Saturday, 30 October 2010

Seeing the Changes 342

An alien Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) tree, in Gorseinon, was in autumn colours. In Loughor,  we were visted by a Feathered thorn moth (Colotois pennaria) and the roses were joined by some small white fungi.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Seeing the Changes 341

In Bynea, there was a bright yellow fungus, probably a large Sulphur tuft (Hyphloma fasciculare), that appeared to have sprouted amongst tree debris washed up by the river.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Famous Animals?

There seems to have been a spate of deaths of animals that have made the news. One is the report that the UK's largest land mammal, a Red deer (Cervus elaphus) stag, dubbed the Emperor of Exmoor has been shot, possibly by a trophy hunter, (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/oct/25/exmoor-emperor-stag-shot-dead ). Actually, this may have been an animal coming to the end of his competitive powers as successful stags only last a few years (the competition is very energetically demanding). We have also noted the demise of Paul the Octopus (Octopus vulgaris) the mollusc who alledgedly successfully 'predicted' last summer's football World Cup results in a German aquarium (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11626050 ). Paul was originally from Weymouth in Dorset and appears to have lived about the average duration for such animals. In spite of this, there are conspiracy stories that he died 3 months ago. Perhaps conspiracy theories are always generated by 'fame' irrespective of the species of the animal. It gives the media something additional to write about.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Seeing the Changes 340

Lots of Autumn activity in Swansea by the alien Harlequin beetle (Harmonia axyridis) that is said to be spreading in the UK (http://www.ladybird-survey.org/harlequin.aspx).

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Seeing the Changes 339

A wet and windy day in Bynea resulting in the Sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) shedding its load.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Seeing the Changes 338

In spite of the morning frosts, there was still some Lepidoptera activity. A Fox moth (Macrothylacia rubi) larva scuttled over the cycle path at Penclacwydd. A Green-veined white (Artogeia napi) fed on the remaining yellow crucifers.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Birder's Bonus 76

A lonely cygnet floated on the river Loughor near Bynea.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Spot On!

There is an interesting account (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11575214 ) that the coats of big cats (including the leopard) reflect their hunting styles. Will Allen from Bristol University has studied the coat patterns of 35 species and has linked these to hunting styles (ambush predators versus animals that chase their prey) and the time of day/night at which the species hunts. Leopards (as suggested by Kipling) seem to have complex, irregular spots because they tend to hunt at night in dense forests.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

I Am a Mole and I'm Not in My Hole

The strange sight of a live mole (Talpa europaea) in broad daylight on the cycle path at Penclacwydd. Greenbottle flies had decided it was dead but the mole begged to differ.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Seeing the Changes 337

Now a harvestman spider lurks by the front door in Loughor.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Seeing the Changes 336

In Loughor, there was the first frost of the year. At Oxwich, Long-stalked cranesbill (Geranium columbinum) was in bloom. In spite the chill, Dronefly (Eristalis tenax) and Scaeva pyrastri were both active. There were also quite a number of fungi.

Friday, 15 October 2010

All the Colours?

Colour seemed to dominate Breakfast news on BBC with accounts of black (melanic) Grey squirrels thriving in Hertsfordshire and other southern counties (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1124422/Squirrels-dark-legacy-How-black-variety-descendants-rogue-American-rodent.html ). This 'story' has been running for a couple of years but it is now suggested that "these testosterone-fueled" (actually a bit a speculation) are actually more of a threat to the endangered UK Red squirrel. Melanic mammals are quite common and I really don't think the situation for the Reds has changed much at all (unless the black variety are favoured other the greys when it comes to 'culling' policy). There was also a report that wind turbines (increasingly dominating our landscape) might be better painted purple rather than the traditional white (http://www.edie.net/news/news_story.asp?id=18823&channel=0&title=Purple+wind+turbines+could+save+wildlife+ ). The argument seemed to be that purple would (unlike white) not attract many insects that, in turn, act as a beacon for birds that feed upon them (and predators of those birds?). It might well be of benefit to wildlife but I am not sure about the visual impact on the environment.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Invasion of the Bugs?

Just noted Ian Tew's recording of a Western conifer seed bug (Leptoglossus occidentalis) on the Gower wildlife blog. It may be entirely unconnected but, on the Dorset field trip (20-24th September), I noted dozens of these pest species on houses (presumably attracted by lights) on the walls of houses on the Island of Portland. Portland is a major migration route for insects (as well as birds) so one can't help wonder if there was a mass crossing from the continent around this time.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Seeing the Changes 335

A sudden 'Indian summer' in Bynea caused the Yellow dung-flies (Scatophagia stercoraria) to 'make hay whilst the dung shines' and engage in mating. A very hairy caterpillar ran from the winter!

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Reservations About 'Conservation'

There has been a lot of media support on 'The One Show' by Mike Dilger  for the activities of Mrs Tiggy-winkles hospital for 'wildlife casualties' (http://www.sttiggywinkles.org.uk/). My basic concern is that many of the organisms featured, given a 'second chance', are actually alien species (such as Sika deer) that are subsequently released into areas that might well suffer from their attentions. I do think that people operating in this fashion ought to think very clearly about what they are really doing (the fact that humans caused the problem can't be the only justification).

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Boris the Spider

In spite of the cold and rain, a large, hairy spider, probably a Giant house spider (Tegenaria duellica), has taken to lurking near the lamp outside my front door. It is no doubt attracted to the insects that come to the light. My daughter's house had also apparently been enveloped by a Garden orb spider (Araneus diadematus).

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Seeing the Changes 334

In Gorseinon, spotted a Large ranunculus moth (Polymixis flavicinta). In Bynea, the Buff tip moth larvae had disappeared (eaten or pupated?) but Orange hawkweed (Hieracium aurantiacum) made a late appearance.

Pineapple Surprise

Some of the costs of UK supermarkets are reflected in social and environmental issues in Costa Rica (http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2010/oct/01/high-cost-cheap-pineapples-supermarkets ).

Bear-faced Robbery?

Yet another example of the tension between people and conservation is seen in the recent responses of people in rural Romania to a hunti...