Archive for the ‘Insects’ Category

We spent today at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve at Hickling Broad. The Broads is an area of ancient peat digging which has flooded and formed a connection with local waterways to form a network of lakes. It is very popular with people in boats, but it also a wonderful wild habitat as much the surrounding land is not accessible.

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At the visitor centre, we had a wonderful view of a Hornet’s nest in the roof and could appreciate its fantastic structure.

Were were fortunate to be able to spend two hours travelling around the reserve by boat through narrow ways through the reeds and on the open water to visit parts of the reserve which cannot be accessed from the land.

Ringed Plover and Dunlin

 

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Eurasian Wigeon (Mareca penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Common Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius hiaticula)
Little Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius dubius)
Ruff (Calidris pugnax)
Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
Common Snipe [sp] (Gallinago gallinago)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Peregrine Falcon [sp] (Falco peregrinus)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Western Yellow Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla flava)
White Wagtail (Pied) (Motacilla alba yarrellii)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)

Decided to have an easy day today and so spent the day around the cottage. A Red Kite and 2 Buzzards were seen over the garden along with Small Tortoiseshell, Large White, Small White and Comma Butterflies.

Small Tortoiseshell (left) and a rather intricate spiders web (right)

We had been fascinated all week by the wasps which kept landing on the garden furniture. What was it that attracted them to spend so much time on the wooden tables? A little bit of research revealed that they are biting off small pieces of wood which they turn into pulp and then use to repair their nests.

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A beautiful day to be out and about. I travelled a few miles to Lesnes Abbey in south-east London to attend a field studies council teaching day on the identification of Spiders. Now, as regular readers know I do recording for Butterflies, Dragonflies and Bumblebees on my local patch but I have to confess that I know next to nothing about spiders. Unlike the others, they don’t tend to make themselves obvious, quite the opposite in effect so I thought this course, part of the FSC’s Biolinks project was an excellent opportunity to at least start to remedy that.

The morning was taken up by an introductory talk on common spiders and how to recognise them. Species-level identification can be very difficult in the field so it is often about just identifying the family they come from – in some case there are only one species in a family which helps. In the afternoon we spent the time in and around Lesnes Abbey. We started with a wall in the ruins and soon had examples of 5 or 6 species to look at – who would have guessed that so much lived in an old wall. The highlight was a large but very agile example of the Lace web Spiders (Amaurobius ferox) along with a Zebra Spider (Salticus scenicus)and the more common lace web spider (Amaurobious similis).

Amaurobious Ferrox

Zebra Spider (left) and House Spider spp (right)

Next, we examined a bush and found another group of species. My favourite was the Cucumber Spider (Araniella cucurbitinia).

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Cucumber Spider. Photo by Mary Shattock (https://www.flickr.com/photos/maryshattock/)

Our final stop was some grassland where we found some Large Jawed Spider (Pachygnatha spp) along with Wolf Spider. My favorite here was the Cricket-bat Spider (Mangora acalphya).

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Cricket Bat Spider. Photo by Christophe Quintan (https://www.flickr.com/photos/34878947@N04/)

This was a very worthwhile and productive day. Thanks to Lawrence and Keiron who led it. I would encourage anyone who wants to improve their invertebrate identification to check out the Biolinks page at http://www.field-studies-council.org/individuals-and-families/fsc-biolinks-courses.aspx

Spider spp seen

Buzzing Spider (Anyphaena accentuata); Crab Spider spp; Running Crab spider spp; Cucumber Spider (Araniella curcurbitinia); Nursery Web Spider spp; Lace web Spider ( Amaurobius similis and Amaurobius Ferrox); Zebra Spider ( Salticus scenicus); Money Spider spp; House Spider spp; Wolf Spider spp; Large Jawed Spider spp; Cricket-bat Spider (Mangora acalphya).

Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Rock Dove (Feral) (Columba livia ‘feral’)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)

Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni)
Peacock Butterfly (Inachis io)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
Small Tortoiseshell [sp] (Aglais urticae)

A bright Sunny day and so a good opportunity to do this week’s invertebrate survey. Finally, there seems to be some movement towards spring and in the garden, I recorded 4 species of Bee including Tree Bumblebee which as far as I can remember I have never seen here before. I also found a single Comma butterfly.

Tree Bumblebee (left) and Comma Butterfly

Around the Tarn, it was much the same picture with the same 4 species of Bumblebee including another Tree Bumblebee but no butterflies to add to the count. I did see a Slider, an American species of Terrapin which has been introduced into our waterways by pet owners who no longer want to look after them.

Red Slider and Common Moorhen

 

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Rock Dove [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Comma Butterfly (Polygonia c-album)

White-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lucorum)                                                                             Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestis)                                                                                   Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum)                                                                                           Honey Bee

 

The snows of the weekend have vanished and it is something like spring weather again! So week 3 of the invertebrate surveys around the Tarn. I was fortunate to find 2 Queen Buff-tailed Bumblebees. They are usually very active at this time as they search for places to make their nests, but one was so busy exploring a potential site that it allowed me to get some photos.

 

I had not seen the Grey Wagtail in the garden recently but I found one by the Tarn

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As I approached the eastern end an adult Grey Heron took to flight but I was surprised to find a juvenile fishing near the reed-bed.

Tufted Duck (Top) Greylag Geese (bottom left) and Eurasian Coot (bottom right)

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Rock Dove [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Grey Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla cinerea)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris)

The second week of the Spring / Summer surveys and the weather is better than last week, so hope springs eternal for some Queen Bees out prospecting for nests. In the far corner of the Garden, I am lucky as a queen White-tailed  Bumblebee flies past and heads out towards the Tarn.

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White-tailed Bumblebee. Photo by Siaron James (https://www.flickr.com/photos/59489479@N08/)

Unfortunately was rather a false dawn as that was the only Bumblebee I would see on the whole walk.

Still, there was plenty of action down at the Tarn where the Geese and Ducks are starting to stake out territories and much squabbling and chasing were evident as they sort out the pecking order for choosing their nesting sites. Another good sighting was a House Sparrow, once the commonest garden bird, but not at all common here in recent years – I can probably count on one hand the number I have seen around the Tarn in 17 years of recording.

 Mallard (top left); Greylag Goose (top right); Moorhen (centre right); Tufted Duck (bottom left) and Coot (bottom right)

 

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Rock Dove [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Nuthatch [sp] (Sitta europaea)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)

White-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lucorum)

On Wednesday Keith and I went on a boat trip up the River Medway from Rochester and across the Thames to Southend. It was a great opportunity to do some birdwatching from a different perspective as we passed the marshes on the estuary. When we arrived in Southend we took a walk along the foreshore to Southchurch Park and this was probably the most productive part of the day, wildlife-wise.

Highlights were the Ruddy Turnstones on the end of the pier, many in Summer plumage, a group of Meditteranean Gulls on the foreshore and around the Pier and a pair of Little Grebes on the lake in Southchurch park.

 

 

Ruddy Turnstone. Southend Pier

Ruddy Turnstone, Southend Pier

Mediterranean Gull, Southend Pier

Mediterranean Gull, Southend Foreshore

Cormorant, Southend Foreshore

Southchurch Park Southend

Little Grebe, Southchurch Park

Little Grebe, Southchurch Park

We had hoped that we might also find some insect life in the rough meadow areas of Southchurch Park, but the weather conspired against us and all we found were a single Meadow Brown and some ladybirds.

Ladybird, Southchurch Park

 

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Ruddy Turnstone [sp] (Arenaria interpres)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)
Mew Gull [sp] (Larus canus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Tern [sp] (Sterna hirundo)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Stock Dove [sp] (Columba oenas)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Sand Martin [sp] (Riparia riparia)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)

Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina)

Some interesting finds on this week’s recording walk at the Tarn. The bright sunny day had brought out lots of insects.

4 species of Butterfly were seen including the first Blue of the year, a single Holly Blue along with Small White, Orange Tip and Speckled Wood.

Speckled Wood

A couple of other interesting finds were a number of Bee-flys (Bombylius Major) and a hover-fly which is a Bumblebee mimic (Eristalis Inricarius). Thanks to the Insect facebook community for rapidly confirming ID  on these.

Bee-fly

 

Eristalis Intricarius

Eristalis Intricarius

The usual resident birds were present. The Coot are nesting and one pair of Greylag Geese already has 5 goslings. One visitor stopped me to say he had seen 2 Carp in the water at the western end of the Lake, which must be another good sign that water quality is improving and this may be related to a Grey Heron fishing in the shallows at the eastern end, although he is probably after smaller fish.

Coot nesting

Grey Heron fishing

Good specimen of fungi on a fallen tree

 

 

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)

Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines)
Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus)
Speckled Wood [sp] (Pararge aegeria)

Buff-tailed Bumblebee

Common Carder-Bee

London Wetland Centre

London Wetland Centre

A bright sunny morning saw Keith and I heading for The London wetland Centre. We had two aims – firstly to photograph some Butterflies and Dragonflies and secondly to see what migrating birds were present on the reserve.

Our first good sighting was a Small Copper Butterfly resting on the vegetation.

Small Copper (photo by Keith)

Small Copper (photo by Keith)

Unfortunately, despite this good start,the remainder of the butterflies that we saw were, with the exception of one Red Admiral and one Speckled Wood, whites.

It was a very similar story with the Dragonflies where, although there were many individuals, only Migrant Hawker and Common Darter were identified. One fly-by appeared to be a darker red and have a waisted body – a possible Ruddy Darter, but it didnot stay around long enough for a confirmed identification.

Migrant Hawker  (Photo by Keith)

Migrant Hawker (Photo by Keith)

Common Darter

Common Darter

We were luckier with the migrants – a Ruffe and a Wheatear giving good views, although we did not find the Whinchat that had been seen earlier in the morning.

Wheatear

Wheatear

Ruffe

Ruffe

A juvenile Green Woodpecker also gave good views as it hunted for food on the grass banks.

Green Woodpecker

Green Woodpecker

White tailed Bumblebee

White tailed Bumblebee

One unexpected fly-by were 4 chinook-type helicopters which flew over from the west circled over the reserve before heading off towards central London.

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As always this reserve does not disappoint.

 

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Stock Dove [sp] (Columba oenas)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Sand Martin [sp] (Riparia riparia)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Northern Wheatear [sp] (Oenanthe oenanthe)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Large White (Pieris brassicae)
Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Small Copper [sp] (Lycaena phlaeas)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
Speckled Wood [sp] (Pararge aegeria)

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta)
Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum) -possible
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum)

Pictures from our recent trip to Northumbria

Bullfinch

Bullfinch

Avocet

Avocet

White tailed Bumblebee

White-tailed Bumblebee

Greater Spotted Woodpecker

Greater Spotted Woodpecker

Coot

Coot

Sleeping Grey Heron on nest

Sleeping Grey Heron on nest