Monday, 3 August 2015

Martin's Thistle

On Sunday, I finally got the chance to get back to Bryn Du, to look for the white Spear Thistle martin had posted about last week. Luckily, I didn't follow the map reference he quoted, having first checked it and found it to be in the middle of a block of forestry! Are you trying to tell me something Mart? Basing my search on the comment made about the Small Blue site, I instead looked along that ride and soon spotted it standing out like a sore thumb. Closer inspection of it confirmed my suspicion that it is actually a form of variegation rather than the white thistle disease, which is responsible for the striking appearance of this plant. Close up, I was struck by its beauty, but as to whether the variegation will be stable and appear again next year, only time will tell.
In this photo of it, it can be seen that some of the white leaves have partially green centres and there are green streaks on the stems, proving that this is a variegation, caused either by genetic mutation or possibly a virus.

By the way, Martin, would you mind if I did something on this thistle for the East Glam wildlife blog? I would, of course credit you with the discovery.

Variegated Spear Thistle

While there, I spent some time lolling about on the shallow bank of poorly vegetated basic slag, on which the Small Blue colony used to, or possibly still does, exist. While doing so, I spotted this tiny jumping spider on the seed head of a Kidney Vetch.

Heliophanus Sp

There is no doubt that it is of the genus Heliophanus, but there are two species that are very similar and this could be either of those, namely H. cupreus and H. flaviceps. I have a feeling it is the latter, but I am not confident enough about that to enter a record for it.

While on the bank I saw this Southern Hawker, which allowed me one quick shot before it zoomed off.

Southern Hawker

While exploring the wetter part of the bank, close to the ride, I found a small group of Round-leaved Wintergreen in flower, which is a first for me, having failed to find the plants Martin found near Llyn Fawr a couple of years ago.

Round-leaved Wintergreen

On my way out, I photographed this insect resting on the leaf of a bullrush, in the wheel wash. I have no idea what it is and can't find anything like it in my insect books. At first I thought it might be a sawfly of some sort, but the head is completely wrong for that, so I am stumped, but although tiny, it is a nice looking thing.


Earlier in the day, before visiting Bryn Du, I called into the former Phurnacite truck tipping site, to check on the Bladder Campion and while there I came across this Six Spot Burnet, at rest. I know they are common and often appear in this blog, but I couldn't resist splashing a pic of it.

Six-spot Burnet

As it was so mild last night and as I knew I would have a delayed start to work this morning, I ran my garden moth trap. The catch was a little disappointing, probably due to the breezy conditions, but that was all made up for by this second brood Chocolate Tip, which was only my fifth.

Chocolate Tip


  1. Great read mark and yes fine to share with our site and i used grab a grid and i thought going by the photo you could see where by pmsl and well done on the round leafed winter green and when i get five will go up and have a look.Cheers mark and yes very smart thistle and martin thistle got a nice ring too it .

  2. Thanks Martin. I'm sure the readers of the East Glamorgan Wildlife blog will be interested.

  3. You have probably id'd your unknown to a fly - you can see the halters. The thorax/head reminds me of a Bibio (St Mark's fly) type, though the abdomin looks different. Perhaps its been parasitised and the swollen abdom is as result of that or a fungal infection?

  4. I know what you mean, Martin. The head and thorax does have that Bibio quality about it, but this thing was about the size of a picture-winged fly. I've seen a couple of these before, but this is the first time I've managed to photograph one. I suppose I could start by doing a google image search on Diptera UK and see where, if anywhere that leads.