What is Patton's Tiger?

I have been immersed in natural history since I was 18 and started work at the (then) Wildfowl Trust at Arundel. I met, worked and lived with some brilliant naturalists and a lifetime's obsession was born.
Birding was followed by mothing and the height of 'achievement' was obtained when a moth was given the above vernacular name in recognition of the fact that I trapped the first British record.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Wake me up when September ends.....

An autumnal moth-trapping session near the coast produced a worn Convolvulus Hawk-moth but other migrants were in short supply. A Canary-shouldered Thorn proved that summer was well and truly over.
A new mammal was added to my Pan-species list with the oh-so-cute Edible Dormouse seen on a monitoring visit in Buckinghamshire.
Walking around Findon in West Sussex, I saw the largest 'swarm' of the Ivy Bee Colletes hederae I have seen to date. Literally thousands were over, and under, a front garden lawn.

A few days in Dorset and Hampshire were rather productive with a new plant - Mudwort (which was actually under water)
My second new bird in a short space of time. The first was Red-footed Falcon at Chichester Gravel Pits and this is the Short-billed Dowitcher which was at Lodmoor.
In the New Forest, I finally caught up with (and managed to photograph) Bombus jonellus and also caught a flat fly Hippobosca equina on a New Forest Pony.

Time flies.........

OK, so the last time I wrote on here it was August and it is now October. It has, weather-wise, been the worst summer I can remember. Natural history recording has been a slog and, like others, I have started to lose a bit of interest. But there have been some good times and some new species.
So here is a bit of a catch-up.

I have a bit of a penchant for naughty species(!) this Orange Balsam was growing near the old gunpowder works at Chilworth in Surrey. I didn't realise that it is considered an invasive species. I think it's rather pretty ;)
Dyer's Mazegill found under pine on a geocaching walk on a damp August day. And so ended a disappointing month.
Next post will be September in a nutshell!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

At last!

After hearing about the trap-loads of Cydia amplana arriving on the coast, and then further inland, I reckoned that I deserved one too. And I got one!

The night before I had the local, and rather attractive, Mocha.

And then, the following day this Hornet Robberfly Asilus crabroniformis was netted on Iping Common.


I hadn't done it before. I was a Bioblitz virgin. It was only when I found out that my old friend and Pan-species Listing rival Tony Davis was going to be ringing birds at the Bioblitz at Queen Elizabeth Country Park near Petersfield, that I decided to go along for the day. Just caught the end of the ringing (don't do mornings!) but got to see this fine Bullfinch in the hand of Dan Hoare.

We helped with the identification of the contents of the moth trap and then went for a walk over some splendid chalk downland. On a rather windy day, few species were hanging around to be photographed, but this Small Skipper was very obliging.

A nice selection of hoverflies was seen and I got a new micro-moth. The highlight, for me, was finally catching up with a moth which had eluded me - the Chalk Carpet.

There was plenty of Clustered Bellflower.

And we saw lots of these flies with black and yellow bodies and black wings.

An Eclectic Mix..........

Catching up after a blogging hiatus. Here is a selection of various goodies!

Driving along a local rural road, a flattened carcass attracted my attention. Sure enough, the small deer proved to be a Muntjac. They are not uncommon in this area. Oddly though, the antlers had been sawn off.
Flat Muntjac

An evening walk was interrupted by a rustling in the undergrowth! A quick delve produced a newly-emerged Sawyer Beetle - Britain's largest longhorn beetle.
Prionus coriarius - Sawyer Beetle

Strolling along the canal at Loxwood, I finally caught up with a fly which had eluded me. The male Tachinid fly Phasia hemiptera. The shape and colouration of the wings is just amazing! I searched some of the Figwort plants and soon found the Figwort Weevil.
Phasia hemiptera

I don't BELIEVE it!!!!

I've not posted anything since July!
Let's take a trip back in time and look at some nice moths from the garden trap.......
Black Arches

Rosy Footman

Buff Arches

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Far from Common

A trip to Chobham Common in Surrey produced some new species, but was disappointing in terms of number of insects seen. In my opinion, the wettest April, May and June since records began, is certainly having an effect on some invertebrate populations. Very few butterflies or dragonflies were seen (a few Silver-studded Blues were nice to see, as was a Golden-ringed Dragonfly), hardly any flies or wasps and only very small numbers of beetles. There were plenty of grasshopper nymphs however, one group which doesn't seem so affected by the rain?

Mottled Beefly was new for my list. I am CERTAIN that I HAVE seen it before though!

Leptura quadrifasciata

Twiggy Mullein

Amazing chimney on a wasp nest. Probably
Odynerus spinipes

Cute kitten caterpillar

Neoscona adianta

Delving into the past

I don't spend ALL my waking hours thinking about natural history!! I have recently become interested in my family tree, or rather, half of it! My mother has been working on her relatives for some time now, but my dad's side of the family obviously has no connection to her. I knew, having dabbled a little in the past, that they were a Sussex family going back several hundred years. I started looking using mother's software and the information started to fall out. I was hooked!

Anyway, this led me to the church at Lyminster in Sussex, where I thought I may find some relatives buried. Only one headstone was seen but, on a nearby verge, two interesting plants were seen.


Milk thistle

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

A riot and a rant.......

Yesterday I visited a local common. A superb heathland site which I rarely go to these days. Why on earth not? Well, because of irresponsible dog owners and, more to the point, the lack of action by landowners, conservation organisations and 'the powers that be'. Apart from being literally plastered in dog sh1t which is the ultimate deterrent to enjoying a day in the field once you have trodden, knelt, or put your elbow or hand in it whilst trying to take a close-up photo, you have to put up with the ignorant doggy owners who cannot read. Or maybe they CAN, but they choose to ignore all the signs saying that dogs MUST be on a SHORT lead at this time of year because of ground-nesting birds. I spoke to two. One seemed genuinely not to know and put her dog on the lead straight away. The second put her dog on the lead for 30 seconds until she had walked past me and then let it off again. Why is her pet more important than protected birds? It sends my blood pressure through the roof, so I won't be back for the forseeable.

Out of interest, I HAVE contacted the organisation responsible for managing the site. A dog bin was installed  a year or so ago. I'm sure some poo goes in it, but tons and tons still goes on the naturally impoverished heathland soil. I wonder how many dog owners have been prosecuted? Guess that would be none :(

One knock-on effect of this is that, on sites where I KNOW nothing is done about errant dog owners, I have no hesitation to carry a net and I will take specimens if I see fit. Years ago, I would apply for permits (and rarely get them because of ineptitude) but I rarely bother now. If someone wishes to try and take me to court I will happily go.......with stacks of evidence about how they have failed to protect the site from far more serious threats and a counter-claim of persecution! Easy to challenge a naturalist with a net - less tempting to have a go at a very vocal dog owner whose dog has shat on the heather and is now chasing a Woodlark.................................................

So, rant over. What was the riot?

Silver-studded Blues in cop

A riot of fresh Silver-studded Blues fluttering over the heather. Superb! 

So, to escape the people owned by dogs, I went into a sandy quarry and watched Slavemaker ants for ages. I can happily stare at a square foot for a very long time! I watched some flies with incredible silver noses......

Metopia argyrocephala

.....and a jumping spider appeared in focus in just one picture!

Aelurillus v-insignitus

Thursday, 21 June 2012

The last of Somerset

One final stop near Charterhouse and some more grassland. A few nice species although only the fly was new.

Green hairstreak

I have wanted to see a pink grasshopper for YEARS!!
Pretty sure this is a Common Green.

St Mark's bigger bro! Bibio pomonae

Up another hill.

Somerset has a lot of hills! Collard Hill for Large Blues, Cheddar Gorge for Cheddar Pink and, finally, Brean Down for White Rock-rose. But I was not disappointed.

Other flowers, although not new for my Pan-species List, included;

Milk Thistle

Ivy Broomrape

A trip to heaven!

I don't have many species on my 'wanted list', but there are a few. This was one of them.

Cheddar Pink

Not only is it a beautiful flower, but the smell is divine. I sat on the edge of Cheddar Gorge, with pinks at my feet and Ravens just below me. If heaven is like that, I'm happy to go!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

The Blues

I was supposed to making a June trip to the West Country last year to hunt down Large Blues and Cheddar Pink, but my Gran suddenly became unwell and I was involved with caring for her until she died.
The trip was replanned for this year and today this amazing butterfly joined my list.

I also saw my first Woundwort Shieldbug

Friday, 15 June 2012

More from the pond........

Male and female Chysopilus cristatus.

......and the adventures of a mossie on my arm!!!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

A break in the rain

....and an unfamiliar yellow object appears in the sky! I hate it when I can't get out into the field in the 'field season'. I had a trip out to Oakhangar (aka Shortheath) Pond this afternoon. The first thing I noticed was the song of Field Crickets - I wasn't aware that they were present here.

Marsh Cinquefoil - always a pleasure to see

Juvenile Forest Bug