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

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Guys and Galls

I noted today that a new facebook group has been launched for galls. Which reminded me that I'd photographed a couple whilst out and about lately and then not done anything with them, so here they are .....

Oak Marble Gall
Caused by the asexual generation of the wasp Andricus kollari

Artichoke Gall
Caused by the asexual generation of the wasp Andricus foecundatrix

Bedeguar Gall = Robin's Pincushion Gall
Caused by the wasp Diplolepis rosae

I really ought to make more effort to actually record galls rather than just notice them occasionally!

I also found some dipterous mines recently on Himalayan Balsam, which is handy as there is only one candidate (at present).

Phytoliriomyza melampyga

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

When is a leafmine not a leafmine?

Well, when it's not on a leaf! I'm not sure if nutmines, fruitmines, seedmines etc are valid or accepted terms.

The first one here was found by complete accident during a nice afternoon walk at Fosse Meadows with Nichola. It's one that I have been actively looking for at other times without success. Nichola was pointing out to me some pustule-type galls on Field Maple leaves and asking what they were, and as I went to look I immediately saw this:


I'm as sure as I can be at this stage that this is the mine of Ectoedemia louisella, which mines from the samara 'wing' into the seed. I promptly set about looking for more, and found none.

Earlier in the day, I went to Croft Hill and actually got my bins out and did some birding for an hour or so. Redstart was the hoped-for target, but no joy on that front. I did find x2 juv Spotted Flycatchers, x2 male and x1 juv Blackcaps, x1 juv Whitethroat and x1 juv Lesser Whitethroat that were all acting like passage birds - all within a small area littered with gorse and hawthorn that forms a sort of 'wall' along side of the hill.

I then set about checking a few trees on the way back to the car for leafmines, and whilst checking an apple tree I found this apple:


Not sure what caused this - maybe Codling Moth larvae have a nibble on the outside first sometimes, although they actually look a bit dipterous. Nothing revealed when trying to dissect the fruit.

I did find some proper leafmines during the day, including the following. I should say that these are tentative/assumed identifications, though I am quite confident:

Bucculatrix bechsteinella - vacated mines on pear

Stigmella malella - vacated mine on apple

Bohemannia pulverosella - vacated mine on apple. There is actually a very short gallery on this mine, just along the edge of the top two serrations at the top of the blotch.

Apple Leaf Miner (Lyonetia clerkella)
Tenanted mine on ?Swedish Whitebeam? - note the segmented body of the larva.

Stigmella anomalella - tenanted mine on rosa

Monday, 28 August 2017

VC First Macro....

... but it's not mine. I've added quite a good number of moths to the VC55 list over the years, but all have been micros. I've never had the pleasure of finding and adding a macro. This morning a photo was posted onto a local facebook group, and I immediately recognised the species having seen it a few times before. The poster is a complete novice and was oblivious to the potential importance of the species. I managed to contact her, and thankfully the moth was still in situ and she was able to secure it in a washed out yoghurt pot. Most incredibly of all, the moth was noticed having been attracted to a porch light left on all night. Anyway, I collected the moth and grabbed some shots for posterity in lieu of the county recorder who is away on holiday. I don't keep a VC55 list as such, but this wouldn't be on mine anyway: not my record, not present when taken, not recorded as part of a group effort. I am the determiner though! I am sure this is a first for VC55, unless there is another lurking in someone's records from earlier this year (doubtful).

Cypress Pug, Kirby Muxloe (recorder Lyn Bull) - presumed first for VC55

No idea on the status in neighbouring counties at present, other than I know it has been recorded at least once in Northants in the last few years. Quite likely a recent colonist that's has moved in rather than a wanderer from afar, given the circumstance of the record.

Nothing quite so exciting in my garden traps, all standard fare including the now obligatory Scarce Bordered Straw ......

Scarce Bordered Straw
Subtly different to both of yesterday's in terms of markings .... and the complete lack of any wear on thorax! Two in the preceding 17 years, now five in a week.

Otherwise there is a subtle shift, still a lot of brown but some yellow coming in.

Centre-barred Sallow

Dusky Thorn

Rosy Rustic

Light Brown Apple Moth

 Garden Rose Tortrix

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Garden Moth List Update

Over the summer I collected a few moths from the garden for formal det / confirmation. Some came good, some not so. I've updated the relevant blog posts, but to save you (and me later on) the trouble of trawling through here's a summary.

First up the ones that came good and are duly added to the garden list:

Exotelia dodecella, 19/06/2017
Taken on the same night as garden tick Chimney Sweeper.

Hoary Footman, 21/06/2017
This came on the same night as another garden macro tick, Grass Rivulet.

Common Clothes Moth (Tineola bisselliella), 06/07/2017
Hand-up - I completely got this one wrong. I thought this was one of the small plain Argyresthia spp. and completely missed that it was a tineid. But have a look at the photo and you can see why! Taken on the same night as garden tick Green Arches.

Remarkably that means that on four separate nights this year so far I've had double-ticks.


One that didn't come good was the x3 individuals that I had hoped were Epinotia cinereana. All turned out to be Epinotia nisella, despite looking nothing like typical E. nisella. This does make me wonder how anyone is supposed to pick out E. cinereana. There are photos of two of the individuals here and here.

And on that first link, there also a photo of the large worn tortrix that was a complete mystery, although I was optimistic that it might be something exciting ..... It wasn't, it turmed out to a knackered Lozotaeniodes formosana.

The garden list has been duly updated, and it means that it now stands at 682 (364 micros, 318 macros). Honestly, if you saw the size and unremarkableness of my garden you'd wonder where all these species some from! Just 18 to go to a massive 700, and I reckon that I could well hit 400 micros before I hit 325 macros.


Now for a few from the last couple of nights. Highlight has been yet another Scarce Bordered Straw - that's three this year - more than I'd taken here in the previous 17 years. This one was a darker form than the two earlier in the week.

Scarce Bordered Straw

And a few fillers ..... though it's hard to find photographable moths in a maelstrom of LYUs!

Turnip Moth

Flounced Rustic

Swallow Prominent

This one is not quite a filler - only five previous records, the last being on 21/06/2010:

Lobesia littoralis

Friday, 25 August 2017

Phyllocnistis saligna - Epic Win / Epic Fail

Before this is so old news that it's not worth bothering, an update on the Phyllocnistis saligna mines that I found. Once I knew the full details of how this moth actually mines the leaves, petiole and stem, and how they pupate, I wanted to get more solid evidence to properly secure the species onto the VC55 list. So I went back to Narborough bog to have a mooch about last Saturday morning, and with relative ease I found lots of mines - vacated, tenanted and with both pupal exuviae and intact pupation folds. Much clearer evidence and species duly added to VC list - epic win!

So here's a load of photos to fully show the mines on both upperside and underside, petiole and stem, pupation folds and pupal exuviae. There's even one that I subsequently realised was tenanted ......

Vacated mine, mine running into petiole.

Vacated mine, both this and the one above show neat central frass lines.

This shows a mine running down a stem, third leaf on the left just about shows evidence of a mine on underside along edge.

Another vacated mine running into petiole.

Mine running into petiole and stem, lower leaf shows pupation fold.

This mine (I subsequently discovered) is tenanted.

Pupation fold with pupal exuviae.

Intact pupation fold.

All good stuff, and all I needed to do now was wait and hope that one of the intact pupation folds would come good with a fresh adult. I checked the leaves every morning and night. On Tuesday, after getting home around midnight from watching LCFC play away in Sheffield, there was a tiny and very lively moth flitting about in the tub. I managed to secure it in a pot and have a look with the x10 lens, and bingo - there was my adult. Epic win again! But obviously there was no way I could attempt to photograph it at that late hour, so I popped the pot in the fridge without thinking and looked forward to photographing it in the morning. Morning came, photography set setup, pot comes out the fridge and .... the blasted thing had thrown a seven. Epic Fail!

Fresh, tiny, dead Phyllocnistis saligna

Oh well. There will be others .......

On Wednesday I headed over to Watermead CP North for a spot of twitching. Both Pec Sand and Spotted Crake loitering on the same scrape over on the Wanlip Meadow side. Here's views from Plover Hide ...


I got good but brief views of the crake, but the Pec Sand was in full view constantly feeding amongst Lapwings. I tried to freehand phone-scope it, and the results were laughable ...

Pectoral Sandpiper - barely.

Anyway, back to the real point. This site is along the Soar plain, completely on the other side of the City to Narborough Bog. It is a typical water-side site with loads of willows ... so I casually looked at one and there were Phyllocnistis saligna mines! Another epic win.


So having added it to the VC55 list, I've now also found it at opposite sides of the City and (as can be seen from the above) on at least two types of willow (Crack and White I think, but don't quote me). I expect more records to follow, and it may well be widely distrbuted through the county. It would probably have gone unnoticed if a novice (ie me) hadn't looked - all of the experienced county leaf-mine recorders have probably done willow to death many years ago and not looked recently.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Ticks and Migrants

Okay, I've got behind! I've got a few bits to post about but I'll use this one to catch up on some garden moth news.

First up a completely knackered looking tortrix that isn't actually dead despite appearances! From what's left of it, and from experience of this species, I'm 100% sure that this is a garden tick Cochylis hybridella - one I've been expecting.

Cochylis hybridella
682nd garden moth, 364th micro, 107th tortrix

I thought this one was also a garden tick, but on checking I've had a couple before on 31/05/2008 and 19/06/2013.

Bactra lancealana

And this one, if confirmed, will be a full British tick! From an 80W trap left on the front of the house last night in full view of the neighbours plum tree.

Possible Grapholita funebrana - retained for det.

Last night also turned out to be good for migrants for a change ......

Scarce Bordered Straw - one of two
Third garden record to light, with singles on 23/09/2006 and 05/09/2009.

Rusty Dot Pearl - again one of two

Dark Sword-grass - second so far this year

Silver Y - not seeing many of these so far this year

And here's some fillers whilst I'm posting.

Gracillaria syringella (name change ....)

Six-striped Rustic