Friday, 6 September 2019

Brown Booby: Kynance Cover, 3 September 2019

Stunning shot of the Brown Booby
The reported Brown Booby off Swalecliffe, Kent, on the 19 August was an exciting prospect. Could we really have such a mega seabird just 30 minutes up the road. Typically of seabirds, it did what seabirds do, and disappeared.

Fast forward to the 26 August and an apparent Brown Booby is seen near St Ives by bloke with no bins... Too good to be true? Thankfully not as Keith Jennings photographed a clear Brown Booby off Porthgwidden Beach. Seemingly settled in to a pattern around the St Ives bay, the challenge was clearly going to be one of timing - this bird wasn't going to give up easily. Showing on the 29 Aug, but not on the 30th, surely the report of one off the French coast (on the 30th) was the same bird...

On Saturday morning the bird was again seen in St Ives Bay and this time it did the honourable thing and sat on the rocks. Shortly after mid-day we departed with news the bird was still sat on the rocks - shortly after departing, but before taking our first blurred picture of Stonehenge, we heard it had taken off. But surely it was still in the area - we continued... Even news later in the afternoon that the bird was reported past Pendeen was nothing more than its usual daily ritual of feeding off Land's End...

A couple of beers later (and some sleep) and we were on site again - Sunday morning - a brisk NW wind blowing through my insufficient clothing. A no bird to be seen... We had dipped. Yet another blurred image of Stonehenge at 60mph...

Back in to the office on Monday - to be shaken by mega alert at 10:57am. The Brown Booby had been relocated at Kynance Cove near The Lizard - game on! Plans to return to Cornwall were considered whilst birders on site and viewing images considered this was a different bird to the St Ives individual - what? Surely not? There can't be two Brown Boobies in the NE Atlantic! Actually, as the French bird was an adult, surely there couldn't be three!

Third Stonehenge fly-past...
Collected by John RHJS Clements at 5am and gathering Doug at 6am, we were taking our third Stonehenge image in four days before most people get to work: by 11.10am we were on site. Communications as they are these days, we could almost relax before seeing the bird - almost! National Trust car park ticket resolved (my membership card on me was typically three days out of date!) we sauntered down the amassed group of like-minded nutters to witness the almost unbelievable sighting of Britain's second, or just possibly third, Brown Booby!

Certainly though, Kynance Cove is beautiful. OK the weather was brilliant: OK we were excited at the prospect of seeing something special, but Kynance is lovely - simple as that!

The Brown Booby may be difficult to pick out though as it was a little way away...

However, aided by scopes and phones, the amazing sight of an immature Brown Booby in UK waters was now a reality. And after watching it for an hour or so, we did the right thing and departed to take our final picture of Stonehenge!

It was on this rock - honest!

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Common Wall Lizards: August 2019, La Jard, France

Lots of lovely wall lizards legging it up the walls(!) of the house, barn, smaller barn, shed and smaller shed - but which species? Having consulted the correct field guide, I am pretty sure these are Common Wall Lizard (Podarcis muralis) - the male being the super-sexy spotty one and the female being the stripey lass below. 

Graphosoma lineatum, Striped bug or Minstrel bug: 8 August 2019, La Jard, France

Shield Bug in the UK come in a striking array of colours - usually ranging from 'brown' via 'slightly greeny but mainly brown' to a very exciting 'really quite green, with a hint of brown and maybe some purple hues if you are lucky'
I did learn on this trip to France, that Shield Bugs on the continent can be a whole lot more exciting. I say 'exciting' assuming that readers of this blog have some interest in natural history (rather than just stalking me) and so they will have some appreciation of what I am talking about...

The Striped or Minstrel Bugs encountered during this trip were brilliant. Found on nearly every head of the Apiaceae or Umbelliferae flowers growing along the access track, these little fiery jewels of the shield bug world were a very exciting find (if, as me, you didn't know they were there!).

Sounds like they are recorded occasionally in southern UK - natural dispersal, global warming or the transportation via people, produce or plants, who knows? To be welcomed, who knows? But they do look rather smart!

Is this a nymph? Answers please Glen...

Mantispa styriaca, Styrian Praying Lacewing: August 8 - La Jard, France

Opened the moth trap this morning, to be confronted by this beauty - seemingly a Mantispa styriaca, or Styrian Praying Lacewing. Wow! And one of the greatest joys of this beauty, is that I simply didn't know such a group of insects existed. Top end of a Praying Mantis: Arse end of a Lacewing - brilliant!

Wikipedia entry lists a fascinating aspect of it's ecology - closely woven with a spider: "In the spring, the larva searches for a female wolf or fishing spider, of the genera Lycosa and Dolomedes, in order to bore its way into the cocoon that the spider carries on its abdomen, by biting a slit open. It is carnivorous in its first stage, as shown by dead spiders being found around it. Before the larva molts, it resembles a dipluran of genus Campodea. After the larva's first molt, the species has short legs that it cannot use, a small head, has jaws that extend straight out, and has pointed antennae that extend beyond the jaws. Once the larva starts metamorphosis, it pupates by spinning a cocoon inside the spider's egg sac, in which it stays up to 14 days before its final molting.[2] Pupation happens in the middle of June. It is a nymph after emerging from the cocoon, not yet in its adult form.[1][2] Once it enters the adult stage, the species hunt for prey by using fast strikes of their forelegs that can take less than 60 ms. Its hunting style is similar to that of the praying mantis.[3]
Friedrich Moritz Brauer, an Austrian entomologist, discovered the first instar on vegetation in 1852. It was not until 17 years later that he discovered the other instars within spider egg sacs." 

Utterly brilliant! 

Monday, 22 July 2019

Moffs at Badgells Wood Campsite: 21 July 2019

Decided on an in promptu camp up at Badgells Wood, just next to Holly Hill. My favourite moth up there is the 'Goodwini' form of Waved Carpet.  The site didn't disappoint with the carpet, and also through up Waved Black, which is new for the site.
Waved Carpet f 'Goodwini'
Waved Black
Slender Brindle - one of six caught (a flock of 'em!)
Double Square-spot (and when you haven't been moffin much this year, even one of these can be photographed)
Blastobasis adustella

Blastobasis adustella
Catoptria pinella - perhaps
Micro 1
Micro 2 - Syndemis musculana perhaps...
Micro 3 - Anania fuscalis perhaps
micro 4
micro 5
Micro 6

Micro 6
Micro 7  - very very small so guessing at Batia lunaris, but assuming gen det would be required...

Grass Snake catching Common Toad; Hothfield Common; 22 July 2019

Visited Hothfield Common this afternoon - probably my favourite KWT reserve to look for stuff! Max had wanted to look for reptiles and amphibians - but after two hours of searching we were drawing a blank.

Nearly back at the car (typically!) Max found this Grass Snake which had caught a Common Toad - an amazing battle then ensued. The toad did a great job of puffing up and looking massive.

It was an amazing spectacle and one which I reckon I'll never see in the wild again (on the basis that after 40-ish years of looking at natural history I hadn't seen it before!).

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Yellow-tailed Scorpions; Blue Town, Isle of Sheppey; 20 July 2019

Did a brief evening visit to the scorpions this evening with the old MV torch - they never cease to make me smile!

Various snails and bits: Turners' Wood near Coxheath: 20 July 2019

Visited Turners Wood KWT today on the hunt for some fun snails which I first saw there five years ago. Sure enough they were in the same place - gripping the trees a metre or two high. The next challenge is to identify them! I think the newt was a young Great-crested...

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Crescent Striped: Grain marshes, 13 July 2019

My first trap of the year on 13/7/19 (shame on me - but work has been getting in the way and that does help pay the bills) saw me out on the tidal marshes near Grain in search of Crescent Striped. Joined by Fred Butcher it was perhaps not a classic night out mothing for the effort we put in, but a few good moths were certainly encountered.

Crescent Striped

Ground Lackey

Ground Lackey

Pseudoargyrotoza conwagana - I think...

Ermine spp



Dytiscus marginalis

Donacaula forficella


Pug spp - Grey or Slender...

Haworths Pug

Ear agg - presumed Saltern

Ear agg - presumed Saltern