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Tuesday 30 July 2013

Northern Rustic moth, Standfussiana lucernea this evening in Mid Sussex

This looks like the Northern Rustic moth, Standfussiana lucernea, which, according to Butterfly conservation at is confined to the coasts of south and south-western England, Wales, Man, Scotland including the Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland and Ireland.  Occurs inland in Wales, Derbyshire, Lancashire and Cumbria.

This one has visited my bedroom this evening, so Mid Sussex can be added to its distribution.
 Since 1970’s it is declining in Britain.  From on a curtain above, it flew inside a lamp fitting below.

What attractive stripy legs and took at its spikes!
A handsome beast.

More path clearing on the High Weald Landscape trail west of Cuckfield

The path west of Cuckfield was getting very overgrown in places.  It was a hot and humid day yesterday and the scythe that I borrowed was old and worn and fell apart after a few minutes.  A hand sickle was then used to clear the this section.
You can now walk line abreast and not get soaked by wet bracken when it rains.
Our public footpath network would be more pleasurable if more people cleared even short sections like the above near their homes.  Reduced funding for local councils means that we need to do more ourselves to avoid tax hikes and to enjoy our paths.

Sunday 28 July 2013

Dark green fritillary in the Long Plantation, Kingswood, Surrey

Wonderful to see a Dark green fritillary, Argynnis aglaja, in the Long Plantation, Kingswood, Surrey this afternoon.  It did not close its wings so this identification is tentative.

Mint moth, Pyrausta aurata, yesterday on marjoram.

I was able to identify this Mint moth, Pyrausta aurata from
Click that link for further information, which I won't repeat here.

Saturday 27 July 2013

Green woodpecker shows baby woodpecker how to probe for ants.

Look son.  This is how you dig for ants,
This ground looks all... well "earthy" Dad.  Won't you feed me please?
No my boy!  You have to learn sometime.

Okay Dad.  I'll have a go.

Crab spiders

Crab spiders lie in wait in flowers and pounce when prey arrives. 
This one was on a Fragrant Orchid in Surrey on 26 June 2013.
It might be Diaea dorsata.  Can anyone confirm its species?
Today, in Surrey, I closed in for a closer shot of these two Meadow brown butterflies on a Scabious flower.  One flew off and I took some pictures of the one remaining underneath the flower.  I was curious to see how it could get at the Scabious florets from that position.  Seemingly extraordinarily, the butterfly did not fly off as I got the camera lens just a few inches away.  I moved the flower to get a better shot and the butterfly fell out in the grasp of a spider hanging on the spider's thread.  I shot some out of focus pictures of the spider climbing back to beneath the flower.  And that explains the following pictures.  Enjoy! 

This might be Misumena vatia.  What a meal for this crab spider!
The butterfly and spider fell together.  The spider then climbed up its own thread back to the flower.
Exciting things are happening in our wildflower meadows in summer.  There are other wonderful pictures in "Wildflower Meadows" by Margaret Pilkington, which I recommend.  Do buy it from a bookseller who pays UK corporation tax though and NOT from one invoicing from Luxemburg which avoids paying corporation taxes in the UK.
What a meal for a small spider!  I shall add these pictures to my talk "The Natural Year in Focus"
Please click here for details of that talk.

Thursday 25 July 2013

Horror in Cuckfield as a wasp eats a moth whilst it is still alive.

A moth emerged from a flower bed in my garden pursued by a wasp.

The moth was crawling along with the wasp attacking it.

A series of photo's were taken that showed the wasp eating the abdomen of the live moth.

It ate almost the whole abdomen before flying off, presumably with a very full gut.

What an extraordinary sight.
Is this too gory to use in my "Natural Year in Focus" talk, do you think?  Click here to see that talk page

Sunday 21 July 2013

Sicilian tomato salad

My favourite summer dish.
Simplicity itself; crush some garlic and mix with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and spread over sliced tomatoes.  Sprinkle on fresh herbs.  I used chopped mint and celery heart leaves above.

Swallowtailed Moth

One benefit of the current hot weather is that throwing windows and doors open to the night air with the lights on turns the house into a giant moth magnet.
Great then to see a Swallowtailed Moth, Ourapteryx sambucaria right in front of me in my study.
What a lovely insect.

Thursday 18 July 2013

Eighty nine Harlequin Ladybirds eliminated from one small cherry tree.

This cherry tree gets infected with aphids every year.  And in recent years has attracted Harlequin Ladybirds.
This is a Harlequin larva ready to start pupating.
 These are more advanced pupae.
An adult Harlequin beetle -- crushed for this picture.  Harlequins allegedly escaped from a greenhouse in Belgium after bringing them from Asia.  They outperform native British Ladybirds, which are threatened as a consequence.
Eighty nine Harlequin larvae, pupae and one adult beetle were collected in a small vessel from this one small tree...
 ... and then dispatched to give our native Ladybirds a better chance to compete.
This tiny native Ladybird, Propylea 14-punctata appeared yesterday in my house. 
I've done my bit to help it survive.

Thursday 11 July 2013

Dark green fritillary at Belle Tout yesterday.

What a little beauty!  This Dark green fritillary was between the Horseshoe Plantation and Birling Gap yesterday.

Monday 8 July 2013

Pyramidal, Fragrant and Common-spotted Orchids in flower now.

The aptly named Pyramidal Orchid is flowering now.  These pictures taken yesterday on the South Downs.
Fragrant Orchids have a very different shape and your nose will confirm the plant.  To me the scent is exquisite.
Common spotted-Orchids above can be very varied in their colour making a fine show -- although starting to set seed now.

Lesser Butterfly-orchid last week in Sussex

This orchid is reckoned as rare in Sussex and it was a great thrill to photograph it last week.

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