Thursday, 24 December 2009

British Winters and a Tawny Owl

As usual, the country seems to come to a grind halt at the first sign of snow, however, I work in Sheffield, the other side of the Pennines. Mondays journey in was OK on the main roads, but the country lanes (and especially Winnats Pass) were very slippery (no spiked tyres here). Nonetheless, I made the repeat journey yesterday. Absolutely beautiful crisp morning with temperature at -9C at Axe Edge.

Here is a snap of Shutlingsloe hill at dawn- the highest in 'flat' Cheshire at 506m high.

The journey home was even worse as ice had actually increased, but one bonus was I spotted a Tawny Owl hunting just on the Cheshire/Derbyshire border at Axe edge. It was following the line of the road (A54) and I drove along side it for quite a few seconds as it was hunting,. Marvellous!

Monday, 21 December 2009

Another nil weekend

As expected, this weekends trappings returned another null. However, my new max/min thermometer advised me that the min temp on Friday night was -7.2C and -6.5C on Saturday night. Saturday had the additional bonus of heavy rain and snow.

I have been working on the logo for the new 'Cheshire Active Naturalists' group - still waiting for some fedback to see if this is what is wanted..

Driven over to Sheffield today (over the Pennines) - mainly trouble free, but the sunshine on the snow was absolutely stunning.I wish I had my camera with me.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Wow - a garden first (Woodpecker)

I am not an avid bird watcher, but just imagine my (and the wifes) delight today when this Greater Spotted Woodpecker took advantage of the various feeders that I have in the garden.

Dispite living adjacent to open countryside, we do not get a huge variety (or number) of birds here. I live on the site of an old creamery that was demolished just over 20 years ago. However, the land was severely poisoned (allegedly) due to the dumping of waste into the ground. After we moved here in late 1989, the contractors spent about 2 years pumping thousands (possibly millions) of gallons of water into the land to get rid of the methane that was seeping out.

We get the usual Robins, Blue tits, lots of Starlings, Wood pigeons, Collared doves and Blackbirds with occasionally Greenfinches and Chaffinches (used to be regulars)or a Great tit or a Blackcap as a bonus, but this was a real treat this lunchtime.

Its very cold today - temperature in only +0.5C with snow forecast. Nonetheless the Moth trap is out and will switch on automatically when it goes dark. Not very optimistic for any results though.. The minimum temperature since last Friday was -3.5C, probably last night..

Monday, 14 December 2009

Moths have more sense

The trap was out on Friday night and Saturday night and absolutely nothing captured. Didly squat - nil -zilch. I suppose a positive outcome was that updating the log was fairly painless and I didn't have to worry too much about misidentifying species.. However, with my science head on, it is better to seek and not find rather than not seek at all.

However, not all bad news, I did buy a max min digital thermometer from B&Q (DIY store):
Digital Thermometer Link

At least I now officially know it was cold, the temperature bottomed out at
-1.8C and was only +1.5C at 10:00 on Sunday Morning.

The thermometer is located on a North facing wall on my workshop at about 1.7 high, just under the eaves.. Something else to record..

On a more positive note, I have now uploaded all my Moth photos to the web site. I apologise in advance as many should be hidden from public scrutiny..

They are located here:

Natural History Photos

Thursday, 3 December 2009


Following on...
I am a relative newbie to Moth trapping. I built a "Skinner trap" early in the summer of 2009 and unleashed its power in my back garden at the end of June.

In hindsight, I was totally unprepared for what happened next. The next morning I had about 80-90 very active moths in the trap and only a copy of Collins British Insects as a totally inadequate guide.

However, what fun I had trying to sort out what I had captured. In the end, I managed to identify about 50 of them, I probably lost 30-40 in the process. My hit rate got better as weeks and months moved on.

some of my images can be viewed at:

CZD Photo

Hello New Diary

Nope, it's not January the 1st, but December the 3rd sounds much better.

Welcome to my random jottings with a Natural History theme, probably centred around my nocturnal activities with my Moth Trap.

There may even be the occasional photo added - a bit like this 'Angle Shades' trapped here in October.
For the record, I live in the village of Haslington, near Crewe, in North West England