Showing posts from 2017

Father Time

Back in 1975 I purchased a medium sized hard-backed notebook, narrow feint of line and blue of colour. It became my 'book of lists'. One such list was my bird species total for each year. Across an open spread I drew columns, each a centimetre wide, and after allowing for a generous space in which to write the bird species name, there were 26 columns - the first being for that current year, 1975. I was 16 at the time, and all of those blank columns represented to me a vast period of time - they would take me up to the year 2000, which sounded back then like a construct of science fiction, and the year in which I would celebrate my 42nd birthday. It was so far away that it really didn't warrant any thought at all. They were just there. The years slowly passed, and they then picked up speed as they do when you grow older. Life happened. I left college. I started a career. I got married. We had children. And shortly before those columns were due to be finally filled, I becam

Listing to one side

There will be a number of birding listers who are currently salivating with the expectation of New Years Day lifers. You see, they will be guaranteed British ticks on that date, regardless of whether they go out birding or not. Because it is then that the British Ornithologists' Union (BOU) adopts the International Ornithological Congress (IOC) World bird list - and with that comes a handful of taxonomical splits that are not currently recognised here in Britain. Isabelline (Lanius isabellinus) and Red-tailed Shrikes  (L phoenicuruides) are to be considered separate species, as will Taiga Bean (Anser fablis) and Tundra Bean Goose (A rossicus) . Fea's Petrel (Pterodroma feae) loses its umbilical chord to Desertas Petrel (P deserta) and Thayer's Gull (Larus thayeri) is cut adrift from Iceland Gull (L glaucoides) . Want more? Well here you go then - Two-barred Warbler will no longer be lumped with Greenish; Eastern Yellow Wagtail and Stejneger's Stonechat will no


I used to be a serial joiner of natural history clubs and organisations plus a subscriber to natural history journals. At this time of year most of these memberships would lapse and need renewing - in those days a cheque would be written out and sent off to the membership secretary by post - these weren't quite the days before direct debits and standing orders but was certainly pre-internet. If memory serves me correct, at its height I would be sorting out my subscriptions to: RSPB, BTO, National Trust, British Birds, Birding World, Surrey Bird Club, Kent Ornithological Society, Sussex Ornithological Society, London Natural History Society, British Wildlife, Fiends of Dungeness Bird Observatory, Botanical Society of the British Isles, Wildflower Society, Atropos, Surrey Wildlife Trust... that's what I can dredge up from the memory banks at the moment. That lot used to add up to a pretty penny in subscriptions, believe me. Over time my membership choices have waned, not thr

Boxing Day Box Hill Hike

I was accompanied by our eldest daughter Rebecca on the eight-mile Box Hill Hike, a signposted route that takes in the peaks and troughs to be enjoyed in the Box Hill, Mickleham and Headley Heath area. Without pushing it, and minus the coffee and lunch stops, we completed it in a respectable three hours. Much of this was down to me not looking at everything, as I deliberately left my binoculars at home. Even so, 10 Common Buzzards, two Red Kites and a couple of Marsh Tits were recorded, but it was generally quiet. There were few serious walkers about, but hundreds of others in family groups, with tots wobbling along in Christmas jumpers, adults in Santa hats and dogs whose collars and coats were bedecked with tinsel. Everybody seemed to be in a good mood, no doubt enjoying the sunshine and fresh air, which was to be enjoyed with at least one eye on the weather - we are due a lengthy downpour this afternoon.

Christmas Day birding

In the days before marriage and children, but after being a child myself, there was a brief window of life having few responsibilities - a time when I could please myself without guilt. During this time Christmas had largely lost its sparkle. I didn't particularly want to be at home, not because of any antagonism towards my parents and siblings, but because I wanted to be out birding. Those early birding years (1974 - 1978) this ornithological itch was scratched by spending the morning at Beddington Sewage Farm, ensuring that I was back home in time for the dinner! But in 1979 and 1981 I strayed further from home and actually stayed away from home, choosing Dungeness Bird Observatory as my destination. It had all I wanted at that particular time and on both occasions I was not alone, as other similar minded folk did the same - it wouldn't happen now I'd wager! We cooked a communal turkey dinner, had plenty to drink (and made use of the nearby pub) and even exchanged simpl

Sunflower heart feeders

The sunflower hearts are very popular in the garden at the moment - we have a regular flock of six-eight Goldfinches, a local gang of House Sparrows that are frequent snackers, a shy female Blackcap, Nuthatch, marauding Ring-necked Parakeets, a few Greenfinch plus the odd Robin and Dunnock that put on balancing acts at the feeders, as well as a host of Chaffinches, Blackbirds, Wood Pigeons and Collared Doves (above) that hoover up the debris on the ground. Great Spotted Woodpecker has graced the scene just the once. I can spend hours watching the comings and goings. It is money well spent, not just for the help that it gives the birds throughout the winter but the sheer entertainment that the birds give in return.

Winter Solstice and apparent snow

Today, at 16.28hrs we will have reached the precise moment of mid-winter. Neither the time (or the date) is the same each year, but for 2017 that is the marker. Our ancestors used to mark this date with cheer and trepidation - the light was about to return, but the 'famine' months of deepest winter were about to get a grip. Cattle were slaughtered (for their meat and also to save on feed), drink was fermented and ready to sup, and the stones were aligned in the hope that the Gods would be kind. Today we just turn up the thermostat and ensure that we've got enough cranberry sauce in the cupboard... White Christmases? Where did the wish for them and myth about them come from? I heard something about this on the radio the other day, which suggested that Dickens is to blame. Even back in the Victorian era they were sentimental for them, which just goes to show that it didn't always look like the North Pole here in December. This week will see my 60th Christmas Day (I know

Who sends the visitors?

This blog is blessed with a good number of visitors per day - sometimes this can be boosted if a particular blog post has been mentioned elsewhere (Facebook, Twitter or even a link on Bird Forum) - but ordinarily a fair number of visitors will come here from a referring site, in other words another blog that has kindly linked North Downs and beyond to itself. I have a similar list of blogs to the right of this post, places that I like to spend time trawling through, full of words crafted by others that entertain and inform in equal measure - please visit them, you will not be disappointed. Some of those blogs do not link other blogs at all, which I never really understand. At a basic level you could call it mutual back-scratching but I prefer to think of it as attempting to spread the word about the wonders of the natural world and the joy it can bring... but I digress. In the 'stats' area of this blog (that only I get to see) is a section that lets you know where your visit

Flora Britannica in 2017

Frog Orchid, Pewsey Downs, Wiltshire, June I recently said to a fellow naturalist that I hadn't really spent a lot of time looking at plants in 2017, but looking back through my notebooks I did have my moments! Admittedly I didn't wander far from Surrey, but when I did one or two special plants popped up, including my first ever observation of Hog's Fennel, a mass of the stuff on the Tankerton slopes (Kent) in August. Here are a few photographic highlights... Marsh Cinquefoil, Dungeness, Kent, May Sea Clover, Camber, East Sussex, June Musk Orchid, Box Hill, Surrey, July Broad-leaved Cudweed, Surrey, July

Langley Vale in 2017

Common Poppy in profusion, Langley Bottom Langley Bottom, Langley Vale, call it what you like - Walton Downs would do - the farmland that blankets much of this area has had a lot of coverage from me over the past few years. To recap: this farm was put up for sale and purchased by the Woodland Trust some three years ago. They plan to release the area into the public domain as a woodland reserve and intend to plant up a great deal of the open farmland, in so doing connecting existing copse and woodland together. So far, so good you may think - after all, private farmland is going to become countryside for the public to access and enjoy. Yes and no. Langley Vale has been farmed sympathetically down the ages, with a tremendous arable flora present as a consequence. It is like a botanical time capsule. When the Woodland Trust released their plans there was a great deal of fuss created by the counties botanists - why plants common trees on top of rare flowers? Meetings were arranged,

Autumn birds 2017 - blink and you'll miss them!

Northern Wheatear, Priest Hill, August What can I say about my birding autumn other than it was very hard work. The Priest Hill experiment carried on with almost daily visits between late July and the end of September, but then fizzled out owing to my enthusiasm being drained by the paucity of migrants - two fly over Little Egrets, two Tree Pipits, and single Wheatear and Whinchat were poor return for such effort. No Yellow Wagtails, few warblers, it really was a struggle. Mid-September saw me return to Canons Farm and be instantly rewarded with good numbers of chats, plus both Pied and Spotted Flycatchers. And then there was an unforgettable day in which 10,000 mixed hirundines streamed through - maybe the old place was trying to tell me something... Spotted Flycatcher, Canons Farm, September Whinchat, Canons Farm, September I even partook in a most uncharacteristic ornithological act, that of twitching a bird at Beddington! There were mock faintings from the birders pre

The birds in Spring 2017

Common Redstart, Priest Hill, April Well I did put a lot of effort in locally, honest! For a change and to 'bird off piste' I adopted an area of abandoned playing fields between Banstead and Ewell known as Priest Hill. It has recently been handed over to the Surrey Wildlife Trust to manage, although there is not an awful lot that can be done bird-wise, save fence off areas from the hordes of dog-walkers and their canine friends in an attempt to protect the handful of Skylarks that breed there. Almost daily visits throughout the spring did produce a few passage migrants, most notably Jack Snipe, Common Snipe, Ring Ouzel, Grasshopper Warbler, several Common Redstarts, plenty of Wheatears and a very healthy population of Common Whitethroats were in song throughout mid-April and into the summer, with the odd Lesser Whitethroat for good measure. I neglected Canons Farm, but did manage to bump into a Ring Ouzel on May Day. Northern Wheatear, Priest Hill, May Common Wh

Uber plant challenge

I do like to have set aims at the start of each year - small projects if you like. They don't ever become all-consuming affairs, more like amusing side-shows. This year saw me adopt Priest Hill as a birding patch, which, at times, was rewarding. So what for 2018? I first started to look at plants in earnest in 1998. I had dabbled before, mainly at Dungeness. The years that followed saw me get fully into all things botanical and culminated in far-flung trips to enjoy the best that Britain has to offer, from the mountain-tops of Scotland, to the Lizard peninsula coast, and the dry Breckland heaths. As much as I still regularly search for plants locally I have become lazy. My identification skills have lessened as I tend not to check difficult groups and have largely shied away from grasses, sedges and rushes. Well, that's where the 2018 project comes in. My Uber patch (map above) will act as the defined area of my botanical year/challenge. I have broken this up into define

Moths - the best from elsewhere in 2017

Mothing away from the back garden was limited to my Dungeness excursions and one splendid day spent on the Wiltshire chalk downs. As much as 'lifers' are not the be-all-and-end-all of recording, they are undoubtably welcome, and all featured here (bar the Death's-head) were exactly that. Death's-head Hawk-moth - Dungeness, Kent, May. Found resting on the wall of a beach dwelling Purple Cloud - Dungeness, Kent, May. Trapped by Bob Arnfield at the Long Pits. Cistus Forester - Pewsey Downs, Wiltshire, June. Quite a few on the wing Red-headed Chestnut, Dungeness, Kent, October. In the same MV as a Cosmopolitan. Spoladea recurvalis, Littlestone, Kent, October. A rather smart migrant pyralid. Sword-grass, New Romney, Kent, October. The first Kent record since the 1960s

Winter beech complete

My painting of the winter beech woodland is complete. It is getting on for A3 in size, so is quite large, and it needs a close viewing to capture the detail, which is partially lost in the image above. I'm now averaging about one painting a year - maybe I ought to try and up that output in 2018. Not only does creating artwork keep me usefully busy, it is also wonderfully restful. Go on, pick up a paintbrush and have a go!

The back garden moths of 2017

Yes, it's that time again, a look back at the natural history highlights of the past year - a Godsend to the frequent blogger who may just be running out of things to bore you all rigid with. It has undoubtably been a good year for moths - at least for the back garden, which after 30 years of recording still manages to surprise and entertain. I continued to try and get to grips with the micros, with some success, including a couple of 'good for Surrey' species: Phtheochroa sodaliana, feeds on Buckthorn, local on Surrey chalky soils Blastobasis rebeli, an adventive species and the second Surrey record New macro additions included these most welcome visitors: Clifton Nonpareil, part of a nationwide surge in records Scallop Shell, is there a more finely marked moth out there? Scarlet Tiger - still very scarce in the county and a big surprise during a hot spell in mid-June Yellow-legged Clearwing - along with Orange-tailed, enticed to a pheromone lu

Flying torpedo

With the continuing presence of Hawfinches, and there being no way of knowing when such numbers will grace us with such site fidelity again, I returned to Headley Heath for a spot of Coccothraustes worship. Again, no other birders were present, so I had the far valleys to myself. Arriving at 13.20hrs it was but twenty minutes before three flew in, and in the following two hours they were backed up by several other encounters, including a flock of four. The total of 12 suggests that the Headley birds are finally moving away. To sit in such glorious valleys and have these fat cigar / heavy torpedo shaped birds, triangular of wing and generous of wing bar, fly overhead and giving, at times, intimate views, are moments to remember. One bright male sat in a tree top for well over ten minutes, away from camera range but well within that of binoculars. He positively shone out in the afternoon gloom. It might be some time before we witness these numbers again...

This the season to be grumpy

I'm not anti-Christmas. That is, I'm not anti-Christmas as in it being used as a public holiday and for family get-togethers. Having been a life-long atheist I do still feel a little uneasy about using a religious festival as an excuse to 'eat, drink and be merry' - I don't subscribe to the Dawkin's school of belittling believers. I respect one's right to adhere to a belief system of choice. How and when the marketing people turned the birth of Jesus into a reason to put on weight, get pissed and waste lots of money I'm not sure, but they've done a good job in brainwashing us to do so. When our girls were little ones during the 1990s, we too fell into the consumer trap. We must have spent hours trying to hunt down the most wanted toys (this was pre-Internet) and joined in the obscene overspending on everything from gifts, food, drink, decorations, trees, crackers.... and making sure that we had those extra little things that you cannot do without a

Missing in action

The past two days have seen visits to Canons Farm and Priest Hill. Although neither habitats are 'birdy' by nature - they lack water for a start - the small number of birds seen at both sites was concerning. As seems to be the way of 21st century birding, the commonest species recorded were Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow and Herring Gull, but even these were in depressed numbers. The 'missing in action' list was long, with a lack of tits, finches and thrushes most alarming - there were representatives present from each family, but in worryingly low numbers. Where are they? Not here, that's for sure. Away from the birding hot-spots our bird numbers are in free fall. Whereas sorting through and counting large finch flocks used to be a 'given', my pulse now quickens if I come across one, such is their perceived rarity. Any larks and pipits huddle together in modest clumps, not strewn across the hinterland so that you kick them up with every few steps. A walk along

Winter beech woodland

My latest painting is well underway, a graphic interpretation of a beech woodland floor in the depths of winter. I've yet to tackle the trees and sky with any real conviction, but the floor is coming along nicely. I'll post an image of the finished article on completion.

Misidentified water

With a few Parrot Crossbills turning up in the country (including a flock just outside of Surrey), I thought it worthwhile searching my nearest sizeable coniferous woodland. When I say nearest I really mean the most obvious and convenient - Reigate Heath. The pines start at the car park and pepper the  surrounding heathland, which is largely golf course. A couple of hours worth of wandering did not provide the hoped for 'chups' come calling from the tree tops. In fact the area was deathly quiet, save for the odd Redwing and Wren. There was an amusing interlude. I carried on walking south-west beyond the heath where a collection of small streams meander through the sandy soil. Through a stand of trees I spied water - a lot of it! Where on earth was this? My mind went into overdrive, hopes were high that this was a newly created wetland that would repay watching. Surely such a large waterbody would not have eluded a birder's detection! I phoned local birder Gordon Hay, as i


It has become one of my favourite images of the year. A tight gaggle of birders on the causeway of Staines Reservoir, hoping to see the Horned Lark. It is a grey day. Few of them are looking through their optics. Most of them are of advancing years. They appear morose to a man (they are all men). They are hemmed in by two high fences. They look caged. My first thought was to poke fun at the scene. But then I thought better of it... As I have been actively birdwatching since 1974 it has been my pleasure to meet and befriend many people, some of whom I have known for almost all of the intervening 43 years. They have mostly stuck at it, birding through the years in a variety of ways - working patches, twitching, birding the world, ringing, taking part in census work, sea watching - the variation of studies are almost as numerous as the people who have carried them out. All of these hundreds of people: the creators of notebooks, the originators of observations, the discoverers of raritie

Paper. Pens. Remember them?

My latter-day natural history notes and lists are largely objects that don't largely physically exist beyond being pixels on a screen that disappear as soon as a computer is switched off. As much as the information on which they are built has been compiled by my physical and, at times, emotional endeavour, they lack a character - it is but cold data. However, that same 'information' that has, in the past, been written by my fair hand onto paper.... well, this is something that has spirit, it is a combination of personal touch and a gift from the natural world via a tree. I can hold it, smell it, fold it (but maybe not a hard-backed notebook!). It can also be browsed through, organic reminders of what I've seen, where I've been and what I thought. The computer screen does not allow such emotions to come so easily flooding back on a personal level. My old notebooks are great reminders of who I was at the time, from the state of my handwriting to the use of phrase - I

Of computers and Lapwings

We still haven't replaced our computer. The truth is, we are not really missing it. Phones and tablets do most of the donkey-work and the only times that I could do with the computer is when I wish to manipulate images or write a chunk of copy - these are doable on the smaller platforms but not as easy to do so. There is also the question of storing files - I know that stuff can be stored in the 'cloud' but I still like to see files on a desktop that I can move around and store in places of my choice. One side-effect of all this is that my blogging has lessened in frequency (some of you might think that's a good thing!) I'm sure that we will get our act together and buy one soon. I can then bore you with pictures of moss, moths, dead leaves, fungi and maybe a Hawfinch or two... Speaking of Big Bills, I had one flying over Canons Farm at 08.00hrs this morning, heading south. This was followed by a Lapwing that flew out of Horse Pasture before drifting off west. L

Cat-like owl

It looked like a big fat Tom cat, small ears pricked up on a broad face, dazzling eyes lazering in on anyone and anything. Its head was just proud of the severely cut field crop, swivelling from side to side, at times rotating full circle to ensure that nothing was about to disturb its roost site. This Short-eared Owl had been picked up by David Campbell in one of Canons Farm's larger fields. His diligent scanning had detected a large clod of earth that surprisingly moved and through a scope revealed itself as the owl. He kindly sent a text message out to the Canons Farm faithful, which saw me change direction from Epsom Downs and up onto the high farmland. I didn't expect it to still be there when I rolled up some twenty minutes later, but it was, and stayed hunkered down and unmolested by the local corvids for the two hours that I was present. A small gathering of local birders in the warm sunshine made for a most enjoyable morning - plenty of chatter, a few birds passing

A lack of Marsh Tits

This morning I spent at least three hours roaming the woodland that is draped across Gatton Park, Reigate Hill and Colley Hill. It was exceedingly quiet, save for a flock of 75 Redwings. There were times when I could stand still and fail to see or hear a single bird. Most worrying was the lack of Marsh Tits. It is close on five years since I have recorded one in this general area. Come to think of it, my last few visits to nearby Walton Heath has failed to turn up this tit either. Maybe its local range is contracting - seemingly lost from Banstead Woods, possibly going that way in the Reigate area, hard to come by at Walton Heath... but it's not all doom and gloom. The small populations in Great Hurst and Little Hurst Wood are hanging on (albeit becoming quite isolated) and it remains quite common at Headley Heath, Mickleham and Box Hill. I have to remind myself that when I first started birding in these places back in the mid 1970s, Willow Tits were quite easy to come by. It wou

Field work

Yet another visit was made to Headley Heath yesterday afternoon. I have been checking elsewhere for 'you know what' but have so far come up with blanks - Juniper Top, Juniper Bottom, Box Hill, Mickleham Downs and Norbury Park, but in the process have been able to reacquaint myself with some beautiful parts of northern Surrey. Whereas there might not have been any H*******, there were plenty of Marsh Tits, Bullfinches and Redwings, so it was time ornithologically well spent. Back to yesterday afternoon. The 'big bills' we're still present, but not as numerous as they have been. 15 was my estimate, with a largest flock of five. No birders seen, funny how the lure of such events does quickly wear off, but that's fine by me, as I wandered the quiet valleys and had a couple of close encounters, both dull females. I also flushed a Woodcock. As the light started to fade I couldn't help wonder how much longer these testosterone-fuelled finches will remain, wheth

No show beech

The 'no big computer' trial period has claimed its first blog post no-show. Yesterday was spent walking through some of the finest beech woodland along 'my' part of the North Downs. The forest floor was carpeted with a virtually unbroken run of rich orange leaves, the sparseness of the under storey giving far reaching views, with a soft light being allowed in through the diminishing canopy. I managed to obtain some half decent photographs and started to compose a piece on the true wildness of such places - the slope of this part of the downs has never been cleared and farmed, so has most probably been clothed in beech, yew, box, ash and holly since the Ice-age. But... I do not have an SD card adapter for an iPad, and without the images such a post would be sadly lacking (although I seem to have done half a job above). A replacement computer cannot be far away, and with Black Friday happening in under two weeks time, it might be financially prudent to wait. By the way,

Trial period

Our big 'grown up' computer has finally died - it was one of those shiny silver Apple towers that was state-of-the-art when it came out in 2008. The fact that it has lasted NINE years is testament to its robustness. But now that the dreaded time has come we find ourselves looking at the corner of the room where the tower and monitor used to be and not being in any hurry to get a replacement. The reason being is that we can do just about everything on our iPad and iPhone (apologies to any anti-Mac or PC officianados out there). Sending and receiving Emails, browsing the Internet, and being able to send items to print are all catered for. I have not got access to any of my creative software packages (Photoshop, InDesign) but haven't had the need to yet. I can download images from an SD card onto an iPad and do some rudimentary photo manipulation if I want. So, apart from a bigger screen, do we really need another big computer? We are living a trial period at the moment to

Moths in winter

I used to pack away the MV for the winter after giving it a good clean and checking that my supply of bulbs and egg boxes were topped up in readiness for the spring. But now, the moth trapping season never closes, migrants from the south can turn up in the depths of December and you need to have your wits about you (or belong to the excellent Migrant Lepidoptera Facebook group that will give you prompts) so as not to miss these winter windows of migration opportunity. But it's not all about migrants - there are some hardy species that turn up on milder winter nights, and now, in late autumn, there are still Feathered Thorns, Blair's Shoulder-knots, Mottled Umbers and Green-brindled Crescents (above) to keep you going. I might not bother too much until next February, unless we get a plume of southern Mediterranean air come our way - my Banstead mid-winter fare does tend to be largely comprised of Light Brown Apple Moths and Chestnuts, neither species of which gets the pulse

Birder on non-birder action

This afternoon I took myself off to Juniper Bottom, looking for H*********. I positioned myself on a cleared slope above the footpath, which gave a fine view across to the far canopy. Sound travels along this valley with ease - you can hear a Goldcrest sneeze at several hundred yards. I could certainly hear the three young hikers who were noisily making their way towards me. As they got closer they started to look at me, obviously unsure as to why I would possibly sitting on a log staring at trees. Then, as they drew level, one of them lowered his voice and said "Must be a bird watcher. Fucking weirdo". It reminded me of a couple of birder/non-birder encounters that I have had over the years. The first took place at 03.30hrs one May morning when I was taking part in a Holmethorpe Sand Pits 24-hour bird race. I had parked up in a lay-by to listen out for Tawny Owl when a police car drew up alongside. "Morning sir, can we be of assistance?" "No thank you, eve

The H word

Hawfinches. Some of you might be getting sick and tired of reading about them. Especially those of you who have been forlornly chasing them. But, as a man once said, "If you're tired of Hawfinches, you're tired of birding." Or something like that. Anyhow, I went back to Headley Heath this afternoon for another dose of the 'H' word, where I was joined by Ian Jones and later by a handful of other birder's that included David Stubbs. Unlike yesterday, the birds were not lining up like good little girls and boys to be counted easily, and by the afternoon's end the final tally was a bit of a guess, with a minimum of 26 but possibly as many as 35. The largest flock was of seven. If you are after closer and more prolonged views, then it is best to  position yourself to the east of the two valleys I mentioned yesterday, looking westwards towards High Ashurst. Most of the action took place in the adjacent canopy, with small flocks zipping about and frequent

The Headley Hawfinches

Yes, I know it's pants.... Seeing that there are so many Hawfinches zapping about all over the place, I thought that I would try and find some locally that were not just moving through, but using 'my' fair part of Surrey to feed and roost. The place of choice was the steep wooded valleys to be found on the western side of Headley Heath. This area has plenty of 'Hawfinch pedigree', where I have, in the past, seen this species shortly after dawn and considered it a possible roost site. Back in the 1970s and 1980s I would regularly visit the Bedgebury Pinetum Hawfinch roost in Kent, and remembered that they often came in early, sometimes a good hour and a half before sunset. So, armed with a thermos flask and plenty of hope, I took up my position (at 12.30hrs) on a grassy hill between the two westernmost valleys, with good visibility up to the tree-line on the neighbouring hills. The first hour was slow, save for the odd flock of Redwings that swept on through. T

Rare moths at Dungeness, sandwiched by the sun

Another beautiful Dungeness sunrise Spoladea recurvalis - this rare pyralid came to a Greatstone MV on October 26th Last moth out of the observatory moth trap on October 26th was this Red-headed Chestnut The rarest of the lot, a Sword-grass, the first area record since the early 1960s (October 27th) We started with the sun rising, so let's finish with it setting