Friday, 22 April 2011

Cuckoos and Cuckoo flowers

Minimum temperature 5.3 but foggy and very poor visibility so the overnight moth count was only 10 moths of 6 species consisting of -

Common Pug (Eupithecia vulgata) 1
Brindled Pug (Eupithecia abbreviata) 2
Powdered Quaker (Orthosia gracilis) 1
Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi) 1
Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta) 2
Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) 3

plus a Green Lacewing (Chrysopa carnea) and a Red Wasp (Vespula rufa)

Green Lacewing
Red Wasp, similar to the Common with the black anchor face marking but
has narrow yellow thoracic markings and variable amount of red on the thorax.
This species is much more docile than the Common Wasp,
which I'm pleased with, as I  frequently get stung when I open the moth trap.

The fog lifted about lunchtime and it was 20C but the sun could only break through occasionally. A couple of hours on the fell was very productive starting with a fine cock Redstart singing on the edge of Hermitage Woods. Walking through South Burn woods, the Greater Stitchwort is putting on a grand show.

Greater Stitchwort - masses in South Burn Wood
Crossing Waldridge Lane, a Cuckoo was calling at the south end of Felledge Woods and a Grasshopper Warbler was reeling by Wanister Hill, presumably a different bird from three days ago. Good numbers of the commoner warblers are about and several Swallow flew north overhead.
Much of the time was spent unsuccessfully trying to get a photo of the Green Hairstreaks, I saw four again but no where close enough for a photo. Plenty of Orange-tips, Peacocks and Small Tortoiseshell about and a single Orange Underwing moth together with my first Common Heath moths of the year. No sightings of Emperor moth though. It seems a very good year for both Bee-fly and Tawny Mining Bee but I'm  still looking for my first Oil Beetle. As I walked past Brass Castle pond I saw my first Dragonfly of the year, a Large Red Damselfly. I had another on the fell later.

Large Red Damselfly on Gorse on the Fell
Walking along towards Brass Castle you have to walk through clouds of black flies. These are St. Mark's Fly (Bibio marci), so called because the adults usually emerge around St. Mark's Day, 25th April.

St. Mark's Fly, 3 days early
For spring flowering plants, these are one of the best pollinators around. A couple of Hoverflies were also around on the Hedge Garlic, the Drone Fly Eristalis tenax and one that was new for me here at Waldridge, Chrysotoxum arcuatum.

The Hoverfly Chrysotoxum arcuatum 

Earlier, doing a bit weeding in the garden I got a flower (and garden) year tick, in the form on Common Corn-salad.

Common Corn-salad  - an inconspicuous annual weed in my garden
 I added another one for the year in my first Waldridge Lady's-smock or Cuckoo-flower, the latter name more appropriate today with in coinciding with my first Cuckoo.


Not a bad little day


  1. Not a bad day at all, Keith. And well done on the first for you Hoverfly. Isn`t this time of year just the best ?

  2. It certainly is, not the best time for moths but a couple of hours in the field or even the garden produces new things at this time of the year.