Archive for July, 2009


Posted in garden, insects, oxfordshire, photography, wildlife with tags , , , , , , , , on 22 July 2009 by bramblejungle

…don’t like rain, so I haven’t seen many – but the sun shone for a while today, and here’s what I found:

Painted Lady. A migratory species I’ve never seen before, but here in large numbers this year:
Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus)

Speckled Wood. Loads of these around earlier in the year – I guess this is a second brood:
Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria)

Peacock. There are usually dozens now the Buddleia is in flower; today I saw 2:
Peacock (Inachis io)

Cabbage White, laying eggs on “wild” oilseed rape. Hard to tell whether it’s a small or large white, but I’ll see what the eggs hatch into:
Cabbage White

No sign of the usual Commas or Red Admirals, but here’s a Holly Blue I spotted earlier in the week (frustratingly they always seem to settle with their wings closed, so no chance of a photo of the bright blue seen in flight):
Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus)

And, just for completeness, a Ringlet that I saw a couple of weeks ago:
Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus)



Posted in garden, insects, oxfordshire, photography, wildlife with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 21 July 2009 by bramblejungle

I was hoping for some butterflies this week, but it’s been raining most of the time and I’ve only seen a few; perhaps we’ll get Summer sometime. Meanwhile, I’ve found a wide variety of ladybirds, most of which I’d never seen before (info from UK Ladybird Survey)

Ask a child to draw a ladybird, and you’ll probably get something like this: up to 8mm long (as big as a Harlequin), found just about everywhere, eats aphids: the 7-spot. My favourite.

Here are some of the many variations of the 10-spot: half the size of the 7-spot, and seems to have any number of spots except 10. Lives mostly in trees and hedgerows, eats aphids.
Ladybird with eggs

This should be called the red-nosed ladybird; it’s a Cream-spot – lives in trees and hedges, and eats (you guessed it) aphids.
Cream-spot ladybird (Calvia 14-guttata)

This one – the 14-spot – can be found just about anywhere (they say – I had never seen one before). Another aphid-eater
14-spot ladybird (Propylea 14-punctata)

And here’s one I found last year: the tiny 22-spot. Lives in low vegetation and, unlike the others, eats mildew.
22-spot ladybird (Psyllobora 22-punctata)


Posted in bumblebee, garden, insects, oxfordshire, photography, wildlife with tags , , , on 13 July 2009 by bramblejungle

Bumble-bees are responding to warm weather and bramble flowers; I can’t match Jane’s tally, but it’s good to see that they (at least the common species) are thriving here. I’m no expert on bumblebee identity, so please let me know if you think I’ve got any of these wrong:

Red-tailed bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius)

White-tailed bumblebee (Bombus lucorum)

Early bumblebee (Bombus pratorum)

Buff-tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris)

Common carder bee (Bombus pascuorum)
Common carder bee (Bombus pascuorum)

And an imposter – a hoverfly pretending to be a bumblebee

300 species

Posted in birds, garden, insects, oxfordshire, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife with tags , , on 6 July 2009 by bramblejungle

This will never be a complete catalogue of the area’s wildlife, but even after 15 months or so I’m finding species that I haven’t identified before: partly I guess because I’m getting better at finding them, and partly because most species are seasonal, and you need a year or two to cover the ground. The 300th species is nothing exceptional – a Lesser Yellow Underwing moth – just one of the 74 different moths I’ve found in my small patch.

Over time the picture may change, and I hope to be able to report those changes. So far the Harlequin ladybird is here in large numbers, but hasn’t yet displaced the local 7-spot and 10-spot types; other species in national decline (hedgehog, starling, house-sparrow…) seem to be doing well locally. Climate change and introduced species will make their mark, but I can only hope that the impact on the diversity of local wildlife of human activity – like the expansion of Didcot – will be limited .

Here’s no. 300:

Lesser Yellow Underwing (Noctua comes)

Cricket season

Posted in garden, insects, oxfordshire, photography, wildlife with tags , , on 3 July 2009 by bramblejungle

Last year I found a few speckled bush crickets, but this year we’ve been lucky to have two bush cricket species in the garden, and I’ve seen them develop from tiny aphid-sized nymphs to (almost) full size:

Here’s a (very) Speckled Bush Cricket nymph in May
and here’s what she’s grown into
Growing up (2)
Meanwhile, the Oak Bush Crickets (a new species to me) started out like this in May
Unspeckled cricket
and have become tree-dwelling aphid-hunting predators – we could do with a few of those!
Growing up (1)

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