Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A quiet American...

...or that's what was in my mind as I noticed something glinting in the afternoon light as I went to cut a sprig of rosemary from the garden.

Chrysolina americana
- the Rosemary Beetle - three in fact, nibbling away on the ingredient that gives my pasta sauce that certain je ne sais quoi!

But it turns out they are about as American as .... something not very American! A veritable faux amis.

They apparently originate in southern Europe, so would love to know how they came by their specific name. It first appeared in the UK in the 1990's and has steadily spread north since, and is now in my garden!

A good looking beetle but if my wife sees it on the lavender there could be trouble!

Monday, April 27, 2015

It's oh so quiet...

...and I'm hoping that like the Bjork song there will be a large eruption of noise (read moths) at some point. God I need that. Some pugs would be good.... some micros....

Moth trapping has been rubbish over the last week or so. Most mornings have seen only one or two individuals and most of them aren't in the trap but hiding at various points around the outside of the house, so take a bit of finding. The Early Thorn was found on a patio bench in the afternoon as I'd failed to notice it when checking the trap...

An Early Thorn doing it's best to look like a dried leaf

Pebble Prominent found on brick wall away from the trap

I did manage a very quick trip to Lakenheath RSPB reserve on Sunday with the family. It was a bit rushed but saw and heard my first Cuckoo of the year plus lots of other summer migrants. A booming Bittern was also nice.

I used to visit a lot about 7-8 years ago and what I noticed this time is that the RSPB have changed and landscaped things so that you are pushed towards the visitor centre rather than up onto the bank to overlook the washes and thus onto the public footpath. I can see why but I got confused as I wanted a view to scan for Garganey and it took me a while to find the right path.

Maybe I'm getting old but I preferred it in the old days!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A slow start

It's been a long, slow start to 2015. Moth numbers have been low, with 17 being the highest number of individuals in a catch. The majority have been Orthosia with a fair number of Early Grey thrown in for good measure.

The last week saw a couple of nights with higher temperatures and cloud cover, and although the trap was pretty sparse I did manage to pot a few moths from around the trap in the early evening.

Best of these were Streamer (with only one previous record) and Chinese Character, which is a new record for the garden (only the 2nd year at this location so still getting lots of additions).

Also had a Nicrophorus humator beetle one night, but it met an unfortunate end as it had jammed itself in a back door crevice and was only discovered on opening, as it fell out in pieces.....

Chinese Character

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Garden hovers

Whilst mowing the lawn today, I decided to carry my net and take the odd swipe at any hovers I saw. There were at least 4 species and I managed to catch and pot two of them. A short time in the fridge and I could photograph them (albeit badly)

Eristalis pertinax

Syrphus sp.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

There's a spider down...

I've decided not to bother with spiders at the moment as I have enough to get my teeth into with beetles and some other taxa. Plus they seem bloody tricky and to be frank, while I have no problem looking at and picking up spiders, there is something otherworldly and slightly disconcerting about them when viewed down a microscope.

They're currently filed under 'things to do in retirement'!

That being said, during breakfast the other morning, my youngest son (and the one showing the most interest in natural history) suddenly spouted "Dad, massive spider...."

I followed his gaze to see a fairly innocuous arachnid sitting quietly on the ceiling. I had a quick look and to my amazement I recognised it, having seen it feature on other people's blogs, Scytodes thoracica, the spitting spider. Rather beautifully marked and surprisingly leisurely in the movement department!

I duly potted it and safely put it outside in the garden, only later reading that they are pretty much restricted to heated housing and take 3 years to mature. Apologies to the spider involved