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

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Bits from the Bog

Yesterday I nipped back over to Narborough Bog for a couple of hours in the morning before heading to the LCFC game in the afternoon. Armed with a bit more info, I was intent on properly sorting out the Phyllocnistis saligna mines and I think I was successful, but I'll save that for another day.

Whilst there I pointed the camera at a few bits, but with variable cloud cover and brief sunny spells, coupled with intense wind, it was all a bit hit and miss. Luckily I managed a hit with what has turned out to be a new sawfly for me ...

Athalia rosae

I also found some funky small beetles on umbelifers, that I have seen before but not in Leics. ...

Anthocomus rufus

And the docks were busy with both adults and nymphs of the aptly named bug ...

Dock Bug

Whilst looking for leafmines, I had another look for Bedelia somnulentella and found quite a few more mines than on Wednesday, but better than that I found a couple of adults loitering around on the underside of bindweed leaves.

Bedelia somnulentella

The garden moth trap was out last night for the first time in over a week, and the catch was fairly brown and grey. Not much excitement or colour at this time of year, though it will pick up again in a week or two.

Square-spot Rustic

Vine's Rustic

Small Square-spot

Flame Shoulder

Pale Eggar

Friday, 18 August 2017

Ghost Mines

One thing I've learnt over the last week or so is that there is a whole new type of mine to look for. I was already aware that most mines were gallery, blotch or blister types - but I wasn't aware of the mines that are hardly there at all! I've found mines on poplar and now willow that are created by Phyllocnistis spp. The larvae are feeding literally just under the surface of the leaf, not actually eating the main part of the leaf itself. the mines look like snail trails over the surface.

Those on poplar are Phyllocnistis unipunctella, and I found these at Ulverscroft last week.

Both of these leaves had pupae just under the curled edge. The larvae can be on both sides of the leaf, and the mines cans almost cover the whole leaf. They don't exactly stand out and there is no frass visible.

On Wednesday I found similar mines on willow at Narborough Bog, and thought they were good for Phyllocnistis saligna. Notably, the mines go from the leaf and along the petiole. I've had positive feedback on a FB forum (from John Langmaid no less), and at the moment it looks like there are no other VC55 records. I'm going to look for more at the weekend and particularly for tenanted mines or pupae, which will be in a leaf-fold as with unipunctella.

I also found Bedelia somnulentella on bindweed, one that I have seen before. The larvae create a distinct 'window' that is visible from the upper surface, but the larvae can be found hanging around on silk on the underside. Usually there is frass caught up in the webs. I found mines, larvae and pupae.

Finally, I found both tenanted and vacated mines on blackthorn that are Stigmella plagicolella, a tiny gallery leading to a blotch.

This last one actually has two separate mines that have converged at the blotch. You can just make out a larva at the top end.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Pre-season Tour

Okay, sorry to anyone expecting photos of moths, birds, leaves etc. Here's a few snaps from watching the mighty LCFC through some of the pre-season warm-up games (where we mainly played rubbish) and the first game of the whole 17/18 Premier League season (where we played great until the last ten minutes .....).

Molineux, Wolverhampton Wanderers FC v LCFC, 29/07/2017

Pirelli Stadium, Burton Albion FC v LCFC, 01/08/2017

King Power Stadium, LCFC v Borussia Monchengladbach, 04/08/2017

Emirates Stadium, Arsenal FC v LCFC, 11/08/2017

My thoughts exactly at the full time whistle.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

More Mining Mumblings

It's seems that I may have the mining bug after all. I've managed to have a quick poke around a few trees lately and keep finding a couple more new mines each time. I'm also sarting to gain a bit more confidence in my ability to identify the mine, once I've managed to identify the plant! All that I've posted on forums for confirmation have been positive so far. Before I post a few more photos of leaves, here's one that I managed to get out from one. It's from the sycamore blister mines I posted last Monday, and so far two of these have emerged from the pupae that were within .....

Phyllonorycter geniculella - mine collected 07/08/2017, adult emerged 14/08/2017

Now for some leaves. I'm still trying to perfect a method of photographing them, but at the moment I'm going with a scanned image of the whole leaf for context, and a back-lit close up of the mine to show the frass/feeding pattern where appropriate. I'm using the USB microscope to check for egg position where necessary, but the photos of that are not that enlightening.

First up, here's a couple more from Market Bosworth CP last Wednesday evening.

Vacated mine on cultivated 'paper-bark birch'. Gallery mine with linear frass pattern conforms to Stigmella confusella.

Vacated blotch mine on alder. The position of the blotch between veins, and the distinct single crease along the center of the mine on the underside confirms to Phyllonorycter rajella. The other mine on this leaf, a folded 'tent' on the edge with larval feeding and frass inside, is possibly Caloptilia falconipennella, but that's a scarce moth in VC55 and I'm not confident enough on that one to record the mine.

And here's a couple from the Ulverscroft Priory area on Saturday ......

Vacated mine on beech. The egg position is on the underside right up against the mid-rib amongst the hairs is absolutely key to this one, and otherwise the gallery mine with dispersed frass (not coiled) is right for Stigmella tityrella.

This vacated gallery mine on lime has the egg on the underside, and the early part of the mine shows the feeding on the underside only. The frass pattern is odd on this one as it fills the mine rather than being linear, but feedback from the leafminers forum agrees that this is Stigmella tiliae.

That's enough part-eaten leaves full of shite for now. Here's a couple from the garden trap to sign off.

Dioryctria abietella

Agriphila geniculea

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Eaters of Bees

I've made absolutely zero effort to add any county bird ticks to my list in the last couple of years. Apathy, lack of time and birds turning up on the wrong day have all played a part. And it nearly happened again this week, but today I headed over to Ulverscroft in the Charnwood Forest and duly saw and county-ticked these ....

Yeah, I know. Spanking birds, great scope and binocular views, shite photos!

To be fair, although I got excellent views, they weren't exactly in a tree close enough for frame-filling sharp shots off my bridge camera. They were in a large poplar behind the house of the land-owner.

 Yes - that tree furthest back. The grey arrow is not there in real life.

They were first reported on Monday 7th as being on private land, and it wasn't until Weds/Thurs that their favoured area and access was sussed out. Luckily for all there are numerous public-footpaths going across this land and so many have been able to enjoy them. These are undoubtedly the same birds that were, until a few days before being found here, the attempted breeders at East Leake quarry in Notts. Nesting failed and the birds were last seen flying off high to the south from there on Friday 4th. Where they are now is only c11km away as the Bee-eater flies.

I spent a good hour watching these stunning birds, and being thankful that they'd hung on until I could get over there. Although there are five in the above shot, I saw a max. of six at any one time. I counted them several times after their short sallies out of the tree to grab a bee or other large insect, and every time could only make it six but others have been reporting seven.

After watching them, I carried on around the public footpath and eventually came out onto an area on the other side of the house, which actually gave slightly closer views. Whereas the above is a heavy crop on max zoom, the below shot is just max zoom on the camera.

I'd never walked around this area, but some of the views are excellent. I could do with garden views like this ....

The area is near to the ruins of Ulverscroft Priory. Here's a shot of some of it - the other view is filled with a big scaffold structure that appears to be protecting part of the ruin from weather!

Whilst pottering around I found a few leafmines and galls to work through for another day.