Sunday, 3 October 2010

Rain Fails to Stop Work or Cricket

This morning's rain stopped play at the Ryder Cup but it was not nearly enough to stop Blashford's volunteers. In fact we used the opportunity of the rain soaked tree branches to identify those that were most likely to bend down and reduce the headroom or the width of the paths. More or less as soon as we finished work the rain stopped, shortly after the sun came out, albeit briefly.

A wet night meant a cloudy night and that equals a warm night and a warm night means moths. Last night's catch included a beaded chestnut one of many "autumn only" species.
Another, although rather more common autumn species is the very variable lunar underwing, if you wonder why it has this name, it is because it has a crescent shaped mark on the hind-wing, although this is covered by the fore-wing when the moth is resting so you never really see it.
A lot of the autumn moths are orange or yellow, no doubt this camouflages them amongst autumn leaves, one such species is the sallow.
Some autumn flying moths have two broods a year. The setaceous Hebrew character is one of these, with a brood that fly in the mid-summer period and a second flying in the autumn.
Last of the moth picture from last night is a feathered thorn, it really doe shave feathery antennae, although this one refused to show them for the camera.
The early rain resulted in large numbers of swallows and martins feeding low over the lakes, today most were swallows, with perhaps 800 over Ibsley Water and Ivy Lake first thing. Numbers of martins were lower, but there were still about 50 sand martin and 200 house martin. Many of the house martin were not low over the water though, they seemed to prefer feeding around and just above the trees.
At lunchtime most of the swallows had dispersed as the weather improved. A visit to Tern hide to eat my sandwiches was largely quiet apart from 2 Egyptian geese and a little stint. The range was such that the stint was identified by probability, I suppose it could have been a semi-palmated sandpiper, well I can dream can't I?
I will end with another insect, one that I hear quite regularly during the summer but rarely see, despite searching. I have found the recent damp, mild mornings are just right for finding them, they are wood crickets. These are true crickets and chirrup softly in the leaf-litter, but the calls are hard to locate accurately and they stop if you get too close. However it seems they forage out on the shingle around the Centre on damp mornings and head back to shelter just about when I am covering the moth trap. Now that I had found where they were hiding I was able to find one and get a picture of it.
These are called "true-crickets" to distinguish them from bush-crickets. This species is quite common around the New Forest and was probably introduced into this country. We do have a native species in the field cricket, but this is so rare that it is the subject of special work to try and save it. The wood cricket may, or may not, be a native species, it was hardly noted before about a hundred and fifty years ago, perhaps it was much rarer for some reason or perhaps it was newly arrived with plants from the continent as gardening became more popular. The one in the picture is engaged in a little antennae cleaning.

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