Tuesday, 24 December 2013

A year of wonderful experiences.

Hello dear reader and my apologies for not posting of late, but as you can imagine, what with the season and all, I've been a little bit busy. But now it is Xmas eve and just a couple of small last minute pressies to source and then we can sit back and relax. 

From one wonder to another.

Last time I told you about the wondrous spectacle of seeing a Peregrine Falcon dive at speed to catch an out of sight pigeon. It truly was fantastic to see and I wish you could have all been there to see it too.

Well, I was hoping to have more wonderful delights to share with you and when I saw a tweet from @RSPBintheEast to say that there were around 10,000 starlings roosting at Minsmere. That said, the following day, I jumped in the car and headed down towards Eastbridge, where Minsmere is located. I pulled into a small lay-by near the reed beds the starlings were seen roosting, prep'd my camera and waited. The sky was clear and cold, the river which rang under the road at Eastbridge was still running high.
Exceptionally high water.
This was the result of the recent storm surge and high tides along the east coast. But the water wasn't getting any higher, so I felt quite safe. As the sun got lower and lower in the sky, I continued my vigil scanning the horizon in the hope of seeing some sign of a murmuration. The Suffolk coast landscape being so flat is ideal for this as you can see for quite some way in all directions. I even had the binoculars out in case I missed something far away, but still nothing. Eventually, the sun set and the light rapidly vanished and I never saw a single starling, which left me with this thought, 'I wonder where they went?'

The highlights of the year!

Well, what an eventful year it's been. I've met some wonderful people and had some great experiences.

In March I witnessed a starling murmuration in Ipswich. Something I've been trying again to catch this autumn, but without much luck I'm afraid.

Yet, in my seeking for it this autumn, I did get to see a Sparrowhawk fly by and catch its prey.

I've had the moth trap up and running every weekend for most of the year catching some fantastic moths I've never seen before. A Poplar Hawkmoth laid some eggs in my trap which gave me great pleasure rearing on to pupation. 
Poplar hawkmoth caterpillars
My neighbour brought me round a female Emperor moth which laid around 100 eggs, again these were truly fascinating to watch them eat and grow. The majority are now hanging in a basket on the side of my wife's studio in the garden awaiting the warm rays of spring.
A beautiful moth with her eggs
I learned how to pin and display insects.

Went on a wonderful course learning all about hoverflies, robber flies and soldier flies with Martin Harvey (Highly recommended)

I saw a Swallowtail butterfly fly over my garden. The first one reported in Ipswich since 1998. 

I had a record moth count from one nights trapping in my garden of over 520 moths! (It took 3 days to ID the lot of them)

I (with help from the wifey) found a Banded General Soldier fly which hadn't been recorded in my 10km square in 119 years!
Stratiomys potamidas better known as the Banded General.

Came across some lovely Stag beetle larvae whilst working in my in-laws garden.

Very large and amazing stag beetle larvae
I was the first person to record a Rhyparochromus vulgaris seed bug in Suffolk!
New to Suffolk Rhyparochromus vulgaris
I was asked to give a talk to the children of Trimley Primary School on minibeasts and pollinators, which I (and them) loved.

I won a category in the Suffolk Wildlife Trust's photo competition.

I also got the job as Education and Events Volunteer with Suffolk Wildlife Trust. 

Got to do more voluntary work on Purdis Heath.

Most of the above happened in my own garden, which isn't huge by any means. It's there if we choose to look for it, it's right under our noses and because sometimes we don't see it, it doesn't mean it's not there!

What to expect in 2014!

Well, I have some plans in the pipeline, one of which includes an indoor bumblebee nest with live webcam so that you can see the comings and goings of one of our favourite insects.

I'm hoping to continue my bat survey of a local ancient wood near me that's never been surveyed before, which I had to put on hold last year due to injury.

I also will be more involved in recording hoverflies next year especially at Purdis Heath SSSI.

I want to also get more involved with recording the insects at Purdis Heath.

I will also be running my moth trap as per usual and I look forward to hatching out the pupae of the moths I reared in 2013.

I'm also looking to forward to new challenges especially with SWT and who knows, I might even have new events on the horizon to look forward to.

This is just some of the stuff I hope to be up to in 2014, but what about you? Do you have any plans or projects you're thinking of doing? I look forward to hearing from you.

That's about it for now, it's Xmas eve, the mad rush is over and it just leaves me to do one more thing.

Hope you all have a wonderful Xmas and you all get what you wanted and more.
Be sensible, be safe and we'll meet up again after the Xmas pud has gone down. 

Merry Xmas

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