Some questions for everyone: Do sightings need to be out of the ordinary to be worth recording? What makes sightings worth recording?
And how do you record what you see? Do you make a list on paper or on a computer? Do you send in your records? Perhaps you use online recording and do you recommend iNaturalist, iRecord, iSpot or get online another way?
I’ve got a cricket and a ladybird to share with you. I was washing the car one morning and noticed this insect just sitting there on the alloy wheel!
I think it’s a male Oak Bush Cricket- Meconema thalassinum. Males have two short rounded claspers as in the picture, whereas females have a long ovipositor at the end of their body. More
I think it’s there because I have about a dozen oak trees in my garden that might have attracted it, albeit they are miniatures. It looked as if it was still forming as it was so fresh and green. Such a beautiful creature!
I thought crickets sang (stridulate) with rubbing their legs together, this is not the case. It’s grasshoppers that do this. Apparently both the male and female cricket have a ridged vein at the base of their forewings that acts as a scraper. To sing they pull this ridge vein against the upper surface of the opposite wing, causing a vibration amplified by the thin membrane of the wing. More
We have all tried at times to locate crickets when we could hear them chirping in the grass. But their hearing is so acute that they can sense the vibrations of your feet so stop singing. A great defence from predators with their hearing.
And then, whilst cutting some shrubs back in my garden, I acquired this ladybird on my blue fleece. It hitched a ride into the house, where I supposed it was trying to get somewhere warm for winter.
I think it is a Two-spot Adalia bipunctata f. quadrimaculata red-on-black four spotted form. The black versions are more common in the north as this “melanism” helps them to absorb heat from the sun. These are much smaller than the harlequin, at about 5mm, and as you can see the underside is black and has black legs. Harlequins have reddish-brown legs, and orange abdomen. Cheers Andy, keep safe and well. 🦗 🐞
The glowworm season started earlier this year at our site near Thurgoland with the first glowworm being recorded glowing on the 30 May, after a few weeks of hot dry weather. On the following three visits, the weather was wet with low glowworm counts.
The counts and the weather started to improve towards the end of June with a count of 11 on midsummer day (they usually peak around the 21st ). I was now expecting numbers to drop, but they kept increasing with 19 on the 1st July dropping to 7 on the 8th July; it was heavy rain which they do not seem to like!
Ten days later 48 were counted in the better weather. The numbers kept up throughout July/August with a peak of 55 on the 13th September (with a possible high percentage of juveniles).
Numbers slowly fell for the next two visits to the end of September – at this stage I thought I would be counting until Christmas – but then at the start of October numbers reduced dramatically and the 2020 glowworm season finished on the 21st October.
The length of the season has been 144 days compared to 132 days in 2019. Why this is, is unclear at the moment. Records compiled by Doug Brown.
[Congratulations Doug on your persistence and stamina! Thanks to Pete Riley for the images]
AutumnWatch Galls. Looking back to AutumnWatch you may remember a sequence of images of galls including this impressive example …
They are the galls of the Yellow Flat-footed Fly (Agathomyia wankowiczii) on the Artist’s Bracket fungus (Ganoderma applanatum). The only recorded example in Barnsley, it was found by Geoff Jackson in 2016 on a felled Horse Chestnut tree in Woolley Bank woods.
The galls start as small warts, growing up to 1cm in height and caused by the fly depositing its eggs in the fungus. Inside each wart is the grub of the fly. Once the grub is fully grown it bores a hole into the top of the gall and falls to the ground where it buries itself into the soil before it pupates to turn into the adult fly. The holes in this example show that the larvae have left the galls. The fly needs this fungus to survive.
Another local gall seen on AutumnWatch was the Diplolepis mayri, another first for Barnsley. [See earlier post]
Catherine tells us that her article about the galls on Barnsley Main has now been published in the British Naturalist Association magazine. Congratulations Catherine!
Congratulations to Barnsley Museums and Cannon Hall on their latest award: they have received a “Bees’ Needs Champion Award” for their work in creating a welcoming habitat for bees and insects.
The awards are run by Defra with a number of charities to recognise and celebrate examples of exemplary initiatives undertaken by local authorities, community groups, farmers and businesses to support pollinators. 32 winners were chosen in the parks and greenspaces category across England, and Cannon Hall was one. The council press release said they were ‘buzzing’ about it!
Major work has taken place across the parklands which included planting of a superb wildflower-seeded area below the ha-ha (just below the hall). Trevor, who alerted us to this news, saw lots of pollinators there this summer.
AutumnWatch from Old Moor this time -as well as other places around the UK- has made us watch the tv a bit more often than usual. The seals and badgers were getting most of the attention but it was good to hear Gillian mentioning “Barnsley” from time to time.
Maybe the general perception of this area still being covered in coal dust may gradually be replaced by visions of wetlands and reedbeds and by stories of nature reclaiming the area with bitterns, willow tits and tree sparrows being seen here as well as ducks and waders in abundance.
It was also good to see peregrine falcons and kingfishers using a Barnsley industrial site (Ardagh Glass) to breed and feed.
I had a wonderful visit to dentist last week as you do and I was amazed at what I saw. I was waiting to go inside and I noticed on the black handrail at the front there were some ladybirds and larvae, sunning themselves in warm sunshine.
The first one was a Harlequin -Harmonia axyiridis f.succinea with larva. This lady bird has a distinctive white spot on its head. The larva on right looks as though it has been feasting on aphids.
As I was coming out of the dentist, I noticed another Harlequin a bit further along the handrail.
This was a Harmonia axyridis f.spectabilis with larva as well.
I think the larva on the right is moving into the pupa stage.
For my hat trick of ladybirds, I have a 22 spot Psyllobora vigintduopunctata discovered in under growth at Barnsley Main Heritage site in the Timber Yard whilst digging out.
This is one of only three yellow ladybirds in the UK.
The other two are both 14 spot black on yellow and yellow on black.
I shall endeavour to find the other two!
Oh the joys of nature keeping us sane! Cheers from Andy, keep safe and well. 👍🐞🌿🍄
We spent a very happy few days at the beginning of October in Cleethorpes. This is not a place most of us think about in terms of wildlife but it is surprisingly good. After all it is on the Humber Estuary opposite Spurn, and much of the southern end of the town’s coastline is designated as either a local or national nature reserve.
We particularly enjoyed watching the huge flocks of waders coming in on the early morning tides. We found the best view to be from the beach just south of the leisure centre, by the edge of the saltmarsh. We watched the birds gather and then come in off the sand bars as the tide receded. Mainly knot and oystercatcher but also dunlin, sanderling, bar tailed godwit, curlew, redshank and ringed plover.
One quite surprising view was of a small group of knot that seemed to have adapted completely to a busy shoreline. They happily continued feeding nearby until we were within just a few feet of them – when they would move away a short distance and continue feeding! If a runaway dog was chasing birds they would stand stock still until it went away and for the most part weren’t noticed. It felt a bit more like watching robins in the garden than knot.
We also saw a late colletes bee.
I find these bees very hard to identify, especially in the field, but it is possible it is the sea aster bee, Colletes halophilus.
This is highly specialised, feeding mainly on sea aster – but making do with hogweed in this photo as the sea aster had all gone to seed.
Finally, we thoroughly enjoyed identifying the saltmarsh and coastal specialist plants.
Here is sea sandwort, Honckenya peploides.
And we generally had a grand time on the beach especially hanging out in the ‘pirates hut’! Catherine and Mark.
Kent and Doug have recently enjoyed a visit to Wortley Hall parkland looking for fungi. Here are a few fungi they found: Clavulinopsis leuteo-alba, Clitocybe nebularis, Laccaria lacata, Stereum hirsutum with Hypnum cupressiforme, and Tricholoma terreum.
Have a look at their images and tell us their English names!
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.
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.
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:
Pallas Grasshopper Warbler
Olive Backed Pipit
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
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