Thursday, 29 June 2017

Rain Stopped Play

Been busy with botany surveys so the square has been neglected somewhat. It's only been the moth trap  thats  kept the list of species for the Monad going. Now, as soon as I have a bit of time, its 5 days of heavy rain thats put paid to the moth trapping too.

A big list since the last post but take away the moths and a few plants I got and there's not a great deal else. The Honey Bee I forgot to add some while ago , it wasn't my first but I have not seen many at all this year. Compare that to the Tree Bumble Bees and its a rarity.

I've now hit 300 species of plant for the year but I think I was a bit optimistic with planning for 375. I know a good handul more I can get but with the late start and two of the woods now sold into private ownership since 2014, and no longer any access,  I think I will need a lot more invertebrates than planned to make up the difference. I'm still fairly confident on the moths, provided this $£%%^& rain stops.
Green Arches

The Mayfly Ephemera danica

The list

727. Eilema lurideola (Common Footman)
728. Bupalus piniaria (Bordered White)
729. Rivula sericealis (Straw Dot)
730. Aethes rubigana (a moth)
731. Hadena plebeja (Shears)
732. Cydia splendana (a moth)
733. Caradrina morpheus (Mottled Rustic)
734. Euthrix potatoria (Drinker)
735. Evergestis forficalis (Garden Pebble)
736. Lyonetia clerkella (Apple Leaf Miner)
737. Ectoedemia decentella (a moth)
738. Campaea margaritaria (Light Emerald)
739. Hadena bicruris (Lychnis)
740. Stenoptilia millieridactyla (Saxifrage Plume)
741. Prays fraxinella (Ash Bud Moth)
742. Ephemera danica (Green Drake)
743. Cloeon dipterum (Pond Olive)
744. Microchrysa polita (Black-horned Gem)
745. Athripsodes albifrons (a Caddisfly)
746. Scoparia ancipitella (a moth) 
747. Scoparia pyralella (a moth)
748. Scoparia ambigualis (a moth)
749. Pterophorus pentadactyla (White Plume)
750. Bryophila domestica (Marbled Beauty)
751. Pandemis cerasana (Barred Fruit-tree Tortrix)
752. Anaplectoides prasina (Green Arches)
753. Venusia cambrica (Welsh Wave)
754. Idaea biselata (Small Fan-footed Wave)
755. Diarsia brunnea (Purple Clay)
756. Cheilosia scutellata (a hoverfly)
757. Melanchra persicariae (Dot Moth)
758. Eucosma campoliliana (a moth)
759. Hydriomena furcata (July Highflyer )
760. Mamestra brassicae (Cabbage Moth)
761. Thymelicus sylvestris (Small Skipper)
762. Zygaena filipendulae (Six-spot Burnet)
763. Anchusa arvensis (Bugloss)
764. Torilis japonica (Upright Hedge-parsley)
765. Carex pilulifera (Pill Sedge)
766. Carex paniculata (Greater Tussock-sedge)
767. Calystegia sepium (Hedge Bindweed)
768. Crepis capillaris (Smooth Hawk's-beard)
769. Juncus acutiflorus (Sharp-flowered Rush)
770. Juncus conglomeratus (Compact Rush)
771. Scirpus sylvaticus (Wood Club-rush)
772. Agrostis canina (Velvet Bent)
773. Glyceria fluitans (Floating Sweet-grass)
774. Ribes sanguineum (Flowering Currant)
775. Apis mellifera (Honey Bee)
776. Eristalis arbustorum (a hoverfly)

Monday, 19 June 2017


It''s been a really hot last few days and I love it.

I've had the moth trap out a few times with species counts all between 55-65

The first night was the best night  but all the sessions have produced a few new moths for the year and a Lacewing at last.

702.  Notocelia uddmanniana (Bramble-shoot Moth)   
703.  Hypena proboscidalis (Snout) 
704.  Epirrhoe alternata (Common Carpet)    
705.  Herminia tarsipennalis (Fan-foot)  
706.  Habrosyne pyritoides (Buff Arches)    
707.  Myelois circumvoluta (Thistle Ermine)   
708.  Acronicta psi (Grey Dagger)   
709.  Eupithecia innotata f. fraxinata (Ash Pug)  
710.  Alcis repandata (Mottled Beauty)   
711.  Achroia grisella (Lesser Wax Moth)     
712.  Apamea unanimis (Small Clouded Brindle)    
713.  Korscheltellus fusconebulosa (Map-winged Swift) 
714.  Eudonia mercurella (a moth)   
715.  Mythimna ferrago (Clay)   
716.  Eupoecilia angustana (a moth)    
717.  Pseudargyrotoza conwagana (a moth) 

718.  Ecliptopera silaceata (Small Phoenix)    
719.  Metzneria metzneriella (a moth)    
720.  Elachista argentella (a moth)    

721.  Chrysoperla carnea (Green Lacewing)

The Lesser Wax Moth was new for the garden - a good record.  It's been good for Hawk-moths these past nights too with up to three species per night.

Achroia grisella (Lesser Wax Moth)     - New for the garden

Hawk Moth Squadron - Elephant, Lime and Small Elephant

Yesterday I had a walk along the riverside at Chester-le-Street Riverside Park. With it being so hot it was very busy and difficult to find a quiet spot.  There were a lot of Calopteryx splendens (Banded Demoiselle) however. I counted at least 25 from the A1 bridge, along the river Wear for 1km towards the Lumley bridge. There a little patch of Rorippa sylvestris (Creeping Yellow-cress), a unassuming little crucifer,  that is almost exactly 1 km from the A1 bridge as the naturalist walks and it's rare to see them beyond this.

Banded Demoiselle

Banded Demoiselle from a different angle

Today was another scorcher and was definately a butterfly day with a count on my hour's walk of 1 Dingy Skipper, 3 Large Skipper, 1 Red Admiral, 1 Small Tortoiseshell, 1 Meadow Brown, 4 Ringlet, 7 Large White, 2 Small White, 12 Speckled Wood, 1 Wall and 3 Common Blue. 

722.  Vanessa atalanta (Red Admiral) 
723. Maniola jurtina (Meadow Brown)

Not a great deal else so I popped back home.  Lazing around on the bench a bright blue thing fluttered by, landed briefly in a rose bush, then fluttered against the fence before flying off. A Banded Demoiselle, a first not only for the garden but for the patch as well. I know I saw some good numbers yesterday but I promise I did not bring any home.

724. Calopteryx splendens (Banded Demoiselle)    

That got me out of my seat and spent a good while looking for and watching insects around the plants. There's a Tree Bumblebee nest in a bird nestbox that hadn't been used for years (except as an occassional roost for a few Wrens). However I found a second nest which accounts for the big numbers of them in teh garden this year.  The oven hob has an overhead extractor and their is a gap on the outside wall where it's attacghed to. They are enering there and presumably using the cavity wall to nest in.

There were a few Grypocoris stysi, a smart little bug around which were new and I potted up a couple of a swarm of Yellow-faced bees (Hylaeus sp.). They were put in the fridge and I've just checked them and keyed them out under the  microscope.  They are  Hylaeus communis , the Common Yellow Face Bee.

725.  Grypocoris stysi  
726. Hylaeus communis  (Common Yellow Face Bee).

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Gone past the 700 mark - a nice surprise

I was asked a few weeks ago to lead a Durham Wildlife Trust Botany Group outing on Waldridge Fell today,  so yesterday,  I did a little reconnaissance to see what I could show them.
I did seem to spend most of my time looking amongst the nettles and hogweed in South Burn wood than finding flowers to show them. It resulted in getting another half dozen invertebrates on the list including my first Ringlet butterfly of the year.

665. Agapanthia villosoviridescens (Golden-bloomed Grey Longhorn)
666. Cantharis cryptica  (a Soldier Beetle)
667. Ditropis pteridis (a planthopper)
668. Nephrotoma flavipalpis (Yellow Cranefly)
669. Phyllobius pomaceus (Nettle Weevil)
670. Tephritis bardanae (Burdock Fruit-fly)
671. Aphantopus hyperantus (Ringlet)

Ditropis pteridis

Agapanthia villosoviridescens (Golden-bloomed Grey Longhorn)

Nephrotoma flavipalpis

Tephritis bardanae

I did find a few things, most of which obviously I have already found but picked up a few more, including the Wild Plum tree that I keep walking past but forgetting to count

672. Symphytum x uplandicum  (Russian Comfrey)
673. Carex leporina (Oval Sedge)
674. Galium palustre  (Marsh Bedstraw)
675. Vinca minor (Lesser Periwinkle)
676. Prunus domestica  (Wild Plum)
677. Danthonia decumbens (Heath-grass)
678. Ranunculus flammula (Lesser Spearwort)
679. Rumex acetosella (Sheep's Sorrel)
680. Schedonorus arundinaceus (Tall Fescue)
681. Silene x hampeana (Hybrid Campion)
682. Succisa pratensis (Devil's-bit Scabious)

Set the moth trap out and got two new for the year, a male Ghost Moth and one of the plume-moths with the English name of Triangle Plume. Also found a mass of aphids on one of the hellebores in the garden, (though numbers seriously depleted thanks to a finger and thumb). They looked a bit different and a bit of research showed them to be, surprise, surprise, a species with the English name Hellebore Aphid! Also noted I had missed counting my only Caddis-fly I've been able to identify this year but things may be better on that front as I may be able to get some help on some of the ones I've photographed so far and others I catch if I keep them.

683. Platyptilia gonodactyla  (Triangle Plume)
684. Hepialus humuli (Ghost Moth)
685. Macrosiphon hellebori (Hellebore Aphid)
686. Phryganea grandis (Caddisfly)

I decided to half a wander before meeting up with the group and picked up a few more species. by the wood they is a very tall, furry mint thats been here as long as I have. I got its identity confirmed way back then, its Mentha x villosa (Apple-mint). Also picked up a couple of other common species I had either overlooked or forgotten I had seen. On the Hogweed were lots of the sawfly Tenthrido notha with their yellow underparts and on the willows, my first Common Blue Damselflies of the year and the distinctive Longhorn moth Nemophora degeerella.

687. Mentha x villosa (Apple-mint)
688. Solanum dulcamara (Bittersweet)
689. Polygonum aviculare (Knotgrass)
690. Tenthrido notha (a Sawfly)
691. Enallagma cyathigerum (Common Blue Damselfly)
692. Nemophora degeerella (a micro-moth)

I met up with everyone a little later and had a good three hours, mainly checking one of the acid areas and also Wanister bog and the pool. Everybody seemed to have an enjoyable time.  We also got a few additional species as well as some of the more interesting species I've already had and managed to show them such as Mat Grass, Water Horsetail, Marsh & Willow-herbs, Bog Stitchwort, Common, Oval and Star Sedges, Cotton-grass, Marsh Bedstraw, Water Forget-me-not and Bog-bean. The new ones were

693. Ballota nigra (Black Horehound)
694. Molinia caerulea  (Purple Moor-grass)
695. Epilobium tetragonum (Square-stalked Willow-herb)
696. Lathyrus pratensis (Meadow-Vetchling)
697. Viola palustris  (Marsh Violet)
698. Stellaria graminea (Lesser Stitchwort)

And we found a few other bits and pieces as well
699. Aphelia paleana (Timothy Tortrix)
700. Timandra comae (Blood-Vein)
701. Cynips quercusfolii (Cherry Gall-Wasp

It was only was I added them all up tonight I realised I had gone past the 700 mark - a nice surprise

Monday, 12 June 2017

Out of Town

I haven't been much in the square the past few days and when I have it's been raining again. The moth trap pulled in another three and a bug made number 4.

661. Diarsia mendica (Ingrailed Clay)
662. Mniotype adusta (Dark Brocade)
663. Lobesia littoralis (a micro-moth )
664. Stenotus binotatus  (a Mirid bug)

Ingrailed Clay

Stenotus binotatus 

Elsewhere, yesterday I had a good day's birding with a Mike Laverick as we went firstly down to Bowesfield marsh in Cleveland for a singing Marsh Warbler that had been present for a few days. This is a Tees Valley Wildlife Trust nature reserve, consisting of three large, reed-fringed pools and a large area or wet to dry grassland intersected by paths, ditches and bridges. The bird was singing at the extreme north end of the reserve in Phragmites but was keeping low down due to the wind. Still managed to get some excellent views but photographing it in the swaying reed bed was nigh impossible. This was the best I could manage (if you can even make it out!). Nearby Reed, Sedge and two Grasshopper Warblers were singing but the Marsh Warbler had a full repertoire of bird song it mimicked.

Marsh Warbler - honest

Next stop was Dorman's Pool at Teesmouth just to see what was about until Saltholme RSPB opened at 10:00. The water level was very high so no chance of any waders but a Little Egret dropped in and a Marsh Harrier quartered the far reeds.

Little Egret

Headed off to Saltholme just as a Spoonbill had been reported but not only no sign of it, nobody else knew anything about it either. Two Marsh Harriers, both different to the one we just had at Dormans was the highlight, plus a nice count of 9 Little Egret. Due to the wind and dark clouds we could get the Cetti's Warbler at its usual spot. Spoonbill, Marsh Harrier, Cetti's Warbler and Little Egrets, it’s still hard to believe we were still in NE England. That's Global warming for you. There were the occasional sunny spells even if only for a few minutes and when they did the odd butterfly emerged so we saw both Common  Blue and Specked Wood together with a 4-spotted Chaser Dragonfly.

Marsh Harrier

We thought we would take a chance and look for a few butterflies at Bishop Middleham NR next and though there were ominous clouds the rain held off. We bagged Northern (Durham) Brown Argus quickly and also managed A few Small Heath, Small Copper, lots of Common Blues, Peacock, Large White and a Dingy Skipper. Half a dozen Cinnabar Moths were flying about and a similar number of Six-spot Burnet Moth larva were found. Checked on the orchids here and decent numbers of Dark Red Helleborine were showing but another week or two before flowering. Common Spotted and Northern Marsh Orchids and Common Twayblade were in flower however. 

Common Twayblade

Northern Brown Argus

Six-spot Burnet Moth caterpillar
As we were wandering about details of a Rose-coloured Starling appeared on the Rare Bird Alert pager so we headed back to the car. Directions on Sat-Nav said it would take 31 minutes so off we went. Exactly 31 minutes later we were watching the bird in a garden tree on a Billingham housing estate. The owners of the garden and nearby neighbours were all interested in what a load of birders were doing ascending on their street but were all very friendly and even invited us into their house to see it on the lawn.

Rose-coloured Starling

Back home for a late Sunday lunch, and all in all a good day.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Bee Orchids - new for the square

After several days of wind and rain the list can continue. Even the moth trap would have been a waste of time so I didn't bother putting it out the last few days. I had a few  small micros in the fridge that needed checking which I did and gor new new species for the year and added Nettle-tap (Anthophila fabriciana) as I wandered about today.

623.    Cochylis atricapitana (a micro-moth)
624.    Hedya pruniana (Plum Tortrix)
625.    Anthophila fabriciana (Nettle-tap)

Cochylis atricapitana (a micro-moth)

With the weather improved (well it wasn't raining) but still very windy I had a walk around the fell with my Pooter. If you don't know what that is (and no its nothing to do with that!), I'll use the BBC GCSE Science description - 'A pooter is used to catch small insects. The user breathes in through the mouthpiece which has a piece of net covering the end. The insects are sucked into the holding chamber via the inlet tube.

I have a particular liking for hoverflies and caught a few today and also a couple of common flies and a Scorpion-Fly which I checked under the microscope when I got back

626.    Criorhina berberina (a hoverfly)
627.    Cheilosia illustrata (a hoverfly)
628.    Melangyna compositarum (a hoverfly)
629.    Volucella pellucens (a hoverfly)
630.    Sericomyia silentis (a hoverfly)
631.    Graphomya maculata (a fly)
632.    Lucilia sericata (a fly)
633.    Panorpa germanica (Scorpion-Fly)

Cheilosia illustrata

Sericomyia silentis

Criorhina Berberina

Picked up a few plants including Sand Spurrey (Spergularia rubra), uncommon in the NE but present here and  Oxalis exilis (Least Yellow-sorrel), another uncommon species. However, as I was watching some Dingy Skippers flitting about on the tip, a favourite spot for them that I very regularly check, I spotted two Ophrys apifera (Bee Orchid). Increasing but not common in the county, these two, abiet puny specimens,  are the first for square and there can't be many records for the 10km square, I'll have to check. Like I said I check this area regularly and there is no way I would have missed them previously. They are growing on a former colliery spoil heap. Possibly my last Orange-tip butterfly of the year, a female, also flitting about.

634.    Spergularia rubra (Sand Spurrey)
635.    Carex echinata (Star Sedge)
636.    Ophrys apifera (Bee Orchid)
637.    Hydrocotyle vulgaris (Marsh Pennywort)
638.    Linum catharticum (Fairy Flax)
639.    Oxalis exilis (Least Yellow-sorrel)
640.    Rubus caesius (Dewberry)

Ophrys apifera (Bee Orchid)

Spergularia rubra (Sand Spurrey)

and another rust

641.    Puccinia poarum (Colt's-foot Rust) 

Puccinia poarum (Colt's-foot Rust)

and finally, there's still quite a bit of bird song including 5 species of warbler singing today but a chacking sound drew my attention to the resident pair (or are there two pair?) of Stonechats. The wind was keeping them down with no chance of any photographs but as I watched I saw at least two juveniles being fed by both parents. So confirmed breeding, I'm happy with that, a nice finish to the day.


Saturday, 3 June 2017

Four hundred to go

As predicted,  the moth trap held a number of new species for the year with a few additional last night too. The best one however, a Netted Pug was the first for the garden (and 10km square!) but it wasn't in the trap but on the garden bench. Me being still half asleep at 5am  was a bit shocked (to put it mildly) and before I could get near it to pot it up, it was off into the roses, and never seen again. Fortunately its an unmistakable moth.

As I said the moths pushed me easily through the 600 barrier with the new ones being

594. Tethea ocularis (Figure of Eighty)
595. Rusina ferruginea (Brown Rustic)
596. Mimas tiliae (Lime Hawk-moth)
597. Plusia festucae (Gold Spot))
598. Plagodis dolabraria (Scorched Wing)
599. Willow Beauty Peribatodes rhomboidaria
600. Ochropleura plecta (Flame Shoulder)
601. Clepsis consimilana (a micro moth)
602. Eupithecia venosata (Netted Pug
603. Pasiphila rectangulata (Green Pug)
604. Nemapogon cloacella (Cork Moth)
605. Xestia triangulum (Double Square-spot)
606. Xestia c-nigrum (Setaceous Hebrew Character)
607. Agrotis segetum (Turnip Moth)
608. Phragmatobia fuliginosa (Ruby Tiger)
609. Abrostola triplasia (Dark Spectacle)

Tethea ocularis (Figure of Eighty)

Mimas tiliae (Lime Hawk-moth)

Plagodis dolabraria (Scorched Wing)

A hoverfly in the garden I caught was
610. Eristalis horticola

Eristalis horticola

and I had a short walk on the fell to give me a few more plants
611. Carex flacca (Glaucous Sedge)
612. Iris pseudacorus (Yellow Flag)
613. Potentilla anserina (Silverweed)
614. Potentilla erecta (Tormentil)
615. Vicia cracca (Bush Vetch)
616. Vicia hirsuta (Hairy Tare)
617. Rosa rugosa (Japanese Rose)
618. Lysimachia vulgaris  (Yellow Loosestrife)
619. Silene flos-cuculi  (Ragged Robin)
620. Silene latifolia (White Campion)
621. Silene vulgaris  (Bladder Campion)
622. Senecio jacobaea (Common Ragwort)

Potentilla erecta (Tormentil)

Silene flos-cuculi  (Ragged Robin)

Silene vulgaris  (Bladder Campion)

Silene latifolia (White Campion)

I only got as far as checking a few hoverflies and micro-moths in the fridge as the weather hads got warm and sunny again. Rain forecast again For Monday so tomorrow I'll see what else I can scoop up and leave the fridge stuff till then.

Friday, 2 June 2017

That's me caught up

I was hoping to break the 600 barrier for the square by the end of May but missed out by just a few. It's been very busy since I got back (as May and June usually is) and with botanising outside the square quite a bit, I've have had little time to do this blog.

I've added all the species seen so far on the right hand side and think I've just about caught up. It's nice that the invertebrates are beginning to show and I need to put an effort in this month to get some more and hopefully some new ones. The same goes to get the 130 or so more plants that I still need and know they should be around if I look hard enough.
The moth trap is beginning to come into its own now and looking at the overnight catch (which I haven't checked yet and just covered it over, as it's stotting down) I reckon I should have hit the 600 mark. I can see two new ones for the year just looking through the funnel.

Anyway here's a few pictures and let flaming June begin ....  once it's stopped raining. I'm off now going to make a cuppa and check a few pots of creepy-crawlies thats in the fridge.

A few moths to start with - all nice big pretty ones

Pebble Hook-tip

Pale Tussock

Green Silver-Lines

Pale Prominent

A Hoverfly

Merodon equestris  - The Narcissus Bulb Fly

Bogbean (Menyanthes trifoliata)

and though outside the sqaure I love this field of Bluebells at this time of year