Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Seeing the Changes 145

In Bynea an under-sized (late?) Elephant hawk moth larva (Deilephila elpenor) was sprinting along the cycle path.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Makes a Change From a Moth!

The early morning in Loughor was punctuated by having an urban Red fox (Vulpes vulpes) gazing through my lounge window.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Seeing the Changes 144

Lots of Starling (Sternus vulgaris) roosting on telephone wires at Bynea. Also active ground beetles (Pterostichus nigrita), living dangerously as a Grass snake basked on the cycle path nearby.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Conkers to Conk Out?

It appears (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/sep/27/1) that the Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) is doomed. A leaf miner from the continent has caused a bacterial infection that destroys the trees.

Seeing the Changes 143

At Oxwich there was an indian summer feel with the last grasshoppers being sought by the lizards in the dunes. There was also a ground beetle (Calosoma auropunctatum) active in the area.

Dorset Daze

Some of the more striking sightings on the Dorset field course included real Red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) and a meeting with a bogus badger (to advertise 'Autumn Watch' coming soon to Brownsea). Also saw 'underground mutton' (Oryctolagus cuniculus) coming in to feed at Weymouth Sealife Park. Also lots of late Red admiral (Vanessa atalanta) and Comma (Polygonia c-album) butterflies basking in the maze at Abbotsbury.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Seeing the Changes 142

At Golden Grove (Carmarthenshire) things seemed a bit confused in the late sunshine (our 'indian summer'?). Rhododendron (Rhododendron ponticum) and Lesser burdock (Arctium minus) were in flower. Chrysomela populi beetles were mating and a Large white (Pieris brassicae) was feeding from a bramble flower. Birch bracket (Piptoporus betulinus) fungus was much in evidence.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Seeing the Changes 141

Weather finally became a bit warmer and lots of sawfly larvae (Croesus septentrionalis) chomped away at Poplar leaves in Swansea. Also some interesting white flowers near the margins of Singleton Park.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Guillemots Turn Nasty

There is a report (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/sep/17/endangeredspecies.wildlife) that hungry Guillemots nesting on the cliffs of the Isle of May (Scotland) are turning on the chicks of neighbours that have been left alone by their parents (this used to be rare but applied to 60% of chicks last year) and, in some cases, pushing them to their deaths off the cliffs. This seems to be triggered by the 'lonely' chicks wandering off and attempting to solicit food from the neighbours. Some 70% of mortalities resulted from conspecific attack last year. The scientists have suggested that this phenomenon is linked to the declining fish stocks in the region.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Birder's Bonus 31

The warm autumn days (very limited in number) at NWCW were something for the European robin (Erithacus rubecula) to sing about!

Seeing the Changes 140

In Loughor, the semi-feral Gower ponies were doing their usual trick of jay walking in the middle of the estuary. At the NWCW, there was lots of late Common wasp (Vespa vulgaris) and dragonfly activity (notably Aeshna cyanea and Sympetrum striolatum). Acorn of the Pedunculate oak (Quercus robur) were much in evidence.

Tree Peace, Man?

It is interesting to note that the Woodland Trust (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article4748809.ece) is claiming that exposure to wood-craft and the ecology of woodlands helps some "disturbed and troublesome teenagers" (even those from urban settings) control their errant behaviour and achieve success in examinations and eventually in the job market. That is an unusual 'pitch' by an organisation seeking more finance to conserve and develop the UK's declining woodland habitats but anything that works (possibly by appealing to the human tendency to explore novel settings, physicality and some one-to -one 'tuition') might be worth developing. Their activities also benefit some animals and plants (perhaps the young folk draw general inferences about the effects of 'small' actions on the fates of particular organisms and come to appreciate better that all actions (including their own) have consequences or is that too 'romantic' with the effect being simply obtained by removing them from their peers?).

Lounge Lizards

One of this year's Zoology graduates, Kate Statham (pictured with a female Whiptail lizard), is now indulging her passion for lizards (she did a project on behaviour of the Leopard gecko) on the Island of St Lucia. Island reptiles show many interesting adaptations to their local circumstances and such animals actually have found it easier to reach some remote oceanic island localities than small mammals (they can switch down their metabolism or travel as eggs).

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Seeing the Changes 139

The early mist in Loughor visualised all the Garden spider (Araneus diademata) webs. At the National Botanical Gardens Wales, the Autumn saffron (Colchicum autumnale) with its medical function was much in evidence. There was also a display of mighty vegetables (including carrots and leeks) and a bunch of insects were 'making hay' (especially on Ivy flowers- also the case in Bynea) in the late sunshine. The insects included the Honey bee (Apis mellifera), the Common wasp (Vespa vulgaris), the Yellow dungfly (Scatophagia stercoraria) and the fly Polietes lardaria. There were a whole bunch of hoverflies including Eristalis tenax, Helophilus pendulus and Melanostoma scalare. A male diving beetle (Acillus sulcatus) missed a small water body.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Seeing the Changes 138

In Swansea, the rain has ceased, momentarily? Pencilled cranesbill (Geranium versicolor), alien Canadian golden rod (Solidago canadensis), Red valerian (Centranthus ruber) and Pale toadflax (Linaria repens) were much in evidence. Sea holly (Eryngium maritimum) looked skeletal, Sea spurge (Euphorbia paralias) is rearing up again and Old man's beard (Clematis vitalba) is unfurlled. Burnet rose (Rosa pimpinellifolia) are hip and Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) are on the wing. Not much insect life but an occassional Drone fly (Eristalis tenax) 'picked' at flowers whilst the oaks had galls. In Loughor, the Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) has conkered.

Bee Bereavement?

Bees are very important insect pollinators. Some species are, of course, also commercially-important because they produce honey and bees-wa...