Sunday, 31 July 2011

Hoverfly Laying

Hoverfly laying an egg on the underside of a hawthorn leaf in the back garden of my house in Hayes.  27 July 2011.
Hoverfly laying an egg on the underside of a hawthorn leaf
in the back garden of my house in Hayes.  27 July 2011.
This is a crop from a much larger photo.  I didn't have time to get a better shot, nor was I able to photograph the whole insect.  The hoverfly, I think it was a Sphaerophoria scripta, was moving quickly from leaf to leaf, settling on the top surface and curling its abdomen round like this to deposit a single egg each time. Here, it was happening above my head and I snapped it while I had the chance.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Coney Hall to Spring Park

Dappled sunlight on the path through the woods of Spring Park.  Coney Hall and Spring Park walk, 29 July 2011.
Dappled sunlight on the path through the woods of Spring Park
29 July 2011.
On Friday there was a walk through some local fields and woods.

There were ten of us, including Stephen Tickner from Bromley, who led the walk. The job titles in the Countryside Service have all been changed during their reorganisation, and Stephen is a Principal Countryside Development Officer.

This walk was planned by Ewa Prokop, who has left, but Stephen did a good job of showing us round. There are still a few of Ewa's walks to come; the events planned in the current leaflet run up to the end of September.

We started at Coney Hall recreation ground and walked past St. John's Church and over the fields. It was hazy, but warm, and the countryside was pleasant and green. We paused at some hedgerows to look at the flowers and insect life. Some of the fields were set to grass, one was full of ripening wheat. At the bottom of the slope we crossed a busy road, called locally the Mad Mile, and went up to Spring Park's pond.

Plant life at the edge of the wood by the pond in Spring Park.  Coney Hall and Spring Park walk, 29 July 2011.
Plant life at the edge of the wood by the pond in Spring Park.
29 July 2011.
It is fenced off and surrounded by tall and scrubby wildflowers, and backs against the wood. I looked for damselflies and dragonflies, but saw only one dragonfly that disappeared up into the trees before I could get close to it. However, there were quite a few Gatekeeper butterflies around.

The second photo shows a typical slice of the plant life between the pond and the wood. You could find something like this anywhere in England. Included here are grasses, some with seed heads; white clover in the foreground; ripening blackberries and many bramble leaves; dock leaves; and some Creeping Thistles, one of which is flowering. To some, this might look like a patch of weeds, but these are all useful plants in their context. A Gatekeeper butterfly is basking on a dock leaf.

During the walk, as well as Gatekeepers, we saw a couple of Meadow Browns, some large and small Whites, and in the woods, a pair of Speckled Browns flying round and round each other, then away into the trees. Not very many for such a warm day, but it was good to see them.

We walked up the slope, through the woodland along abroad main pathway, and then back to the start point.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Glow-Worms

Glow-worm, Lampyris noctiluca, a beetle; female adult.  High Elms Country Park, 27 July 2011.
Glow-worm, Lampyris noctiluca, female adult.
High Elms Country Park, 27 July 2011.
This little creature is a European glow-worm. On Wednesday night, a group of people assembled in one of the car parks at High Elms to look for them.

We walked along the paths through the woods and suddenly, there was a tiny distinct green glow not far away. The walk leader, Alison, a local volunteer and glow-worm fan, picked it up and we all had a good look.

I wasn't equipped to capture the glow, which really needs a tripod and a long exposure. This is a flash photo with my little Ixus 100.  But you can see a slightly different colour in the end two segments, and that's where the glow comes from.

This type of glow-worm doesn't fly, but sits on or near the ground in an exposed spot and waits for the males to fly to her.

We carried on through the woods and along the edges of High Elms' meadows and glades, and saw six more of the bright specks. I was surprised to find them all in woodland; I had thought they only lived in open meadows. But, glow-worms! I was very pleased.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Drosera binata Flower

Flower-head of a Sundew, Drosera binata, on my windowsill in Hayes.  26 July 2011.
Flower-head of a Sundew, Drosera binata, on my windowsill in Hayes.  26 July 2011.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Six Spot Burnet

Six-Spot Burnet moth, Zygaena filipendulae, on a scabious in the Conservation Field in High Elms Country Park, 15 July 2011.
Six-Spot Burnet moth, Zygaena filipendulae, on a scabious in High Elms Country Park, 15 July 2011.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Rest-Harrow

Common Rest-Harrow, Ononis repens, on Riddlesdown Common.  City of London Commons outing to Riddlesdown Quarry, 2 July 2011.
Common Rest-harrow, Ononis repens, on Riddlesdown Common.  2 July 2011.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Love-In-A-Mist

Love-in-a-mist, Nigella damascena, white variety.  In my back garden in Hayes, 23 July 2011.
Love-in-a-mist, Nigella damascena, white variety.  In my back garden in Hayes, 23 July 2011.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Darrick Wood Butterflies

Small Copper, Lycaena phlaeas.  Butterfly walk in Darrick and Newstead Woods, 23 July 2011.
Small Copper, Lycaena phlaeas.  Darrick and Newstead Woods, 23 July 2011.
Darrick and Newstead Woods is the name of a Local Nature Reserve which includes not only some woodland, but some large and well populated meadows. I last saw the meadows during an invertebrates training day with Mike Edwards in May. This time is was a butterfly walk, led by Dave Gallagher, assisted by Sue Hayes, who knows her butterflies and was taking this opportunity to do a count.

There was only intermittent sunshine, but it warmed up a little as we went along. It was a good group, containing many of the Friends of Jubilee Country Park, and some faces I recognised from other groups, including Keith who led a Scadbury Park walk a few days ago.

The paths through the woods were very quiet and quite dark. But when we emerged into a meadow everything changed. They were full of colourful flowers, and soon we began to see butterflies.

One thing that struck me was that the people on this walk were focused. Butterflies were what the walk was for, and that's what they had come to see. Walking with, for example, the Orpington Field Club, everything was of interest to somebody. Here, there was only occasional interest in plants and other invertebrates.

Something different: a fly, Tachina fera, on Creeping Thistle, Cirsium arvense.  Butterfly walk in Darrick and Newstead Woods, 23 July 2011.
Something different: a fly, Tachina fera, on Creeping Thistle,
Cirsium arvense. Darrick and Newstead Woods, 23 July 2011.

Several of us were checking out all the Ragworts we passed, to see if there were any Cinnabar caterpillars on them. There were none, in great contrast to Scadbury Park three days ago where they swarmed on almost every plant. I have also seen them on the Four Corners section of the Hayes Common SSSI.

At the end of the walk, Sue had a count of 53 butterflies of 8 species. That's not outstanding, but it's not bad for an unpromising day.

At the time I wasn't counting, but thinking back, I had seen many nice fresh Gatekeepers and tired Meadow Browns, an older Ringlet, an outstanding Small Copper, some Large Whites and a Green-Veined White, some Commas, some Small and Essex Skippers, a Small Heath, one very nice Brown Argus, a Speckled Wood, and a blue, probably a Common Blue, that flew away from us just as we were coming to the end of the walk. I make that 12 species, allowing for the fact that Small and Essex Skippers are counted together because they are so hard to distinguish. I do not know why Sue only had eight on her list.

I was using my EOS 60D with a 200mm lens and 2x extender again. This time I was trying a faster shutter speed, which successfully eliminated camera shake, but resulted in a smaller depth of field, more so when the sun was behind the clouds. Always there is a tradeoff .. I will try something different again next time, perhaps a higher ISO.

Gatekeeper, Pyronia tithonus. Butterfly walk in Darrick and Newstead Woods, 23 July 2011.
Gatekeeper, Pyronia tithonus. Butterfly walk in Darrick and Newstead Woods, 23 July 2011.
You can clearly see the two white spots that distinguish this from a Meadow Brown, which has one white spot.

Ringlet, Aphantopus hyperantus; rather faded.  Butterfly walk in Darrick and Newstead Woods, 23 July 2011.
Ringlet, Aphantopus hyperantus; rather faded.  Butterfly walk in Darrick and Newstead Woods, 23 July 2011.
Compare this with the fresh specimen in my post on Downe Bank a month ago.

Comma, Polygonia c-album.  Butterfly walk in Darrick and Newstead Woods, 23 July 2011.
Comma, Polygonia c-album.  Butterfly walk in Darrick and Newstead Woods, 23 July 2011.
The group had a good look, but I only managed to photograph this glimpse from behind.
I love those wings, looking like exotic carved wood.

Essex Skipper, Thymelicus lineola.  Butterfly walk in Darrick and Newstead Woods, 23 July 2011.
Essex Skipper, Thymelicus lineola.  Butterfly walk in Darrick and Newstead Woods, 23 July 2011.
In an Essex Skipper, the undersides of the tips of the antennae are black. You can see that clearly on this photo.

Green-Veined White, Pieris napi.  Butterfly walk in Darrick and Newstead Woods, 23 July 2011.
Green-Veined White, Pieris napi.  Butterfly walk in Darrick and Newstead Woods, 23 July 2011.

Strangalia maculata, a longhorn beetle, on Hogweed, Heracleum sphondylium.  Butterfly walk in Darrick and Newstead Woods, 23 July 2011.
Finally, a longhorn beetle, Strangalia maculata, on Hogweed, Heracleum sphondylium.
Butterfly walk in Darrick and Newstead Woods, 23 July 2011.


Saturday, 23 July 2011

Light Emerald

Light Emerald moth, Campaea margaritata.  Flew across Saville Row on the morning of 20 July 2011.
Light Emerald moth, Campaea margaritata.  Flew across Saville Row on the morning of 20 July 2011.
This moth flew across my path in the early morning and landed on a laurel leaf, where it rested while I photographed it with my Ixus 100, staying put even though I put my hand right next to it to pull a leaf out of the way. Aha, I thought. I have the books now, so I should be able to identify this one without assistance.

I wasn't sure I could, though. I can see the signs of my inexperience. I have failed to identify several moths that I have good clear photos of.

When I was writing machine code for the ZX Spectrum, if a sequence failed to work as expected it was very tempting to say that there was an error in the manual, or an undocumented effect. But there never was. It was always an error in my code or my understanding of it. In the same way, it is tempting to say that all those moths I can't identify must be micromoths, and therefore not in my book, which doesn't cover those. And some of them might be, but I am pretty sure that others are actually in there somewhere, as yet unrecognised by me.

I thought I recognised this one as one of the "Waves" but when I looked them up, the banding on their wings was darker than the background, not lighter. But on the same page was a Light Emerald.  This moth does have a slight greenish tint, which I thought at first was because of the green leaves it is resting among. The Light Emerald's description says "fading to whitish" and as this specimen is damaged, it could well be old. And the Light Emerald, I suddenly realised, has one fewer wing band than the Waves, and so does my specimen.

The diagram in my book, the widely used "Concise Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Northern Ireland," shows the Light Emerald's bands as having both a light and a dark component. My specimen does not show that.  The lower band on the forewing should match up with the single band on the hindwing.  On this one, it does not. And the description on the UKmoths site mentions a blood-red tip to the forewing, which mine does not seem to have either. But moths do vary a lot; the experts say they haven't read the books.

I could still be wrong, of course. I don't yet now which features are critical and don't change, and which are mutable, either generally or with age. Moths are tricky.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Holly Blue

Holly Blue butterfly, Celastrina argiolus, side view, by the roadside in Hayes Common, 11 July 2011.
Holly Blue butterfly, Celastrina argiolus, side view, by the roadside in Hayes Common, 11 July 2011.
Keeping up the lepidopteran theme, this is one I saw in Hayes recently, a species I have not seen elsewhere, though it is not scarce.

I haven't been keeping species counts as some people do, but I know I have seen many more types of butterfly over the last month than I ever have before.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Scadbury Park Ladybirds

24-Spot Ladybird, Subcoccinella 24-punctata.  Ladybird walk in Scadbury Park, 20 July 2011.
24-Spot Ladybird, Subcoccinella 24-punctata.  Scadbury Park, 20 July 2011.
This walk in Scadbury Park was supposed to be about ladybirds, and indeed we did look for them, but we looked for any other invertebrates that came up as well.

It was led by a local volunteer, and we walked through a meadow to a hedgerow, where we shook the branches over an upturned umbrella to see what fell in. Mostly, this was small insects, spiders, woodlice and earwigs. This tiny 24-spot ladybird was among them, as was the small spider below, with its interesting reticulated patterning. You can see the umbrella background in the photo of the spider.

But of course there were many more insects around, bigger ones too. There were a few other ladybirds, including several large and healthy 7-spots. Bees, wasps, flies and beetles were visiting the flowers, and also butterflies, of course; Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers, and there were some Commas in the bramble scrub by the hedge.

Ragworts were scattered all through the meadow, and many of them were being thoroughly consumed by vivid (and poisonous) caterpillars of the Cinnabar moth. Back among in the brambles I found some snails and a tortoise bug, a close relation of the shield bugs. A little moth fluttered down and stayed long enough to be photographed. It ooks like a smear of bird dropping if you stand back, but it's colourful close to. I haven't identified it, despite having a good book on macromoths now, so either it's a micromoth species or I am still terrible at moth identification. Either or both of these could be true.
Unidentified bee, looks like an Andrena species, foraging in a thistle flower.  Ladybird walk in Scadbury Park, 20 July 2011.
Unidentified bee, looks like an Andrena species, foraging in a thistle flower.  Ladybird walk in Scadbury Park, 20 July 2011.
Unidentified spider in an umbrella. Ladybird walk in Scadbury Park, 20 July 2011.
Unidentified spider in an umbrella. Ladybird walk in Scadbury Park, 20 July 2011.

Gatekeeper butterfly, Pyronia tithonus.  Ladybird walk in Scadbury Park, 20 July 2011.
Gatekeeper butterfly, Pyronia tithonus.  Ladybird walk in Scadbury Park, 20 July 2011.

Tortoise bug, Eurygaster testudinaria.  Ladybird walk in Scadbury Park, 20 July 2011.
Tortoise bug, Eurygaster testudinaria.  Ladybird walk in Scadbury Park, 20 July 2011.

Unidentified moth imitating a bird dropping.  Ladybird walk in Scadbury Park, 20 July 2011.
Unidentified moth imitating a bird dropping.  Ladybird walk in Scadbury Park, 20 July 2011.

Cinnabar Moth caterpillars, Tyria jacobaeae, an Arctiid, on Common Ragwort, Senecio jacobaea.  Ladybird walk in Scadbury Park, 20 July 2011.
Cinnabar Moth caterpillars, Tyria jacobaeae, an Arctiid, on Common Ragwort,
Senecio jacobaea.  Ladybird walk in Scadbury Park, 20 July 2011.


Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Farthing Downs Moths

Small Waved Umber moth, Horisme vitalbata.  Geometer.  From a moth trap on Farthing Downs on the night of 16th July 2011.   Moths and Butterflies on Farthing Downs, with Gill Peachey.  Photographed on Sunday 17th July 2011.
Small Waved Umber moth, Horisme vitalbata.  A Geometer.  From a moth trap on Farthing Downs on the night of
16th July 2011.   Moths and Butterflies on Farthing Downs, with Gill Peachey.  Photographed the next day.
These are the moths I was shown by Gill Peachey on the recent moth and butterfly day at Farthing Downs. The backgrounds are not up to much, but the moths are mostly pretty clear.

The Noctuids were happy to be photographed with the lids off their jars. The geometers were more excitable, and the Small Waved Umber above was photographed on a wall (actually, a window in an interior wall). Gill recaptured it so that it could be released into the wild, rather than remain trapped in the office.

Slender Brindle moth, Apamea scolopacina.  A Noctuid.  From a moth trap on Farthing Downs on the night of 16th July 2011.   Moths and Butterflies on Farthing Downs, with Gill Peachey.  Photographed on Sunday 17th July 2011.
Slender Brindle moth, Apamea scolopacina.  A Noctuid.  From a moth trap on Farthing Downs
on the night of 16th July 2011.   Moths and Butterflies on Farthing Downs,
with Gill Peachey.  Photographed the next day.

Heart and Dart moth, Agrostis exclamationis.  A Noctuid.  From a moth trap on Farthing Downs on the night of 16th July 2011.  Moths and Butterflies on Farthing Downs, with Gill Peachey.  Photographed on Sunday 17th July 2011.
Heart and Dart moth, Agrostis exclamationis.  A Noctuid.  From a moth trap on Farthing Downs
on the night of 16th July 2011.  Moths and Butterflies on Farthing Downs,
with Gill Peachey.  Photographed the next day.

Beautiful Hook-Tip moth, Laspeyria flexula.  A Noctuid.  From a moth trap on Farthing Downs on the night of
16th July 2011.   Moths and Butterflies on Farthing Downs, with Gill Peachey.  Photographed the next day.

Mother-of-Pearl moth, Pleuroptya ruralis.  A micromoth.  From a moth trap on Farthing Downs on the night of 16th July 2011.   Moths and Butterflies on Farthing Downs, with Gill Peachey.  Photographed on Sunday 17th July 2011.
Mother-of-Pearl moth, Pleuroptya ruralis.  A micromoth.  From a moth trap on Farthing Downs
on the night of 16th July 2011.   Moths and Butterflies on Farthing Downs,
with Gill Peachey.  Photographed the next day.

Clay moth, Mythimna ferrago.  Male.  A Noctuid.  From a moth trap on Farthing Downs on the night of 16th July 2011.   Moths and Butterflies on Farthing Downs, with Gill Peachey.  Photographed on Sunday 17th July 2011.
Clay moth, Mythimna ferrago.  Male.  A Noctuid.  From a moth trap on Farthing Downs
on the night of 16th July 2011.   Moths and Butterflies on Farthing Downs,
with Gill Peachey.  Photographed the next day.

Large Yellow Underwing moth, Noctua pronuba.  A Noctuid.   From a moth trap on Farthing Downs on the night of 16th July 2011.   Moths and Butterflies on Farthing Downs, with Gill Peachey.  Photographed on Sunday 17th July 2011.
Large Yellow Underwing moth, Noctua pronuba.  A Noctuid.   From a moth trap on Farthing Downs on the night
of 16th July 2011.   Moths and Butterflies on Farthing Downs, with Gill Peachey.  Photographed the next day.

Double Square-Spot moth, Xestia triangulum.  A Noctuid.  From a moth trap on Farthing Downs on the night of 16th July 2011.   Moths and Butterflies on Farthing Downs, with Gill Peachey.  Photographed on Sunday 17th July 2011.
Double Square-Spot moth, Xestia triangulum.  A Noctuid.  From a moth trap on Farthing Downs on the night
of 16th July 2011.   Moths and Butterflies on Farthing Downs, with Gill Peachey.  Photographed the next day.

Scalloped Oak moth, dark form; Crocalis elinguaria.  A Geometer.  From a moth trap on Farthing Downs on the night of 16th July 2011.   Moths and Butterflies on Farthing Downs, with Gill Peachey.  Photographed on Sunday 17th July 2011.
Scalloped Oak moth, dark form; Crocalis elinguaria.  A Geometer.  From a moth trap on Farthing Downs on the night
of 16th July 2011.   Moths and Butterflies on Farthing Downs, with Gill Peachey.  Photographed the next day.

Black Arches moths, Lymantria monacha.  A Lymantriid.  From a moth trap on Farthing Downs on the night of 16th July 2011.   Moths and Butterflies on Farthing Downs, with Gill Peachey.  Photographed on Sunday 17th July 2011.
Black Arches moths, Lymantria monacha.  A Lymantriid.  From a moth trap on Farthing Downs on the night
of 16th July 2011.   Moths and Butterflies on Farthing Downs, with Gill Peachey.  Photographed the next day.

Common Footman moth, Eilema luideola.  An Arctiid.  From a moth trap on Farthing Downs on the night of 16th July 2011.   Moths and Butterflies on Farthing Downs, with Gill Peachey.  Photographed on Sunday 17th July 2011.
Common Footman moth, Eilema luideola.  An Arctiid.  From a moth trap on Farthing Downs on the night
of 16th July 2011.   Moths and Butterflies on Farthing Downs, with Gill Peachey.  Photographed the next day.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Oedemera Nobilis Female

Oedemera nobilis female on Hayes Common, 27 May 2011.
Oedemera nobilis female on Hayes Common, 27 May 2011.
These beetles are very photogenic. I posted the male, with its expanded green thighs, earlier.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Butterfly Season

Purple Hairstreak butterfly, Neozephyrus quercus, in an oak tree.  Butterfly walk in Jubilee Country Park, Sunday 17th July 2011.
Purple Hairstreak, Neozephyrus quercus, in an oak tree.
Jubilee Country Park, Sunday 17th July 2011.
They all come at once, or so it seems.  Today I went on two more butterfly walks; one at Jubilee Country Park, and one at Farthing Downs.

The walk at JCP was led by Marcus Jordan and Tony Ruffle. The forecast was for heavy showers, but we had good sunshine for over an hour. To begin with, no butterflies were apparent. Perhaps we were a little early. But we spread out and walked through the meadows; there were perhaps a dozen of us, and we flushed out several; then quite soon there were lots flying around.

These were Meadow Browns and Ringlets, a few fresh bright Gatekeepers, and we also saw a few small Skippers. One of them was confirmed as an Essex Skipper. You can only tell this from a Small Skipper by examining the underside of its antennae. An Essex Skipper's antennae are black beneath; a Small Skipper's are not. Of course, usually you see them from above ...

Essex Skipper,Thymelicus lineola (confirmed by close examination).  Butterfly walk in Jubilee Country Park, Sunday 17th July 2011.
Essex Skipper, Thymelicus lineola.
Jubilee Country Park, Sunday 17th July 2011.
We moved along the side of a wood where there was a belt of brambles. This was quite productive. We saw some Commas, beautiful creatures with sculpted wings; a Green-Veined White; a Red Admiral; and flying up into an oak, two Purple Hairstreaks, quite hard to photograph because they tend to be high up and far away. Quite hard to spot, too; one of us was watching them and pointing them out, and it still took me a minute to see where they were.

I haven't included photos of species I posted earlier this week, except for the Comma. I had one shot of the Comma I could not resist posting. There were other creatures, too; bumblebees, beetles, hoverflies, and we saw a Five-Spot Burnet moth.

Then it started to rain. Butterflies do not fly in the rain.

So in the afternoon I went to Farthing Downs. This is a City of London Common and the walk was led by a local volunteer, Gill Peachey. Perhaps because of the weather, I was the only one to turn up for the walk, though there were other visitors in the car park; what can keep people from such good quality free entertainment? I do not understand it.

Ringlet butterfly, Aphantopus hyperantus.  Butterfly walk in Jubilee Country Park, Sunday 17th July 2011.
Ringlet, Aphantopus hyperantus, looking rather tattered.
Jubilee Country Park, Sunday 17th July 2011.
Even though you could see rainclouds all around, this walk was billed as including a look at some moths captured the night before, so not even a downpour could have made the visit useless. Gill showed me the captures and told me about them. Most of them stayed put even with the lids off their jars, and I have some photos, though they are against indifferent backgrounds, and I'll post them another day when I have read up on the moths and made sure I have the right name against the right specimen.

We went out for a look around the common. We had maybe half an hour of clear weather, during which we saw a Small Copper, a Small Heath and a Green-Veined White along with the expected Meadow Browns. Then it began to rain quite hard, and didn't stop. The camera went into my bag and my umbrella protected that rather than me. But Gill is pretty good at plants as well as lepidoptera, and now I know where to come for some bee and fly orchids next year.

All today's butterfly photos were taken with the 200mm prime lens and 2x extension tube on my EOS 60D. I need to use an even shorter exposure in future, because despite my care, some of these are slightly blurry. You can see from the really sharp ones, like that comma, what the lens can do.

Gatekeeper butterfly, Pyronia tithonus.  Butterfly walk in Jubilee Country Park, Sunday 17th July 2011.
Gatekeeper,  Pyronia tithonus.  Butterfly walk in Jubilee Country Park, Sunday 17th July 2011.

Comma butterfly, Polygonia c-album.   Butterfly walk in Jubilee Country Park, Sunday 17th July 2011.
Comma,  Polygonia c-album.   Butterfly walk in Jubilee Country Park, Sunday 17th July 2011.

Small Heath butterfly, Coenonympha pamphylus.  Moths and Butterflies on Farthing Downs, with Gill Peachey.  Sunday 17th July 2011.
Small Heath,  Coenonympha pamphylus.  Moths and Butterflies on Farthing Downs, Sunday 17th July 2011.

Green-Veined White, Pieris napi.  Moths and Butterflies on Farthing Downs, Sunday 17th July 2011.

Small Copper butterfly, Lycaena phlaeas.  Moths and Butterflies on Farthing Downs, with Gill Peachey.  Sunday 17th July 2011.
Small Copper,  Lycaena phlaeas.  Moths and Butterflies on Farthing Downs, Sunday 17th July 2011.


Sunday, 17 July 2011

Cherub Heads

Cherub heads from the 1705 Smith organ case in St. David's Cathedral, Eglwys Gadeiriol Tyddewi; St. David's (Tyddewi), Pembrokeshire.  8 July 2011.
Cherub heads from the 1705 "Smith" organ case in St. David's Cathedral (Eglwys Gadeiriol Tyddewi),
St. David's (Tyddewi), Pembrokeshire.  8 July 2011.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Better Butterflies

Meadow Brown butterfly, Maniola jurtina, in a glade in High Elms Country Park, 15 July 2011.
Meadow Brown butterfly, Maniola jurtina. 15 July 2011.
The butterfly walk was slightly disappointing, perhaps because of the lacklustre weather. So, as the forecast for the next day was for sun, I went back to High Elms.

The forecast was accurate, mostly, and it was warmer and sunnier, and more butterflies appeared. As I did not have to dash after a group, and there were fewer feet to disturb the surroundings, I got some better photos; some of the same butterflies as yesterday, some of new ones.

The gaudy Peacock and the pleasant Brimstone shown below did not appear yesterday. But my favourite pics today were those of the Silver-Washed Fritillary, which I have saved for last below. I have included a close-up which shows the full potential of the macro lens; click on the photos to see the full effect.

On the way round I met for the first time the gentleman who blogs as Greenie In The Wild. I am surprised not to have come across him before, because we have several wildlife areas in common and we live not far apart. He certainly knows High Elms well, and he showed me some interesting spots and some bee orchids, for which, thanks.  I also came across the BCS ranger for the area, Terry Jones, who led yesterday's walk, and who won't be there for much longer.  He knows the place even better, if possible.

These photos were taken with the EOS 60D. For some, like the Fritillary, I used the 100mm macro lens; sometimes with a Kenko 1.4x extender. (Not Kenco, which is coffee.) For others, like the meadow Brown above, I used a 200mm prime lens with a 2x extender. This long focal length is tricky hand-held and some of these shots could be sharper, but with shy or inaccessible butterflies the alternative would be even worse. There were actually lots of Meadow Browns around, but almost all of them were old and faded.

Comma butterfly, Polygonium c-album, near the Conservation Field in High Elms Country Park, 15 July 2011.
Comma butterfly, Polygonium c-album, near the Conservation Field in High Elms Country Park, 15 July 2011.

Small White butterfly, Pieris rapae, on Rough Hawkbit, Leontodon hispidus, in the Conservation Field in High Elms Country Park, 15 July 2011.
Small White butterfly, Pieris rapae, on Rough Hawkbit, Leontodon hispidus,
in the Conservation Field in High Elms Country Park, 15 July 2011.

Peacock butterfly, Inachis io, on Rough Hawkbit, Leontodon hispidus, in Burnt Gorse in High Elms Country Park, 15 July 2011.
Peacock butterfly, Inachis io, on Rough Hawkbit, Leontodon hispidus,
in Burnt Gorse in High Elms Country Park, 15 July 2011.

Specked Wood butterfly, Pararge aegeria, in a glade in High Elms Country Park, 15 July 2011.
Specked Wood butterfly, Pararge aegeria, in a glade in High Elms Country Park, 15 July 2011.

Brimstone butterfly, Gonepteryx rhamni, on Pyramidal Orchid, Anacamptis pyramidalis, in Burnt Gorse in High Elms Country Park, 15 July 2011.
Brimstone butterfly, Gonepteryx rhamni, on Pyramidal Orchid, Anacamptis pyramidalis,
in Burnt Gorse in High Elms Country Park, 15 July 2011.

Silver-Washed Fritillary, Argynnis paphia, on Rough Hawkbit, Leontodon hispidus, in Burnt Gorse in High Elms Country Park, 15 July 2011.
Silver-Washed Fritillary, Argynnis paphia, on Rough Hawkbit, Leontodon hispidus,
in Burnt Gorse in High Elms Country Park, 15 July 2011.

Closeup of Silver-Washed Fritillary, Argynnis paphia, on Rough Hawkbit, Leontodon hispidus, in Burnt Gorse in High Elms Country Park, 15 July 2011.
Silver-Washed Fritillary, Argynnis paphia, on Rough Hawkbit, Leontodon hispidus,
in Burnt Gorse in High Elms Country Park, 15 July 2011.


Friday, 15 July 2011

High Elms Butterflies

Comma butterfly, Polygonium c-alba, on Hogweed, Heracleum sphondylium. Butterfly walk at High Elms Country Park, 14 July 2011.
Comma butterfly, Polygonium c-alba, on Hogweed, Heracleum sphondylium.
14 July 2011.
There wasn't much sunshine today, and it was quite cool, which didn't help on the High Elms butterfly walk. Terry Jones of BCS led it, and he kept gesturing for the sun to appear .. it wasn't completely absent, and we did see a few butterflies.

However, many of them were at a distance and quite shy, so I only have a few slightly blurred crops of the more colourful ones. But I did get some very nice shots of other insects, that were less inclined to run away when I approached.

A fair-sized group of people followed Terry round the likely spots in High Elms Country Park. The grazed field, Burnt Gorse, the Orchid Bank, some of the woods, around the edge of the golf course. We saw quite a few Meadow Browns, Small Skippers, Large Whites and Ringlets. The first of the less usual ones was a showy Comma, high on a lush Hogweed. Then a Fritillary flew purposefully right across our field of view.

Red Admiral butterfly, Vanessa atalanta, on Orchid Bank.  Butterfly walk at High Elms Country Park, 14 July 2011.
Red Admiral butterfly, Vanessa atalanta. 14 July 2011.

On Burnt Gorse we saw another Fritillary that actually rested for a while. On the Orchid Bank was a Red Admiral. I saw another Comma there, too. But there were much fewer of these than there might have been it it had been warmer and brighter. Terry had seen a White-Letter Hairstreak around a stand of Rosebay WIllowherbs on the Orchid Bank, but there was no sign of one today.

But he did point out some crab spiders on the same Willowherbs, and I saw quite a few hoverflies, wasps, grasshoppers and other invertebrates.

These photos were taken with my EOS 60D and 100mm macro lens, sometimes with a 1.4x Kenko Teleplus Pro extender.
Silver-Washed Fritillary, Argynnis paphia, on Burnt Gorse.  Butterfly walk at High Elms Country Park, 14 July 2011.
Silver-Washed Fritillary, Argynnis paphia, on Burnt Gorse.  Butterfly walk at High Elms Country Park, 14 July 2011.

Honey bee, Apis mellifera, collecting pollen from White Melilot, Melilotus albus, on Burnt Gorse. Butterfly walk at High Elms Country Park, 14 July 2011.
Honey bee, Apis mellifera, drinking nectar from White Melilot, Melilotus albus, on Burnt Gorse.
Butterfly walk at High Elms Country Park, 14 July 2011.

Orange Ladybird, Halyzia sedecimguttata, in a tree at the edge of the golf course.  Butterfly walk at High Elms Country Park, 14 July 2011.
Orange Ladybird, Halyzia sedecimguttata, in a tree at the edge of the golf course.
Butterfly walk at High Elms Country Park, 14 July 2011.

Common Wasp, Vespula vulgaris,  on Hogweed, Heracleum sphondylium.  The small insect on its wing looks like an aphid.  Butterfly walk at High Elms Country Park, 14 July 2011.
Common Wasp, Vespula vulgaris,  on Hogweed, Heracleum sphondylium.  High Elms Country Park, 14 July 2011.
The small insect hitching a lift on its wing looks like an aphid.


Thursday, 14 July 2011

Forest Bug

 Adult Forest Bug, Pentatoma rufipes, on an oak tree in Hayes Common, 11 July 2011.
Adult Forest Bug, Pentatoma rufipes, on an oak tree in Hayes Common, 11 July 2011.
These are a type of shield bug and are very common in the local woods. Below are two earlier stages in their life cycle.

Final instar nymph of the forest bug, Pentatoma rufipes, on oak.  Hayes Common, 24 June 2011.
Final instar nymph of the Forest Bug, Pentatoma rufipes, on oak.  Hayes Common, 24 June 2011.

Forest bug, Pentatoma rufipes, on beech leaf.  Mid instar nymph. Hayes Common, 18 May 2011.
Mid instar nymph of the Forest Bug, Pentatoma rufipes, on beech leaf.  Hayes Common, 18 May 2011.