Archive for April, 2010
Despite identifying nearly 400 species in the local patch, I still have a list of obvious things missing – pheasants, woodpeckers, ducks, rats, mice…. I know they’re here (woodpeckers and pheasants audibly so!) but have not yet managed to photograph them.
Spring is here, just about, but temperatures are barely reaching double figures because of a north-easterly wind, and smaller wildlife is emerging slowly.
Near the new allotments, the wild comfrey is being eaten to the ground by caterpillars. These turn out to be the larvae of the Scarlet Tiger Moth, which I’ve never seen: UK Moths have a picture.
The lawn is gradually being patterned with mining bee nests like last year’s),
…it’s warm enough for the over-wintering insects to come out of hibernation, and the garden is full of activity: a wren and a coal-tit picking insects off the trees, clouds of leaf-hoppers, numerous ladybirds (mostly 7-spot, but I did see one Harlequin), a couple of butterflies (Brimstone and Peacock). Here are a few things I hadn’t seen before:
Two leafhoppers (in addition to hundreds of green Empoasca sp.) – many of these over-winter on conifers. This one was on a yew needle:
and this one on a bramble leaf:
This is a Red Velvet Mite. It apparently plays a role in decomposing dead plant matter, and (unlike the much smaller Red Spider Mite) is not a garden pest. I just can’t imagine how I’ve never seen one before – the red colour is really vivid.
Here’s a Bee Fly: not really welcome, as they are predators of solitary bees, but evidence that solitary bees must be nesting here (the Bee Fly lays its eggs near the bees’ nests).
Last July I wrote about the 5 indigenous ladybird species I’ve found here. Today I found a 6th, the 11-spot. It’s a small species, about 5mm long (about the same size as the 10-spot, but distinguishable by the number of spots and its black legs); according to the Woodland Trust it’s not uncommon in the Thames Valley because it likes the weather here – it “prefers warm moist places”. I hope it can swim.