Birds, Leps, Observations & Generalities - the images and ramblings of Mark Skevington. Sometimes.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Greek Bugs

I've was working away in Greece last week, staying in a coastal hotel west of Patras in a small town called Kaminia. We have a factory c5km inland from there where I spent most of the week, and as usual I didn't get much of a chance to have a look around the area. All I did manage was to poke the camera at a few inverts that were all pretty easily found over a few half-hour searches of roadside scrub and weeds. Most photos are not great, limited chances whilst trying to cope with either bright sunshine or dusky conditions, but you get the gist. I'll post a few groups, starting with this black and red themed collection of hemiptera.

Possibly Graphosoma italicum

Possibly Ornate Shieldbug (Eurydema ornatum)

Firebug (Pyrrhocoris apterus)

Not sure, apart from it's not a Firebug

No idea on this one either so far

Think this one is Cercopis arcuata

Terrible photo - think this one is Spilostethus equestris

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Moschatel and Random Bits

I'm off to Greece in the morning - working away for a week in Patras. I doubt there will be any time for having a look around but I'll take my camera anyway. Before I go, here's a few random shots from Devon.

 Moschatel - one of the 'faces' with a five-petal flower

Moschatel - the four-petal top flower

Woolacombe Beach - it was rammed on the main sands but quiet around the rocky pools

This rock caught my eye - a bit like looking for images in clouds, this one looks to me like a sunken fossilised mammoth. And I hadn't been drinking.

This is actually a lot smarter than it looks here - a Sea Hare, my first sea slug

Sea Slater - a large maritime woodlouse

Some funky 'script' lichens

Friday, 17 April 2015

Garden Mothing

I've had both garden traps out every night this week so far - but no great catches, all a bit slow compared to Devon last week. Highlights were these .....

Acleris cristana

Red-green Carpet

Brindled Beauty

Least Black Arches

I also found this larva near my MV trap on Wednesday evening. It looked vaguely familiar, but I just bunged it in a tub with some weeds and grass to check it out later.


Usually any moth larvae I find in the garden are either generalists that I can rear on pretty much anything, or I find them on a particular plant anyway and use that to rear. This one though was not touching anything. I checked it in Porter this evening and remembered what it is, one that I have seen before but a new breeding record for the garden - Centre-barred Sallow. It must have fallen or got blown out of the ash tree in my garden as it should be feeding on the buds at the moment. I've released it back on to the tree to fend for itself.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Return to 1980

The Housing Act 1980 brought into effect the Right to Buy scheme that was a central policy for Thatcher's government. It was the scheme that completely fucked up social housing, promoted escalating house prices through the 80s and generated a whole new 'industry' in buying to let pushing up private rental prices too.

It was so bad, that the Tories under Camoron are now pledging to extend the scheme further to housing association tenants. And they are looking to cover some of the costs of subsidising the prices for those tenants by forcing councils to sell off their most highly valued properties.

And how will this help to resolve the massive void in social housing? It won't.

I hate this party and their feed the rich, grow the wealth-gap, privatise or sell the assets, slimey bastard policies.

'Anything that Dear Mrs Thatcher did, I will certainly do my utmost to replicate.'

'Yes, I really am a mealy-mouthed clueless Etonian twat with only the wealth of my friends, colleagues and party donors in mind.'

'I would do anything to gain a few votes from the people that are too blind to see what a complete capital C on casters I really am.'

Monday, 13 April 2015

North Devon Moths

Whilst down in Devon last week I ran the 22W/20W Synergetic/Actinic trap on a few nights. I've moth-trapped at the inlaws house very sporadically over the last decade or so, but the last time was back in July 2011. I have trapped there in spring before so whilst I had some good catches last week, most species were either expected or at least previously recorded. I did manage to add three new species to the list though (in bold text). I tweeted some of the scores but my mental maths is crap - the real scores are here with a total of 245 of 27sp. over four nights.

06/04/2015
45 of 13sp
.
0464  Diamond-back Moth (Plutella xylostella)  1
0663  Diurnea fagella  1
1663  March Moth (Alsophila aescularia)  4
1881  Early Tooth-striped (Trichopteryx carpinata)  1
1917  Early Thorn (Selenia dentaria)  1
1927  Brindled Beauty (Lycia hirtaria)  3
1930  Oak Beauty (Biston strataria)  1
2187  Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi)  11
2188  Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta)  5
2189  Twin-spotted Quaker (Orthosia munda)  1
2190  Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica)  13
2243  Early Grey (Xylocampa areola)  2
2258  Chestnut (Conistra vaccinii)  1

Brindled Beauty

07/04/2015
75 of 17sp.

0663  Diurnea fagella  1
1524  Emmelina monodactyla  1
1663  March Moth (Alsophila aescularia)  2
1746  Shoulder Stripe (Anticlea badiata)  4
1775  Mottled Grey (Colostygia multistrigaria)  1
1852  Brindled Pug (Eupithecia abbreviata)  2
1917  Early Thorn (Selenia dentaria)  2
1927  Brindled Beauty (Lycia hirtaria)  3
1930  Oak Beauty (Biston strataria)  2
1934  Dotted Border (Agriopis marginaria)  4
2139  Red Chestnut (Cerastis rubricosa)  1
2187  Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi)  18
2188  Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta)  2
2190  Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica)  22
2243  Early Grey (Xylocampa areola)  8
2258  Chestnut (Conistra vaccinii)  1
2259  Dark Chestnut (Conistra ligula)  1

Mottled Grey

Red Chestnut

08/04/2015
62 of 18sp.

0288  Caloptilia stigmatella  1
1524  Emmelina monodactyla  1
1663  March Moth (Alsophila aescularia)  1
1746  Shoulder Stripe (Anticlea badiata)  1
1750  Water Carpet (Lampropteryx suffumata)  1
1852  Brindled Pug (Eupithecia abbreviata)  1
1881  Early Tooth-striped (Trichopteryx carpinata)  1
1917  Early Thorn (Selenia dentaria)  1
1930  Oak Beauty (Biston strataria)  1
1934  Dotted Border (Agriopis marginaria)  2
2139  Red Chestnut (Cerastis rubricosa)  1
2187  Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi)  13
2188  Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta)  10
2189  Twin-spotted Quaker (Orthosia munda)  1
2190  Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica)  14
2243  Early Grey (Xylocampa areola)  9
2258  Chestnut (Conistra vaccinii)  2
2425  Nut-tree Tussock (Colocasia coryli)  1

Early Tooth-striped

Water Carpet

Nut-tree Tussock

09/04/2015
63 of 18sp.

0663  Diurnea fagella  1
1524  Emmelina monodactyla  1
1663  March Moth (Alsophila aescularia)  1
1746  Shoulder Stripe (Anticlea badiata)  2
1747  Streamer (Anticlea derivata)  1
1750  Water Carpet (Lampropteryx suffumata)  2
1852  Brindled Pug (Eupithecia abbreviata)  1
1917  Early Thorn (Selenia dentaria)  5
1927  Brindled Beauty (Lycia hirtaria)  1
1947  Engrailed (Ectropis bistortata)  1
2102  Flame Shoulder (Ochropleura plecta)  1
2139  Red Chestnut (Cerastis rubricosa)  1
2182  Small Quaker (Orthosia cruda)  4
2187  Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi)  11
2188  Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta)  8
2189  Twin-spotted Quaker (Orthosia munda)  1
2190  Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica)  20
2243  Early Grey (Xylocampa areola)  1

Streamer

Twin-spotted Quaker f. immaculata

Despite the very ad-hoc nature of my trapping down there, I've built up quite a decent list versus the effort with some excellent species.The list total is now 274 species (83 micros, 191 macros), with macro highlights (VC55 context) such as Chevron, Sharp-angled Carpet, Ash Pug, Barred Umber, Brussels Lace, Great Prominent, Four-spotted Footman, Triple-spotted Clay, Marbled Green, Small Mottled Willow and Dark Spectacle. Not sure if I'll be able to add to the list now though, as the house is on the market and my inlaws are likely to have moved before the summer when I'm next likely to go down. Still - may be the start of a new list.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Northam Burrows, North Devon

We've had a cracking week down in Devon with some superb sunshine and warm weather. Amongst our days out enjoying the weather, on Thursday we headed out for a walk around Northam Burrows Country Park. This site is a mainly dry grazed grassland (there are a couple of more marshy bits) and coastal dune system around a links golf course on the north-west coast, right at the mouth of the Taw/Torridge estuary. And very good it turned out to be for my beetle list too! Whilst I had gone prepared to pot up a few bits if anything caught my eye, I wasn't really expecting too much. Skylarks were in full swing as we set off, a pair of Stonechats were near the car park and there were a few Linnets and Meadow Pipts flitting about.


As soon was we'd reached the ridge of stones and boulders that separate the grassland from the estuary, I found a couple of Wheatears.


I'd already potted up a couple of beetles up to that point, with the best being an 11-spot Ladybird. Lots of Amara aenea. Harpalus affinis and Aphodius prodromus were actively scuttling about, and also lots of Staphylinids that I studiously ignored.

11-spot Ladybird

Further along, more onto the sea-ward side rather than the estuary, the dunes became more substantial and it was then that the beetle activity really took off. I noticed that on the 'face' of every dune there where loads of beetles - no idea why, most looked to be actively trying to get away rather than being in the ideal place.


I set about potting anything that looked slightly different, and ended up with a good variety to check out. But with my family and nephews in tow I was a bit constrained, plus we were all starting to feel in need of our picnic so we headed off across the golf course back to the car. By then it was pretty warm, so hot in fact that the sheep had taken to the shade of other peoples cars.


I was so enthused by the amount of beetles though that I nipped back for another look on my own the next day and promptly potted up a few more interesting looking individuals, plus a couple of spiders. Some of the highlights from all this were these:

Mecinus circulatus

Melanimon tibialis

Phylan gibbus

Otiorhynchus rugifrons ovatus

Pardosa nigriceps

Pirata piraticus

Overall I ended up with 8 new beetles, with the three not pictured here being Agonum marginatum, Pterostichus nigrita and Amara lucida.