Sunday, 28 June 2015

Local insects...

Thanks to Dave Helliar for sending in some nice pics of insects seen locally in the Chard area over the last week including butterflies, dragonflies & damselflies:

Common Blue: D. Helliar
Pyrausta (aurata or purpuralis): D. Helliar
Marbled White: D. Helliar
Ringlet: D. Helliar
Small Skipper: D. Helliar
Small Tortoiseshell: D. Helliar
Comma: D. Helliar
Black-tailed Skimmer, male: D. Helliar
Black-tailed Skimmer, female: D. Helliar
Blue-tailed Damselfly: D. Helliar
Golden-ringed Dragonfly: D. Helliar
Pisaura mirabilis: D. Helliar
Meanwhile I found another Grass Snake at the weekend just outside Whitestaunton. This one had clearly suffered an injury to the neck but was none the worse for it, being quite active and hissing noisily the whole time. 

Grass Snake Natrix natrix: R. Harris

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Wildlife in a Wild Garden...

Although I hate being stuck at home on a weekend, I can think of worse places to be stuck than Whitestaunton. At least here we are surrounded by countryside and a selection of wildlife just not seen 4 miles away in Chard. I'm still building a garden bird list here and this weekend I had a garden tick in the form of a family party of three Spotted Flycatchers. In fact today the garden seemed to be full of young birds being fed by their parents - a family of Blue Tits, a young Robin, a young Coal Tit, a young siskin and and juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker, which has been seen being fed by both parents several times this week.

Juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker being fed by a parent
Juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker: R. Harris
Juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker: R. Harris
Juvenile Siskin: R. Harris
Spotted Flycatcher: R. Harris
Spotted Flycatcher: R. Harris
Not forgetting this little fox cub too. He was sitting in the road outside the house when I pulled up one day last week and then legged it into the garden and then the field behind us.

Fox cub: R. Harris
The patio at the back of the house has proved excellent for Salticus scenicus, with this cracking male present most days. Notice his huge chelicera.

Salticus scenicus, male: R. Harris
Salticus scenicus, male: R. Harris

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Martin Down NNR...

Martin Down National Nature Reserve is one of Hampshire's finest reserves and a 342 hectare example of lowland grassland, harbouring some of our scarcest species of wildlife. Dave Helliar visited this week and found many of its specialist species.

Adonis Blue: Dave Helliar
Adonis Blue: Dave Helliar
Adonis Blue: Dave Helliar
Small Blue: Dave Helliar
Large Skipper: Dave Helliar
Small Heath: Dave Helliar
Marsh Fritillary: Dave Helliar
Greater Butterfly Orchid: Dave Helliar
Greater Butterfly Orchid: Dave Helliar
Greater Butterfly Orchid: Dave Helliar
Burnt-tip Orchid: Dave Helliar
Burnt-tip Orchid: Dave Helliar
Columbine: Dave Helliar
Turtle Dove: Dave Helliar
Not a bad day out!

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

More treats from the pond...

For the last month or so I've been checking the garden pond by torchlight every night to count the number of newts still present and displaying. A count two nights ago ended up yielding 15 Palmate and 3 Smooth newts including one who had just started its terrestrial phase and was heading off across the lawn. On several occasions I've caught sight of a female Great Diving Beetle Dytiscus marginalis swimming around toward the middle of the pond, out of reach but on this night it was close enough to net and get a closer look at.

Great Diving Beetle, female: R. Harris
They are very impressive beetles, a full 3.5 cm long - one of our largest. This one's a female as it has groves running down the wing cases. No doubt she's been happily feeding on the thousands of tadpoles that are present and possibly some of the newts too - they are voracious feeders but also a good sign that there's plenty of invertebrate life in the pond too.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

A Scottish Grand Tour...

Andy Grinter has just finished a mega trip across the border to Scotland where he caught up with many of its iconic birds including Golden and White-tailed Eagle and stunning views of Corncrake, Dotterel and Ptarmigan...not to mention a wee dram of Highland malt!


Corncrake on Iona; Andy Grinter
Iceland Gull, Iona: Andy Grinter
Oystercatcher, Mull: Andy Grinter
Common Sandpiper, Mull: Andy Grinter
Otter, Mull: Andy Grinter
Black Guillemot, Butt of Lewis: Andy Grinter
Fulmar: Andy Grinter
In the Highlands Andy caught up with a few crackers on Cairngorm Mountain:

Dotterel, Cairngorm: Andy Grinter
Ring Ouzel: Andy Grinter
Ptarmigan: Andy Grinter

 What a fantastic trip! Andy saw plenty of other great birds too including hen harrier and short-eared owl. Add to that the stunning scenery and Scotland is hard to beat.

Hudsonian Whimbrel...

Dave and Andy managed to get over to Pagham Harbour in West Sussex on Sunday to see the Hudsonian Whimbrel that's been present since 9th of June. Not an easy bird to catch up with as it happened and it gave them the run-around for five hours before flight views were obtained. On their way down they stopped off to look at the rare bee x fly orchid hybrids at the Somerset border:

Bee Orchid Ophrys apifera: Dave Helliar 
Bee x Fly hybrid: Dave Helliar
Bee x Fly hybrid: Dave Helliar
Though the Hudsonian whimbrel proved too fleeting for photos the following were easier to get to grips with...

Bishop's Mitre Shield Bug: Dave Helliar
Willow Woodwasp Xiphydria prolongata: Dave Helliar