Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Bank Holiday Monday walk Bathampton Down and Claverton.

"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

Monday, 26 August 2013

Moth light trap

We ran a light trap on 22/23 Aug Thursday/ Friday night at Bathwick.Here are some of the moths attracted to the light.       Click Photos to enlarge
Barred Hook-tip

Centre-barred Sallow

Pale Prominent

Thank you Phillip & Lucy
Beautiful Plume

Old Lady

Willow Beauty

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Clouded Yellow

A Friday visitor to the garden, the first Clouded Yellow ever. Not a very good pic but at least a record of an unusual event.

Thanks to Gordon Rich

Click to enlarge

Friday, 23 August 2013

Clouded Yellow

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

Monday, 19 August 2013

Elm Farm

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 &

Alan Rayner

Click Photos to enlarge
Blood Vein 
Common Blue
Photos by Paul Wilkins

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Moth Help 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 !
Trish Tassis

Friday, 9 August 2013

Hazelbury Common trip report

Wednesday 7th August 2013:

  Chalk-hill Blue 
A party of 20 met on a mild morning of light cloud and hazy sunshine that was ideal for the main purpose of the day, which was to see and enjoy the varied insect life of this small oasis set in the middle of well-farmed fields.  Within minutes the group had fragmented into interest groups as various butterflies and moths were being discovered.  After a dismal early start to the year, the last month has seen a great improvement in not only the variety but also the numbers of butterflies, and none more so than the “whites”. During the course of the two hour walk we saw hundreds of white butterflies, the bulk of which were Small & Green-veined, then later some Large Whites.  Of especial interest to most of the group were the Chalk-hill Blues where we saw both the showy males and the more subtly camouflaged females. Other delights were the Common Blues, Small Copper, and both Small and Essex Skippers.  A very dilapidated and heavily worn Dark-green Fritillary was admired despite its rather woebegone appearance, but it is right at the end of the flight period for this species.
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.
Small Copper 

Female Chalkhill Blue

Dusky Sallow    

Photos by Paul Wilkins

Thanks to Richard Pooley & Elisabeth Allen  

Friday, 2 August 2013

Otter at Newbridge 2nd Aug 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