Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Day 321 - Fabulous Fungi - Part 1

Fungi at Silton forest at the weekend - I've not identified them yet
Hey everyone today's Day 321 and as it's kind of a mini-milestone (3...2...1!) that I decided that after almost 11 months of almost endless writing I still haven't covered. I have covered many sub-species of them but never the actual type. It's funny how you get so engrossed in the sub-species that you don't focus on the huge brackets (you'll figure it out :-). the sun has been out and its still like summer but I've seen so many of today's subject emerging that they clearly think its Autumn.

Yes, from all of the clues I have given you the ultimate outcome is for me to say that today's post is about Fungi.

I do love these Fungi, they are actually quite clever as well, they aren't just found on the surface...

You'll find more about this in the facts:
    A lovely Bracket Fungi stained with algae
    I think its  Purplespore Bracket
    (Trichaptum abietinium)

  • Yes, when I say they aren't just on the surface, below the ground there is huge expanses of what is called Mycelium.
  • This is the 'vegetative part of the fungus' and is basically a load of thin, underground wire type structures, called hyphae, connecting all of a type of fungi together. Many make up the Mycelium
  • You know when I said that Mycelium is huge. Yeah, well it is. What has been referred to as 'the largest organism in the world has been found'.
  • Yes, a 2,400 acre area of Mycelium was found in Oregon, USA. It's estimated that it was 1,665 football fields large! That's a lot of mushroom.
  • I've said a lot about what Mycelium is, but nothing about what it does. Well it actually 'feeds' the fungi in a few-stage process:
  1. The Hyphae make enzymes and put them onto or into the food which is sunlight. 
  2. These enzymes make the food break down into chemicals or monomers.
  3. Another lovely but unidentified fungi from Silton
  4. These Monomers are absorbed (basically eaten) by the Mycelium.
  • Now, shortly onto the hot topic. Fungi. These come in all shapes and sizes, from Puffballs, to Fly Agarics, from Scarlet Elf Caps to Jelly Ears.
  • Now, most people know this, but I want to stress this. Some mushrooms are edible but a lot aren't so DON'T PICK THEM OUTSIDE!!!! If you want to eat a Mushroom, buy some from the shop.
  • You'll all know not to eat them. Most of them are poisonous to us and everything. Some, even if you touch it, can make you ill. If you eat one, you could DIE. My advice is: don't.
    A Fly Agaric - the Toadstools portrayed in Fairytales
  • I mentioned above about Fly Agarics. These are the Mushrooms portrayed in all fairytales. They are called Toadstools but they aren't. Just a warning, these are also poisonous. (I'm not 100% sure why a little elf would wan to live underneath a poisonous plant but, that's fairytales for you!)
  • Ok, I have been referring to them as plants. But, they're not. since 1969 they were classified as their own group and more recently, DNA tests have 100% proven that they are actually more closely related to animals than plants because of the way that their cells are arranged.
    A nice little fungi found on the bottom of
    tree. A Bracket fungi.

  • Fungi are very useful things to us and in ecosystems, so much so that I may have to do another post on just how useful they are.
Here are a few links to some more information:

Hope you enjoyed,


Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Day 320 - You'll Totally Marvel at Yellow Tail Moths

Yellow Tail Moth (Euproctis similis) - a great bugs eye view
Hi everyone, Day 320 and another picture stood out to me today when I looked through my photographs. It's another one of the moths that was trapped at the Nostefield open day. It was quite a contrast to a lot of the other moths as it was so bright white. There were 7 of these in all amongst the 71 other species we caught. I seem to have a lot of favourites but this is one of them, and yon can probably see why from the photos. I am going to be keeping a look out for this species caterpillar as it's one I've not seen as a caterpillar, that and my Mum loves 'Caterpiddlers' so we always keep an eye out for them anyway.

Today I'm looking at the Yellow Tail Moth, here's what I found out about them:

  • The caterpillars are one of those types which are covered with lots of irritating hairs on them so they need to be handled with care. 
Showing why its called a yellow tail.
  • These hairs are a defence mechanism from predators and they share this with some plants, like nettles and some tarantulas. The proper name for these hairs are Urticating hairs and the first bit Urtica is latin for nettle.
  • They are quite a common moth found over most of England and Wales. They aren't found much in Scotland but their numbers there are increasing. There are not many record of them in Ireland.
  • Their wingspan is 28-35mm and the females (like yesterdays sparrowhawks) are much larger than the males.
  • Its quite obvious why they are called yellow tailed moths - you can see there lovely yellow tail in my second photo.
  • This tufty tail is apparently used to cover the newly laid eggs.
A side view
  • They are found most commonly in July and August but they can be seen a month either side of this.
  • They are a night flying moth that is attracted to light, though this is most true of the males.
  • They overwinter as a larvae. The larvae like a range of deciduous trees and shrubs such as hawthorn, elm, oak and birch.
  • Habitats they like include parks. gardens, hedgerows and woodlands.
If you want to see more pictures or try and find more facts (think I got most of them) try these sites:

Hope you enjoyed,


Monday, 28 September 2015

Day 319 - Super Sparrowhawks

Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)
Hey everyone today's Day 319 and today I am going to cover one that I should probably save until a milestone but I just couldn't wait to write a post and cover it - had to do a post on this fantastic bird. I have seen this particular bird in our back garden on our birds table, out the front in some trees, even while we have just been driving, but we've never managed to get a photograph of one. They are a bit fast! The bird in the photos was found in one of my Dad's work colleague's garden and when Dad sent the photos home I knew what the post I was doing today.

Now, I you might be thinking, a garden bird is it a sparrow, possibly a pigeon? Well while it's found in a garden this is more raptor sized. Probably because it is. Yes, from the pictures you'll recognise this as a Sparrow Hawk. This one is usually seen on my bird table, not feeding on the seeds, but what is actually feeding on the seeds. But we're pretty sure it hasn't taken anything out of our garden yet... Thankfully.

So, here are the facts on these swift predatory birds:

Perched waiting for a meal to come along
  • I am firstly going to start off with the facts that they are not actually that big, they are only 33cm long, sporting a rather measly 62cm wingspan...
  • ...Adding to this, they have a rather small weight, they are also sexually dimorphic,Females weighing about  260g and Males weighing just over half this at 150g. That's barely bigger than a Mistle Thrush! 
  • This is actually the largest size difference between two genders of birds in all of the bird kingdom! 
  • It is thought that this is the reason that the Male is much more agile. It makes them become better hunters of smaller birds. 
  • They have what is a rather eerie sort of crying call. A high-pitched 'Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah' call. You can here it in this video below.
  • When I was looking at some videos on Youtube of them, I came across an awful lot of 'Sparrow Hawk Attacks Magpie!' videos, but hardly any on other birds. I wonder why?
  • They are resident all over the UK apart from most of the islands, of the islands only the Isle of Man has resident Sparrow Hawks.
  • They are not only found in gardens but in most habitats where there are trees. They prefer to next n Conifers.
  • They hunt from a perch and launch off give a few flaps and the glide often close to the ground or along hedges to try and sneak up on their prey.
  • As the genders are different sizes they take quite a lot of species of birds from Woodpigeons, and thrushes to chaffinches and pippits.
  • There are actually quite a lot of breeding pairs of these in the UK. About 35,000 of them. There population is stable and they have a Green Status.
  • This is quite a difference to the 1950s and 60s where its numbers crashed, this is prbably why it's a Green Status as they have inclined dramatically.
  • They first breed at 1 year and usually live for 4. The oldest recorded Hawk did love for a respectable 17 years, 1 month and 11 days.
  • Their Latin name (Accipiter nisus) means: Accipiter = Hawk and Nisus = The Sparrowhawk. Hawk the Sparrowhawk, an interesting name.
  • The females are sometimes confused with Goshawks and I found a great BTO guide on how to tell the difference.

Here are a few links to some more information:

Hope you enjoyed,


Sunday, 27 September 2015

Day 318 - Significantly Wriggily Slow Worms

Slow Worm (Anguis fragilis)
Hey everyone, today's Day 318 and I went out on a walk at one of my family's favourite places, Silton Forest in the North York Moors. We mainly went there because some of our friends have a Jack Russell (just the same as Esme) and they were going there too, they had a great time playing together. It was a lovely sunny day  and there was quite a lot to see. I saw a Speckled Wood flitting about, found three more Leucozona glaucia, as well as loads of other hoverflies and quite a lot of fungi! We were on one of the sides and I saw something curled up, looking bronze and metallic. Even though I'd only ever seen one in my life, also at Silton Forest, I instantly recognised it as a Slow Worm!

So, here are the facts on these:
  • I was going to call this post 'Certainly not Worms Slow Worms' because well, they aren't worms!..
  • From when I did some research the first time I saw one, I actually found out that they are technically a 'leg-less lizard'.
A worms eye view
  • These lizards are actually quite rare and are a protected species in the UK and it is illegal to kill injure or sell, them. It was a relief to find out that you are allowed to pick them up! 
  • This one was basking in the middle of a cycle track so I needed to put it somewhere safer! 
  • They are then, quite rare. There haven't been many sightings relative to the size of the UK and they are completely absent in Ireland.
  • They are found all the way from March to the end of November, they will, of course, be commoner the further into Summer they are. Like other lizards they will hibernate in the winter.
  • They live in Grassland, Heathland, Woodlands and even Towns and Gardens. This seems correct as where we saw it was a mixture between Woodland and Grassland.
  • Being up to only 40cm in length, they are much smaller than snakes, they usually weigh 20g - 100g.
  • The females incubate their eggs internally and then produce live young in the spring. The new born slow worms will be about 4cm long.
  • Females will produce between 3 to 26 young in a brood! The average is about 8.
  • Another statistic is that they can live for an absolutely huge 20 years! That is one of the longest lifespands that I have covered!
Close up while moving to safety
  • Even though these are lizards, their skin is surprisingly smooth. It actually wasn't at all wet, kind of like smooth metal.
  • Males tend to be greyer and sometimes have blue marks on their backs, Females are browner with a dark stripe on their back. I think ours may be a juvenile but it was getting towards being an adult as it was about 30cm / 1 foot long.
  • They are lizards and have flat forked tounges and are often mistaken for snakes, One way to tell they are lizards is that they can blink - snakes can't do this.
  • One weird fact to end off, they can actually drop off their tail to get away from predators. Even better, THEY CAN GROW IT BACK!
Here are a few links to some more information:

Hope you enjoyed,


Saturday, 26 September 2015

Day 317 - Hairy Scary Harvestmen - Arachnaphobia Alert!!!

Harvestman (Phalamgium opilio) with a couple of mites on board
Hey everyone today's Day 317 and it's getting to the time if year of which some of my audience will call fall, but I call Autumn. At this time of year, in England at least, loads and loads of spiders start to come into people's houses to have a warm place to stay for the winter. There aren't many that could hurt you where I am but there are plenty that give some people quite a fright.

There are small black and yellow ones that live mostly outside in a spiders web, to the huge brown ones that have wings! Note: I'm on about Craneflys here and while these aren't technically a spider they still freak some people (like Mum) out (:-). The ones I am interested in today are ones that live in the corners of the bathroom looking quite spindley, brown quite big, but with little bodies

A view form above - this one was on the banks
of the River Swale
Most of you will know that I am talking about the Harvestman. I can't personally bring myself to say that they are 'lovely' like I usually do but I will say that they will make an interesting blog subject.

So, here are the facts on these creepy creatures:

  • Firstly, people usually just say "Harvestman!" when they see one but they are being wildly scientifically inaccurate. There are actually 6,500 species as of 2012...
  • ...Yes, in the order 'Opiliones' (Harvestmen) there are 6 and a half thousand species of Harvestmen but that number could exceed 10,000 if we look harder.
These two were on a shed in Norfolk
  • Some of these include: the Cereatta, the Lacronia, the Koyamia. These are only 3 of 10,000 different types in the world.
  • Secondly these are not spiders but they are arachnids. They belong to a group called Opilones and they are different to spiders as they have no silk glands or fangs
This is under my microscope
  • The Female's body length is usually about 5-7mm long with the Males being a measly 3mm. Scarily though, the legs can grow up to 50mm long.!
  • They are usually found in the shady side of an old building where some species will gather in groups of up to a huge 400!
  • As they don't produce silk they have to hunt in a different way to spiders. They catch insects by using hooks that they have at the end of their legs.
  • They can defend themselves even without fangs and venom, they produce a nasty smelling liquid to deter predators. If that doesn't work they can shed a leg to get away from predators.
Mum wasn't pleased to see this in our toilet in Norfolk
- probably the longest legs I've seen on a Harvestman
  • The Harvestman is common all over the British Isles, including the Channel Islands. It also drifts down into Africa as well.
  • The Harvestman is not much of a threat in any way, shape of form. The do not have poison glands, they don't bite and their legs/arms don't 'regenerate'.
Here are a few links to some more information:

RSPB - Harvestmen

UK Safari - Harvestmen

Hope you enjoyed,


Friday, 25 September 2015

Day 316 - Cracking and Beautiful Comma Butterflies

Comma (Polygonia c-album)
Basking on the path at Nosterfield
Hey everyone, today's Day 316 and I today's post is one that I would consider to be a small rarity. I hardly see any of these. In fact, the only places I have ever seen them is on my windowsill (outside of course) and the lovely local nature reserve of Nosterfield LNR. You will all know that I love to go to this amazing reserve quite often. I even volunteered there at the open day they had.

Now, you will know that I did a moth trapping 'exercise' there at that particular Open Day. But today's post isn't one I found in the trap, it wasn't even a moth. But what it was, was a butterfly, and a very pretty one at that. It's the cracking Comma butterfly.

So, here are the facts:

  • Firstly, when I looked on Google to find some fact sites, I found out its Latin name is  'Polygonia c-album'. I've not seen a Latin name like this before!
It hung around for quite a while
  • I have seen on UK Butterflies that their species is 'c-album', their sub-species is 'c-album' and their form is 'c-album'. 
  • This is incredibly confusing and I cannot figure out what it means. I have been all over the Internet and I haven't been able to work it out. If anybody knows what, please 'tweet' me!
  • It seems that they are not a rarity at all. I looked at a map of sightings on NatureSpot and they have been seen almost everywhere in the UK, apart from Ireland.
  • They are found widely and commonly in the South of Britain and they get less common the further North that you go.
  • A couple must have got lost along the way and ended up at the Isle of Man and the Shetlands & Orkneys.
It looked like it was eating something in the gravel
  • Only around a century ago, these lovely butterflies were almost extinct in Britain. Nobody knows why the decline happened but Southern UK sightings were reduced to just one or two.
  • It wasn't until about the 1930's that numbers started to increase. Today, the Comma is a familiar sight in Britain. This could be due to climate change and that the UK is a better environment for them now.
  • I have talked about their Scientific name a lot but nothing about the English name. Well, it's probably from the markings that there is on the underside of their wings that look sort of like commas. ,,,
  • They have a wingspan of about 4 and a half cm while the caterpillar is only about 3.5 cm long!
Trying to look like a leaf on the path?
  • Their caterpillars like nettles and hops to eat and the adults feed on flowers like thistle and knapweed. In the Autumn they will feed on ripe blackberries and fallen fruits.
  • You may see these butterflies at any point in the year, they sometimes wake up on warm winter days, but they properly emerge from hibernation in March.
  • When they rest on a tree with their wings closed the 'tatty' edges of the wings help to disguise them as a leaf.

Here are a few links to some more information:

Hope you enjoyed,


Thursday, 24 September 2015

Day 315 - Looking Gorgeous - Leucozona glaucia

Leucozona glaucia
Hi everyone, today's Day 315, just 50 more posts till I've completed the year. That seems just amazing to me as I started wondering if I'd be able to see enough in a year to finish it. As I've gone on with the year though, the more I look the more I find there is to see. This is only the fourth or fifth type of this insect that I have covered and there are 250 species in Britain. If you've followed my blog you may remember that that is the number of hoverfly species in the UK. This one is a bit different as it doesn't have any yellow on it but it is still trying to look as if it's an insect you shouldn't mess with. Today I'm talking about Leucozona glaucia, an insect I'm sure you all know about. That's another thing about the number of species sometimes that Roger Key mentioned to me, there are so many and some look so alike that sometimes they don't have common names and you have to rely on the latin name.

Anyway, its really pretty especially on these flowers, so I looked it up and this is what I found out:

  • It may be a scarce species of hoverfly, more common in the north and west of the country.
Bugs Eye View
  • When you do see it it's likely to be along woodland rides, places where there is a break in the woodland and lots of flowers grow for it to feed on. I saw this in Silton Forest on a path exactly like this.
  • A number of sites say it is widespread but quite local - so there are little pockets of them all over the country.
  • The edges of woodland seem to be what it prefers not only for the flowers but also for the shade.
  • Their larvae feed on aphids on the ground, so gardeners like Dad like these insects. The adulta are good pollinators too.
  • Adults feed on nectar on umbeliferous plants like Hogweed and Angelica.
  • You will most likely see it between July and August but it has been seen between May and October.
Sharing an umbel
  • Not sure about this species but some hoverflies can fly at up to 40km and hour.
  • While they look like stinging insects they are harmless and have no sting - they rely on mimicing wasps and bees for protection.
  •  They are true flies and only have one set of wings - bees and wasps have two.
  • They only live for a few weeks as adults.
So If you want to find out more try these sites

Hope you enjoyed,


Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Day 314 - Sandpipers part 3 - Wonderfully Speckled Wood Sanpipers

Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)
Thanks to David DarrellLambert (@birdbrainuk)
for this as my shots weren't very good
Hey everyone today's Day 314 and I like to go to a place called Nosterfield. Now, if you have ever read my blog before this then you will know that I go here quite often. This is one of the places that I have seen these birds. I also go to Norfolk on a 'nature holiday' where we do other things as well, but mostly go to Norfolk's nature reserves. One of their bigger ones is called Cley Marshes by the NWT (Nofolk Wildlife Trusts). Interestingly enough the other place in Norfolk I have seen these birds (Hickling Broads) is also run by the NWT,

Now, what am I actually talking about when I say 'these birds' well if you look at the second part of the title then you'll know that I am talking about Sandpipers. But the last part explains that today's post is about Wood Sandpipers. They are lovely birds and it's a shame I don't see more of them.

So, here are the facts:
  • Firstly, there is more than just one type of Sandpiper, that's why I have 3 parts to Sandpipers, and if could spot them all there could be 19 parts!  The ones I have seen so far are:
Another one from David - thanks David :-)
  1. The Wood Sandpiper (this one)
  2. Common Sandpiper
  3. Green Sandpiper
  • The Wood Sandpiper has a lot in common with both of these, not as much the Common, but the Green.
  • These two birds look almost identical, and live in almost exactly the same habitats. They can, however, be told apart from each other though.
  • One thing is that the back of the Wood Sandpipers, has lots of visible white spots and the overall colour is Brown, whereas the Green's in Black with a few dashes.
  • Here is a video by the BTO showing what some more differences are:
  • They are mostly a passage bird (according to the RSPB) and are found mostly in the South and East of England. They are also found passaging commonly on the East of Ireland.
  • There is a spot in North-Eastern Scotland where they are found breeding. It's sort of in the Cairngorms National Park.
  • This place in Scotland has only a few birds though, the RSPB says that there are only between 11 and 27 breeding pairs in the UK.
  • Because of this very small breeding population, they are an Amber Status, this puts them on the IUCN List but they are of Least Concern.
Wood Sandpiper from the Crossley ID Guide Britain and Ireland
Sandpipers in the Crossley ID Guide
- one of my Mums favourite bird books
  • The global population (according to Birdlife) is thought to be between just 3,100,000 and 3,600,000 individuals.
  • They are 20cm long and have a wingspan of 56cm. Both sexes weigh around 65g and they need a ring size B+
  • These birds nest on the ground, which is not unusual for a wader, and lay only between 3 and 4 eggs.
  • They like to eats a variety of things such as insects, spiders, worms, shellfish, small fish, frogs and plant matter. What they eat depends on what they can find in each season.
  • Average lifespan isn't easy to work out as we don't see many here but the oldest Wood Sandpiper recorded was almost 8 years old.
Here are a few links to some more information:

Hope you enjoyed,


Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Day 313 - Regularly Voyaging Rush Veneer

Rush Veneer (Nomophila noctuella)
Hi Everyone, Day 313 and there has been a lot in the news lately about migration, I know as I had to do a piece of homework on the subject Well I'm not going to talk about people today but I'm sure you know that a lot of wildlife migrates and not just birds! Today's species is a migrant moth that we found when moth trapping at the Nosterfield Open Day. It was the only one that I know of that was a migrant amongst all of the species we found. There was another reason I chose this moth today, when I looked through my photos I found the bottom photo - a lot of sites don't describe them as being very interesting but they don't have photos of them like this :-)

Today I'm looking at the Rush Veneer moth. So what did I find out with my research:
  • Their shape when at rest is normally a bit more elongated than in my pictures, it looks long and narrow which makes it easy to identify.
  • They are quite a small moth, are called a micro moth on some sites I saw, and have a wingspan of 26-32mm.
  • You can see the size of it on the hazel leaf I have it on in the photo. For such a small moth it flies a long way - this one I was told was probably from Spain.
  • They are found from Northern Africa to Northern Europe and in the UK can sometimes be found in large numbers on the coast.
  • They are most common in the South of England which I see from their perspective as they've already had a long way to fly!
  • Where we were at Nosterfield is quite a long way from the coast and from what I could find there aren't many sightings of them in Yorkshire but they do get quite far inland.
  • They are found flying from May to September but I don't know when they hatch or migrate.
  • I did find that the larvae are green, a dirty green according to one site, and like to feed on grasses, clover and other herbs.
  • And apparently they do this from inside a silk lined tunnel.
Well that was about all I could find, there isn't as much information about them as some moths but try these sites form more pictures:

Hope you enjoyed,


Monday, 21 September 2015

Day 312 - Beauty of the Mini-Beasts Part 11 - Green Tortoise Beetle

Green Tortoise Beetle
Hey everyone, today's Day 312 and yesterday I went on a lovely walk along the River Swale with a great person I met at Birdfair called Dr. Roger Key. While I was at Birdfair, we did a bug hunt with David Lindo, but I also found out that Roger and I live quite close to each other. Roger is a great Entomologist, he knows so much about so many insects its totally amazing. He's been lucky enough to work with all sorts of famous people including David Attenbrough and has worked in all sorts of countries including Antarctica! That sounds like a great job and one I'd like to do. Anyway, he suggested we go for a walk so we went on a walk along the River Swale. We didn't expect to find loads of bugs as it was a bit of a cool day but we still found quite a lot including this creature for today's post. This came off of a bunch of thistles and I took it home to get a close look under my microscope. Today I'm covering a Green Tortoise Beetle.

So what did I find out about them?
I tried to get a bugs eye view, it sort of worked

  • These little creatures are up to 8mm long so are one of the smallest beetles I've covered.
  • The light in my pictures is a bit funny under the microscope but they are a lovely lime green colour which is great for camouflaging themselves on plants.
  • They feed on White Dead Nettle, Hedge Woundwort and Water Mint, so my research told me, but this one came off a thistle so they must like those too!
  • Now you might ask why a lime green beetle is named after a brown tortoise? It's not because they look alike it's because they behave in a similar way.
  • If this beetle is disturbed is acts just like a tortoise. it pulls in it's antennae and feet and pulls it's shell down and grips onto the plant to protect itself.
The shells have lots of pits in
  • These creatures are found mainly in the south and get more scarce north of the Humber. There are very few sightings recorded in Ireland.
  • The main season for these Beetles is June to August but they can be found from April to September.
  • Their preferred habitats are open areas, like farmland, grass land and heathland but they also like wooded areas.
  • Their lifecycle is four stages, egg, larvae, pupa, adult. I found a great youtube video on this which you can see below
  • Tortoise beetles as a group are quite easy to identify but a lot of the species are quite similar and hard to tell apart,
It was hard to find out much more on these lovely creatures but try these links:

A big thank you to Roger and his wife Rosie for taking me on such a great walk.

Hope you enjoyed,


Sunday, 20 September 2015

Day 311 - Charmingly Mottled Campion Moths

Campion Moth (Sideridis rivularis)
Hey everyone today's Day 311 and you'll all know by know that I volunteered at the Nosterfiled open day about a moth ago (pun slightly intended). I was put on the Moth counting part as one of my jobs and my job specifically was to put one of each species of moth into a plastic container so people could look at them later. One moth that caught my eye when I was looking for something to do was the Campion Moth and I think that the word 'mottled' describes them quite well.

So, here are a few facts that I found:
  • They are relatively common and quite widespread, most common down South, they get less frequent the further up the UK you go. They are frequent in Ireland too.
A bugs eye view
  • These lovely marked moths have a wingspan of between 27mm - 30mm. Quite small in comparison to others I have done.
  • They are mainly seen flying in May or June but in some areas there is a second generation in August and September.
  • On a German site that I found it said that there are sometimes even 3 generations in the lowlands (I presume of central Europe). 
  • They lay eggs on the flowers and flower buds. The young caterpillars feed on the developing seeds
  • The caterpillars feed mainly in the seed capsules of various Campion plants, I wonder where they get their name from?
  • Once they get bigger, they will also eat the leaves of Campion plants. I don't actually think I have come across a name and reason like that yet.
Its wonderful markings make good camouflage
  • They are found mainly where the larval foodplant is found. Red Campion is quite widely distributed so you might find them in a lot of different places.
  • I couldn't find much detail about the population level about this moth apart from that it is 'common' it may be facing reduction in low land areas due to intense agricultures.
Here are a few links to some more information:

Hope you enjoyed,


Saturday, 19 September 2015

Day 310 - Sandpipers Part 2 - Crackingly Super Common Sandpipers

Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos )
Hey everyone today's Day 310, only 55 days to go! The frequent, or even occasional, viewers of my blog will know that I have been to Norfolk during my summer holidays. It was quite a while ago now. I came to the realisation while thinking of what to do what today that I haven't done a bird (that is native to England) in a long time, well for 10 days, when I did Ospreys for Day 300. So, I was thinking about what I saw in Norfolk and I found some pictures of Sandpipers! They aren't very good, bot sure why as the weather was ok and they weren't that far away but I haven't actually got any better ones. Even though they are called the Common Sandpiper I haven't seen them very often. I saw these lovely birds on Hickling Broad when we had gone on the boat trip there. I saw these and the Green Sandpipers from the hide we stopped at halfway round the trip- you couldn't get there without a boat!

Anyway, here are the facts on these wrongly named creatures:

  • Now, what I was saying about the Common Sandpipers being wrongly named /|\ wasn't exactly true...
  • ...Common Sandpipers have about 15,000 breeding pairs in the UK, while Green Sandpipers have, 2.
  • Their latin name though is spot on - the first bit is from a Greek word which means coast dweller and the second bit is from two Greek words which means below white. 
  • They are an Amber Status non-the-less because they are a 'species of European concern' and their numbers are declining.
  • I have not yet explained where they live. They are mostly found around Northern England and Scotland as well as Wales and most of Ireland.
  • That is where they merely breed though. They Winter in the South of England and Ireland but nowhere else.
  • There aren't actually many Wintering birds in those places though, only about 73! 
  • Like the Green Sandpiper they eat invertebrates that they find on the surface of the mud or ground. 
  • They like to live on rivers & lakes when they are breeding and when they are migrating they mainly stay on marshes or the coast.
  • They are only about 20cm in length sporting a rather measly 40cm wingspan! Their ring size is a bit better B+. (Not the blood type :-)
  • They weigh, on average, about 50g but they have been found to range between 40g to 80g! That's quite a difference. Females are bigger than Males 
  • They first start breeding at 2 years and have a typical lifespan of 8 years and the longest lived for 14 years and 11 days.
Here are a few links to some more information:

Hope you enjoyed,


Friday, 18 September 2015

Day 309 - Beautiful, Terrific & Sun-Loving Black-Tailed Skimmers

Black-Tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum)
Hi everyone, its Day 309 and this is a species that I've seen in a lot of places that I go, certainly I saw it in Norfolk and I have seen it in Yorkshire. Dad loves these insects in general and this one always seems to pose nicely. I like trying to find different ones and they do live up to their names. I'm talking about Dragonflies! The darters do dart and the hawkers do hawk, so that gives me some help in identifying them. This one skims over water and its a Black Tailed Skimmer that I'm talking about today!

So what did I find out about these lovely creatures:

  • As I mentioned above they pose nicely, well the males like to rest in the sun on bare patches of shore next to water.
  • They are 40-49mm in length so not the biggest of dragonflies.
A pair mating on a path.
  • True to their name they fly swift and low, skimming the water surface. They also fly low over gravel and mud.
  • Hunting starts from perches and they wait for prey like butterflies, grasshoppers and damselflies. Once they see one they pounce on it.
  • The males are territorial and patrol a stretch of bank or shore of around 50m.
  • You will find these dragonflies between May and August.
  • They are most common in the South East of England, but are found in most of England and Wales, a bit more scare where I am in the North and hardly at all in Scotland.
Male watching me as I tried to get a close up
  • I was surprised to find out they were first recorded in the UK in 1939!
  • Another interesting thing I found is that they seem to like new made pools like flooded gravelpits and reservoirs.
Here's a few sites with more information:

Hope you enjoyed.


Thursday, 17 September 2015

Day 308 - Crackingly Super and Meticulous Canary Shouldered Moth

Canary-Shouldered Thorn Moth (Ennomos alniaria)
Hey everyone today's Day 308 and a little while ago I went to the Nosterfield Open day. As I am a volunteer there, I got to help out. Dad and I were given the task of helping out with the moth trapping. We saw 60 - 70+ moths, and 200 Yellow Under-wings!! You do get a bit sick of them after a while... Anyway, while we were counting them, we trapped some of them into some glass containers and put them in a cooler.

Right at the end, I created a little moth reserve on a table out of leaves, grass and sticks. We put the now-docile-moths into the little reserve and took some pictures. One of my favourite moths was the Canary-Shouldered Moth.
A nice top shot

So, here are the facts:

  • Firstly their name. Yes they have canary yellow on them so that basically explains the colour part but the shoulder..?
  • Well, Moths don't technically have shoulders and even if they did, the canary would be all over them not just their shoulders!

    Well, a lot of Moth names are weird...
  • They are found mostly in England and Wales but they get less common the further North that you go.
  • There are some found on the Isle of Wight which is a first for my blog as well as being found quite commonly in Ireland.
From the side
  • They have a quite large wingspan of 38mm - 42mm. That's probably one of the most specific moth wingspans I have seen so far.
  • The single generation in the year are actually only found flying from July all the way to October.
  • The larvae are only found eating a range of deciduous trees while the adults will feed on nectar.
  • They are found as far West as Russia and the rest of Western Europe. They're found as far as Scandinavia and as far South as the North of the Mediterranean.
Here are some links to some more information:

Hope you enjoyed,


Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Day 307 - Bright & Heavenly Bog Hoverfly

The Bog Hoverfly (Sericomyia silentis) on a Teasel
Hi all, Day 307 and you've probably noticed the last couple of days I've dotted around the country with my findings going from Norfolk to Yorkshire. Well today I'm back into Cumbria. When I went across with Dad to see the Bee-eaters we were also keeping an eye out for anything else we might see. After we had been to the quarry where the Bee-eaters were nesting we headed for the RSPB Geltsdale reserve. I didn't find this there though, this was just on a teasel plant on the way back from spotting the Bee-eaters! I was puzzled at first when I saw their name and usual habitats as it seemed quite dry but then I remembered there I could hear a stream nearby the path. This is probably where they usually hang out. Today I'm looking at the Bog Hoverfly. At least I think I am, these are tricky to identify, as I mentioned yesterday there are 250 species of then in the UK and a lot of them look alike - see this page at UK Hoverflies to see what I mean.

So what did I find out about Bog Hoverflies:
Wonderful eyes
  • Dealing with their name first it's probably not a surprise that they like damp boggy habitats.
  • They particularly like acidic peaty areas like moorland, fens and wet woodland.
  • Adults are often found at woodland edges on flowers in the sunlight, exactly where I found this one!
  • They can fly strongly and are often found quite a way from water.
  • It likes to breed in peaty ditches and small pools.
  • The larvae are the type with long tails - often known as rat-tailed larvae. This isn't in fact a tail but a long breathing tube.
A great wasp mimic
  • This tube is what lets it live in some pretty stagnant water full of rotting plant matter.
  • The adult bodies are about 16mm long so this is one of our largest hoverflies.
  • I've got a lot better with wasps lately, I wasn't that keen on them, so I was wary of this bug to start with. They do a pretty good job of imitating a wasp but are completely harmless.
  • You'll find them across most of the UK though they aren't that common. There are more the further north and west you go especially in the peaty uplands.
  • They have a long flying period and you might be lucky to see them anytime between May and November.
Here's a few links to site with more pictures and information:
And a very patient bug or totally not bothered by me!

Hope you enjoyed,