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.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

30 Days Wild #Day 9

Today has been the most fun! I have been doing an education day at Seascale Primary School where we took them down to the beach for some wildlife and nature based activities. My role has been to do some 'bird spotting' with them so I set up and easy survey and a short walk and the kids aged 7-8 were all exceptional fun. We didn't manage to see a huge diversity but we did manage to get them all using some binoculars and showed some of the cool species that live on their doorsteps (and split seagull into at least 4...)

The best bit was the three Curlews heading south and then asking the kids to look for the adaptations and the colouring, explaining their ecology and also playing them some calls to show them where the name comes from. I also managed to find plenty of lugworm casts to highlight what they eat and what the huge bill is for. No photos of the day as it was a school class but later...

Tonight I did a bat survey and managed to see 6 species of bat including my first Nathusias's Pippistrelle. Additionally I saw my first Natterjack Toads and Water Scorpions.

Monday, 8 June 2015

30 Days Wild #Day 8

Today's wild efforts were considerably less engaged than previously. Day 7 started with an empty Swallow nest and finished with soaring Buzzards

No pictures today as I have spent the majority behind the wheel of a car. Early on I had to check that a nest wasn't active and identify the species. What I found was a dry, old and obviously successful Swallow nest from last year. Plenty of House Martins were about but not a lot else.

I drove through the lakes this afternoon specifically around Bassenthwaite and I had a detour around Dodd Wood on the East side. As I got round to the West Lakes there were loads of Buzzards soaring and generally being bothered by crows. Currently I am sat in a beer garden contemplating the education day I'm doing tomorrow...

Sunday, 7 June 2015

30 Days Wild #Day 7

Today to give my wife a little peace and quiet, Izzy, Abby and myself headed off to join my friends Graham and Will Scott, ringing at Tophill Low. The girls were really excited and that went up a notch as we saw Lapwings and a young Hare on the way. We quickly decamped to see a rather steady catch but as we were approaching the ringing site another friend, John Sadler wandered by casually dropping into conversation that a Pacific Swift had just gone through my patch at Barmston. I felt a little sick but a Red Kite lifting out of South Scrub soon put paid to that. It was a Tophill tick for me which come few and far between, largely due to not heading up there often enough!

We waved our goodbyes to John and met up with Will and Graham. A sparse catch was interrupted by a very fine male Bullfinch and a rather grand Blackcap. A sprinkling of retraps were where the interest will lie and whilst I dont know the stories just yet we did say hello to a Willow Warbler that was ringed as an adult in 2013. Attention soon wandered to plants and insects and we managed a fine Cardinal Beetle and several orchid species including Common Spotted and Twayblade. Izzy enjoyed ringing so much she was busy trying to sex her cuddly toys by wing length this evening... On a trip to the toilet with Abby we were kindly shown the baby Tawny Owls in the car park and after telling Izzy we had to go back on the way home.


Ornithological Idiocy

How brains and birds become mutually exclusive