We had a successful night's moth trapping last night with our brand new moth trap - a portable Skinner trap, with a 15W actinic tube. This is a good upgrade from our previous 6W portable Heath trap and should produce much larger catches for us in the coming months. Here are some of the trap inhabitants from this morning....
A beautiful garden tiger, or Arctia caja. A species which has declined badly since the 1980's, they are still fortunately common at Langford. The larvae are the familiar 'wooly bears' that you may have encountered as a child and they feed on a wide range of herbaceous plants.
Peppered moth, Biston betularia, a member of the Geometridae family. They are the species that famously evolved a black form in industrial areas as camoflague against dark, sooty deposits on tree trunks. This is the normal form of the moth.
The sallow kitten, or Furcula furcula, is a lovely little species with two generations throughout much of the UK. The larval foodplants are usually various species of willow (Salix spp.), but they have also been reported from aspen and poplars (both Populus spp.).
And finally, not a moth, but a beetle....Nicrophorus humator to be exact. It is a member of the Family Silphidae, the burying beetles and is a fairly common species in much of England. They feed on carrion and are strongly attracted to light, hence their regular occurance in moth traps. The little moth in the foreground on the left is a middle-barred minor, Oligia fasciuncula.
Which tree species produces this strange bark growth on the small branches and twigs? The tree is found along the public footpath and one of it's traditional uses was to mark field boundaries. Look out for the answer next week....
The nice weather this morning seems to have brought out some new insects for the year and increased the numbers of some elusive species, which have proved difficult to spot so far this season….
Ringlet, or Aphantopus hyperantus and meadow brown, Maniola jurtina, butterflies haven’t put in an appearance at all in 2012 until this morning. As I made my way around the silt lagoons completing the monthly WeBS count (see previous blog for this morning’s results), I was relieved to finally catch a glimpse of these two normally very numerous species.
Common blue, or Polyommatus icarus, butterflies have made a poor show so far this year, with only three individuals recorded in the last few weeks. However this morning I counted up to 5 around the site in the vicinity of their foodplant, birds-foot trefoil, Lotus corniculatus.
A red admiral, Vanessa atalanta, was also a welcome record around silt lagoon 2, only the third I have seen all year.
Plentiful damselflies were around Phase 2 this morning with a species composition of common blue, Enallagma cyathigerum, azure, Coenagrion puella and blue-tailed, Ischnura elegans. However, I also managed to record a new species for the year, also on Phase 2, a stunning yellow and black female black-tailed skimmer, or Orthetrum cancellatum.
And finally, a new beetle for 2012, Cassida viridis or the green tortoise beetle. A distinctive species characterized by it’s broad, domed green elytra (wing cases), resembling the shape of a tortoise shell. They are a fairly common and widespread species throughout the UK and the larvae hold a ‘case’ of old moulted skins and droppings over their backs as a defence against predators.
I was on site bright and early this morning for the monthly Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) and what a lovely morning it was, with bright sunshine and a light breeze. June is still a quiet month for WeBS, but it’s a good time to get to grips with any wildfowl that are breeding on site..
Here are the results of this mornings count –
11 mute swan
8 canada goose
3 grey heron
12 great crested grebe – including the first brood of the year, of 2 young on Phase 2
2 little grebe – including a lovely family party on phase 3
52 tufted duck
1 herring gull
2 black-headed gull
1 great black-backed gull
145 lesser black-backed gull
2 common tern
3 little ringed plover
2 ringed plover
2 green sandpiper
1 dunlin – stunning breeding plumaged individual
7 little egret
What has nibbled it's way through these leaves of broad-leaved dock, or Rumex obtusifolius? A quick clue....this species has featured in a blog from a few weeks ago. Answer next week....