Harvest Crunch

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Monday, 1 August 2011 13:11

I have been having a few problems with my computer and camera recently, hence the dearth of posts. I have however, still been seeing shed loads of natural history.

However, the first thing I have to say is that I have finished the farm surveys!!! It has been an incredible experience, walking just shy of 600 miles, around 5000 in the car, 54 early starts over a nine month period. All this on top of a full time job. And even nine months into a survey and new birds were still being recorded. On Saturday I was searching for arable plants on a tiny corner that was quite productive last month. I was close to a high hedge and looked up to see a raptor circling. I focused my bins and shouted (to myself - getting really at good at that) Honey Buzzard! It immediately flew west and disappeared behind the hedge where I got a brief view of its 'spirit level' straight wings as it flew directly away from me. I wished I had had a better look at it but I was confident enough. A report of a bird on BirdGuides flying south west elsewhere in Hampshire was reassuring.

Honey Buzzard was the 10th species of raptor I have seen during these surveys. From commonest to rarest, this is what I have seen:

Buzzard
Kestrel
Sparrowhawk
Red Kite
Peregrine
Merlin
Hobby
Hen Harrier
Honey Buzzard
Black Kite

Which I think is pretty amazing and it goes to show how, if you watch a place long enough and hard enough you can pick up good birds, even if it's not a nature reserve.

On Saturday I also found some larvae of the Na moth the Striped Lychnis. This is a BAP species and a new one for me, I have been expecting to see them in this area based on what I have read about them. Search for them on the flowering spikes of Dark Mullein in far West Sussex and Hamsphire. The closely related Mullein will also take Dark Mullein but is a larva earlier in the year. The larvae I saw today were quite early instars, the biggest no more than 15 mm long, there were five individuals on two spikes. These two moths are much easier to separate as larvae. I also found some Cionus weevils but I have struggled to get past a final couplet of species in the key. As it is the 1st of the month today, I will also do a long overdue pan-species list update. The end of July has been incredibly productive for me and despite scaling back the listing, I am at the time of writing on 3600 species.

2 Response to "Harvest Crunch"

Anonymous Says:

Hi Graeme, where were your Striped Lychnis larvae? Anything east of Chichester would be notable - surveys this year seem to show the foodplant scarcer than usual. Larvae still mostly small but growing fast in this hot weather. Grateful for any records, cheers
Dan
dhoare@butterfly-conservation.org

Graeme Lyons Says:

Sorry Dan, didn't mention I was in fact in Hampshire, near Privet. I'll send details to you and Tony via email.
Graeme

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