Archive for the Uncategorized Category

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.

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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.

Spring at Butts Piece

Posted in "Butts Piece", birds, oxfordshire, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife with tags , , on 21 March 2017 by bramblejungle

Moth-eaten comfrey

The scarlet tigers have started early: not many caterpillars are visible just after a shower, but the comfrey is already looking distinctly moth-eaten
Scarlet tiger moth caterpillar
There is frogspawn in the nearby brook: with luck the frogs will help to keep slugs down on the allotments
Frogspawn in the brook

but (not so good for the allotments) there are plenty of rabbits Rabbit at Butts Piece
This buzzard may help
Watching the rabbit

Garden Birdwatch 2017

Posted in birds, garden, oxfordshire, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife with tags on 29 January 2017 by bramblejungle

Big Garden Birdwatch 2017

Another RSPB annual birdwatch, and no major changes here despite periods of abnormally cold/wet/dry weather  (click the graph for full view in Flickr). Sadly there’s no sign of waxwings, and the woodpecker that’s been visiting almost daily since October has presumably found better things to do as Spring approaches.

Still here

Luckily the local sparrowhawk didn’t appear during the count.

Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)

A bad year for butterflies

Posted in "red kite", birds, garden, insects, oxfordshire, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife with tags , , , on 19 August 2016 by bramblejungle

The wettest June recently recorded has been followed locally by low numbers of butterflies, especially small tortoiseshell and peacock. Butterfly Conservation will have a better view of the national picture when they collate the results of the annual count.

Ringlets seem to be an exception, and were doing well in early July

Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus)

Later there were marbled whites on their usual nectar sources (knapweed and thistles)

Marbled White (Melanargia galathea)

There have been one or two red admirals

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

and the occasional peacock, but not the usual numbers.

Peacock (Aglais io)

It’s not all bad news: garden birds have been breeding well, the starling colony is still here, and the skies have been full of swifts, house martins and swallows

Swallow (Hirundo rustica)

Red kites are thriving
Red kite (Milvus milvus)

and ravens – once confined to the western fringes of the UK because of persecution and perhaps pesticides – have made a welcome return.

Raven (Corvus corax)

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