Friday, 24 July 2015

Going on holiday

Going on holiday in a little while so won't be blogging for a week.Did get to Broadwater this morning for a quick visit. Unfortunately the weather was against me. I did see 3 Starling, Green Woodpecker, Kestrel and Jay of note. The site apparently has had 88 different bird species to date, with Wheatear earlier in the year the 88th.I did also finally see the Stonechat again today, I believe they breed successfully. I saw 2 moths, 1 which I trapped but still couldn't get a decent picture. Dichrorampha vancouversana and Straw dot moth.
The only Damselfly was Blue-tailed. also finally got a decent photo of a buff-tailed Bee.

Blue-tailed Damselfly

Buff-tailed Bumblebee

Hopefully see some things while away.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Lots of Bees

On Sunday 19th I attended a course called Bumblebees for Beginners. Run by the Sussex Wildlife Trust at Rye Harbour. Again it was a excellent course.
We were introduced to bees in general and at first looked at the main 8 that can be seen. We were giving examples to identify so we got a basic understanding of the different marking with each bee, particularly looking at the Queen, male and workers. The Heath Bumblebee we didn't really look at as I am not sure it is in this area I think, however it is around Tunbridge Wells so will be looking out for that.
The 8 common are White-tailed, Buff-tailed, Garden, Early, Common Carder, Red-tailed, Heath and Tree.
We then had a lunch break. During this time I got to the John Gooders hide and saw Little Tern, Avocet and Greenshank of note and then headed back. After lunch we looked at the Cuckoo Bumblebees and the rarer ones.
I had it confirmed that the one I saw last week was a Vestal cuckoo Bumblebee.

Bombus vestalis - think it is also known as the Southern 

Unfortunately my camera was being highly ineffective for bee photos. Other people took some and I am waiting for some copies of these. We went to a grassy area of the reserve and started catching bees. We got 8 bumblebees and a mining bee, and 3 of them were rare in the UK. 

The species we got

Garden Bumblebee - Bombus hortorum
Honey Bee - this is not in the common list 
White-tailed Bumblebee - Bombus lucorum
Buff-tailed Bumblebee - Bombus terrestris
Red-tailed Bumblebee - Bombus lapidarius
Brown-banded Carder bee - Bombus humilis    - this one and the next 2 I think are the
Moss carder bee - Bombus muscorum                  3rd, 4th and 5th rarest bee in country.
Red-shanked Carder bee - Bombus ruderarius   
the non bombus
Yellow-legged Mining bee - Andrena flavipes

They were all excellent and seen well. The Red-shanks were my favourite but Red-tailed always enjoy.
Learnt so much about id of them and more about the habitat and social side. We were also told about the project to re-introduce Short-haired bumblebee back into Britain. As Kent and Sussex are 2 of the best areas for bees this is being re-introduced locally so another bee to look out for also.

Will try to updated some pictures soon, am at Broadwater today and then away for a week.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Introduction to Moths evening

Before I start the Essex Skipper picture I showed you has been confirmed as an Essex not a Small so that's excellent.

Moving to Saturday 18th, it was an Introduction to Moths evening. Run at Woods Mill, Henfield again by the same person as the Butterflies. Got there about an hour early in order to try for a butterfly first, had been told to try the same tree we saw the Purple Emperor in. It took all of about 15 minutes to get there and see 2 Purple Hairstreaks flying around the top of the oak trees. Had been told last week that the best way to see these butterflies was to get to a oak tree or a few and look up at the tops of the tree from around 5.30 pm. it worked and the few times that I saw them if they did land it was in the tree and out of sight.
Joining the group we first looked at the different types of Moths in Britain and then particularly at the ones in Sussex. We looked at a few that had been trapped the night before, and tried to id them. We then let them all go including 2 Hawk-moths. You could feel the Moths vibrating to get there heat up so they could get active. We set up 2 traps, a Skinner Trap and a Robinson Trap. Then had a cup of Coffee and went to listen to a Daubenton's bat on the bat detector. Heard Tawny Owl call and when I had arrived there were 2 Turtle Doves calling. When we went to the first trap we saw plenty of Moths, but also plenty of Wasps and a Hornet. The hornet was put in a tube and re-located.
Here is a list of the ones seen that I have written down, I will add some more when I have confirmed what they are.

Small Magpie Moth
Elephant Hawk-moth
Poplar Hawk-moth
Ruby Tiger
July High-flier
Small Magpie
Scalloped Oak
Buff Ermine
Buff Arches
Dark Arches
Black Arches
The Drinker
Large Yellow Underwing     -just comes crashing in
Ghost Moth
Mother of Pearl
Clouded Border
Double square spot
Mottled beauty
Bright-line, brown-eye
Smokey wainscott
Riband Wave
Common Wave
Common white wave
Short-cloaked moth
Common Footman
Rosy Footman
Scorched Carpet
The Herald
Pebble Prominent
Dingy Footman
Dark tussock
Grey/Dark Dagger         -near impossible to tell apart

Didn't get many photos as camera not good unless zoomed in.

Black Arches

Mother of pearl - taken near the bright light

Elephant Hawk-moth

Poplar Hawk-moth

Rosy Footman

Hornet about to be re-located.

It was another really enjoyable evening. Got home just after midnight and then got up not long after to look at Bees.

The day before had been to my local park, they are re-doing it all with lottery funds and it is going to be excellent. One thing that will be interesting is this.

Will be keeping my eye on this project to help pollinators in the area. 

So next blog Rye Harbour and 3 rare bees.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Sevenoaks Wildfowl Reserve

What a crazy weekend, crazy good that is. So much has been going on that I haven't updated on here for a few days. Will just do one event at a time. So, on Thursday 16th I paid a visit to Sevenoaks WR hoping for any birds, butterflies, moths, dragonflies or anything else that would make me look at it.

Bird wise it is not the best month. Did get a lovely Kingfisher which posed for me, photo distant but through the telescope absolutely picture perfect. A few young birds, Blackbird, Robin, G.C.Grebe, Blue Tit and Great Tit. There was Sedge Warbler and Blackcap still singing away. The now normal Egyptian Geese were there but didn't see any young this time.

There were plenty of Common Blue Damselflies, and I finally got a decent picture of this species. There were a few Large Red but apart from that no more species. However, I did come across a different looking Damselfly. Really awkward to get photos but I did and thought I would properly look at when at home. When I did get home I looked at Segment 2 and thought it looked like a Southern, which are uncommon. Convinced I had a Southern I contacted Kent Wildlife Trust (there reserve) and told to send through the photos. I was a bit disappointed quite quickly as I got a reply saying that it was actually a blue form of the female Common Blue Damselfly. Surely that would just look like a male I thought. Been told that I should look at the thorax in this case, the Southern has a extra black stripe  which this doesn't. It is odd the fact that when I have looked it up there is mention of a blue form female but no photos of it. Will keep looking as it did look different and seemed smaller than others.

Common Blue with the proper marking on S2

2 more Common Blue

Unfortunately the wing is a bit in the way but the mark on S2 looks so right for Southern but
no extra stripe on thorax. I want it to be Southern but probably is the blue form female
because not everything matches up.

As yet unidentified.

The other things that I saw a few of were butterflies, Comma, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Holly Blue and Large White. My first blue for the year, but still didn't open it's wings for me.

Holly Blue



A very nice reserve, they also have a large Bee home that was the world's largest in 2010. Loads and loads of Bees around it and going into it but am realising my camera is good for birds but not always insects. They have had and got some rare species apparently but will sort a camera out and then go back there another time.

So next blog will be my Moth evening in East Sussex. Very enjoyable, got some photos.
Then after that my Introduction to Bees day and that features 3 of the UK's rarest Bees.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Footballer hoverfly and White Admiral

Yesterday I went to Broadwater Warren. Although I am a birder, at the moment its all about the insects, butterflies, dragonflies and all things moving. I went to the Decoy pond and went round it about 3 times and then headed back.
Bird wise I heard Turtle Dove and saw Buzzard very close, and the usual Robin, Blackbird, Crow and Woodpigeon. The weather was humid but overcast to start with and the Dragonfly count wasn't at it's best. Identified a Downy Emerald that sat on a tree for a few seconds. Took loads of photos of blue damselflies as I only seem to have Azure on camera and no Common Blue, alas still all seem to be azure that I see. Emerald Damselfly seems to be invisible to my camera as well as can't seem to get a decent shot. I did manage to eventually get a Blue-tailed photo though. There was also Emperor and Large Red, and a possible Brown Hawker near the car park but literally saw it flash past only.

Best I could get of Blue-tailed Damselfly

Below Female Emperor laying eggs

Butterflies, Meadow Brown, Large White, finally got a shot of Gatekeeper. also a shot of White Admiral and I think a Essex Skipper.When the sun came out so did the butterflies. The White Admiral showed just near the bridge before flying back into the woods.The Skipper I believe is a Essex skipper, it is all to do with the antenna and it looking like it has been dipped in black (like this) I will be sending this off to someone to see what they think, but if anyone else knows then please let me know.

Had to get a quick shot before it disappeared.

Is this a Essex Skipper. Apparently they mix with Small
Skipper. I think it is anyway, at the moment.


Saw various other things.

Harlequin Ladybird - Harmonia axyridis (variety succinea)
This species first appeared in the UK in 2004 I believe
and has done well and spread across much of South Britain.

The Footballer Hoverfly - Helophilus pendulus
Called the footballer because of it's stripes, some 
other similar but believe it to be this one.

Love this photo. Is this skater having a rest.

Got a few pics of this. Mining bee? I think I might 
see if I can get a name for this one.

Moth? all I can say about it really.
Trying to find out which one.

Have some other fly shots that I want to check first, but will put them up at a later date.

Next up - A trip to Sevenoaks WR where I believe I saw Southern Damselfly. But not long got back from that trip so that is next time.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Butterflies inc Purple Emperor

Woods Mill in East Sussex was where i was today for a Intro into Summer Butterrflies. A course run by the Sussex Wildlife Trust and it was excellent. I make it 16 species of butterfly and a new Darter for me too.
Can never rely on traffic these days so left plenty of time and ended up getting there an hour early. I had hardly left the car park when I saw the family of Water Rail that don't seem too bothered about humans.

First up was a power point presentation on Butterflies and then on those to be seen in Sussex. This involved what plants they like to feed on, when, what height they fly etc. Very fascinating and might try some of this next year, or even this year for some species. Beautiful Demoiselle and Emperor Dragonfly started us along with Green-veined White, Red Admiral, Small White and Peacock. In the first area we saw our first Purple Emperor that had flown across and was perched quite a way away from us. The leader a Butterfly man hadn't seen them here before so a great start. Large White, Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper next. Comma, Large and Small Skipper and had already been told how to tell between Essex and Little. Marbled White I think is also a new one for me but they never seem to land. Ringlet,Large White and Silver-washed Fritillary along with White Admiral. 
We went back to the classroom then went for another look around and that was when we managed to get a photo of Marbled White, Purple Emperor, Comma and Skippers. Also saw some gorgeous Ruddy and Common Darter. Another for the list and one I hadn't reckoned on seeing. There was also 4 Kestrel sitting on top of the nest box, the mother then bought back what looked like a rat and the young started to scramble to get a piece.

Large Skipper

Small Skipper

Cuckoo Buff-tailed? This bee was massive so have some 
research to do regards that.


Unidentified Bee

Gorgeous Marbled White

Purple Emperor. This was at the top of a tree, the best photo I could get but 
it was good viewing.

Green-veined White (best I could get)

And a couple of shots of Darters.

Ruddy Darter

Common Darter

Next weekend, same site but evening with Moths and then next day Bees at Rye. Going to be great and looking forward to it.