Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Young entomologists

Of course, if you have already seen my Essex Skipper pic from an earlier post (looking like something out of Quatermass and the Pit) you will know that I have been to top limestone insect locality Barnack Hills and Holes ( 23.7.05). Indeed the whole Weedon clan went and had a great time. Here are the youngest Weedonians enjoying some close up entomology, when a cool Marbled White tried to warm itself up on our hands.

EJ + Marbled White

Jas + Marbled White

There was an abundance of Six-spot Burnets

Essex Skippers were the only skippers we saw (click for biggy)

This moth is a Dusky Sallow, which is particularly fond of knapweeds, so I read...

Summer isn't summer without 'Bloodsuckers', these soldier beetles, which always seem to be mating (here on Wild Parsnip)!
One of our aims for going there was to see if we could find Chalkhill Blues. Just as we were finishsing our walk, Jas announced that she had finally found a blue butterfly. It turned out to be a Common Blue and getting munched by a small spider: "...delicious! And I hope he was!"

Nikon Coolpix 4500

Baby Terns

Nikon Coolpix 880, Kowa TSN-821 +32xW LER
On Sunday, it was raining like Billy Ocean, but I had an exeptionally big birding window (of more than four hours!). As it was so horrible, I thought it was best to bird from within the car. Where better, then than Deeping Lakes LWT, where yo can drive in and watch the first pit (which some locals call Phase 2). Good numbers of gulls were drifting in to the small gravelly island, bathing, looking bedraggled then heading off. They were mostly Black-headeds, but there were up to 15 Lesser Blackbacks at a time a few Herrings and up to 7 Commons. I figured that if I waited, something good may turn up, and I was right. After I had been there about half an hour a Mediterranean Gull mysteriously appeared (only the second I have seen in the PBC area this year). It was a rather shabby adult, just starting to replace some of the black feathers from its hood, and with some moulting going on in the primary department. It stayed about five minutes, max, then left.
So did I soon afterwards and went to see if Grummitt's Scrape had anything to offer (at least it had a hide). Answer: not much, except for several young Common Terns, begging in the rain. Here are a couple of youngsters at rather different stages of growth. The younger one (first pic) was a particularly rounded-winged fella.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Feeding frenzy

Four Six-spot Burnets, Essex Skipper, and snail on knapweeds, Barnack Hills and Holes, 23.7.05
Nikon Coolpix 4500

Essex Skipper

Essex Skipper, Barnack Hills and Holes, 23.7.05
Nikon Coolpix 4500

Wren's 'friend'

Juvenile Sedge Warbler, RSPB Nene Washes, 23.7.05
Nikon Coolpix 880 through Kowa TSN-821 + 32xW LER

Studies of a Wren

Wren, RSPB Nene Washes, 23.7.05
Nikon Coolpix 880 through Kowa TSN-821 + 32xW LER

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Off to Spain again

I'm just back from guiding a couple of excellent Company of Whales trips across Biscay on the Pride of Bilbao (13-16.7.05 and 16-19.7.05). Here are a few tasters of the goodies which were on offer on the hill above Santurtzi, the port at Bilbao, but I'll post a fuller report in a couple of days when I am back at my computer. Meantime check out the Company of Whales website (see links) and enjoy the few snaps of these birds and butterflies. Thanks very much to Dawn Russell for co-guiding on the first trip and all our wonderful clients for being such great company!

Large Chequered Skipper (digiscoped), 15.7.05

Holly Blue, 15.7.05

Fan-tailed Warbler (digiscoped), 18.7.05

Marbled White, 18.7.05

Serin (digiscoped), 18.7.05

Bath White, 18.7.05

Clouded Yellow, 18.7.05
All Nikon Coolpix 880 (digiscoped images were through Kowa TSN-821 + 32xW LER)

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Playing Marbles

On Saturday (9.7.05), I went up to Barnack Hills and Holes. There were hundreds and hundreds of Marbled Whites there, more than I have ever seen before in total! I am off to Biscay tomorrow, so haven't time to post even some the best of the photos I took, but here is a taster (there will be more next week)
Nikon Coolpix 4500

Bug with paddles

Here is another groovy garden insect. It is a bug called Heterotoma merioptera with amazing paddles for antennae, like semaphore flags! It was hanging out on our big daisies. Interestingly, Brian the Natural also saw one at about the same time – it's obviously their season...
Nikon Coolpix 4500

Clearly a cracker!

My friend Mr Pink (aka Kevin DuRose) has an irresistible stench in his pocket. Occasionally, he whips it out to good effect. On Sunday (10.7.05), he did just that in our garden, using the 'myo' pheromone, one of a batch he has for different clearwing moths. The target was this beauty, a Red-belted Clearwing, lover of apple trees (of which we have a few). Please click the first one for a bigger version.
Nikon Coolpix 4500

Friday, July 08, 2005

Get those jaws

Lacewing larva, Norfolk, 23.6.05
Nikon Coolpix 4500

I'm your privet dancer

I'm not really into moths, but I know a whopper when I see one! I think the last Privet Hawkmoth I saw was a caterpillar on our pirvet hedge when I was a kid (back in the day!). So I was somewhat taken aback when I saw this adult, as I was heading home from the bikesheds (not that I spend most of my working day in the bikesheds), on the wall of our office at Bretton, Peterborough (6.7.05). What a simply humungous moth!
All Nikon Coolpix 4500

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Bedford Purlieus crawlies

Some insects and a spider at Bedford Purlieus, 3.7.05.

Small White

Large Skipper (female)


The longhorn beetle Strangalia (Rutpela) maculata

White Admiral

The most elongate spider in the world on grass
Small solitary bee
All Nikon Coolpix 4500
Sleep in peace in your Paradise for ever.

Three Wise Monkeys

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Bearded Tit

One of at least ten juvenile Bearded Tits hanging round the freshmartsh fringe at Titchwell, Norfolk on 23.6.05.

Skin-crawling action

It is a classic Weedon's World of Nature scenario. There is Weedon pottering around the garden admiring the beauteous bounty of Nature in blooming July glory. He naturally has a quick look at his favourite, ever-plumper Cinnabar moth caterpillars, each happy one of which is busy devouring a Ragwort to an unrecognisable mess. But one does not look too happy at all, in fact it is twtchy, lifting its head and swinging round. Aha, thinks Weedon after a closer look, it is fidgeting because a little aphid has accidentally landed on its back.
But a closer look reveals that the landing was no accident, and this is no innocent aphid. The tiny creature which won't go away is a teensy ichneumon and its business is egg-laying. And it won't leave until it has pierced the caterpillar's skin many times to lay its eggs, which will hatch within the moth larva and eat it alive from the inside.
It makes your skin crawl! Further inspection of another clump of Ragwort found two more of these microdevils pursuing their natural aim of taking advantage of the fat grazers. Now I must go and itch – enjoy the shots:

Getting ready for action, caterpillar flailing hopelessly.

Close-up of the parasite.

Then the ovipositor is injected under the skin.

Closer for the ghoulish...
Nikon Coolpix 4500.