Saturday, 30 June 2012

Moths after the storm

It's still raining of course but last night was forecast dry so the trap went out. I had to rely on the Met Office for the forecast as the Newcastle Supercell Storm as they are calling it seems to have wiped out my weather station. With all the lighting I think it may have been zapped too,  as it's on a high metal pole at the bottom of the garden.
Still they were right and it did keep dry overnight and this morning- 56 moths of 30 species  which is the best this year but still down on what should be presnt this time of year. As I'm seeing (and posting) so little due to the weather and work I 'll list the whole contents as it was quite a mixed bag

      Coleophora species (Coleophora sp.)  1
      Common Swift (Hepialus lupulinus)  1
      Map-winged Swift (Hepialus fusconebulosa)  2
      Diamond-back Moth (Plutella xylostella)  1
      Clepsis consimilana  2
      Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana)  2
      Apotomis turbidana  1
      Garden Grass-veneer (Chrysoteuchia culmella)  2
      Scoparia ambigualis  2
      Bee Moth (Aphomia sociella)  1
      Common Marbled Carpet (Chloroclysta truncata)  3
      Spruce Carpet (Thera britannica)  2
      Small Rivulet (Perizoma alchemillata)  1
      Common Pug (Eupithecia vulgata)  1
      Grey Pug (Eupithecia subfuscata)  1
      Golden-rod Pug (Eupithecia virgaureata)  1
      Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata)  1
      Peppered Moth (Biston betularia)  1
      Iron Prominent (Notodonta dromedarius)  1
      Buff Ermine (Spilosoma luteum)  1
      Heart and Dart (Agrotis exclamationis)  14
      Flame Shoulder (Ochropleura plecta)  1
      Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba)  2
      Purple Clay (Diarsia brunnea)  1
      Cabbage Moth (Mamestra brassicae)  1
      Poplar Grey (Acronicta megacephala)  1
      Dark Arches (Apamea monoglypha)  3
      Clouded-bordered Brindle (Apamea crenata)  1 [melanic form] (A. crenata ab. combusta)  1
      Marbled Minor agg. (Oligia strigilis agg.)  3
      Beautiful Golden Y (Autographa pulchrina)  1

Map-winged Swift

Can you see me? - Peppered Moth

Buff Ermine
Purple Clay

 The Coleophora  was a tiny grey species and may have been C. juncicolella. The Golden-rod Pug is usually double-brooded [May-June & July-August) so this one was either very late or very early, with this weather, unlikely to be the latter. It was a very fresh specimen.
Also a Large Green Lacewing, several Ophion-type Ichneumon Wasps, a Lesser Earwing (Labia minor) and a species of Caddis-fly

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Hovers and Aliens

A couple of escaped but established plants species were noted today in the showers and strong southerly wind. Druce's Geranium is well established on one of the embankments and I noticed today it has spread a good way futher along. The other species, which is more persisant than spreading is Alexanders. About 300 metres away from the geranium I found a clump here in 1984 and it was still present until 2008 where all of the vegetation including the decent sized clump of this umbellifer was cut down completely. I'm not sure how it got here because, even though it used to be a regular garden food plant it is rarely grown these days. Apparently, it is intermediate in flavour between celery and parsley. Despite looking annually there has never been any further sign of it but today, there it was again, only feet away from where it used to be. It grows wild in the UK, nearly always very close to the coast. but is rare in the North of England.


Still far too wet for butterflies and cold for moths but a few hoverflies continue to brave it. Amongst them were half a dozen Volucella pellucens and another first for me with Helophilus hybridus.

Volucella pellucens

Helophilus hybridus

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Slowly improving

The moth trap went out again last night, probably for the last time for a few days as the rain and cooler temperatures are due to return, apparently. A pity as things are gradually getting better with 14 species in the trap last night.

The contents overnight consisted of the following
1083 Marbled Orchard Tortrix (Hedya nubiferana) 2
1728 Garden Carpet (Xanthorhoe fluctuata) 1
1764 Common Marbled Carpet (Chloroclysta truncata) 1
1769 Spruce Carpet (Thera britannica) 1
1834 Common Pug (Eupithecia vulgata)  1
1906 Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata)  1
1931 Peppered Moth (Biston betularia) 1
2154 Cabbage Moth (Mamestra brassicae) 1
2089 Heart and Dart (Agrotis exclamationis)  3
2326 Clouded-bordered Brindle (Apamea crenata)  2
2334 Rustic Shoulder-knot (Apamea sordens) 1
2337x Marbled Minor agg. (Oligia strigilis agg.) 1

Lots of Swifts feeding high up overhead this morning.

Rustic Shoulder-knot

Common Marbled Carpet - A dark but not Dark Marbled Carpet

Marbled Orchard Tortrix

Monday, 18 June 2012

Buff-tip the best

The moth trap went out last night though with the temperature dropping to 7.8C  overnight, the contents this morning were fairly poor.

8 moths of 7 species  were -
Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana) 1
Silver-ground Carpet (Xanthorhoe montanata) 1
Buff-tip (Phalera bucephala) 1
Turnip Moth (Agrotis segetum) 1
Heart and Dart (Agrotis exclamationis) 1
Shuttle-shaped Dart (Agrotis puta) 1
Clouded-bordered Brindle (Apamea crenata) 2


Light Brown Apple Moth

Turnip Moth

with a Marbled Minor agg. (Oligia sp.) on the wall later.

Marbled Minor agg.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

A soaking, a near mauling and a new hoverfly

A walk today resulted in another soaking from the rain and just managing to escape getting bitten from two ginger dogs with their owner no where in sight till it was all over. I'm getting pretty ****ed off with the number of dogs that are not under any semblance of control from their owners  on the fell.
There's still a Cuckoo or two calling at the moment and a lot of birdsong generally, considering it's mid June. Often the warblers are near to stopping around now but Blackcaps, Garden Warblers and Chiffchaffs in particular are still singing their hearts out, as are Song Thrushes. A lone female Stonechat was the best bird seen.
Still cold and no butterflies seen today but a decent amount of hoverflies around including the bumblebee-mimic Volucella bombylans and Meliscaeva auricollis.  The latter was new for me and rather scarce in the county so a good record.

Meliscaeva auricollis

Volucella bombylans

 Another good record was the Longhorn micro moth Adela rufimitrella.

Adela rufimitrella

Other insects seen today included the Scorpion Fly Panorpa germanica. This female is similar to to other species but I think it's germanica on the amount of dark markings on the wing.

Scorpion Fly Panorpa germanica 

The Soldier Beetle Cantharis pellucida  was also seen here.

Cantharis pellucida

Cut-leaved Cranesbill

The first Ragged Robin and Bell Heather flowers have appeared and I noticed that I've never recorded the Cut-leaved Cranesbill, which is common enough and like good patch of Compact Rush (Juncus conglomeratus)  I just haven't mentioned it since I started this Blog.

Bell Heather

All work and no play

Two weeks of work and rain has meant no updates to the blog and a very depressed blogger. Today was no better, though a roding Woodcock over the woods this evening did cheer me up slightly. This cold and wet weather has not only  made the moth trapping a waste of time but for the first time since I moved here I will have failed to see Green Hairstreak at Waldridge. I think this species and others that usually emerge during May/early June will have really suffered but we'll not really know until next year. A Common Whitethroat's nest and eggs was found in a patch of Bramble and was occupied and dry but it's a bit late so may have been a first clutch relayed rather that a second round.

A Longhorn Beetle, Rhagium mordax did make an appearance on a cut down birch tree but was one the few insects that were around today

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Orchids, Poppies & Cucumbers

The moth trap fared no better last night than previously, with only a Silver-ground Carpet and a Clouded-bordered Brindle present by 00:30 hours, I switched it off.

A little walk early on produced the first of the Northern Marsh Orchids which have just started to come into flower, rather late this year.

Northern Marsh Orchid
 Nothing really new except perhaps for some Welsh Poppies. Though another garden escape, the spot was exactly the same as I last recorded them here in 2004. Presumably the soil had been disturbed allowing the seed to germinate.

Welsh Poppy

Back in the garden, I found a Cucumber Spider Arianella sp. on one of the Lilies.

Arianella sp.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Grass, thistle and a Dingy ... nice

About a bit this weekend despite of the weather and it's uncanny knack of trying, usually sucessfully, to soak me.

A Lesser Whitethroat in the scrub behind the village was the best bird of the weekend, proably followed by a fly-over Oystercatcher. 1-2 Cuckoos are still calling, and again it seems to be a good year for Garden Warblers. Several people have told me about the lack of Swallows this year. Can't say I have noticed and there were 60+ feeding low around the horses in Beany Lane yesterday morning.

Swallows and Horse legs - not the forgotten follow-on by Arthur Ransome

2 Dingy Skipper butterflies were on the path by Brass Castle pond, the first I've had here, and well over 100 meters from the nearest colony. They are getting closer to the house every year.

Dingy Skipper - a garden tick before too long?

 The only other butterfly out in the cold weather in anything like decent numbers was Wall Brown

Wall Brown trying to be inconspicuous

There were quite a few Common Blue Damselflies here too.

Common Blue Damselfly - like it says in the book, common & blue

 The moth trap content have been very poor the last few attempts, again due to the cold. But the fell was a little better with very good numbers of Common Heath on the Heather and the micro moth, Cydia succedana on the Gorse.

A patch of Cotoneaster horizontalis has been lifting with Bumblebees the last few days with at least Bombus hortorum, pascorum, pratorum, terrestris and lots of Bombus hyporum (the newly arrived Tree Bumblebee) present. Also a Cuckoo Bumblebee I have still to sort out. Not many hoverflies about but a couple of Scaeva pyrastri in the garden were my first here. The hoverfly Merodon equestris is still present in large numbers so I'm a bit concerned for my Daffodils as it's English names include Narcissus bulb fly, Greater bulb fly, Large bulb fly and Large Narcissus fly. The larvae of this species feed on Narcissus bulbs, unlike most of it's Aphid-feeding cousins. Also rather common in the garden is the common parastic fly Tachina fera 

Tachina fera a not too pretty parasitic fly

 and I have seen the Red & Black Froghopper Cercopis vulnerata here and on the fell the last few days.
Red & Black Froghopper- a bit prettier

Walking or driving along Waldridge Lane recently you may well have seen a large Black Rabbit running across, I've seen it on most occassions recently. It's amazing it has survived, usually its just before the very large patch of Dame's-Violet, which though is a garden escape is looking at its best at the moment.

Good patch of Dame's-violet but watch out for black bunnies

Also along here I found a grass I haven't seen on my 'patch' before  Meadow Fescue Festuca pratensis.

Meadow Fescue - a new grass for here

Not far away on the central reservation of the A167 I noticed a tall thistle in flower. This was Welted Thistle and again was new for me here (it is in a couple of areas around Chester-le-Street town centre) and I believe a new tetrad record.

Welted Thistle - a new thistle for here
So a dingy butterfly, a thistle in the middle of the road and a piece of grass have made it an enjoyable few days despite the weather. See, it doesn't take much to please me really.