Saturday, 31 May 2014


I found a small patch of Adder's-tongue at Mowsbury Hill today, a plant that I'd never seen there before, though there are previous records.

Grapholita pallifrontana

Now is the time to be looking for the rare micro moth Grapholita pallifrontana, which is a UK BAP Priority Species. Here's one of three that I found today at Mowsbury Hill LNR. They sit on top of foliage, usually alongside, rather than on, wild liquorice its larval food plant throughout much of the day so are fairly easy to spot once you get your eye in. They do a wonderful gyratory dance when they notice your presence.

I checked most of the known liquorice sites two years ago and found the moth at all but one. That was Sundon Hills, where there is much liquorice along the foot of the scarp westwards from Moleskin. I'd be surprised if the moth isn't there. Worth looking if you are in the area. Records to David Manning of course if you find it.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Broad-bodied Chaser

A female Broad-bodied Chaser at Sandy Smith NR, one of two hunting in the proto-woodland.

Sandy Smith NR

At Sandy Smith NR the Bee Orchids are just coming into flower:

What appears to be some sort of "Thrift" on steroids - much larger than normal sea pinks. A garden escape?

An Aquilegia, another a garden escape?

Large Skipper

Large Skipper is now flying in Bedfordshire, here seen at Sandy Smith NR:

Common Twayblade

Graham's favourite (Common Twayblade) at Old Warden Tunnel.

Crab Spider

This sawfly should keep this crab spider going for a few days. (Old Warden Tunnel).

Honey Bee swarm aftermath

The Honey Bee swarm at Old Warden Tunnel has moved on, but the makings of a honey comb remain on the branch where it rested. They didn't move to the split ash as there is no sign of them there.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Priory Country Park

A quick evening visit to Priory Country Park following the rain was reasonably productive:

A male scorpion fly (only the male has the "scorpion" tail). It is possible to determine the species by looking at this tail, but I didn't try on this occasion.

A fresh Mother Shipton day-flying moth, unwilling to pose where there wasn't a grass-stem shadow playing across it :-(

A lot of beetle grubs (Dock Beetle?) turning a dock into a skeleton.

An arty shot of a Small Tortoiseshell caterpillar feeding on nettle, one of many seen in one patch.

A roosting mayfly trying for a second day as an adult(?)

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Mowsbury Hill LNR

I've often thought that Mowsbury Hill LNR would be a suitable place for Grizzled Skippers as there is a lot of the larval foodplant creeping cinquefoil there, and the structure is nice in places. Today I saw a fresh-looking one east of the driving range, the first record for the site. Let's hope it leads to the species establishing there.

Old Warden Tunnel

On Saturday it was great to find four Dingy Skippers at Old Warden Tunnel where they had first been seen last year, but there were fears that grazing by sheep may have eaten off the eggs they had laid. Here's a couple seen this year intent on creating more:

There was also a Honey Bee swarm in an apple tree in the cutting which I bravely approached in order to bring you some video:

Purbeck, Dorset

I know how boring holiday snaps can be, so here's just a few highlights from a four night trip to the Purbeck area of Dorset last week. With so many National Nature Reserves in that area there's little need to wander far once there. In the order encountered...

Female (top) and male (bottom) Wall Browns. A rare sight in Beds now but Walls were the most commonly encountered butterflies during the week. Just as difficult to closely approach as ever.

Early Spider Orchids, mostly gone over. This is a very localised species in Britain and Purbeck is one of its hot spots, here on its south coast.

Early Purple Orchid(?), maybe. Unlike in Bedfordshire where these are woodland species these were encountered in open grassland in Durlston NNR which makes me worried about my ID?!

As you know I rarely notice birds, but there were so many Stonechats around that I couldn't really ignore them, not that I'm really equipped to photograph them.

Possibly the Burnet Rose (Rosa pimpinellifolia) flowering within a couple of inches of the ground requiring muddy knees to smell, the scent subtle but delightful. Durlston NNR.

A female Raft Spider (Dolomedes fimbriatus) at the RSPB reserve at Arne, one of Britain's largest spiders.

The Heath Tiger Beetle (Cicindela sylvatica) in the dunes at Studland. The only one I saw so lucky to get this close. I met an entomologist who said they'd only just emerged that week.

There are quite a lot of wood ants on the heathlands which I'm presuming to be Formica rufa(?) here devouring an unfortunate caterpillar.

A rather splendid Field Maple on the path from Studland village to Old Harry Rocks (a very pleasant walk).

Sundew at Great Ovens Hill heathland which boasts all six native reptile species, none of which was seen! I didn't know it at the time but there are several sundew species, this one, of which there were many hundreds, I suspect to be the Oblong-leaved Sundew (Drosera intermedia)?

And this may be another one, Round-leaved Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) which was also present and I only photographed because I thought it looked 'different'.

Finally, a mystery! Along the same wet path on the edge of the heathland as the sundews was a large patch of "this". Any suggestions what this is please...?

Sunday, 18 May 2014


Just back from a short break in Dorset. On the first evening (12th May) I was wandering along Swanage seafront when the coastguard stopped me as the area had been cordened off while a bomb disposal team dealt with WWII phosphor bombs unearthed by a digger that afternoon.

This one has been accidently ignited during salvage:

The others were cautiously placed into a skip:

Then all were destroyed by a controlled explosion, while the fire brigade, ambulance crews, police, bomb disposal team and me, hid behind a wall.

A unique start to a holiday!

Monday, 5 May 2014

Brimstone Moth

A Brimstone moth fascinated by the light through my kitchen door, or maybe it fancies its own reflection...

Common Heath

One of several male (with the spectacular antennae) Common Heaths flying at Sharnbrook Summit NR today. Almost impossible to photograph being extremely flighty and always landing within the sward.

Wind-blown Spider

This currently-unidentified gorgeous spider was hunkered down on top of a seed head waiting for the wind to drop at Sharnbrook Summit NR today.

Burnet caterpillar

What I suspect to be a Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet caterpillar on Sharnbrook Summit NR. Normally I see hundreds of these but this was the only one I noticed today:

Hairy Dragonfly

A Hairy Dragonfly (my first of the year) at the southern end of Sharnbrook Summit Wildlife Trust nature reserve, a rather dry location. A male I suspect from the large antehumeral stripes and blue (rather than yellow) spots on the abdomen?

Looks like the side of the thorax may be damaged (or at least has non-standard markings)...?

Sunday, 4 May 2014

North from Sundon Hills (pixels on canvas)

View north today from Sundon Hills, with a touch of dry-brush effect in photoshop. If only I could paint this well. (Click for larger version).