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

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Pre-season Tour

Okay, sorry to anyone expecting photos of moths, birds, leaves etc. Here's a few snaps from watching the mighty LCFC through some of the pre-season warm-up games (where we mainly played rubbish) and the first game of the whole 17/18 Premier League season (where we played great until the last ten minutes .....).

Molineux, Wolverhampton Wanderers FC v LCFC, 29/07/2017

Pirelli Stadium, Burton Albion FC v LCFC, 01/08/2017

King Power Stadium, LCFC v Borussia Monchengladbach, 04/08/2017

Emirates Stadium, Arsenal FC v LCFC, 11/08/2017

My thoughts exactly at the full time whistle.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

More Mining Mumblings

It's seems that I may have the mining bug after all. I've managed to have a quick poke around a few trees lately and keep finding a couple more new mines each time. I'm also sarting to gain a bit more confidence in my ability to identify the mine, once I've managed to identify the plant! All that I've posted on forums for confirmation have been positive so far. Before I post a few more photos of leaves, here's one that I managed to get out from one. It's from the sycamore blister mines I posted last Monday, and so far two of these have emerged from the pupae that were within .....

Phyllonorycter geniculella - mine collected 07/08/2017, adult emerged 14/08/2017

Now for some leaves. I'm still trying to perfect a method of photographing them, but at the moment I'm going with a scanned image of the whole leaf for context, and a back-lit close up of the mine to show the frass/feeding pattern where appropriate. I'm using the USB microscope to check for egg position where necessary, but the photos of that are not that enlightening.

First up, here's a couple more from Market Bosworth CP last Wednesday evening.

Vacated mine on cultivated 'paper-bark birch'. Gallery mine with linear frass pattern conforms to Stigmella confusella.

Vacated blotch mine on alder. The position of the blotch between veins, and the distinct single crease along the center of the mine on the underside confirms to Phyllonorycter rajella. The other mine on this leaf, a folded 'tent' on the edge with larval feeding and frass inside, is possibly Caloptilia falconipennella, but that's a scarce moth in VC55 and I'm not confident enough on that one to record the mine.

And here's a couple from the Ulverscroft Priory area on Saturday ......

Vacated mine on beech. The egg position is on the underside right up against the mid-rib amongst the hairs is absolutely key to this one, and otherwise the gallery mine with dispersed frass (not coiled) is right for Stigmella tityrella.

This vacated gallery mine on lime has the egg on the underside, and the early part of the mine shows the feeding on the underside only. The frass pattern is odd on this one as it fills the mine rather than being linear, but feedback from the leafminers forum agrees that this is Stigmella tiliae.

That's enough part-eaten leaves full of shite for now. Here's a couple from the garden trap to sign off.

Dioryctria abietella

Agriphila geniculea

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Eaters of Bees

I've made absolutely zero effort to add any county bird ticks to my list in the last couple of years. Apathy, lack of time and birds turning up on the wrong day have all played a part. And it nearly happened again this week, but today I headed over to Ulverscroft in the Charnwood Forest and duly saw and county-ticked these ....

Yeah, I know. Spanking birds, great scope and binocular views, shite photos!

To be fair, although I got excellent views, they weren't exactly in a tree close enough for frame-filling sharp shots off my bridge camera. They were in a large poplar behind the house of the land-owner.

 Yes - that tree furthest back. The grey arrow is not there in real life.

They were first reported on Monday 7th as being on private land, and it wasn't until Weds/Thurs that their favoured area and access was sussed out. Luckily for all there are numerous public-footpaths going across this land and so many have been able to enjoy them. These are undoubtedly the same birds that were, until a few days before being found here, the attempted breeders at East Leake quarry in Notts. Nesting failed and the birds were last seen flying off high to the south from there on Friday 4th. Where they are now is only c11km away as the Bee-eater flies.

I spent a good hour watching these stunning birds, and being thankful that they'd hung on until I could get over there. Although there are five in the above shot, I saw a max. of six at any one time. I counted them several times after their short sallies out of the tree to grab a bee or other large insect, and every time could only make it six but others have been reporting seven.

After watching them, I carried on around the public footpath and eventually came out onto an area on the other side of the house, which actually gave slightly closer views. Whereas the above is a heavy crop on max zoom, the below shot is just max zoom on the camera.

I'd never walked around this area, but some of the views are excellent. I could do with garden views like this ....

The area is near to the ruins of Ulverscroft Priory. Here's a shot of some of it - the other view is filled with a big scaffold structure that appears to be protecting part of the ruin from weather!

Whilst pottering around I found a few leafmines and galls to work through for another day.

Thursday, 10 August 2017


Yesterday evening I had an hour or so to kill in Market Bosworth with Nichola, so we had a wander around the country park. Never been there before but it's quite a big area, and there is plenty of tree diversity so a good chance to have a look for a few leafmines. Of course big tree diversity coupled with botanical ineptitude doesn't necessarily help, but I found a few on leaves that I was confident about at least. I found (I think) three species on hazel .....

First up, here's a couple of leaves and close-ups showing what I think are the vacated mines of Stigmella microtheriella. These are thin gallery mines, with linear frass in the early part of the mine.

I also found loads of these tiny blister mines that were all tenanted. I think these are the very early mines of Phyllonorycter coryli, and the blister will get bigger.

Finally, I found this vacated mine that looks good for Phyllonorycter nicellii.



Whilst poking around the trees, I found this sitting out in the open and easily managed to pot it up for a snap.

Roeslerstammia erxlebella

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Overdue - Stenoptilia millieridactyla

Actually, I'm not convinced that this one is overdue - more a case of retrospectively seeing that the records I have were from a very brief localised 'introduction'. Stenoptilia millieridactyla is actually a scarce moth in VC55 (less than ten records). All of the records we have are almost certainly associated with introductions with garden plants (cultivars of Mossy Saxifrage). I've never had this plant in the garden ... but it looks like someone nearby introduced it during early 2006 and unwittingly brought in larvae. I have two records, singles on 16/06/2006 and 30/06/2006, but none since.

I'd like to see another, as this is actually quite a smart plume - as far as thin brown moths go.

Stenoptilia millieridactyla 16/06/2006

Monday, 7 August 2017


Despite the wind, rain, temperature drop and leaves starting to turn from green, the family are insistent that it is high summer. I've tried suggesting that actually, as far as all things natural are concerned, it's definitely autumn. But they won't have it. However my recent moth trap results say it is definitely autumn, and before long we'll all be enjoying the funky yellow sallows in the trap.

Orange Swift

Mouse Moth

Dusky Thorn (with slightly battered forewing tips)

Lozotaeniodes formosana (=formosanus)

Autumn is also a good time to look for leafmines. And I found some more this evening, which is clearly further proof that it is autumn .....

Phyllonorycter geniculella mines on Sycamore.
All mines appear to be 'tenanted' with pupae, so hopefully I can try and photograph one of the little blighters before long.

Tenanted mine of Coptotriche marginea (= Emmetia marginea) on bramble.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Mining Crataegus

Here's some badly-photographed examples of the mines I found on hawthorn on Friday, all having been confirmed as what I thought they were. These also show how different species actually 'mine' the leaf:

Stigmella crataegella - vacated mine.
Gallery mine with linear frass at the start of the mine, and then coiled reddish frass.

Parornix angelicella - tenanted mine.
The larva spins a lobe over into a tent and grazes the internal surface within - will create two or three new tents as it grows.

Apple Leaf Miner (Lyonetia clerkella) - vacated mine.
Long, winding, thin frass-filled gallery mine. The only one I immediately recognised, this species mines all sorts including our flowering cherry.

Pear Leaf Blister Moth (Leucoptera malifoliella) - vacated mine.
This blotch mine just looks dark and brown without shining light through to see the whirls of frass.

Pretty sure this is also the larva of Leucoptera malifoliella, spinning a cocoon to pupate in.

And if it works, here's a quick vid of this larva in action.

Presumed Leucoptera malifoliella

I've got a few of these leaves in a container - let's see what, if anything, emerges for a photo!