30 Days Wild Pan-species Challenge: Day 23 and 24

Well, I did get my pan-species lifer yesterday, but I didn’t have time to blog about it. Have I failed my challenge? I think I’ve at least done enough to warrant carrying on.

Anyway, here’s yesterday’s lifer, a Rustic Shoulder-knot from the garden moth trap.

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Rustic Shoulder-knot

And today, whilst volunteering at RSPB Bempton Cliffs, I went to check out the Northern Marsh-orchids and I found this specimen which is literally days in not hours away from going over completely!

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Northern Marsh-orchid

I got that lifer by the skin of my teeth.

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Common Spotted x Northern Marsh-orchid?

I also saw this, which I think looks like Common Spotted x Northern Marsh, all of the orchids I saw on site resembled this bar the pure Northern Marsh mentioned earlier. It seemed darker than the photo shows but it could just be a very, very well-marked Common Spotted. I have indeed noticed that the strength of the spots on Common Spotted-orchids varies from site to site. Common Spotted x Northern Marsh has been seen on this site previously.

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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 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.

NEW BLOG POST! 30 Days Wild Pan-species Challenge: Day 7

Another day at home, another walk round the fields, another lifer.

Today I took a leaf out of Erica McAlister’s book, who appeared on Springwatch Unsprung last night, and found this fly which I believe is the fascinating Volucella bombylans. This hoverfly is an amazing bumblebee mimic, which comes in multiple colour forms. Mine was the red-tailed form (var. bombylans).

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I’m not too surprised that this challenge is proving achievable so far, but I’m surprised at the quality of species that I’m ticking, though this could change by the end of the month. I’ll try my best!

 

30 Days Wild Pan-species Challenge: Day 5

Day 5 of my challenge and I’m still going strong. I noticed this beetle in a field edge around my village this morning. It is the common but very beautiful leaf beetle; Chrysolina staphylaea. 

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Chrysolina staphylaea

The photo really doesn’t do the beetle justice, it is an amazing deep, metallic red. Leaf beetles are one of the beetle groups that I’m trying to get to grips with, so this was a very welcome tick!

This also demonstrates the importance of field edge as a habitat, there will be countless other organisms like this (and also rarer ones) living in them so agricultural policy needs to recognize this and protect and enhance good field edge habitat. Topical for the upcoming general election! Keep nature in mind when you vote.

My Patch

Seeing as I am new to blogging I think that I should introduce the places that I visit on a regular basis to watch wildlife. I am 15, and therefore can’t own a car or moped, so I am limited as to how far I can travel (without bugging my parents) by bike in a day. My patch which I bird at is an area of mature hedgerows, which have turned into broken woodland in places, pastures used to graze horses and the pools which form in these pastures. I will refer to this area as ‘Priory Fields’.

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Priory Fields

It is very accessible for me, being only a 10 minute walk away, and is probably the best birding location in the (very) local area. As I said, it is an area of pastures with mixed mature hedgerows, a feature now sadly disappearing from much of the lowland farmland, in my area at least. Some of my favourite inhabitants of this area are the winter thrushes and they are abundant here. Especially Redwing and Blackbird along with smaller numbers of Mistle Thrush and Fieldfare. It is magical to walk down one of the pathways on a crisp morning in a corridor of trees and hear the alarm calls ring out, forming a pleasant chorus of chucks, seeps and rattles which is one of the quintessential sounds of winter.

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Redwing

The pools in the pastures are quite a unique feature of this area of farmland, being full pretty much all year round, and support species which would not be present on normal farmland. For example they are a local hotspot for gulls; mainly Black-Headed, Herring and Common gulls and occasionally Mediterranean Gulls, although I have never seen them here. They also periodically attract migrating waders including Little Ringed Plover.

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One of the Pools

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Mixed Flock of Gulls

Other birds living here include decent numbers of Buzzards, Sparrowhawks, Yellowhammers and Bullfinches are also reasonably common; one of my favourite birds. Along with all the regular farmland and garden birds other relative rarities have occaisionally been reported such as Peregrines and Red Kites. On the other side of my village there is more farmland which is more crop-based but holds large numbers of wintering Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting along with Lesser Redpoll, Roe Deer, Skylarks and Tree Sparrow. Here, last summer, I was surprised to see a male Black-Tailed Skimmer dragonfly, something I really was not expecting to see. This just goes to show that even humble arable farmland can sometimes surprise you!

To see other wildlife, namely invertebrates, I usually visit my local botanical gardens. There is a meadow there that, at the right time in summer can put on a spectacular show. All of the common garden butterflies occur here along with Speckled Wood, Ringlet, Meadow Brown and even Small Copper. It is late summer when this meadow, bordered by woods and a lake, is at its best. With the golden light just beginning to fade away through the swathes of grass and the bronzing, brittle leaves on the trees, I found myself there last summer. The air was hazy and balmy and huge numbers of dragonflies whirled around my head and up to the treetops. Changing direction with crackles of gauze wings, they pursued their prey, the myriad of small flying insects. All of this activity made their wings glisten against the August sun and sent me into a trance of happiness.

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