Saturday, 1 February 2014

Better than Eastenders.

Hello everyone, hope you're all happy and well. The weather of late has been a bit wet to say the least and for some poor people, there's still no let up to it.

It's during these dull winter days when I try to get some things done that I lapsed in finishing last year. One of these was sorting out the hundreds of photos that I take. Getting pics into the right folders, sorting the wheat from the chaff, that sort of thing. As I was doing this, I came across this photo, which surprisingly, I'd forgotten all about.

So let me whisk you back to the heady summer days of August last year when I decided to go and check out Suffolk Wildlife Trust's Redgrave and Lopham Fen. I remember it well, as I was originally on the hunt for Raft spiders, to which I found none. But I did come across this dramatic scene (in wildlife terms) that would definitely earn the 'dum dum dum's' from the end scene of Eastenders. I will warn you now, there is a picture of a spider in it (sorry).

The spider, the bee and the beetle.
So let me expelling what is going on here. We have a dead bumblebee that is actually being hauled up into the lair of a female spider who is under the curled leaf. At the bottom of the picture, is the male spider who has just had his wicked way with the female spider and is now making a hasty retreat (more on this below). In the middle of all this drama is a little Anthocomus rufus beetle who is daringly, trying to sneak a free meal.

Now more on the male spider. As some of you may know, male spiders have a difficult time when it comes to copulation because the female spider is most likely going to eat him afterwards. So the male has to time his move at the right moment so as to avoid being predated upon and there is no better time to do this than when the female spider is preoccupied with another meal, in this case, the poor old bumblebee. So there you have it, a whole drama caught in one shot which just goes to prove, it's there if you look for it.

Moths

A recent delivery of firewood arrived at my house and as it was tipped onto the road, a small moth fluttered free from the cascading wood. Being the ever vigilant, coiled spring that I am, I jumped into action and caught the fluttering moth before it disappeared out of reach and never to be seen again. The moth was squirrelled away in to a little specimen pot ready for identifying later. This I did after the wood was put away. Now I ID'd using the moth book as Agonopterix yeatiana, a moth that is found all year round in these parts. I took a couple of pictures and sent them to Suffolk's County Moth Recorder Tony Pritchard (very nice man) to confirm, and confirm he did. He confirmed I got it wrong! However, I was close, I was in the right tribe, just the wrong species and all for a white dot!

So, here's a picture of the moth I caught.
My little moth, thought to be Agonopterix yeatiana
Here's the pictures from the Field Guide to the Micro Moths of Great Britain and Ireland (by P. Sterling & M. Parsons with illustration by R Lewington). It's an excellent book and the art work by Richard Lewington is truly fantastic and has detail beyond compare, as you will soon see.

The moth I thought it was:

A yeatiana by R Lewington

The moth it turned out to be:

A arenella by R Lewington
Now, the eagle eyed amongst you will spot the one thing I didn't, the lack of white spot in the middle of the black spot underneath the large black smudge. So, as you see, it pays to get photos of the the specimens you spot. This all helps to prevent any mis-identification when submitting records and this whole episode just goes to show how important our specialist naturalists are. Thank you Tony for your help, very much appreciated. It also goes to show how precise the artwork of Richard Lewington's is and I can thoroughly recommend this book and its sister book on Macro moths to anyone who wants to get into moths.

The second moth I came across was spotted by my wifey on the living room wall and within seconds, once I found a specimen pot, it was captured, ID'd and photographed before being released out into the big wide world. So, what was the moth? Again, it was a micro moth by the name of Alucita hexadactyla or more commonly known as the Twenty-plume moth or the 20p moth.

The 20p moth
As you can see from the above photo, the wings are made up of plumes and as you may guess, there's 20 of them.

So, these finds have kicked off my Garden Moth Challenge year. As you may remember, I took part in this last year, there are no prizes and it's just for fun. There are many people taking part and everyone is so helpful in helping anyone of any level to get an ID on their moths.

More activity from the nest box

The Blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) have been back and it really is looking serious as this time, he brought his partner along for a viewing and also done a bit of tidying up.


You may have noticed in these videos, a piece of straw laying at the bottom of the box. This was placed here by me but I originally placed it to hang out of the entrance hole. The reason I did this was that whenever I looked at the box from the outside, I would see the piece of straw hanging out and would know that there had been no activity. If the straw was missing, then something had visited the box and it would be time to check out the video to see if anything was happening. Obviously, the Blue tit didn't like this piece of straw and promptly removed it, a good sign.

That's it for this week, hope you enjoyed and if you did, please feel free to share it with your friends.

Till next time, keep safe, keep happy and take care



2 comments:

  1. Hi! I'm still amazed about the blue tits webcam! Maybe I missed in some older post of yours but, how much the equipment cost to you? I wonder whether the installation is too complicated or not. I'm eager to see what's next in that little big brother ;-)

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    Replies
    1. Hi,
      The webcam is easy to setup and comes with instructions. The one for the blue tits I bought a couple of years ago from wildlifegadgeman.com.
      Glad you're enjoying the blog.

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