30 Days Wild Pan-species Challenge: Day 20

This period for me is filled with university open days, and today fitted the trend. I went to the Oxford University day today, where the first bird seen in the city was a Red Kite.

Whilst sat in a talk I briefly noticed a large moth in the quad with lots of red on it, I toyed with the idea of it being a Scarlet or Jersey Tiger. Or had I just overestimated the size of a Cinnabar?

Later, when by the Bodleian I saw a definite example of a Scarlet Tiger. Surely one of the best moths in Britain?

Sadly it was too quick for a picture.

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30 Days Wild Pan-species Challenge: Day 19

Unsurprisingly, given the perfect moth-trapping weather last night, I found my best catch of the year waiting for me this morning. With ten lifers making up their numbers!

My favourite was this female Map-winged Swift:

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Map-winged Swift

Making up the large micro lifer contingent was this Grapholita janthinana:

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Grapholita janthinana

The scarcest moth in the trap was a Valerian Pug, also a lifer.

30 Days Wild Pan-species Challenge: Day 18

I got my second dragonfly lifer of the year today, an amazing Golden-ringed Dragonfly at the raptor viewpoint in Wykeham Forest, whilst dipping every good bird the area has to offer.

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Golden-ringed Dragonfly

I picked it up from a distance and thought that it had Golden-ringed jizz, with a thin abdomen which, when viewed from the side, curves upwards. I moved closer and confirmed my hunch. What a stunner!

Once again I apologise for the horrific quality of the photo but I was again getting used to my sister’s camera. Luckily, my camera now works so this shouldn’t be a problem any more!

This dragonfly is going to have to vie with the Banded Demoiselle for my favourite species of Odonata.

30 Days Wild Pan-species Challenge: Day 17

I got today’s lifer in quite an unexpected place, I was at a Leeds University open day and I rescued what I thought was a Phyllopertha horticola from a busy set of steps, but I took a picture and when I got home I realised it was a Welsh Chafer, Hoplia philanthus. Sadly, I discovered that many more had been trodden on on the steps.

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Hoplia philanthus

I think there’s something funky about its single claws, they make it look really dainty, but at the same time they remind me of eagle or Velociraptor claws!

30 Days Wild Pan-species Challenge: Day 16

I’ve frequently mentioned the path I take to get home from college in this series of blog posts, but today I actually took some time to search for insects off the path in the meadow next to it. I was rewarded with this lifer, a stunning click beetle called Agrypnus murinus. Here it is:

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Agrypnus murinus

I’ve heard it said that beetles seen in flight usually turn out to be interesting, and this one landed on my shirt. It really is exquisite with its mottled elytra and thorax, and in flight it shows a bright orange abdomen, so pretty distinctive! It looked completely different in flight in my peripheral vision, so much so that I wondered if I had the same insect that I had seen when I picked it off my shirt. Could this be an adaptation to look like a wasp or something poisonous (with bright colours) in flight, but be camouflaged when it is on the ground?

30 Days Wild Pan-species Challenge: Day 15

I’m half way through my challenge now, and I’m on track!

I’m pleased to say that today’s lifer was a solitary bee, a group which I’m really trying to make an effort in, and in my garden too. This is what I believe is what is known as Willughby’s Leafcutter Bee, Megachile willughbiella:

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Megachile willughbiella

I apologise for the poor, out-of-focus shot but it was a quick photo on my phone, the bee was very flighty and active!

These have to be one of the best groups of bees, with their amazing leaf-cutting behaviour. I really want to see one in action sometime, I’ve seen them carrying leaves but never the actual cutting. However, this one I photographed today won’t be doing any of that as I believe he is a male.

30 Days Wild Pan-species Challenge: Day 14

My lifer was not a moth today! I noticed these exquisite, nettle-associated Myrid bugs, Grypocoris stysi on a nettle bed in an unkempt corner of a churchyard near my house. Here is one:

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Grypocoris stysi

They’re pretty common, being nettle feeders, and they’re distinctive and eye-catching so this is a great species to look for if you want to get started on Hemiptera. I seem to have been neglecting Hemiptera a bit, with only 30 species on my list.

30 Days Wild Pan-species Challenge: Day 13

Nemophora degeerella was my lifer for the day, another pretty micro-moth, on my way home from college. But that wasn’t my most exciting find today.

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Nemophora degeerella

I found a Carabid which I recognised as a Panagaeus. Both species in the genus are very scarce, but I’m fairly certain I had bipustulatus, the commoner of the two. From the relatively breif views I got of it, I saw that the amount of orange on the elytra fitted bipustulatus better. But the habitat is much more typical for the commoner species, on a dry railway embankment. This is potentially a very significant find as it would be the second Yorkshire site away from Spurn. Unfortunately, it was too quick for a photo.

30 Days Wild Pan-species Challenge: Day 12

The moth trap was once again did bits for me, with two more lifers inside.

The first was this nice Ringed China-mark, Parapoynx stratiotata.

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Parapoynx stratiotata

China-marks still fascinate me because of their aquatic lifestyle as a caterpillar, I’d love to find one in the water! This one is quite cosmopolitan in its choice of aquatic foodplants but I doubt it has hatched from my tiny excuse for a garden pond.

The second lifer was a very worn Grey Pug, which was hardly worth a photograph.

As you can see, I’m still frequently adding very common species to my list, even macros and even in my own garden. While it might seem quite high, my moth list of 271 pales into insignificance when you consider there are around 2500 species in the country, and we’re talking about one of the species groups which I concentrate on most here!

30 Days Wild Pan-species Challenge: Day 11

I’ve got an absolutely cracking set of species from Chambers Farm Wood for today’s post, including my first new butterfly of the month.

First identified tick of the day were these Vestal Cuckoo Bees, Bombus vestalis:

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Bombus vestalis

They abounded in the whole wood, but the real reason I came to Chambers was the Marsh Fritillaries, and, although they were worn (we are coming towards the end of the flight season), they did not disappoint.

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Marsh Fritillary

These were my most wanted resident British butterfly up until today, and they are now my favourite. This population almost definitely results from an unofficial introduction, although I’m fairly sure that the butterfly was known from the area in the past, so I don’t see a problem with it.

Another massive highlight was the display that the (certainly introduced) Black Hairstreaks put on. These weren’t a lifer but my only previous views were distant and brief so this was a nice change!

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Black Hairstreak

I also saw 2 Broad-bordered Bee Hawk-moths, but the pictures aren’t worth sharing, I’m still getting used to my sister’s camera which I’m borrowing.