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

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Dipteran SM

Just a quick post about some bizarre reproductive acrobatics I noticed at the park in Cosby today ......

It's Rhamphomyia sulcata; the male catches a prey item and offers it to the female before they get down to the nitty-gritty - during which she scoffs the prey whilst he holds on to both her weight and the prey whilst hanging off a leaf or perch.

My head hurts ....

Inside and out for two reasons - both related to a couple of brilliant days out in the field down in West Sussex on a Pan-species get togther with some fine naturalists and very knowledgeable and helpful people. The first reason is that both days were gloriously sunny and warm - I didn't bother with a hat and the top of my head could probably do a good barbeque right now. The other reason is that my head is full of images and my dictaphone is full of scientific names - matching them up in any sort of logical manner is going to take time and patience, and my brain hurts. Both days were superb, with a big variety of fascinating stuff and really good to see first hand how various people use various techniques for finding stuff. We've done a fair bit of sweeping, beating, scrutinising with lenses and some noisy suction sampling. A bit of light trapping on Friday night as well, though somehow that wasn't half as exciting as I'd hoped.

I guess the best things new to me that are most likely to be of interest most readers here would be Duke of Burgundy (lots, brilliant), Fly Orchid (including a single green form which I think is var. ochroleuca), White Helleborine and Field Cricket. But there were loads of other smart beetles, bugs, flies, mosses and plants. I took a fair few photos, some of which I'll post here now and others will follow over the coming days - probably. I've got some garden moth records to catch up on as well which I'll sort out after tonights catch.

Fly Orchid

Duke of Burgundy

A really smart snail hunting fly, Trypetoptera punctulata

Psyche casta - loads of these, couldn't resist a shot of this feeding larva

Narycia duplicella

Thursday, 24 May 2012

From the garden trap 23/05/2012

Another improved night in the garden traps ....

Total catch 36 of 18sp.
(125W MV 19 of 14sp., 22W/18W Synergetic/CFL combo 17 of 9sp.)

0017  Common Swift (Hepialus lupulinus)  2 (NFY)
0130  Incurvaria masculella  1 (NFY)
0247  Tinea trinotella  2
0409a  Argyresthia trifasciata  5
0602  Elachista apicipunctella  1 (NFY)
0647  Brown House Moth (Hofmannophila pseudospretella)  1
0892  Mompha subbistrigella  2
0998  Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana)  1
1651  Chinese Character (Cilix glaucata)  1 (NFY)
1776  Green Carpet (Colostygia pectinataria)  8
1819  Mottled Pug (Eupithecia exiguata)  1 (NFY)
1834  Common Pug (Eupithecia vulgata)  3
1857  Dwarf Pug (Eupithecia tantillaria)  1 (NFY)
1906  Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata)  3
1920  Scalloped Hazel (Odontopera bidentata)  1 (NFY)
1936  Waved Umber (Menophra abruptaria)  1
2000  Iron Prominent (Notodonta dromedarius)  1 (NFY)
2078  Least Black Arches (Nola confusalis)  1

Also in the synergetic trap was a Cantharis nigricans, which I decided to pot up to try and get a better photo. In reality I've ended up just grabbing a quick shot anyway - the reason being that once I'd got the camera set up I nipped into the garden to get a bit of slate to plonk it on when I found this sat on the garden table bold as brass .....

 Hairy Rove Beetle - smart, in an odd sort of beetle way. And a tick.

Trouble is to get the above shot took much more time and effort than I could really afford this evening. The Cantharis ended up being another grabbed shot anyway.

Cantharis nigricans

So, the reason for being short of time? I've been busily getting myself sorted and the car loaded for a foray down to West Sussex to meet up with a plethora of naturalists/bloggers/listers for a couple of days in the field. I expect to learn lots, and amply demonstrate my complete and utter novice status in all things non-lepidopteran. I may well even show myself up on the lepidopteran front!! Of course I will be taking the opportunity to run some traps down there tomorrow night, abeit a modest four plus sheet - no point going overboard as I anticipate both days will be long and full. Up early tomorrow to get the garden traps emptied and loaded into the car and then I'll be heading down at 6ish.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Orange & Black Ticks plus

Another good mothing night in the garden - relatively that is - but I'll come back to that. First up I'm going to post some ticks from the garden and local area, all coincidentally following a bit of an orange and black theme:

Badister bullatus - a flukey tick and shot as it happened to scuttle underneath me and into a paving cervice whilst I had camera in hand.

Bramble Sawfly - found this locally on Tuesday. I thought it was dead in the pot but it made a miraculous recovery just as I was about to throw it out, and so I took some more shots.

Neuroctena anilis Tetanocera sp. - another fluke as this flew into the house just as we were sitting down to have dinner this evening. Potted up and photographed soon afterwards.

Right, here's last nights trap results as an interlude.

Total catch 28 of 15sp.
(125W MV 10 of 8sp., 22W/18W Synergetic/CFL combo 18 of 12sp.)

0247  Tinea trinotella  1 (NFY)
0409a  Argyresthia trifasciata  2
0647  Brown House Moth (Hofmannophila pseudospretella)  1 (NFY)
0648  White-shouldered House Moth (Endrosis sarcitrella)  1
0998  Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana)  1
1136  Epinotia immundana  1 (NFY)
1524  Emmelina monodactyla  1
1738  Common Carpet (Epirrhoe alternata)  2 (NFY)
1776  Green Carpet (Colostygia pectinataria)  6
1834  Common Pug (Eupithecia vulgata)  3
1883  Yellow-barred Brindle (Acasis viretata)  3 (NFY)
1906  Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata)  2
2063  Muslin Moth (Diaphora mendica)  1 (NFY)
2092  Shuttle-shaped Dart (Agrotis puta)  2 (NFY)
2188  Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta)  1

Common Carpet

Yellow-barred Brindle

And here's a load of random recent stuff I've pointed the camera at, all from the garden apart from the procreating beetles ....
Salticus scenicus

Garden Spider

Tephritis formosa

Calliphora vicina

Eyeball - no idea what fly this is

 Green Dock Beetles mating all over the place on Monday evening

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

MOTHS! ... and a very smart bug

Yesterday evening I took a brief opportunity to nip ot onto the patch. Jubilee Park was remarkably dry and drained considering the recent floodwaters there, but birdwise it was pretty quiet apart from a loafing/preening Little Egret by the pool. I had a bit of a look for inverts but nothing really grabbed my attention. I then headed over to the Gutlaxton Trail with the intention of having a quick squint before having to pick up Alex from Cubs. No idea what prompted it, but as I got out of the car I noticed that a very short cut-through walkway between some industrial units and the main road was bathed in sunshine and looked very weedy. I decided to have a look there and quickly found three of these beauties ...

Corizus hyoscyami

This is, at least for the moment, still scarce in VC55 with no records prior to 2010. Mine is just the fifth record from a fourth site - and a nice tick for me to boot.

I put both garden traps out last night and I fully expected to improve on recent catches. A year-first Twenty-plume Moth before dark was a good omen. I guess it depends on what you are using as a reference: compared to typical mid-May garden catches it was pretty poor, but compared to recent events it was awsome! Needless to say most of the catch was new for the year.

Total catch 16 of 8sp.
(125W MV 8 of 5sp., 22W/18W Synergetic/CFL combo 8 of 6sp.)

0409a  Argyresthia trifasciata  1 (NFY)
0608  Elachista rufocinerea  1
0998  Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana)  2
1776  Green Carpet (Colostygia pectinataria)  4 (NFY)
1817  Foxglove Pug (Eupithecia pulchellata)  1 (NFY)
1834  Common Pug (Eupithecia vulgata)  3 (NFY)
1906  Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata)  1
1936  Waved Umber (Menophra abruptaria)  2 (NFY)
2078  Least Black Arches (Nola confusalis)  1 (NFY)

Foxglove Pug

Waved Umber

Common Pug

Least Black Arches

The traps will be out again tonight ........

Monday, 21 May 2012

More Swithland Macros

Images that is, not moths. Not so sure about some of these - any ID thoughts and comments appreciated!

Curculio venosus - many thanks to Trevor Pendleton for the ID

I think this is a female Chironomus plumosus ?

A mayfly - is it Cloeon dipterum

I think this is Larinioides sclopetarius

A male Harpocera thoracica

I think this a Cantharis rufa - can't see any black on the legs though, but pronotum appears wrong shape for Rhagonycha translucida.

This year I've got two pairs of Blackbird nesting in the garden - one on the front in a small conifer and one on the back in a small flowering shrub (can't remember what it's called). Sadly though the front pair which was more advance was predated this morning - no idea what by and it would be easy to blame the local moggies but we've had a tenacious Grey Squirrel knocking about lately and also ever-present Magpies. Hopefully the next brood will fair better, and the back pair manage to hang on to theirs.

Garden traps out tonight - great expectations. Anything will better than the three blanks and one Brimstone from the last four outings!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Swithland Gold

Yesterday morning, a Golden Oriole was heard singing from Buddon Wood next to Swithland Reservoir and seen briefly by the (presumably well chuffed) finder. The news came out a bit later in the day and, predictably, there was no further sign or sound in the afternoon. I had given up any hope of this one sticking and bucking the trend for the most of the previous VC55 records. I was therefore surprised to get a text early this morning that it was singing again, and quickly got myself sorted and doen Kinchley Lane to join the throng of usual suspects. Within a couple of minutes, I was listening to the evocative fluty song coming from the canopy - superb. It's literally years (c15) since I last saw or heard Golden Oriole, but it's one of the most memorable bird songs you'll ever hear on these shores. Over the next hour or so it sang intermittantly and also gave plenty of calls. Whilst the song is beautifully melodic, the call is a raucous screech - I imagine a squirrel having it nuts squeezed would sound similar. No-one actually saw this bird today - but like me, everyone will be adding to their county lists. Splendid. Masses of Swifts were over the water early on, but as the morning wore on and the Oriole became a bit more quiet I switched my attention away from birds and started looking at the walls and for opportunities to play with the new macro lens converter.

I found lots, but rather than post them all here in one go I'll drip-feed them over the next few posts. And for a change I'll start with moths!

Carpatolechia proximella

Common Footman

Dahlica triquetrella - these will probably be full of eggs / tiny larvae by now

Taleporia tubulosa

Psyche casta - loads of these around

This will now be known as Oriole Clearing

Adela reaumurella - loads along the lane

Saturday, 19 May 2012

This is getting plain silly

Nice and warm at dusk with a bit of cloud cover, but also a light breeze. MV trap was duly put out and expectations raised. The last three outings were all blanks - surely it would be better. And then not long after dark it started raining, and during the night is absolutely pissed it down. The trap this morning was very full. Of water. Aside from a couple of inches of standing water at the bottom on the trap, there was a solitary Brimstone Moth nestled in an egg tray. 18th May and all I got is one fecking moth - this is by far the worst prolonged period of shite spring weather I have ever known as far as mothing goes.

In fact the only reason I wasn't thowing the trap in the bin was because having to go out in the morning to check it provided a superb and completely unexpected garden bird tick - Sedge Warbler singing from the scrubby embankment. Brilliant. No sign or sound of the usual Lesser Whitethroat on there yet though.

I prefer this original version to Donna's, but I can't fault this Giorgio Moroder produced classic ....

Friday, 18 May 2012

Macro Boost

I've mentioned on here before how much I like the Lumix for it's versitility etc, but I've also mentioned that the macro zoom is quite noisy. I end up with reasonable shots for blog purposes, but they are nowhere near as crisp and detailed as shots I can get from my old CoolPix 4500 on a good day. On the flip side, my 4500 is very long in the tooth with lots of dead pixels and a poxy 4.5Mpixel image. The Lumix produces good images on the normal AF macro mode, but will only focus from distance so no use for anything smaller than butterflies. So something that would allow the use of the normal AF macro for closer focussing on small stuff would be ideal. Following a tip-off, I've invested in a macro conversion lens to plonk on the end of my Lumix. It's the Raynox DCR-250, not too expensive and it comes complete with an all-purpose mounting that allows it to be fitted onto pretty much any lens. I ordered it on Monday night and it turned up yesterday, so I pointed it at a few bits in the garden. I have to say that it is not easy to get the hang of, and I think really good images will be very dependant on good lighting and still conditions as the depth of field is reduced. It may be that it will actually be best used in a controlled setting like I use the 4500, but time will tell. As an example of the potential though, here is a small springtail (c3mm total length) photographed indoors, cropped and resized but still more than big enough (click for big).

Orchesella cincta

 These are all just point and shoot efforts in the garden:

Euceraphis betulae - aphid nymphs on Silver Birch

Platybunus triangularis - eye detail

Scarlet Lily Beetles - do these ever stop mating!

This last one is a geometrid larva that I found feeding on my lilac bush. It is pretty much identical to larvae I've found in the last couple of years, and the closest match in Porter appears to be Autumnal Moth - a species I have yet to see. I've had no success rearing the other through, hopefully this one will come good. Whilst I think about it, a micro larva that I found feeding on dandelion back on 24/04/2012 emerged this week - Celypha lacunana.

Moth trap is out tonight - wonder if I'll break the recent run of ducks!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Yet more random stuff

The garden traps are still inactive, so yet again I was out dipping into everything else. Yesterday evening I had a very relaxing 2 hour walk along a disused railway line near to Cosby, which runs parallel to the M1. Despite the traffic noise in the background, it was actually quite peaceful with plenty of birdsong and, amazingly, not a single other person during the time I was there. I had fully expected a flurry of post-dinner dog-walkers. Something was singing from every stretch of shrubbery, including four Blackcaps, a Whitethroat, a Chiffchaff and a skulking Garden Warbler. Quite a few Adela reaumurella and Parornix angelicella flying, but with the conditions being a bit overcast there was not a lot of activity. Plenty of stuff picked out though as I ambled along, with Craneflies being most prominent for some reason .....

Tipula vernalis

Tipula varipennis

Tipula fascipennis - female

Tipula fascipennis - male

Tipula fascipennis - pair in cop

There were also a lot of Limonia phragmitidis about but I failed to get a decent shot. Very few beetles and bugs noted, but I did find a distinctive small one - Anaspis maculata - which escaped somewhere in the house before I could get a photo. Otherwise I found these ..

Cantharis nigricans

Agriotes sputator - many thanks to Mark Telfer

You'll have to trust me on this one, but the following shot is 100% genuine - no coaxing of the subjects to sit where I wanted them. I just went over to check a clump of White Campion and found these two sat side by side on the same flower.

Orange-tip (female) and Green-veined White

I've taken to looking at and under fallen rotting logs whilst out on these forays just lately, and this walk proved unexpectedly productive. I found this underneath one - a very common species to light but the first time I have seen the larva ..

Dark Arches

Meanwhile I found this growing on the end of another log ..

Pale Stagshorn??

Here's some random stuff to close the post.

Psila fimetaria

Hairy Snail

Aceria macrorhynchus - gall mite on Sycamore

Hawthorn Shieldbug

?? Which Spider ??