Additional Pages

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Autumn Highlights

The regularity of postings has diminished, but I've not finished blogging. Quite simply, there are not enough hours to live, work and play ..and blog. So I hope you will keep dropping by and appreciate quality rather than quantity.
Here are the highlights from my patch since the last posting....

Moths.  Small Scallop, Maidens Blush and Heart and Dart were all seen in the last 2 weeks of July.The first two of these were especially pleasing as they are species that I have never managed to trap in my garden, patch macro moth lifers are quite an event !
Maidens Blush
Small Scallop

Birds. Its been a slightly odd year to date. I have added several patch lifers this year, but the year list so far is one behind 2013 still. Kestrel, Grey Wagtail and Little Grebe are still very possible, as is Mandarin, and Wigeon. The Little Owl was still about last week, but autumn passage threw up little of note except for a Spotted Flycatcher on 23rd August. Hobby made the list with sightings on July 24th and August 2nd.
The big sighting since the last post was finally getting a Peregrine Falcon on the patch, at last ! It swooped down to take a Pigeon and I managed a record shot of it dining on its prey.

Dinner with a Patch Lifer

Butterflies. 20 species recorded this year. Numbers generally good, but 2 species not recorded at all were Small Copper and Holly Blue this year. If this was due to the excessively wet winter I don't know, but I would have expected to see them, along with a Painted Lady since the last post, but sadly not. A Red Admiral was the last butterfly I saw on 1st November.

Fungi A poor autumn for fungi ( to be honest my best sightings are usually from now onwards anyway ) but the excessively dry Autumn seemed to scupper the fungi, and didn't do much for the general flora either.  A couple of hundred yards just off my recording area, I did find some nice specimens of Amethyst Deceiver and Fly Agaric ( header pic ) around October 20th. One that did make an impact on the patch was this nice Chicken of The Woods, a patch lifer.

Chicken of the Woods

Dragonflies. A good year with Brown Hawker, Common Darter, Southern Hawker , Migrant Hawker and Banded Demoiselle ( first since 2012 ) being added, taking the patch year total to 13 species, which is as many as I could hope for. Large Red is really the only other I missed out on adding ( Small Red Eye and Scarce Chaser are future possibilities if their spread continues ) I have had Large Red it in my garden in 2012, so I live in hope that next year will be the year.

Other Inverts.   Thick -legged Hoverfly was a newbie, as was the hoverer Syrphus ribesii.I spent quite a few hours trying to photograph Hornets in the late Autumn sun, and generally observing them. I think they are one of my favourite inverts.

Thick Legs 

Finally, I managed a picture of a Hornet !

Galls. I feel I've underachieved with these this year, was expecting a few more, but nonetheless I was very pleased to record Robins Pincushion in a couple of locations.

Pretty Gall, Robins Pincushion

I have plenty of work to do over the remaining year to try and put a year list together and go through my pictures to try and ID a good number of Inverts and Flora. It's what dark nights are for. I will aim to pull it all together and post a final patch listing blog around Christmas. In the meantime, watch this space for a round up of a fantastic garden moth year...... Thank you for reading.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Purple Hairstreak Time

With Everything being a bit earlier this year I've been on the lookout for Purple Hairstreaks on the patch recently. Starting with the trees on which I have recorded them previously, I came across the first one's on the warm sunny evening of July 10th.They are small and elusive, easily missed among the leaves of an Oak, but often in the afternoon or evening they get more showy flitting between leaves, usually in the upper half of the tree.And once you get your eye in you seem to pick up more and more.
My closest encounter came around midday on the 12th July, which was very warm and humid.

Purple Hairstreak 12/07/2014

So far  I have found a total of 6 trees in which the species has been flying, with 2-4 individuals in each. I also found another tree with egg on it in December, but have to get round to checking that for adults ..with so many potential sites on the patch it will be interesting to study exactly how abundant this species is, assuming the weather prevails.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Marbled White on the patch ! ..Lepidoptera and Odonata patch update

It was nearly two weeks since my last visit to Patchshire, so I arrived on the 20th keen to see what the new kids on the block were. In this blog I will just focus on the Moths, Butterflies and Dragonflies I've seen since the last update..
If the weather is ok, this part of  June can  give some of the best opportunities for seeing my favorite groups of inverts. With the focus firmly on my grid, I was keen to see what I could add.

Immediately I was greeted by the first Ringlets of the year, followed by Meadow Browns. Good numbers of both prevail.


Meadow Brown

A little further on, and the first of a handful of Large Skipper's popped up too.

Large Skipper

Last year I noted a single Marbled White on 18th July. This morning, I was delighted to encounter 2 Marbled Whites, even managing a record shot this year. These were seen less than 100 yards from last years sighting, so you have to wander if there is a small colony on the patch ?

Marbled White

In the same field as the Large Skipper, a couple  of Banded Demoiselles were on the wing. Interestingly I didn't connect with this species on the patch last year. They were flitting around weakly, compared to the Beautiful's on the stream.

I had noted the presence of Red Eyed Damselfly on the fishing pool before my hiatus, but they were keeping their distance out on the Lily Pads. On returning I was delighted to see a couple of Emperors working a corner of the pool, a patch lifer. I was actually visiting to see if Black-tailed Skimmer's were present as per last year, and before long I picked up on a  specimen. A few days later, I connected again, managing a slightly clearer shot. Also new for the year, decent numbers of Blue- tailed Damselfly.

Black -tailed Skimmer 22/6/2014

Red -eyed Damselfly 22/6/2014

Blue -tailed Damselfly 

On my final visit of the month the first Brown Hawkers of the year were on the wing. A nice early date.No Pics possible, so here is the second Black tailed Skimmer sighting

Black -tailed Skimmer 29/6

It's very busy in my garden moth trap of late, taking up much of my spare time identifying and photographing all the species. Out on the patch, it's much harder without the aid of a trap to pick up species, but some careful searching has yielded the following, along with a couple of micro's still to ID. The Sycamore was a moth lifer, lurking on an Oak trunk

Narrow-bordered Five spot Burnet


Sycamore ( Moth lifer )

Also noted whilst bimbling, Yellow Shell and Treble Brown Spot, the later a garden regular but patch first.
My first patch Cinnabar of the year was also present on the 30th

 With over 120 species of moth clocked in the garden so far this year, this is obviously an area I will address on my patch, more so next year I think.It's a marathon, not a sprint. Next Blog I will concentrate on updating the other inverts and flora.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Little Owl, little inverts, little time !

The big birding kick on my few hours last Saturday on the patch was observing a Little Owl. It's the 1st time I have connected with this species on the manor, despite having a good inkling they may still be about. I think weekends are not really the time they are likely to show, given the extra folks who interlope, but it showed nicely for a few minutes. A birding patch lifer is a red letter day, and  they get harder !
This weekend it was still about, so I grabbed a quick cheeky record shot before moving on.

Little Owl
I had started out thinking I would "do some flowers" the other day, and with a guide in my back pocket set out with flowery intentions. However, it soon became apparent it was going be a good invert session. Here are some of the finds that took my interest...

Parent Bug 

My attention to the area of the roadside that held the  Parent Bug was actually drawn by the emergence of a few longhorn moths bouncing about, Nemorhora degeerella

Pamenne aurana
This chap was spotted in the week, but there was a few near the long horns that were more photogenic.

 And this species has re emerged, earliest I have had them....
Small China Mark ( record shot from 2012)..just 1 present on pond

Celypha lacunana

A little colony of 6 24 Spot Ladybird's was busy in the grass

Not a new species
but this was Gastrophysa viridula

The special bit of Lep' of the day was finding this pristine ♀ Brown Argus. I only get one or two sightings of these in a  year, if I'm lucky.

With the aid of my scope, I confirmed Red eyed Damselfly were on the fishing pool, sitting on , obviously, Yellow Water Lilly
And finally, just to prove I have not completely neglected the plants again...
Common Mallow and Yellow Flag Lilly and Foxglove,Oxeye Daisy all noted  (easy ones I know, but that will do for this week )

Common Mallow
I'm far too short of time to add the scores to the doors, but promise a full update to the list with the next blog around the end of June..

Monday, 26 May 2014

Moths and some Hare raising additions

A brief afterwork visit on the 21st was principally to do a bit of netting with my new sweep net, to see if I could nab a few moths. As I pulled up, a Brown Hare showed very nicely for a minute until it sloped away as I exited the car. Still, its always good to get a new mammal tick, they are hard to come by.
The mothing produced Brown Silver line, Silver Ground Carpet, Red Twin Spot Carpet and Grey Pug ( a lifer). So a very productive 30 minutes. Just imaging what I could bag if I ran my trap...thats for the future ?

Over the weekend, I managed a bit more wandering. I swelled the moth list a little more. Common Carpet and a couple of Micro's, Pammene aurana, and  Alabonia geoffrella ( lifer too).

Just call me Geoff
The first Beautiful Demoiselles were recorded on 4th May, think I forgot to mention it. They are a bit more numerous now and a bit more relaxed, so here is one from this weekend.

New Hemiptera species, a smart Rhabdomiris striatellus

An attractive Wasp beetle, there was a mini emergence of these.

Other Coleoptera, stalwarts Malachius bipustulatus, and Cantharis Rustica also chalked up whilst in beetle mode. 
The plant list to ID grows evermore. Large and Small White Butterfly belatedly added 

Total 256

Monday, 19 May 2014

Cuckoo headlines a solid update to the patch

So, another weekend, and a few snippets of time dotting over the patch, not the amount of coverage I was hoping for, but the returns have been pleasing...
So, up first, Bird news, and a Cuckoo was calling on the evening of the 16th, causing me to drop the new sweep net I was trying out and dash off to try and locate it. I did locate it to a bit of private woodland, but couldn't get eyes on it, however the following morning I had one go over low about 300 yrds way from that spot ( as the Cuckoo flies). A patch lifer so quite pleased.
 The same morning was my first encounter with any Swifts this year, so the bird year list creeps up to 72, 7 more needed to beat last years total of 78, although that was my entire patch, not the section I'm focusing on this year, still, 80 was my target at the start of the year.
It all turned out to be quite interesting, as I found new species that from groups I'm especially interested in.
Saturday morning saw a a patch lifer drop in in the form of a ♀ Broard Bodied Chaser, interestingly a further 3 females were seen by me on Monday, close to a mini fishing pond, a few hundred yards away from the 1st site.Here is the original find..

Staying on the Odonata theme, I had singles of both Common Blue and Azure Damselfly on the 19th.

Azure Damselfly

Common Blue Damselfly
The other outstanding invert action over the weekend was adding 3 species of ladybird to the list that day.2 Spot  Ladybirds seem to have suddenly appeared, I was wandering if the Harlequins had seen them off, but I saw a few examples over the weekend.  Cream Spot Ladybird was another patch lifer, a species I've only had in my garden previously.Again , I noted a few of these, along with an increase in the already recorded 14 Spots.
The Sweep net came up trumps though yielding me a  22 Spot within a matter of minutes, a Ladybird lifer. Unfortunately after ID 'ing it, I lost it, they are bloody tiny !! no pic

Prior to the Cuckoo commotion Friday, netty had nabbed a moth lifer, Rivulet, as well as helping me pin down Silver Ground Carpet.


And finally, plants, I always save the best til last...seriously, they are winding their way into my interest, so they should, I've spent enough on flower ID books !..My lack of experience in this area means I have to drip feed them in,the 'to do pile is quite long.. but making it onto the list now is Common Vetch, Red Clover, Pineapple Weed..more to come when I can be arsked have the time..

Pineapple Weed, I think,...smells like pineapple, quite interesting

Species Total...241

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Easing Back, a few recent highlights

Other commitments, weather and mild patch fatigue have seen me spending less time on the patch panlisting since the last post.
Hopefully most of the blockers are nearly resolved, and a small investment in a sweep net has been made.
On the 5th May there was a Willow Warbler near the fishing Pool, a rare patch bird in my experience and a welcome addition.

 So far, Kestrel, Garden Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat elude me, as does Swift at the time of writing still.
A nice addition today was my first Hobby of the year, which passed over the pool heading towards Hurcott.

A couple of new galls were spotted. Firstly, these Current Galls are nice, but not actually a new species, as they are caused by the same organism that causes Common Spangle Galls, but by the sexual generation.

Current Gall on Oak leaf
These, however these are a new species, I found them on Sycamore, caused by the mite Aceria Cephaloneus

Galls on Sycamore caused by Aceria Cephaloneus
Right, next some inverts. A predictable faithful, but first of the year, Common Froghopper

Vine Weevil
I've got quite a few flowers to finalize ID's on, and the weather wasn't really very good for pics, so I will hold back on them, but one that greatly surprised me was finding Cowslips on a roadside verge, never seen them before on the patch, but then again I've never looked as hard...Total 229


Monday, 21 April 2014

Redstart a great start to the weekend

Having identified a little bit of the patch as a potentially good spot for picking up a migrant or two, I was more than very pleased with myself when it did just that at the start to the Easter break. Whilst scanning the hedge line out popped a stonking male Redstart. He proceeded to work up and down the hedge and then actually flew over to me and showed in the tree next to where I was stood for a while. The header photo is my hastily taken record shot.
Now while all this was going on, a few yards away a Wheatear popped up in the adjacent field on  some sheep shite. .Again, a hastily grabbed record shot, but who cares, what a patch 20 minutes !

This coupled with the arrival of my first Whitethroat and House Martins of the year gave a birdy boost to the patch pan list.

The first Speckled Woods of the year have made an appearance too, as have some Nettle Tap Moths.

Speckled Wood

Lurking on a nettle also was this Phyllobius pomaceus.

This solitary bee was enjoying a Dandelion, those with far more knowledge than me tell me it is Andrena ( melandrana ) Nitida

Oaks really rock. Not only are they chuffin  at the moment  with micro's but I also picked out my first Oak Apple Gall of the year, caused by the wasp Biorhiza pallida  and close by, an Acorn Weevil

Oak Apple Gall

Acorn Weevil ( used to be in The Clangers )

Finally the plants, its a love hate thing but they are growing on me.I'm grateful help is at hand.
Wood Avens, Mares Tail, Garlic Mustard and Ribwort  Plantain are welcomed onto the patch pan  list, which now stands at......