The One Show is airing TONIGHT not tomorrow!

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Monday, 31 May 2010 11:58

I just had a phone call from the BBC, The One Show is airing tonight at 7.00 pm now, not tomorrow as previously planned. Please pass the message on as this is a bank holiday, most of the SWT staff and volunteers will not know of the change.

The Box of Delights

Posted by Graeme Lyons 10:06

Another post from out of county, this time Jo's Mum's garden in Frimley Green, Surrey. I moth trapped for the last two nights and the highlights were this awesome Alder Moth (middle photo) and a Yellow-barred Brindle that flew off before I could get a photo. Last night, although colder and clearer than the night before, had many more moths and six Cockchafers (top photo). The male Muslin Moth (bottom photo) was voted cutest moth and I had to get a photo of the furry little bugger. Moth-trapping in a garden has to be the easiest and lasiest form of natural history, as I don't have a garden at the moment, this was a real treat.

Whilst processing the moths, I noticed a Blue Tit with food shoot into a nest box nearby. As it came out, it didn't look quite right so I went and got my bin's and waited in the porch. Fifteen minutes later it turned up and I got a split second view as it stuck its head out of the nest box. All the feathers were missing from its head! It gave me quite a fright as it looked like a living dead bird, I was amazed that this zombie tit had managed to find a mate and breed! However, it seemed to have no problem finding caterpillars. It reminded me of the evil Skeksis from The Dark Crystal. Poor little thing.

Windsor Great Park

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Sunday, 30 May 2010 17:26

WARNING, THIS BLOG CONTAINS CONTENT FROM OUTSIDE OF SUSSEX! Armed only with a camera and binoculars (as a license is required for any specimens to be taken) I went to Windsor Great Park for the first time today. It is truly amazing to see so many huge open grown trees and so much dead wood. The first bird I heard as I stepped out of the car was Ring-necked Parakeet and beyond that I heard a singing Spotted Flycatcher and that was about it for birds. I saw Black-headed Cardinal Beetle, Wasp Beetle (photo) and Speckled Longhorn Beetle. I also got this shot of a female Marpissa muscosa, a nationally scarce jumping spider and a big one too. However, it was the hoverflies that stole the show today. I saw this strange looking fly hanging around the base of an old Beech stump. It had yellow wings and silvery-yellow stripes on the abdomen with thick yellowish legs that dangled behind in flight. The sun went in and I got some good photos and after a quick phone call (thanks Mike!) I managed to figure out it was Caliprobola speciosa. An RDB1 saproxylic hoverfly known only from Windsor and the New Forest! Wow! I also saw a bee mimic hoverfly that was so convincing that I did a double take. I am pretty sure it was Pocota personata, an RDB2 saproxylic hoverfly also known from the area but I could not get anywhere near it. Through binoculars it looked right with a tiny peanut of a head on a big fat gooseberry of a body with very noticeable dark blotches in the centre of the wings. From the head the markings went; yellow, black, yellow then white. I cannot at this stage rule out Volucella bombylans until I get back to my books! An exciting trip out of county, something I rarely do these days and it has reminded me that looking elsewhere is really important for getting new ideas and fresh perspectives on managing nature reserves.

Clearwing on fungus infected Beech?

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Saturday, 29 May 2010 19:12

Last night, Alice Parfitt and I moth trapped Eridge Rocks with two MV traps up until about 11.00 pm. That was after about two hours of beetling. There are some really good old ancient trees there, and one recently (c5 year ago max?) fallen Beech was crawling with inverts. There was Rhagium mordax, Mycetophagus quadripustulatus and a Platystomos albinus. I saw lots of the click beetle Melanotus castanipes/villosus (photographed). I found two dead ones and netted three in flight. I'm not sure if I have ID'd one of the dead ones correctly as it seems to have a reddish pronotum. Alice also found what I am sure is a clearwing moth exuviae. This is unusual though as it was sticking out of fungus infected Beech. I am going to try and ID it from the pupal case alone. The tree was so huge it has created its own clearing and I will be going back there in warm sunshine to see what else is there.

As the night grew dark, the clouds cleared and we were soon covered in biting midges. The first moth was Common White Wave and we were soon besieged by Brown Silver-lines and Cockchafers. The highlights were Satin Lutestring, Cream Wave, Peach-blossom and Brindled White-spot. Over twenty species in the end. I tried filming some moths and cockchafers and will be posting my first crude attempts at natural history presenting on here very soon!

Check out this amazing micro moth!

Posted by Graeme Lyons 08:24

On Friday the 29th May I had a very long day's entomology starting at Friston Forest at about 10.00 am through to Eridge Rocks at about 11.30 pm. In this part of the blog I will just deal with the Friston Forest session. We set up a series of timed invertebrate surveys in the project area to show the effects of the grazing there. One specialist concentrates on flies, bees, ants and wasps, another looks at beetles and I do moths, butterflies and dragonflies. The sites will be visited once a month from April to September. There are five defined areas that we search for 45 minutes each visit and these areas reflect different micro-habitats and management within the wood. At the end of the year, the list for each area will be compiled and the assemblage of invertebrates analysed by resource needs. I recorded this nationally scarce (Nb) micro moth known as the Orange Conch Commophila aeneana. The larvae feed on the roots of ragwort. It is probably the most impressive tortrix I have ever seen, the strange, raised black-and-blue scales give the impression the moth is extruding droplets of oil. I saw lots of Grizzled Skippers and Dingy Skippers. Grizzled was the most abundant and frequent butterfly! We recorded the Nb soldier beetle Rhagonycha lutea and I saw the tiny longhorn beetle Tetrops praeusta. Towards the end of the survey, we disturbed this young Badger which we first thought was injured. It had clearly not had much contact with humans as it was very tame and then it suddenly ran off, nothing wrong with it at all. I have never seen a Badger in the day, a great photo opportunity!

Britain's most boring moth?

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Wednesday, 26 May 2010 17:27

OK, so some might argue the Drab Looper has 'character' but I think the name says it all. It's small, it's brown, has no markings and is a nightmare to photograph (hence the rubbish shot) as I can never get them to stay bloody still! It is however, nationally scarce (Nb) and a BAP priority species. West Dean Woods is a great site for Drab Looper, the sole foodplant is Wood Spurge and this plant is abundant during the early stages of the coppice cycle. The moth is also a day flyer (a surprisingly strong flyer for such a little moth) and I recorded 14 today but only in areas that were coppiced in the winter of 2008/09. I also saw dozens of Silver-Ys and a few Speckled Yellows. I completed my first quadrats of the year today at West Dean, good to get back into some vegetative botany. I also saw this longhorn beetle feeding on Wood Spurge, it's a female Black-striped Longhorn Beetle Stenurella melanura. Birds heard but not seen included Turtle Dove, Crossbill and Siskin. Earlier this morning during a breeding bird survey at Butcherlands I saw a Hobby and yet another Turtle Dove.


Posted by Graeme Lyons , Tuesday, 25 May 2010 17:20

I completed my 7th visit of the Woods Mill bird survey today and recorded the first Turtle Dove of the year, back in the same place as last year, in a dead tree by the lake. This is probably the scarcest bird we have breeding on the reserve and they seem to arrive at Woods Mill a little later than a lot of other local Turtle Doves. The Reed Warbler has moved out of the scrub into the reedbed, the Reed is much more vigorous this year after being cut and scraped over the winter. I also saw a Brown Trout on the reserve. I saw two deadwood beetles today, albeit very common ones. The atypical click beetle Denticollis linearis and the abundant but stunning Malachite Beetle (photographed). I can't express enough how massively awesome beetles are. For me, getting into a huge group of inverts (4000+ species!) is so exciting. Every time I go out now I see new things and by sticking to a few beetle families that I know I can work with, it's not an impossible task. To put it another way, natural history has only ever been this exciting when I have been abroad or when I was a kid and it was all new! On a less pleasant note, I have pretty much been floored with hayfever today after accidentally putting two binocular eye cups worth of pollen onto my eyes after walking through a field of Meadow Foxtail. I still can't see properly, hope it's better for another early start tomorrow at Butcherlands.

The Fever

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Monday, 24 May 2010 19:33

So it begins. Is there anything more ridiculous than a botanist with hayfever? For the next two months I have sore eyes, sore throats, wheezing, lethargy and sleepless nights where I can't open the window to look forward to. Anyways, Mark Monk-Terry and I had the chance to have another look in Badlands today and we came up with a few goodies, Mark found this Purple Hairstreak larvae by beating oak. Other leps included Blood-vein, Mother Shipton and Green Hairstreak. There were Malachite Beetles everywhere as well as Cantharis nigricans. I found a Malachite Beetle on a Beech stump covered in red spores and thought it was something much rarer. Whilst Mark was beating I was sweep-netting and the best thing I came up with was this smart beetle, Leiopus nebulosus or the Black-clouded Longhorn Beetle. This is a local saproxylic species that I have only seen once before but that does not mean much as I only really got into beetles last year!

Mackerel fishing

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Sunday, 23 May 2010 06:42

Yesterday evening Jo and I and a whole load of Natural England types went fishing for Mackerel for a couple of hours. We hired a boat but the skipper tried to convince us not to go, saying that there were no fish today and that the sea was a bit choppy. We went anyway, three miles out to sea in fact and we did indeed catch 11 fish. I caught one and Jo caught two! In the photo, mine is the biggest one. They really are beautiful looking fish. We killed the fish straight away and one chap on board gutted the fish expertly and on the way back we cast the chum overboard and soon attracted lots of gulls and a couple of Kittiwakes including this first summer bird. We then cooked the fish on a portable BBQ. This is a really sustainable way to catch fish and it tasted fantastic. Birds were quiet, we had a Gannet go straight over the boat, a few Fulmars and a distant Auk sp. There were lots of wind born seed out at sea as well as a cranefly about a mile out heading south. On the beach, we also saw a Ringed Plover sitting on eggs, an as yet unidentified blue beetle and a whole mess of Sea Kale. I would definitely do this again, perhaps even a trip just looking for sea birds at the end of April/start of May? Hmmm...

Weevil in the face!

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Saturday, 22 May 2010 16:27

I had an awesome day looking for beetles in the West Weald. I found this bad boy in Leconfield Glade at Ebernoe Common. It landed on my face! It is a nationally scarce (Nb) weevil and an Index of Ecolgoical Continutiy Species called Platystomos albinus. This is a great find and supplements the deadwood beetles survey we carried out there last year. I think this is one of the smartest beetles I have ever seen and another example of bird-dropping mimicry. I also found another Nb saproxylic beetle in the glades new to the site, I netted a Melandrya caraboides, a very carabid looking non-carabid as the name suggests. At The Mens I found three species of longhorn beetles, Red-headed & Black-headed Cardinal Beetles, Malachite Beetle, Melasis buprestoides, Hairy Dragonfly, Cockchafer, Grass Snake and Figure-of-Eight moth.

The One Show

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Friday, 21 May 2010 18:04

Today Mike Dilger and I and a crew of five finished filming a short documentary on Adonis Blues at Malling Down. Today we were in front of the camera and it was great fun. It was very hot on the chalk though and we were all a little frazzled by the end of the day. In the photo it looks like we are filming a strange floating man, he was actually jumping up and down doing an impression of a bird! There were many more Adonis today and an excellent supporting cast of other species included Green Hairstreak, Red-headed Cardinal Beetle, a male Peregrine and a really smart looking, nationally scarce (Nb) carabid called Lebia chlorocephala. The show will go out at 7.00pm on Tuesday the 1st June on BBC1. I am now looking forward to cooling off with some booze!

Filming Adonis Blues with the BBC at Malling Down

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Thursday, 20 May 2010 20:13

I have spent an excellent day with the BBC's Natural History Unit filming Adonis Blues at the Sussex Wildlife Trust reserve Malling Down. It did not take very long to find the butterflies today, there were at least 30 there. The female photographed may actually be on the TV in a few weeks. The documentary is a 4 minute feature on some funding the Trust had from the BBC to manage chalk-grassland for Adonis Blues and other species. It will appear on The One Show on the 1st June. We also saw Dingy Skipper, Small Heath, Large White and Brimstone as well as Crambus lathoniellus, Pyrausta nigrata and Blue Shield Bug. The strangest part of the day was catching a butterfly in a net with my left hand as I fell down a 30 degree slope, sliding backwards over a patch of Dwarf Thistles, the whole time being on the phone and the caller never even new! Tomorrow Mike Dilger is coming down and we are going to be in front of the camera. I have always wanted to do natural history presenting so this is a great opportunity!

New Zealand's revenge

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Wednesday, 19 May 2010 16:03

Sadly I found New Zealand Pygmyweed Crassula helmsii (photo attached) today at Filsham Reedbed during a breeding bird survey. It's only a small patch and hopefully we will be able to get on top of it. It's a really hard to kill amphibious plant that can completely choke ditches and ponds, it was introduced from New Zealand as a garden aquatic. It's notoriously difficult to get rid of and even if you did get rid of it there is a good chance your neighbours won't have and it's likely to come back. Given it is known from Pevensey Levels and Rye Harbour, it was only a matter of time before it arrived at Filsham as it's easily carried between sites on people's boots and by migrating birds. On a lighter note, the survey produced 20 singing Reed Warblers, 4 Cetti's Warblers and 4 Sedge Warblers. Strangely I saw a Fulmar flying over the reeds at about 6.00am. At Woods Mill we attempted a new dragonfly transect but the sun went in and yielded only two Large Red Damselfly. Surprisingly though we had two Red Kites flying south east over the reserve towards Devils Dyke at about 2.00pm. A final surprise was a Corn Bunting on the fence along the road between Devils Dyke and the A27 on my way home from work.


Posted by Graeme Lyons , Tuesday, 18 May 2010 20:11

Not the Terrence Malick movie but a part of The Mens nature reserve and one of the few areas where there is Hawthorn in blossom. As part of a saproxylic (more or less meaning deadwood feeding) beetle survey I tried to add a few species to the list by searching spring nectar sources and searching dead wood. I saw two species that I had not seen before, certainly new to the site and these were Anthocomus fasciatus and Dasytes aerosus. I also saw three Common Grammoptera, the first longhorn beetles I have seen this year, wahoo! Another saproxylic species I observed was Criorhina berberina, a bumble-bee mimic hoverfly. I watched both colour forms laying eggs on dead Beech trees. I also saw a woodland shield bug Troilus luridus. Moths included White-pinion Spotted and Silver-ground Carpet. Beating at this time of year always gives a list of caterpillars longer than the actual moths and they make good photographic subjects. I recorded Winter Moth, Small Quaker, Mottled Umber, Scarce Umber, Pale Brindled beauty Twin-spot Quaker and Satellite. This last one was new to me and is a smart looking caterpillar that can really leg-it! See photo. I'm not looking forward to a 4.30 am start to get to Filsham early for a bird survey, boo.

Britain's worst song bird?

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Monday, 17 May 2010 18:07

You often here Nightingale quoted as being 'the best song bird in Britain' but what about the worst? I think that it has to go to Spotted Flycatcher (I saw my first one of the year today at Ebernoe Common in the car park). This song is truly pathetic, it sounds more like the call of a Robin and a lot of good birders don't know it, it is so unlike a typical 'song' and often gets missed. In fact, Spotted Flycather's call is more interesting than it's song. I think Reed Bunting is a close runner up though. Anyway, enough slagging of the musically challenged. In the churchyard at Ebernoe Common there were three Green-winged Orchids (photo) in flower today, they are pretty small and are probably about to get mown but I only saw one there last year. A Turtle Dove was purring nearby too.

Fyning Moor

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Sunday, 16 May 2010 19:50

Fyning Moor is not a moor but a really nice example of Alder woodland on a variety of soil types which has a correspondingly diverse flora. Nimbus accompanied me today and after nearly a 50 mile drive right up to the Hampshire border we found the wood without much difficulty and the two main target species before we even got to the wood; Large Bitter-cress and Greater Chickweed, both new species for me. Large Bitter-cress is very easy to tell from Cuckoo-flower, the blue stamens really stand out but the most obvious difference is the bright green foliage. Greater Chickweed is a little harder to tell but you can see the 10 stamens (5 - 8 on Common Chickweed) in the lower photograph. I also found a large crucifer that I could not find in any book but I finally tracked it down in an old photographic ID guide it's a scarce garden escape called Perennial Honesty. Other plants present included wild Wood Forget-me-not, Water Avens and a whole list of ancient woodland indicators. Birds were pretty quiet but we did hear Green Woodpecker and a Grey Wagtail singing by the bridge. Inverts included Green Tortoise Beetle Cassida viridis and possibly the most easy to key out carabid of all, Loricera pilicornis. This species has really long hairs on the antennae but the specimen I saw today had a whitish mould growing all over its face. Found a Green-veined White at rest (centre photo) and despite a stupid Labrador's best attempt to jump on it, I still managed to get the shot. This SSSI is a really nice woodland and not all that hard to get to with foot paths that run through it. Awesome!

Magic Carpets

Posted by Graeme Lyons 10:57

Last night was National Moth Night and we heped out at Michael Blencowe's event in Rowlands Wood near Laughton. Despite recently poor nights, last night was pretty good and there was a steady trickle of moths that produced a fairly good species list by the end of the night. We had a quick walk around Park Corner Heath first and heard Garden Warbler as well as seeing some Heath Milkwort and Bitter Vetchling. There were about 8 MV traps set up throughout Rowlands Wood, the first time it had been light trapped. Highlights included:
Great Prominent
Ochreous Pug
Scarce Prominent
Tawny-barred Angle (photo attached)
Scalloped Hook-tip
The moths were domianted by geometrids as is typical this time of year so there were very few moths getting into the traps.
And several of the huge cranefly, Tipula maxima were also caught (photo atatched). All three newt species were visible by torching in the pond. Oli showed me how to tell the constellation Leo which thanks to his great way of explaining things I will always remember. I'm definatley keen to do more astronomy again and I think if I can back it up with some photos, I might start posting that on here too.

Lesser-spotted Grebe

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Saturday, 15 May 2010 12:46

This is a bit of a strange one but I think this blog is exactly the place for this! Most of my friends are not naturalists and birders and they find what I do anything from fascinating to hilarious. Explaining birding to people that really do not know much about birds or birding is a great way to expose yourself to ridicule but fun none the less. However, I have experienced on enough occasions for it to be inter sting (5 or 6) a strange phenomena whereby I am asked if I have ever seen a Lesser-spotted Grebe and this happened again last night down the pub. This bird is as real as a Unicorn or a Honest Politician. It led to an interesting discussion about collective consciousness and whether there was perhaps some cultural reference that had infiltrated our subconscious minds (the works of Peter Sellers and Dudley Moore and possibly the Python team were suggested). A quick look on the internet continued the trend with a few references to this 'species' one a piss take of Tolkien's work and another in an episode of Bob the Builder! Actually this was the Lesser-spotted Grebe-warbler in the classic episode 'Bob's Hide'. A quick look in 'Grebes of the World' confirmed there was no such species globally, the closest being our familiar Little Grebe and the Central/Southern American Least Grebe. So where did it come from? The rather pedantic double adjective 'lesser-spotted' is perhaps the sort of thing people would associate with anorak wearing bird spotters (it also contains the word 'spotted' and confuses non-birders in its meaning - is this a bird that is less often spotted?). And grebe is again a bird that few non-birders know but seems to encapsulate birdwatching. So maybe this is an inevitable choice for a bird which somehow represents the negative image that bird watchers often have, despite it being ficticious! I challenge you to find more information on this and to see if we can find a cultural reference or maybe a photo of this elusive species!

Shark food

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Friday, 14 May 2010 16:14

I had a good day assessing our grazing operation on the Lewes Downs today. Started with Malling Down. Five Buzzards and a couple of singing Lesser Whitethroats were the bird highlight. Butterflies on the wing included Small Copper and my first Common Blue, Large White and Grizzled Skipper of the year! Moths included Pyrausta despicata, Pyrausta nigrata and this Shark moth. It's not Chamomile Shark, it doesn't have the triple fringe on the hindwing and the dark streaks on the forewing don't extend to the tip. It is more the season for Chamomile Shark and this moth had just emerged, note how the wings are held back and even more strangely the 'Elvis quiff' is not extended. I didn't realise this was held back when they emerged. The vegetation here is also distinctly lacking in mayweeds and chamomiles (Chamomile Shark food) but one of the commonest components of this chalk grassland is Rough Hawkbit (Shark food!). We then went on to Southerham and at Bible Bottom we found some Chalk Milkwort and this Yellow Belle moth. There were also several Dingy Skippers and Small Heaths. Linnets and Meadow Pipits were using the dew pond to bathe. We had a look at Caburn Bottom and there was loads of Chalk Milkwort and about 30 Burnt-tip Orchids, although I am sure there were many more there. This weekend would be a great time to see them.

Brown Sedge and Dotted Fan-foot

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Thursday, 13 May 2010 18:42

Last year I discovered the fourth known colony in West Sussex of the nationally scarce (Nb) moth, Dotted Fan-foot, (photo attached) in the valley field here at Woods Mill. The moth is known to feed on sedges, which are plentiful at Woods Mill. Lesser Pond Sedge is probably the commonest but the moth has only ever been found in one distinct area, close to several small patches dominated by the uncommon Brown Sedge (photo attached). The caterpillar would be quite small and I would think that it would struggle to tackle the tough leaves of pond sedges. The Brown Sedge is flowering right now at Woods Mill but the moth is not likely to be on the wing until June/July when I am hoping to try and determine if it is dependant on the Brown Sedge at Woods Mill.

Squash N' Frost

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Tuesday, 11 May 2010 17:47

Yesterday it finally seemed like it was warming up with my first Small Copper of the year at Woods Mill and this squash bug, Coreus marginatus. However, that all changed over night as there was a thick frost in the valley bottom field this morning. Taller plants such as Cow Parsley and Winter-cress were hit the hardest. I finished visit 5 of my 10 visit CBC there this morning it and was just like a late March day with Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Marsh Tits and Chiffchaffs all singing. There were only two Nightingales singing this morning too. I really hope it warms up for National Moth Night on Saturday.

A short walk at Beachy Head

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Monday, 10 May 2010 16:45

Part 2 of yesterday's botanical bonanza. We went to Beachy Head in search of Early Spider Orchids, whilst searching for them in vain, I did finally get to grips with a plant that I have always looked for and never seen, Chalk Milkwort. I have posted pictures of this and the much more frequently found Common Milkwort below. Chalk Milkwort looks different straight away, the flowers seems smaller and there are more of them but the arrangement of the whole inflorescence is the give away, much more three dimensional, upright and crowded (like a bog brush!) as opposed to the rather sparsely flowered, 2D, Common Milkwort. The false rosette is clearly visible on the Chalk Milkwort specimen above and you can see how much larger these lower leaves are compared to the stem leaves. On Common Milkwort they are consistently much narrower. We had to call in some assistance to find the location of the orchids though, they are quite severely suppressed by rabbit grazing and very small specimens but thanks to Michael, Claire, Penny and Dave we got there in the end. We saw around 25 specimens with only one or two above 10 cm tall. We also found this dead male Emperor Moth whilst searching for the orchids. Birds were few and far between and all the invertebrates we saw were dead.

Coral-root and it's freaky little purple bulbils

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Sunday, 9 May 2010 20:28

Today Oli and I went into the north east of Sussex in search of Coral-root. It took a bit of searching for but plenty of plants were spotted from the car on the road north out of Mayfield. It's very easy to tell from Cuckoo-flower, even at 30 mph! The flowers are a deeper pink with the petals a little longer. The plant is much taller with very different leaves, the whole plant droops over to one side too. The most striking feature however are the freaky little purplish bulbils in the leaf axils. Without these weird little blobs the plant is almost showy enough to look like a garden escape but these ugly additions bring it back down to Earth and make this a top plant. The road verge was quite rich with Yellow Archangel and Sweet Woodruff. After this we left for Beachy Head in search of Early Spider Orchids which will feature in the second part of this blog tomorrow as I am too knackered to write anymore!

70 mph aliens

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Saturday, 8 May 2010 11:32

Another day in the office yesterday writing management plans meant little chance for natural history but we did stop for a short walk on the Downs in the evening. The photo is of the introduced crucifer Hoary Cress. This species grows on chalk verges as well as on arable land but like other 'roadside' species such as Danish Scurvy-grass, most of the plants I see go past at 70 miles an hour! I realised as I took this photo that I had never really looked at this alien up close! Introduced from Eastern Europe and Asia to the UK in the 19th Century, this species is most widespread in the south east.


Posted by Graeme Lyons , Thursday, 6 May 2010 18:13

It comes to something when the best looking thing in the moth-trap is a caddisfly! This species is one of the few I can do in the field, a male Glyphotaelius pellucidus, the notch in the wing is distinctive. Moth trapping has been dire at Woods Mill this year (except perhaps for March). This is all we caught today:
Red-green Carpet 1 (photo)
Clouded Border 1
Brimstone 1
Streamer 1
Hebrew Character 9
Clouded Drab 3
Brindled Pug 2
Flame Shoulder 1
I hope this cold weather stops and the moths pick up!


Posted by Graeme Lyons , Wednesday, 5 May 2010 18:23

I spent a pretty dull day in the office today so I have a brief trip report from Anglesey to fill the gap. Jo and I went to Tywyn Trewan dunes at Rhosneigr on the 20th April, I lived there for a summer in 2002 whilst looking after a colony of terns on the offshore islands shown in the central photo. The nearby dunes have some interesting plants including Britain's smallest grass, Early Sand-grass. The plant is in full flower in the photo so you can see how ridiculously small it is next to a penny. There is a large area of Black Bog-rush in the dunes which is usually a sign that there are other interesting plants about. The spider is Arctosa perita, a specialist of sand dunes and heaths. The spider has a remarkable strategy in that it almost disappears when it stops moving, so convincing is it's camouflage. Other interesting species included a Merlin chasing hirundines unsuccessfully (get a Hobby) and large areas of Heath Dog-violet and Dune Pansy. Nearly eight years have gone since I spent a summer there living partly in a shed on an island and partly in a caravan at the end of an RAF training runway. My most endearing memory was tying my dreads up to stop the terns pecking my forehead when I walked through the colony (they started dive bombing my hair instead) which made me feel really clever...only to have one shit in my mouth. Mm, I will never forget the taste of tern processed sand eels!

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