Friday, 9 October 2015

A Little Walk

My final day of sick leave and I decided to try and walk a little further along the coast - not far and very slow but it seems I'm quite a bit better thankfully. I also tried to record some peak counts for common stuff on the patch. The place was jumping with Robins as I noted 49 south of the drain. I also managed a patch tick Lesser Redpoll or 20 as a bit of light vismig went on. Additional to this I added Grey Wagtail and Siskin to the patch yearlist. Nowt else really to add aside from a huge skein of Pink-footed Geese which passed south way offshore and looked to be in the order of 180 birds (the skeins dont generally get above 200 when migrating although the get much much bigger on wintering areas).

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Not quite right,

Rather annoyingly I have been suffering from gastric problems for much of the last month. I wont bore you with those other than to say it is quite sore! I am now hopefully on the mend after taking a week off sick but this has allowed me to make the occasional foray out to alleviate the boredom. Sadly my SX50 has packed up so no photos currently. There have been a few new birds for the patch and the undoubted highlight was a a Yellow-browed Warbler in the bush of dreams at Ulrome. This newly christened locale (after a Garden Warbler last month) links two sets of trees with an elderberry hedge and some clematis. Ideal to catch warblers moving through and hopefully one day will produce something a little rarer. Right now the little stripey job will suffice!

Aside from this there was a Barnacle Goose north today and a brace of Mergs south on Tuesday. All in all a reasonable haul and the goose was another patch tick. Best of all though was my first Yorkshire Basking Shark which made slow progress north off Ulrome at lunchtime before submerging into the briny depths. After a couple out of Wick which I guess counts as East coast and a few dozen off of Cornwall whilst seawatching over various trip this is by far the most impressive sighting although the shark was pretty small at about 3m long.

I have been doing the pan-listing thing still but have little or nowt to report recently. Fingers crossed my guts recover soon enough and there is something meatier to tell you about.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

1000 Up

I failed to get to 1000 species for Pan-species listing before I went on holiday but I managed to bust through in August and have added some fantastic bits and pieces since then. I currently find myself on 1038 species and here are a few of my favourites.

Megachile centuncularis

Segestria florentina - I managed to find loads of these and their more diminutive brethren S.senoculata in the brickwork around Bridgwater. S.florentina is a large reclusive spider which lives in a tube web and when it is illuminated its fangs glow neon green.

Segestria florentina
I also had a ramble out onto the Quantocks looking for Chalkhill Blues. It was a bit windy but I found a rather ratty male. Better than these though were the Hornet Robberflies. These were predating grasshoppers and Hornets and are the largest species of diptera in the UK.

Hornet Robberfly
Whilst seawatching at Barmston I managed to add a new fish as some of the small cobbles close in were fishing for Mackerel. I may have seen these in the past but hadnt remembered any specific incidences.

There have been three new orthoptera additions since my holiday. Both Short-winged and Long-winged Coneheads were picked up at Hatch Hill in Somerset along with plenty of Lesser Marsh Grasshoppers.

I managed to add two conopid flies, Conops quadrifasciatus and C. ceriaeformis which were awesome looking beasties which I initially mistook to be hoverflies. On the beetle front 11-spot Ladybird came from coastal dunes in Cumbria whilst a Churchyard Beetle was found on a manor house wall along with Amaurobius ferox and a still to be identified centipede with 60 pairs of legs. A third beetle, Anthocomus rufus was on Hogweed at Westhay Moor in Somerset.

Anthocomus rufus
A trio of moths made up the remainder of the Lepidoptera additions with June Highflyer, Latticed Heath and belatedly Chestnut Leaf Miner noted. Spiderwise it was a profitable time as aside from the three species I have already mentioned a couple of Crab Spiders, Misumena vatia and Xysticus cristatus. Finally a massive money spider, Linyphia triangularis was discovered in a limestone quarry in Cumbria. I also finally managed to pin down one of the mining bees to species with Megachile centuncularis.

July Highflyer
The final animalia addition is Compass Jellyfish as I watched a number of jellies being washed up on the spring tides in Cumbria. A single fungi addition will hopefully be joined by many more over the next couple of months. I thought I'd found Amethyst Deceiver but it turns out it was Mycena pura. Purple anyway...

Mycena pura
I know I said this last time but the plants will follow in a later post...

Thursday, 25 June 2015

30 Days of PSL

Not new. But lovely.
My 30 days blog posts really slipped. I was tired. Rubbish! But rest assured I have still been doing wild things each day and recently I have been tearing it up with my Pan-species Listing. Here are some of the new things I have added:

Perez's Frog Pelophylax perezi - I found out yesterday that the 'Marsh Frogs' at Ham Wall and Shapwick Heath are actually Perez's (or Iberian Green) Frogs. Which is pretty cool. They sounded exactly the same as Marsh Frog to me but these are my second amphibian in a month and my third new one this spring!

My trip to Ham Wall also added a couple of freshwater gastropods - Great Ramshorn Planobarius corneus and Great Pond Snail Lymnaea stagnalis. I was with my mate Lee looking for Dace amongst the plethora of Roach and Perch when we noticed gallons of these on the bottom.

After the Large Red Damselfly in South-west Scotland earlier in the month there were three new Odonata ticks in Somerset. The first was a freshly emerged female Emerald Damselfly Lestes sponsa struggling to get itself going in the cool morning air in Cannington where we were staying giving lovely views. A second Damsel that was seen hiding on lily-pads were a few Red-eyed Damselflies Erythroma najas which really were beautiful but always a little distant.

Green Shieldbug and Dock Bug
We also visited an unnamed meadow reserve above the levels for insects and we encountered a couple of species of bug on docks which were both new to me. Several pairs of Dock Bug Coreus marginatus were getting jiggy on the path up and trapped by a couples embrace was a vivid Green Shieldbug Palomena prosena.

Broad Centurian
I have also managed to add a few diptera this month including some non-hoverflies. First off was the belated adding of a Marsh Snipefly Rhagio tringarius at Snakeholme Pastures. The rather striking Mesembrina meridiana was basking on hogweed at Steart while the shiny Broad Centurian Chloromyia formosa was doing likewise. I managed a single hover - the widespread Syrphus ribesii was identified from photos by its largely yellow rear femur (it was a girl).

Wasp Beetle

I also had a productive time with the Coleoptera with several being added from both Somerset and South-west Scotland. My favourite is probably the Wasp Beetle Clytus arietis that I found on hogweed at Steart amongst the flies. A brace of Weevils were found in Somerset with Green Nettle Weevils Phyllobius pomaceus mating on nettles with a chubby little Lily Weevil Monoychus punctumalbum on a Lily funnily enough. A soldier beetle from the moors in Dumfries went by the name of Rhagonycha limbata whilst a beautiful and variable click beetle, Ctenifera cuprea was in the same location.

Large Blue
The unnamed meadow in Somerset turned up a brace of new butterflies - firstly the star of the show, up to five Large Blues Phengaris arion were bothering ants around the thyme while fewer in number were the Small Heaths Coenonympha pamphilus with a triumvirate lower down the meadow.

Another triumvirate, this time of hymenoptera were added with a single Sawfly, Bee and Ant added. The Turnip Sawfly Athalia rosae was chilling on a plant at Steart whilst an Ashy Mining Bee Andrena cinerarea was doing the same at the meadow reserve. The ant, Myrmica sabuleti, is the host of the large blue larvae and was seen commonly around the thyme which sheltered most of their nests. 

The last of the fortnights animals were two awesome spiders. We noticed huge tube-webs all over the meadow we were visiting and out popped a massive female Labyrinth Spider Agelena labyrinthica. This lass was super lovely as was another mother to be - a Nursery-Web Spider Pisaura mirabilis which was carrying around its eggs in a ball underneath.

As you can see - quite a haul and thats just the animals. As many plants again all for the next post...

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

TV times

My slightly fuzzy footage of the Montagu's Harriers featured on Look North last night as they ran a feature on them. I had the opportunity to go down for an interview but sadly I had to work.

The video is available here until this evening with the feature starting at 21:30.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

30 Days Wild #Days 11 and 12

 A second day of wader surveys on the 11th had me marching around rough pasture and white moorland in Dumfries and Galloway. A more gentle 21km included a pleasant 500m hill which was climbed albeit slowly! The mercury hit 24c as I sweated but the pastures revealed at least three pairs of breeding Curlew although little else. A couple of pairs of Wheatear were seen on screes and posts. Some delightful wild flowers were also noted including Heath Milkwort, Tormentil and Round-leaves Water Crowfoot.

Yesterday, day 12 was a quiet morning of raptor watches in the same location. Sadly aside from a couple of Grey Wagtails all I saw were clouds of midges. I currently have clouds of pimples on my forehead and neck thanks to these. It is definitely time for the jungle formula and midge net!

On the way back to East Yorkshire I passed a field with hay cutting near Loch Ken and circling above this were 25 (twenty five) Red Kites and 2 Buzzards who have obviously been making a killing on the small mammals which had been exposed. A superb site and not something I have seen before.

30 Days Wild #Day 10

Too tired to blog. Wader survey in Dumfries. Red Kite. 24km+. Hot. Sleep now.

Ornithological Idiocy

How brains and birds become mutually exclusive