Monday 29 June 2020

Big insects

I continue to catch a these Phryganea caddis regularly. I have some microscope work to do to determine which species they are, grandis or bipunctata. The caddis guides are currently well thumbed, looking forward to the new book which is in production apparently.

Phryganea grandis / bipunctata - the largest UK caddis.

My other big thing was a much desired cranefly which finally turned up in a trap, Tipula maxima, a spectacular beast.

Tipula maxima.

This seems a tad earlier than I'm used to....

Setaceous Hebrew Character.

And some things I always struggle with:

Bactra lancealana (thanks SS and UKMothID)

Endothenia quadrimaculana maybe.

I catch these dark Eqs about 1:3 of standard ones, I'm still not convinced this is what they are.

However, plenty of nice moths.

Monopis weaverella

Flame Carpet.

Eudonia lacustrata, not sure I've caught that here before.

Female Ghost,

Ghost pair.

Ghost demise.

Dusky Brocade.

I'm looking carefully at Dusky Brocade this year as I would really like to nail a definite Confused which should occur.

Here's Palloptera saltuum, a bit of a speciality around our house and garden, this one at Wee Wood.

Here it is in action.

A wonderfully rubbish photo of the soldierfly Beris vallata, a tick, thanks LJ.

And another interesting Diptera, same time, same location, no idea what it is, enquiries in progress.

Chrysopilus cristatus, a snipe fly, thanks again  LJ.

And finally, a bit of a triumph, after a lot of attempts we seem to have got Yellow Rattle to grow in our meadow. Now I know how, we'll be seeding a lot more. (Bit of an effort mind.)

Eight Northern marsh Orchids have grown this year.

Northern Marsh Orchid.

Sunday 21 June 2020

Summer solstice

It's fairly ridiculous here, light enough outside to read a book without a torch, after midnight. As usual I find it a tough time of year whilst I'm still at work, a tendancy to stay up all night, what there is of it, the birds start againat about 02:30. Easy to get sleep deprived. Somehow I'm still catching moths, quite a few from the wee Heath trap down at Wee Wood on Friday night. Included several new for the year, star turn though was this Small Angleshades. Not sure if I've found that here before.

Small Angleshades.

I kind of get in a groove, especially on a Sunday night with the Freak Zone followed by Culture Clash, Stuart McConie and Don Letts' programmes on 6Music. I'm then inclined to just carry on going through photographs and trying to identify things, not go bed.

Spent the rainy day trying to identify the caddisflies that were in the traps, again mostly from the Wee Wood, it took a lot of doing to get one to family, one to a species pair and one to a probable identification. I have some gen dets to do to nail these to species, need to give it a go.

Phyrganea, probably bipunctata but grandis is a possibility.

One trap on now, some Ghosts leking, really must go to bed....


Some interesting associations from the last couple of weekends.

These sawfly larvae Nematus ribesii like our white current bush but ignored both the blackcurrents and gooseberries immediately adjacent, interesting as the are called Gooseberry Sawfly in English. A colleague has them in his Orkney garden too and they have decimated his Gooseberry bushes.

Nematus ribesii - Gooseberry Sawfly larvae.

I noticed some adult wasps around the sawfly larvae and at first though they might be adults, but were a bit small, a bit of a rethink and asking the experts, thanks JS and GB and they were identified as an Ichneumon, Eridolius sp (unfortunately tricky to get to species), a beautiful animal though.

Eridolius sp.

Then I was admiring the Cat's-ear which is gradually establing in our lawn, both front and back. We've found that raising the mower blades and cutting less frequently is helping this to establish (not cutting at all doesn't seem to work). As I was photographing it I found myself getting showered with aphids.

Aphids on Cat's-ear.


A little bit of research and I found that there are about 24 species of aphid associated with genus Hypochaeris in the UK. A look at the key was a bit off-putting with a lot of terms to understand. Nature Spot didn't have a helpful photo, however, googling took me back to the Influentialpoints website (where I started out) and suggested an identification of Uroleucon hypochoeridis, this looks spot on for my animals. Job done (maybe, I think I might just tweet and see if I get a response).

Uroleucon hypochoeridis.

Saturday 20 June 2020

Mid week moths and stuff

I ran a Heath trap with a synergetic mid week and caught quite a bit, the first Udea olivalis for the year and plenty of different caddis which I will have to work through. Best though was a Small Phoenix which I've not caught here before. This species is reported more often locally though and seems to be on the increase.

Udea olivalis

Small Phoenix, underside and upper.

I found a few things in the horse water, as usual, this Phyllobius viridicollis was nice.

Phyllobius viridicollis.

The Sycamore in the back garden was full of insects feeding on the flowers, there were a lot of hovers and bees and Red Admiral as well.

Sycamore in the sun.

Red Admiral on the Hebe.

In the Hebe, along with the Painted Lady and Red Admiral were an unprecedented 50 or so Honeybee.

Green-veined White.

I photographed the orchids which we're delighted have finally colonised the garden, hard to know if it is the mowing regime, we're cutting much higher the last two or three years, or that I scattered a lot of seed last year. There are eight plants altogether. All are Northern Marsh Orchid (yes I know they're not supposed to have spots on their leaves but here lots of them do).

We've not cut this patch now, we have quite a few of these patches dotted around, as well as the mostly uncut Orkney Vole reserve.

Tuesday 16 June 2020

Seeing lots no time to write...

Sunday was a good day.

I rarely twitch anything but a Rosy Starling not too far away seemed worthy. It turned out to be the dullest pink one (perhaps a 2cy I need to look at the ageing guide) but good enough.

 Rose-coloured Starling.

I'd not noticed before how long winged this species looks in flight and a much slower wing beat than Sternus vulgaris.

I hummed and haaed and then headed north. Painted Lady flew by. Lots of Diamond-backed Moths in the grass. Sea was flat calm and grey, perfect for a bit of a seawatch. Harbour Porpoise - nice. Hundreds and hundreds of auks feeding on the sea distantly to the south. Big fins, big bodies, four Orca. Fairly decent views through the scope. They went underwater. More scanning, a couple of Harbour Porpoise. A Manx or two went by and a pile of Bonxies, with some Arctic Skuas. Scanned back and forth and kept checking the auks, sure enough, much further out this time the Orcas again. More scanning, more fins, slightly confused as these were not Orca fins I was seeing, then I realised I was looking at much closer and smaller animals, maybe eight animals, still a way off but three turned and were heading in. I lost them. Next thing I knew the Risso's Dolphins were just in front of me.

Risso's Dolphins

Risso's (very bad movie!)

Later on, someone had a very nice adult Long-tailed Skua, but that would have been spoiling me.

At home - wasp.

Tree Wasp Dolichovespula sylvestris - a very nice animal, getting wood to make a nest.

Sunday 7 June 2020


Wandered out late morning and headed for Loch of Bosquoy. Lingered by The Shunan, the Coot all seem to have failed. Walked along the hawthorn hedge. Birded Bosquoy, not much of note.

Back over the road, east end of hawthorn hedge, a very bright wheatear flew up to a fence post. Except it wasn't. Looked with the bins, ......££$$&&** not much more to say.


It's a long time since I've found anything really decent birdwise. The drake Lesser Scaup, which was a fair while ago now, so this was especially welcome.

It lingered for an hour before drifting off south along the fence line, so unfortunately it didn't make the "from the garden" list.

Don Letts currently playing Beautiful Freak, an exceptionally brilliant album.

Thursday 4 June 2020

Bioblitz and beyond.

So the 24 hours of the bioblitz - Orkney Garden Bioblitz 2020 at #orkneybioblitz2020 and at this FB group was windy and quite cool, I didn't bother to put the moth traps out at all. The colour trays caught almost nothing because of the wind and I spent much of the time trying to identify other folks' stuff. I've just now shared the last hoverfly with the national scheme (I hope), bit of a epic but it did bring people in to looking more at the wildlife in their immediate vicinity. Over 100 folk took part so that has to be a success. For me the best creature, although there are still some to identify was a very tiny weevil that decided to fly into my beeting tray (white umbrella actually) whilst I was searching through it.

The numbered scale is mm. I think a  Ceutorhynchinae but then which one is a challenge.
Now identified as Ceutorhyncus typhae, thanks LJ.

Since I started this post I've been working on a few of the other things I caught, a very tiny Hemipteran is going to be a challenge, thanks to TB I've got as far as Delphacidae and a link to the RES key (1960). From my experience, even if there are only 76 possibilities this is going to be a challenge.


An Empid of the genus Rhamphomyia - possibly sulcata - was also in the colour trays, started to try and key this oout but I've surrendered, perhaps the CR will  do it for me? Nearly 90 species and the key is quite hard work, Diptera aren't really my thing.

However, then I found this in the tray, a Bibionidae. The keys are relatively straightforward(ish) and I think it is Bibio johannis.

Bibio johannis I think.

There were a few hoverflies in the garden and the first Episyrphus balteatus of the year put in an appearance.

Episyrphus balteatus.

Eristalis pertinax, Eristalis arbustorum, Neoscia podagrica, Eupeodes corollae, Platycheirus albimanus and Rhingia campestris were also seen on the day.

Cyanomya mortuorum.

Not a hover but a fine Dip was hanging around the dead Rook around which I have a couple of pitfall traps. These were still filling up with larvae, not sure what of, I'm waiting to see what emerges from the corpse later, not that there's much left of it. Currently catching a lot of Pterostichus melanarius in them. Previously lots of Thanatophilus rugosus and a few Nicrophorus humator.

I set a moth trap the night after the bioblitz. Grey/Dark Dagger, Spectacle, Silver Y, Lychnis were notable, no more Glaucous Shears though. (I have a missing blog post re those.) In the late afternoon there were lots of bees around the perennial cornflowers and I managed a Bombus distinguendus (Great Yellow) and new for me the cuckoo bee Bombus bohemicus. I have in the past been trying to ignore the yellow, black and white bumbles as they are swines to ID but I've made an effort of late, takes a lot of photos to get the ID nailed though.

Bombus distinguendus

Bombus bohemicus.