous by their absence. Catching tailed off by 9:30 am and we took the nets down shortly after as we planned to come back in the evening for another ringing session at the Swallow roost.
adult Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
juvenile Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)
Conditions were near perfect when we returned in the evening with generally overcast conditions and a very light breeze. John had got there ahead of me and had put up 3 nets. A few Swallows were already around so we set the MP3 players and waited for the rest to arrive. As the number of birds started to build up it as obvious that there were a lot more Sand Martins in the flock than there had been or we normally see. This increase in Sand Martins was reflected in the evening ringing total of 103 Swallows and 25 Sand Martins.

juvenile Sand Martin (Riparia riparia)
One less than pleasant consequence of all the recent ringing activity has been the number of insect bites I have suffered despite the use of repellents. I don't mind a few mosquito bites and don't react adversely to them but some little biting black flies took a real liking to an area of skin near my right elbow. They left a number of painful lumps and the area became inflamed and hot to the touch for a few hours. Eventually I managed to get a photo of one of the little sods but have yet to identify it to a species but it is probably one of the Blackflies (Simuliidae).

Blackfly (simulium spp?)

Ringing totals for 10/08/13 with retraps in brackets.
Reed Warbler  19 (1)
Sedge Warbler  8 (1)
Reed Bunting  6
Willow Warbler  10
Chiffchaff  1
Whitethroat  1
Blackcap  3
Willow Tit  2
Wren  1
Blue Tit  (1)
Swallow  103
Sand Martin  25
Total  182

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