Sunday, 26 March 2017

.... and a Baker's Dozen more

Spent most of the weekend in the garden so I was never going to see much but with the glorious weather a few invertebrates started to make an appearance.
Three species of Bombus (Bumble-bee) appeared at some time during the weekend, but no B. pratorum (Early Bumblebee) yet. Also the first Andrena haemorrhoa (Early mining bee), which is quite regular in the garden in early spring and a record-breaking queen Vespula vulgaris (Common Wasp) which couuld be my first ever one seen in March.

A Small Tortoiseshell arrived in the garden mid afternoon today, the first butterfly.

The Small Tortoiseshell in the garden
Also in the garden Aira praecox (Early Hair-grass) which has been present since we moved here and probably long before that, as well as lots of Elytrigia repens (Common Couch)

I had gathered some moss (I'm no Rolling Stone ... sorry) the other day and spent a good while checking them out and another seven species were identified,  so another dozen for the list.

263. Aira praecox (Early Hair-grass) 
264. Elytrigia repens (Common Couch)
265. Andrena haemorrhoa (Early mining bee)
266. Vespula vulgaris (Common Wasp)
267. Mnium hornum (Swan's-neck Thyme-moss)
268. Plagiomnium affine (Many-fruited Thyme-moss)
269. Polytrichum commune var. commune (Common Haircap)
270. Campylopus introflexus (Heath Star Moss)
271. Marchantia polymorpha subsp. ruderalis (Common Liverwort) 

272. Bombus lucorum sens. lat. (White-tailed Bumble Bee)
273. Aglais urticae (Small Tortoiseshell)
274. Pseudotaxiphyllum elegans (Elegant Silk-moss)
275. Pseudoscleropodium purum (Neat Feather-moss)  

Saturday, 25 March 2017

A dozen bits and pieces

Not much more than a list today as only a few photos despite it being 9C and beautiful bright spring day, My main camera I usually carry around with me had to stay indoors as the outer cover became detached and I left it sticking together with a bit of superglue, which should do the trick.

A good day for raptors with 4 Common Buzzard, 2 Kestrel and 2 Sparrowhawk seen over the fell. There's been a serious increase in Chiffchaffs overnight as I counted 18 singing during my walk around.

Chiffchaff - not too bad considering this was with a macro lens

Picked up a dozen bits and pieces including my first Seven-spot Ladybird at long last.

Seven-spot Ladybird 

Also got my third Bumble-bee of the year, a large Red-tailed but only the one and that was in the garden. A single Buff-tailed was also seen and lots of Tree Bumblebees feeding mainly on the sallows.

Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum).
This one was feeding low down, unlike most of the others whiuch were high up in the sallows.

If you look at the Mostchatel picture from the previous post you can see that some of the leaves are covered in blackish/ dark brown spots. This is a rust fungus  Puccinia adoxae and tends to deform the leaves and sometimes the whole plant. It is apparently common in places where this plant grows. I also found another rust fungus - Uromyces junci on Hard Rush

Uromyces junci on Hard Rush

251. Bombus lapidarius (Large Red Tailed Bumble Bee)
252. Eristalis pertinax (a hoverfly)
253. Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. argentatum (Garden Yellow-archangel) - a well-established escape
254. Scilla siberica (Siberian Squill) - ditto
255. Oxalis acetosella  (Wood-sorrel)
256. Myosotis arvensis (Field Forget-me-not)
257. Hyacinthoides non-scripta  (Bluebell) 
258. Coccinella septempunctata (7-spot Ladybird)
259. Arianta arbustorum (Copse Snail)
260. Arion ater (Large Black Slug)
261. Uromyces junci (Rush Rust)
262. Puccinia adoxae (Moschatel Rust)

I've got a few Bryophytes and a spider to id and 2 days of warm weather forecast so with a bit of luck .

Friday, 24 March 2017

Town Hall Clocks and Jews-ears

2 days of wind, rain and even snow,  not the weather for boosting my list, but I needed to get out so yesterday I nipped out of the square to Rainton Meadows Nature Reserve. The reason - it has a hide, so somewhere to sit and drink coffee while its tipping down. Dry but not warm, the stone-built thing is always freezing whatever the weather, even in summer. It was worth it as I also got my first Little Ringed Plover of the year, it flew in while I was halfway through my sandwich.

Little Ringed Plover at Rainton Meadows.  My and the reserve's first of the year but sadly not in my square

The moth trap was only out the once and wind & rain stopped play,  so I haven't caught a thing the past couple of days.

A few days ago I caught a couple of small(-ish) bees both feeding on Dandelions while I was out on the fell. They have been in pots in the fridge, so as it was still raining this morning I got the Microscope out amd Falk's Field Guide to Bees of Great Britian and spent an hour or so keying them out. I managed to identify them down to species, both of which I have seen on the fell previously and had been confirmed by an expert,  so I'm fairly confident I've Id'd them correctly. They were

236. Andrena scotica (Chocolate Mining-bee) - male  
237. Lasioglossum cupromicans (Turquoise Furrow-bee) - female  

I popped ou mid afternoo for a couple of hours and picked up a couple more common mosses

238. Grimmia pulvinata (Grey-cushioned Grimmia
239. Amblystegium serpens (Creeping Feather-moss) 

Whilst out this afternoon in Felledge Wood I watched a Wren wanting to enter the brickwork of a viaduct over the stream but I was putting it off. I scrambled down the bank for a quick peek when presumbably it's mate flew out of the fully formed nest, well advanced for so early. Not really exciting but I cover this square often so know most of the plants and their whereabouts, but I found I was standing in a large 6 square metre patch of Moschatel ,  all in flower. The flowers are green, and in groups of  of five, and is also known as 'Town Hall Clock' because the flowers face out in four directions, like the four faces of a town clock. .Not a rare plant but new completely ,not just for the square,  but I've just checked,  and its new for the tetrad.

Adoxa moschatellina (Moschatel)  - a new tetrad record

240. Adoxa moschatellina (Moschatel)  

When I was a young birder first starting I remember reading and being told about identifying Crows. If there's more than two they are Rooks, as you never see Carrion Crows in groups, they prefer the solitary life. And it was true, but how things change. Rook numbers have dropped by 17% since 1995 where as Carrion Crows have increased by 13% in the same period. Now if you see a group of crows it could be either. On the fell late this afternoon I had a bit of a smile as little groups of Carrion Crows started arriving in a few trees by one of the paths. Eventually there were 63 in these trees, flying around, cawing and doing what crows do. A young woman was walking her dog along the path when the crows all took flight but instead of flying away they circled above her making quite a bit of noise. Her dog ran back and she must of thought it was Hitchcock's 'The Birds' all over again and she turned around and rapidly went back the way she came following her brave doggie.

The Birds

I wandered through the woods for a while picking up a few more plant species including the old boy,  the famous Black Poplar, the leaves are beginning to burst so there's still life in the him yet.

Look at the bark on that! Black Poplar -  Populus nigra subsp. betulifolia

241. Pinus nigra subsp. laricio  (Corsican Pine)       
242. Plantago lanceolata (Ribwort Plantain) 
243. Cirsium vulgare (Spear Thistle)
244. Rumex sanguineus (Wood Dock)
245. Impatiens glandulifera  (Himalayan Balsam) 
246. Mercurialis perennis (Dog's Mercury) 
247. Salix x fragilis (Crack Willow)
248. Aegopodium podagraria (Ground-elder)
249. Populus nigra subsp. betulifolia (Black Poplar)

Nearly every Elder around the edge of the wood has Auricularia auricula-judae (Jew's-ear Fungus) on some of their branches. Not just here but everywhere I go I'm seeing it at the moment  I've never as much as this year.

Auricularia auricula-judae (Jew's-ear Fungus)

250. Auricularia auricula-judae  (Jew's ear Fungus)

There' a few more but it's getting late so I'll finish on a nice round 250

Monday, 20 March 2017

Mainly Moths

I mentioned the the day about that moth.  It was a small white Acleris moth, one of the micro-moths and I really wasn’t sure at all as to what it was. Anyway it turned out that after its bits were examined by the county recorder it was identified as Acleris logiana and the first for County Durham (VC66).  

231. Acleris logiana (Grey Birch Button)

That moth - Here she is (its a girl) A. logiana
 aka Black-headed Birch Leaffolder Moth or Grey Birch Button

The moth trap overnight produced three new moth species for the year in the way of 

232. Perigrapha munda  (Twin-spotted Quaker) 
233. Alsophila aescularia (March Moth )
234. Achlya flavicornis (Yellow-horned Moth)  

Twin-spotted Quaker

March Moth

Here's the Yellow-horned head on showing his antennae 'horns'

Otherwise I went off-piste on an outing with the Durham Wildlife Trust Botany Group to Gainford in the south of the county today. The aim, which was successful, was to see Gagea lutea (Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem) in one of it’s few county sites. A nice day out with 70-odd species including much of the early spring woodland plants in flower.

Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem

Returning,  I walked from the A167 into the square and in one of the fields I picked up a Curlew feeding. Not a year tick but the first that wasn’t just flying over. Better still and only metres away from it were two Oystercatcher. Tick #235. I only had my macro lens with me so here is a very distant shot of them.

235. Haematopus ostralegus (Oystercatcher) 

Sunday, 19 March 2017

A mad rush to get the list up.

Didn't have much time today and looking at my target of 1000 species in a one kilometre square I thought I better get my finger out.
The idea was a quick walk around the fell but I never got further than the South Burn Woods as I desperately checked everything for new species.
The result was two species of Moss, 23 species of Flowering Plant, three fungi including a couple of Rusts and the Good old Common Frog.

202. Hypnum cupressiforme (Cypress-leaved Plait-moss)
203. Ulota crispa (Crisped Pincushion)

204. Bellis perennis (Daisy) - must have missed this one 
205. Cirsium arvense (Creeping Thistle)
206. Cotoneaster horizontalis  (Broom) 
207. Deschampsia cespitosa   (Tufted Hair-grass)
208. Epilobium hirsutum (Great Willow-herb)
209. Fragaria  vesca (Wild Strawberry)
210. Hyacinthoides x massartiana (Hybrid Bluebell)
211. Juncus inflexus (Hard Rush)
212. Leucanthemum vulgare  (Ox-eye Daisy)
213. Linaria purpurea  (Purple Toadflax)
214. Meconopsis cambrica (Welsh Poppy)
215. Pilosella officinarum (Mouse-ear Hawkweed)
216. Plantago major (Grea Plantain)
217. Quercus petraea (Sessile Oak)
218. Rubus idaeus  (Raspberry)
219. Sagina procumbens (Procumbent Pearlwort)
220. Salix caprea (Goat Willow)
221. Stachys sylvatica (Hedge Woundwort)
222. Euphorbia peplus (Petty Spurge)
223. Veronica arvensis (Wall Speedwell) 
224. Veronica serpyllifolia (Thyme-leaved Speedwell)
225. Cytisus scoparius  (Broom)
226. Angelica sylvestris (Wild Angelica)

227. Puccinia punctiformis (Creeping Thistle Rust)
228. Milesina carpatorum (Male Fern Rust)
229. Bulgaria inquinans (Black Bulgar)

230. Rana temporaria (Common Frog)

Thats Ok but I need the temperature to warm up to start getting some invertebrates. I've got a few things in pots in the fridge to check from today and a few Lichens and Mosses to look at but they are going to have to wait.

I have one other thing in the bag, that moth from the other day. I'll tell you about that tomorrow.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

A new moth (but I know not what yet)

On the 15th, amongst the usual spring suspects in the garden moth trap was a white micro-moth I didn't recognise. I did a bit of research but couldn't find anything that really fitted. A post on Twitter didn't reaveal it's identity either. Today the county recorders for both Durham and Northumberland have seen it or the photos and seem to feel it is a new species for the county but one of two very similar species, either Acleris kochiella or Acleris logiana. I have handed the moth over to them and await with great interest. An excellent addition to the list  when it's sorted hopefully.

A species of Acleris micro moth - that I think when identified will be a first for County Durham

What I have identified  were a couple of new species for the year in the last two nights moth traps
192 Panolis flammea (Pine Beauty)
193 Plutella xylostella (Diamond-back Moth)

Plutella xylostella (Diamond-back Moth) - I have already had two in the trap which at this a time of year would normally be unusual but considering the mild winter and the millions that arrived last year its almost to be expected

Panolis flammea (Pine Beauty)- Another Spring moth.  The photos a bit blurred as it was whirring its wings ready to take off

Orthosia incerta (Clouded Draba) - another of the common spring Orthosia moths

Also a few  new plants
194 Ulmus glabra  (Wych Elm)
195 Holcus lanatus (Yorkshire-fog)
196 Lamium album (White Dead-nettle)
197 Teucrium scorodonia (Wood-sage)

Ulmus glabra  (Wych Elm) flowers which are hermaphrodite

and two Spiders, 1 in the house and 1 in the garden
198 Araneus diadematus(Common Garden Spider)
199 Tegenaria gigantea (Giant House Spider)

I don't find lichens particularly easy to identify,  to say the least,  but I have managed a couple of the easier and common ones. A species with the name Chewing Gum Lichen can be found quite easily on pavements as well as on trees, walls, lamp-posts and roofs. Smaller specimens look rather chewing gum on the pavemnet. It's very common. The other species I found is Lecanora chlarotera. This is a common species on tree trunks and looks like a grey, lumpy porridge.

200 Lecanora muralis (Chewing Gum Lichen)
201 Lecanora chlarotera

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Out of the square but 4 before I left

Went out of the square today looking for Sand Martin on the river. No, I didn't see any. A nice walk however with an 8 mile round trip and 45 species of bird seen, including 7 Common Buzzard, with 5 in the air together over Chester Moor, 5 singing Chiffchaff and  4 Oyster-catcher.

I did however manage to get 4 more for the square with a Queen Tree Bumblebee feeding on the crocuses in the garden before I left, and on the orbital road Wood Burdock and Teasel both beginning to show their new leaves. Leaving the best till last, also here I had a single Orange Underwing moth over the birches. This moth flies in sunny weather over the tops of birch trees in early spring, and like Purple Hairstreak butterflies, usually best seen through binoculars, like this one.  Though I see it nearly every year this is my earliest ever record of this day-flying moth.

188. Arctium nemorosum (Wood Burdock)
189. Dipsacus fullonum (Wild Teasel)
190. Bombus hypnorum (Tree Bumblebee)
191. Archiearis parthenias (Orange Underwing)