Once again we ventured forth from our sofas and hit the outside world in search of adventure – or more precisely moths! We’d heard that Hartlebury Common in North Worcestershire might have Emperor Moths – large day flying moths that we’ve always wanted to see. Hartlebury Common is an SSSI, consisting of lowland heath and supposedly good for Emperors.
Needless to say after several hours tramping about in intermittent sunshine, there were no signs of the regal Emperors. Fortunately Hartlebury provided other wildlife of interest. Insect-wise there were lots of bees feeding on the gorse and broom. A single Tortoiseshell butterfly provided fleeting hope that we’d spotted an Emperor; but a Bloody-nosed Beetle (Timarcha tenebricosa) stopped us in our tracks as he trundled across the path. When Chris tried to gently move him to one side, he secreted his trademark blood red liquid from his mouth, which made identifying him later a hell of a lot easier! You can see the “blood” droplet in the second photo.
The gorse bushes also offered up a Gorse Shieldbug (Piezodorus lituratus) – a species we’d never seen before, so nice to bag another one.
The birds were abundant and singing all round us. A green woodpecker taunted us all morning, but remained steadfastly out of camera range. A tree creeper posed on a tree trunk just long enough for us to spot him, but not long enough for us to focus and get a photo. Fortunately a wren was slightly more accommodating, although a bit far away to get a really good shot.
A pair of Jays made the trip all worthwhile though. I’d previously only seen glimpses of these beautiful birds, so to see them as clearly as this made my day.
A chaffinch also posed perfectly on an old tree stump.
The final bird of the day was either a Chiffchaff or a Willow Warbler. Apparently the two are very similar and the best way to tell them apart is by their songs. Of course we were so intent on taking photos, that we didn’t really pay much attention to the songs. Back at home and listening to sample bird songs on “tinternet”, Chris thought we’d heard a Chiffchaff and I thought it was the Warbler. So if anyone can confirm the bird by appearance alone and settle our argument, that would be great.
Having never before stood under a pylon (slightly incongruous in the middle of the Common), I thought I’d attempt an arty shot – not sure I’ve really got the hang of art though!
So Hartlebury Common may not have offered up any Imperial sightings, but there was plenty of interest to while away a few hours.