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.

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

Sunday, 10 June 2012

The Badgeworth Buttercup

Finally, I get to the reason for my journey west. The smallest nature reserve in Britain (the world?) and one of the rarest plants in Britain. The Adder's-tongue Spearwort is only found at two sites in Britain - both in Gloucestershire.
Today was the Wildlife Trust's annual Open day and a small, but dedicated, crowd appreciated the abundance of this scarce plant.

Following in famous footsteps......

When I met Jonathan at the PSL meeting, he told me that he had travelled down via Hartslock reserve to see the orchids. The plan today was to travel to Badgeworth, near Cheltenham, to see the famous 'buttercup'. A lack of geographical sense meant that I hadn't realised how easy it would be to visit this reserve and an early start meant that there was time to spare.
Although I have seen both Lady and Monkey orchids in Kent, the hybrid would be a new species for me.

Although the Lady Orchids were more or less over, the Monkeys still had some flowers left.

The hybrid has much chunkier 'legs' than the Monkey.

Another new species was the Spiked Shieldbug. Here is a huddle of nymphs.

This rather funky spider is awaiting identification

.......and of course the Red Kites performed superbly!!!

A Lichen as a Birthday Present???

The one new species I added on my birthday was a lichen on a bridge.
....but i did receive a very cool card!!!                                                                       
Lecanora muralis

Monday, 4 June 2012

Thundry Meadows

Thundry Meadows, near Elstead in Surrey, is one of my favourite reserves. Why, I hear you ask (very quietly!) Well, I've always seen interesting things there (including Purple Emperor - which was, unbeknown to me, the first record for many years), dogs are not permitted on the reserve and, well, it just feels nice!!!
A quick visit there this evening provided an array of species.

There were hundreds of mayflies hatching. At first it was cloudy and they were resting on vegetation. As the sun came out, they started rising - always a moving sight to me.
Identification to follow.

Bog Bean

Marsh Ragwort

Some Hampshire Botany

There is a long-standing colony of Field Cow-wheat near Portsmouth. Rumour has it that it was planted by a postman, many years ago. Introduced or not, it is a gorgeous, stunning plant. It was only just starting to flower.

Not quite in flower, but one of three spikes of Knapweed
Broomrape found on Portsdown Common, Hampshire.

Small-flowered Catchfly grows on a roadside verge near Bordon.  Being a typical urban site, you have to avoid treading in the dog faeces when taking photographs :(

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Beachy Head

The second day of the East Sussex trip and a beautiful day to be on Beachy Head.

This wall actually produced an interesting solitary wasp and a couple of tiny carabid beetles, none of which have been identified yet!!

The rockpools were amazingly quiet! I did find some chitons, and I am waiting for confirmation of identification.

Over to East Sussex

Immediately after the PSL 2-day meeting, I headed over to East Sussex to catch up with a flower which had eluded me in the past.

I should, at this point, explain something. I, obviously, keep a Pan-Species list. I also belong to the Wild Flower Society and keep a plant list as well. When you join the Society, you start to keep a wild flower diary which is submitted on an annual basis. You may only include plants which are actually in flower. When you are considered competent, you can move from the local group to the heady heights of 'Valhalla'. At this point you have to start counting again, but things become slightly easier in that you can now include plants which are not in flower.

So, this plant was important because I had only seen it in seed, as I had missed the flowering season on my last visit. This time, I was too early - it was only in bud! But it counts for my Valhalla list!

Spiked Rampion
I have to admit that that is, obviously, not my photo!

Red-necked Terrapin on Falmer Pond

Still catching up.........!

I'm still not used to this blogging lark. I position the photos nicely on the page and they then move sneakily into boring rows.......
Still, back in time to Saturday, day 2 of the PSL meeting.

From the flat expanse on Parham Park, we moved onto to the mis-named Heyshott Down. Mis-named cos it was all up.........
Another scorchingly hot late spring day and we were serenaded by Firecrest and Tree Pipit with a supporting chorus of fly-by Buzzards and Siskins.

Huge, chunky click beetle - Agrypnus murinus
My first 'green' Fly Orchid

Pan-species Listers' Field Meeting

OK, so these postings are now veeeery out of date!!! I blame the field season myself!
Let's go back to the first day of the two-day Pan Species Listers' meeting.

Two days in the field with extremely knowledgeable naturalists (who also happen to be really good company) has left me exhausted, physically and mentally!!!
On Friday, we met at Parham Park in West Sussex, and targeted saproxylic insects, about which I know next to nothing!

A mind-boggling number and array of species was recorded.

Feast your eyes on some highlights......

A nationally scarce species - Korynetes caeruleus
The larva of the Cobweb Beetle - Ctesias serra
Criorrhina floccosa - named the Gingernut Hoverfly.......