Tuesday 31 August 2010

Orthoptera (1): Grasshopper

Due to my fractured arm, David took this 'arty' photograph for me of the Grasshopper on our windscreen yesterday at Laugharne. The reflected image (at least I think it is the reflection) picks out the creature's orange abdomen.

I am guessing that it may be a Striped-Winged Grasshopper (Stenobothrus lineatus), as the Common Green does not have red or orange on its abdomen. The creature soon hopped off.

Monday 30 August 2010

Sunsets (1): Llanrhidian, Gower

We had had a lovely day at Laugharne, and came back to find a relatively cloudless sunset over the saltmarsh at Llanrhidian on Gower. There were a few birds and bats - and plenty of gnats - flying about. I hope you had an enjoyable Bank Holiday, too.

Dragonflies (2): Golden-ringed Dragonfly

The weather was cool, blustery and grey, with the occasional sunny interval. It didn't seem particularly promising for Odonata. I was thrilled to spot the Golden-ringed Dragonfly above from the short boardwalk in the National Botanic Garden of Wales, as I had only seen one once before (at WWT Llanelli), and had failed on that occasion to photograph it. It is certainly one of the largest I have seen.

This species can apparently be found in the UK, across Asia Minor and in India. I was surprised to learn that these Dragonflies sometimes eat tadpoles and fish, alongside their usual diet of snails and the larvae of insects.

Saturday 28 August 2010

Butterflies and Moths (9): a Small Turnaround Trend for the Small Tortoiseshell?

We have heard many reports of the decline in numbers of this beautiful butterfly, (though it may be making a small comeback - see this newspaper report); but judging by a report from North Wales (and here), we weren't alone in seeing (what for us were) record numbers this afternoon in the beautiful gardens at Aberglasney in Carmarthenshire.

Do let me know if you have also seen anything approaching 'swarm' proportions! It was a joy to behold. The Small Tortoiseshells were joined by a sprinkling of Peacocks, Red Admirals and Small Whites. On this note, my thanks to Brian of Devon and Cornwall Viewpoint in the Tamar Valley for informing me that his August observations correspond with my own. You can read Brian's post here.

My thanks to David Gill for taking these photographs for me (on account of my fractured arm...).

Friday 27 August 2010

Butterflies and Moths (8): Painted Ladies

I thought back to last summer and the invasion of Painted Ladies. I have hardly seen any this year, but you can read about their mass migration antics here. If you have seen Painted Ladies in 2010, you might care to log them here.

I thought this butterfly would be a good subject for my experiment at enlarging the size of my photos on Blogger, thanks to a little help from Madsen Madness. Feel free to let me know how these look for size on your screen.

Wednesday 25 August 2010

Butterflies and Moths (7): Caterpillars - fur, hair and bristles!

The Peacock (or possibly Small Tortoiseshell?) caterpillars above
were spotted on nettles
beside the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path in August 2009.

These furry things above are the barbed hairs of the caterpillars
of the native Brown-Tail Moth (Euproctis Chrysorrhoea).
We saw them at Spurn Point, Yorkshire, in April 2009.

Our car park ticket informed us that the adults
emerge in spring from their white webs
to feed on Sea Buckthorn.
Apparently they shed their skins,
releasing the hairs before pupating and taking wing.

Early September 2009:
we watched this Fox Moth caterpillar crawling about on Raasay,
the small island between Skye and Applecross
on which Calum built his road.

You can see another furry caterpillar on the island
if you follow this link and scroll down.

I spotted this Fox Moth caterpillar (above)
at Hartland Point in Devon,
on 16 April 2010.

You might like to look at the Marsland Moth blog,
since Marsland is closeby,
on the Devon-Cornish border.

This caterpillar
(below, with detail above)
was much close to home,
at Oxwich on Gower.

I noticed it on 22 August 2009.
It is as yet unidentified!

P.S. 2012 ... a Fox Moth caterpillar?

The yellow and black creature below
only just qualifies for this post of hairy crawlers!
It is a Burnet Moth caterpillar
(and I plan to do a post on this moth soon).

I photographed the caterpillar
at Mwnt in Cardiganshire back in late May 2010.

A Knot Grass caterpillar (above and below)
on St Columba's fascinating inland island (photo here),
situated in the Snizort River on Skye.
The adult looks like this.

The caterpillar below was spotted way back on 5 August 2006
at the National Botanic Garden of Wales.

Do take a look at Rosie's Vapourer moth over at Leaves 'n Bloom here.

Tuesday 24 August 2010

Media Matters (2): The Awful 'A' Word: Austerity (again)

The RSPB is working hard to ensure that the message gets through to those concerned about the folly of sacrificing land set aside in the UK for nature. You can read about RSPB's latest plans here.

Monday 23 August 2010

Herpetofauna (2): Frogs and Lizards

Thanks to David at Wildlife Wales, we decided to re-visit Carmarthenshire's Llyn Llech Owain Country Park at Gorslas near Cross Hands. We had been there once before, but it was a long time ago.

We particularly hoped to see Goldcrests, and we wonder if we were successful since the birds we saw had the yellow-gold wing band that you can see on the juvenile here on the RSPB site (you may need to click through to 'illustration 2').

We saw a number of Goldfinches (see below) in the fir and larch plantations and on the scrubby heathland. My thanks to David at Wildlife Wales for his help here.

We sat and watched Dragonflies and Damselflies from the hides. The spots of pink iridescence beneath the dragonfly below were extraordinary. I think the species is probably the Black Darter, Sympetrum danae. I believe this one is a male, and would be grateful to know more.

There were a number of butterflies, too, including the Small Copper on the heather in the photographs below.

There was some very arresting fungus... On first inspection when I got home and uploaded the photographs, it looked like a Yellow Coral fungus of some sort. I have yet to verify whether these grow in my neck of the woods! You can see an example of Meadow Coral here.

We were particularly delighted with and surprised by our Herpetofauna sightings - two lizards and two small frogs. I mistook the first frog for a large fly. I saw something like a Horsefly skittering about on the path in front of us, and then realized that it was actually hopping! I think it was a small Common Frog. It was not warty enough for a toad!

It was not long before we noticed a second, though I seem to recall that the photo below is a second view of the first.

We were on the home stretch when we noticed a small dark Lizard on the edge of the path.

I think it was a juvenile male.

We paused to let a family pass by, and soon caught sight of this last creature. He was considerably larger and lighter in colour than the first lizard, though I suspect they were both Common Lizards.

This photo above reminds me of a Pangolin!

Lizards in previous posts
Yellow Fungus in a previous post
External Resources