Saturday, 11 July 2015

A day devoted to insects

The Safari had a plan today provided the weather behaved itself. It didn't last night, we went to get the moth trap out of the garage only to find it was pouring down so yet again no mothing. This morning when we took Frank out early the rain was still  failing and the ground suggested it had been most of the night, cruel - we really want decent night's mothing everyone else seems to be doing quite well at the moment after a poor start to the season.
We knew we weren't going to be able to get out until after lunch but the weather brightened up mid-morning and although the wind was still a bit brisk it looked good out there. Calls to CR and BD made for an excursion to our former Patch 1. CR offered to pick us up on the way as he was passing. We waited on the corner for him and got a mega surprise. We've only heard Swifts screaming once at Base Camp this summer and they were way high and just passing through. Today we got to the corner of the street and immediately heard a Swift scream overhead. Looking up we saw three wheeling around just above the rooftops. We watched in awe as they sped round, we lost two but the third surprised us even more, it sped along the eaves of the nearby house then did a loop and shot without slowing straight under the eaves into the nest cavity Swifts used last year - dare we hope they're back and will stay around now?
The sun shone warm and bright but it was still a bit too windy for what we were hoping for. As soon as we got to the site we heard a grasshopper stridulating and eventually tracked it down deep in the grass.
Large Skippers and Meadow Browns were all over the place and we also saw a really bright Comma which didn't stay still long enough for a pic. 
There were loads of Grass Bugs (Leptopterna dolabrata) flitting about too.
Down beneath the bug was a Nursery Web Spider's nest covered in rain drops.
We had a rummage round the now horrendously well vegetated bit to see if our main quarry was about. It wasn't but a Red Admiral flew by and we saw a couple or three Speckled Woods as well as a nicely settled Large Skipper.   
Who knew butterflies had eyelashes? We didn't but they certainly do!
While we were moochiing arund more (or the same) Swifts flew circuits overhead and two Siskins (171) passed over, They've been on the move along the coast some mornings recently but we never expected them heading inland in the middle of the afternoon. 
BD joined us and it was time to stand around THE tree hoping the main event would take place.
A second BD and all round butterfly aficionado joined us.
It took a while but eventually after a few probables we did get to see White Letter Hairstreaks dancing around the tree top. Our best count was three but we only saw one settled through the binoculars but it didn't stay long enough for a pic and the tree would have been shaking around too much in the wind anyway. Great to see them again and right on cue too.
The younger BD did get a pic of one which magically appeared nectaring on a Bramble right by him.
There were so many insects we just didn't know where to turn, bees, butterflies, bugs, beetles, hoverflies, parasitic wasps, the lot - the place was buzzing! Not buzzing were the Cleggs that seemed to be homing in on CR. If they weren't so vicious they'd be almost beautiful.
What do they see through those bizarrely patterned eyes, throbbing veins probably.
A Wolf Spider guarded its eggsac against all comers.
We tried to get a better angle
 And then it saw us and legged it
Time to try another site for something completely different.
We were hoping for Short Winged Coneheads and Ruddy Darters. We found neither but there were several 4-Spotted Chasers and an Emperor Dragonfly. At the edge of the pond there was a good show of Tubular Water Dropwort, a rare plant that's doing OK round these parts. 
Disturbing the vegetation with the sweep net kicked up lots of tiny insects including a bright shiny beetle, Alder Beetle?
It's so shiny you can see our reflection on its carapace
Small as it was it dwarfed the so small it was impossible to photograph tiny red beetle we found.
Lots of damselflies were around including Common Blues and Blue Tailed Damselflies. We think this is an immature female Blue Tailed Damsel
On the walk out we spotted a Wasp apparently curled up asleep nestled in a Thistly cradle. It wasn't asleep but dead. And when we looked at our pics we noticed the black blob next to it...something parasitically sinister???
walking back to the car through the cemetery we saw that many areas hadn't been mown and there was a plethora of wildflowers on show. We hope this is a deliberate policy decision by the cemetery managers cos it's brilliant.
In there are White Clover, Self Heal, a Hawkbit sp, Ribwort Plantain as far as we can tell.
So ended another great afternoon on safari with good friends no more than a mile from Base Camp.
Where to next? Not sure what's happening tomorrow, maybe mostly family stuff but there'll no doubt be something to see if we keep our eyes and ears open.
In the meantime let us know who's sucking all the blood in your your outback.

1 comment:

cliff said...

Enjoyed getting back to the butterfly zone, I didn't get there at all last year, the 'new' location is a belter too.