A pine beauty

Today I had to visit Fakenham for a couple of things and so had a short walk at Sculthorpe Moor. It was a pretty rainy day but I still saw a fair amount of the usual birds there. There was a great egret stalking around in front of the wetland hide.

A great egret at Sculthorpe Moor

There was also a group of 15 or so common snipe on the wetland area, but too distant to photograph. However through the telescope it was clear that one of them was a leucistic individual – it was extremely pale, paler than any snipe I’ve ever seen! I have no idea how unusual this sort of plumage variation is, but I’ve certainly never seen it before.

You can see how much lighter this snipe is than the others, despite the handheld phone video through my telescope!

I also saw and heard another chiffchaff – so spring is definitely on the way!

Brenda writes: “One of the good things that came out of Covid was embracing Zoom as an alternative to face-to-face meetings. This morning I would have been very happy to sit in the dining room with my laptop, whilst keeping half an eye on what might come into the garden – but sadly this time I had an in-person meeting! The compensation for having to drive to Dereham was seeing a buzzard perched on a tree by the road and a barn owl hunting over a field, not to mention a number of close encounters with pheasants on the road verges.

There were four moths in the trap this morning. On opening the flap there was an “Oh, what’s that?” moment. The moth in question was sitting with its wings tight against its body a bit like the swift family but it was definitely not a swift, not only because the wing markings were different but also because they won’t be flying until May. It turned out to be a pine beauty, and it certainly is a beauty. The stance provides the moth with perfect camouflage because it looks like a pine bud. The three other moths were all quakers, two common and a small quaker which, as well as being smaller, has less sharply defined lines round the kidney marks on its wings. So two more moths for my list.

A pine beauty moth – amazing colouration!

I managed to snatch a walk later in the day. It was raining but it was good to be out. As I headed home, droplets of water on some hedge branches caught my eye. Beautiful.”

New species for March 18th:
Moths: small quaker, pine beauty

Birds = 147
Moths = 12
Wildflowers = 24