Thursday, July 29, 2004

Hoverflies galore

There seems to be an influx of insects going on at the moment especially involving Hoverflies. Large numbers of hoverflies and ladybirds have been reported from the Norfolk coast. Our garden normally does very well for hoverflies but it is swarming at the moment. Most are Episyrphus balteatus but I have noticed at least 6 other species some of which are pictured here. Shame it was a bit of a shaky-hand session. Hopefully get a chance for some sharper shots sometime.

Eupeodes corollae

Scaeva pyrastri

Volucella inanis

Sphaerophoria scripta.

A hoverfly - Eupeodes corollae/luniger?

The most common species, Episyrphus balteatus (Marmalade Fly), on Ranunculus lingua

Nikon CP995.

Many thanks to the folk on UK-Hoverflies for the help with IDs.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Gorse Shield Bug

An unexpected visitor to the office window. They feed on Gorse, Broom and other legumes.

Gorse Shield-bug Piezodorus lituratus

Nikon CP995.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

More Barnack action

Another visit to The Hills and Holes, this time with the family. A cooler day with fewer insects active but still very interesting.

Six-Spot Burnets in cop (Zygaena filipendulae). This pair were very close to the exuvia shown below. Presumably the female was pounced on soon after emerging.

Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina)

Marbled White (Melanargia galathea)

Nikon CP995.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Mega-blog from Barnack

Mike and I seemed to hit the Hills and Holes a on a perfect day today. Perhaps the wind could have been a bit calmer to make the photography a bit easier but there were few complaints as butterflies were abundant, particularly the Marbled Whites and Six-spot Burnets.

In addition to those pictured below we saw Small and Essex Skippers, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Speckled Wood, Common Blue, Large White, Small Copper Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Small Heath, Shaded Broad-bar and a Brown Hawker.

Male Chalkhill Blue (Lysandra coridon)

Female Chalkhill Blue (Lysandra coridon)

Marbled White (Melanargia galathea)

Six-Spot Burnet (Zygaena filipendulae)

Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria)

Campanula glomerata

Nikon CP995

Svensson's Copper Underwing

A rather large and time-consuming moth catch overnight included some excellent moths among the 269 moths of 65 species. Cream-bordered Green Pea (Earias clorana) is nationally scarce and there are not that many records of Bordered Pug (Eupithecia succenturiata) in Hunts.

The other good find was a largish moth: Svensson's Copper Underwing (Amphipyra berbera). This is very hard to distinguish from the Copper Underwing (Amphipyra pyramidoides) but close examination of the underside of the hindwing shows the copper colour extends fully along the length of the wing. On Copper Underwing the copper is restricted to the posterior third, the rest being cream coloured. The moth was chilled so it could be handled to inspect the underside and released unharmed.

The underside of the hindwing is only a guide (although a good one) but a diagnostic test is to take a close look at the palps. In the final two pictures the palps are visible and look largely dark with neat tiny pale tips. On Copper Underwing these are largely pale along the front edge and thus lack the contrasting pale tips.

This also helped take the garden moth list to over 300 species in just under a year of recording.

Svensson's Copper Underwing (Amphipyra berbera)

Nikon CP995

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Juvenile Song Thrush

Mothing has its by-products. Often things are heard at night and many other species other than moths are attracted, all of which adds to the interest. In this case it was a barely fledged Song Thrush that had chosen a very exposed roosting perch low down and rather vulnerable to predators, especially illuminated by the moth light. I moved it to a less dangerous position after taking the photo where it soon settled back off to sleep.

Juvenile Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)

Nikon CP995 with internal flash.

Six-Spot Burnets

Many Six-Spot Burnet moths (Zygaena filipendulae) were on the wing in the morning at Dogsthorpe Star Pit.

An otherwise relatively unproductive trip to Ring Haw three days earlier also had a few cooperative individuals.

Nikon CP995.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Lunchtime on the western Nene Washes

A bike around the Bradley Fen and Padholme Pumping Station area east of Peterborough provided the opportunity to photograph the moths and butterflies below (all at the latter site). There were plenty of other leps there including a Silver Y and Gatekeepers. An Emperor dragonfly was near Bradley Fen and single Redshank, Snipe and Greenshank were all on the High Wash floods just a bit further east.

Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas)

Essex Skipper (Thymelicus lineola)

The pyralid moth Udea lutealis

Nikon CP995.

Monday, July 19, 2004

More Little Egrets

And then there were two. In fact a day later there were four. Perhaps Dogsthorpe Star is finally starting to live up to the expectations raised since it has been drained.

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
Digiscoped with the Nikon CP995, Leica APO77 and 20x eyepiece.

Bugs, bugs, bugs

Not everything that arrives in a moth trap is a moth. Here are some recent visitors to the garden light trap.

A small Ichneumon perhaps Diplazon sp.

A Burying Beetle (Nicrophorus investigator)

One of the many forms of 2-Spot Ladybird, Adalia bipunctata

This large Ichneumon fly is a regular at light traps and the bad news for the moths is that it is ectoparasitic on their larvae.
Netellia testaceus

Capsid Bug

Nikon CP995.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Weedon's Slug Theory debunked?

Not making any friends here I suspect but this whopping slug on the house wall appears to be a very clean example, which seem to refute the mucky-end theory proposed by my (former?) friend Mike Weedon. The exception that proves the rule?!

Swaddywell Insects

Picking the only sunny day for ages Katie Fuller, Mike Weedon and I headed to the excellent local nature reserve at Swaddywell for some top quality insects. Common Darter, Four-spotted Chaser, Emperor and Black-tailed Skimmer dragonflies, several pyralid moths that were probably Udea lutealis and a Silver Y also showed.

First another of those top insects: the longhorn beetle Agapanthea villosoviridescens

Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet is a grassland species flying in June and July and was the highlight of the visit.

Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris)

Skipper sp. probably Essex (Thymelicus lineola)

Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus)

Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae)

Shaded Broad-bar (Scotopteryx chenopodiata)