Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Breakfast delayed

Apologies for the blurry, snatched photos in this sequence, but I had to act quickly to record an interesting sight.

I left the trap in a quiet and little-frequented spot last night and this morning I saw a robin sitting ominously on the edge of the bowl. With its self-important stance and little red tummy thrust out, it had all the air of a diner in a gentleman's club wondering why his poached eggs were taking so long. Here it is again, with added visual aid to compensate for terrible blur.

Like such a diner, it didn't seem to have the inclination to find a tasty and varied breakfast right under its nose. Here are the three potential courses: a Riband Wave and Canary Moth for starters; the robin was perched right above the Canary and inches from the Wave. Then a Swallowtail moth for mains and a Common Footman and tortrix micro for pud.

Was the robin finicky in its tastes? They prefer worms but wouldn't turn their beak down at a moth, I think. Update: check out interesting comment on this.

Had it already dined? Unlikely; there are seldom more than half-a-dozen moths on the outside of the trap. 

Had it just arrived? Too much of a coincidence and it was 6.30am and had been light for ages. Update: but I realise I had only just turned off the light (see comments again).

Or was it simply not hungry? I doubt it. Birds seem to me to feed all the time.

Perhaps it couldn't see, smell or sense them? Mmm, maybe we're getting warm. 

Were they saved by keeping completely still? That would be my best bet. 

Views and theories from the learned would be very welcome.



i've heard that birds,especially sparrows,take more moths from traps in early summer to feed to their young which have less discering tastes than the adults.Later in summer they will often ignore most moths which they find distasteful!
cheers G.F.

MartinWainwright said...

How interesting! Thanks very much for that. I think caterpillars are prob more to their taste too. Butterfly Conservation produced some stuff showing that one family of blue tits needs something like 13 million caterpillars are year. It was of that order of incredibleness

Much obliged, all warm wishes, Martin

Bill D said...

My local Robin discovered the garden moth trap early this year, and its a rare occasion that I'm not greeted by the bird perched on top of the trap in the morning!

Usually it just uses the trap as nothing more than a perch, and I find it mainly takes the moths on the surrounding lawn.

Cheers, Bill

MartinWainwright said...

Thanks v much Bill. I had a robin actually inside the trap two years ago. It didn't try that again...

Does yours mind the light being on? I realise that another factor yesterday may have been that I had just turned it off

Thanks v much and all warm wishes - and good moths