A couple of picks from the overnight moth trap.
Pale Prominent, excellently freaky.
Lathronympha strigana a rather striking member of the Tortrix group of moths. Although a common southern species the first one I have caught.
Saturday, 31 July 2010
Tuesday, 27 July 2010
Also went back to Cliffe this time looking for two species of rare Odonata and failed to see either but never mind as the day was rounded off with a free, yes free cream tea at Milbrooks Garden Centre. Before you go racing off, you do need a voucher from their calendar though.
Sunday, 25 July 2010
At first glance all seems quiet in the garden but on closer inspection, today heralded a major offensive….
7-Spot Ladybird Laagar.
Ant front Line and the 7-spots are on the move.
Direct hit, one aphid down.
Counter attack but it’s a heavily armoured predator and the best the ants can hope for is to drive it away.
The opposition are too many so withdraw, check damage and clean up.
Rest and regroup, ready for the next attack.
A pleasing total of 12 7-spot ladybirds in one small area of the garden today along with several harlequins. At one point I was watching 7 ants defending and losing against 2 7-spots. The life of the infantry is tough, what chance do they stand against tanks?
Elsewhere in the garden…
Brimstone feeding amongst the sweat peas.
I’ve no idea what it is but it would ambush hoverflies, hold them in it’s long legs and appear to sting them and then let them go. I’m assuming it was laying an egg in or on the hoverfly. It also had some very fierce looking pincers and extremely large eyes which definitely helped it to track the hoverflies. The preferred prey species seemed to be Episyrphus balteatus but that may be because they are the ost numerous amongst the ox-eye daisies and valerian.
Ran the mv trap on Friday night but a full moon lit night affected the number of the species caught. A couple of nice waves though.
Dwarf Cream Wave
Tuesday, 20 July 2010
A stupendous night for the moth trap, 53 species and I almost certainly missed quite a few others. Which is more than can be said for the local sparrows and blackbirds who seemed to have tuned into my trap and surrounding bushes, helping themselves to many a hapless moth. Not content with struggling to identify most of the macro species I’m now struggling even more in trying to identify the micro species, a not insignificant challenge but whilst they may be small they still look smart.
Around midday I visited Cliffe pools to try and see if I could find the Southern Emerald Damselflies that had been found there. Needless to say I didn’t see them but the marsh was alive with darters, emeralds and butterflies.
Ruddy Darter Scarce Emerald
Monday, 19 July 2010
The weekend started off well as I ran my moth trap over Friday night and was pleased to get a good number of different species when I checked the following morning. One nice find for the garden was a species called waved black which has a nationally scarce B status which means that it has been recorded from between 31-100 10Km squares in Great Britain since 1 Jan 1980. It has two main centres of distribution (Surrey and Worcestershire) with the moth increasing its range in recent decades into many southern counties including Kent.
Then on Sunday, having been avidly reading Greenies blog, I set off to try and see purple emperor at Dene Park near Tonbridge. It felt good to be going to a new location and also trying to see a new species of butterfly before especially one that I had wanted to see for many years. The first thing that struck me about the Forestry Commission site was the amount of dog mess littering the paths. Whilst potentially good for attracting the butterflies you certainly had to be very careful where you stepped and knelt when taking photos. I could start a rant here about irresponsible dog owners but I won’t as it has been done many times before. Leaving the muck aside, the site is superb for butterflies and without really trying I notched up 11 species and two species of Aeshna dragonflies in southern and brown hawkers. We managed to see 4 purple emperors including 2 males, with a fifth male being photographed on the ground by some other visiting folks.
Friday, 16 July 2010
Having got back home after the cetacean survey on Tuesday evening I found out that the white-tailed plover had appeared at Dungeness on Sunday. On Wednesday evening I found out that it was still there and decided to try and see it after work on Thursday as I had never seen one, anywhere. I arrived at the north end of the ARC pit and parked up amongst the throng of all the 5 other cars. I quickly made it to the hide and fought my way past the 6 other people to finally sit down and see this great looking bird.
Earlier in the week I led a cetacean survey across the Bay of Biscay and English Channel aboard the Brittany Ferry Pont Avon which leaves from Plymouth goes to Santander and returns to Portsmouth. The survey was run for Organisation Cetacea www.orcaweb.org.uk . The weather should have been good from the look of the isobar distances on the BBC weather site but seemed to be contradicted from the info provided by the shipping forecast. So I plumped for not really knowing what to expect and would just see what happened, hoping that the sea state would be a good calm one to give the survey team the best chance of seeing whales, dolphins and porpoises. As it turned out the sea state was great for the majority of the trip.
And ended up just getting better.
However we had frustratingly long gaps in between our cetacean sightings and whilst we clocked up a commendable 6 species we didn’t really see that many animals. We managed to record, Common Dolphin, Striped Dolphin, Harbour Porpoise, Sperm Whale, Minke Whale and an unidentified Beaked Whale along with Basking Shark. And for the bird lovers a smattering of species, Balearic, Manx and Cory’s Shearwaters, Great and Arctic Skua a Black Kite a few Common Terns and Gannets.
This shot of one of the Sperm Whales show the distinctive low angled and sideways blow, the glint in the water to the right of the blow is the start of the dorsal ridge.
The survey trips are always good fun and it is certainly a privilege to be able to look from the bridge. Role on August 20th when I m back out there again.
Saturday, 10 July 2010
Had a good catch in the moth trap overnight but it would have been better if some enterprising wasps hadn’t also found it. On checking the trap at 06:00 this morning there were the signs that the efficient predators had been at work, moths wings on the ground. Whilst emptying the trap a couple of wasps made a visit and started to attack moths on the ground, no matter if they were even bigger than the wasps. In fact a set of wings I found belonged to an elephant hawk moth, which must have been some struggle and some feat of flying for the wasp to carry away the body. The wasp tactics were simply pounce and sting several times with the poor moth struggling to walk away, they didn’t seem to fly off. I then had to keep an eye on an inquisitive and bold female blackbird who was intent on getting under my feet and grabbing any moth she could. Still there were still some good moths in the trap to see, including fresh elephant hawk and privet hawk moths, buff ermines, swallowtail moths, smoky wainscott and others. The rarest of the night was a festoon, only the second I have caught and having a nationally scarce status.
Also in the garden today, small skipper, comma, small white and silver Y and a crossbill over.
Then this evening, a holly blue and a lovely fresh small tortoiseshell, cannot remember the last time I had one in the garden.
Wednesday, 7 July 2010
Walking home this evening, one of my neighbours had found a hedgehog by their garage door. Whilst the neighbour had put down some cat food the hedgehog wasn’t interested and was not really behaving normally, especially wandering around in the day. I managed to pick up the hedgehog wrapping it in an old towel and placing in a box. On calling the RSCPA we were advised to contact our local vets which we duly did. They took in the hedgehog which was having breathing difficulties and also losing blood from its nose. On contacting the vets later in the evening the poor hedgehog had been put to sleep as it had been diagnosed with pneumonia which according to the vets is a common illness in hedgehogs. Such a shame as I’m sure this hedgehog was the one I had seen in the garden on Monday and the first one I had seen in the garden this year.
Tuesday, 6 July 2010
Having breakfast on our patio is usually an infrequent treat but this summer it is becoming the norm. Between mouthfuls of cereal this morning though it was unexpected to see two small flocks of lapwings flying west over the garden totalling 22 birds and finally I caught up with the crossbills that I have been hearing for over a week and a half, seeing and hearing 21 birds, a welcome garden tick. I then had to go down to Hampshire and stopped on the way at Thursley Common but only for a very brief visit. Whilst many of the ditches and pools were drying up, I managed to see a couple of new species for me, namely black darter and emerald damselfly.
Black Darter, male.
Emerald Damselfly, female
Monday, 5 July 2010
A short break for Lisa and me in the New Forest last weekend saw me eagerly trying to find sites for all the rare and local insects and plants but just nowhere near enough time to do the place any justice. However I did manage to spend a fantastic few hours at a site near Crockford Bridge specifically for southern damselfly but there was just so much else on the wing, it was fantastic. The weather couldn’t have been that much better either, lovely and hot.
In the heat the butterflies were extremely active and it was a job to get a shot of one at rest, but finally…
The dragon and damselflies were just amazing though, with the following highlights:
A new species for me was this small red damselfly with attached female.
Another new species and a speciality of the site is southern damselfly and I managed to find this pair mating, with the male clasped onto the female.
The beautiful demoiselle was also present along the stream in good numbers, what a cracker.
Then a very nice chap asked me if I was interested in dragonflies and directed me to a pair of golden-ringed dragonflies that were in a mating wheel. Just superb.
We then went for a walk in a nearby piece of woodland and clocled up a few butterflies, namely silver-washed fritillary, large skipper, small skipper and marbled white.
Then tried a site called Latchmore Brook for scarce blue-tailed damselfly but couldn’t find any in the time remaining. All in all though a grand day out with my camera.