Moths to the fore

I did a lot of driving in the rain today, and encountered plenty of Friday traffic jams. But I did manage a detour to Summer Leys nature reserve in Northamptonshire on my way up to Leeds. Before leaving the house this morning I checked the moth trap, as Brenda has been away, and realised that I had not put in the egg boxes she uses to give the moths something to settle on: But – rather surprisingly – there were still some moths in the trap….more about those below.

I only had about 40 minutes at Summer Leys, but knew that there was a relatively rare plover in situ: In the main hide there were five or six birders and though one of them pointed out the rough position of the plover – a Kentish plover – I initially didn’t manage to spot a small sandy-coloured bird on a small sandy-coloured island! In fact the first plovers I located with my telescope were a couple of little ringed plovers, with their distinctive yellow eye rings. Lovely!

little ringed plover (photo taken 2013)

And then I did manage to locate the Kentish plover – a bird I have only ever seen in continental Europe, and so not only a first for 2023, but an addition to my UK life list! Initially it had it’s back to me, but then it turned and started to preen, giving me good views of the plumage pattern.

Kentish plover (photo taken 2015 in southern France)

Brenda writes: “Yesterday I decided to stay around home and do some chores and gardening. Last time I was here I started weeding out the long-neglected front flower bed which has some nice shrubs in it and a lot of grass. It’s a big task because grass has significant root runners which I guess is why it is so resiient in dry weather. A lawn can seem completely dead and then a bit of rain and off it goes again. So my aim was to re-weed the section I did before and to weed out some more. The box, lavender and primroses I’d transplanted were all doing well and today I found some forget-me-nots to add. As I weeded I was picking up the sounds around me – skylark, jackdaw, blue tit and, surprisingly so far inland, several oystercatchers flying overhead. After the sun had set over the hill there was still enough light for a walk up the edge of the wood behind our house, the track bordered by a magnificent gorse hedge, listening to yellowhammers on the far side of a field of sheep.

This morning our friend John drove me over to Insch to catch the first of three trains taking me south. I’ve been hearing greenfinch all week but not seen them. In the pine trees by the station there were lots of birds and, just happening to have my binoculars in my bag, I had a look and there was a flock of greenfinch in plain view.

Insch station – the footbridge is apparently made from rail tracks

Later in the morning I received photos from Steve of the moths in the trap and we have a magnificent new one for this year, swallow prominent. There was also a new flower today – Steve picked me up from Doncaster station and as we drove to Leeds I saw my first garlic mustard of the year.

The remarkable swallow prominent moth

New species for April 14th:
Birds: little ringed plover, Kentish plover
Flowers: garlic mustard
Moths: swallow prominent