Garden Robin

Garden Robin

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

A Few Moths

Moth trapping sessions recently have been dominated by Heart and Dart and the Large Yellow Underwings have also started to appear.

A few photos of moths trapped in the last 10 days.

I am really over the moon with this Maiden's Blush (Cyclophora punctuaria) which is a new species for the garden.

Larvae feed on Sessile and Pedunculate Oak. According to the "Larger Moths of Warwickshire" by the County Recorder, David Brown, the moth is found locally in broadleaved woodlands in the County and its occasionally recorded from gardens in the vicinity of Oak trees. We do have at least a dozen oak trees about a quarter of a mile away or less (I am always hoping they will produce a Merveille du Jour for me one day!).

Square-spot Rustic Xestia xanthographa. New for Year. Larvae feed on various grasses. Not 100 per cent sure about this identification so please let me know if I am wrong.

Silver y (Autographa gamma) A Common migrant from Europe. Often seen in the daytime nectaring on various flowers. In our garden it loves Red Valerian. Larvae feed on stinging nettles, brassicas, clovers, hedge bedstraw and legumes. (New for Year).

Buff Ermine - love this moth so another photo!

Middle-barred Minor (Oligia fasciuncula (New for Year). Larvae feed on various grasses.

Uncertain (yes, there is a species of moth with this name!) (Hoplodrina octogenaria) have started to appear in large numbers. This species is easily confused with Rustic!

Finally, a worn Pug. Pugs are notoriously difficult to identify and when they are worn like this one I more or less give up! They are also very active moths and its difficult to get a decent photo even after they have been chilled in the fridge.


Apologies I finished the post in a rush due to family complaining I spend all my time on Blogger!!!

Meant to say that I have done a #30 Days Wild post on my other Blog - Ragged Robin's Nature Notes and to give the sad news that the last Blue Tit chick also died. Not sure of the reasons why the clutch failed - there may have been a lack of caterpillars?

Monday, 15 June 2015

Flowers, Blue Tit Nest Update and Moths

The garden seems full of colour at the moment as more flowers start to bloom.

Cat's Ear now in flower in the "No Mow" Zone

Must admit I am not a lover of Rhodendrons but the flowers are quite striking.


I haven't a clue what this flower is - it self-seeded in one of the raised beds. If anyone knows the identity I would love to know.

Choisea is still flowering.

The pond is starting to look a little overgrown - OH is not happy about the duckweed!!!

Yellow Flags are finally flowering in the bog garden.

Foxgloves, so popular with bees, self-seed themselves all round the garden. Am really pleased a white one has appeared in the front garden this year. Will get a photo when the buds open.

The Astrantia I bought last year has re-appeared.


It never ceases to amaze me how plants can do well one year and badly the next. I bought this Papaver a few years ago and, although it flowered well the first year, last year it never even appeared. However, this year it is full of buds.

"Money" seeds are starting to form on Honesty. I thought an Orange Tip was laying eggs on this plant but haven't yet found any caterpillars.

Storksbill geranium.

Valerian much loved by Humming-bird Hawk-moths and many other insects.

The Humming-bird Hawk-moth did re-appear briefly on Saturday morning and even stayed around until I had fetched the camera. Sadly, it whizzed between around a few flowers and then flew off over the garage roof again. Rather annoyed I didn't get even a record shot!

Garden Birds

Had the first visit of the year at the weekend from a family of Greenfinches who visited the feeders.

News on the Blue Tit chicks is not good. There is only one remaining chick. Hopefully, the parents can find enough food to raise just this one.

Garden Moths

A new species for the garden

Silver-ground Carpet (Xanthorhoe montanata)

The larvae feed on various herbaceous plants such as Hedge Bedstraw, Primroses and Cleavers (plenty of the latter in the garden!!).

I've put the trap out tonight - really hoping for something other than Heart and Dart, Shuttle-shaped Darts and various Pug species which escape before you can pot them!

Friday, 12 June 2015

Humming-bird Hawk-moth!!!!!

SO excited...! :) We've just spotted a Humming-bird Hawk-moth on Red Valerian flowers in the garden.

I knew these flowers attracted this species which is why I planted so much Red Valerian but its rather wonderful when you do actually manage to attract the target species :)

Sadly, no photo - it flew off over the garage as I rushed indoors to get the camera - probably too dark anyway :( Its only the second time I've seen this species in England (the first was last year in our holiday cottage garden in Dorset) although we saw dozens when we once had a holiday in Jersey.

Would like to say it might return tomorrow but heavy rain is forecast all day!

Will certainly be keeping an even closer eye on Red Valerian for the foreseeable future!!

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Garden Moths from the Weekend and Blue Tit Update

Overnight temperatures are still very cool considering its June but I did put out the moth trap for 3 nights over the weekend. Catches are still very low but there were quite a few lovely moths - some new for the year and one new for the garden.

Buff Ermine (Spilosoma lutea) This species is fairly common and widespread but is still a Species of Conservation Concern under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP). The larvae feed on stinging nettle, honeysuckle and wild plum. (New for Year)

Heart and Dart (Agrotis exclamationis) is common and widespread. I trap a lot of this species.

Its very similar to Heart and Club (a species I rarely trap) but you can tell the difference as Heart and Dart has a "bird-like" mark on the front of its head.

Brimstone (Opistograptis luteolata) I rarely find this moth actually in the trap but often see them flying at lighted windows. Unmistakeable and very colourful :) The larvae feed on blackthorn, hawthorn, rowan and wayfaring tree. We have all these tree species in the garden so must remember to look out for caterpillars.

Pale Tussock (Calliteara pudibunda) - new for year and a pleasant surprise as this is a species I've only trapped once or twice before.

Elephant Hawk-moth (Deilephile elpenor) I trap this beautiful species only a few times a year - (this was the first this year). The larvae feed mainly on Rosebay Willowherb and less frequently on other willowherbs and bedstraws.

Beautiful Golden Y (Autographa pulchrina) This is not just a year tick but a new species for the garden. Larvae feed on stinging nettle mainly but also hedge woundwort, common ragwort, honeysuckle and water avens.

Finally, a worn Scalloped Hazel (Odontopera bidentata) - new for the year

Blue Tit Update

Sadly, one of the chicks disappeared yesterday - can only assume it died and perhaps it was removed from the nestbox. Today, we seem to have lost another one. These were the two smallest. Am a little worried as the parents don't seem to be bringing food as often as would be expected.

30 Days Wild

I've done a weekly update on the #30 Days Wild project organised by the Wildlife Trusts but I've posted it on my other blog "Ragged Robin's Nature Notes" mainly because I am trying to keep posts on this blog to items related to the garden only.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Garden Bioblitz 2015

Last weekend I took part in Garden Bioblitz 2015 - the aim is to list all the species you find in your garden over a 24 hour period. You don't need to spend hours and hours if you don't want to but just go out at different times of the day and record what you see. Help with identification is available on i-spot and when you have identified all the species you have found records can be entered on i-Record.

Garden biodiversity has not been that well researched in the past so every record is important.

You can only record species of animals and plants that have arrived in the garden of their own accord so all those lovely native shrubs, trees and flowers we've planted over the years can't be counted! :(

If you want to find out more or take part next year there is a website at

I couldn't take part on the Saturday (FA Cup Final) so opted to do the recording on Sunday, 31st May. The weather wasn't brilliant as it rained most of the morning. The afternoon luckily was dry with some sunny intervals.

Last year I found just over 70 species and, as expected with the cool weather, this year's findings were lower. There were certainly far fewer insects about and I didn't find even one spider. No mammals were seen this year - not even the Grey Squirrel who is a regular visitor.

Species seen


Blue Tit
Great Tit
Coal Tit
Wood Pigeon
Carrion Crow,
Feral Pigeon
House Sparrow

(Many of these weren't in flower this year but luckily many of the species I had also found in 2014 and were, therefore, easy to identify this time round.



Ribwort Plantain - was a bit worried about this one as we have planted this species in the wildflower "meadow" area but this was in the lawn in the front garden so I've counted it!

Green Alkanet (I am really pleased this has somehow self-seeded as its such a magnet for pollinating insects)

Upright Yellow Sorrel
Lesser Trefoil
Yellow Corydalis
Herb Robert
Hairy Bittercress


Common Nettle

Wall Speedwell
White Clover
Smooth Sow Thistle
Common Mouse-ear
Cut-leaved Dead-Nettle
Common Ragwort
Common Cat's Ear
Broad-leaved Willow Herb


This Hart's Tongue Fern has self-seeded in one of the stone walls




Oak - this Oak (Quercus sp.) self-seeded and OH has planted it in a pot

Common Whitebeam - a common street tree round here and this one self-seeded just after we moved in - its now huge and home to the nestbox which houses the Blue Tit family - all six chicks by the way are still doing well.


Meadow Grass

Perennial Rye Grass

Common Couch Grass


Rough-stalked Feather-moss


Common Frog
Common/Smooth Newt


Buff-tailed Bumble Bee
Honey Bee
Early Bumble Bee


Black Garden Ant
Red Ant


Holly Leaf Mine (Phytomyxa ilicis)

Stigmella aurella - found on Bramble


White-lipped Banded Snail

Garden Snail


Holly Blue


Bee Moth


I found a real hotspot for ladybirds in the front garden where part of the Beech hedge was in full sun. There were loads of Harlequins

Harlequin Ladybird

Several pairs were mating - anxious to guarantee the next generation!

and I was really pleased to find a native 2-spot ladybird in the same area of the hedge. Sorry rubbish photo to be honest when I am bioblitzing I just snap away to get a record for id purposes only as from memory they want you to upload loads of photos to verify your records.




Black Bean Aphid

Other Insects

Common Pond Skater
Common Rough Woodlouse

I ran out of time again this year so didn't have chance again to do any pond dipping or examine the log pile. There are several moss, lichen and grass species I am having problems identifying.

The total is higher than I expected given the cool weather - just over 60 species although a few may not be accepted by i-Record. For example, I suspect Honey Bee is probably not on their list! Last year I had problems with some of the species names although I think in the end I managed to record them all.

Its certainly a fun thing to do and would be particularly good if you had young children. It also makes you realise just how many species are using the garden and gives you an incentive to actually identify them all.