Although the weather is cold and foggy there are still some incredible moths out on the wing. The most striking of these is the December Moth which are around in Aldbourne right now. These beautiful moths overwinter as an egg before munching on one of a range of broadleaved trees (including oak, hawthorn, birch, blackthorn and poplar) in spring. They spend summer pupating before emerging in late autumn/early winter to brave the cold.
Another moth around at the moment is the equally aptly-named Winter Moth and is a slightly less glamorous moth but it is likely this moth that you see in your headlights when driving this month or fluttering at your windows. The male has wings while the female is wingless and attracts the male to her using pheromones.
The full selection of winter animals remain around in the parish this week with Roe Deer showing well in a number of locations as well as many of the birds continuing to show well including confiding Stonechats and noisy winter thrushes. Corn Buntings are consistently singing well on milder days so listen out for their jangling keys song.
A special highlight this week was a report of a Merlin from High Clear Down. This falcon is the UKs smallest raptor and is a real downland winter treat. I am sure they are present in the parish each year but are likely sparsely so and very hard to see – this is the first record that I have seen of this species for Aldbourne. When out walking keep your eyes out for this lovely bird of prey – but do be careful as there are a lot of Kestrels around this year as well as Sparrowhawks following the hedgerows and both could potentially be confusion species.