Friday, 30 July 2010

Will it ever end?

The Safari had the usual late night Patch 1 mooch last night and had the bizarre but wonderful incident of a Swallowtail moth landing on our shirt sleeve. We’d noticed a large pale moth fluttering about over the road and up and down the pavement where the gardens have some good nectar plants at the moment and guessed it would be this species. It passed us a couple of times and then circled out wide over the road and came back in bee-line for us and landed on the aforementioned arm just above our elbow…great stuff. Nearly had a Long Tailed Tit land on our head once, we’ve had a Goldcrest on the coat at dawn at Spurn and a Yellow Browed Warbler landed on a large wooden plank inches from where we were sat, again at Spurn, but don’t ever recall a moth deliberately landing on us like that.
There were quite a few other moths flitting about on this muggy evening and we could be tempted to grab a pocketful of pots and the net next time – now that would get some interesting looks from the great unwashed driving past up and down the hill. Many of the gardens have (mostly) uncut, and therefore flowering, Japanese Privet but just one has a leggy specimen of the native Wild Privet; the Japanese variety seems to be smellier and attracts more moths!
Frank was late getting up this morning so the Patch 1 visit was reduced to a spin round Magpie Wood and back past the Golden Triangle, which has been very quiet of late. Nothing what-so-ever to report.
Patch 2 didn’t produce the yesterday’s floating Harbour Porpoise although a sandy coloured blob way, way down to the south far out on the end of a sand spit could have been it but it was indeterminate even with the scope wound up to full blast. Dark clouds laden with heavy rain were coming in from the west (AGAIN!!! – that’ll make a refreshing change NOT) and visibility out at sea was desperately poor (understatement of the year) a brief view of a single Sandwich Tern was all we could muster – we want (NEED) an Arctic Skua or a Little Tern – the year list has ground to a grinding halt – either that or hit the buffers with a resounding thud!!!
Turning our attentions to the gulls and other stuff (of which there was only a smattering of Oystercatchers in the end) on the beach our initial ‘speed’ scan revealed a lack of juvenile Black Headed Gulls so we decided to do a proper look through said Larids. Lots and lots and lots (= easy 500+) Herring Gulls with a healthy crop of juveniles, an adult Common Gull was pecking at seaweed on the higher part of the beach and we counted 67 adult Black Heads but not a single juvenile! Where are they? A second adult Common Gull was way out on the tide line as was a 4th summer Yellow Legged Gull. This was first picked up during the count of Black Heads and passed over after a short look with a ‘hmmm that’s interesting thought’. Now with dodgy gulls we like to relook for them and find them again – if you don’t refind them chances are they weren’t that dodgy after all. We did refind it after a couple of scans and were lucky enough for a Lesser Black Back, a Herring and a Black Head all to be in the field of view at the same time and, importantly, all stood facing the same way so we could assess the mantle shades accurately. A nice bright billed, almost adult, bird, quite long legged compared to the adjacent Herring Gull – would have been better if it was much closer in so we could have got a shot or two of it. As for the Lesser Black Backs there were very few no more than a dozen including juveniles and a Great Black Backed Gull also out in an appearance…it’s definitely Autumn now!
Patch 2 at lunchtime – a wet wash-out…nuff said. But on getting back to the office what should we find lying dead on the carpet but a hoverfly…now Cliff was asking what a haltere was (see comments yesterday). Well this was too good an opportunity to miss. So here are some pics of the hover with one of the pair of halteres circled – it’s the little white blob – on this species the ‘stem’ appears to be quite short and hard to see in the pics…ohh wouldn’t we like a decent microscope for stuff like this…can’t see us getting one with all the government cutbacks…conversation was something like this; “errr boss can I order a “… “ 'KIN' ELL NO! and don’t ask again”.

We noticed the antennae are unusual in that they are made up of two components, a thick bit and a wispy, thin bit, never noticed that before but they’ve almost definitely got a technical name…over to you Dean? And while you’re at it the species is???

Many thanks…
Continuing the hoverfly theme; the curl on the wings of the Great Pied Hoverfly – excellent name – we’ve scoured Google Images and it would seem that it is a species-wide phenomenon not something that was peculiar to that individual. Thinking about it they are very like the tertials on a bird.

The answers to the ‘sketches in the notebook quiz’ are:- Top – Harbour Porpoise, next down – Bottle-nosed Dolphin, next - Basking Shark, then – Grey Seal bottling (trying to show difference in profiles between males and females), bottom – Grey Seal resting prone at surface - - you did get em all right didn’t you?
Where to next? Ah the weekend…but will it stop raining?
In the meantime let us know what wildlife you’ve tripped over in your outback


Monika said...

Basking shark! I don't know why I said whale shark, other than the fact that I have whales on the brain.

Warren Baker said...

Still no rain here for weeks Dave. My ponds are drying up raid now :-(

Sorry I cant help with the Hover flies!

cliff said...

Dave, interesting stuff re the haltere, thanks for that.

I think the model posing for the haltere demonstration is either Eupeodes luniger or Scaeva pyrastri, but wouldn't like to hazard a guess which.

This seemingly never ending rain is starting to get tedious, photo opportunities seem to be at an all time low, fingers crossed for a decent weekend.



Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Cliff - did you see what warren wrote about the weather - wot country is he living in!!!!!!!!!

Thanks for hovers info...will check em out

Here's hoping our cameras might get an outing this weekend.



cliff said...

"Cliff - did you see what warren wrote about the weather"

I did indeed, the contrast in the weather between the North West & South East throughout July has been quite remarkable - & what's even more bizarre is that it's us Northerners that are subject to a hosepipe ban. Anyway, sod the reservoirs, lets hope for a hot & steamy August & September!

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave sorry i can`t help regards the technical info you require and i agree with Cliff, in that it could be one of the two he mentioned.