Birds, Leps, Observations & Generalities - the images and ramblings of Mark Skevington. Sometimes.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Autumn Mothing

I usually find that garden mothing in September brings a fresh burst of enthusiasm after a typically dull and disappointing period from mid-August. But last year, and so far this year, I feel like I'm missing out on a few things. Still no Sallow, only a couple of Centre-barred Sallows and one Barred Sallow so far. Also missed Pale Eggar this year I think. Still whilst I'm missing out on those, I did get this one last night ...

Orange Sallow - first since 2011

I've also picked up a few of these over the last couple of nights ....

Small Blood-vein

I don't always get any second-brood individuals for this species, and the last one was (coincidentally) in 2011. Usually just the odd one of two when I do get them, apart from 2006 when I had a significant second-brood appearance.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Handy Inverts

Not done much lately, but here's some inverts that I managed to catch by hand whilst out on me bike or in the garden ......

Lesser Earwig (Labia minor) - Whetstone, 05/09/2014

Probable Anoecia corni - Whetstone, 06/09/2014

Southern Hawker - Whetstone, 05/09/2014
This one wasn't exactly caught by hand - it was flapping about on the ground and seemed oblivious to me to start with and then grateful of a hand up to a bramble stem.


This next one wasn't caught by hand either, but one I found by day in the garden and managed to pot up on 28/08/2014. It's an Ochsenheimeria sp., and ID is still to be fuly resolved though I think it's a female O. urella which is very rare in VC55, but it could be an O. taurella which would be a VC first.

Look at the swanky antennae and bifid head hairs on that!

Monday, 1 September 2014

Who Do You Think You Are?

I know the programme is focussed on the famous, tracking their histories back to common earnest people or back through harrowing family trails. But we all have family histories. I'm lucky enough to have been given a massive head-start should I ever have a proper go at tracing my family, that's because back in 1999 a Mr Phillips in Enderby made a brilliant attempt at tracing his wife's family tree and spreading it out as far as possible. His wife's great-great-grandfather and my dad's great-grandfather were brothers, and he took the time to contact my grandfather and one of his sisters to pass on the information he'd found. Because of the work that he did, I have a very good trace of my paternal family line going back to before the formal registering of births and deaths started in 1837.

Before all that though, there is the matter of my surname. Skevington is a bastardisation of Skeffington (as are Skivington, Skiffington, Skefington and Sheffington). Have a look on the map at Leicester, and follow the A47 east towards Uppingham. About half way between you'll find the Leicestershire village Skeffington which is where my family name derives from. Skeffington is itself derived from anglo-saxon; the village was Sceaftinton, meaning place of the sceaft tribe (and sceaft was likely drived from sceap meaning sheep). Essentially it was a farming village notable for sheep - nothing changes!

There is a Skeffington/Skevington (etc) family shield which features three black bulls on a white background. There is a crest element which is a mermaid holding a mirror and comb when the shield is used in a formal coat of arms. The family motto is 'per angusta ad augusta'.

There are some (in)famous Skeffington's in history - quite probably nothing to do with my direct family line but worth a mention. Sir William Skeffington was MP for Leicestershire appointed Lord Deputy of Ireland under Henry VIII. Essentially he was one of along line of Lords Deputy who were tasked with keeping the Irish under English rule and to quash any rebellion. Certainly not something I'd advocate.

One of his other sons was Sir Leonard Skeffington, who was a Lieutenant of the Tower of London who was credited (!) with inventing an implement of torture - known as the Scavenger's or Skevington's Daughter. Seems it folded you up and compressed the body until blood ran from the nose and ears. Nice.

Both his grandson William and great-grandson Thomas were MPs for Leicestershire. Wonder if that is the Thomas Skeffington who had this built?

There's also a whole load of toffy tory Skeffington's in this lot - seems a bit far removed from sheep farming to me.

Happily, there is someone in my direct line who was a bit more creditable. Here is a very simplified tree showing the paternal line only, from my son's and their cousin back through nine generations. Obviously there are lots of wives and daughters (sorry), uncles, aunts, sisters, brothers etc removed for clarity.


See that bloke back a few generations from me, my great-great-great-great-grandfather born in 1802, John Skevington. He was a notable figure in the Leicestershire Chartist movement, the working-class push for political reform. Seems that he tried to use his influence to keep splintering chartist factions together and to prevent violence, although he was arrested in 1842 and blamed for causing coal strikes. His arrest caused a clash between the police on the one hand and the miners and Chartists on the other. There a several on-line references suggesting that he lived 1801-1850, but the family tree search that I've been passed on gives 1802-1851. Either way he died aged 49, and he is apparently buried in Loughborough so maybe I should go and try to find his gravestone. It's quite likely that his son's middle name Feargus is a nod to a notable Chartist leader Feargus O'Connor.

There are at least 18 people in the same generation as my grandfather, of which 8 were male Skevington's - clearly a lot of scope for tracing the family in a bit more depth when I have spare couple of years!

Friday, 22 August 2014

Butterflies

Here's a few recent butterfly shots - mainly to brighten the mood whist the weather is un-August like and pants.

Grayling

Small Tortoiseshell

Red Admiral

Painted Lady

Monday, 18 August 2014

WCPS

Nipped out today over to Watermead CP South for a quick walk around - haven't been there for a fair while. Weather was not great, one of those days when nice warm sunshine gives way to showers very quickly and you don't know which way it will go when you're furthest from the car.


I paid some attention to the flora, mainly looking at the stuff growing in and at the edge of the River Soar. Managed to find some common plants that I've ignored previously .....

Marsh Woundwort

Unbranched Bur-reed, flowering albeit on the far bank.
I also found Branched Bur-reed that had gone over.

Arrowhead

I didn't bother with the net as I was trying to concentrate on the plants, but a few inverts were obvious like the Myathropa florea that landed on me, loads of mating Harlequin Ladybirds, good numbers of patroling Brown and Southern Hawkers, a Broad-bodied Chaser and a few Banded Demoiselles and Common Darters.

Spot the Southern Hawker

I also lifted my bins to a few birds for a change, with House Martins and Swallow zooming about all over the place and several bright juv Chiffchaffs. Most of the wildfowl was actually tame but very foul, and there were few gulls to scrutinise. At least two noisy humbugs were poncing about on the water, and a Grey Heron stayed put for the camera for a change (in dense shade ...).

Great Crested Grebe

Grey Heron

Sunday, 10 August 2014

New inverts

Spent most of this morning identifying and photographing various inverts from the yesterday and the mothing trip on Wednesday night. Here's a selection of the highlights:

Enochrus melanocephalus
This one came to MV light at Fosse Meadows on 06/08/2014. Not sure of the VC55 status at the moment.

Curculio rubidus
This one is from Newfield Colliery yesterday, and having seen one at Woodwalton Fen last weekend it was fresh in the mind. Again not sure of VC55 status.

Mogulones geographicus
This is the one swept from Vipers Bugloss at Ketton Quarry, the only VC55 site for it.

Stictopleurus punctatonervosus
Appears this one has been spreading. The shape of that black line on the pronotum is diagnostic.