Tuesday, 30 June 2015

What's small, not very pretty and seldom seen?

a Fen Orchid

This was one of four found today at Kenfig, after a two hour search of a rather large dune slack filled with Southern Marsh, and Early Purple Orchids and 100's of Marsh Helleborines.

There were dozens of Dark Green Fritilaries, Ringlets, Meadow Brown's Large and Small Skippers fliting around the dunes. Dragons and Damsels represented by Emperor, Four-spot Chaser, Common and Ruddy Darter, Common Blue and Blue tailed Damselflies.

Both 5 and 6 spot Burnets were on the wing.
If you click on the photo, you can just make out the rather substantial dark border to the hind wing, ruling out Narrow-bordered 5-spot Burnet.

One 6-spot had an unusual merging of some of it's spots

Monday, 29 June 2015

an off Sunday

Like Martin, I decided mid morning to hell with the rain and when out for a walk up the Taff Trail to Pont-y-Gwaith bridge and back, with the rain eventually stopping as I made the return journey.

Bird life was pretty quiet, but a flash past of a kingfisher is always enough to brighten a day.

By the time I reached the field at Gwyl Taf, the sun was out, though the vegetation was still soaking. I flushed a Meadow Brown and a mid sized orange coloured butterfly that took off at high speed - possible Small Pearl-bordered - but couldn't relocate it.

Almost home and a bank of roses in full sunlight was providing a feeding station for a number of insects. I did spy a Sphegina hoverfly -easy to id to genus level, small with long dangling legs, but it wouldn't land anywhere in sight to allow me to try to id to species level.

Also feeding on the roses was one of our smallest Longhorn Beetles, Grammoptera ruficornis. only about 7-8mm in length. the photo is pretty poor but you can just about make out the diagnostic black and red antennae

Not far away was a Stiltbug, Metatropis rufescens

On a patch of Ground Elder, I found a large dark bee. About twice the size of a Honey Bee drone, my thinking was this could be a female Honey Bee, but the lack of a swarm - there were a couple of honey bee drones feeding in the immediate area, seems surprising, if it is a female.

Nice Quiet Sunday Off

Yes that will be the day. I was waiting for the rain to stop and at 11 clock I had had enough and took the dog over to Robertstown, it was drizzling but warm and wet and there was lots going on. I had about a dozen 5 Spot Burnets, still lots of Cinnabar moths out as well and there were plenty of butterflies flying around. I had my first Ringlet of the year, then two more and my second Meadow Brown of the year. Also saw Common Blue, Small Heath and Large Skipper. In the afternoon I went up to Bryn Du to look for the Pyramidal Orchids and found they were just starting to come out. I found 43 orchids in total. When there I found this green beetle in side one of the Orchids and yet to id it .

I also found a new shieldbug for me a Blue Shieldbug and a nice find for me.
Also on the wing were Red Necked Footman I saw about 6 altogether but it was windy there must have been more but the wind was keeping them down. Last of all I saw Mark's Picture Winged flies, I saw three, also saw 1 Creeping Thistle with the virus by the old Small Blue Site .

Sunday, 28 June 2015


My car was broken into last night and the following items were stolen; Leica 8 x 42 bins, Leica APO 77 scope, 40D canon, 400 f5.6 canon and Manfrotto carbon fiber tripod. Car was parked immediately below my window, no noise, no damage, electronics were bypassed. Interesting but not as bad as a good kicking outside Hing Hongs, I'll be back, just making out a shopping list for Ace Optics.

Good Tshirt

I thought  this would make a cool TShirt .

Martin's Wintergreens

Thanks to Martin for showing me his Wintergreen site; I would have taken ages to find it myself. In general appearance they looked bang on for Common Wintergreen, but to be sure, I dissected one of the individual flowers, to look at the Style. Round-leaved Wintergreen has a long, lazy 'S' shaped Style, while that of Common Wintergreen has a short, straight one. There is a hybrid called Intermediate Wintergreen, the Style of which half way between the two in length, and is gently curved. Martin's Wintergreens are definitely Common but that is a misnomer, because it is actually scarce and declining.

There were several of these tortrix moths flying about: Celypha lacunana. It is one of the commonest micros encountered at this time of year, in long vegetation and is easily told by the narrow, pale longitudinal stripe cutting through the lower third of the broad, dark cross band.

After Martin left, I explored the site for a bit, finding this attractive little beetle in the same sallow as the Sallow Kitten caterpillar. It is a Galerucella and as there was no standing water nearby, with Purple Loosestrife or Water Dock, it is probably Galerucella lineola, which is found in various trees, including sallow.

I left the site and went to a nearby grassland, where there were quite a few Burnet moths on the wing, plus a few Silver Y moths, the latter too jumpy to approach. The Burnets were either Five-spot or Narrow-bordered Five-spot. It is very difficult to tell with the adults. The caterpillars are much easier to tell apart.

On the stem of a Rose-bay Willowherb, I came across this pair. The ugly character on the left is an Alder Spittle-bug (Aphrophora alni), which is moderately common, but usually not too far from Alders. Its more attractive friend is a Plant Hopper and I think it might be Dicranotropis hamata, but there are a few similar to it and not all the required identification features are visible in the photos I took.

On a clump of Creeping Thistle, I found this nice Picture-winged Fly. It was a female and was laying eggs on the flower buds of the thistles, an association which allowed me to identify it as Xyphosia miliaria. The breeze had picked up by now, blowing the thistles about and being so small, my macro lens was at its limits, so you'll have to excuse the poor photos.

Having been told which part of Roberstown he'd seen the Bee Beetle, I decided to try my luck and was rewarded with a brief encounter, before it zoomed off to flowers new. While there, I found this Hairy Shield-bug and so endeth a great afternoon.

Couple Moths from last week

Here are a couple of moths from my garden and my area last week. Phil said we are not having a enough moths on here so these are just for Mr Hill. First one I think could be Pale Pinion and next is Small Magpie.

It's always nice to see this strange day flying moth over the fields at Robertstown and sometimes in big numbers Five Spot Burnet .
 My first Large Yellow underwing of the year and I bet it will not be my last .
A cracking moth and a favorite of mine the Buff Arches, after traping at Peace Park with Mark and seeing them for the first time this year I went home and found two in my trap so felt pretty good.
 This small moth was not what it seemed and id by Mark as a caddis fly.
 And last two, first one is Marble Coronet and last one I have been told is Meal moth and a smart moth .

A snail with hair?

After the devastation of loosing my orchid site at Navigation Park, it was back to exploring Tram Road side on the walk back from the station of Friday evening (Note - looks like 4 pair of Sand Martin are nesting in the wall at Abercynon station).

An Orange Tip butterfly was the first animal of note followed by a couple Great Pied Hoverflies Volucella pellucens. Next up was something I'd been keeping an eye out for for a while, a Hairy Snail! Why does a snail need hair?

A small clearing next to the road always seems to hold something of interest and Friday was no exception. Several Celypha lacunana (I think) moths , a Strawberry Leaf Beetle, several Volucella bombylans - most of the white tailed variety but at least one red tailed - and a couple of new bugs Neolygus viridus and Stenotus binotatus.

                                           Celypha lacunana
                                               Neolygus viridus
                                            Stenotus binotatus

Saturday Afternoon

I meet Mark at the Wintergreen Site near Robertstown and confirmed that it was Common Wintergreen and not Round Leaved Wintergreen which I thought initially. When there we found a Beautiful Carpet  moth and a nice Sallow Kitten Caterpillar which was very well camouflaged and blended in really well to the leaf.

 Later I went to Marks to see a small Elephant Hawkmoth .Which he had caught the evening before. Great to see, my first for the year.

Later again I went looking for Mark's Stink Horn by the tunnel in Cwmbach and because of his excellent directions  I found it no problem. When walking back I found 9 Broad Leaved Helleborines growing along the old line near the Werfa. I also found a plucking post  of a bird of prey and it looks like a Feral Pigeon had been plucked. Which bird did it, could be SparrowHawk or Goshawk.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Bee Orchids Recount

I went back to Abercwmboi Lake this morning  to do a recount. Initially I had to stop the count for a cuckoo calling very close but never got to see it but a nice site record anyway. Right start again and was clocking up the total pretty quickly, I found that most were in the same area and seemed to like growing under the Birch Trees. I eventually finished on one hundred and three Orchids. This count was a big surprise as I would have never guessed that there were that many over there.

Orange Ladybird

I checked my Moth Trap on Friday morning and found this Orange Ladybird in the trap and a smart little beetle it is too, other people say they get them in their traps too .