Posted by Graeme Lyons , Saturday 27 October 2012 07:29


The process by which a wild plant or animal, through being particularly well marked, rare and cute, is rendered down to the level of a sickly-sweet pudding in the eyes of drooling Internet obsessed naturalists.

I just had to get hold of some decent photos of the Desert Wheatear (or Dessert Wheatear as I think you'll find fits better - but Pudding Wheatear is a step too far?). A big thanks to Juliet and Chris Moore who took the top and bottom shots respectively. It really does look good enough to eat. In fact, I might put this bird right up there as one of my all time favourites. It leads to one burning question though. Is there a Starter Wheatear and what does it taste like? I mean look like?

No wheatears (of any kind) were consumed during the writing of this post and the author does not in any way condone the eating of wheatears. Now has anyone ever noticed how much Great Shearwaters look like Vienetta?

Operation Desert Wheatear

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Friday 26 October 2012 14:02

I think these are the darkest conditions in which I have ever ticked a new bird. I found myself on Worthing sea front before light to see the Desert Wheatear which was even more effortless than the Siberian Stonechat at the weekend. This is my 4095th species of all time and my 7th new bird of the year. I hung around for a bit until the light conditions got a little better but I had a narrow time window. This is a really nice bird and also incredibly tame. It's also very well camoflaged against the shingle and is almost exactly the same colour as a can of Special Brew. What's gonna turn up next in Sussex?

Nice 'N' Spicy

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Monday 22 October 2012 06:59

Do you remember Nice 'N' Spicy Nik Naks? That's exactly what these little fungi reminded me of. I had a great day at Ebernoe with Jennie looking for fungi. Scarlet Caterpillar Club Cordyceps militaris was one of the target species and there were loads in the churchyard, I walked right past them! On the end of each of these, burried underground, will be a moth pupa (not larva like the different species of Cordyceps from Mill Hill). I'm not sure if this one is host specific or a generalist on moths that burry themselves underground when they pupate. I imagine Large Yellow Underwing would be a good host but many species of noctuid could be candidates. Some of the fungi go a bit wrong and develop some strange protuberances.
Considering the rain, numbers of fungi were very low and we didn't see much else beyond the usual Saffron-drop Bonnets and Garlic Parachutes. I saw this Lapidary Snail on the Brick Kiln, only the second time I have seen this strongly-keeled snail and we also stumbled across the BIGGEST Wild Service Tree I have seen (measurements to follow). I can also recommend the venison at the Stag Inn at Balls Cross. Back to Ebernoe today for work. It's a hard life!

From Russia with Buff

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Sunday 21 October 2012 07:28

I was just having an afternoon kip when the following text conversation occurred:

Everitt: Siberian Stonechat at Birling Gap
Lyons: Have they split it?
Everitt: Yup
Lyons: s*#@!

Being in a bit of a rush, I didn't have much time to take photos. Instead, I realised it was easier to take a photo of someone else's photo. You'll realise why when you see my 'best' photo below. This was a ridiculously easy bird to see. Only 25 miles from home, about 50 metres outside of the car park and, as you would expect for a chat, very easy to see.  It was also landing so close that I couldn't focus my scope on it at times.  Siberian Stonechat is my 6th new bird (and 5th new passerine) this year, must have been years since I saw that many. Thirteen Corn Buntings provided a fly by but I didn't see the Merlin that Oli saw minutes after I had gone! It's been a good week for me for birds as I flushed a Ring Ousel from a hawthorn bush at Marline earlier in the week. Anyway, thanks to Andrew Whitcomb, birdwatcher and hand model, for allowing me to use the above photo. It's so refreshing to turn up to a twitch and NOT have the craziest hair.

Now, shall I enter this into wildlife photographer of the year?

'Come inside and meet the missus'

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Thursday 18 October 2012 07:41

We found this strange caterpillar crawling up a Beech tree in Ebernoe yesterday. I was convinced it was a tussock of some kind and after a little searching I realised I was right. Kinda. It's not a tussock in the true sense. It is in fact a noctuid moth. It's the larvae of the Nut-tree Tussock, a larvae I have not encountered before. A common enough moth but is this a case of Batesian mimicry in larvae? It looks close enough to a Vapourer moth larvae to have briefly fooled me. I had a strange feeling that I had encountered this fella before somewhere. Then I suddenly remembered where...

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