Dry-weather butterflies

Posted in garden, insects, oxfordshire, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife with tags , , on 18 July 2018 by bramblejungle

It may be too early to tell whether the prolonged dry spell has affected butterfly numbers; so far things are not looking too bad, with these apparently enjoying the sun in the garden (plus a few holly blues and the odd comma that I didn’t manage to photograph). I was surprised to find that nearly all the whites were green-veined:

Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus)

Green-veined white (Pieris napi)

Green-veined white (Pieris napi)
Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus)

Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

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Scarlet tigers – early this year

Posted in "Butts Piece", birds, insects, oxfordshire, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife with tags , , on 9 June 2018 by bramblejungle

Just the odd one so far;
last year the best show was a couple of weeks later, so here’s hoping… Scarlet Tiger moth (Callimorpha dominula) Scarlet tigers

Meanwhile. it’s good to see a few linnets around Linnet (Carduelis cannabina)

Garden Birdwatch 2018

Posted in birds, garden, oxfordshire, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife with tags , , on 29 January 2018 by bramblejungle

Another RSPB annual Big Garden Birdwatch, and ten years’ data from the local patch (click the image for an expanded view in Flickr). As always, some regular visitors were absent – jackdaws, collared doves, goldfinches – but there were more house sparrows than ever. This year a sparrowhawk did turn up, but it didn’t catch anything, and the small birds re-emerged from the brambles within a few minutes.

Big Garden Birdwatch 2018

Early Summer

Posted in birds, bumblebee, garden, insects, oxfordshire, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife on 27 August 2017 by bramblejungle

“Variable” just about sums it up:

June – the Marjoram patch attracted a wide range of  hoverflies, bees and other invertebrates
Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus) in flight Bombus terrestris?
Oak bush cricket (Meconema thalassinum) nymph

and Field Scabious appeared in the “meadow” Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis)

July – butterflies, mostly a bit earlier than usual (and, of course, nowhere to be seen by the time of the Big Butterfly Count at the end of the month)

Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus) Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus), m
Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus)
Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae)

very few ladybirds, except some 22-spots breeding on a mildewed thistle
22-spot ladybird (Psyllobora 22-punctata) larva 22-spot ladybird (Psyllobora 22-punctata)
but it was good to see this chiffchaff catching insects in a plum tree
Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)

and many hoverflies, including several Volucella zonaria (the UK’s biggest hoverfly) Volucella zonaria
and its smaller cousin V. inanis
Volucella inanis

August isn’t quite over, so I’ll save that for another day.

Scarlet Tigers – annual update

Posted in "Butts Piece", insects, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife with tags , , , on 24 June 2017 by bramblejungle

The best show of scarlet tigers in the 8 years I’ve been watching the comfrey patch

Scarlet everywhere...Scarlet everywhere...Scarlet everywhere...Scarlet everywhere...Scarlet everywhere...

Two months later…

Posted in garden, insects, oxfordshire, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife with tags , , , , , on 3 June 2017 by bramblejungle

… and the “meadow” has transformed into a (planned) wilderness: the hawksbeard (rough or beaked, I’m not sure) is over a metre high, yellow rattle is everywhere, corncockles are just starting to flower and there is white clover, cut-leaf cranesbill and a host of other plants I haven’t identified yet, plus a few I could manage without – like meadow bindweed and cleavers. The marjoram and tufted vetch are doing well, but haven’t flowered yet.

Hawksbeard

Oxeye daisy Yellow rattle

Corncockle

Meanwhile there are more bumblebees than I’ve ever seen in the Cotoneaster and Buddleia globosa – there must be Bombus hypnorum (amongst others) nesting nearby, and I’ve seen the first – of many, I hope – small tortoiseshells today.

Small tortoiseshell

Rain next week!

Spring in the meadow

Posted in garden, insects, oxfordshire, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife with tags , , on 25 March 2017 by bramblejungle

OK, it’s not really a meadow – just a bit of grass that only gets mown twice a year, and contains mostly weeds wildflowers (yellow rattle, corncockle, marjoram, hawkbit…). As soon as things start to warm up the Tawny Mining Bees appear

Tawny Mining Bee (Andrena fulva)

(males usually emerge before females, but they are harder to spot) Tawny Mining Bee (Andrena fulva), m
along with predatory cuckoo bees
Cuckoo bee (Nomada sp.)

and bee-flies

Bee-fly (Bombylius major)

As in previous years I’m hoping for other solitary bees later, and if there’s anything to report I’ll send the info to the solitary bee project.

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