Saturday, 30 May 2009

Seeing the Changes 204

In Loughor, Marsh willowherb (Epilobium palustre) was in flower and the Lords and ladies (Arum maculatum) was in berry. The bright red Lily beetle (Liliocera lilii) as well as Soldier and Sailor beetles (Cantharis rustica and Cantharis livida) strutted about. A female Beautiful demoiselle (Calopterix virgo) flitted around in the day and visited by an Iron prominent (Notodonta dromedarius) moth at night.

A Ray of Despond: Stress and Ecotourism

A study has concluded that Stingrays at Grand Cayman sandbanks are stressed (with a subsequent depression of their immune systems making them more prone to disease) by tourists scuba diving with them ( This seems to apply even when the fish are not physically touched. Other studies have suggested that penguins and dolphins (credited in some circles with almost 'mystical' healing powers) can also be stressed by swimming humans, leading to some popular ecotourism venues concluding that allowing these activities is detrimental for the animals that attract visitors in the first place. The situation is not, however, always this simple as some species appear to benefit from the presence of humans (who deter their predators and/or making their feeding more efficient, leaving more time and energy for reproduction). What we really need is proper evaluation in each case.

Invasion of the Painted Ladies

It sounds like a collective holiday for geisha but the Painted ladies in question are all madam butterflies (Cynthia cardui). The hot weather seems to have triggered an impressive migration of these insects into the UK ( The start of this UK invasion from North Africa was first seen this year at Portland Bill, Dorset but later more than 50 per minute were counted arriving at Scott Head Island in North Norfolk. This is bad news for thistles who provide the food for the larvae of these impressive insects. Nice to see a butterfly species doing well.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Seeing the Changes 203

In Loughor, there was an invasion of the Trooping crumble cap (Coprinus disemminatus) and a Ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata) went wrong.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Seeing the Changes 202

A glorious warm and bright day at Oxwich. Saw absolutely everything, including a white European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) with a black counterpart. In terms of flowers, English stonecrop (Sedum anglicum), Lesser hawkbit (Leontodon taraxacoides), Yellow rattle (Rhinanthus minor), Southern marsh orchid (Dactylorhiza praetemissa) and Germander speedwell (Veronica chamaedrys) were much in evidence. The pillarbox-red beetle Chrysomela populi worked the Grey sallow (Salix cinerea) and a small Bumble bee (Bombus jonellus) roamed the flowers. Lots of day-flying moths including numerous Common wave (Cabera exanthemata) and the Cinnabar (Tyria jacobaeae) flitted about. Also a good day for butterflies with the first annual spots of the Dingy skipper (Erynnis tages), the Small heath (Coenonympha pamphilus), the Common blue (Polyommatus icarus), the Small blue (Cupido minima) and the Painted lady (Cynthia cardui). Also got some good shots of a Brimstone (Gonopteryx rhamni).

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Seeing the Changes 201

In Swansea, the first Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) was in flower. Sea plantain (Plantago maritima) was in evidence in West cross as well as Common sorrel (Rumex acetosa) and Annual wall rocket (Diplotaxis muralis) in Blackpill. In Loughor, Yellow oxalis (Oxalis corniculata) popped out along with the Pignut (Conopodium majus). Scorpion senna (Coronilla emerus), Guelder rose (Viburnum opulus), the Wayfaring tree (Viburnum lantana), the alien Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) and Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum) were also in flower. A 10-spot ladybird (Adalia 10-punctata) scuttled about in this location as did a Cardinal beetle (Pyrochroa serraticornis) and some frisky beetles (Chrysolena geminata) mated. An interesting gastropod (Succinea putris) was also found. A Crab spider (Misumena vatia) lurked and two Hawthorn shield bugs (Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale) also got down to mating. In Bynea, the Common mouse-ear (Cerastium fontanum) was much in flower and a beetle (Oedemera nobilis) fed on pollen. Other beetles (including a mated Gastrophysa viridula) and flies were in evidence there.

Studland Heath Goes Up in Smoke

A fire has apparently devastated about 2.5 hectares of Studland Heath ( that is one of the locations we use in Dorset. The fire (thought to be cigarette-related) could not have occurred at a worse time in a location that is home to all 6 species of British reptiles including the vanishingly rare Smooth snake (Coronella austriaca) and the endangered Sand lizard (Lacerta agilis) that would all have been active on the surface. It is estimated that about 500 reptiles will have died in the fire. Many rare birds will also have been feeding their broods here at this time. Flowers and insects will also have been destroyed. The National Trust reckon that it will take decades for the heath to recover.

Where's the Beef?

  Industry 'experts' are claiming that the 'use-by dates' on red meat should be extended (