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.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Take a Beating!

I've continued to thrash unsuspecting evergreen trees and bushes in search of overwintering insects. Yew seems to have given up all it's surprises now so I've been looking out for other species to attack. Ivy is supposed to host a lace bug but I haven't found it as yet. However, tapping some Ilex near Mogador in Surrey did produce a rather lovely Box Bug.

I was so busy looking for tiny things on the net, I overlooked the bug for a while!

After leaving the recent Weevil Workshop at Dinton Pastures CP, I stopped off at Wellingtonia Avenue on the way home. Tapping some of the lower branches of the species from which the road gets its name, a Heather Ladybird appeared along with a couple of picture-winged flies, which key out to be Tephritis conura.

Targetted searches save time and the Eleagnus in my mother's garden had the expected psyllid Cacopsylla fulguralis.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Beating trees.

I have always thought of this time of year as being invertebrate-free and consequently boring and useless. Something inspired me to try beating yew trees and as these are often found in churchyards I have been lurking around with beating tray and stick trying not to attract too much attention to myself. The biggest insects found have been the attractive Juniper Shieldbugs (barring a cranefly I haven't yet identified) but most of the catch consists leafhoppers, small spiders and barklice.

Juniper Shieldbug

I'm only attempting identification of species I have a fair chance of success with so this very odd looking fly,

which transpired to be a fungus gnat, will remain unidentified but this picture-winged fly,

one of two beaten from box, is Tephritis formosa.

My garden has been pretty unproductive but tapping the Pieris japonica yielded a single Andromeda Lacebug

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Making a Start

The winter has been reasonably mild, at least on the Surrey/Sussex/Hampshire border. The sun does appear to have the knack of disappearing pretty soon after I go out, but I have been out looking for invertebrates and anything else of interest.

Earlier this week I went to Iping Common. I didn't see the wintering Great Grey Shrike this time (although I hadn't actually taken any binoculars) but turning over logs and leaves located some nice species.

First up were two Seven-spot Ladybirds sheltering in a pine sapling.

Moss. It's very attractive and artistic...... 

Frozen water droplets under the ice. A new one on me.

Birch Shield-bug looking pretty torpid. Found sitting between Sweet Chestnut leaves.

Cocoon of an unknown moth

Centipede, Lithobius variegatus. The stripey legs are diagnostic.

Friday, 2 January 2015

2014 in a nutshell

It's been a while. A very, very long while....

So to start again, a brief resume of 2014. 

New species are great, especially if they are attractive as well. And if you stumble across them with no knowledge of their presence on the site, that just makes for an exciting day. That's how it was when I found several freshly-emerged Anania funebris at a woodland site in Kent.

A trip to Dungeness was bound to produce a lot of interest in terms of flora and fauna as well as the atmosphere of this unique area. I didn't think there was much chance of seeing the micro moth specific to Nottingham Catchfly but the cases were soon found on plants with obvious feeding damage on the leaves, and then adult moths started appearing.

Coleophora galbulipennella

Easier to find, especially when you get an invite into the garden, was the Stinking Hawksbeard.

A trip to the Chilterns just to say that 'the soldiers are in their field'. Military Orchid at Homefield.

I met up with Jonathan for a fabulous day in Kent. Late Spider Orchids....

and a Black-veined White.

"Hello? Is that the Butterfly ID Helpline?...."

And we finished the day with a Rambur's Shieldbug.

Longhorn beetles always rock! This Musk Beetle was a surprise at the PSL meeting at Woodwalton Fen and a new species for me. 

Not a new species but a dozen or so Golden-bloomed Grey Longhorns (Agapanthea villosoviridescens) at Old Winchester Hill made for a very special day.

It became known that it was a good year for the Scarce Fungus Weevil, so I was very keen to find one of my own. I started off with a number of Platystomus albinus which looks similar 

and eventually found a Scarce Fungus Weevil (Platyrhinus resinosus) under a log.

Eventually I couldn't resist the lure of catching up with one of my bogey birds when Bee-eaters bred successfully on the Isle of Wight.

Two random species I was pleased to catch up with were the Cheese Snail

and the Heather Shieldbug, which was swept from heather!

Thanks to a message from Steve Gale, I finally caught up with Ground Pine - a plant I've wanted to see for many years.

And so to the autumn and I finally found a species I've wanted to see since childhood - the iconic Death-cap.

It was a fabulous season for Magpie Inkcaps.

I found an excellent local site for fungi. Species included Parasitic Pinkgill

and Yellow Fan. 

And in the New Forest, the legendary Devil's Fingers was a much-wanted new species.

The moth trap resurfaced in October as warm air hit Britain from the south. Even at my inland site in the Weald, an influx of Palpita vitrealis arrived over a couple of nights.

And a single Diasemiopsis ramburialis.