29/12/13 Cold, sunny and calm.
Apart from 2 Bullfinches twenty or so Starlings and around 100 Fieldfares the interest remains at a low ebb. Hares continue to be present in the fields and a few Black-headed Gulls come and go but there are next to no finches and buntings etc. The pond has filled still further though - it's just a shame it will dry up next year (assuming we have a summer like 2013).

17/12/13 Slight frost but sunny and calm.
Calm and quiet and hardly a whiff of wildlife; just a Hare and some very common and predictable tits, finches and thrushes. Foaming algae in the brook had formed a giant bubble aboout a foot in diameter, which popped as I was about to photograph it. So here are some scenes from the morning:

10/12/13 Cool (3°) start but mild later.
A Goldcrest was the highlight and this should describe the rather dull session quite well. A handful of Black-headed Gulls a loose flock of Fieldfares, a Pied Wagtail, and three Hares were all that is worth reporting.

04/12/13 Sunny & mild.
2 Pied Wagtails, 2 Magpies, 2 Green Woodpeckers, 10 Black-headed Gulls and 2 Common Gulls on Fox Hill. About 150 Starlings mixing with a loose flock of Fieldfare (but no Redwings) and a single Kestrel is a summary of a curtailed visit. Geoff Littlejohns reported Hares plus White Dead-nettle and what was probably Red Campion in flower, seen yesterday.
Re the dragonfly (seen on the 10th November) I got this reply from the British Dragonfly Society Website;

Hi Neil
I strongly suspect that given your estimate of size, its general appearance and its colour, that this is an elderly female Common Darter. They do go this dull beige-brown colour with a hint of red when very old. Although Common Darters usually oviposit in tandem, I have seen females do it alone occasionally, so this is unusual, but not unheard of for the species.
Hope this is helpful

10/11/13 Slight frost followed by clear skies.
The revamped Willow Pond is probably as full as it will ever be and there was a dragonfly ovipositing in its margin - today the 10th November. I'm pretty sure it wasn't a darter (which fly late) unless it was bleached! Any ideas to neil.pinder@ntlworld.com.

Supporting cast was 3 Hares, Bullfinches a Kestrel and a couple of Reed Buntings.

31/10/13 Cloudy start, mild with broken sunshine later. Calm.
An extensive search for harvest mouse nests in a reedbed at Holme Pierrepont proved negative despite researchers from Nottingham University trapping live Harvest Mice there earlier. I did find four old bird nests (three of which were Reed Warblers) so I was looking! The live trapping will continue through to the spring and it will be interesting to see how their captures fare during the winter. I would conclude from my efforts today (and at Bingham Linear Park on 19th) that Harvest Mice have not had a great season.

19/10/13 Heavy rain shower earlier.
I ran a Harvest Mouse "training session" at Bingham Linear Park where, despite around 10 of us searching for used nests, we found only one. Three years ago at the same site, a similar session found at least a dozen in a short time.

3/10/13 Cloudy and mild.
I thought I'd come across a species of fly (in the moth trap) that was new to me, but under the microscope I could see that this was not normal.

Brother Clive suggests it's a severe fungal infection that has exuded through the weaker abdominal integument, producing the superficially realistic pattern.

30/09/13 Sunny and very warm.
Only my second Painted Lady of 2013 - sunning against the garage after a fill of buddliea nectar.

22/09/13 Clear night 14° at dawn.
Despite a full moon, there were three new species for the year - all autumn specials. The Blair's Shoulder-knot will be the first of many thanks to the extensive tracts of leylandii that some neighbours have but the sallows probably won't manage many more as I've only had two Orange Sallows and one Barred Sallow before.

15/09/13 Cool, clear 7° at dawn.
Autumn moth specialities included a Brown-spot Pinion this morning, the first since 2005. Four Lunar Underwings are the only other autumn moths so far. Amazingly, I remembered the name of the former species despite the intervening years, though I can't remember the names of people whom I know well and see regularly!

As far as birds are concerned the only indications of autumn are the gangs of Lesser Black-backed Gulls in the fields with up to 40 along Lings Lane. The accompanying Black-headed (around twenty) are more regular.

13/09/13 Cool & cloudy 17°C.
A Humming-bird Hawkmoth was a welcome visitor to my late flowering buddliea at 11:45 today.

05/09/13 Still warm, still sunny and still dry.
The bank of the brook has been flailed but it still needs the finishing touch with a brushcutter to reassert the brookside path. Overall, the intensive work achieved the objectives but there is more that can be done and a bid for more financial assistance will be considered. For now though the Meadow needs time to recover as it is looking somewhat bruised.
Birds are hard work at the moment but a Long-tailed Tit allowed a photo.

Several loudly "tacking" Blackcaps should have alerted me to a threat but the Tawny Owl they were taking exception to, flew off before I considered that possibility. A change in the weather is forecast which, considering it is September and the temperature today is in the high twenties, can only mean it will be cooler and wetter. Autumnal fruits are ripening regardless.

30/08/13 Warm sunny and dry again.
Raking King's field abandoned at 10:30 because of a broken rake. Hedge flail due in today to clear the brookside and then I'll enjoy seeing the benefits all the work has achieved. It was invaluable having Mervyn Coleman's assistance during the JCB work as he highlighted some tasks (such as the flailing) which could be done more efficiently than I'd foreseen.

29/08/13 Another warm sunny and dry day.
Pond completed and the excavated soil used to level off the worst of the dips that caused problems for the bailer in the main meadow and to enable access into King's field which has now been flailed. The other jobs were finished off and the JCB did one final task - that of bringing together all the brash in the Wysall Lane meadow so that I can have a big bonfire.

28/08/13 Very warm sunny day - and dry.
The end of day two with the JCB found us shorter on time than I'd envisioned. Tomorrow will be largely a tidy up day and no major work will now get done in King's Field - the small unmanaged bit. Butterfly Bank will be half complete but since it is somewhat experimental anyway that will be no bad thing. The planned pond in the Meadowsweet bed was abandoned in favour of enhancing "Willow Pond". This will need a new name as the willow has been ripped out on the advice that it was "sucking" up any water available and drying the pond up earlier than it would otherwise. We have dug it deeper and longer along the old meander into the Greater Pond Sedge but there is no sign at all of any water. I will seek advice on installing a liner at some future time as I think at least one decent piece of permanent water would be a real asset. At least access into King's, by machines capable of maintaining it economically, has now been achieved through the uprooting of one old Hawthorn and in a few days Mervyn's sub-contractor will be in with a flail to knock the field into a condition that will allow future enhancements and long term annual maintenance of meadow and wetland.

26/08/13 Warm and dry.
About 29 Great Black-backed, 20 Lesser Black-backed and 50 Black-headed Gulls were loafing in a stubble field along the lane.

There were shoals of Sticklebacks in the brook.

23/08/13 Overnight minimum 11°.
80 moths of 29 species included two new micros Acleris schalleriana and Agonopterix arenella and one new macro, Dark-barred Twin-spot Carpet. The latter came as a surprise as I thought I'd had it before. More surprising though (given that the carpet is nationally common) was my third Twin-spotted Wainscot this year.

Early afternoon in the "one-day heatwave" (max temp 24°) was spent in Cotgrave Forest but the sultry, windy and cloudy conditions didn't produce the butterfly bonanza that I'd hoped for. A Red Admiral was the first for a while and a prolonged gaze at some oak canopy was rewarded with brief lepidopteran signs. A rather cavalier telephoto snapshot of the tree, much enlarged, produced this:

Is it my first live Purple Hairstreak?

A cycle trip to the Meadow to witness today's management by our contractor, Mervyn Coleman, was an eye opener and as well as being a great reminder of what a machine can do in a day, it reinforced my commitment to the major management planned for Tuesday.

22/08/13 Overnight minimum 15.6° and calm.
124 moths of 33 species is the best so far this August and included a new macro for the garden - A Dingy Footman.

21/08/13 Sunny and Warm.
Gotham - Cheese Hill and Pastures nature reserve. Highlight was a Red Kite seen for prolonged periods at a distance and for a very brief period at 100 metres or so. At its most distant it had thermalled up so high that I couldn't see it with the naked eye and it was tiny in the binoculars but about an hour later it was gliding along the ridge.

A good selection of butterflies - 12 species included Brown Argus, Small Heath and Small Copper but no migrants despite good numbers of Silver Y moths..

19/08/13 Cloudless dawn.
A tatty Yellow-barred Brindle and a Magpie this morning.

18/08/13 Sunny and windy.
Apart from another Twin-spotted Wainscot, mothing has been quite predictable. An hour at Cotgrave colliery site was pleasant though with hundreds of Common Blues, a Brown Argus, a Painted Lady and another Clouded Yellow. The latter was again very flighty but I managed a somewhat clearer photo than the Gotham one. I found 11 butterfly species there in total

11/08/13 Min 11.3°C. Bright start.
28 species included another one new to me and the garden - a Twin-spotted Wainscot.
That's 8 new species of macro for the garden this year bringing the total number of macro species recorded to 262. Adding another 150 species of micro brings the tally to 412. During thirty years of recording birds from the same garden I've only got to 70 and I haven't added a new one for years.

1.00pm till 2.30pm - Gotham, Cheese Hill.
A trip to some chalk hills on the off chance (of Chalkhill Blue!), but cloudy conditions with the threat of a shower seemed to stifle activity somewhat. However there were several rather tatty Common Blue, a Small Tortoiseshell and a Brown Argus before the sun shone hot for a brief few minutes when first one, then two Clouded Yellows executed a frustratingly brief and wide ranging tour of the hillside. I managed one shot before the clouds built up again and they both disappeared:

My first ever Notts Clouded Yellows and I think my first non-Dorset ones. With patches of Rest Harrow, Common Centaury and Harebell, it could almost have been the Purbeck cliffs!

I always associate good sugaring with hot balmy nights but maybe that's just because those are the kind of nights when I'm happy to stay out late. But although tonight was fresher and 17°C it still brought a nice selection of moths - including my favourite, the Old Lady.

10/08/13 Min 13.5°C and cloudy.
Only 21 moth species overnight. They included a Straw Underwing, 6 Silver Y and a Vapourer. The latter are fairly often seen flying like maniacs in sunshine in the garden (when they look like rapid-flying butterflies) but it is another species that seems to be rarely attracted to light.

09/08/13 18.3°C at 10.00pm (on 8th) but cooler and fresher by dawn with showers.
I took advantage of the warm evening to paint some sugar around the garden and was rewarded with 2 Old Lady, 2 Copper Underwing, 2 Lesser Yellow Underwing, 1 Large Yellow Underwing, 4 Dark Arches, 2 Campion, 1 Knot-grass, 1 Dagger sp, and 1 Common Rustic agg. all lapping it up. In addition I found a Yellow Shell nectaring. This species only occasionally gets into the light trap given that they are so common by day in the nearby countryside. As for Old Lady - I have only ever had one in the light trap and all 43 of the rest that I've recorded in the garden over ten years have been at sugar.
The morning's catch by contrast, was a trifle disappointing but it did have two nice pugs - a Lime-speck Pug and a Bordered Pug.
Here's a picture of my lovely healthy Privet Hawkmoth caterpillar that I've reared since it was a 2mm long baby wandering in my trap some weeks ago.

In the afternoon from 3 till 5:30 I had a wander along the rides at Cotgrave Forest hoping for something out of the ordinary in the way of butterflies and managed a single Painted Lady and a colony of Essex Skippers. The latter were a surprise as the first half dozen skippers I checked were all Small and then at a different location (all of a hundred metres) they were all Essex.

Will I ever see the Purple Hairstreaks? I looked again at the known location with no joy. The only PH I've ever seen was a dead one a couple of years ago, found by my eldest daughter who was looking at the ground as I craned my neck into the oaks above!

08/08/13 Very warm, and humid.
A walk to the Meadow in the afternoon produced 10 species of butterfly with whites and Peacocks being super-abundant. Standing at one spot in the meadow and scanning a good stand of Creeping Thistle, I counted 34 Peacocks without moving. Moths included a Magpie and many Udea lutealis.

A Holly Blue was flying in my garden later, making 11 species for the day - not bad for Notts, though there was no sign of any of the migrant or wandering species that are being reported in the Midlands. These include several Chalkhill Blues in Leics (and one last week at East Leake) Silver-washed and Dark Green Fritillary, Marbled Whites and Clouded Yellow.

04/08/13 Much fresher overnight
After a week in Dorset, trapping at a camp site with a 6W Heath trap a stone's throw from the R Frome, where Black Arches, Rosy Footman, Nut-tree Tussock, Dingy Footman, Bordered Beauty and Brussels Lace were among the many species not recorded in my garden, I was expecting a routine catch today. Three Silver Y got me thinking though and my first ever Vestal followed. These are both migrant species with the former being annual and common in Notts in most years and the latter rarely making it to inland counties; the last Notts records were in 2006 when three were recorded during that notable summer for immigrant moths. The pale, washed out colouration suggests this individual has developed in Britain from an egg laid here - arrivals of Mediterranean origin have much brighter colours. A Dusky Thorn, the 14th for the garden, was a scarce also-ran.