Showing posts from March, 2014

Moth-mugged by a Robin and a Box Bug

I put the MV out in the garden last night and had a modest, but welcome catch: Early Thorn (1), Red-green Carpet (1), March Moth (1), Double-striped Pug (5), Hebrew Character (3), Oak Beauty (2), Common Quaker (5), Early Grey (2), Oak Nycteoline (1), Emmelina monodactyla (3) and Acleris literana (1). One of the Oak Beauties was, as the name suggests, a beauty, so I couldn't pass up the chance to get a decent photograph of it. I placed the moth on the trunk of a tree and waited for it to settle. As I was doing so, I felt something land on my head. I was then was aware of something hovering an inch in front of my nose. And finally registered the Robin as it picked off the Oak Beauty and landed on the lawn not ten feet away where it proceeded to have a late breakfast. If I ever catch a scarce moth in the garden I take my pictures in an enclosed porch, mainly to insure against them flying off into the distance. I will now do so to stop Robins from mugging me. Shortly after tha

Wheatear Trophy Winner 2014

The North Downs and beyond Wheatear Trophy is up there in kudos with an Academy Award Oscar or the Nobel Peace Prize. Grown men have been known to cheat, steal and commit acts of violence to try and get their hands on it. The rules are simple  - which blog has unashamedly posted gratuitous images of Wheatears as the delightful little white-arses arrive on our shores. But there can only be one winner... The 2014 NDB Wheatear Trophy is awarded to..... MARTIN CASEMORE at PLODDINGBIRDER! This morning, at a lavish ceremony held at the Dungeness lifeboat station, last years winner (Gavin Haig), presented the trophy to Martin, who, as you can see from the photograph above, came dressed-up as his favourite species of bird. Two other blogs are worthy of mention in this years competition - Plover's Blog (Barney and the Bedford Plover) and Wanstead Birder (Jono Lethbridge) - both are to be commended on plastering their blogs with plenty of Wheatear action. They were beaten by a more

It was twenty years ago today...

If you were to be asked what you were doing twenty years ago to this very day, most of you wouldn't have a bloody clue. I, on the other hand, not only have a photographic memory (although this ceases to work beyond 1994) but also field notebooks that go back into those glorious days of the slightly grubby 1970s. So, what was I doing on March 27th 1994. Here's a clue: A bit of detective work is needed to identify where, in the world, I was. The dendrologists among you will no doubt have clocked the Dipterocarpaceae and may even be able to point out individual meranti, chengal and keruing trees. Others will look at the forest floor and at once place the rich reddish-brown soil and creeping tree roots as indicative of south-east Asia. And you'd be correct. This is a forest trail at Taman Negara in Malaysia... if you listen carefully, you might just be able to hear the Banded Pitta calling off to the right. And here are my fellow birders of twenty years ago - Janice

To kill or not to kill? The Facebook group response

For those of you who do not have a Facebook account. I placed a link to yesterday's post on the 'Pan-species Listers' Facebook Group and asked for members opinions to collecting and killing specimens. There were many replies, and here are just a few...   Chris Raper   Depends entirely on personal preference AND on how much you want to know the name of something (as opposed to having a rough idea what it might be). Obviously many distinctive species are easy to ID in the field or alive in a net/tube but more are impossible to identify without taking a specimen. Digital photography can only go so far because often the bits you need to see are not shown in a photo (genitalia etc) or the insect flew off before you could get that all-important shot of the middle leg. Where I get a bit hot under the collar is when (rarely) someone who doesn't want to take specimens starts to send in records for things that can only be identified to a sufficient level with

Should you kill to tick?

Chequered Skipper - the only one that I have seen. NOT collected A museum glass cabinet that displays stuffed birds is an object that at once shows its age. When the naturalists of the 18th and 19th centuries went out to catalogue the natural world, they went armed with guns, cat gut and sawdust. The provenance of a bird was down to the production of its skin - the old saying of 'what's hit is history, what's missed is mystery' was very true indeed - if you didn't have the body then the record was unproven. There cannot be many people who would not baulk at the idea of netting birds, wringing their necks and then displaying them at home, stuffed and wired to a perch within a case. But what about butterflies? Moths? Beetles? I have recently had an email correspondence on the rights and wrongs of collecting with two fellow naturalists. I think it fair to say that one is pro and one against. I find myself sitting somewhere in the middle. It got me thinking abo