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Sunday, 3 January 2016

New Year Flower Hunt

1st January 2016

The Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland invites people every year to undertake a New Year Plant survey.
The idea is to find as many flowering wild flowers you can within 3  hours maximum mooching about.
The weather of course has been terrible and ground conditions are not at all good in some places, but you have to get out there and just do the best you can. I had done a couple of dry runs ( Ha !! ) over Xmas which had pleasingly yielded a couple of new species for the 'Pan List'.

So, despite the weather, a couple of hours out in the field yielded 19 definite ID's. One Cabbage family plant proved to tricky and the poor condition of a few daisy family jobbies was a bit too challenging.
Still, its surprising to think before hand there will be 20 odd species in flower out there on the patch at this time of year. Its quite addictive once you get going ! Happy New Year !

Germander Speedwell deconstructed

Greater Periwinkle
Field Madder
Field Pansey
Hairy Bitter Cress
Smooth Hawks-beard
Wild Radish
Prickly Sow Thistle
Common Ragwort
Germander Speedwell
Common Field Speedwell
Red Campion
White Dead Nettle
Red Dead Nettle
Dandelion agg

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Roesel's Bush Cricket

A nice find on 11th October was this basking Roesel's Bush Cricket. 1% are this long wing form diluta although with the species becoming more common in the county, perhaps this form is increasing to aid the spread ?

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Rhododendron Leafhopper.

Rhododendrons are not especially highly regarded in the natural world. Being highly invasive, it  can be a real pest outside of gardens and is quite a toxic plant ( the causer of ' Mad Honey Disease', and toxic to livestock)
Anyway, I have some in my front garden, and for a while now I've been checking it for the Rhododendron Leafhopper Graphocephala fennahi . Its a striking bug, but not that many records of it seem to have been made in the county to date, being most common in the south of England.
Anyway, Yesterday, there was a pair of the critters sitting on the Rhododendron, I know they can be bad for the plant, one of the few invertebrates that actually likes Rhods' but I couldn't but help be extremely pleased to record them anyway.

If that was not enough excitement for one day, sat a few leaves away was a Speckled Bush Cricket. Another species I had never actually recorded before ( probably because I always used to get confusedd with Orthopteroids and switch off ). Two in the bush, result !

Monday, 14 September 2015

Birding;Autumn Passage tries to make ammends

It was promising to be a cracking birding year on the patch, despite not a single Winter Siskin or Redpoll, and only one Brambling The year list was pretty much as good as it could be going into Spring and the anticipation of clocking up the usual selection of migrants lead to idea of a record breaking year list for 2015.
However, Spring passage basically didn't happen for me. Cuckoo, Yellow Wagtail, Spotted Flycatcher, Garden Warbler, Redstart, Whinchat and Sand Martin all failed to materialise. As for something rarer even dropping in, no chance. I all but gave up.
So it was hardly with  any great enthusiasm that I viewed the start of Autumn passage. However, over the last couple of weeks, there have been a few species dropping in that have at least  helped slightly in balancing the yearly birding accounts.
First up on August 30th was a Single Spotted Flycatcher flitting from tree to telegraph wires down one of the lanes. Usually I get a family party dropping in somewhere in Autumn, but this year, just one, and later than the previous two Autumns ( 10/8/2013 and 23/8/2014 ). Better late than not at all, although that seems to be the way it is headeing.
The following day, a red letter day,  a lovely male Redstart, a sadly rare county bird of late. Only my third ever on the patch, the only other Autumnal one 3 years ago, August 19th 2012.
A trio of good ticks was completed when a Whinchat was found by TMH on 3rd September. Thankfully it hung around for me to eventually relocate it a bit further along the hedgeline that evening. The last one I saw there was 2012.
The final patch rarity to report is a Stonechat near the waterworks on 11th September. A male. Although not a year tick due the long staying winter bird, its only the 3rd record I have for the patch, the other being October 2013.
Birding is all about context, and its fair to say that the last 2 weeks have been significant in terms of helping put some sort of quality back into this years patch passage records. Despite scanning Hirundines for a Sand Martin, I'm as yet to sort out that glaring miss, and whilst it feels like increasingly slim pickings on the patch, the irony is that I need 'just' 3 more species to beat my previous best year total.......


Monday, 3 August 2015

Hairy Legged Mining Bee, a trio of nice finds

Returning to a Sandy section of my patch on a sunny morning, I managed 3 very pleasing finds.

The Hairy Legged Mining Bee Dasypoda hirtipes is a nationally notable species, and even the males in flight are quite distinctive. To be sure, I netted one , returning it a couple of hours later .A lovely little Bee.

♂ Hairy Legged Mining Bee

Also making the journey back with him was this lovely Sand Tailed Digger Wasp , of which there were good numbers.

Cerceris arenaria

The trio of good looking species was completed by a Hoverfly, Xanthogramma pedissequum, a very smart fly.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Couple of nice Flies for the patch list

Here's a Conopid, or Thick Headed Fly from the patch. Once you discover their dastardly tricks, you cannot help but become intrigued by them.

Sicus Ferrugeneus

On Burdock there were plenty of the Picture Winged gall causing fly Terrellia tussilaginis.

Terellia tussilaginis

Monday, 29 June 2015

Volucella zonaria, the hoverfly heavyweight !

Settled on a leaf in the garden, I was delighted to see a Hornet Mimic Hoverfly Volucella zonaria had swung by. Initially I approached with trepidation not knowing what it was, fearing it was some huge stinging fly until I was close enough to realise it was Syrphidae in nature, the largest of Britain's Hoverflies. The picture does not really give the scale of this invert, over 20mm. A really nice close encounter with a spectacular, and not that frequent, Hoverfly.