Sunday 28 August 2016

Moths, scary Knot and Biking Birder

Probably some hovers and beetles as well....

I'll start with the Knot which is likely the most interesting wader I've seen for a while, it seemed to have a touch of melanism which got me going with thoughts of Great Dot but I soon returned to a more sensible world.

Melanistic Knot - certainly raised the pulse rate for a while

I seem to have developed a taste for very tiny moths -

Elachista atricomella I think

One of the Coleophora species apparently, there are rather a lot of them....

The garden list seems to be building slowly, today I added Phoenix, the above Coleophora sp, and a Noctuid which I thought was Archer's Dart but has been properly identified as  Heath Rustic (thanks Andy and Stewart) , I don't recall seeing either in the garden traps before anyway.

Heath Rustic


This Pink-barred Sallow was in the kitchen this morning but I've caught three in the traps in the last two days.

I'm always very happy to see one of these in the trap.

 Haworth's Minor

Pinion-streaked Snout is likely the star find of the last week

Gary dropped by yesterday on his way to Shetland and the Ring-necked Duck was happy to oblige after a bit of a search through 175 Tufties and other assorted quackers. Gary and Sydney seemed to be getting on well...

Gary's other new friend left in a hurry, Nicrophorus investigator taking off

We had a scout around the garden yesterday afternoon and dug out a few things, amongst the usual hoverflies was this nice male Syrphus which I think the photo lets me get to vitripennis.

Nettle-tap, with the white eyebrow (another really rather small moth). There were still a few worn Udea lutealis around as well

Saturday 20 August 2016


A brief excursion to South Ronaldsay on Wednesday.

Common Blue


There was a Greenshank on the shore too. All near Loch of Liddel. A trip to the Bistro to celebrate exam successes, well done Mollie! (And Liam.)

Back at home an early(ish) morning walk produced a juvenile Cuckoo, most likely fledged quite locally I suspect.

Huge numbers of Episyrphus balteatus have appeared in the garden, 340 counted on 16th and 210 counted on 17th. The spinach plants from last year are now in flower and these attracted at least 100 on 16th. A small number of dark individuals were also recorded.

At least 100 on this spinach which we've allowed to go to flower

Not much excitement with moths, as far as I know that is with a number of bottled specimens of micros to get checked over. A Nettle-tap was in the MV, a first for the trap, the run of Gothic continues with another on 15th in the actinic and likely Common Wainscot to be checked. The first Autumnal Rustics have begun to appear.


Autumnal Rustics

Waders are beginning to come through now with 13 Knot on the beach at Palace and a Greenshank yesterday. Rain and a strong south-easterly this morn means I'll be out hunting for rare things when the forecast end of precipitation occurs shortly.

Monday 15 August 2016

Ring-necked Duck

A slightly tricky ID with this drake being in eclipse plumage, Loch of Bosquoy, Sunday.

Last Monday the seawatches produced 13 Sooties, 48 Manx and two Stormies, very enjoyable.

Thursday 11 August 2016

Tales of murder

Set off on this track by this post -

I had taken these pix on Tuesday mind.

"Look, pal, I ddna doo it!"

"It wasna me."

This is a Bonxie, or Great Skua well known for avian terror. Also responsible for terrorising Louise on an occasion when she wandered in to an occupied territory. A scary big bird.

 This is a snail killing fly, maybe Tetanocera sp, of Sciomyzidae

Lays its eggs in the snail and the larvae eat the snail alive, nice. That'll teach the beggars to eat my broccoli. 

Now I was going to post some Empid pictures here too, a predatory fly, but can't find the images at the moment for some reason.

Sunday 7 August 2016

Hover time

My kitchen rocket plant which has attracted so many hoverflies to a sheltered spot just by the front of our house over the last couple of years did not reappear this year. Last year we tried growing some Nicotiana in the vague hope of attracting Convolvulus Hawk-moth (bit of wishful thinking I know), the plants did grow and flowered at the right time but didn't really attract much, let alone the hawk-moth. This year we tried some dwarf sunflowers, some in pots (currently tucked away in the conservatory so the wind doesn't destroy them) and some transplanted into the veg patch (fingers crossed with those). I also came across a random crucifer and put it in a corner of the bean patch. The last couple of days have shown the value of these plantings.

 Sunflower and Episyrphus balteatus

 Two Episyrphus balteatus and a Syrphus sp on the crucifer

 Female Eupeodes corollae on the flowers (id the yellow runs across the margin from upper to lower body surface).
 Female Syrphus, either vitripennis or torvus, to get to species level need to see the extent of the tiny hairs on the 2nd basal cell of the wing, a microscope job.

Out and about down the track and around the Wee Wood there have been huge numbers of hovers. Cheilosia illustrata has just begun to be seen in some numbers. It is a small and not especially good mimic of bumblebees.

Cheilosia illustrata on Hogweed

Most hovers were on Creeping thistle heads.

 Creeping Thistle by the side of the track

I counted 139 Helophilus pendulus between the Weee Wood and the hawthorn hedge, but there were 100s more than that I suspect.

 Helophilus pendulus mating

 In amongst all the H.pendulus I did find this pair of Helophilus hybridus. Black line between T2 and T3 absent in male and  hind tibia with apical half (rather than third) black.  I usually find that the stripes on the thoracic dorsum are less bright.

 H.hybridus, pair mating and Empis livida

 Syritta pipiens showing the enlarged hind femur

Syritta pipiens and thing (LJ can you get that to family?)

Sericomyia silentis a wasp mimic

 Male Platycheirus manicatus, front tarsi enlaged, dull thoracic dorsum, yellow/orange and black

Female of the same species showing the sticking out face (females do not have enlarged tarsi).

There have been some good moths lately as well, I'll post them shortly.

Windy and quite wet here today, not much good for insects but I got a new bike the other day, well I've had the Kona for 26 years so I don't think I'm being too extravagant and got a good deal via the Cyclescheme (tax free (ish) purchase). So time to get muddy...