Saturday, April 30, 2005

Plenty in the garden

Esperia sulphurella

Common Frogs Rana temporaria

A bee feeding on Cowslip (almost certainly Anthophora plumipes)

Nikon CP995

Mothing at Stibbington NR

A small catch but with many Swallow Prominents:
1919 Purple Thorn (Selenia tetralunaria), 1
2006 Lesser Swallow Prominent (Pheosia gnoma), 1
2007 Swallow Prominent (Pheosia tremula), 6
2188 Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta), 4
2190 Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica), 1
Black Sexton Beetle (Nicrophorus humator), 1

Swallow Prominent Pheosia tremula

Lesser Swallow Prominent Pheosia gnoma

The two together

Black Sexton Beetle Nicrophorus humator

Nikon CP995

Friday, April 29, 2005

Muslin Moth and Chinese Character

With May around the corner and temperatures about to go through the roof this weekend a few new moths are appearing.

Muslin Moth Diaphora mendica

Chinese Character Cilix glaucata

Emmelina monodactyla (a plume moth)

Agonopterix arenella

Nikon CP995

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Nene Washes

I reckoned there was a good chance of picking up some Whimbrel along the Nene Washes today, so I buzzed up there at lunchtime. There is only time to walk about half the drove in a lunchtime and I found out later that there were Whimbrel further along, as well as a few Avocets. Still I was pleased with a little party of three Wheatears (a male with two females) and the Black-tailed Godwits (both the local breeders and the passage Icelandic birds) are always entertaining.

Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)

Digiscoped with Nikon CP995 and Leica APO 77 + 20x eyepiece

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Minimal Mothing

There is always a bit of a lull in the number of moths about in mid-April. The early spring broods have just finished and the rush of different species to come don't really get going until the end of the month. Even so things have been rather slower than last year. But it isn't all bad news.

Powdered Quaker Orthosia gracillis

The Streamer Anticlea derivata

Brimstone Moth Opistograptis luteolata

Garden Carpet Xanthorhoe fluctuata

Skin Moth Monopis laevigella

Acrolepia autumnitella (probably the 5th for VC31)

Nikon CP995

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Back to Barnack

Had to go back for another look at the beautiful Pasque Flower display, this time with the family. As well as the flowers there were a couple of Common Heath moths (Ematurga atomaria) on the wing and a couple of Common Lizards (Lacerta vivipara) in the cleared area. I also noticed at least two of the little black and silver bees Andrena cineraria in a very similar habitat to the one we saw at Old Sulehay recently.

Don't forget to check out Katie's Pasque Flower shots.

Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris)

Cowslip (Primula veris)

Nikon CP995

Friday, April 22, 2005

Woodston Ponds LNR

Although the Pasque Flowers at Barnack yesterday were lovely there was in fact little else of interest and the only insects were a couple of butterflies and the odd Bombus lapidarius. What a contrast then today at the Wildlife Trust's reserve near the centre of Peterborough. The nettle and comfrey patches of the river flood area along the Nene were teeming with insects, especially hoverflies. There were also plenty of Blackcaps singing and a couple of Sparrowhawks calling and displaying overhead.

There must have been at least five or six species of hoverfly present in one spot, among them Syrphus sp., a Melanostoma type and probably other small species as well as the ones shown here (which I hope are correctly udentified).

Epistrophe eligans (female)

Helophilus pendulus (female)

There were plenty of butterflies about including my first Green-veined Whites and Speckled Woods (Pararge aegeria) of the year, Small Tortoiseshells (Aglais urticae) and Peacock (Inachis io).

Green-veined White (Pieris napi)

This Ladybird gave me a bit of an ID headach, not helped by it trying to burrow itself as far as possible into the crown of a stinging nettle. It was very small so I think it is probably the 16-spot.

14-spot Ladybird (Propylea quatordecimpunctata) - thanks to Alan and Stuart for help with the ID.

This green weevil caught my eye but unfortunately it it not easy to assign these to species level.

Green Weevil (Phyllobius sp.)?

There were again plenty of Nursery Web Spiders making a fine living out of the smaller insects blundering about the place.

Nursery Web Spider (Pisaura mirabilis)

And just to prove I am not totally fixated on insects, here is the first Cuckoo Flower I have noticed this year.

Cuckoo Flower or Lady's Smock (Cardamine pratensis)

Nikon CP995

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Pasque Flowers

A pilgrimage to the excellent limestone grassland reserve of Barnack Hills and Holes on a beautiful sunny day to take in the abundant display of Pasque Flowers. Apart from a Red Kite that drifted low overhead there was little else of note there.

There is a better picture of the flowers on Katie Fuller's blog.

Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris)

Nikon CP995

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

December Moth larvae hatch

These eggs were laid by a female December Moth back on 16 Nov 2004 and have just hatched. The larvae are 4mm long and this is currently the scene in their pot.

December Moth (Poecilocampa populi)

Nikon CP995

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Andrena cineraria

This is a great-looking black and white bee. Many thanks to Stuart Roberts confirming the identification. It was in Stonepit Quarry at Old Sulehay, Northants.

Andrena cineraria?

Nikon CP995

Garden Tick

358th species recorded in the garden so far. An attractive geometrid, whose larvae feed on Spindle (Euonymus europaeus) and have two broods a year with adults flying in May/June and again in August.

Scorched Carpet Ligia adustata

Nikon CP995

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Of Cuckoo Bumblebees and other things

A rare outing to the Brecks of Norfolk to see the late neolithic flint mines of Grimes Graves and some old woodland haunts. We also dropped into Weeting Castle, which, while not much of a castle, was home to several interesting insects.

Having newly acquired an excellent Bumblebee ID guide I was keen to try it out and soon came across this, my first Cuckoo Bumblebee. It is a cuckoo (or "obligate social inquiline" as one paper put it!) in the nests of Bombus pratorum.

Bombus sylvestris

Alex was doing a good job of finding things. This caterpillar was hidden under a small piece of stone. It feeds on lichen, which was plentiful on the ruins.

Marbled Beauty (Cryphia domestica)

This larva proved tricky to pin down, but thanks to Nick Greatorex-Davies and Colin Welch we have narrowed it down to a Soldier beetle (Cantharidae), probably in the genus Cantharis.

Soldier beetle (Cantharidae)

Another of Alex's finds was this small shieldbug, which is apparently quite hard to locate.

Pied Shieldbug (Sehirus bicolor)

Finally here is a rather poor shot of a Fox Moth larva. These are easy to find at this time of year as the fully fed caterpillars, that have hibernated through the winter emerge and set off to find somewhere to pupate.

Fox Moth (Macrothylacia rubi)

Nikon CP995

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Common Tern

Dropping in on Ferry Meadows on the way home from work is becoming a habit. An Arctic Tern seen earier in the day was nowhere to be seen but this Common Tern was among many there.

Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)

Digiscoped with Nikon CP995 and Leica APO77 + 20x eyepiece

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Brindled Beauty, etc.

Some recent moths.

Brindled Beauty Lycia hirtaria

Eudonia angustea

Double-striped Pug Gymnoscelis rufifasciata

Nikon CP995

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Little Gulls

On impulse I dropped in to quickly scan Gunwade Lake at Ferry Meadows on the way home from work this evening. This has sometimes proved worthwhile (e.g. Brent Goose and Otter) and this time it was the delightful sight of eight Little Gulls dancing over the water. All but one (a third year) were in their second calendar year.

They were on the go all the time so photography wasn't really an option but I tried a few digiscoped flight shots anyway.

Little Gull (Larus minutus), 2nd calendar year

Digiscoped with Nikon CP995 and Leica APO 77 + 20x eyepiece