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

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

I've got the (long) horn

Nipped out to one of the local sites that I used to bash during the 2013 1000 in 1K square challenge, but I haven't been there for a good three years or so now. The site was more overgrown in some repsects, with wide grassy/weedy margins and decent-sized hawthorn hedgerows - but the main 'meadow' parts were slightly sad as they'd been recently mowed leaving swathes of cuttings all over the place. Also, a large dead ash tree that I'd previously gathered a few beetles from is now inaccessible, buried in nettles.

I managed to net, pot and photograph a few bits though, with a handful of PSL ticks like Dasytes aeratus, Pachyprotasis variegata and Nomada fabriciana (none of which I've pointed the camera at!).

I did point the camera at some of the more obliging beetles though .......

Anaglyptus mysticus - love this species!

Cantharis rustica

Cantharis figurata

Wasp Beetle

Cantharis nigricans

Cantharis somethingorother (haven't worked this one out yet)

Freshly mown down and not as good as it could be meadow

Large inaccessible felled ash tree

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

So near .....

My garden bird list is relatively pathetic, given that I've lived here for 23 years! Most of the reason is that I am generally not at home peering up into the sky for flyovers in the day, and otherwise we have no habitat nearby that would be likely to hold anything that I haven't already seen in the garden. I'm also not adept at listening out for migrating waders at night. New garden birds ticks are therefore few and far between. And today I nearly had one - but not near enough.

I was driving down the lane to get somewhere else (something for another day) and there, quartering a field that was being 'mown' by a tractor was a superb Red Kite. I backed up and parked, jumped out the car and walked down a bit, and then watched it for a good five minutes or so as it drifted around and occasionally dropped down to grab something. It then steadily departed to the west as I ambled back to the car. I then realised that it wasn't going due west, and appeared to be veering towards my house! A quick U-turn and I was back on my driveway within two minutes, but sadly no sign of the Kite as I looked out in vain.

This is the second raptor I've watched down the lane and wished I was in my garden - a good few years ago I watched a Hobby flying around that was quite probably viewable from my garden had I been there!

So my garden bird list 'most hoped for additions' are now: Peregrine, Red Kite, Raven, and maybe one of the local Yellowhammers will eventually hit the estate in a cold winter! Could also do with a Tawny Owl finding somewhere nearby to hoot.

The garden moth-trap has been picking up this week, and I think I might have just about cracked indoor photography with a couple of bright 'daylight' bulbs. Here's a couple from last night.

Orange Footman, only the third garden record

Bee Moth, male

And here's one photographed on a tripod outside in near darkness last night with a bit of flash. I added this to the VC55 list back in 2002 and it's now numerous here and throughout the vice-county.

Argyresthia trifasciata

Monday, 22 May 2017

Bumbling about ....

... in the garden. Got home from work with sunshine still bathing the garden, and noticed a fairly relentless procession of Early Bumblebees to a potted (I think French) lavendar. So I decided to have a go at the always-frustrating photography of active bees. I pretty much failed, but in the process I did manage to record five bumble species in the garden without too much effort. Common Carder and Buff-tailed evaded the camera, but I managed to snap these (amongst a lot of blurry duff shots).

Early Bumblebee

Tree Bumblebee

Garden Bumblebee

Sunday, 21 May 2017

European Tour

Champions League - a competition I could never have imagined following Leicester City through. As it happened I managed to get overseas for three games: a group game in Denmark in November 2016 v FC Copenhagen, and two games in Spain, v Sevilla in the last 16 in February 2017 and v Atletico Madrid in the quarter finals in April 2017. Whilst away I managed to point the camera at a few of non-football bits, at least in Copenhagen and Madrid - the Sevilla trip was restricted on time.

Hooded Crow - Copenhagen

Den lille Havfrue - Copenhagen

Inside the Rundetaarn - Copenhagen

Lovelocks at Nyhavn - Copenhagen

Nyhavn - Copenhagen
Scarce Swallowtail - Madrid

Little Egret - Madrid

Plaza Mayor - Madrid

Some sort of Slider/Terrapin - Madrid

Eqyptian Goose - Madrid

Friday, 19 May 2017

A couple more moths

Here's a couple that managed to avoid getting sodden in my rain-soaked Synergetic trap last night - one clinging perfectly sheltered to the underside of the light array, and one tucked up underneath a window sill just above the trap.

It's just over a decade ago that the only chance of seeing Coronet in VC55 was at some of the better mothing sites in the far-east of Rutland. There was a distinct population growth in Rutland up to 2008, and after I found one at work in Leicester in 2009 there has been a steady spread through VC55. I had my first garden records last year in July, and really pleased to see a couple already this year .... which raises all sort of questions about why a single-brooded species that is normally on the wing between June and July is turning up (worn) in my garden trap in mid-May. Hopefully this will be a regular going forward - though I hope I start getting the more variegated form - all mine so far have been this darker/greener form.

Coronet - 18/05/2017

Muslin Moth is annual, as long as I bother to trap during it's flight period. Usually I get ones or twos at most, with six being the highest count on one night in the garden. My MapMate tells me that on 27/05/2005 we had 64 of these across 12 traps at Gibraltar Point! You can't beat that furry frontage.

Muslin Moth - 18/05/2017



noun: pest; plural noun: pests

1. A destructive insect or other animal that attacks crops, food, livestock, etc.

So is an insect that attacks garden plants a pest? Not for me, otherwise every single moth would be classed as one.

But we do have a few insects that seem to make a point of proliferating as such a rate that they are damaging the host plants. Over the last couple of years or so we have two garden beetles that are on a sharp increase and starting to become pests!

One is bright red, appears from early April-ish and might still be knocking around in one form or another into late summer. I first saw this in the garden in April 2011, and it is now a dead cert to arrive. They are always on my Snake's-head Fritilaries to start with, and now we have some lilies growing in pots they'll be smothered in larvae in a few weeks. The larvae try to hide themselves by hiding within a cloak of their own shite. Nice.

Scarlet Lily Beetle

The other is less obvious. We've had them in the garden for a while and I've never considered them as a potential pest despite their reputation for the larvae attacking roots. They can reproduce parthenogenetically, so potentially could increase in numbers quite easily. Up to now I've seen the odd one, sometimes in the moth trap. But we now have quite a large hydrangea growing in a large pot, and whilst looking for something else I noticed one on the outside of the pot ... and then at least eight on the soil-surface inside the pot. Looks like they've made the hydrangea their home. To be honest I'm not that bothered - it's not a garden plant that I chose or particularly like ........

Vine Weevil

Thursday, 18 May 2017


Here's a couple of shots of my first oil beetles - Violet Oil Beetles in the inlaws North Devon garden back over Easter. The first one was significantly bigger than the second - had to triple check they were the same species. Both were just scuttling about on pathways in broad daylight - not sure if they are unpalatable to birds!

Violet Oil Beetle - Guineaford, 16/04/2017

Violet Oil Beetle - Guineaford 17/04/2017

Wednesday, 17 May 2017


Amongst many things I've not done a lot of over the last couple of years is photographing moths. I'll try and capture a few more through this year, especially some of the commoner species.

Broken-barred Carpet

Common Carpet


Swept this relatively small Nomada sp. over at Croft Hill on 14/05/2017. Working through the key in Falk/Lewington I've identified it as Nomada flavoguttata - a new bee for me.