Sunday, 20 April 2014

There was a distinct chilly feel to the air, largely due to a fresh north east wind, which strengthened towards the end of the day. The third day of sustained Wheatear passage saw numbers climbing to their second highest so far this year: a figure of 89 Wheatears comprised largely Greenland-race birds, some of which were visibly exhausted, sheltering and hiding in bushes and under dense vegetation inland. The first Red Kite of the year drifted eastwards over the mountain in the morning, a female Merlin darted over Henllwyn, and another raptor evaded identification, although could have been a harrier of some kind.

In terms of warblers, the numbers were somewhat disappointing, with lower than 30-figure counts for all of the commoner species; singles of Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler and Grasshopper Warbler were noteworthy. A Yellow Wagtail on The Narrows was presumably the same female as yesterday, whilst seven White Wagtails resided close by. Wader numbers continue to build, albeit rather subtly, with some seven Whimbrels, five Ringed Plovers, five Dunlins and a Common Sandpiper seen between Henllwyn and the South Tip.

There have been relatively few moths turning up in the moth traps recently; mostly due to a combination of the recent full moon and the cool and clear nights. Numbers have started increasing in the last two days, with 11 Hebrew Charcaters, three Common Quakers and the first Garden Carpet of the year taken from the Nant heath trap last night...
 Hebrew Characters are by far the commonest moth at the moment
 The first Garden Carpet of the year was attracted to the Nant moth trap
These Lackey moth caterpillars have emerged from their spun 'tents' in the last few days. These little fellas hatched from their eggs earlier in the spring, establishing the tent of silk soon after. It is crucial for the tent to be situated in direct view of the sun, since the caterpillars need to elevate their temperature to at least 15'C (below which digestion cannot occur). On particularly cold mornings, the caterpillars may group together into tight 'aggregates'; remarkably, the temperature inside these aggregates is commonly as high as 30'C warmer than the surroundings. These 1st, or perhaps 2nd instar caterpillars will shed their skins several times before reaching full size, then forming a pupae, ready to emerge as adult moths in July and August.
A great diversity of plant life has emerged over the last few weeks, with Bracken shoots, Marsh Marigold flowers, Cuckoo flowers and much, much more adding a bit of colour to the island

1 comment:

  1. Ben

    We must have seen your Red Kite as one passed over Aberdaron the same day.