Just in case you've not yet found your way to the Reading List page, if you do you'll find two quite topical books I've just listed - one about the Purple Emperor butterfly and the other by Dara McAnulty - a Young Naturalist. And a few others I or others (have) love(d). After all, as my Pilates teacher reminds us weekly, only 18 weeks to go till Christmas!
It's a real privilege to witness natural events close up. I'm really blessed to have five house martin nests on my house, four on the west wall and one on the east (as well as the swifts on the north). They seem to have had a good year, with chirpings from young almost continuously and even still now.
But last week there was a pre-migration gathering of what looked like hundreds of house martins from I can't imagine how far afield, wheeling and calling round and round, flying right up to and even clipping my windows with their wings. Here's the video. As I say, 'I've never seen anything like it.' Do click on it and enlarge to view - but my apologies, one day I'll remember to video in landscape.
Andrew Graham's moth trap never ceases to amaze him with how many there are and what a variety of shape and size there is - and these fabulous (I think) creatures are out there every night and we are hardly aware of them.
I particularly love their names and have wondered how they get them. Andrew explains some pretty obviously refer to the markings, like Black arches here, or colour like the Rosy footman in the middle. Then there's the plant on which caterpillars feed such as Sallow kitten (love his furry little feet) and there's also an Alder kitten. Then there's shape - eg the Pebble hook tip below. (Just click on the photo to enlarge it and read the caption - All Andrew's photos, of course).
Some refer to when you might see them like the July Highflier. Some refer to people's names or a location or habitat. Others, which I'd love to see, indicate how difficult some are to identify for example: Uncertain, Confused, Anomalous and Suspected. Then some are just plain mystifying like Druid, Exile, Sorcerer or Conformist. Or indeed - why Small Phoenix?!
Surrounded by countryside, Tisbury is clearly a good place to see moths so any external light is likely to attract them. For this reason, only run a moth trap occasionally and let the moths go as soon as possible in the morning. Also try to ensure the light doesn't disturb the neighbours.
But all this is by the by. The variety is the thing and since starting to record the moths in his garden back in March, Andrew's identified 160 species of larger moth and there are bound to be more in the years to come
Maybe looking far ahead to things like Hallowe'en, Chairman Peter Shallcross in his monthly update has an idea for those who find the macabre in nature even more intriguing than scifi - go to MoreNews to read all about it.
But happily Andrew Graham takes a more summery approach: What to do if a peacock or small tortoiseshell butterfly comes into your house and looks like staying put? The best thing is in fact to leave the window open in the hope that it goes out again (this happened with one in my house the other day). Failing that, catch it by putting a glass over it and sliding a piece of paper very gently underneath till the butterfly walks onto it, then letting it go outside. But wait for a sunny day! (And do not, as has been suggested, put it in the fridge in the hope that it will go into proper hibernation!)
Andrew also says there are plenty to look out still for on our downland and meadows and indeed gardens: large and small whites, common blue, brown argus (which is in fact also a 'blue'), even the Adonis blue - distinguished not just by its electric blue colour but also the black 'chequer' on its wing edges. On Fontmell Down you may also see the tiny silver-spotted skipper, and although our heat 'plume' from the Sahara didn't seem to bring the painted ladies and clouded yellows, it's definitely worth keeping an eye open for them. (I reported last year that the painted ladies' migration is a round trip of 12,000 - yes, twelve thousand - miles!)
More details from Andrew on all this on MoreNews.
And finally, go to Field Trips for news of the next one, on 19 September - paddling about in the Nadder!
We've had moths, we've had nightjars - now it's the turn of that other Summer-night attraction - bats. These can be regarded as an 'indicator species' whose presence, absence, or relative well-being in a given environment is a sign of the overall health of its ecosystem.
So it is really exciting that recordings near the river at Peter Shallcross's Wallmead Farm have detected an astounding so very encouraging number of these creatures.
We often see them if we're outside at dusk, flying apparently silently above our gardens and streets - but it's a privilege for the under-30s that they can hear them as well: one of the first proofs of advancing years is not being able to any more.
To many of us they're a bit of a mystery - as the Wikipaedia entry says, 'the only mammals capable of true and sustained flight'. And until recently, counting them could pretty well only be done in their roosts in caves or ruined stone buildings - and sometimes where they're less welcome, such as one of Salisbury Cathedral's porches!
But now, ‘Bat detectors’ have revolutionised what we know about the distribution of different species, where they feed and what they get up to.
For the batophiles, there's a more details of the report by Gareth Harris, the Wiltshire Mammal Recorder, on the recordings, at MoreNews.
The answer, as members who received the latest email from Treasurer Dick Budden will know, is: Quite a lot! The main report is at MoreNews.
For news of our wonderful new Young TNHS, led by Ines Lopez-Doriga and Izzy Fry, go to the new Young TNHS page - and tell all your friends about it, if they have young families. It's free to join for under-21s.
For a report on our first 'Covid era' field trip to Teffont Evias Home Farm, go to Field Trips/What you missed.
For news of our next (yes!) Field Trip, to Semley Hill and Gutch Common, on 15/16 August, go to Field Trips.
And finally, Lizzy Paylan has left the committee and we thank her for all her help, but we’re delighted to welcome two new members along with Ines: Laura Downer and Steve Flowerday, of whom more (I hope) anon.
Another 'night' bird is the nightjar, though it's not exactly tuneful - Collins Pocket Guide likens it to a 'distant two-stroke motor-cycle' (perhaps that's the 'jar' bit).
On Sunday (2 August), BBC Countryfile had a lovely item about these, on Wisley and Ockham Common - go to https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000lj9g/countryfile-wisley-and-ockham and fast-forward to the last few minutes, after the weather forecast.
Chairman Peter Shallcross had the same - indeed, even more - magical experience a bit closer to home:
'Local knowledge of wildlife is a wonderful thing: one summer evening, as dusk fell, we were directed with accurate grid references to Holt Heath, near Wimborne, to see nightjars. Even as we left the car we could hear the eerie churring call and soon saw several of these hawk-like birds flying close by, displaying and hunting for insects.
'On the way back to the car, we began to notice the green light of glow worms on either side of the track, probably twenty or more over a small distance. Seeing this spectacle was the highlight for me, as often the unexpected is.
'There aren't many records of glow worms in Wiltshire, so if you are lucky enough to see any please record it. There are several options for the general public to record any flora or fauna - you can find more about this on our Reporting page.'
One of Abby Eaton's finest, I do think. I'm not posting this as one of the birdsong quizzes, as this is now August and birds mainly stop singing because the mating season is over and they feel a little weak after rearing their young, and also need to moult.
So - Abby says, 'This is a fledgling Whitethroat in that wild scrubby meadow off Hindon Lane. I was worried you couldn't hear its constant 'looking for comfort' whrbbbrrrr beeps as I took it with my big camera, but you can!.' I asked about the colour as it looks almost like a night-time shot, but Abby explained that it's very narrow depth of field footage taken in very bright sunshine against dark backdrop of trees. So not something I could achieve on my mobile - but maybe you could!
Remember to click on the video and then bottom right to expand to full screen.
The pages now display photos of moths taken by Andrew Graham. This one's the Puss Moth, looks very soft and cuddly.
This blog is updated usually every 2-4 days, depending of course on what's happening, as also other pages independently or linked from blogposts.
If it's not me, Elizabeth Forbes, website editor (keen but ignorant), I'll say so.