Friday, 28 August 2015

Wildlife around Bath

Very interesting one from Ian Redding

Entomophthora muscae (232/365)
Family: Entomophthoraceae
 A hoverfly has become a food source for a fungus. Upon infection, the fungus causes behavioural changes in the host, leading to ascent of a blade of grass before death. This allows the spores to be broadcast widely. The fungus shows itself as the white masses visible between the tergites.
 One of many in woodland at Brown's Folly, near Bath.

Thanks to Ian Redding

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Batheaston Moth Trap.26-8-2015

Common Rustic 
Formerly a single species, this has now been split into a complex of three, giving Lesser Common Rustic (M. didyma) and Remm's Rustic (M. remmi) specific status.
Generally very variable, the three cannot be reliably separated without reference to their genitalia, but the very dark forms with almost white stigmata tend to be mostly didyma.
Flying in July and August, the species is very common throughout Britain and regularly comes to light.
The larvae feed inside the stems of various grasses, including cock's-foot (Dactylis glomerata) and tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea).

Setaceous Hebrew Character
A distinctive species, which is widely distributed throughout Britain, sometimes commonly. The population is sometimes reinforced by immigration in the autumn.
In the southern half of its range, there are two broods, flying in small numbers in May and June, but far more commonly in August and September. In the north there is just one generation, flying in July and August.
The larvae feed on a variety of herbaceous plants, but especially nettle (Urtica).

Flame Shoulder 
Quite a common species throughout Britain, occupying woodland fringes, gardens and meadowland.
There are two generations, flying in May and June and again in August and September.
Its only likely confusion species in Britain is Radford's Flame Shoulder (O. leucogaster), which is a very rare migrant to the south coast.
The nocturnal caterpillars live on low plants such as dock (Rumex) and plantain (Plantago).

Six-striped  Rustic 
Occupying mainly damp woodlands and marshy habitats, this moth is fairly commonly distributed over the greater part of the British Isles.
The single generation flies in July and August, when the adults are attracted to both sugar and light.
The larvae feed on a range of herbaceous plants.

Flounced Rustic 

A common species in England and Wales, but more local in Scotland and Ireland, occupying dry, grassy habitats.
There is one generation, flying in August and September, when the species comes to light.
The larvae feed underground in the bases of grass stems and amongst the roots.

All the best Steve

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Sightings around Bath Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Single Clouded Yellow in rapid flight & a single Spotted Flycatcher at Bannerdown Common, Saturday, August 22nd.

Thank you Chris Woods

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Moth Trap and Walk – Prior Park Landscape Garden – Wednesday 19th August 2015

Little Grebe sitting on nest with chicks 
Twelve members made an early start in the delightful surroundings of Prior Park Gardens adjacent to the lower lake to examine, identify and study the contents of a moth trap left overnight close to the lake and surrounding trees.
Before looking at the moth trap we enjoyed views of a Little Grebe and her two 'humbug' striped chicks searching the dense weed that covers the lake at this time of year providing some excellent photo opportunities. These beautiful little waterfowl were accompanied by the usual resident Coot, Morehen and Mallard along with a Grey Heron standing like a sentry on the roof of the Palladian Bridge.
Philip Delve first heard and then briefly spotted a Peregrine Falcon as it flew low over the lake and into the woodland on the opposite side of lake but unfortunately most of us missed it!
The contents of the moth trap were examined and recorded at a very leisurely pace with us all taking plenty of time to identify and study each individual species whilst at the same time discussing their various individual attributes, larval food-plants and any unusual life cycles. In all twenty seven different species were identified including a number of micro moths two of which had to examined in more detail to establish their exact species.
The highlights of the catch included The Mocha a delicately marked moth whose larvae feed on Field Maple, the Clouded Border another geometer moth with bold black and white markings and a rather late but striking Swallow Prominent which belongs to the Notodontidae family and whose larvae feed on Willow and Sallow.
After a brief comfort break and despite the onset of some light rain we made our way up and out of the garden and into the steeply sloping fields above Prior Park to the east and below Rainbow Wood on the skyline. Here we took time to study one or two of the large and ancient ant hills created by the Yellow Meadow Ant that 'littered' the hillside here, some of which were over half a metre across and up to third of a metre high.
We looked at holes made in the side of the ant hills probably by Green Woodpeckers in an attempt to get at the ants and their eggs as well as taking note of the unique flora that grew on the top of these ant hills including what appeared to be a very fine leaved Bedstraw, Rock Roses and Birds-foot Trefoil.
Also of great interest in the field were the numerous Spear Thistles that were in full flower and stood about a metre or so high which were providing shelter under their 'bulbous' flower heads for a number of species of insects, harvestmen and spiders including various species of Bumble Bee. One unusually coloured fly with a red stripe across the centre of its eyes turned out to be the Thistle Gall Fly (Terellia serratulae). It was also noted that a number of the flower heads had turned brown prematurely and had signs of frass being ejected from a small hole in their base, on closer inspection it was found that each contained a small grey caterpillar with a black head, this was later discovered to be the larvae of a handsome looking micro moth called Phycitodes binaevella.
We soon found our way to the top of the hillside just below Rainbow Wood and despite being overcast and still raining we all enjoyed the views of the City and surrounding hillsides before returning somewhat slowly back down to Prior Park Garden.

Paul Wilkins

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Next Trip

Sunday 23rd August: BLAGDON LAKE, North Somerset.

Meet: 10.00am at the south side of the Dam. Parking by the roadside. GR ST 504598 Landranger 172/Explorer 141
Finish: Approx. 15.00
Focus: Multiple interests including wildfowl in eclipse, early autumn passage migrants, possibly waders, insects including dragonflies, butterflies, and crickets and grasshoppers, grassland and water-associated flora.
Description: Following Nigel’s excellent illustrated talk on 2 December 2013 about biodiversity and conservation activities at the reservoir, this is a great opportunity to join Nigel on site and enjoy all that this beautiful location has to offer. Level easy walking at a gentle pace, potentially some 4 miles. It is likely that cars will be able to be parked within the site for the duration of the meeting. Please bring binoculars, telescopes and tripods, and a hand-lens might be useful, if you have these. Bristol Water permits required and these can be purchased on the day at £3.50 (price correct at time of publication). Permits will also allow entry to non-public areas including hides, at Chew Valley Lake.

Moths around Bath

The mocha (Cyclophora annularia)
Family: Geometridae
 An attractive moth that feeds on field maple (Acer campestre). This was one of at least three individuals taken at a light trap left overnight in Prior Park Landscape Gardens by the Bath Natural History Society.

Ian Redding

Acrobasis advenella
Family: Pyralidae
 One of a few similar species, this moth was taken at a light trap left overnight in Prior Park Landscape Gardens by the Bath Natural History Society.

Ian Redding

Agapeta zoegana
Taken at Smallcombe Cemetery, Bath 15-8-2015
Paul Wilkins

Brown China-mark
Taken at Smallcombe Cemetery, Bath 15-8-2015
Paul Wilkins

The group of moths known as China-marks are unusual in that their larvae are entirely aquatic, feeding on water plants.
This species is quite variable, and some examples are quite dark and dull-looking, whereas others can have delicately-patterned white patches and streaks.
The moth flies in July and August, and the species is fairly common around ponds, lakes and canals throughout Britain.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Excellent book

We don’t normally advertise on this site but because this has come as a recommendation from one of our members I thought some of you may be interested.
This book by Dave Goulson is not just an excellent read but really explains the plight of our native bees. Highly recommended!

Thanks to Paul Wilkins

Friday, 7 August 2015

Wildlife around Bath 7-8-2015

Roesel's Bush Cricket (Metrioptera roeselii)Fields near Bannerdown common 7-8-2015

Roesel's Bush Cricket long winged form Metrioptera roeselii f. diluta

Saturday, 1 August 2015


Saturday 8th August: PRIDDY MINERIES/STOCKHILL, north of Wells, on the Mendips. Joint meeting with Somerset Branch of Butterfly Conservation

Bath Nats/ Somerset BC walk at Priddy Pools
Saturday 8th August 2015:
Priddy Mineries/Stockhill (Leaders: Alan Barrett and Geoff Hiscocks)

   This was a joint meeting between Bath Nats and the Somerset and Bristol Branch of Butterfly Conservation. On a glorious sunny day, 22 of us (about equal numbers from each group) met in Stockhill car park opposite Priddy Mineries. 2 joined us later. The Mineries is an ancient site, now a nature reserve having been a lead mine from Roman times to the late19th century. Because of the lead, it has become a very good example of calaminarian grassland. It is worth googling this, if interested. The trip was promoted as a ‘multiple interest’ meeting to see butterflies, dragonflies, day-flying moths and other insects, birds, and flora including lower plants. There were examples of all of these to see, demonstrating the amazing biodiversity of the site.
   Apart from the grassland, there are two pools with reedbeds. After crossing the road, the first 50 yards of grass to the main path revealed many Small and Essex Skippers, Meadow grasshoppers and other insects. Because there was so much to see, it took us two hours to walk less than a mile to and from the southerly pool. The grass verges of the path were covered in flowers. If you were looking at Yarrow, Hogweed, Sea Campion, Tufted Vetch, Fairy Flax, Harebell, Smooth Hawksbeard or Germander Speedwell, you could have missed Common and Holly Blue, Meadow Brown, Small Copper, Small Heath, Brown Argus, Marbled White, Gatekeeper, Ringlet, and the common white butterflies. We passed a small stream where a male Emerald Damselfly and Common Darters occupied our photographers. The pool had a male Brown Hawker scrapping with an intruding Emperor Dragonfly when he was trying to guard his female laying eggs in the side of the bank. Azure and Common Blue damselflies and a Southern Hawker were also seen. We had a distant view of a Hobby, which likes eating dragonflies, and a Kestrel.
   After lunch we walked up behind the car park into mixed woodland on Stockhill. The main path parallel to the road, which was sun-drenched, had trees on both sides, up to the edge on one side and a wide area of grass with flowers in front of the trees on the other. Above the latter were patrolling Migrant Hawkers. Butterflies included Peacock, Red Admiral and several Silver Washed Fritillaries. Some of us saw a pair of the latter linked in copulation whilst flying, which landed on a tree close by. There was a single Dark Green Fritillary.
   From there we crossed the road to the Waldergrave Pool, where our only new species, a Four-spotted Chaser, was seen. It was too late for the usual dragonfly species. Moths seen during the day included Scarce Footman, Scarlet Tiger, Mother of Pearl, Shaded Broad Bar, Silver Y, and Red Twin-spot Carpet. Several bee and hoverfly species were also seen.  
   The bryophytes included Neat Heather Moss, Springy Turf-moss, Common Tamarisk-moss, Glittering Wood-moss and an especially luxuriant growth of Hart’s-tongue Thyme-moss.                                                                                                                                     [AB]

Emerald Damselfly 

Thanks to Geoffrey Hiscocks