Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Roving Records - North West Zone: 05/07/13

As much as I enjoy the outdoors part of my job, balance is firmly kept in The Force by hayfever. Why, why must hayfever be a thing?

False Oat-Grass (Arrhenatherum elatius) in flower

Last Friday's reptile survey resulted in just 3 small Grass Snakes, probably because I left it a bit too late in the morning and they had already charged up for the day. It was a great time for macro-invertebrate recording though as it was hot-dang (not complaining!) We are trying to build a picture of all species groups which occur here as part of our Biodiversity Action Plan; invertebrates are an incredibly important part of the ecosystem and can often be overlooked in conservation work.

Azure Blue Damselfly (Coenagrion puella)

An ex-Azure Blue Damselfly

The culprit: a pretty little Common Stretch-Spider (Tetragnatha spp.), here feeding on a fly

Due to the cool start to this season many species have taken a few weeks longer to get going. I began my trek at the Compost Field where the pond scrapes always come up with the goods: plenty of chaser dragonflies, darter dragonflies and damselflies were all getting on with things. Along the River Mole Grasslands were a good number of butterflies including Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Small Heath, Common Blue, Small Skipper, Large Skipper and Small Tortoiseshell.

Large Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanusbutterfly

Large Skipper feeding on flowers of Meadow Vetchling (Lathyrus pratensis)

Freshly emerged Ringlet butterfly (Aphantopus hyperantus)

This was also a great day for the Five-Spot Burnet moth; these are fantastic, chunky-bodied moths with underwings showing up bright pink in flight. They drone around on sunny days like florescent aerial tanks. I was chuffed to see the larva (caterpillar) and the pupal stage of the life cycle all in the same spot.

Adult Five-Spot Burnet moth (Zygaena trifolii)

The larval (caterpillar) stage - this one is probably close to pupating

The pupa (or cocoon)

Five-Spot Burnet moth (Zygaena trifolii)

Mating pair. Moths pretty much just do it in the open

I should probably warn you all now that there are more moth posts to come, plus references to hayfever, and BBQs... but never that it is too hot!