Sunday, 28 August 2016

Liancre - Two new Insects

Last week whilst walking around Linacre in the sunshine, I took some photos of a couple of insects that I couldn't identify at the time. I put them on Twitter, and managed to get a positive i.d. for one species, and the family name for another.

The first species, was a type of Solitary Bee called Nomada goodeniana. This bee is a kleptoparasitic species that lays its eggs in the nest of other bees, mainly Andrena (Mining Bees) species. Interestingly, I've never recorded any Andrena bees at Linacre, so they're probably out there somewhere too! Its flight period is usually up to June, so this record is quite late. Anyway, here are a couple of pictures.

Nomada goodeniana

The second species was a type of Sawfly (Tenthredo spp). Unfortunately, we weren't able to identify it to species level. Here are a couple of photos if anyone knows the species.

Tenthredo spp

Along with these 2 species, I also had my first record of Helophilus pendulus on the 23rd August. This is a common hoverfly species at Linacre, but, for some reason, its the first one I've seen this year.

Helophilus pendulus

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Big Moor Year Tick

Last Thursday I spent a few hours up on Big Moor. Whilst there I added Whinchat to the "year list", with one adult and at least 3 juveniles present.

Whinchat (juvenile)

Whilst up there, I also saw juvenile Stonechat, Meadow Pipits, Skylark and 5 Red Deer.

Red Deer

Insect wise, I saw Black Darter, Small Heath, Common Darter, Common Hawker (2) and Emerald Damselfly.

Black Darter

Common Darter (female/immature)

Small Heath on Harebell

Emerald Damselfly (male)

Year List update:
166 - Whinchat

Monday, 22 August 2016

Linacre WeBS - 21st August 2016

This Sunday was the set date for this month's WeBS count, so Luke and I went down for a couple of hours to see what was about. Numbers were average for this time of the year, and the highlight was the immature Shag that celebrated its 9 month anniversary today, being first recorded on 21st November 2015 (see details here). The Shag was on the bottom reservoir, fishing just by the wall. I managed to get a  quick photo, looking into the early morning sun, before it swam off.


Other waterbirds seen this month were: Mallard (60), Grey Heron (4; 1 on the bottom reservoir and 3 together in trees on the middle reservoir), Mandarin Duck (16), Coot (6; 4 adults and 2 well grown juveniles), Moorhen (3; 1 adult and 2 juveniles), Grey Wagtail (2), Great-crested Grebe (5; 1 adult and 1 juvenile on the middle reservoir and 1 adult and 2 juveniles on the top reservoir), Kingfisher (1 heard on the middle reservoir) and Tufted Duck (30; 28 adults and 2 "fluffy" ducklings).

Tufted Duck (duckling)

The woodland birds are pretty quiet at this time of the year, so we didn't hear too much else, although one bird, the Green Woodpecker, was a good record, being just the second record for 2016. Other birds seen or heard were Common Buzzard (1 heard), Nuthatch (heard), Wren (singing), Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tit, Robin (juvenile), Great-spotted Woodpecker (heard) and Willow Warbler (1 singing).

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Sunny Linacre

The weather this week has been super, with lots of sun and temperatures in the low 20s, so I thought it would be a good idea to have a few hours down at Linacre to see which insects were about. I've been down twice this week, and have managed to see 9 species of butterfly, 3 species of dragonfly, 2 species of damselfly, 4 species of bee and at least 9 species of hoverfly.

The butterflies seen were: Peacock (5; 3 on buddleia by the middle reservoir and 2 on buddleia in the ringing site), Red Admiral (2 on buddleia in the ringing site), Small Copper (2 battling males on Ragwort on the wall of the middle reservoir), Meadow Brown (5 all around the site), Gatekeeper (2 at the bottom of the top reservoir),  Comma (1), Large White (10 all around the site), Green-veined White (1 male) and Speckled Wood (7 around the site).

Red Admiral

Speckled Wood (underwing)

The 3 dragonfly species seen were Brown Hawker (at least 5 flying around the site, mainly on the top reservoir), Migrant Hawker (2, flying around the bottom of top reservoir dam wall) and Common Dater (1 male basking on the boardwalk by the top reservoir on the 18th- the first record of 2016).

Common Darter

The two damselfly species seen were Blue-tailed and Common Blue Damselfly.

Blue-tailed Damselfly

Common Blue Damselfly

The bees seen were: Tree, White-tailed, Red-tailed and Carder Bee (Common, I think).

Tree Bumblebee

Common Carder Bee

At the start of the post I mentioned I'd seen at least 9 species of hoverfly. I say at least, because I'm sure there were more there that I couldn't identify! Anyway, I'm going to write another post about hoverflies, so here's a picture of one of my favourite species, Volucella inanis to be going on with.

Volucella inanis

As well as the insects, I also saw the immature Shag again (now into it's 9th month!!), 1 juvenile Cormorant, 14 Mandarin Ducks, 43 Mallards, 7 Great Crested Grebes ( 3 adults and 4 juveniles), 1 Grey Heron, 4 Grey Wagtails, 18 Tufted Ducks, 5 Coots ( 3adults and 2 juveniles), 5 Moorhens ( 3 adults and 2 juveniles), 12 Swallows, a group of c.50 House Martins and a young Common Toad, my first adult toad at Linacre.

Common Toad

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Smashing Sunday

Four years ago, during the London Olympics, the British athletes celebrated what was called Super Saturday, when lots of medals were won. At the time, I "borrowed" the title for a blog post about a really good ringing session I took part in with Sorby Breck Ringing Group (see post here). Well, four years down the line, the Rio Olympics are taking place and the British athletes have had a "Super Sunday", with lots of medals won again, and guess what? I've "borrowed" the slightly amended title to describe a "smashing" ringing session I took part in with 2 other ringers on Sunday at Linacre Reservoirs.

In total, we caught 64 birds of 15 species, which, in itself is great, but what made it even more amazing was the number of warblers in the total. The most numerous warbler was Willow Warbler, with 12 juveniles ringed!! To put this total into some kind of context, since we started ringing at Linacre in 2012, we've only ever caught 13 adults, and have never caught any juveniles before, so Sunday's total was outstanding.

Willow Warbler (1 of 12 juveniles)

In addition, we also caught several other warblers, Chiffchaff (4 juveniles and a retrap adult), Blackcap (7 juveniles and 1 adult) and Whitethroat, (2 juveniles). I'm particularly pleased with the Whitethroat record, as I'd only heard and seen the male bird singing once this year, so proof of breeding was very welcome.

Whitethroat (1 of 2 ringed)

Along with the warblers, we also had a good morning with the Linacre "regulars" (new/re-traps): Blackbird 1/0, Robin 3/0, Wren 1/0, Song Thrush 1/0, Coal Tit 2/0, Dunnock 1/0, Blue Tit 12/0, Great Tit 8/0, Goldfinch 1/0, Bullfinch 4/0 and Goldcrest 3/0. Phew!

Monday, 15 August 2016

Wall Lizard

This will be my last post about my recent holiday in the Isle of Wight (promise!), so I thought I'd finish with a post about a super little lizard that Jayne and I managed to see whilst down on the island.

As the title suggests, the reptile in question is the Wall Lizard, a reptile that is native in Jersey, but one that was released in the UK. Ventnor is a "hotspot" for this species and is found in good numbers in this part of the island, a particular hotspot being the Ventnor Botanical Gardens. More details about Wall Lizards can be found here.

Jayne and I saw our first lizard on our first day in Ventnor, with one sunning itself on a bench along the coastal path just below Ventnor Park.

Wall Lizard (Ventnor Park)

We then had a day in the botanical gardens and saw at least a dozen. The best area in the park for lizards, was the aptly named "arid area", which is in a very sunny spot. We did, however, see them in other areas. Here are a few photos.

Wall Lizard (Ventnor Botanical Gardens)

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Isle of Wight Birds - Part 2

Since my last post about the bird life of the Isle of Wight (see here), Jayne and I have managed to see a few more species, and get a few more nice views of species previously reported.

New species seen were; Dartford Warbler (1 on Tennyson Down), Gannet ( 1 adult that flew past Ventnor Beach), Kingfisher (1 from the hide at Newtown NNR), Curlew (2 flying over the saltmarsh at Newtown NNR), Wheatear (3 juveniles on Tennyson Down) and House and Sand Martin (both seen in Bembridge, the first over the pub, and the second species over the beach).

Along with these new species, we also enjoyed good views of some other species. Highlights were a fishing Little Egret  seen on two occasions in Bembridge Harbour. 2 Greenshanks were also seen here on Friday 12th, up from the single bird seen earlier in the holiday.

Little Egret

After the sight of 2 Ravens flying high over Afton Down on 31st July, we enjoyed excellent views of 2 (possibly a pair?)  at The Needles. Both birds were flying around the New Battery for most of our visit, and eventually came down to grab some picnic left overs from the floor, before landing on a metal mast. Great views!

Ravens (look at those beaks!)

Also seen on Tennyson Down were Stonechats, including at least 3 juveniles.

The last bird of note has to be the juvenile Mediterranean Gull that was kind enough to land on the beach at Bembridge just in front of me, and stayed long enough for a photo.

Mediterranean Gull

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Bembridge and St Helen's Duver

The first time we visited the Isle of Wight we stayed in Bembridge, and enjoyed many walks along the harbour and St Helen's Duver. During our stay this year, we visited several times, spending time on the beach and also walking across the causeway/wall that separates Bembridge Harbour and the Old Mill Ponds.

This causeway is particularly good for viewing the birds, and we managed to spot Sandwich Terns, Greenshank (2 on the Ponds on 12th), Oystercatcher (1 on 12th), Little Egret, Swallow, Carrion Crow, Great-spotted Woodpecker (heard), Green Woodpecker (heard), Linnet (heard), Goldfinch (heard), Herring, Black-headed, Great Black-Backed and Mediterranean Gull.

As most readers know, I particularly like "Med" Gulls (sorry Jayne!!), and this year I was very lucky to see not only several adult birds (3 or 4 at least), but also got very lucky with a  juvenile bird that landed briefly on the beach allowing me this photo. This is my first ever sighting of this species in this plumage- lovely!

Mediterranean Gull (juvenile plumage)

I also managed to get a few nice shots of a Little Egret that was fishing in the harbour.

Little Egret

Tennyson Down and The Needles

On Wednesday, Jayne and I spent a good few hours walking around Tennyson Down and The Needles, on the far west of the Island. The weather was kind, and we enjoyed some great views, along with some new insects, flowers and a "year tick"; a Dartford Warbler.

We started our walk in the High Down Chalk Pit car park, an old quarry. There were plenty of buddleia bushes here, so we had a quick scan, picking up a number of butterflies; 2 Dark Green Fritillaries, 2 Red Admirals, 1 very tatty Ringlet and  3 Painted Ladies (our first of the year). We also had a male Migrant Hawker, and 2 Peregrine Falcons (1 adult and a juvenile bird).

Painted Lady

We walked up from the car park ( a very steep walk!!), to the monument on the top of Tennyson Down, and walked the 2 miles to The Needles. Along the way we spotted dozens of Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns  and Chalkhill Blues, along with another Red Admiral and another Painted Lady. Bird wise we saw a male Stonechat, with at least 3 juveniles, 3 migrating Wheatear, a hunting Kestrel,  Herring and Great Black-backed Gull, and, best of all, a Dartford Warbler.

When we arrived at The Needles, we spent some time looking around the Old and New Battery, and also enjoyed watching a pair of Ravens flying around, and then sat on the floor, and perched on a telephone mast!

The Needles

The last thing I wanted to mention was a type of flower called Yellow Wort. This is a chalk loving species, and was quite  common all along the chalky downs. It's a new plant for me, and I like the way the leaves wrap around the stalk. Unfortunately, the petals close up unless there's full sun, so my photo isn't great, but it was nice to see, nonetheless.

Yellow Wort

Year List update:
165 - Dartford Warbler

Friday, 12 August 2016

Mottistone Gardens

While we're away, Jayne and I like to visit National Trust properties in the area. On Monday we went to the National Trust's Mottistone Gardens, and had a few hours walking around the gardens and nearby countryside.

Whilst there, we looked at the wildlife, especially the insects, and Jayne spotted this amazing creature, a Great Green Bush-cricket.

Great Green Bush-cricket

This one was a male, and about 4cm long, but the females can grow up to 7cm long! More details here.

Whilst there, we also spotted Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns and Red Admiral, along with this lovely Mint Moth, which I believe is Pyraustra aurata.

Pyraustra aurata

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Newtown NNR

One of the places I was very keen to revisit on the Isle of Wight was the National Trust's  Newtown National Nature Reserve, a large estuary on the north of the island. I last visited this reserve back in 2002, when I was last on the island, looking for a very special bird, the Little Egret. At the time, this was a new species for me, and still a relatively rare bird in Britain. We managed to see one then, after quite a lot of searching. This year's visit was much easier, with 4 birds seen.

Newtown Estuary and Little Egret

The tide was well in when we got to Newtown, so we didn't see too many other coastal birds, except a couple of Oystercatchers, 3 Curlews, Redshank (heard) and 2 Greenshank.

As well as the birds, we also spent some time looking at the insects on the reserve. Butterflies seen were: Comma (1), Peacock (1), Gatekeeper (dozens), Meadow Brown (dozens), Speckled Wood (3), Small Skipper (1), Common Blue (3 - 2 males and a female) and Marbled White (1).  

Common Blue (male)

Two other insects of note were both new to me and Jayne, namely Wasp Spider and a type of horsefly (nice!!) called Tabanus autumnalis.

The Wasp Spider is a relative newcomer to Britain, and is still confined mainly to the south of the country (see here).  We saw 3 webs within a small, 1m patch of grass near the public bird hide. The pictures show the upper and underside of a female. She sits in the middle of the web. The male is much smaller, and less colourful, and  is usually eaten by the female after mating.

Wasp Spider (upperside)

Wasp Spider (underside)

The final picture is of the horsefly Tabanus autumnalis. This "beauty", about 2cm long, landed on my bag, and then flew into a bush, where I was able to get this photo. Luckily, it didn't manage to take a bite out of me or Jayne.

Tabanus autumnalis

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Isle of Wight Insects

Following on from my first post about the butterflies of the Isle of Wight, I thought I'd better blog about some of the other insects that Jayne and I have spotted this week. We've been pretty lucky with sightings, including a few new ones!

First up, the dragonflies and damselflies. In addition to the Beautiful Demoiselle, we have seen Azure Damselfly (pair ovipositing in a small pond at Osborne House), Common Blue Damselfly (1 male at the Garlic Farm) and Blue-tailed Damselfly (6+, including ovipositing females) at Ventnor Botanical Gardens.
Azure Damselflies

Dragonflies seen are: Emperor (1 male flying around Ventnor Botanical Gardens), Common Darter (1 female in Ventnor Botanical Gardens), and a hawker species, either Migrant or Southern Hawker seen flying around the Botanical Gardens.

Surprisingly, we've also managed to see a few moths. The first one ( a new species for me) was a Brown-Tail that was found on a chair outside a restaurant in Ventnor last Saturday. Also seen in Ventnor during the day was a Magpie. The last three species were seen yesterday evening. Two, Mother of Pearl (new) and Small Magpie were seen near St Boniface Down in Ventnor, whilst the final species, Jersey Tiger (new) was found on the cliff side at Wheelers Bay, just outside Ventnor.

Brown -Tail

Mother of Pearl

Jersey Tiger

I haven't seen too many different hoverflies so far, but I have managed to see a couple of Volucella species; Volucella pellucens (also known as Great Pied Flycatcher) and Volucella zonaria. The first species, V. pellucens is a common species seen regularly in Derbyshire and at Linacre, whilst the second species; V. zonaria, is much less common. It was first reported in Britain in the late 1930's and has not yet, as far as I know, been reported in Derbyshire. It is also the largest and most impressive British hoverfly, growing up to 19mm in length! So far we've seen this species at Ventnor Botanical Gardens and at Osborne House.

Volucella zonaria
The last two species of note are two beetles; Rose Chafer seen at Ventnor Botanical Gardens (thanks Jayne) and an, an interesting beetle called a Bloody-nosed Beetle seen at the Garlic Farm today.

Rose Chafer

Bloody-nosed Beetle