Monday, 30 August 2010

Seeing the Changes 329

Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis), Carling thistle (Carlina vulgaris) and Common centaury (Centaurium erythraea) were much in evidence in Oxwich. Stands of Hemp agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum) were attracting lots of butterflies including a Small copper (Lycaena phlaeas). They also attracted day-flying moths including Yponomeuta cagnagella. Gatekeeper butterflies (Pyronia titihonus) were mating. Common green grasshopper (Omocestus viridulus), Dark bush cricket (Pholidoptera griseoaptera) and a possible Stripe-winged grasshopper (Stenobrothrus lineatus) chirped and a male Common darter (Sympetrum striolatum) lurked.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Birder's Bonus 74

In Bynea, Swallows (Hirundo rustica) were gathering for the migration south.

Seeing the changes 328

At Bynea, the larvae of the Drinker moth (Philudoria potatoria) were galloping about. There were also lots of black flies, probably a mixture of Fever (Dilophus febrelis) and St mark's (Bibio marci) flies.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Seeing the Changes 327

At Blackpill, there was lots of Hairy finger grass (Digitaria sanguinalis) in flower. Michaelmas daisy (escaped, swarms of Aster crosses) were in bloom.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Blob on the Broccoli

A relative found this odd object on her vegetables (country of origin of the greens unknown). Looks like a lepidopteran pupa but we will have to wait to see if it hatches. No sign of life yet, but I am now thinking that it might be a beetle in transformation.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Birder's Bonus 73

A breeding pair of House martins (Delichon urbica) seem to have produced under the eaves of the Pavilion changing rooms.

A Long Way From Camberwell

A report ( that a Camberwell beauty butterfly had been spotted in a garden in Conwy North Wales is interesting. Although the butterfly has an English-sounding name, it is actually more commonly found in Scandinavia. The specimen will, most likely, have made its way across the sea  whilst in migratory mode. I haven't got a picture of one but the Painted lady does a similar thing (I have only just seen my first of these locally after a bumper year in 2009).

Five, Four, Three, Two, Terraform!

The news that bacteria taken from an exposed beach in Devon have survived outside the orbiting space station for many days is interesting (
The intention is to find organisms for space exploration that could accompany humans and eventually be used to transform alien worlds (in terms of generating oxygen, water etc). It is clear that such organisms do exist. The study also raises several other issues. The first is that it supports the view that simple life on Earth may have arrived from space rather than evolved here. A second is that it may not be very ethical to terraform other worlds (we already know that human introductions of organisms into island communities are often very detrimental to established ecologies). A third is that it would be very difficult to eliminate the bacteria if they prove to be problematical.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Seeing the Changes 326

In Bynea, Traveller's joy (Clematis vitalba) was in seed. Sea aster (Aster tripolium) was in flower but had lost most of their purple petals in the wind. In Loughor, lots of Earth balls (Scleroderma citrinum) were releasing their spores.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Selling the Family Silver?

The suggestion ( that the UK government is considering selling off nature reserves sounds, to me,  very dodgy. I appreciate that austerity seems to be the current 'buzz word' but commerce and conservation rarely fit very happily together. It also seems likely that the short-term gains will be more than counter-balanced by long-term losses. Will there be a single square metre of space that is not built upon? I also worry about the related (in the account) plan to 'privatise' the Meteorological Office at a time when 'unprecedented' (like the floods in Pakistan) climate change events may becoming the norm.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Seeing the Changes 325

Got a nice shot of a Large white butterfly (Pieris brassicae) at Westcross. The alien Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) was in fruit in Loughor. Lots of activity by Episyrphus balteatus amongest the umbellifers.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Seeing the Changes 324

At Blackpill, Water mint (Mentha aquatica) was in minty bloom. A Small copper butterfly (Lycaena phlaeas) hung on in the wind.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Seeing the Changes 323

In Bynea, the Elder (Sambucus nigra) berries were ripening.

Seeing the Changes 322

Went to Rest Bay near Porthcawl. There was lots of Greater burdock (Arctium lappa), Betany (Stachys officinalis), Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia), Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) and Greater knapweed (Centaurea scabiosa) in flower. The last-mentioned was being visited by Six-spot burnet moths (Zygaena filipendulae). On the beach, there was what was claimed to be a coral but looks more like worm tubes to me. Stange rafts of what appeared to be Collembola were floating on the rockpool surfaces.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Sealing the Deal

An issue of a popular fishing magazine ( contains an article by an 'Environmental Biologist' who claims that the UK's Grey and Common seals are 'doe-eyed assassins' getting away with the murder of 'our' fishing stocks (and need urgent culling). The seals are clearly evolved to feed on fish (they do it efficiently) but the idea that that are more of a problem for fish stocks than human activities seems risible. Anyhow, whose fish are they?

Clone, Clone on the Range (Where the Deer and the Antelope Play)

There has been an incredible fuss about the possibility that meat from 2 imported embryos of cloned (an important note is that these are not GM animals) US bulls may have made it into the UK food chain ( The story seems to have extrapolated from an initial claim that milk from cloned cows was being sold to people (largely in Scotland) in this country ( The events seem to be being used to attack the Food Standards Agency (, a body set up to protect consumers from potential food problems. There is clearly absolutely no change that the materials from cloned animals would be any different from bovines reared in an entirely traditional way. Suggestions that there might be welfare problems associated with such animals are probably real but much could be said about many farming practices. The welfare problems (in terms of the numbers of animals involved are also currently tiny) and it looks (from the US experience) that cloning is here to stay in farming. I personally feel that the Scots are more endangered by the deep-fried Marsbar.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Seeing the Changes 321

In Loughor, there was a July highflier moth (Hydriomena furcata) in the moth trap sample along with several other beasts (a Large yellow underwing Noctua pronuba and a Dark arches Apamea monoglypha). The Japanese knotweed (Reynoutria japonica) was flowering in that location. In Bynea, Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) was in sloe and some marsh grasses were in flower along with Lesser calamint (Calamintha nepata).

Bee Bereavement?

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