Tuesday, 27 August 2013
"Phillip and I enjoyed a lovely local walk on Bank Holiday Monday 26th August, including Bathampton Down and Claverton. Highlights were three Spotted Flycatchers, in three different locations, and 16 species of butterfly including a Clouded Yellow and Brown Argus in the "quarry" area of the golf course, and a Painted Lady.
Thank you Lucy Delve
Posted by steve curtis at 2:44:00 pm
Monday, 26 August 2013
Posted by steve curtis at 10:53:00 pm
Sunday, 25 August 2013
Friday, 23 August 2013
Clouded Yellow has been seen regularly at Hazelbury Common in recent weeks and probably at other sites in the Bath Nats area as well. I was therefore glad to come across one on Bannerdown Common while conducting the regular butterfly transect there on 21st August. It was flying around in the area known commonly as the ' slope ' at the southern end of the Common, occasionally pausing to nectar. The attached photo shows one of these brief 'pit stops'.
Thanks to Geoff Hiscocks
Posted by steve curtis at 8:53:00 am
Monday, 19 August 2013
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning at Elm Farm, 17th, 18th August 2013
The four Bath Nats who joined John Paget and Ian Stapp, on a cool but mostly dry summer evening after a rainy afternoon, were in for a treat. Having watched a sparrowhawk cruising amidst the swallows and house martins gathering in the dusk, we were led across to watch the moth trap being set up and then to the barn in which the colony of around 35 Natterer’s bats were said to be roosting. We looked up to the ridge beam but could not see any activity, although the plentiful droppings on the floor beneath provided clear evidence of the bats’ presence. The coolness of the evening allowed the bats to stay well hidden, we were led to believe. We then walked out along the main path from the farm, past a small pond, to a gateway where we looked towards woodland across a grassy field, with a border of melilot, scorpion weed and quinoa, planted to encourage winter birds. While John told us about the history of the farm and its management, we watched roe deer and a brown hare. We then walked back to the main barn and were shown a superb short video film of the Natterer’s bats, which prepared us for what was to come. As the evening light faded, we returned to wait beside the Rothko-like rectangle of blackness at the entrance of the barn, which was lit from below by a red light. We listened to the crackling on the bat detectors, which Ian told us was the bats having a natter about whether the weather was good enough, but not yet ready to take flight. Just as we began to wonder whether they would do any more than just chat about it, their tone changed to a more rapid, deliberate code and we saw the first red-lit flutterers emerge and swirl around us before disappearing off into the night sky. More soon followed, the bats both exiting from and returning into the void in rapid succession, a vibrant, living firework display that lasted around 35 minutes until the last bat had left and the detectors fell silent.
Next morning, in bright sunshine, a much larger group of 18 gathered at the entrance of the farm to watch Richard Pooley examine and identify around 35 species of moths that had gathered overnight in and around the trap. Amongst the most abundant were ‘Flame Shoulder’ (Ochropleura plecta) and ‘Lesser Broad Bordered Yellow Underwing’ and amongst the most striking in appearance were ‘Spectacle’ (Abrostola triplasia), ‘Magpie’ (Abraxus grossulariata) and ‘Blood-vein’ (Timandra comae). Pride of place went to ‘Dark Barred Twin-spot Carpet’ (Xanthorhoe ferrugata). We then took a walk around the farm, appreciating the wide variety of flora, fauna and fungi to be found in its diversity of hedgerow, wetland, woodland and grassland habitats. Among the more unusual finds was ‘Choke’ or Epichloe typhina, growing on ‘Wood false-brome’ (Brachypodium sylvaticum). This fungus grows ‘endophytically’ within living grass stems, but prior to fruiting produces a tight collar of mycelium around the flowering culms, which appears to ‘choke’ them. Although it inhibits flowering, the grass responds by producing more vegetative growth. Last but not least was a fine specimen of ‘Vapourer’ moth (Orgyia antiqua) in the hedgerow along the main path from the farm.
Richard Pooley &
Click Photos to enlarge
Posted by steve curtis at 9:17:00 pm
Tuesday, 13 August 2013
I recently found a dead moth which appears to be unharmed, but with a lens you can see a small perfectly round hole on the back of its head. Is this the cause of death, perhaps a parasite ? I don't know the species of moth - it looks like the common quaker in my reference book, but a bit larger and the antennae are finer and longer.
Any information would be of interest !
Posted by steve curtis at 9:27:00 am
Friday, 9 August 2013
Wednesday 7th August 2013:
Moths were also in evidence with the cryptically coloured Dusky Sallow nectaring on the heads of Knapweed, Field Scabious or Woolly Thistle. Others recorded were Six-spot Burnet, Shaded Broad Bar and many Silver Y. A particularly colourful and pleasing micro moth called Pyrausta purpuralis was present in numbers on the Marjoram that grows abundantly on the lower part of the slope. The depredations by the tiny Horse-chestnut leaf miner micro moth were discussed, as the Horse-chestnut trees at the entrance to the site were heavily infested.
Other forms of wildlife were not ignored as Chiffchaff, Bullfinch and Nuthatch were heard, comment was made concerning the parasitic nature of both Yellow Rattle and Red Bartsia, which are helping to combat the spread of coarse grasses that are having a detrimental effect on the traditional downland plant communities. Dr Alan Rayner identified and expanded on the tiny fungus Bolbitius vitellinus, which is brilliant yellow in its early stages, before the cap expands, and also pointed out the very smart male Red-tailed Bumble bees with their yellow faces. One very small and very nervous Common Lizard was seen on an old ant-hill but did not linger to allow more that two people to see it.
By the end of the walk we had seen 16 species of butterfly, 6 macro & 5 micro moth species, and a very pleasing variety of other insect forms plus other wildlife. Finally a bonus of a non natural history nature came when the old Plaister “pilgrims chapel was opened especially to allow members to view it.
Photos by Paul Wilkins
Posted by steve curtis at 4:56:00 pm
Friday, 2 August 2013
Hi i thought you would like to know about a otter i seen yesterday at newbridge below the pump house i was fishing and we had a lovely 10 seconds staring at each other the first one i have seen in the wild what a privelige .
Many thanks to Colin Carey
Posted by steve curtis at 9:52:00 am