Monday, 18 July 2016

It's hotting up so that means invertebrates

The Safari wasn't able to get out on Saturday until late afternoon. The sun was shining and it wasn't too windy so we smothered ourself in Clegg repellent took the short walk round to Patch 2. Insect repellent is the best thing to wear if you want to get close to insects! but it is essential if you don't want to be eaten alive by the little horrors.
We were immediately on to butterflies, there were Meadow Browns all over the grassland and nectaring on the few remaining Bramble flowers.
One pair were getting on down in the long grass

A little further on we came across an Early Bumble Bee which seemed to be a little worse for wear despite the warm sunshine.
It wasn't these low down insects we were there to see. We were looking up, high into the canopy where our quarry watches for rivals and drinks the honeydew. They were very active with two presumed males spiraling high above the tree in a dizzying battle before splitting apart and settling back down on their favourite leaves.
We watched and waited but they never dropped any lower - just as well as our first Brown Hawker dragonfly of the year was patrolling just above the Bramble thickets. Frustrated we wandered down to the rough field where there were many more Meadow Browns, a few Small Skippers and our second first of the year, three Gatekeepers.
We found one Large Skipper too and a fairly fresh one at that rather than an aging tatty one,
At the very bottom of the field there are a couple of scratty Dog Rose bushes, one of which was showing a good growth of Robins Pin Cushion Gall, made in response to a tiny wasp.
Time to return to the scrub for another neck craning session, but this time we were in luck. Almost straight away a movement on a flower caught our eye that wasn't bee-like. We moved in for a closer look and flushed the tiny butterfly. Thankfully it didn't go back up to the canopy but landed on a nearby leaf.
After a while the White Letter Hairstreak decided it was dinner time and more nectar was needed.

Once it was settled it gave us some good photo opportunities.
Phone camera
The White Letter Hairstreaks are a sign of hot summer days but all around were the  ripening signs of autumn.
That night we put the mothy on. Not a great catch 11 moths of seven species.
Chrysosteuchia culmella - again
Bramble Shoot Moth - New for garden
Dark Arches - quite a pale one
Dotted Clay
Dotted Clay - with tufts
Marbled Beauty
 At work we've had a school group investigating the pond.
Ramshorn Snail
Water Boatman
And the best if the lot several of these monsters, the children witnessed one catch and eat a small 3-Spined Stickleback fry and another eating an unfortunate damselfly nymph. Horror, shock, incredulity that that could happen to a fish, glee, the emotions and comments were quite revealing.
Common Darter nymph
So there you have it some brilliant bugs, far more brilliant than any Pokemon character and with more impressive REAL super-powers too.
Where to next? Just two children's groups tomorrow at different locations so there should be something fascinating to find.

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