WildlifePosted by Dennis Hopkins Thu, December 14, 2017 03:55PM
I prefer to write "wintery" but that's out of fashion it seems.
It's mid-December and roses are still trying to flower, adding some welcome colour in the garden. Time now especially to feed wild birds, and it seems a squirrel, seen in a local garden ...
Trying to discourage all but small birds, this cage within a cage works quite well (outer part is a cylindrical piece of wire mesh).
WildlifePosted by Dennis Hopkins Thu, March 09, 2017 09:25PM
It was around 15C today (9 March 2017), which brought out quite a few large bumble bees onto my winter flowering heather. I haven't identified the species yet - most were as shown in photos and the video. I've put this post into the "Wildlife" category, but the situation was my garden, and the food plant is not native to UK. I wonder how the bees are managing in our disappearing and fragmented countryside ... Play Video
WildlifePosted by Dennis Hopkins Mon, December 19, 2016 03:04PM
I was impressed with this blue fungus growing on an oak post, initially thought it might be a lichen. A Gwent Wildlife Trust person suggested it could be Cobalt Crust fungus (Terana caerulea), later confirmed by the Gwent Fungus Group who recorded the apparently rare find. More photos can be seen here: http://pics.dchopkins.co.uk/#collection/6One of many information sources on www
WildlifePosted by Dennis Hopkins Wed, October 28, 2015 12:55AM
I was surprised to find this very striking moth caterpillar (Pale Tussock, Calliteara pudibunda
) inside an inverted wheelbarrow in south east Wales (elevation approx 1000 feet, 300m). I only had an old style mobile phone with me, so it's a poor image. A Google search for information and photos is here
. This website
has very good photos, and the adult moth is also impressive. It seems the species is "fairly common" in England and Wales, but a sighting made it into a local newspaper (South Wales Evening Post, with incorrect adult photo). When moving, black markings can be seen between the bright yellow segments, along with what looks like an erect red "tail". I moved it to a safer place while wearing gloves, just as well because handling can cause skin problems.
WildlifePosted by Dennis Hopkins Sat, November 02, 2013 05:12AM
While walking in an area with oak trees I noticed lots of what looked like seeds on the ground. These resembled parsnip seeds - discs about 5mm across, raised one side and flattened on the other. These appear to be common spangle galls, which have fallen off the underside of oak leaves, and are abundant this year.
These galls are produced on oak leaves during the first phase of the life cycle of a small wasp (Neuroterus quercusbaccurum
) - each containing an egg developing to a larva. I failed to see one within the plant material, guess they're pretty small at this stage (in late October).
The second phase also produces a gall (termed a "currant gall") on oak leaf buds in early summer, from which wasps emerge. These galls are much less abundant than spangle galls due to actions of a wide variety of predators. Here are a couple of links to the many web pages on galls - Trees for Life
- this species is under the heading "Currant Galls"Wikipedia Neuroterus quercusbaccarum
Note: Although this is called "common", like many things in nature it may be prolific one year in a particular area, then not so for some time.
Update 30 Aug 2017
I didn't see much of this species again until this year (I wasn't looking hard), but it's noticeably another abundant year in south east Wales (sample photo
WildlifePosted by Dennis Hopkins Tue, July 24, 2012 12:25AM
I can't remember seeing these before - but I don't get out that much! Both seen on hillsides in SE Wales:
A swallow tailed moth
(Ourapteryx sambucaria) - usually night flying, this was early evening in July. Similar in size to butterflies such as peacock, red admiral. Typical for moths, rests with wings open and has no 'club ends' to antennae.
Looks like a small woodlouse, and that seems to be what it is. A crustacean - rosy/pink woodlouse
(Androniscus dentiger) fits the description. It's about 5mm long, found in rubble near a boggy area.Update Oct 2018
I believe this is a common woodlouse (UK) Oniscus asellus. There are lots of these around my garden but this is the first I've noticed with markings on its "back", may be calcium deposits according to Wikipedia.
WildlifePosted by Dennis Hopkins Thu, April 05, 2012 09:46PM
A high density of frog tadpoles are busy browsing the vegetation & lichen on stones (pictured below), small log and liner of a garden pond. In fact it's not the liner, but a layer of "weed suppressant" material which I put over the liner - this provides a good hold for micro-vegetation and gives the liner some protection. This is a small, fairly new pond (put in 2 years ago), so has not silted up much - which may in time reduce the amount of "grazing" available early in the year.
Having shallow areas including some stones provides shelter for various creatures, and makes the pond popular as a "bird bath". A few shoots of Ceratophyllum demersum (common or rigid hornwort) were
introduced last year to help oxygenate the pond, and tadpoles etc. will eat some. This plant doesn't grow as vigourously as some other non-native species, or have significant roots, making removal of excess easier. One shoot is pictured below with the tip on the surface.
I had an old tyre and thought I'd make a habitat near the pond, not sure what species it would suit - amphibians, reptiles? The tyre has stones in the middle, and at the bottom a flat one is angled off the ground. It'll soon get hidden with more sticks and surrounding vegetation.
WildlifePosted by Dennis Hopkins Fri, December 30, 2011 11:02PM
I found a couple of these ladybird sized bugs on the edge of deciduous woodland in early August. They were about 4mm long and seemed to be hunting for food (on an alder buckthorn leaf in this case).
I was advised that they were most likely to be lacewing larvae. They cover themselves with the skin of their prey, thus changing their appearance.