Monday 30 June 2008

30 June 2008 - Cliffe Marshes & Ranscombe Farm

While Andy Murray tried to do his bit for Britain... perhaps I meant to say Scotland, I headed up to Cliffe Marshes to look for - well, who knows what I was looking for? (Certainly not me). It was windy and bright sunlight - not ideal conditions for anything, apart from drying wet under pants.

Emerald Damselfly - this one didn't even try to look like a Scarce Emerald. With th clear triangular shapes on segment two, nothing was going to stop this being called just an Emerald.

I don't often 'do' grass - this is probably Sea Couch. I didn't smoke it.
Lesser Bulrush.

A very fresh Ruddy Darter - yet to attain a 'Ruddy' life.

A Drinker moth caterpillar - said in olden days (just before John retired) to drink the morning dew.

Viper's bugloss.

Toadflax - A nice end to the day. And I got back just in time to see Britain get in to the next round of Wimbledon!

29 June 2008 - Aylesford

No, she didn't want to go to Hothfield Common to see the bog. No, she didn't want to climb the downs above Wye. No, she didn't want to search the ditches at Cliffe for Scarce Emerald Damselfly. Strange lady, my Wiff - you'd have thought that a nice treat like that on your Birthday would have been an ideal way to celebrate turning 36...
Instead, we did nice things - which happen to include a wander round Aylesford and its environs. managed to take the camera - just in case.

This male Large Skipper was new for the year - though its habit of blasting off from one flower to another was a little frustrating.

Next up was this Meadow Brown - a little easier to snap.

And then we got back in to the yellow and black banded insects - this might be a Cerceris arenaria. At least, that's my best guess. If anyone wants to purchase an eraly Christmas present for me, I really would like a copy of 'The yellow & black banded bugs of Britain' - if such a thing exists!

Goat's Beard.

Grey Squirrel - caught on film visiting a recycling bin. Presumably having dropped his empty beer cans off!
Colletes halophilus?

Ssummer Chafer on the lawn at Aylesford Priory.

Finally, a Woodpigeon having a bad hair day. It should have done what I did and done away with plumage altogther.

Saturday 28 June 2008

28 June 2008 - Blean woods, Nr Canterbury

Managed to sort a quick visit to Blean Woods with The Bearded One, to see a few Heath Fritillarys. Unfortunately the weather was blowing a hooly - making anything approaching macro photography, somewhat difficult. Highlight was a White Admiral sailing on through the trees - my first for 2008.

Heath Fritillary - seem to look better from the side than above.

One of the nicer specimens - several seemed to have been a bit battered (not like cod pieces) or pecked. Not sure if that was wind damage or just individuals that have been on the wing a wee while now.

Common Cow-wheat - Food plant of the Heath frits.

This superb Broad-bodied Chaser put in a good showing. hopefully ID correct this time - meaning that I won't get any complaints from Mr A Teapot of Essex.
Common Darter - frequently sharing the same stick as the Broad-bodied Chaser. Evidently, friendly little things.

27 June 2008 - Work

Not at all certain what this little quitter is - I has assumed... that it was a type of assassin bug (Reduviidae), but as its second antennal segment seems to be much longerthan the first, I guess it is a type of damsel bug (Nabidae) instead.

As for which species of Damsel Bug? I'm just happy to stick my neck out this far. Without going any further.

Chrysotoxum cautum

Field bindweed

Hedge Bindweed

The male Mandarin Duck is still knocking around - having lapsed very much into eclipse, he's definately looking rather femanine at the moment. Still, at least he's got wings - just about managing to elude me as I tried to catch the bloody thing!

2-spotted ladybird, on account of it having two...

Thursday 26 June 2008

26 June 2008 Work & The Lakes

First Meadow Brown and Essex Skipper of the year at work managed to escape being caught by the camera as the battery was flat. To get at least one image of the day an evening stroll around the Larkfield lakes produced a few plants, insects, etc - and Jasper Carrot and his family.

First up was some rosebay Willowherb - not the most unusual plant to see, but having included two other willowherbs over the past days, it seemed appropriate.

A fresh Five-spot Burnet, seemingly showing only four spots (the little rascal), was a nice and quite striking beastie on this windy evening.

Grass Vetching - in grass and looking very grass-like was a nice little bonus.

Final image for uploading tonight was this Roesel's Bush-cricket. It'll be good when there's a few more of these at full size to get some snaps.

Wednesday 25 June 2008

25 June 2008 Work

Well, I have to say that I was pretty excited about finding this, er, thing, taking shelter in the bud of a Holly bush. Initially, I assumed it was a caterpillar of a Holly Blue - well, you would, wouldn't you? Now, I'm not so sure...

Another 10-spotted ladybird - just not one of the classical ladybird red and black combination and not one with 10 spots either!

Broad-leaved Willowherb

A Spangle Gall (though quite which species is open to debate) on Oak


24 June 2008 Work

OK, OK, after the enjoyment of Corsican endemics, reality - work! A few minutes of fresh air between email backlogs and meetings produced some nice distractions.
First up was this fine Vapourer Moth caterpillar - a brighter individual than many (other Vapourer Moth caterpillars, that is).

Next up was a clump of Great Hairy Willowherb. Now, interestingly (perhaps), the other common name for this plant is Codlins-and-cream. Codlin is an old word for cooking apple - and it is thought that the name comes from the colour combination of rosy petals and cream stigma and stamens. All the more interesting (perhaps) is that Codling Moth (a pest of apple trees) is the continued topic of research at this fruit R&D site where this picture was taken.

And then, a b. And that's all I know about it. Can I I.D. it? Can I *******! Answers on a postcard please.

And finally an early instar Conocephalus. As Long-winged Cone-head has occasional black markings on the hind femora, I'm opting for that. Others may claim this as a Short-winged Cone-head - either way it's a new species for the site - perhaps.

Sunday 22 June 2008

15 June 2008 - Corsica Day 1 - Getting there

A 2.50am start may suit your average hyperchondriac or old people like The Bearded One, but certainly not the Good Lady Wiff and I. Consequently there is nothing to report of the journey until arriving at Bastia Airport, Corsica.
3 Cattle Egrets from the plane as we came in to land followed by a House Martin colony on the airport buildings. Transfer provided an excellent opportunity to gaze at the countryside and look for first bits and bobs - or it would have done if we hadn't fallen asleep.
Couple of Turtle Doves as we arrived at the hotel.
An early evening wander produced a juv Moorhen, Italian Sparrows and Hooded Crows (spp Sardonicus), while a post-grub walk through the camp site opposite provided us with two male Scops Owls calling to each other.

The view from the room.

16 June 2008 - Corsica Day 2 - Around the Hotel

A few short meanderings from base led us in to some really nice habitat. Armed with only 135mm lens the bird images were lacking - amongst them though, included: Red Kite, Fan-tailed Warbler, Goldfinch (spp tchusii), Greenfinch (spp madarszi), Common Swift, Jay (spp corsicanus), Great-spotted Woodpecker (spp parroti), Marmora's Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Great Tit (spp corsus) and Spotted Fly (spp tyrrhenica).

It was, however, the butterflies that did best to attract our attention.

Corsican Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia immaculata)

Corsican Swallowtail (Papilio hospiton)
And then there were these giants flying around, trying to knock over small children and hotel buildings.

17 June 2008 - Corsica Day 3 - Operation 'Nuthatch'

An early (well, 8.45 is early for us) morning departure to get the train to get a hire car (for 3 days) to get in to the mountains, was the start of Operation 'Nuthatch'. Clearly the main target species for the trip would be Corsican Nuthatch, the other endemic bird species, Corsican Finch occurs on Sardinia, so could be seen in the future if we didn't score this trip.

Ascending the hills, we stopped only at pretty villages to take pictures so that we could demonstrate just how beautiful this little island is (and it is, honestly).

As the hills turned in to mountains and the broadleaf vegetation turned to conifers the temperature dropped nicely. The daunting task of finding Corsican Nuthatch just seemed to get greater and greater - I had taken a few previous trip reports which had suggested that Haut Asco was one of the prime locations, but these same trip reports talked of, "My CD player failed, so clearly there was no chance," and "After putting new batteries in and getting the tapes going, we located our quarry".... Er, we didn't have a CD player, or batteries or tapes.

Many stops along the road produced some nice stuff: Rock Sparrow, Crag Martins, Pallid Swifts, Red-backed Shrikes, Mistle Thrush, Buzzard (spp arrigonii), Honey Buzzard, Grey Wagtail - but no flippin Nuthatch and no Corsican Finches.

Arriving at Haut Asco we clambered up the rocks behind the ski centre chalets - big conifers, nice looking habitat. Still feeling a little nervous anticipation of something that we didn't think would happen we gazed up.... and then.... we gazed up some more.

And then, as if by magic, movement cuaght my eye. Was it one? Then again. Was it... yes! We'd stumbled across the nesting hole - and at that point, knew that we'd be in for repeat performances for as long as we wanted.

With our boots filled, The Good Lady Wiff called, "Is that a Trecreeper of the sub-species corsa?," it was, genius (Richard Bonser couldn't connect with that island endemic race on his visit - even with tapes!