Saturday, 28 March 2015


After an eight month wait, the first of a batch of emperor moths were released at the country park, having completed their pupation through the winter. This large stunning male posed for this photo above before it fluttered across the car park. It had already taken the opportunity to mate with a female the previous evening while they were still captive in their tank.
Previous emperor moths recorded at the park over the last ten years have all been females, so this was the first close-up view of a male.

The female emperor may lack the bright colours of the male, but it's patterning is just as striking. This one was was happy to splay her wings out wide to show off all four "eyes".
One other female was also released although with a large nick in one wing, possibly cut by a bramble thorn whilst emerging from its chrysalis.

The moth season has hardly started at the park this year but it's unlikely any other pair of moths will be as spectacular as these in the rest of this year.

The chilly breeze had died down by the end of Friday 27th, with the sun setting across the Strood Channel at high tide. It was fairly quiet during the last half hour of light with a few brent geese and shelduck on the water. Four reed buntings roosted in the reed-bed, while on the mainland a distant barn owl hunted over the Feldy marshes.
A pipistrelle bat hunted over the bushes beside the caravan site at dusk.

Earlier in the day a common buzzard flew south-west past the Firs Chase caravan site and on towards the Hard and another distant one soaring above Copt Hall Grove on the mainland. A newly arrived chiffchaff sang from a tree in the borrowdyke.
A pair of red-breasted mergansers were in the channel near the Dabchicks, while 30 black-tailed godwits were of interest on the mud nearby.

At the pond at the country park on Thursday 26th the Cetti's warbler for the first time this year, finally allowed itself to be glimpsed at the end of the day, no doubt provoked by a fox on the prowl along the edge of the pond.

One common buzzard and a marsh harrier were seen soaring high to the north west of the park on Wednesday late morning. Three adders and a common lizard were basking in the sunshine at the park.
In the grazing fields the pale-bellied brent goose was seen amongst a big flock of about 800 dark-bellied brent geese.

The pair of red-legged partridges were seen again from the park, as they walked about the grass field to the west of the car park on Tuesday 24th.
Also on Tuesday from the park were seen a red-throated diver, 2 common scoter, 2 Slavonian grebes and 11 red-breasted mergansers, noted by Andy Field. The following day 2 Slavonian grebes, Mediterranean gull, 6 red-breasted mergansers and 25 great crested grebes were offshore late afternoon.

Two chiffchaffs were singing at the park, one by the pond and another near the car park on Tuesday. A water rail was seen briefly feeding along the edge of the pond on Tuesday and the Cetti's warbler was heard singing near here. Three redwings were feeding in the car park at the beginning of the day along with three song thrushes.

This engrailed moth was discovered resting on the outside of the park office building during Wednesday.


A Natural Interlude said...

Congratulations on the release of those spectacular Emperor moths. They really are incredibly beautiful. Great photographs. Fingers crossed for the future ;o), Lucy

Dougal Urquhart said...

Thanks Lucy, they're certainly spectacular moths. My wife Nolly deserves the praise for feeding the ravenous caterpillars last summer with fresh bramble leaves and getting scratched daily in the process! It was worth it though!