More moths at last!

Today I added a not unexpected new species for 2023 – common swift – when a group of about 10 birds flew overhead with their distinctive screaming call just as I was leaving our house.

Later in the day I headed to Titchwell and – as the weather steadily improved and it became a hot and sunny day – I had good views of bearded tits and there were plenty of avocets of course.

Avocets at Titchwell today

My second new bird for the day was common tern, as there were several scattered around amidst the nesting black-headed gulls.

On the far side of the fresh marsh was a solitary little gull in summer plumage: These really are lovely gulls, small and elegant.

Before heading home I decided to have a short walk at Snettisham, which turned out to be a good choice as the second I opened the car door in the beach car park I heard the distinctive purring call of a turtle dove – one of the birds that has declined enormously over the past 20 years or so. Once out of the car it was clear that there were actually two turtle doves calling, and after about ten minutes of careful listening and watching I managed to get good views of both of them.

There was also a meadow pipit on one of the ropes set out to cordon off an area of the beach for nesting ringed plovers: I had never noticed just how long their back-facing claws are!

A meadow pipit showing it’s long curved back claws

My bird total is increasing so well I’m now thinking that maybe I can get to 200 bird species by my birthday in July: Now that would be something!

Brenda writes: “Finally there is some warm weather and confirmation that there was nothing wrong with my moth trap as last night there were a total of 17 moths of 12 different species in or around the trap! We have had waved umber, hebrew character, shuttle-shaped dart, muslin, light brown apple, garden carpet and swallow prominent already but there were five new species for this year. I never tire of seeing the brimstone moth which is common and very beautiful, not to be confused with the brimstone butterfly which is day-flying, much larger and doesn’t have the brown notches on the edge of the wing.

A brimstone moth – not to be confused with a brimstone butterfly!

The bright-line brown-eye’s name describes what it looks like! Basically brown, it has a white line with double tooth marks on the edge of its wing and the ‘eyes’ on its wing are brown.

bright-line brown-eye

At the opposite end of the spectrum size-wise is the dwarf pug which is absolutely tiny,. Pugs are easily recognised by their wing position at right angles to their body rather than sloping back.

dwarf pug

It would be easy to think the least black arches was a micro because it is so tiny, but it is a macro moth – and a very pretty one.

least black arches

The last moth for today I think was a powdered quaker: I’m waiting to have that verified by James but have put it on the list for now. There’s another one pending from a couple of days ago which I think can’t be anything other than a mottled rustic – but they’re not meant to fly until June. That’s when it’s really useful to be able to check with someone who has decades’ more experience than me! Again I’ve added it to the list at the moment.

There was one new flower today. Common vetch is the first of the vetches to come into flower. Vetches are climbing plants with tendrils (like sweet peas) and common vetch has pairs of deep pink flowers at the leaf junctions.

A patch of common vetch in our front garden

On one of my regular walks in Wells I pass a clump of stinking helibore which is now going to seed. Today I noticed the seed pods, which are like pea pods hanging down below the flowers. How cool is that!”

Some stinking helibore with seed pods

New species for May 7th:
Birds: common swift, common tern, little gull, turtle dove
Moths: brimstone, bright line brown-eye, dwarf pug, least black arches, powdered quaker, mottled rustic
Flowers: common vetch