Archive for April, 2010

Bugs, bees – and snails

Posted in garden, insects, oxfordshire, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife with tags , , , , on 25 April 2010 by bramblejungle

A warm weekend saw large numbers of hoverfiles and solitary bees; then it rained, and hundreds of tiny snails emerged to take their part in the food chain (for hedgehogs and song-thrushes, I hope):
Cuckoo bee
Nettle bug (Liocoris tripustulatus )
Red mason bee (Osmia rufa)
Girdled snail (Hygromia cinctella)


Posted in birds, flight, garden, oxfordshire, photography, wildlife with tags , , , on 23 April 2010 by bramblejungle

It’s the time of year when you get mobbed by angry parents if you accidentally get too close to Junior when flying lessons are in progress:
Blackbird fledgling

Common and not-so-common

Posted in birds, insects, oxfordshire, photography with tags , , , , , , , on 18 April 2010 by bramblejungle

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.

Here are a couple that would-be allotment holders may need to know about:

Migratory birds have turned up on schedule:
Willow warbler (I think):
Willow warbler?

Chiff-chaff (last year’s photo, but definitely here this year):
Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)

And here’s something I certainly haven’t seen before. Friends on Flickr think it’s probably Eremocoris podagricus, a ground bug that occurs locally on chalky soils:
Groundbug (Eremocoris podagricus)

A slow start

Posted in garden, insects, oxfordshire, photography, wildlife with tags , , , , , , on 14 April 2010 by bramblejungle

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.
Scarlet Tiger Moth (Callimorpha dominula) caterpillar

The lawn is gradually being patterned with mining bee nests like last year’s),

and a small tortoiseshell butterfly has made it out of hibernation:
Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae)

Hiding in the compost bin are a small shield bug and a 14-spot ladybird (the yellow background is a banana skin).
Shieldbug (Legnotus limbosus)
14-spot ladybird (Propylea 14-punctata)

At last…

Posted in garden, insects, oxfordshire, photography, wildlife with tags , , , , on 8 April 2010 by bramblejungle

…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:
Leafhopper (Balclutha punctata)
and this one on a bramble leaf:
Leafhopper (Zygina flammigera)
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.
Red velvet mite (Trombidium sp.)
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).
Bee fly (Bombylius major)

Another ladybird

Posted in garden, insects, oxfordshire, photography, wildlife with tags , , on 3 April 2010 by bramblejungle

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.
11-spot ladybird (Coccinella 11-punctata)

Holiday weekend

Posted in "red kite", birds, flight, garden, oxfordshire, photography, wildlife with tags , , on 2 April 2010 by bramblejungle

It’s a bank holiday weekend, and therefore cold and wet. The birds sang in the rain and the bugs stayed under cover, but the sky did clear long enough for a red kite photo:
Red Kite

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