Doug and Jill’s Norfolk insects

Doug and Jill visited the Norfolk coast and spent some of the time identifying some insects:


Kent thought that the Brown Tailed Moth caterpillar could be a Yellow Tail so could perhaps anyone can confirm this?
Doug and Jill

Diplolepis mayri – a new gall in Barnsley

Annefie spotted an unusual gall when Peter, Annefie and Catherine were enjoying a walk on Barnsley Main Colliery Pit Stack in August.

It was on a dog rose bush and, at first glance, looked like Robin’s Pincushion (Diplolepis rosae). On closer inspection it is a related gall, being caused by a different member of the same family of gall wasps, Diplolepis mayri.

The gall first appears as a small red pimple, growing into green and/or red tiny spheres, 2-3mm in diameter, and covered with short sharp spines.

The short spines of the Diplolepis mayri contrast with the longer, branched hairs of the Diplolepis rosea – Robin’s Pincushion, distinguishing the two galls. In addition, the small galls of Diplolepis mayri cluster together to form a larger mass, the biggest so far found here being 60mm in diameter.

It is usually a species of southern England, and even quite rare there, so it is well out of its usual range. British Plant Gall Society members have provisionally confirmed the sighting – they have taken a sample for hatching which they expect will lead to absolute confirmation.

Catherine and Mark returned to the site and found the gall on several dog rose plants. There appear to be two main areas of galled plants, all confined within an area about 200m long and to a few yards either side of the public footpath.

There are several dried up, brown remains of some galls clearly showing the insect exit holes. These are mainly on the western edge; so the colony must have overwintered and now appears to be spreading slightly east this season.

Cutting a section across an old gall shows the vacated larval chambers, very similar to that formed by the gall wasp in Robin’s Pincushion, and demonstrating their close affinity.
Notes from Catherine.

Scilly Isles’ Stick Insects

On Colin and Linda’s visit to the Scilly Isles they too saw many birds but also spotted … stick insects!

Amazingly Linda says that there are four stick insect species on the Isles of Scilly and this species was from New Zealand originally, 150 years ago. They were accidentally brought in with plants for Tresco Abbey Gardens and have survived in the milder climate on the Scillies.

Ron’s Shetlands birding visit

This autumn we had arranged an eight-day holiday to the Shetland Isles hoping to see rare birds. For this to happen you need gale force winds and inclement weather, and we got both of these!

First gales from the west brought our first Yankee bird: Tennessee Warbler.

Tennessee Warbler
Tennessee Warbler

This was followed by two days of North Easterly gales, which brought two little gems from the East, Pallas Grasshopper Warbler and Lanceolated Warbler. These three birds were all new to me, and these were backed up with a full cast of semi rarities: Little Bunting, Lapland Bunting, Arctic Warbler and Olive Backed Pipit. As well as gales we had the wettest day on record! Here are images of all the birds:


The final indignation came from the weather with our return ferry from Lerwick to Aberdeen being delayed. It sails every night at 7 o’clock arriving in Aberdeen at 7 o’clock the next morning. We departed at 10-30pm arriving in Aberdeen 1-00pm in the afternoon. We were certainly rocked to sleep that night.

This delay cost us a new bird on our way home: Siberian Thrush in Fife. Ah well you can’t win them all. Keep safe while we meet up again. Ron and Joyce

Galls at Worsbrough

On September 1st , Pat and I found a gall at Worsbrough near Barnsley, which an I-spot user has since identified as the mite Aceria fraxinivora. We have never observed this gall previously, anywhere.

On the same occasion, we spotted a leaf on a Rosa shrub which was infected with either orange galls or a rust fungus. I would be interested for any comments on the cause of this. Arthur

‘Tails’ from my garden

I thought you all might be interested in some ‘tails’ from my garden recently.

A first tail – forget White-tailed Sea Eagle or even Rose-coloured Starling – here is a picture of a Starling with a ‘Leucistic’ white tail. It didn’t affect its performance in any way but it looked quite individualistic and a bit dapper, amongst its mates and juveniles.


A second tail: A big fluffy moggy came into my garden (all teeth and claws). It clobbered one of my adult Robins, which managed to escape the cat’s sneaky attack, albeit with the loss of its tail. Once again, this didn’t seem to affect its performance and it now continues to live a normal life, recovering from its near-death fright.

Third tails: A trio of juvenile Long-tailed Tits have spent the best part of a week in my garden (still present today). No adults in sight but they make a merry band, in their immature plumage of mainly brown and white and no pink, except their eyelids, as yet. With their ruffled plumage and reddened eyes, they look a bit like they are recovering from a heavy night at the pub.

Plucky little fellas, they were initially intimidated by the aggressive, noisy and squabbling Starlings on the fat ball feeder, not to mention the numerous House Sparrows flying about constantly feeding their young… They soon learnt to play to their strengths, as only they could (and perhaps Blue Tits can do) and found that they could feed quite happily by hanging upside down, on their backs, pecking calmly at the lowest fat ball, at the base of the feeder, unfazed by three or four noisy Starlings flapping wildly only inches above.

A great joy to see!  Co-existence but not exactly peaceful. Best Wishes, Alwyn

Recent sightings in July 2020

These images are from some of the highlights over the last two or three weeks.

My recent visits to local grassland sites have been rewarded with very pleasing numbers of grassland butterflies. In particular, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Ringlet, Small Skipper, Small Heath and the whites have been quite abundant. I almost felt like I’d been transported to the Victorian age!

Former Wentworth Railway Station Site
[This is now a Barnsley council brownfield site, to the west of Skiers Spring Wood.]
A total of 86 Meadow Brown. Good numbers of Ringlet, Gatekeeper, Large, Small and Green-veined Whites, and Small Skipper, along with several Six-spot Burnet Moth, Small Tortoiseshell, and numerous Meadow Grasshoppers.
A total of 189 butterflies.

Koyo Bearings Meadow and track on Dodworth Muckstack
A total of 63 Meadow Brown. Pleasing numbers of Ringlet, Gatekeeper, Small Heath, Small Skipper, Small and Green-veined White, Six-spot Burnet Moth, along with Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Shaded Broad Bar Moth and a few Meadow Grasshoppers.
A total of 216 butterflies.

Hugset Wood /Silkstone Golf Course boundary path
11 Comma, four White-letter Hairstreak and several Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Peacock, Small Skipper, Small Tortoiseshell, Small & Green-veined White, Ringlet and possible Essex Skipper.
A total of 49 butterflies

Plus I had my first ever Six-belted Clearwing Moth and more -worth a separate post!

Boylins – July 2020

Some Barnsley Nats members gathered on Wednesday evening at the Strafford mine water treatment scheme near Stainborough for a socially-distanced field visit. Mainly looking at and admiring the matrix of flowering plants in this former industrial site. Images to follow.

A Broad Leaved Helleborine SE 321039 found by Kent and Doug that Wednesday in a wooded area near Boylins.

Six-belted Clearwing sighting

Six-belted Clearwing

I have never seen a Six-belted Clearwing, Bembecia ichneumoniformis, before, let alone in the Barnsley area. Apparently they are considered nationally scarce and usually found in Southern England on chalk hills and downs, at the occasional quarries and southern rough grassland/ground. Very rarely seen, they are under-recorded generally. They inhabit similar locations to Common Blues, Small Blues and Dingy Skippers.

Their larvae are ‘miners’ and burrow into and eat the roots of Bird’s Foot Trefoil, Kidney Vetch and sometimes Horseshoe Vetch.

This one came out into the open, and kept flying fast and low but briefly settled for just a second or two.Fortunately, I managed to capture this record shot before it flew out of sight.

I had gone to check for a second brood of Small Blues in the Darton – Woolley area and found only three on this site and sadly, none on other sites. Even so, this is evidence of a partial second brood.

I also recorded 18 Small Skippers and 3 Essex Skippers, along with 7 Marbled Whites, several Large, Small and Green-veined Whites, Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers and Ringlets, a Small Tortoiseshell, an old Common Blue and a Shaded Broad Bar moth, Scotopteryx chenopodiata. The weather was warmish, dry, with gathering clouds and sunny intervals, no wind. Alwyn.

White-letter Hairstreaks and other butterflies

Yesterday I spotted two White-letter Hairsteak butterflies between Silkstone and Barnsley when on our dog walk from home yesterday. There were nine different species of butterfly on one tiny clump of thistles. The photo with the Ringlet shows their different sizes. Julia

14th week of lockdown

The caterpillar became a moth.
From Kent. You will remember that when Doug and I visited Gypsy Marsh a few weeks ago we found a couple of moth caterpillars which I took home to rear. The one feeding on bramble pupated and this female Vapourer has now emerged. The female Vapourer is an example of an almost wingless moth, whereas the males are fully winged.

And in answer to Rick’s request last time whether someone could identify the caterpillar (moth?) on his next door neighbour’s garage: David S says that it’s the caterpillar of the Vapourer Moth (Orgyia antiqua). So two sightings!

From Doug. Hello All. A few weeks ago (27 May) Paul B was querying an Ichneumon Wasp found in his moth trap. I have since found a site on the internet which may be of some help in the future – it’s the Natural History Museum’s “Beginners Guide to Identifying British Ichneumonids”  https://www.nhm.ac.uk/content/dam/nhmwww/take-part/identify-nature/british-ichneumonid-wasps-id-guide.pdf. Although it only covers 22 commonly encountered species (less than one hundredth of Britain’s Ichneumon Wasp species) it’s nonetheless a useful introduction to a fascinating group for which records are needed.

The glowworm transect continues with 19 glowworms glowing on the last two visits. Stay safe and well, Doug and Jill.

From Colin and Linda. After all the recent bad weather we were getting worried about ‘our’ Barn Owls. So this evening, July 6th, our 71st, we were not very hopeful, but as we sat silently we were treated to a fly past right over our heads!
For more on Colin and Linda’s barn owls go to:
http://www.barnsleynats.org.uk/barn-owls/

An opportunity – Conker trees are under attack – by a small leaf-mining moth. Infected trees are weakened and produce smaller conkers. You can help by taking part in the new Citizen Science project at http://conkertreescience.org.uk. Good to join in – we saw some the other day.

And a message:
We are hoping that we can be back in the Town Hall for our Autumn programme of talks and presentations, starting on Wednesday October 7th. More news when we know.

In the meantime, enjoy getting out and about and continue sending us information about sightings and wildlife Always good to hear from you.
Keep well and safe. Barnsley Nats