Monday, 28 June 2010

Busy in the sun

After the autumnal weather of last weekend, it has been interesting to note the wader build up on the pager as birds start to move south. Unsurprisingly, Watton Nature Reserve near Tophill Low held 3 Green Sandpipers on Saturday, but a flock of post-breeding/non-breeding Lapwing and Redshank on South Marsh East at Tophill Low are signs that the season is changing. We must admit to not even bothering to look for residing Red-crested Pochard! Once was quite enough!!! Watching the terns is more fun. We did have a brief look for the Little Gulls, but we failed to see any.

The breeding season goes on though and rather nice, if somewhat unexpected, was this rather charming Lapwing chick on North Marsh. No doubt the remaining survivor of a brood raised in a place for reasons known only to its parents. However, if this one fledges then it was a good place to breed.

On the cute looking creature front... this Hedgehog was more than obliging for the camera!

Some of the orchids are now in full flower. Many of the Bee Orchids from last weekend are out but this Common Spotted Orchid (no doubt with some hybrid in its genes) was the best spike I could find to photograph.

A single Ruptela maculata (Black and Yellow Longhorn Beetle) and 3 Leptura quadrifasciata (Four-banded Longhorn Beetle) were the first records of the season. Also, 2 Agapanthia villosoviridescens (Golden-Bloomed Grey Longhorn Beetle) were also found, the first time we have found all 3 species on the same day – and all on path side flowers! The best of the pictures ordered as listed above.

As appears to be the case wherever we go, there appears to be a lack of butterflies. Plenty of species, albeit in small numbers. Perhaps the single Marbled White we encountered was rather typical for the date, the rest being 1 Comma, 3 Red Admiral, 2 Small Tortoiseshell, 3 Green-veined White, 4 Common Blue, 1 Small White, 25+ Large Skipper, 10 Speckled Wood, 10 Ringlet and 53 Meadow Brown.

Four moth traps were set overnight. The best of the catch was a male Ghost Moth, the first 4 Blackneck of the campaign, a Drinker, several Light Emerald and a Buff Tip.

This Thistle Ermine was found posing at the south end of the site, posing naturally compared to sitting on an eggbox!

Despite losing the sun at times during the day, the dragonfly count wasn’t so bad with Large-Red Damselfly, Common Blue Damselfly, Azure Damselfly, Blue-tailed Damselfly, 10+ Red-eyed Damselfly, 7 Emerald Damselfly, 1 Brown Hawker, 38 Four-spotted Chaser, 1 Broad-bodied Chaser, 26 Black-tailed Skimmer, 14 Common Darter and 1 Ruddy Darter (pictured) filling the notebook.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The sun brings things out

A Southern Hawker on the wing whilst waiting at a road junction near Walkington on Tuesday, and the second brood of Holly Blues are out on the wing in Howden giving me something to look forward too during my breaks from the office!

Time for the pretty Orchids

It is the time of year I decide to take a look at the flowers. Bee Orchids aren't to hard to identify in flower... so I can easily spot them despite not really being a good botanist. This one of the dozen or more spikes at Tophill Low.

A painful weekend

Dull grey and cold Saturday so I left Doug to do the moths and take the pictures. The best of the nights trapping at Tophill Low included Pale-shouldered Brocade, Dusky Brocade, Shoulder-striped Wainscot and a Ghost Moth below.

Double Dart is something which isn't regularly caught at Tophill. This rather battered individual hopefully not the only one trapped this year.

Micro moths are always difficult to photograph well in the field. Doug managed this picture of this posing Grapholita compositella, I think the second time he has recorded this.

Similar in appearance and size, and demonstrating the difficulty of getting micros to pose in the field, is this Grapholita lunulana photographed at Langton in North Yorkshire recently.

On the bird front, 2 Green Sandpipers at Watton NR were typical in date for returning birds. Other than that relatively quiet. This Red-crested Pochard is hardly inspiring!

A little brighter was this Little Grebe image captured by Doug fishing in front of one the hides.

With the poor weather it was hardly surprising the dragonfly count was low. The best being 2 Red-eyed Damselfly, small numbers of Azure, Common Blue, and Blue-tailed Damselfly and the first 3 Emerald Damselfly to be encountered this year.

The best of the rest Doug managed was a Banded Demoiselle at Ryton, North Yorkshire on Sunday.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Demoiselle misery in Melbourne

A rather disappointing afternoon at Pocklington Canal searching for Banded Demoiselles. The grey cloud and light rain rather suggested it would be. The highlights, if they can be called that were 18 Azure Damselfly, 10 Common Blue Damselfly and 11 Blue-tailed Damselfly.

The bubbling Curlew did their best to liven things up and a Bullfinch brightened proceedings, albeit briefly.

Trapped at Tophill

Another moth weekend at Tophill Low with 5 traps set on Friday evening ensuring Saturday morning was going to be rather busy.

The best of the catch included 1 Map-winged Swift, 1 Lime Speck Pug, several Peppered Moth, several Mottled Pug, 1 Scorched Wing, some very green Green Carpet, several Eyed Hawkmoth, Swallow Prominents, Coxcomb Prominent, Dusky Brocade, Shoulder-striped Wainscot and some Small Fan-foots.

Lime Speck Pug

Scorched Wing

Green Carpet

Coxcomb Prominent

Shoulder-striped Wainscot

The best of the dragonflies involved a single Large Red Damselfly, a single Red-eyed Damselfly, 2 Hairy Dragonfly, 4 Broad-bodied Chaser and 17 Four-spotted Chaser, plus the numerous Azure, Common Blue and Blue-tailed Damselfly.

Red-eyed Damselfly

The iffy weather conditions didn't enable any good numbers of butterfly to be seen with a few Meadow Browns and some Large Skippers the only real interest.

In the sheltered spots, plenty of hoverflies could be found including good numbers of Volucella pellucens.

Another good count of Agapanthia villosoviridescens broke the sites hightest day count once again this weekend, with 41 being recorded across the site. I guess this now makes it rather common so these may be the last pictures of this terrific beast I post for a while.

This amazing Ichneumon, which we think is Rhyssa persuasoria was shown to us by Richard the warden.

And finally, posing well was one of Tophill's slightly larger residents!!!

Monday, 7 June 2010

Dipping into dipteria... tentatively!

The problem of having a trigger happy fingers on the fire button of our cameras means we have a large amount of pictures to get through and it is easier to do hoverflies over time rather than in the field on the day!

Here is a small selection of what I have photographed so far this season...

Eristalis intricarius at Broomfleet in May.

Eristalis pertinex at Broomfleet in May.

Volucella bombylans at Tophill Low in June.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

A little time for some moths…

A late posting of the Figure of Eighty from the Tophill traps on Saturday.

Also as I didn’t get round to posting this one yesterday, a picture of one of the Clouded Bordered Brindle.

The micro moths are a little more time consuming on the identification front.

Currently on the wing and occasionally settling on the gorse bushes at Tophill Low is Cydia ulicetana. A tiny little moth that rarely settles for long, but captured here in a brief pose by Doug

And from Broomfleet in mid-May, this Grapholita internana was on the wing.

It pays to look for what is missing

It was a moth trap emptying frenzy at Tophill Low on Saturday morning with four lights out through the night. They took a while to get through, credit to Doug for emptying two and scribing them on his own.

I arrived late and had the joy of emptying the centre trap. Out of practice, temperatures souring and the moths taking to the wing at the slightest movement... perhaps joy is the wrong word!!!

The traps throughout the site held a reasonable variety with 4 Eyed Hawkmoth, 2 Elephant Hawkmoth and several Poplar Hawkmoths, Scorched Wing, Small Clouded Brindle, Clouded Bordered Brindle, several Pale Tussocks, Pebble Prominents, Pale Prominents, May Highflyer for its second successive year, and the first Figure of Eighty we have trapped for a long time, to name but a few.

Pale Tussock

Pebble Prominent

Hoping for Elephant Hawkmoth pictures we did get the chance of one nice specimen but in attendance was a little girl with her dad who seemed rather interested in the bright pink and green biggest moth she had ever seen... and she had eyes like saucers when it ended up on her finger and posed before it started the whizzing of its wings as it warmed up ready for take off. I'll apologise in person to her dad if she has now requested a copy of the Skinner bible and an MV light for the back garden to trap moths... and keep the neighbours awake!

However, not in the trap but on on a thistle near where the light had been was this Alder Moth.

From records to hand, the species was first trapped in 1991/92 and last trapped in 1996 at the site... good job the eyes were working!

The best of the birds included the 'local' Buzzards drifting south over the north end of the site, singing Turtle Doves, lots of Common Terns, a few Yellow Wagtails, several Little-ringed Plovers, and a '1st summer' Little Gull... which eluded the camera!

The dragonflies season progresses with Black-tailed Skimmers now on the wing. These immatures where at the south end of the site.

The rest of the numbers were 3 Large Red Damselflies, 20+ Red-eyed Damselflies, 3 Hairy Dragonflies, 5 Broad-bodied Chasers, 41 Four-spotted Chasers with good numbers of Azure, Common Blue and Blue-tailed Damselfly.

More Broad-bodied Chaser pictures.

A Four-spotted Chaser on the wing.

Doug managed to capture this Grass Snake as it left for its day's activities.

And adding a couple of Roe Deer fawns and one or two Water Voles, a few butterflies and the hoverflies that currently await identification, plus, the Golden Bloomed Grey Longhorns in the blog below, it was a rather good day.