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June 2013

1st, Moths
Flame Carpet x2, Twenty-plume Moth x1, Scalloped Hazel x6, Bee Moth x2, Early Grey x1, Garden Cosmet x1, Diamond-back Moth x3, Garden Carpet x1,Peppered Moth (NFY) x1, Light Brown Apple Moth (NFY) x1, Brown-house Moth x1, Spectacle x1, Cabbage Moth (NFY) x1, Mottled Pug x2, & Common Pug x4.

2nd, The chalk-pits of the Yorkshire Wolds
Today we decided to visit two old chalk pits in the Yorkshire Wolds, hoping to see not only a few species of interesting butterfly but also enjoy the now growing variety of typical chalk-land flowers one can often find at such favoured locations. The weather was pleasant enough this morning with alternating sunnier and cloudier periods, and when the sun shone it was actually very warm indeed despite the modest temperature of about 14 C (57 F), a testament to the fact that the sun is now no more than three weeks away from reaching its maximum zenith in the summer sky.

Our first port of call on this morning of Wold Ranging was Kiplingcotes Chalk Pit, a Yorkshire Wildlife Trust reserve located near the town of Market Weighton, and a reserve which until today I had never visited. It is always interesting to explore a new location and I found this area of open chalk grassland and chalk scree to be a most pleasant place indeed with no one to bother us as we wandered & explored the former quarry. A few species of butterfly were seen as we explored, including Orange-Tip, Green-veined White and Peacock, though perhaps more interesting to us were the Small Heaths and DINGY SKIPPERS, both firsts for us this year.

The number of wildflowers here was somewhat disappointing, though to be honest I think the countryside is still trying to catch up after what was such a cool Spring, but nevertheless a few nice species were seen here and there including a good number of Wild Pansies (many of beautiful & varied colours), both Bush and Common Vetches, the always good to see Salad Burnets, the tiny but beautiful white flowers of Fairy Flax, lots and lots of Speedwell, Wild Strawberries, and now abundant Birds-foot Trefoil (or Bacon & Eggs / Baby's Slippers if you prefer). However as lovely as the flowers were the most pleasant aspect of walking the quarry floor this morning was actually the beautiful scent of Wild Thyme as we strolled along the path, with wafts of perfume filling our nostrils with an evocative and pleasing fragrance.

After finishing at Kiplingcotes we made our way northwards to another former chalk pit located not far from the deserted medieval village of Wharram Percy (a few miles south of Malton), though unlike our first location this is a Yorkshire Wildlife Trust reserve which I actually know quite well and have visited quite a few times in previous summers. This site is a good spot for Orchids, including Great Spotted, Pyramidal and Bee, but judging by the plants we saw this morning it will be another week or two before any are in flower with the flower spikes of the Great Spotted Orchids just beginning to appear at the base of the plants.

Compared to Kiplingcotes the variety of flowers was somewhat greater here with most of the aforementioned flowers being recorded plus others such as Milkwort (a small and deep blue flower which I always really like for some reason and which was used medicinally in the past by nursing mothers, hence the name), Cowslips (many of which are still flowering strongly), loads of Salad Burnet with both female and male flowering stages in evidence, Wild Thyme, Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Hawkbit, Bittercress, and Forget-me-nots to name but a few.

A similar variety of butterflies were recorded too, with Orange Tips, Whites and loads of Dingy Skippers, though unlike at Kiplingcotes no Small Heaths were in evidence. The day flying moth of Burnet Companion was seen in good numbers too, an attractive species which is near its northern range here on the Yorkshire Wolds, though I was unable to find a few other species of lepidoptera which I would expect to see by now, including the likes of Common Blue or Small Copper. Nevertheless we had a very enjoyable morning exploring these former chalk pits and I'm sure we will be visiting these two locations a few more times in the coming weeks as summer really begins to get going up here on the rolling hills of the Yorkshire Wolds.

3rd, Moths
Mottled Pug x2, Rustic-shoulder Knot (NFY) x1, Scalloped Hazel x4, Angle Shades (NFY) x1, Common Pug x3, & Light Brown Apple Moth x1.

3rd, Ramsons and Orchids
Yesterday we decided to revisit the Bishop Wilton area, primarily to see the wonderful Ramsons (or Wild Garlic) which are now at their peak at Old Wood, but also to check whether any of the Marsh Orchids have appeared at the nearby Wayrham site. The weather was again sunny and warm, and as we made our way to the wood from our parking spot on Garrowby Hill we were serenaded by Skylarks singing high in the sky above us, while butterflies and moths fluttered about in the grassy field margins and hay meadows. The luminous yellow fields of Oilseed Rape glowed in the June sunshine while the now whiskered Barley swayed in the gentle breeze, and on such a morning there was nowhere else I would rather have been other than this chalk upland ridge from which one can look over the green fields of Yorkshire's broad acres stretching away to the Pennines far in the west, the morning made all the more enjoyable by the fact we seemed to have the whole area to ourselves.

Old Wood was as glorious as ever, the woodland floor covered in Ramsons as far as the eye could see and the scent of garlic hanging in the warm morning air. Speckled Woods fluttered about in the dappled shade of the woodland edge while deep within the scrub Blackcaps and other songbirds sang in seeming celebration of both the stunning weather and this most beautiful of seasons. In the meadows below cattle grazed peacefully in the buttercup covered pastures, and looking further afield the towers of York Minster shone in the sun, as did the distant Kilburn White Horse on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors.

After reluctantly deciding to move on we made our way to the nearby Wayrham Orchid site which is located beside the busy A166, though if truth be told I was not very hopeful in seeing any Orchids in flower just yet and this indeed proved to be the case. However the plants were widely in evidence and it won't be long till this whole area is carpeted with a profusion of Marsh, Spotted & Pyramidal Orchids, and it was also good to see that the damage caused by Yorkshire Water's partial digging up of the site (something which angered many local naturalists at the time) seems to have been minimal.

This location is also a good spot for butterflies and day flying moths and this morning we would manage to record Small Heaths, Dingy Skippers, Burnet Companions and Common Carpets, while the caterpillars of Burnet Moths were found in profusion amongst the Trefoils, Vetches and other wildflowers typical of the season. This small site is very special indeed, and if it wasn't for the speeding traffic passing by on the nearby road it would be a most splendid spot to spend an hour or two on a fine summer's day.

5th, Moths
White-shouldered House Moth (NFY)  x2, Bee Moth x2, Common Pug x3, Garden Carpet x1, Flame Carpet x1, Dark/Grey Dagger (NFY) x1, Scalloped Hazel x8, Heart & Dart (NFY) x2, Brimstone x2, Shuttle-shaped Dart x1, Bright-line Brown Eye x1, & Mottled Pug x2.

8th, Moths
Common Pug x1, Garden Carpet x3, Heart & Dart x2, Scalloped Hazel x3, Brimstone x3, & White-shouldered House Moth x1.

10th, Bempton Cliffs
Apologies first off for the somewhat depressing title of this post but compared to many parts of the British Isles the North Sea coasts have been suffering from grey skies and dull light with temperatures barely rising into the mid-teens (Centigrade that is). Yesterday at Bempton Cliffs was no different and though it was a joy to watch the sea-birds again it was also somewhat frustrating, especially photographically with the low light making conditions far from perfect for my current birding camera gear.

All the usual birds were in evidence, with abundant Guillemots, Razorbills, Kittiwakes, and Gannets, with a healthy number of less abundant species such as Fulmars and Puffins. Herring and Black-backed Gulls cruised along the cliff tops, no doubt looking for a meal or two since many of the birds now have eggs, and on the cliff top we found at least one recently robbed Guillemot egg. Though this event is undoubtedly tragic for not only the parents and the unborn chick it does at least give one the chance to appreciate just how beautifully coloured and marked these eggs are.

Meanwhile in the sea below we watched the local crabbers lifting their pods and emptying their catches on to their modestly sized vessels, and at one point a Grey Seal was seen nearby before it dived and disappeared into the gloomy and grey waters of the perennially frigid North Sea. Further out to sea large container ships headed northwards and southwards with their varied cargoes to destinations unknown while a couple of Gas Rigs were also spotted looming like marine cities on the far horizon, undoubtedly on their way to tap the still productive gas fields which lie beneath the southern North Sea.

11th, Moths
Mottled Pug x1, Garden Cosmet x1, Heart & Dart x2, Scalloped Hazel x3,Clouded Silver (NFY) x1, Brimstone x3, Flame Carpet x1, Common Swift (NFY) x1, Garden Carpet x1, & Grey Pug (NFY) x1.

12th, Moths
Mottled Pug x3, Garden Carpet x1, Small Dusty Wave (NFY) x1, Scalloped Hazel x13, Pale Tussock (NFY) x1, Light Brown Apple Moth x1, Brimstone x10, Common Pug x6, Clouded Silver x1, Bee Moth x4, Freyer’s Pug (NFY) x1, Common Marbled Carpet (NFY) x2, Heart & Dart x5, & Buff Ermine(NFY) x1.

15th, Moths
Brimstone x8, Bright-line Brown-eye x1, Scalloped Hazel x7, Buff Ermine x1, Garden Carpet x1, Heart & Dart x6, Common Pug x2, Cabbage Moth x1, Clouded Silver x1, Grey/Dark Dagger x1, Silver-Y (NFY) x1, White Ermine(NFY) x1, Small Fan-foot (NFY) x1, Silver-ground Carpet (NFY) x1, White-shouldered House Moth x1, Ingrailed Clay (NFY) x1, Common Marbled Carpet x1, Freyer’s Pug x1, Angle Shades x1, and Small Angle Shades (NFY) x1.

16th, Yorkshire Wolds
A morning walk above Kirby Underdale and Garrowby Hill on what was a cloudy but nevertheless bright day, the oilseed rape now at its best up here on the high Wolds. The lack of sunshine meant that not many butterflies were about, though nevertheless a few were about including Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Speckled Wood.

17th, Moths
Brimstone x7, Small Fan-foot x1, Common Pug x2, Buff Ermine x2, Scalloped Hazel x6, and Small Magpie (NFY) x1.

19th, Moths
Flame Carpet x1, Heart & Dart x3, Scalloped Hazel x11, Brimstone x4, Small Fan-foot x1, Mottled Pug x4, Bright-line Brown-eye x2, Common Marbled Carpet x1, White-shouldered House Moth x1, Clouded Silver x1, Common Pug x2, Bee Moth x3, Garden Carpet x1, Green Carpet (NFY) x1, Freyer’s Pug x2, Ingrailed Clay x1, Light Brown Apple Moth x1, Common Swift x1, Elephant Hawk-moth (NFY) x1, Small Angle Shades x1, Rustic Shoulder-knot x1,Common Marble (NFY) x2, and Yellow-faced Bell (NFY) x1.

22nd, Moths
Common Marble x6, Brimstone x4, Heart & Dart x7, Garden Carpet x3, Bright-line Brown-eye x1, White-shouldered House Moth x2, Bee Moth x2, Buff Ermine x1, Common Pug x2, Freyer's Pug x1, Scalloped Hazel x7, Yellow-faced Bell x1, Silver-ground Carpet x1, Clouded Silver x2, Diamond-back Moth x1, Light Brown Apple Moth x1, Double-striped Pug x2, Willow Beauty (NFY) x1,Large Yellow Underwing (NFY) x2, Uncertain (NFY) x1, and unidentified micro x1.

24th, Moths
Brimstone x2, Buff Ermine x1, Heart & Dart x4, Bright-line Brown-eye x1, Scalloped Hazel x3, Ingrailed Clay x1 & Birch Mocha (NFY) x1.

25th, Moths
Common Marbled Carpet x5, Brimstone x3, Mottled Pug x1, Bright-line Brown-eye x1, Heart & Dart x3, Light Brown Apple Moth x1, Scalloped Hazel x4, Garden Carpet x2, Yellow-faced Bell x1, Common Pug x1, Buff Ermine x2,Dark Arches (NFY) x1, & Mottled Rustic (NFY) x1.

26th, Moths
Freyer's Pug x1, Common Pug x4, Yellow-faced Bell x2, Brimstone x2, Common Marbled Carpet x2, Silver-ground Carpet x3, Garden Carpet x2, Flame Carpet x1, Dark/Grey Dagger x1, Heart & Dart x27, Buff Ermine x2, Scalloped Hazel x3, Mottled Pug x1, Large Yellow Underwing x1, Common Marble x2, Snout (NFY) x1, Bright-line Brown-eye x1, Green Pug (NFY) x1, Green Silver-lines (NFY) x1, Uncertain x3, Marbled Minor agg. (NFY) x1, Mottled Rustic x1, Barred Fruit Tortrix (NFY) x2, & Marbled Orchard Tortrix (NFY) x1.

27th, Bempton Cliffs
We enjoyed a morning at the seabird city today with Uncle David joining us on what was a largely cloudy and grey day here on the East Yorkshire coast. Bird-wise all the typical species were about though a PEREGRINE FALCON was a good sighting, whilst a few species of butterfly and moth were about including Silver-ground Carpet. St. Mark's Fly were on the wing in large numbers whilst the cliff tops hosted the usual dark purple hued Northern Marsh Orchids.

29th, Moths
Common Pug x4, Freyer's Pug x1, Brimstone x6, Garden Carpet x1 Silver-ground Carpet x2, Common Marbled Carpet x3, Clouded Silver x1, Willow Beauty x1, Scalloped Hazel x5, Heart & Dart x19, Buff Ermine x1, Marbled Minor agg. x1 (dark form), Bright-line Brown-eye x2, Small Fan-foot x1, Common Marble x2, Brown House Moth x2, Barred Fruit-tree Tortrix x1, Plum Tortrix x1, & Garden Grass-veneer (NFY) x1.

30th, Moths
Riband Wave (NFY) x2, Common Marbled Carpet x3, Grey Pine Carpet (NFY) x1, Common Pug x2, Double-striped Pug x1 (first record since Spring), Narrow-winged Pug (NFY) x1, Scorched Wing (NFY) x3, Brimstone x2, Peppered Moth x8, Clouded Silver x4, Light Emerald (NFY) x1, Buff Ermine x4, Heart & Dart x37, Flame Shoulder (NFY) x1, Large Yellow Underwing x5, Nutmeg (NFY) x1, Bright-line Brown-eye x3, Shoulder-striped Wainscot (NFY) x2, Dark/Grey Dagger x1, Dark Arches x1, Clouded-bordered Brindle (NFY) x1, Marbled Minor agg. x9, Mottled Rustic x2, Plain Golden Y (NFY) x1, Spectacle x2, Fan-foot (NFY) x1, Small Fan-foot x1, Bee Moth x2, Barred Fruit-tree Tortrix x3, Dark Fruit-tree Tortrix (NFY) x2, Light Brown Apple Moth x2, Common Marble x1, Triangle-marked Roller (NFY) x1, & Brown House Moth x3.