Tuesday 24 September 2013

Eye-catching Insects ~ Rove Beetle at Grimes Graves

We were re-visiting the ancient flint mines at Grimes Graves at the weekend. There were no Woolly Mammoths, but a large black Rove Beetle caught my eye. Unlike Ladybirds, these insects have very short elytra. Considering there are over 1000 species of Rove Beetle in the UK, it comes as something of a surprise to realise that this is the first one I have ever seen or noticed. It was almost 3cm long.

David (Gill) ... ready for the mine

Monday 23 September 2013

Nature Reserves ~ RSPB Ynys Hir, Mid-Wales

We were in West Wales a week ago, and after the Strata Florida event managed a quick visit to RSPB Ynys Hir on the Dyfi estuary. It was not far off sunset and the big Atlantic storm was encroaching, so the light quality was extraordinary. We saw a Common Darter dragonfly and some distant geese, but there appeared to be surprisingly few birds about. The views, however, were terrific.  

Monday 9 September 2013

Animal, Vegetable or Mineral? ~ ID Request

I saw this *mystery* at Carlton Marshes in an area of long dry grass ten days ago. I assumed it would be a kind of cocoon, but with the magnification of the photograph, I am not so sure.

I can fairly safely discount 'mineral', but is this 'animal' (e.g. cocoon/s) or 'vegetable' (fungi or mould perhaps ...)? Something akin to ergot came to mind, but ergot doesn't seem to fit.

Do let me know if you can solve my mystery! Thank you.

* * *

 STOP PRESS, 10 SEPTEMBER 2013   My sincere thanks to all who put in their pennyworth in the Comments below. I *believe* Wilma may have set me on the right track with her suggestion of water snail eggs or egg cases. It is not something that would have crossed my mind, but the stalk was just by a special water course inhabited by rare Fen Raft Spiders (which sadly I didn't see), so it sounds plausible. Unfortunately the wind was blowing, as it often does over the marshes and fens in my region, and it was hard to get the camera to focus on a single swaying strand of grass! Take a look at these pages here and here and ... and although these ones found by Google are of Apple Snails in the USA rather than a snail species at Carlton Marsh, I think you will get the picture. Thank you all once again!

 LATEST UPDATE, 11 SEPTEMBER 2013   It seems it may be 'vegetable' rather than 'animal' after all! Phil of the Cabinet of Curiosities blog has offered the following: 'Hi Caroline, There's a photograph of something similar at http://homepage.eircom.net/~hedgerow16/oct21.htm. There's a discomycete fungus called Lachnum virgineum that looks rather similar when it has dried out a bit, which sometimes grows on dead plant stems...' Thank you, very much, Phil, for this. 

Blogger Neil Mahler said...
You can safely rule out fungi Caroline. Way too big for any type of Lachnum. Egg cases is more on the right track methinks.
Neil Mahler, County Fungus Recorder, Suffolk.
9 April 2014 00:34

Sunday 8 September 2013

Herpetofauna: Two Lizards on Westleton Heath

The heath is currently swathed in purple heather, with swatches (or swathes) of gorse, and a backdrop of rowan berries. The light this afternoon had a late summer quality about it.

There were a few Common Darters flying around and settling on the bracken, which is turning bronze. 

We had hardly left the car when I noticed a small plank of wood in among some heather, and there, basking in the sunshine were two lizards. As you can see one was much larger than the other. The body of the small one (minus tail) was roughly the length of my little finger.  

These are such beautiful creatures! 

I think this lizard has a tick, just behind the front leg ... see here.

Postscript: it is good to read about the reintroduction of Sand Lizards back into the wild in North Wales.

Friday 6 September 2013

Lepidoptera ~ Swallowtail (caterpillars) in Norfolk

These photos date to 18 August. We visited Hickling Broad, and thought we might be too late for Swallowtail caterpillars ... but our vigilance was rewarded! 

You can read more about the Swallowtail here.

An early instar, which is why it was tiny and looked so different to the others.

Thursday 5 September 2013

Herpetofauna ~ Common Lizard at Wicken Fen

We were walking along the boardwalk at Wicken Fen a few days ago ... when a tiny face popped up between the slats ...

... and looked in our direction. It was a Common Lizard, and perhaps the smallest I have ever seen.

Some minutes later a second lizard (the one in the photos immediately above and below this piece of text) raised its head above 'the parapet', and seemed less concerned about our presence than the first one.

We have had quite a good summer for reptile sightings ... four Common Lizards, one Adder ... and (for David) a Grass Snake. Sadly I have not seen any amphibians to date this year.
The Smock Windpump at Wicken Fen