A New Dawn

Well, I am all settled in here in Cambridge, and I have started a new job too! However, I shall come onto that momentarily, as I had some interesting wildlife sightings beforehand.

Before the live wildlife sightings, I took a train ride down to big old London town for a meeting at the Natural History Museum. A wonderful meeting, and in addition, I got a quick tour of Angela Marmont Centre – a resource for naturalists! When we went to look at the specimens, naturally I requested to see the Lepidoptera. How superb it was! I spent much of it just going “oh wow … oh look at that one … oh that’s gorgeous”!

Following this, my parents came to see where I am now living and we went for a lovely autumn wander in the nearby woods and fields. Toby had a wonderful time – lots of new smells to investigate! And then we enjoyed a scrumptious Victoria Sponge that I had made as a belated birthday cake for my mum. I suppose I ought to be modest, but it really was scrumptious.

I’m trying to learn how to garden as best I can. I am not naturally green-fingered but I am giving it a go nonetheless. The pond had been completely covered with grass, so I have been clearing that. I haven’t done all of it yet, I wasn’t sure if I should, but I have done a good proportion of it. And managed to spot a little frog (Rana temporaria) whilst doing so! A couple of days later I was pruning the hedge (which is attempting to take over the garden) and found the summer form of the Hawthorn Shieldbug (Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale, the first generation in spring looks different). Matt and I are collating the garden list, I wonder what else will turn up? Domestic cat has – on numerous occasions!

A Saturday morning dawned bright and mostly clear of clouds, and we took ourselves to RSPB’s Fen Drayton Lakes where autumn had definitely taken hold. However, I did spot a couple of bramble flowers! At the end of October! Very odd, or perhaps not? I’m not sure. From what I remember, we saw almost 50 different bird species in just a couple of hours – including my first Bittern (Botaurus stellaris)! Strangely Matt spotted it from the car park within a minute of getting out the car! Other highlights included Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus), Devil’s Coach Horse Beetle (Staphylinus olens) and Ruby Tiger Moth caterpillar (Phragmatobia fuliginosa). For the latter, I risked life and limb to protect it from cyclists zooming past, before managing to safely relocate it off the path!

And so, suspense over – news of my new job! *drum roll* I am now working in the Visitor Welcome and Membership Team at National Trust’s Wimpole Estate. It’s a beautiful location and the team are absolutely lovely! Do flick through the photos below!

Somewhere over the rainbow

Flicking through this week’s photos, I was astounded by the colours. The whole rainbow makes an appearance, in fact the whole colour spectrum really since black, brown, grey and white are also there. What do you think?

A walk around Lorton with colleagues provided the opportunity to spy out some interesting wildflowers. I do find some wildflower identification tricky – there are so many of them for one thing! However, I am attempting to learn a few more every now and then to help build up my knowledge base. One of my colleagues kindly lent me a camera so that I could take some photos (mine is at the repair shop, having been broken during the Scotland trip!).

Of course, I couldn’t help but also take photos of invertebrates …

At last, the moth catches are becoming more substantial. I caught a couple of especially lovely ones this week, as shown below. The Angle Shades (Phlogophora meticulosa) is a particular beauty, don’t you think? And that Small Magpie (Anania hortulata) – despite being relatively large, it is actually one of the micro-moths!

A long weekend stretched ahead of me as I battled through the motorways to get up to Cambridge. A lovely long weekend full of moths, and seeing family. I really wish my camera had been fixed already! Since I saw TWO Hummingbird Hawk-Moths!!! Two!! My second and third ones ever. I also visited the RSPB’s Headquarters, and had a wander around the reserve. There was one spot I found very interesting, just a pathway I had a thought. But on closer examination, I could see that it was buzzing with life. Namely different types of wasps. As you can see I took some blurry photos – oh for my camera!

In the Cambridge garden, life was wonderful. Butterflies fluttered, gardening was toiled over, and next door’s cats rolled in the grass contentedly. And then night came … and the moth trap was lit. What a haul! Three Privet Hawk-Moths (Sphinx ligustri <- what an amazing scientific name too), and six Elephant Hawk-Moths (Deilephila elpenor <- also a cracking name!)! I have never seen so many of each! I fell even more in love with the Privet H-M species, they really are fantastic. When they walk across your skin, you can actually feel a light but sharp pricking sensation from the hooks on their feet. I had one go for a wander at one point – it even went up onto my cheek!

The week finished off with a gruelling trek back to Dorset. Sadly there seemed to be accidents in many places. Here’s hoping none were fatal. Not far from the house in Weymouth, I had to suddenly pull over. Something had flown in front of my car’s headlights. Definitely not a bat or a bird, my instinct was telling me a moth. And one of the Hawk-Moths at that. By the size of it, perhaps another Privet? I dashed over (looking both ways beforehand of course) to where it had flown too. As luck would have it, the moth had landed on a fence near a lamp-post. And indeed it was a Privet Hawk-Moth! How weird and wonderful that my gut instinct was correct!

The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent Dorset Wildlife Trust’s positions, strategies or opinions (or any other organisation or individuals for that matter).