Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Bishop Monkton Railway Cutting

As part of our project to discover more about Yorkshire Wildlife Trust reserves we took a trip out to Bishop Monkton Railway Cutting, a limestone habitat, part of the former London and North Eastern Railway (LNER), Harrogate to Ripon Line which closed in 1967. One of our first sightings and a first for the year was this Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus), a dark brown butterfly with white fringed wings and light coloured rings on the underwing.

I do like an interpretive board and the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust never disappoint.

Here's a view of the railway cutting, the vegetation comprised Marjoram, Common spotted orchid, Thistles, Birds Foot Trefoil, Wild Strawberry, Nettle, White Campion, Buttercup, Thistles, Self Heal, Ox Eye Daisy, Brambles, Hawthorn, Elder, Willow.

I'm not so good at identifying orchids but the interpretive board highlights Common Spotted Orchid as a prevalent species.

At the far end of the track we encountered two Roe Deer, they stood chomping away for a couple of minutes before leaping out of view.

We were a week or two early for most of the flowering plants, but I imagine the marjoram and thistles attract a large number of butterflies. During our wander, as well as the Ringlets we saw Meadow Brown, Silver Y moth, Green Veined White, Speckled Wood, Small Tortoiseshell and I understand that 19 species of butterfly have been recorded over the years. Although we came away without any decent pics of the feathered inhabitants we did see a family of Long Tail Tits, Whitethroat, Blackbird, Great Tit, Blue Tit. A great little reserve to visit on a sunny day.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Angle Shades

I found this moth indoors on the curtains where it sat motionless, making it easy to capture and carefully transport to the garden. A new one for me, its Angle Shades (Phlogophora meticulosa). The first pic was taken outside where the colours are more vivid, and the second pic taken indoors shows its unusual side profile.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Askham Bog

On a recent visit to Askham Bog, there were 10 Four Spotted Chase Dragonflies zipping around the pond, occasionally coming to rest on the surrounding vegetation. I counted 5 at rest on a grassy bank.

There was an abundance of Small Skippers (I'm now rethinking this because Dean has kindly pointed out that the following two pics are of a Large Skipper and not a Small Skipper, so thanks to Dean for his help). On the wing a couple of Orange Tip, 3 Brimstone, a Common Blue, a Green Veined White, suprisingly no Speckled Woods today.

A Longhorn Moth, Nemophora degeerella. I didn't quite realise how long the antennae are until I edited the second pic and realised I hadn't managed to include all of the antennae.

By the pond these small black shiny caterpillars feeding on what looked like birch, could they be the caterpillar of the Argent and Sable moth?

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Bolton Percy Station...but not quite

Having decided to familiarise ourselves with more of the Yorkshire Wildlife reserves, we headed for Bolton Percy Station, about three miles from Tadcaster. Having subsequently checked out the reserve online I now realise that we didn't quite hit our target and ended up on the opposite side of the railway line to our intended destination. Doh! Nevertheless we enjoyed the wander and still managed some enjoyable sightings with a couple of firsts for the year.

The first of the firsts of the year, a Small Heath.

And to add a sense of scale, the Small Heath sharing a leafy perch with a fly.

Another first of the year, this Meadow Brown. The forewing colour orange and buff with a single strong black eyespot and the brown hindwing with smaller black spots.

A dainty Common Blue feeding on Bramble flowers and Purple Vetch.

A beautiful female Small Skipper

Friday, 18 June 2010

Little Owl and Brown Hare

At a site in North Leeds we spotted a Little Owl settled on the gatepost of a nearby farmhouse, fixing us in its sights momentarily, it decided on a quick exit and we continued on. A few minutes later and a little further down the road we noticed it perched on a fencepost by a dry stone wall. This time it wasn't us that held its attention but a Brown Hare that approached and continued on apparently oblivious to the Little Owl overhead.

Adel Churchyard

As of last week I hadn't managed to capture any shots this year of Green Veined Whites at rest. Our trip to Ben Rhydding Gravel Pits provided the first pics and a visit to Adel Churchyard offered a few more opportunities to catch them feeding from the same flower Lady's Smock or Cuckoo Flower. The black tip on the forewing suggests that the first two are male Green Veined Whites.

A now familiar Small Copper, I watched it settle repeatedly on patches of earth where the vegetation was dried or worn away.

As we sat to admire the view this Mistle Thrush landed on a gravestone, other churchyard birds included, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Wren.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Fairburn Ings (2)

The remainder of sightings from our visit to Fairburn Ings where the warmer, sunny weather brought out Dragonflies and an abundance of Damselflies. Our first Dragonfly sighting of the year is this Four Spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata), and fittingly four pics to accompany our fine sighting.

To help me with ID's Ive used A Field Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Great Britain and Ireland, Steve Brooks. I'm still a relative newby to both insects and am more than happy to accept corrections.

A Blue Tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans) a first of the year for me, on the margin of the trail, a little distance away from the water.

A mature female Common Blue, single stripe on thorax, the elongated black stripes, its taken from a slightly elevated angle so can't make out the medial spine on the underside of s8.

From the single black stripe on the thorax I'd say these are also a pair of Common Blue Damselflies (Enallagma cyathigerum)

A couple of Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula), black legs, black pterostigma, black markings on abdomen.

It was lovely to spot a family of Whitethroats, this one settled on a nearby branch, a more successful sighting than that of the Kingfisher which we missed by minutes.

And last but not least a Scorpion Fly (Panorpa communis)

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Fairburn Ings RSPB (1)

This weekend we paid a visit to Fairburn Ings RSPB. Immediately on joining the path leading to the visitors centre this butterfly settled for little more than a few seconds, just long enough to grab a quick pick and for me to thank her kindly. A female Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) methinks, with its hooked tip forewing, greenish white ground colour that is significantly more subdued than the vivid-yellow of the male.

We followed the path past the Kingfisher screen and up the slope where the bordering vegetation included patches of birds foot trefoil, thistles and vetch and which provided lucrative sightings. One of the delights was this brown butterfly, but on consulting the guides the brown upperwing and underwing marksings lead me to think this is a female Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus).

And here's a male Common Blue, 15 or so metres away from where I spotted the female not a great pic but good enough to illustrate the difference in upperwing colour between the sexes.

A field of ox eye daisy, buttercups and grasses near the spot where we spotted the Common Blues.

A couple of metres away, my first Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris) of the year, the black mark on its upper forewing indicate a male, the mark are the glandular scent scales or androconia that produce an odour to attract females.

Thanks to Pete for confirming the ID of this one. A daytime flying moth, a Silver Y (Autographa gamma) with the distinctive Y on the upperside of the forewing, which feeding here on a clover flower.

Striking clumps of purple orchids grew at intervals between the path and the stream. Not knowing one orchid from another I won't even hazard a guess but I would guess that they're a popular source of nectar for the many insects in the area.

Friday, 11 June 2010

St Chads lunchtime wander

Having seen little sunshine for the past few days I took the opportunity to meander down to St Chad's Churchyard at lunchtime. Having reviewed my pics it appears the wander was made up from a palette of greens and golds. Speckled Wood's greeted me at the entrance to the churchyard, three of them taking turns to challenge each other for prime position on sun splashed nettle and bramble leaves.

On the return walk these tall flowering grasses caught my eye.

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