Thursday, 24 July 2014

Some June Hayes Moths

White Ermine, Spilosoma lubricipeda, and The Miller,  Acronicta lepirona.  Hayes,  June 2014.
White Ermine, Spilosoma lubricipeda, and The Miller,  Acronicta lepirona.  Hayes,  June 2014.
Here are some moths with similarities from my garden light trap in Hayes.  First, two from different families. The White Ermine is from family Arctiidae, and The Miller is from the Noctuidae.  Although they have some superficial similarities, they are immediately very different to mothers.  The White Ermine is creamy white, holds its wings rather tented, and has comb-like antennae.  Also, notice the two small round empty circles on The Miller's wings; a typical Noctuid feature.

This is the first Miller I have seen, and it was very pleasing to find one near my own trap.  On my garage door, actually.  Here it is posed on a piece of tree bark.

Marbled Minor agg., Oligia strigilis agg.   Noctuidae.   Hayes, June 2014.
Marbled Minor agg., Oligia strigilis agg.   Noctuidae.   Hayes, June 2014.
These belong to one or more of three closely related species, all of which can look just like any of these moths.  You need to dissect their genitalia to be sure which one you have, and I prefer not to do that.  So they are usually classified by mothers as belonging to an aggregate; a group of species that for some purposes can be dealt with as a unit.   The species are: Marbled Minor, Oligia strigilis; Rufous Minor, Oligia versicolor; and Tawny Marbled Minor, Oligia latruncula.

Clouded Silver, Lomographa temerata, and Treble Brown Spot, Idaea trigeminata.  Hayes, June 2014.
Again, although they have superficial similarities, you are not going to mistake these for each other.  The Clouded Silver really is silvery, with black markings, and the Treble Brown Spot is a light cream and dark brown.

One is encouraged not to be confused by the way that the Treble Brown Spot often does not look as though it has three brown spots.  If you squint a bit, you can see three on each wing.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Lullingstone, June 2014

Larva of Peacock, Aglais io.  Orpington Field Club trip to Lullingstone Country Park, 14 June 2014.
Larva of Peacock, Aglais io.  Orpington Field Club trip to Lullingstone Country Park, 14 June 2014.
A trip to Lullingstone Country Park, led by a botany expert from the Orpington Field Club.  But I always go for the invertebrates with my camera.   One of the group found a whole horde of these black caterpillars in a nettle bank.  They will eventually become Peacock butterflies.

Common Blue Damselfly, Enallagma cyathigerum.  In tandem.  Orpington Field Club trip to Lullingstone Country Park, 14 June 2014.
Common Blue Damselfly, Enallagma cyathigerum.  In tandem.
Orpington Field Club trip to Lullingstone Country Park, 14 June 2014.
We saw these Common Blue Damselflies right in the car park at the start, and in this photo they are on the back of someone's coat.  They will eventually loop into a circle while mating, but they fly like this, "in tandem", for a while.

Meadow Foxtail, Alopecurus pratensis.  Orpington Field Club trip to Lullingstone Country Park, 14 June 2014.
Meadow Foxtail, Alopecurus pratensis.  Orpington Field Club trip to Lullingstone Country Park, 14 June 2014.
There were many meadow plants to see.  Grasses included.  This Meadow Foxtail is a particularly pretty grass.

Meadow Brown, Maniola jurtina.  Orpington Field Club trip to Lullingstone Country Park, 14 June 2014.
Meadow Brown, Maniola jurtina.  Orpington Field Club trip to Lullingstone Country Park, 14 June 2014.
There were butterflies, and moths too, but I have left out the moths this time.  This Meadow Brown always looks good on a yellow flower.

Field Madder, Sherardia arvensis.  Orpington Field Club trip to Lullingstone Country Park, 14 June 2014.
Field Madder, Sherardia arvensis.  Orpington Field Club trip to Lullingstone Country Park, 14 June 2014.
And this tiny plant, Field Madder, is always nice to see.  It was shortly after this that I broke my ring flash.  Aaargh!  They're expensive.  It was in my bag, and I slipped on a steep slope.  I fell back slightly and heard an unpleasant crunch.  I suppose I was lucky it wasn't me that made the sound .. the plastic casing was broken right through just near the attachment to the top of the camera.  Well, it only took a week to get a new one, and it's a later and better model, so I am not completely unhappy.  But it was annoying that just after the crunch, several interesting micromoths turned up in the undergrowth!

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Downe Bank, June 2010

Bull by the roadside on Cudham Road near Downe, 12 June 2014.
Bull by the roadside on Cudham Road near Downe, 12 June 2014.
I've been offered a place to park near Downe Bank, but if I don't walk along from Downe village I'll miss things like this bull, sitting at a gate like a house dog guarding its territory.

Burnet Companion, Euclidia glyphica, on a Common Spotted Orchid, Dactylorhiza fuchsii.  Downe Bank, 12 June 2014.
Burnet Companion, Euclidia glyphica, on a Common Spotted Orchid, Dactylorhiza fuchsii.  Downe Bank, 12 June 2014.
Downe Bank is famous for its orchids, and it's especially useful to get records of what creatures might be pollinating the orchids.  So it was handy to see this tattered old Burnet Companion moth on a Common Spotted-orchid.

Marbled White, Melanargia galathea.  Downe Bank, 12 June 2014.
Marbled White, Melanargia galathea.  Downe Bank, 12 June 2014.
What really pleased me that day was that I was able to get some good closeups of a Marbled White.  There was only one and I followed it around for quite a while .. this is often necessary with butterflies and moths.

Female Common Blue, Polyommatus icarus.  Downe Bank, 12 June 2014.
Female Common Blue, Polyommatus icarus.  Downe Bank, 12 June 2014.
Common Blue females come in varying shades of brown.  Some are much less blue than this and can be mistake for a Brown Argus.  With really brown specimens you have to examine their underwing patterns quite closely.

Pyramidal Orchid, Anacamptis pyramidalis.  A Twayblade, Neottia ovata, in the background.
Downe Bank, 12 June 2014.
These lovely orchids were just coming out.  They are quite prolific this year.  The Twayblade in the background, a green-flowered orchid, is at the end of its flowering period.


Saturday, 12 July 2014

High Elms, June 10th

Large Skipper, Ochlodes sylvanus.  Hesperiidae.  High Elms Country Park, 10 June 2014.
Large Skipper, Ochlodes sylvanus.  Hesperiidae.  High Elms Country Park, 10 June 2014.
I have been out to High Elms several times recently, always rewarded with good things to see.  This one is a female Large Skipper, one of the more moth-like of our butterflies.  It's small, and skips around the flowers at a low level.  There are two similar, but smaller species that I will probably get shots of later on.

Oedemera lurida.  High Elms Country Park, 10 June 2014.
Oedemera lurida.  High Elms Country Park, 10 June 2014.
This Oedemera lurida is a close relative of the shiny green flower beetle I showed recently.  It doesn't seem particularly lurid to me, certainly not compared to its iridescent green relative.

Ringlet, Aphantopus hyperantus.  Nymphalidae.  High Elms Country Park, 10 June 2014.
Ringlet, Aphantopus hyperantus.  Nymphalidae.  High Elms Country Park, 10 June 2014.
Not a brilliant photo; I could not get a really good angle on this butterfly, but it was the first Ringlet I saw this year.  Since then I have seen lots. 

Common Froghopper, Philaneus spumarius.  High Elms Country Park, 10 June 2014.
Common Froghopper, Philaneus spumarius.  High Elms Country Park, 10 June 2014.
This weird-looking creature is a Common Froghopper, the creature than makes the foam we call Cuckoo-spit.  That's where they live as nymphs.  This is an adult.  That think that looks like a walrus' moustache is a mandible.

Yellow Shell, Camptogramma bilineata.  Geometridae.  High Elms Country Park, 10 June 2014.
Yellow Shell, Camptogramma bilineata.  Geometridae.  High Elms Country Park, 10 June 2014.
Finally, a day-flying moth.  I had to chase this Yellow Shell for some while before it found a place it was happy to settle and stay put for my camera.  They are small, but nicely marked.  Their patterns vary and some of them are a lot darker than this.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Seen During Butterfly Transect

Meadow Brown butterfly, Maniola jurtina.  Nymphalidae.  West Wickham Common, 6 June 2014.
Meadow Brown butterfly, Maniola jurtina.  Nymphalidae.  West Wickham Common, 6 June 2014.
Just a few photos taken during my weekly butterfly transect on West Wickham Common.  It's not actually a great spot for butterflies, but there are always some, and other things to see as well.  There are patches of different sorts of environment, and this Meadow Brown is usually seen among grass, as its name suggests.

Tree Bumblebee, Bombus hypnorum.  West Wickham Common, 6 June 2014.
Tree Bumblebee, Bombus hypnorum.  West Wickham Common, 6 June 2014.
The Tree Bumblebee is a new arrival in Britain, and it is certainly doing well.  There were lots of them on this bramble patch. 

Fly, Broad Centurion, Chloromyia formosa.  West Wickham Common, 6 June 2014.
Fly, Broad Centurion, Chloromyia formosa.  West Wickham Common, 6 June 2014.
This iridescent fly caught my eye.  The photo is a bit blurry because I could not get very close to it.

Oedemera nobilis.  Female.  West Wickham Common, 6 June 2014.
Oedemera nobilis.  Female.  West Wickham Common, 6 June 2014.
 The males of this beetle have large, swollen thighs, but even the females are easy to identify; their green iridescence, and the way their wing-cases don't properly cover their wings, tell you what they are.  There is a similar species with which they might be confused, but that is browner, smaller and doesn't have such a big wing-exposing gap.

Common Blue Butterfly, Polyommatus icarus.  Lycaenidae.  West Wickham Common, 6 June 2014.
Common Blue Butterfly, Polyommatus icarus.  Lycaenidae.  West Wickham Common, 6 June 2014.
It was good to see some blue butterflies on the common.  They turn up occasionally on a patch of heath but I don;t see them every time I visit.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Sevenoaks Walks

Common Blue Damselfly, Enallagma cyathigerum.  Female, with prey.  Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, walk with a warden (Susanna Clerici), 1 June 2014.
Common Blue Damselfly, Enallagma cyathigerum.  Female, with prey.
Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, walk with a warden, 1 June 2014.
It was interesting to go round parts of the Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve with one of the wardens.  Her interest is mostly on the birds, which is what the reserve was set up for in the first place, but on the way I took several photos of plants and insects and that is what I have here.

Damselflies are predatory fliers, and this one is munching an aphid.

Tetragnatha species.  Female.  Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, walk with a warden (Susanna Clerici), 1 June 2014.
Tetragnatha species.  Female.  Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, walk with a warden, 1 June 2014.
This prettily decorated creature is also predatory.  Tetragnathas are often called Stretch Spiders, for obvious reasons.

Nettle-tap, Anthophora fabriciana.  Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, walk with a warden, 1 June 2014.
Nettle-tap, Anthophora fabriciana.  Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, walk with a warden, 1 June 2014.
There were many of these small day-flying moths in the hedgerows.  I only saw one last year; this year I have seen dozens.

Common Stork's-bill, Erodium cicutarium.  Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, walk with a warden,1 June 2014.
Common Stork's-bill, Erodium cicutarium.  Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, walk with a warden,1 June 2014.
There were some areas of dry ground where small ground-covering plants flowered.  This Common Stork's-bill is related to Geraniums.  The name comes from the shape of its seed pods.

Blue Water-speedwell, Veronica anagalis.  Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, walk with a warden, 1 June 2014.
Blue Water-speedwell, Veronica anagalis.  Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, walk with a warden, 1 June 2014.
This Blue Water-speedwell was a surprise.  It's known to grow on this site, but it is normally a waterside plant, and here it was growing on dry ground near stonecrops and other plants that thrive in a dry environment.  Perhaps our rainy spring allowed it to get established.  It is rather stunted for its species.

Monday, 30 June 2014

White Flowers in Spring Park in Spring

Wild Radish, Raphanus raphanistrum.  Spring Park, 28 April 2014.
Wild Radish, Raphanus raphanistrum.  Spring Park, 28 April 2014.
This goes back to April, when I led a walk in Spring Park.  It was already well into the flowering season in the local woods.  Many woodland flowers come out early on, before the tree canopy can shade them out.

But this one was in the meadow below the woods.  Flowers of the Wild Radish can be yellow or white.  But if you dig them up, you won't find any tasty salad vegetables whatever their flower colour.

White-flowered English Bluebell, Hyacinthoides non-scripta.  Spring Park, 28 April 2014.
White-flowered English Bluebell, Hyacinthoides non-scripta.  Spring Park, 28 April 2014.
Spring Park is a lovely bluebell wood in season.  A few white-flowered plants always occur, standing out in the mass of blue.  This is a true wild English bluebell, not to be confused with the hybrid variety, often grown as a garden plant, which can also be seen in the wild as a garden escape.  You will see white and pink forms much more often among the hybrids.

Pignut, Conopodium majus.  Spring Park, 28 April 2014.
Pignut, Conopodium majus.  Spring Park, 28 April 2014.
Much less common in the woods is Pignut, looking rather like a feeble Cow-parsley but with much more finely divided leaves.  It has an edible nut-like tuberous root.  I refrain from digging it up because there is so little of it here.

Three-cornered Leek or Three-cornered Garlic, Allium triquetrum.  Spring Park, 28 April 2014.
Three-cornered Leek or Three-cornered Garlic, Allium triquetrum.  Spring Park, 28 April 2014.
This is quite another story.  It's an invasive plant which is against the law to spread.  This small stand is at the top of the wood and I took half of it home to eat.  It has a mild garlicky flavour and the whole plant is edible.  You just need to be careful and wash any wild-gathered plants thoroughly, because of dog walkers and the like.

Ramsons, Allium ursinum.  Spring Park, 4 May 2014.
Ramsons, Allium ursinum.  Spring Park, 4 May 2014.
Coincidentally, these Ramsons are also garlic-flavoured edible plants, but these are natural inhabitants of our ancient woods and should not be picked. 

Narrow-Leaved Water-plantain, Alisma lanceolatum.  Spring Park, 4 May 2014.
Narrow-Leaved Water-plantain, Alisma lanceolatum.  Spring Park, 4 May 2014.
Narrow-leaved Water Plantains grow in a pond at the bottom of the wood.  It is a construct, made a decade ago where it is thought there used to be a pond long ago.  It is fed by one of the springs that give the wood its name.

Three-nerved Sandwort, Moehringia trinervia.  Spring Park, 4 May 2014.
Three-nerved Sandwort, Moehringia trinervia.  Spring Park, 4 May 2014.
The Three-nerved Sandwort looks very much like the common Chickweed that grows everywhere in suburbia.  It has five leaf veins seen from above, but from below, specially on the new leaves, three veins are prominent.

There are other white-flowered plants than these, but this is all for now!