Saved By A Mega

There was a distinct Autumnal nip in the air yesterday morning when Ian and I met at the pools at 5:30 a.m. at the Obs to do some ringing. In fact, I nearly put my woolly hat on, but resisted! We were keen to do some ringing, because the recent period of wet weather meant that we hadn't ringed anything here since 24th June.

The nets went up quickly under 2 oktas cloud cover with a light southerly breeze. This southerly breeze picked up later, and became a bit of a nuisance as our net rides run north - south, so they became a little exposed to the increased wind.

On the whole it was a disappointing session because we only ringed nine birds, but we were saved by a mega in the form of a juvenile Treecreeper. Up until then we had ringed more Yellow-browed Warblers at the Obs than Treecreepers, but yesterday's Treecreeper made it three apiece.

 Treecreeper

The nine ringed were as follows:

Reed Warbler - 2
Blackcap - 4
Cetti's Warbler - 1
Treecreeper - 1
Chiffchaff - 1

 Blackcap

From a birding perspective, we observed very little else other than about 5,000 Starlings exiting the roost and three Swifts and a Sand Martin that fed over the scrape.

I had another mega yesterday evening when Gail spotted a large, black and yellow insect flying from the Willows in our garden, to the Sycamore next to the Conservatory. I was outside, and Gail pointed to where it was and my immediate reaction was that it was a queen Hornet, but the jizz was all wrong, and look at that antenna! It landed on a Sycamore leaf, and it was a stonking Lunar Hornet Moth, only the second I had ever seen, and both have been in our garden.

Lunar Hornet Moth

A good friend of mine, Graham (what Graham has forgotten about moths isn't worth knowing), asked whether I had been using the new pheromone lure, or whether I had just found it. I explained to Graham the circumstances of its occurrence and said that I thought Lunar Hornet Moths were associated with Willows, and that I had a number of Willows in my garden.

Graham responded saying that "Willow is the foodplant of the larva that feed internally on the wood for two years before the adult emerges. And it looks like you've got a resident population in your Willow". I was chuffed with that, a resident population in our garden, so hopefully we can look forward to a few more sightings!

And to finish off what started as an unpromising day, that turned in to a day of megas and surprises, we now have a young Hedgehog coming to our 'hog' feeding station as well as a couple of adults. I wish you could see the smile on my face!