Thursday, 31 July 2014

Clouded Yellow up at Bannerdown

Thought I'd send you this photo of a Clouded Yellow that was nectaring up at Bannerdown while I was doing the butterfly transect yesterday afternoon. There were 17 species seen during the walk with more Brown Argus and Common Blues than this time last year.
All the best
Geoff Hiscocks

Thanks Geoff, things are looking good for the Nats trip next wednesday.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Sunday, 27 July 2014 Hazelbury Common

 I was up at Hazelbury
Common this morning and the first butterfly I saw was a Wall Brown (see
photo).  A far as I am aware this is a scarce species and is
not often recorded close to Bath.  After an hour i had seen 15 species
of butterfly, with good numbers Common and Chalk-hill Blues.

Best wishes,

My thanks to Richard Pooley

Saturday, 26 July 2014

26-7-2014 Batheaston Garden

Painted Lady 
First in the garden for me this year, it seems as if there are not many about.

Common Blue
I’ve seen a few of theses this year but this was the first photo opportunity, with no other obvious food plant nearby I assume the larvae are feeding on clover.

Always interested in comments
All the best Steve Curtis

Friday, 25 July 2014

White-letter hairstreak at Smallcombe

Not a common sighting for the Nats recording area and certainly not for Bath and also accompanied with a cracking photo.

My Thanks to Kim Green

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Dark Clouds and White Lining at Lord’s Wood, Saturday July 19th and Sunday 20th 2014

Our joint meeting with the Somerset & Bristol Branch of Butterfly Conservation went ahead in sad circumstances: the illness and death shortly beforehand of Clive Loring, who was to have co-led us with his wife, Eve. We offer our deepest sympathy to Eve and family.
The weather also proved to be challenging, at least on Saturday, when thunder and lightning ruled the air waves. Rob Randall, who had kindly agreed to lead the meeting in place of Clive and Eve, and nobly went out, just in case anyone turned up, was obliged to abandon it to the elements.
By contrast, the weather on Sunday was sunny and pleasantly warm, offering us the chance to enjoy Lord’s Wood in its summery best, with the guidance of John Andrews and entertained by some lively young members of his family. Fourteen of us gathered at the entrance, and were soon entranced by the numerous silver-washed fritillaries dashing through the sun flecks above the luxuriant woodland understory of brambles, thistles, foxgloves and bracken that was feeding greedily on an overdose of soil nitrogen. Other common woodland butterflies much in evidence included green-veined whites, newly emerged peacocks, red admirals, speckled woods, meadow browns, gatekeepers and ringlets. At one point along the path, a holly blue was seen flitting between fragments of blue and white pottery and glass embedded in the soil, on which it was barely visible. One member of our party then suggested we should climb uphill to investigate some smallish wych elms he knew of, just in case they might be frequented by white-letter hairstreak. We did so, and, after a cursory inspection, were on the point of leaving, when Marion Rayner alerted us to something near some ‘leaves with brown spots on’.
Those of us who were fortunate enough to be able to follow where she was pointing to were then treated to a very fine view of the butterfly walking along a branch in a ‘now-you-see-me-now-you-don’t’ kind of way as it appeared and disappeared in front of and behind intervening leaves. Suk kam Trippier managed to take some excellent photographs. A fine example of ‘Team Bath Nats and Friends’, bringing expert knowledge, spotting-ability and photographic snappiness together.

Nearby, I was diverted from butterfly-watching by the sight of an uncommon fungus, Tuberous Polypore (Polyporus tuberaster) growing on a small piece of decaying wood beside a log pile. This proved to be a lot easier to show to others than a butterfly creeping along a distant leafy branch!
After a pause for refreshment beside a pool replete with floating pondweed, beautiful demoiselles and brown and southern hawkers, some of us made our way back to the entrance, while others stayed for further exploration of this delightful woodland, not far from Bath.

Alan Rayner

Thanks to Suk kam Trippier for the photos

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

20-7-2014 Batheaston Garden

Scaeva pyrastri
One of our most distinctive hoverflies - a large black and white species with a brightly shining thorax. It can be very abundant in some summers, presumably following large-scale influxes from the continent. The larvae pf pyrastri seem to be predaceous on various ground-layer aphids and there is no particular habitat association - it can even turn up in the depths of cities in good years. It is not thought to overwinter in Britain and rarely appears before early June.

Helophilus pendulus
This is our most frequent Helophilus, a widespread and common species found in variety of habitats, but especially lushly-vegetated places where pools, ditches or other wet areas are present. The rat-tailed larvae have been found in ditches and other shallow water, also wet manure and wet sawdust.

All the best Steve

Bath Nats at Iford Manor Butterfly Day, 13th July 2014

The day started worryingly cool, grey and damp, but quickly cleared during the morning into a warm and sunny one, which brought large numbers of visitors to this annual event in which Bath Nats members participate. Alan and Marion Rayner set up and attended the Bath Nats stand, and were helped during the day by John Garrett, Martin Kirkby and Phillip and Lucy Delve. Alan co-led two guided walks for the public, each lasting about 45 minutes. ‘Walk 1’, with Marion Rayner, took a group of around 20 people along a shady path out into rapidly drying species-rich calcareous grassland. Here there was plentiful quaking grass along with many pyramidal orchids and woolly thistles, amongst which marbled whites, meadow browns and small skippers were the most frequent butterflies seen, some of which were briefly caught and examined in Alan’s butterfly net – much to the delight of children present – before being released. ‘Walk 2’ in the ‘Wild Flower Field’, with Maurice Avent and around 60 people (at least to start with!) brought additional sightings of  yellow wort, and even larger numbers of pyramidal orchids.
It was a successful and enjoyable day bringing lots of interest and three new members to Bath Nats.   

click photos to enlarge


       Banded Damaselle                                                   Spotted Fly-catcher

photo by John Garret 
Alan Rayner

Friday, 18 July 2014

Winter 2013 Taxonomy Update

This is for anyone who is interested

December 2013 saw the release of the Checklist of the Lepidoptera of the British Isles by David Agassiz, Stella Beavan and Robert Heckford. This is the first major taxonomy update since Bradley and Bradley in 2000 and UK Butterflies has been amended to reflect the changes in this new work, and a summary of these is provided below. Now that the Riodinidae family has been reinstated, the available space in the panel above has reduced and so the taxonomy summary has been placed under the Biology menu.
Highslide JS

Change Summary

  • General
  • Species are divided into 3 lists. The Main list comprises resident and transitory resident species, species believed to be extinct, immigrants and some species that have probably been imported but have been found in the wild. The Adventive list comprises species that have been recorded in the British Isles, but cannot be regarded as part of our fauna, and are probably unlikely to recur, such as those imported on produce. The Questionable lists those records that are either erroneous or unable to be confirmed. A summary of these lists can be found on the Distributions page.
  • The sequence of families has been changed, with the Papilionidae now considered the most primitive and Lycaenidae the least primitive.
  • A new species numbering system has been created.
  • Superfamilies
  • The superfamily Hesperioidea has been removed, meaning that all butterflies reside within a single superfamily, the Papilionoidea.
  • Families
  • The family Riodinidae has been added, containing a single species, the Duke of Burgundy (Hamearis lucina).
  • Subfamilies
  • The subfamily Argynninae has been removed, with all species moving to the subfamily Heliconiinae.
  • The subfamily Zerynthiinae has been removed, with all species moving to the subfamily Parnassiinae.
  • The subfamily Limenitinae has been replaced with the subfamily Limenitidinae.
  • Tribes
  • Tribes (that sit below subfamily and above genus) have been added.
  • Genera
  • The genus of the Peacock has changed from Inachis to Aglais.
  • The genus of the Large Tortoiseshell has changed from Aglais to Nymphalis.
  • The genus of the Yellow-legged Tortoiseshell has changed from Aglais to Nymphalis.
  • The genus of the Camberwell Beauty has changed from Aglais to Nymphalis.
  • The genus of the Purple Hairstreak has changed from Neozephyrus to Favonius.
  • The genus of the Short-tailed Blue has changed from Everes to Cupido, with Everes demoted to subgenus.
  • The genus of the Turquoise Blue has changed from Plebicula to Polyommatus.
  • Subgenera
  • The subgenus Cynthia has been removed.
  • The subgenus Nymphalis has been promoted to genus.
  • New subgenera (various) have been added.
  • Species
  • The Chalkhill Blue vernacular name has changed to Chalk Hill Blue.
  • The Slate Flash specific name has changed from schistacea to manea with the former being treated as a subspecies of the latter.
  • The Dappled White specific name has changed from crameri to simplonia with which it has been lumped.
  • The Shy Saliana (Saliana longirostris) has been added as an adventive species.
  • The Illioneus Giant Owl (Caligo illioneus) has been added as an adventive species.
  • The Tamarindi Owlet (Opsiphanes tamarindi) has been added as an adventive species.
  • The Cassia's Owl-butterfly (Opsiphanes cassiae) has been added as an adventive species.
  • The Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus) has been added as an adventive species.
  • The Real's Wood White (Leptidea reali) has been added as a questionable species.
  • The Lesser Purple Emperor (Apatura ilia) has been added as a questionable species.
  • The Blue Spot Hairstreak (Satyrium spini) has been added as a questionable species.
  • The Ilex Hairstreak (Satyrium ilicis) has been added as a questionable species.
  • Subspecies
  • The subspecies (insularum) of Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary (Boloria selene) has been removed.
  • The subspecies (gordius) now qualifies the Purple-shot Copper (Lycaena alciphron).
  • The subspecies (delila) no longer qualifies the Julia (Dryas julia).
  • The subspecies (vulgoadippe) no longer qualifies the High Brown Fritillary (Argynnis adippe).
  • Forms
  • The geographic form (scotica) of Dark Green Fritillary (Argynnis aglaja) has been removed.
  • The geographic form (hibernica) of Marsh Fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia) has been removed.
  • The geographic form (scotica) of Mountain Ringlet (Erebia epiphron) has been promoted to subspecies.
  • The geographic form (rhoumensis) of Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus) has been promoted to subspecies.
Many thanks to UKBUTTERFIES .

Tuesday, 15 July 2014


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All the best Steve

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Saturday 19th, Sunday 20th July: LORD’S WOOD, nr PENSFORD. A joint meeting with the Somerset & Bristol Branch of Butterfly Conservation (BC )


Meet: 11.00 am, both days, in the parking place at the entrance to the wood, 2/3rds of the way up Birchwood Lane, GR ST 631 632 Landranger 172/Explorer 155. The lane goes off right from the A37 (at Whitley Batts) about half a mile north of Chelwood roundabout. It can easily be missed since it appears to go up the side of a house and is not sign posted.
Finish: 13.30. (a packed lunch may be a good idea)
Focus: Primarily butterflies and other invertebrates, but also the flora and fauna associated with woodland. Target species will be White Admiral (scarce in Somerset), Silver Washed Fritillary and Purple Hairstreak, all of which were seen during the BC walk at the same site and time in 2013.
Description: A private woodland managed by the Forestry Commission with rides, ponds etc, which is kept open, cleared and landscaped by the owners. The wood has some uneven ground and can be muddy in several places , so walking boots or stout shoes are advised.

Please note: Members can attend on either (or both) days but should inform Geoff Hiscocks (at the latest the day before) of the day they plan to come.

Friday, 11 July 2014

11-7-2014 Batheaston Garden

Marbled White, My Knapweeds not in flower yet so most were flying straight through but the odd one stopped on the Buddleia and Creeping Thistle.

Click photos to enlarge

Common Darter, this is the first one I’ve seen on the pond this year.

Click to pictures to enlarge 
Nice to see in the Garden pond, Male and Female Smooth Newt, not great photos but they are in natural surroundings.
All the best Steve

Field trip report West Yatton Down near Chippenham

Wednesday 2nd July 2014

Leaders: Maurice Avent, Hugo Brooke and Paul Wilkins

On the warmest day of the year to date fourteen members made an early start to open not just one but four moth traps set the previous night by Maurice in a beautiful valley owned and managed by him at West Yatton Down near Chippenham.
Lilac Beauty
The catch was excellent with well over sixty different species of macro moths alone, the highlights of which were Privet, Poplar and Elephant Hawk-moths, Drinker Moth, Coxcomb and Pebble Prominent, Lobster Moth, Lilac Beauty, Short-cloaked Moth and The Campion as well as what was probably a Hoary Footman (to be confirmed).  Micro moths of note included the Ash Bud Moth (Prays fraxinella), Tortrix moth Ancylis achatana which was numerous and the Crescent Plume (Marasmarcha lunaedactyla).

        Dark Green Fitillary                                                    Small Skippers

After opening, inspecting and recording all the moths in each trap, save a few escapees, Maurice led  a butterfly walk around the valley which followed his normal Butterfly Transect route. With the sun shinning and the temperatures rising we certainly didn't need to walk far before we had seen at least a dozen butterfly species, including the Dark Green and Silver-washed Fritillaries which were cruising up and down the woodland edge and hedgerow in search of a mate.  Small and Essex Skippers were nectaring on the Birds-foot Trefoil and Red Clover and a mating pair provided a good photo opportunity.  There were numerous, although mostly quite worn Meadow Brown's and the odd Ringlet.  A few first generation Brown Argos and Common Blue were still present but were now at the end of their flight period.

Other species included Large skipper, Tortoiseshell, Green-veined and Small White, Small Heath and Comma.

A total of 19 species of butterfly were recorded during the walk as well as Six-spot Burnet, Black-neck and Nettle-tap moths, a large Southern Hawker dragon-fly and a Common Darter dragonfly were seen patrolling the woodland ride at the end of the walk.

Thank to Paul Wilkins

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Just For Fun

I wonder why its called  the Monkey Orchid, but ever since photos of it started circulating on the internet, people have found it hard to believing it actually exists.The scientific name of this very rare flower is Dracula simia, with the first part hinting at the resemblance between its two long spurs to fangs, and the second meaning “monkey” in Latin. It only grows in the mountainous regions of Ecuador, Colombia and Peru, at an elevation of between 1,000 and 2,000 meters above sea level, but there are a few collectors who have managed to grow it in “captivity”. The Monkey orchid is not season specific, and in its natural habitat it can flower at any time, this flower actually smells a lot like a ripe orange, as well. 

Thanks to Becky for sending the photo.

Sunday 29 June 2014: Ubley Warren

(Leaders: Nigel Milbourne and Helena Crouch)

Glorious sunshine greeted the sixteen who assembled for this joint meeting of BNHS and Cam Valley Wildlife Group.  After an introduction to the history, management and geology of the reserve, we began to explore this fascinating site, where the legacies of lead mining are evident in the vegetation seen today.  Much of the site comprises uneven gruffy ground where surface layers have been disturbed during mining, resulting in a mosaic of limestone grassland and heathland species, with calcicoles such as Bird’s-foot-trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) and Stemless Thistle (Cirsium acaule) growing alongside calcifuges such as Heather (Calluna vulgaris) and Purple Moor-grass (Molinia caerulea).  Ubley Warren is home to several rare plants.  Much of the turf is Soft-leaved Sedge (Carex montana), so abundant here, yet nationally scarce.  One of the rarest plants in Somerset is Mountain Everlasting (Antennaria dioica), which occurs only on a precarious turf ledge beside a path at Ubley Warren.  For 75 years it was believed to be extinct, but was discovered here in 2005 and persists ... just.  Members were not hugely impressed by this species, or by Slender Bedstraw (Galium pumilum) which was seen on rocks nearby and is not only Nationally Rare but also red-listed as Endangered.  An aberrant Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera var. badensis) resulted in far more photographic activity.  This variety has two pink sepaloid petals in addition to the three pink sepals.

The larger-scale lead workings (rakes) have produced rocky ravines and limestone crags, which provide a habitat for several rare plants.  We saw the skeletal remains of Hutchinsia (Hornungia petraea), a tiny white-flowered crucifer, in Somerset now found only here and in the Avon Gorge, surviving at both sites on the soil-rock interface thanks to lack of competition in this harsh environment.  A single Wild Service-tree (Sorbus torminalis) clings to the rock face in one rake and was bravely viewed from above by hardy members.  Ubley Warren is home to two rare hawkweeds, both of which were seen in flower on rocks.  Chalice Hawkweed (Hieracium cyathis) grows only here, in Cheddar Gorge and in several sites in south Wales.  Red-tinted Hawkweed (Hieracium angustisquamum), with dark purplish undersides to the leaves, has a very scattered distribution in Britain and Ireland and was seen on a single north-facing rock face.

After exploring the Rakes, we headed out to the western edge of the reserve where Frog Orchid (Coeloglossum viride) was formerly found.  Sadly none were found, but Skylarks (Alauda arvensis) sang overhead as compensation.  Returning across the less frequented southern part of the reserve, a search for Mullein Moth (Cucullia verbasci) caterpillars on Water Figwort (Scrophularia auriculata) was more successful.  There were lots of Dark Green Fritillaries (Argynnis aglaja) flying over the reserve, and we saw several Six-spot Burnets (Zygaena filipendulae) and Forester Moths (Adscita statices) as we walked across the heath. The walk ended with a fantastic view of a Viviparous Lizard (Zootoca vivipara) basking on the boundary wall and a brief sighting of a Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary (Boloria selene) on the other side.
[HJC and NM]