Weekend WeBS & October Mothing

   Wildfowl numbers continue to build but slowly with only 31 Shoveler amongst the throngs of Mallard and Gadwall. Rotavating the edges of the marsh and main pool really seems to have had a positive effect with 60 Lapwing probing the mud amongst the 300 or so Black-headed Gulls. Pleasing to see some results from our hard work. 

  A sprinkling of Skylarks and Meadow Pipits went over whilst there was a noticeable influx of Song Thrush on the ground. Other than that just a few Redpoll were in the sycamores along the entrance track and Siskins in Riverwalk Copse. Red Admirals, Comma, Speckled Wood and Small White are still on the wing in sunny spells plus plenty of Common Darters in the reed channels at B pools and finally a couple of Migrant Hawkers were patrolling along Riverwalk.  

WeBS List;

Mute Swan 20, Canada Goose 57, Greylag Goose 1, Mallard 145, Gadwall 146, Shoveler 31, Wigeon 50, Teal 91, Tufted Duck 43, Goosander 1, Little Grebe 11, Great Crested Grebe 1, Cormorant 44, Grey Heron 2, Water Rail 2, Moorhen 36, Coot 89, Lapwing 60, Black-headed Gull 302, Lesser Black-backed Gull 1, Kingfisher 2. 

   A bit of monthly mothing on Sunday night resulted in quite a colourful mix and a couple of species that were new for the year. I particularly like the Green-brindled Crescents, they’re quite variable in their amounts of green but some of them are gorgeous. Nice to see a good amount of November Moths too. 

Species List;

Green-brindled Crescent 7, Snout 1, November Moth 14, Barred Swallow 1, Pink-barred Sallow 1, Sallow 2, Lesser Yellow Underwing 1, Canary-shouldered Thorn 1, Large Wainscot 2, Red green Carpet 1, Red-line Quaker 3, Brick 1, Rosy Rustic 1, Engrailed 1, Lunar Underwing 1, Blair’s Shoulder Knot 1, Feathered Thorn 1.

40 moths of 17 species. 


September WeBS Day

  Chilly south-westerlies and cloudy skies meant shorts were a bad idea. Between 7:00 and 8:30 this morning a total of 57 Meadow Pipits battled southwards in little groups, the maximum being 10. A Yellow Wagtail flew north over Rudd Pool and may have landed on the marsh. The riverside willows and poplars were dripping with roving flocks of tits and a few crests as well as about 20-30 Chiffchaffs. The huge flocks of hirundines continue along the river too, skimming and swirling round the trees. The numbers were made up of mainly House Martins with smaller numbers of Swallows and about a dozen Sand Martins in the mix early on. All this of course attracted a Hobby and they quickly scattered.

  Out on the water, the duck numbers are slowly building up. 77 Gadwall and 53 Teal was nice to see though no Wigeon as yet and the Goosanders were absent today. Disappointingly not a single wader was to be seen, though I’m sure a few Snipe are lurking somewhere. The Kingfishers continue around B pools despite the grisly demise of their friend earlier in the week and it was good to see Little Grebes feeding chick(s) on Angling Pool this late in the year. Our crop field is coming along nicely (below), I can’t wait to see what takes advantage of this bird buffet.


Species List;

Little Grebe 14, Cormorant 12, Little Egret 3, Grey Heron 4, Mute Swan 21, Canada Goose 101, Mallard 155, Gadwall 77, Shoveler 8, Teal 53, Tufted Duck 12, Water Rail 2, Moorhen 29, Coot 79, Black-headed Gull 13, Lesser Black-backed Gull 2, Kingfisher 2.

Autumn All-Dayer

  A pleasure as always to take part in the West Mids All-Dayer on a glorious Saturday in early September. The weather though perhaps became too good as the day progressed, settled and sunny weather meant passage and movement was limited.

  Early on the thick riverside mist smothered the fields and so hiding the usual Barn Owls from us, though we still managed a total of 4 Tawny Owls and later a Little at the E.ON Meadows. A promising start over Bittern Hide included about 25 Meadow Pipits, 1 Tree Pipit, 2 Sand Martins and an early Siskin. Though we had to wait longer for a couple of Yellow Wags but the Swifts never appeared for us. Lesser Whitethroats were to be had up by the car park and the Hobby briefly appeared around midday after being absent on Friday.

  Out on the pools it was encouraging to see a pair of Water Rails with chicks at B pools. Adding this sighting to the records of broods in New Bay, Keyhole and North Pool Sluice suggests 3 or 4 breeding pairs this year, a brilliant breeding season for the species. Small numbers of most duck were present but no sign of any of the Wigeon seen earlier in the week. Ladywalk as always was lacking in wader variety, just the usual Lapwing, 4 Snipe unusually in Keyhole Scrape with single Green and Common Sands floating around.

   As for the gaps in our list, Garden Warbler was a bit of a shocker whilst our breeding Great Crested Grebes have inconsiderately left us. Yellowhammer, Skylark and Red-legged Partridge will hopefully become more reliable as we sow and develop our arable crop patches along the river. 

  Thanks go to the team, Pete Sofley, Steve Cawthray, John Allton, Pete Lichfield, Ken Bentley, Ben Eaton and Kevin Whiston.

Species List;

Little Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mallard, Gadwall, Shoveler, Teal, Tufted Duck, Goosander, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Hobby, Peregrine, Pheasant, Water Rail, Moorhen, Coot, Lapwing, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Snipe, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Feral Pigeon, Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Tawny Owl, Little Owl, Kingfisher, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Sand Martin, Swallow, House Martin, Meadow Pipit, Tree Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler, Reed Warbler, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Marsh Tit, Willow Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Magpie, Jay, Jackdaw, Rook, Crow, Raven, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Linnet, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Siskin, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting.

84 species

Missed species;

Yellowhammer, Garden Warbler, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Barn Owl, Skylark, Cuckoo, Swift, Common Tern, Redshank, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher, Wigeon, Shelduck, Great Crested Grebe.

August Mothing

  A slightly disappointing Monday night on the reserve considering that it’s August, though still 14 new species for the year. Encouraging to catch another couple of the scarce Angle-striped Sallows plus good numbers of Pebble Hook-tips and some smart Wainscots. Nice to see something different clinging to the side of the box, a curious looking species of leafhopper called Ledra aurita which looks like it’s got ears, picture below.

Species List;

Green Carpet 6, Willow Beauty 1, Pebble Prominent 1, Swallow Prominent 3, Lesser Swallow Prominent 1, Iron Prominent 1, Engrailed 4, Common Wave 3, Common White Wave 3, Mother of Pearl 5, Dingy Shell 3, Large Yellow Underwing 57, Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing 1, Polar Hawkmoth 1, Bird Cherry Ermine 1, Brimstone 12, Flame Shoulder 5, Rosy Rustic 2, Square-spot Rustic 7, Double-striped Pug 1, Small Square-spot 1, Brown House Moth 1, Apotomis turbidana 1, Six-striped Rustic 1, Clouded Border 3, Pebble Hook-tip 9, Canary-shouldered Thorn 10, Angle-striped Sallow 2, Latticed Heath 1, Straw Dot 9, Gold Spot 2, Snout 1, Vine’s Rustic 1, Grey/Dark Dagger 1, Chevron 1, Shaded Broad-bar 1, Common Wainscot 2, Bulrush Wainscot 1, Small China-mark 4, Catoptria falsella 1.

171 moths of 40 species, year total now 164 species.

New Bay Work Day (plus cake & caterpillars)

 Another busy day down the reserve on Monday. First on the agenda was the heavy work of island clearance on Main Pool. Several were cleared with brushcutters, whilst one small island was re-profiled with picks and mattocks to make it more attractive to waders, hopefully to both breeding and migrant birds. Maybe as well this one won’t be swamped with Cormorants as it’s further away from the colony.


Island clearance and profiling on Main Pool

   Lunch was needed after that, with the time spent out on the marsh scoffing Victoria sponge. Though some of the meadow flowers had faded away, the Water Mint was still dishing out the nectar for the butterflies. Plenty of Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshells and Meadow Browns danced around with small numbers of Gatekeepers but only one Common Blue seen which is concerning. It’s also a shame that the meadow isn’t accessible  all of the time as it really was alive with insects on Monday. Out on the water, good numbers of Brown Hawkers and Black-tailed Skimmers patrolled the muddy edges.


Peacock basking on a bed of Water Mint, Purple Loosestrife and Meadowsweet

  After lunch a few volunteers continued to clear and manage the ditches of invasive weeds along the boundary of the reserve to encourage Water Voles with help from Tame Valley Wetlands. Good news is that the rust fungus employed to slow down the Himalayan Balsam appears to be working but more about that in a future blog post.

 The rest of the team started work on the New Bay area which is getting rather overgrown. The bay used to be connected to the Main Pool by a good strip of open water or exposed mud but now is swamped with vegetation meaning invisible Snipe and less feeding areas for migrant Green Sands. So cutting some wide channels with the reed cutter and mowing down the encroaching reed and balsam should hopefully open it up a bit for water birds. At the far end, the small willows in the bay were encroaching on the marsh and drying it out so were took down to the ground. Unfortunately in the process, we felled the home of a huge, juicy, luminous green caterpillar instantly recognisable as a hawkmoth larva! An absolute beast of an insect, the white stripes and spiky blue tail pointed to it being a beautiful Eyed Hawkmoth, a great find.

  Other highlights from the day included a juvenile Cuckoo skirting past Riverwalk Hide, a Yellow Wagtail on the marsh early in the morning, a single Red-legged Partridge running for it’s life around the main gates and later the car park as well as new broods of Tufted Duck (7) and Little Grebe (2).

  Thanks go to all involved on Monday, we got plenty done but there’s still loads of work scheduled in for the summer weeks. So if you can volunteer, we would love to hear from you, there will be cake. Just contact us through the blog.

 On to the moths. The weather overnight hadn’t been great, rather gusty winds and showers through the night meant that we weren’t particularly optimistic. We’d decided to try out a different position and sited a box on the path below the line of poplars. Appropriately the box was full of Poplar Hawkmoths and head warden Pete was on hand to show off the impressive haul of 7 in one box! Species diversity was low but good numbers of several species were had, as well as 3 lovely Gold Spots being new for the year. Undoubtedly the highlight though, was the appearance of 2 Angle-striped Sallows, one in each trap. As far as we are aware this a new species for the reserve and is a Nationally Scarce B species with two well separated populations, one in the Spey Valley and Great Glen of Scotland and the other stretching from the Welsh Marches across the Midlands to Lincolnshire. So this is fantastic news that Ladywalk seems to be a refuge for them.

Species List;

Canary-shouldered Thorn 18, Coxcomb Prominent 4, Swallow Prominent 5, Light Brown Apple Moth 2, Brimstone 1, Bordered Beauty 1, Carcina quercana 1, Poplar Hawkmoth 9, Mother-of-Pearl 12, Acrobasis advenella 3, Straw Dot 6, Blastobasis adustella 1, Single-dotted Wave 1, Riband Wave 2, Common Rustic 11, Angle-striped Sallow 2, Large Yellow Underwing 4, Chequered Fruit Tortrix 2, Oegoconia sp. 1, Ypsolopha parenthesella 1, Catoptria pinella 1, Brown House Moth 2, Flame Shoulder 4, Brown China-mark 1, Clouded Border 2, Pale Prominent 2, Iron Prominent 1, Chevron 1, Straw Underwing 1, Blood-vein 3, Gold Spot 3, Lesser Yellow Underwing 1, Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing 2, Pebble Hook-tip 1.

116 moths of 34 species.

July Mothing & Orchid Walk

   The diversity is peaking now and there were a few surprises in the traps on Saturday morning. The highlight was probably the Lesser-spotted Pinion, a species which appears to be new to the reserve and feeds exclusively on elm species but we’re not sure of the whereabouts of any elms on the reserve as yet…The Brown-tail was a first for us too and an unexpected catch possibly up here in the midlands. The reserve’s moth records are patchy at best so we are definitely starting to fill the gaps, firstly a lovely, lilac-tinted Campion and 4 striking Phoenix. About 140 moth species have been recorded on the reserve so far this year from just one visit each month since March and there’s still plenty of time to go. A year list will go up on the records page shortly and I’ll start to tackle the entire reserve list after that. As for pretty moths, the Bordered Beauties were stunning, there were a good number of Canary-shouldered Thorns,  two beautiful Buff Arches and a few small but smart Carcina quercana.

   Moving on from moths, this Wednesday there is a guided Orchid Walk led by Tame Valley Wetlands taking place at the reserve from 10:00 – 12:30. Marsh Helleborines of the rare ochroleuca variety are the reserve’s speciality and swathes of them flower in the woodland clearings near the new B Hide. Hopefully other marsh orchids will be on show too and the marsh at the moment is an explosion of colour from Purple Loosestrife, Meadowsweet, Water Mint and Forget-me-nots so you will not be disappointed. Click the link to learn more. Orchid Walk Tickets

Species List;

Carcina quercana 3, Buff Arches 2, Pebble Hook-tip 2, Dingy Footman 21, Scarce Footman 2, Common Footman 2, Dun-bar 2, Clouded Border 9, Mother-of-Pearl 11, Sandy Carpet 1, Canary-shouldered Thorn 7, Early Thorn 2, Elephant Hawk Moth 1, White-shouldered House Moth 3, Pale Prominent 6, Small Dotted Wave 1, Cream Wave 1, Riband Wave 2,  Small Fan-footed Wave 5, Common Wave 1, Willow Beauty 1, Large Yellow Underwing 25, Lesser Yellow Underwing 1, Copper Underwing 1, Bird Cherry Ermine 3, Engrailed 1, Bordered Beauty 2, Silver Y 3, Double Square-spot 4, A. goedartella 1, Anacampsis sp. 1, Swallow Prominent 2, Lesser-spotted Pinion 1, Small Scallop 1, Blastobasis 1, Grass Moth 5, Small Dotted Buff 2, Rustic 8, Common Rustic 1, Ruby Tiger 1, Browntail 1, White Satin 1, Campion 1, Heart and Dart 1, Smoky Wainscot 20, Silky Wainscot 3, Obscure Wainscot 1, Flame Shoulder 1, Buff-tip 1, Bright-line Brown-eye 1, July Highflyer 3, Acleris hastiana 1, Phoenix 4, Crassa unitella 1, Brimstone 1, Dark Arches 1, Clay 2, Drinker 1, Straw Dot 1, Wax Moth 1, Eudonia delunella 1.

197 moths of 61 species


June Mothfest

   A stunning weekend for mothing. The traps dripping with life as we headed down in the morning. Plenty decorating the outside of the box at this time of year, seeking shelter on the box and the egg cartons leaning against it or just lazily flopped over the surrounding  white sheets. The first trap as usual was placed behind Sainsbury’s Hide whilst the second for a change was placed in the clearings towards B, close to the beehives. The Sainsbury’s box was the clear winner in both species diversity and numbers, which was a touch surprising. As careful as we were, a mini explosion of moths escaped our clutches but nothing too exciting. Of note was that not a single hawk moth was caught but to be honest, they was so much diversity that they weren’t really missed this time. The Drinkers were fantastic, so too was the Beautiful Golden Y as well as the pristine Emeralds and Burnished Brass lighting up like jewels in the boxes.


A beautiful selection

Species List;

1 Brimstone, 8 Riband Wave, 3 Common Marbled Carpet, 4 Common White Wave, 4 Light Emerald, 3 Marbled Minor agg., 1 Green Pug, 19 Clouded Border, 2 Buff-tip, 5 Bloodvein, 2 Peach Blossom, 2 Variegated Golden Tortrix, 1 Barred Fruit Tree Tortrix, 4 Dark Arches, 4 July Highflyer, 3 Swallow Prominent, 1 Burnished Brass, 2 Beautiful Hook-tip, 3 Peppered Moth, 1 Cabbage Moth, 2 Engrailed, 1 Buff Ermine, 1 Bee Moth, 2 Small Dusty Wave, 1 Small Magpie, 1 Spectacle, 7 Middle Barred Minor, 1 Shoulder-striped Wainscot, 4 Common Emerald, 5 Brown Rustic, 1 Shuttle-shaped Dart, 1 Hamana agapeta, 5 Snout, 1 V Moth, 1 Short Cloaked, 5 Marbled White Spot, 1 Bright-line Brown-eye, 3 Willow Beauty, 1 Silver Ground Carpet, 1 The Flame, 1 Fanfoot, 4 E. bilunana, 1 Small Yellow Wave, 2 Heart & Dart, 1 Light Arches, 2 Straw Dot, 1 Beautiful Golden Y, 2 Drinker, 2 Light Brown Apple Moth, 12 Common Wainscot, 1 Bramble Shoot, 2 Mottled Rustic, 1 Chilo phragmitella, 1 Anania coronata.

154 moths of 54 species (plus many escapees and a few unknowns)

May Mothing

   A delightful haul of 116 moths of 40 species from the traps last night at the reserve. 13 degrees celsius, cloudy and still conditions resulted in some good numbers recorded. Highlights from the evening included Eyed Hawk Moth and a new and striking micro for me in the form of a Nemophora degeerella.

Species List;

Silver Ground Carpet, Brimstone, 4 Scorched Wing, Poplar Kitten, Common White Wave, 2 Common Wave, Latticed Heath, 3 Poplar Hawk Moth, Eyed Hawk Moth, Iron Prominent, Epinotia bilunana, 9 Straw Dot, 2 Coxcomb Prominent, 2 Pebble Hook-tip, 5 Mottled Rustic, 3 Engrailed, 7 Common Swift, 3 Small Angle Shades, 4 Flame Shoulder, 9 Brown Rustic, 5 Clouded Border, 2 Barred Fruit Tree Tortrix, 13 Buff Ermine, Heart and Dart, 5 White Ermine, 2 Middle Barred Minor, The Flame, Marbled Minor agg, Light Brown Apple Moth, 4 Green Carpet, Scalloped Hazel, 4 Peppered Moth, Treble Bar, 4 Swallow Prominent, May Highflyer, Common Pug, 5 Marbled White Spot, Nemophora degeerella, Dark Swordgrass, Obscure Wainscot.



Mothing On A Budget (Pt.2)

   So last month I promised to return with more details about manufacturing your own moth trap and here we are. It’s not difficult, just basic skills required. Any difficulties, just comment below. We also trapped at Ladywalk on Sunday night, results below.
   Firstly then, I use a large container with a flat lid (1), that’s important as an uneven lid won’t allow the funnel to work effectively. Use a 10 inch funnel and cut most of the long bit off (2). Then make a hole in the lid using a jig or keyhole saw so the funnel fits snugly. Shape the Perspex to fit the funnel inside and notch them top and bottom so they fit together (3&4). The bulb is a screw fit E27 (5&6) so you need a ceramic or plastic fitting for this, I prefer plastic (7). Fix a small Perspex disc to the ceramic or plastic fitting (8) which protects the electrics and rests securely on top of the Perspex vanes. Wire it up with a normal 13 amp plug and away you go. I am hoping that the photos illustrate what I am trying to say 😀 You don’t need chokes or ballast (whatever that is) but in a very short time you have a moth trap that will work.
   It’s a nice little project to work on for a couple of hours and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg. It only uses 23 watts so its much cheaper than running a 125mv bulb and if you are a beginner or just wanting to sus out the level of your interest you won’t be disappointed.
   Finally a bonus point. Using an inverter like the one pictured (9) this light trap will run all night from a car battery. No need for a generator or the accompanying noise just a well charged car battery. All done (10).
   I take my moth trap everywhere (much to my wife’s delight) and all you need is your car battery charger. Hope this helps someone to get started. You never know what’s going to show!
Ladywalk Mothing
   Not much showed at Ladywalk this morning, a bit breezier and cooler than we thought it was going to be, resulting in only 14 moths of 7 species. Though the first hawk moth of the year was amongst them! What a stunner!
Iron Prominent 1, Clouded Border 4, May Highflyer 1, Poplar Hawk Moth 1, Pebble Prominent 1, Flame Shoulder 4, White Ermine 2.

May All Dayer

   A little bit late, but just thought we’d document the full list of Ladywalk species for the all dayer. Fun was had by all though it wasn’t much fun getting up at 4am as a few hardy souls did.  Though it was worth the effort as 3 owl species were our reward; Barn Owl floating over the meadows over Whitacre, Tawny’s calling from the woods and a surprise in the form of a Little Owl calling behind Riverwalk. I slept over in B Hide and was ready for the dawn chorus but to be honest I’m not sure some of them stopped at all from dusk to dawn, the Reed Warblers and Cuckoos singing incessantly. A Grasshopper Warbler reeled briefly from the scrub around the reedbed at dawn whilst Pete in Riverwalk Hide counted an amazing total of 18 roosting Goosanders, which I believe beat any count over the whole winter (I think). Rather annoyingly for me Pete also had an Otter swim from the main reedbed, all the way across the pool and rest briefly on an island, incredibly his 3rd sighting this year after a couple of blank decades!

   As light dawned it was clear this was going to a be a wader day in the valley, with Greenshank and 3 Dunlin early on, which is good for Ladywalk but we feared what Middleton were seeing! Team Ladywalk gathered for our breakfast, sausage and bacon butties in Riverwalk Hide and agonised over the enormous lists being posted on twitter. We were never going to gather as many wader species as other sites but we can hold our own in other areas. Slowly we crept to 90 but by 4pm we were worn out. Pete scraped together 3 species at the death including Ringed Plover (1 not 18) and Yellowhammer to reach a respectable 93 species and equal last springs total, so we were satisfied.

   As always some species pass you by, this year the Shoveler had deserted us as well as Common Tern and Red-legged Partridge but you can’t get them all. The Shoveler and Red-legged Partridge though made an appearance on Monday to taunt us. Thanks go to Team Ladywalk members; Pete S, Pete L, Ken, Steve, Kev, Mick, John and Ben and all others who chipped in during the day. Looking forward to September.

Species List;

Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Greylag Goose, Gadwall, Teal, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Goosander, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Kestrel, Hobby, Peregrine, Pheasant, Water Rail, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin, Redshank, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Rock Dove (Feral Pigeon), Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Cuckoo, Barn Owl, Little Owl, Tawny Owl, Swift, Kingfisher, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Skylark, Sand Martin, Swallow, House Martin, Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Cetti’s Warbler, Grasshopper Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tit, Marsh Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Jay, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Crow, Raven, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Bullfinch, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, 2 other species of conservation concern.

93 species in total