Monthly Archives: October 2015

Moths &c

It was a muggy, warm night last night and this morning, so I was hoping to get something other than November moths in the 150w Robinson trap I put out before bed last night.

Well I did!

Two lovely Feathered thorn, Colotois pennaria, in the trap this morning, alongside a dozen or so November Moths (another aggregate species, could be one of four species but IDing is difficult without dissection!), this red-green carpet:

and… two of these wonderful Hawthorn shieldbugs, Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale:

an Orange ladybird:

Orange ladybirds were, until 1987, used as indicator species of ancient woodland. Then the ladybirds discovered sycamore, and more recently Ash, trees, and their numbers are increasing.

Georgia Bird List

Here’s an exciting list of all the birds I saw in the Republic of Georgia between 1 September and 8 October 2015:

Levant sparrowhawkAccipiter brevipes
GoshawkAccipiter gentilis
SparrowhawkAccipiter nisus
KingfisherAlcedo atthis
Red-throated pipitAnthus cervinus
SwiftApus apus
Great egretArdea alba
Grey heronArdea cinerea
Steppe buzzardButeo buteo vulpinus
SanderlingCalidris alba
DunlinCalidris alpina
Kentish ploverCharadrius alexandrinus
Ringed ploverCharadrius hiaticula
Slender-billed gullChroicocephalus genei
Black-headed gullChroicocephalus ridibundus
White storkCiconia ciconia
Black storkCiconia nigra
Marsh harrierCircus aeruginosus
Pallid harrierCircus macrourus
Montagu's harrierCircus pygargus
Lesser spotted eagleClanga pomarina
Stock doveColumba oenas
RollerCoracias garrulus
RavenCorvus corax
Hooded crowCorvus cornix
quailCoturnix coturnix
Blue titCyanistes caeruleus
Little egretEgretta garzetta
RobinErithacus rubecula
Peregrine falconFalco peregrinus
HobbyFalco subbuteo
ChaffinchFringilla coelebs
MoorhenGallinula chloropus
JayGarrulus glandarius
OystercatcherHaematopus ostralegus
Booted eagleHieraaetus pennatus
SwallowHirundo rustica
Little gullHydrocoloeus minutus
Caspian ternHydroprogne caspia
Red-backed shrikeLanius collurio
Yellow-legged gullLarus michahellis
Broad-billed sandpiperLimicola falcinellus
Bee-eaterMerops apiaster
White/pied wagtailMotacilla alba
Yellow wagtailMotacilla flava
Black-crowned night heronNycticorax nycticorax
Black-eared wheatearOenanthe hispanica
WheatearOenanthe oenanthe
Golden orioleOriolus oriolus
Great titParus major
House sparrowPasser domesticus
Honey buzzardPernis apivorus
Crested honey buzzardPernis ptilorhynchus
CormorantPhalacrocorax carbo
Green warblerPhylloscopus nitidus
Willow warblerPhylloscopus trochilus
Krüper's nuthatchSitta krueperi
Common ternSterna hirundo
Sandwich ternSterna sandvicensis
BlackcapSylvia atricapilla
Ruddy shelduckTadorna ferruginea
WrenTroglodytes troglodytes
BlackbirdTurdus merula
63 species!


Back in the UK, I got the moth trap out but forgot my moth book (it’s in Northumberland) and it turns out the camera on my new phone is nowhere near as good as the old one. So just a few pictures of 3 NFS – New For Sarah:

One of the November Moths, a collection of four moths that are notoriously difficult to differentiate:

A lovely Feathered thorn:

And the stunning Angle shades:

None of these are particularly uncommon, but they are all very nice to see. Next month I start a new job on the Cumbrian coast so will be interesting to see what I get!

Alan Hinkes OBE

On Tuesday I went to see An Evening With Alan Hinkes, and it was very well worth it! Alan HInkes is the top mountaineer in the UK; a Yorkshireman, he’s the first – and so far, the only – Brit to have climbed all 14 of the world’s mountains over 8,000m in height (the “8,000ers”), and returned without having lost even a finger. As Alan explained, with real depth and heart, achieving all 14 is hugely dangerous, and most people who try, die in the attempt.

Indeed, the first Italian to achieve this 8,000m incredible feat is now a millionaire and a household name in Italy, but for some reason, that’s not how it works in the UK, which is a real shame. I didn’t get a sense from Alan that he’s too particularly bothered, he just gets on with it, a true Yorkshireman, his slideshow of the Himalayas including pictures of the beloved North for comparison.

His talk was crammed full of jaw-dropping stuff, interspersed with good solid Yorkshire humour; at one point he showed a clip where he was filming his climbing partner up one of these thousand-metre cliff faces, when Alan slipped, the camera went all shonky, he fell but was caught by ropes and then the traditional Yorkshire curse – “Oh for fook’s sake!” and a clamber back up to where he had been stood.

That’s not online, but here he is on the summit of K2:

A lot of black humour too, as almost every person he spoke about was suffixed with “he’s dead now too” which really drove home just how incredibly dangerous the 8000ers are.

Now, I originally met Alan when he accompanied my dad (himself a bumbly climber of some renown) to visit us out on St Kilda when I was working there in June. Here we are, my colleague Jack, me, dad, and Alan, on top of Conachair, St Kilda’s highest peak. St Kilda is “a bit breezy” even in the middle of June, which explains why we look so weather beaten:

Alan’s a real lively man, one of those people who is absolutely fascinated in absolutely everything and an absolutely bloody good laugh! If you get the chance to hear him speak, I do recommend it.

Batumi Botanical Gardens

Because of logistical reasons involving an angry Georgian lady, my colleague Alice and I had an unexpected day off, so we decided to find the Botanic gardens. Opened in 1912, Batumi’s Botanical Gardens (Georgian, try this for information in English) is one of the highlights of the area. We caught a bus, which included a courtesy charon fruit from the driver, and eventually found our way into the gardens.

The gardens are very impressive, covering 107ha, divided up into several different phytogeographical zones. We were both ready to check out the bamboo plantation – I’ve never been in one – but were tragically stopped by the f*cking mosquitoes, which were possibly tiger mosquitos – I swear I have never had such bad bites, so many or such a bad reaction!

Moving on, we kept bumping into a German birding group, helpfully pointed us at a bird darting high in the trees… a Krüper’s nuthatch (Sitta krueperi)! Also pretty sure we heard a white-backed woodpecker. No pictures due to rubbish camera.

Elsewhere in the gardens, was this lovely little Japanese garden with frogs, toads and koi.

There are also a few graves in the park, including that of the founder and this of Sergei Hinkul, the first head of plant introduction.

There does seem to be a major problem with what looks like an invasive, Ivy-like plant. It has blanketed the cliffs between the gardens and the sea, swallowing up whole trees and buildings. There’s signs of where it’s been cut back from creeping up the trees in the park itself, and I’d guess it must be a threat to the gardens but I can’t find any information about it online.

At the far end of the park, we found a cafe for a lunch of beer and katchipouri. Near to the cafe was an ornamental seafront park, with campsite, and just beyond that a lonely disused rail station looking out at the Black Sea.

An excellent day. However, at the exit of the park was a collection of little cafes and a shooting gallery where the targets were silhouettes of birds-of-prey…