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.

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