Sunday, May 31, 2009

Marston Vale Country Park

Surely the day couldn't get any better after the afternoon's breathtaking polecat extravaganza...I'm so glad that I decided to go to the Beds Natural History Society moth-trapping event at Marston Vale CP......

An amazing total of 15 Elephant Hawkmoths!

A magnificent Lime Hawkmoth was one of 3 that turned up.

Next on the scene was a female Eyed Hawkmoth that proceeded to lay some eggs!

Then we checked the Robinson Trap to find Elephant, Lime, Eyed....and Privet Hawkmoth!!

And then, just as we were packing up to go after 1am, a Poplar Hawkmoth appeared!

The grand total was 15 elephant hawkmoths, 3 lime hawkmoths, 2 eyed hawkmoths, a privet hawkmoth, and a poplar hawkmoth! What a day!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

College Lake, Hertfordshire

What a fantastic afternoon! Although I was due to go on a romantic bike ride with Carole, I love her so much for encouraging me to go to College Lake in Bucks to try to see the polecat kits that have been reported in recent days.

I arrived at 2.15pm, a single kit having been seen about half an hour previously. There were 8 of us waiting in the little woodland hide with its pond right in front of the windows at waist height. It was a long wait, but well worth it as, just after 4pm, 3 kits arrived and, for the next ¾ hour, we had great views of them, on & off, drinking and exploring the area in front of the hide. At one point, one even ran across the area directly in front of the hide…about a foot from my nose!!

Wonderful! I love the mustelid family and I’ve now seen badger, otter, stoat, weasel, mink, pine marten and polecat (and beech marten in France)….just need a feral ferret for the set!!

The photos I took this afternoon were useless, but I managed some video which I’ll try to upload soon.

And here's a photo from Beds birder and wildlife enthusiast, Steve Blain, who visited College Lake on Sunday and who's given me permission to include it here. He's not pleased with it....but look how good it is compared with mine!!

Chandos Road, Ampthill

A nice buff-tip moth in the trap this morning. It looks like a silver birch twig that has been snapped off! The highlight of the evening was a moth on the garden wall rather than in the trap. It was a freshly-emerged angle-shades. The little stumpy wings looked glorious when they were fully expanded a little while later!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Chandos Road, Ampthill

Having had a small elephant hawkmoth (Deilephila porcellus) in the moth-trap a few days ago, I was really pleased to find an elephant hawkmoth (Deilephila elpenor) clinging to the sides this morning.

Other moths included large nutmeg, pale-shouldered brocade, dark arches, treble lines, heart-and-dart, and a beautiful ruby tiger, and there were also 2 cockchafers (scarey!).

...oh, and a male Epistrope eligans hoverfly on the cups' cupboard in the kitchen!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Coronation Pit, Stewartby

The hoverfly in this photograph is a lot more exciting than it looks. It's Sphaerophoria loewi, a rare coastal species that I found here a year the form of a male & female joined together! John O'Sullivan and I returned today hoping to relocate it. We were really excited when John found some in his net after sweeping a rush growing on the edges of the lake where I found the species last year. We definitely found 5, maybe a few more, including this female. Before last year, this species had been found inland only once before - at Aviemore, Scotland in it's a significant find.

Here's John with the main patch of what we think might be sea club rush to the left.

This photograph shows a waterplant that has been used by a female great crested newt to lay her eggs. Notice how the leaves have been folded over.

Lots of other wildlife around, too:
  • Hoverflies (a number of them in the ditch alongside the road): Cheilosia bergenstammi; Cheilosia illustrata; Cheilosia pagana; Cheilosia variabilis; Chrysotoxum cautum; Eristalis arbustorum; Eristalis nemorum; Eristalis pertinax; Eristalis tenax; Helophilus pendulus; Melangyna comp/lab; Myathropa florea; Parhelophilus versicolor; Pipizella viduata; Platycheirus albimanus; Platycheirus fulviventris; Platycheirus scutatus (female s.l); Sphaerophoria scripta; Sphaerophoria loewi; Syritta pipiens; Syrphus ribesii; Tropidia scita; Volucella bombylans; Xanthogramma pedissequum.
  • Odonata: Large red, Blue-tailed & Azure damselflies abundant; 4-spotted chasers all over the shop; newly-emerged black-tailed skimmer.
  • Butterflies: The impressive painted lady migration that is currently being noted all over the country was evidenced by a number of individuals constantly flying through; lots of common blue butterflies; a solitary male orange tip in the field.
  • Moths: Nettle-tap; Cinnabar (7); Silver Y; a dark dagger larva; and the micro Dichrorampha alpinana whose larvae feed on ox-eye daisy.
  • Tabanidae: I seemed to attract the horsefly family, as usual, with a number of Twin-lobed deerfly (Chrysops relictus) and a couple of clegs (Haemotopota pluvialis), one in a spider's web.
  • Tephritidae (Picture winged flies): Platystoma seminationis (fairly common on umbellifers).
  • Soldierflies: Chloromyia formosa (male and female).
  • Herps: Common toad under a carpet tile and water plants with their leaves folded over...the work of great crested newts laying their eggs.
Other sightings included a couple of hobbys catching dragonflies; a male cuckoo calling & a female with its 'bubbling' call; reed warblers & reed buntings everywhere; and a male stickleback at its nest in the ditch by the gate. Now and again it would put its head into the entrance and furiously shake its body...any ideas??

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Duck End Nature Reserve, Maulden

I've always loved these dramatic moths - Nemophora degeerella. This is a male, sporting the longest antennae of all the UK's moths! There were several flying around together in one spot.

  • Grey squirrel retrieving and consuming buried acorn.
  • Large female sparrowhawk flashing past in the middle of the birch copse; pair grey partridge.
  • Hoverflies: Merodon equestris; Myathropa florea; Eristalis pertinax; Syrphus torvus; Volucella bombylans (var. plumata); Rhingia campestris; Chrysotoxum sp.
  • Snipeflies: Rhagio tringarius.
  • Butterflies: Green-veined white; painted lady; orange tip; common blue.
  • Ladybirds: Cream-spot; 24-spot.
  • Hundreds of azure damselflies; 1 large red damselfly.
  • Adder's tongue; star-of-bethlehem; impressive displays of flowering ragged robin & yellow rattle; blinks gone over.