Monday, 29 June 2009

Kirkstall butterflies, moths & others

On Friday we spotted this Small Magpie moth (Eurrhypara hortulata) inside my mini greenhouse, with a little help it managed to free itself minutes later. Its widespread in the UK favouring hedgerows, roadside verges and gardens. Orange-yellow patches where the wings meet the body.

This one's is taken through the plastic, from the outside looking in.

A popular Kirkstall butterfly the Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria). This one was on the allotment & has a little damage to the its right wing. UK Butterflies states one of the main foodplants as Yorkshire-fog (Holcus lanatus) which there's plenty of today! Also Common Couch (Elytrigia repens) Cock's-foot (Dactylis glomerata), False Brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum).

And on the gooseberries

A Common Hoverfly (Melangyna viridiceps) on a vivid magenta flower of the Rose campion (Lychnis coronaria). Their larvae are the predator of aphids of which are in abundance on my allotment, boo hoo!

On the grassy bank oppostite Kirkstall Abbey this Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) looking very much travel-worn with faded colors and frayed wings.

This looks interesting, after a bit of reasearch I wonder whether its a Common Froghopper (Philaenus spumarius), a common species across the UK, the larvae are the producers of 'cuckoo-spit'. Whilst I was taking the picture I thought it was a moth but on closer inspection it so obviously isn't, oh the wonders of digital photography!

Friday, 26 June 2009

Heres to Ruby

As a volunteer with Age Concern's befriending scheme, Ive visited Ruby since February. Today I received new that she passed away. I visited Ruby on Tuesday evenings for a couple of hours & we'd occasionally look through some of the pics Id taken earlier that week & that find their way to this blog. She'd take great interest in the colours & shapes of the plants & flowers & she'd laugh about the pictures of birds & animals. It was a pleasure to get to know such a lovely lady for a relatively short space of time.

Cowpen Bewley, Teeside

On the way back down from the North East, after tea we wandered round Cowpen Bewley Woodland Park where there were plenty of moths, butterflies & damselfies.

A Large Skipper butterfly, identified with help from Billy. Its a male because of the black mark on the forewing.

A tiny moth on a buttercup
Scorpion fly, Panorpa communis with its beaky features & scorpion like tail. According to UK Safari "Scorpion flies belong to an ancient group of insects known as 'mecopterans' which can be traced back more than 250 million years. It is believed that butterflies and many other species of insect evolved from their ancestors."

This one took a fancy to me & wanted a closer look.

Lots of 5p sized cap & stem fungi in grassland, I wonder whether they're Fairy Ring Champignon (Marasmius oreades). The bottom one appears to vary slightly in size & appearance, almost double in size, the cracked surface, uneven margins, less pronounced umbo.


Thursday, 25 June 2009

Druridge butterfly & moth bonanza

Our visit to Druridge Bay, Northumberland provided a butterfly bonanza. Walking to and from the Druridge Pools Hide & meandering through the dunes I virtually doubled my annual tally of butterflies in one day, outstanding!

First up Painted Ladies (Vanessa cardui) on red clover, a long distance migrant from Africa.

Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus) is the most widespread blue butterfly in UK and found in a variety of grassy habitats. Feeds mainly on Common Bird's-foot-trefoil.

Cinnabar moth (Tyria jacobaeae), a day flying moth, wingspan 32-42 mm. Favours well drained grassland habitats, where the caterpillars feed on ragworts & groundsels.

Latticed Heath moth (Chiasmia claratha) wingspan 20-25mm.

Small Heath, (Coenonympha pamphilus), widespread, flies only in sunshine, generally stays near to the ground & its wings are kept close at rest. Found in grassland habitats where its foodplants are fine grasses.

Lots of Pipits flying to and fro & settling on shrub tops.

Thanks to Nigel K for identifying this as a Meadow Pipit Anthus Pratensis.

Northumberland Diversity have a really useful brochure to help find your way around Druridge.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Kingfishers at Far Pastures, Derwent Valley

Following our very first sighting of a Kingfisher during the previous weekend's visit to Rodley Nature Reserve, Leeds, this weekend we trumped it with a pair of Kingfishers at Far Pasture Ponds Hide, Derwent Valley, Gateshead. We only managed to photograph the birds separately & at a distance, but it’s better than nowt.

From the hide we also saw Reed Buntings, a pair of Mute Swan, a Little Grebe, Grey Heron, Swallows, Coots. Hundreds of tiny frogs hopped across the pathways & a Red Kite made an appearance over the valley.

A Grey Heron in the shallows with a Swallow making a splash in the background

A Grey Heron and a Little Grebe on the water.

More information about Derwent Walk Country Park and Derwenthaugh Park

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Otters at Druridge

On Father's Day we took trip to Druridge Pools, just North of Creswell, Northumberland, and were rewarded with a really special sighting. Not one otter, not two otters, but three otters playing in the water for over 20 minutes! Now if you'd asked me beforehand which mammal I'd most like to see on my wanderings then the otter would undoubtedly be number one. By the way my Dad has some good pics at CityBirding, check them out.

Thanks to the birders already in the hide on our arrival & who alerted us to the presence of the otters.

Here are some links to info about Druridge Pools:
Ipin's Druridge Pools blog
BBC website about Druridge
Northumberland biodiversity Druridge Bay leaflet (pdf)

Friday, 19 June 2009

Rodley Nature Reserve, Leeds

Rodley Nature Reserve held an Open Day last Sunday & it was great to see so many visitors & so much wildlife. Whilst we watched from the hide a Kingfisher flew over & perched briefly on a post overlooking the water before darting off as quickly as it arrived. As it was our first sighting of the beautiful bird we were delighted.

Five Grey Herons settled in the trees beyond the water. On the ponds a Great Crested Grebe (so far our nearest sighting of a GCG to Kirkstall), Oystercatchers, Lapwing, Mallards, Coots, Little Grebe. A couple of Kestrels soared overhead & turned out to be the pair nesting on the reserve that Andrea mentioned in her earlier post.

Damselflies & Dragonflies danced around the newly created ponds that were also choc full of tadpoles. Could these be Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella) or Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum)?
I wasn't able to capture the Dragonfly in profile, so I'd struggle to ID this one.

Meandering through the meadow full of grasses, Ox Eye Daisy, White clover & Buttercups, a Jay flew into view, settled in the hedgerow & quickly made off again.

Familiar Speckled Wood butterflies were plentiful. I watched a pair in aerial combat, one made a hasty retreat while the other took up a vantage point on a hawthorn to bask in the sunshine. Once identified they’re easy to recognise, Ive found that once they land they tend to settle for prolonged intervals which makes them easy to photograph, .

To round off the visit we bought some honey from a local beekeeper in Calverley. Our Allotment Association was recently approached by a local beekeeper to ask about the possibility of installing & maintaining a hive at the back of our plots. She was given the go ahead which I’m really excited about & hope to learn a little more about our super-pollinating pals.
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