|Harbour Porpoise Lower Jaw bones with Ivory teeth.|
Saturday, 26 January 2013
Monday, 21 January 2013
Got a bit of a "snow day", you know where everyone in the world apart from teachers manage to get into work irrespective of the weather. Well before you agree, I'm a teacher and I was in school this morning at 7.30am, having walked for 40 minutes to get there, only to be told that the school was closed. Can't say I'm too sad, didn't have any classes today filled with keen biologists, mostly a day trying my damndest to instil a positive work ethic in my D/C borderline maths class and get them through their GCSE. However following on from Lego man (the solitary wasp Cerceris rybyensis) of this weekends post, I show an image I took a year or so ago of the wasp Gasteruption jaculator. You might not agree but I think this fantastic looking parasitic wasp reminds me of the Aliens of the the film of that name. It has a similar crouched posture and slightly humped looking back. Their life history is also pretty impressive. In my garden they home in on the mud sealed holes of the solitary bee Osmia bicornis (Red Mason Bee). They crawl over and around the holes occupied by the larvae of the Bee's feeling with their antenna at each hole in order to determine whether to lay an egg in the hole or not. I don't know how they decide which hole is right to oviposit in, but once selected they insert their ovipositor into the hole and crouch on their hind legs in order to penetrate the hole as deeply as possible. I'm presuming they lay an egg on a reasonably well developed larvae, which the subsequent grub then proceeds to devour. Get yourself Red Mason Bees and I'm sure you'll get these Bad
Sunday, 20 January 2013
|Polyommatus icarus, note how spots on some run and coalasce.|
Given from my earlier blog that you may already know that I've been studying and collecting insects for 40 years the winter weather has also given me time to go back and reminisce about previous years collecting. Looking back I think that I must have a slightly OCD type character. I get one or two year obsessions when I have to find something, study something and I'm afraid usually collect it. This goes back to my teenage years and my first insect OCD interaction over the butterfly Polyommatus icarus (The Common Blue). I was 18 at the time, around about 1981, into the usual lads activities like chasing girls down town and playing Rugby on a Saturday for the local Club Paviours. However most evenings during the summer months I would head either to the Colliery Slag heap or down to the Netherfield/Colwick Railway Sidings, a large brown field site. Here I would capture every single Common Blue I saw, Give it a quick examination for underside spotting and either keep or let go. I just had to find Common Blues that had different spotting patterns to the norm. Now here's the bit that might make one or two people wince a little, I collected over 150 specimens. I often used to question such profligacy, but my father always used to say "take it" they won't be here in a few years. He was of course right. There are no Common Blues where I used to roam as a teenager, there is however a B&Q a Tesco Home Plus, Macdonalds, Morrisons and one or two other nondescript sheds on the site, the remainder is a car auction space, a massive slab of tarmac. I'm no longer that catch it sort of bloke, primarily because there is, in my opinion, more pressure on wild spaces than 40 years ago. There are less brown field sites on which to wander, the green or yellow field sites around me are just too boring to wander through. Just a few weeks now until insect life starts to show itself again, I can't wait!
Give it a few weeks I'll hopefully be writing about 2013 sightings. A bit of feedback would be nice. It's really difficult to know whether I'm boring the pants of people who read these blogs or giving at least a little interest to one or two out there. I've pretty broad shoulders so constructive criticisms accepted.
Saturday, 19 January 2013
Going through a few old pictures on my Flickr site. This one always reminds me of a little lego man. It's actually the solitary wasp Cerceris rybyensis. This chap at Wollaton Park Notts and another colony I discovered at Holme Pierrepont in 2011 represent first records for the county. If you want to see them in Nottinghamshire the best place is wollaton park, you should see them on the hard path around the haha behind the hall. August appears the best month for these fine wasps.
Sunday, 13 January 2013
Easy to make, fantastic to watch and attracts not only solitary bees but also associated parasitic wasps. Also making a home are several species of solitary wasp. This log is positioned outside my back door and has given me so much pleasure over the last couple of years.
Bee log, Carlton Nottinghamshire, all large holes are now
filled with clay from last years Red Mason Bees.
|Gasteruption jaculator visiting my bee log. Carlton, Nottinghamshire|
Get yourself a decent size log, mine has a diameter of 60cm. The difficult bit is getting someone with a chain saw to saw a bit of about 12cm in depth. Once you have the log get a selection of drill bits any size between 2mm and 10mm. Drill holes in what I would consider a random looking pattern. Attach to south or south west facing wall before the end of March. Go on give it a go there's still time to get one up.
The large holes, 8-10mm are good for Red Mason Bee, Osmia bicornis. I also have smaller bees, I think they are Osmia caerulea. Also using the log are Male Hairy footed Flower Anthophora plumipes these bees use it as a roost. Bee Parasites include the fantastic Gasteruption jaculator, and the wasps Sapyga quequinpunctata and Jewel wasp Chrysis ignata.
|The Wasp Beetle Clytus arietus Sherwood Forest Nottinghamshire|
One of the main intentions of this blog is to try to get people to go out and have a look for some of the beetles that I have found in Nottinghamshire. It's aimed at those naturalists who generally know their birds, have a good idea of what butterfly they're looking at and probably take notice of most things that fly and buzz past them in the summer but can't put a species name to them. So where to start with beetles, I'd probably say showy ones that like sitting on flowers, the majority of which can be identified using a photograph. Therefore my first few beetle blogs have concentrated on Longhorn beetles of the family Cerambycidae. About 60 species of the worlds 20,000 odd species can be considered British. Of these I would say that approximately 20 occur in Nottinghamshire, I say approximately as species are found new to the county, some rare species may no longer be in the county. These range in size from the conspicuous Musk Beetle (Aromia moschata) average size about 30mm to the inconspicuous Plum beetle, Tetrops praeustus at around 4-5mm. Most have the characteristic Long antenna that give them their distinctive look and most visit flowers at some time of their brief lives. The table below lists the species I have so far encountered in Nottinghamshire together with when and where the best place in the county is to see them. I will in the near future be adding more detailed notes on several of the species listed below. I would also be interested in receiving information on other sites for these species and if you are aware of other species being found in the county. Apologies for lack of Common names, they don't exist for many and in all honesty, if you get into beetles you don't need them or use them. Illustrated identification guides were published in British Wildlife Magazine August and October 2007 editions, these may still be available from the publishers.
|Latin Name||Best Months to find||Where to find||Visits Flowers|
|Rhagium bifasciatum||April/May||Pine Woods Sherwood Forest|
|Rhagium mordax||April/May||Pine woods, North Notts.|
|Stenocorus meridianus||June||Ash Woods Along the Trent, Treswell Wood||Yes|
|Grammoptera ruficornis||April/May||Almost ubiquitous - on Hawthorn blossom||Yes|
|Leptura quadrifasciata||June/July||Trent Valley, Holme Pierrepont, Shelford, Sherwood F.||Yes|
|Paracorymbia fulva||July||Toton Sidings (Notts Derbys border)||Yes|
|Rutpela maculata||June/July||Sherwood Forest, infrequent in trent Vally woods.||Yes|
|Stenurella melanura||Not sure where, found one on dog daisy in Carlton Notts.||Yes|
|Asemum striatum||April/May||Pine Woods Sherwood Forest, early morning on logs|
|Arhopalus rusticus||August/September||At Moth trap lights Sherwood Forest|
|Aromia moschata||July/August||Trent Valley, Holme Pierrepont, Attenborough NR.||Yes|
|Phymatodes testaceus||July||Sherwood Forest, Difficult - it's nocturnal|
|Poecilium alni||May||On freshly cut Oak, Sherwood Forest|
|Clytus arietus||May/June||Common, Easily seen at Sherwood Forest on cut Oak||Yes|
|Anaglyptus mysticus||May/June||Hawthorn Blossom Trent Valley||Yes|
|Agapanthia villosoviridescens||June||On Hogweed or thistle stems - Holme Pierrepont||Yes|
|Leiopus nebulosus||June/July||Sherwood Forest.|
|Saperda scalaris||June||On Logs Sherwood Forest. Quite Scarce so difficult to find|
|Stenostola dubia||Wellow Wood (I have not seen this one)|
|Phytoeica cylindrica||April/May||Stems Cow Parsley, Trent Valley Along River Shelford||Yes|
|Tetrops praeustus||May/June||Hawthorn Bloosom, Shelford, Holme Pierrepont||Yes|
Tuesday, 8 January 2013
|Agrilus biguttatus Sherwood Forest Nottinghamshire June 2011|
As for this year it's the little black scarab beetle Trox scaber that gets my attention. It's not a beetle you can hunt but more one you can entrap. It loves Owls nests or in particular the bones and crap you can find in raptors nests. I have already tried to find it in previous years. I've made false nests in holes in trees furnished them with bones from the butchers, but to date no Trox , although plenty of beetles of other types including no shortage of burying beetles. 2013 is going to be the year I find it. Possibly!
Sunday, 6 January 2013
I've just dropped my lad off back at University, where he handed me another tubed beetle he had found in his student hovel. Now I'm pretty sure most of you may have seen the odd beetle hanging around your house, a ladybird or two or perhaps a carpet beetle of the genus Anthrenus. I for one regularly find the odd larva, the distinctive "woolly bears" in odd places around the house, usually going nowhere up a wall. Try looking at one under a microscope, if you give it a bit of a prod, it'll raise protective hairs, reminds me of a porcupine in defensive posture. The adults are often to be found trying to escape on your windowsills attracted by sunlight in early summer, apparently they need to feed on flowers before reproducing. I also once had an infestation of the beetle Ptinus fur in the attic, but I've never let on to my wife about why they were there, feeding on fishing groundbait I'd left for a couple of years. However I have never, in any house I have lived in found Dermestid beetles or other beetle types that live on feed on our human detritus. However my 20 year old son currently studying at the University of Sheffield regularly pots a beetle or two for me to identify. His first year halls of residence had a reasonably healthy population of Dermestes lardarius, whilst his new accommodation has so far yielded another beetle associated with man, Attegenus pellio. My initial thoughts were old buildings with established populations, but that can't be the case as Endcliffe Village in Sheffield is newbuild. Is it down to lack of student cleanliness, my son lives with nine other lads "n" lasses and I have to say their house is a complete tip, just right for a few beetles to find nourishment. Might be worth a research project, the relationship between student numbers per house, cleanliness and degree of beetle infestation.
Friday, 4 January 2013
Leptura quadrifasciata Skylarks Nature Reserve, Home Pierrepont, Notts, July 2011
This fine insect probably rates as one of my favourite beetles, variable in size 11-20mm, readily takes to the wing and often found feeding boldly on any suitable plant, thier favourites appear to be Thistles and Hogweed depending on their availibility. Best place, Skylarks Nature Reserve, Holme Pierrepont, The woods around Shelford by the River Trent, also good number up in Sherwood Forest, look for flowers and if they are around they will be feeding on them. Be careful as they are easily disturbed and will fly rather quickly at times.
Thursday, 3 January 2013
Quite a difficult question to answer. I have always found my love for insects and wildlife in general lends itself to individual pursuit. You don't need someone to help you look at a bird, find a beetle, photograph a flower, in fact people often get in the way, block your light, disturb something you've just spotted or generally distract you from the purpose of your walk. On the subject of walking, I've walked with many friends for years in most of this countries national parks and it never fails to disappoint me that I can't quite walk out the purpose of the activity. I've walked in the most atrocious weather, glasses steamed up ready to throw myself of the top of the next peak losing the will to live but my friends appear as happy as Larry. I can't do it anymore, I'm a fair weather naturalist, by that I mean I don't go out in the rain, cold I can cope with, heat I can cope with but rain it beats me.
So the purpose of this blog, inform anyone interested of what they might encounter in Nottinghamshire this summer. Put odd snippets of information on key visible species on the blog, mainly beetles (coleoptera) and wasps (hymenoptera) but also other interesting animals and plants. I'll also probably ramble on a bit about the odd patch of land I find interesting, anything of an interesting nature hitting the news. Finally instead of my hobby being an individual pursuit, I wish to share it with anyone that cares, or is interested. A few sites I regularly look at Eakringbirds.com an excellent local website and Mark Telfer's (Marktelfer.co.uk) beetle and general natural history site. One day perhaps my sites may be as useful and interesting as theirs. But then one step at a time, a follower would be nice in the first instance.
Wednesday, 2 January 2013
Definitely not a beetle but a cracking little beast a Bullhead, just shows how clean the River Trent has become these days. Forty years ago if you turned a stone over in the Trent you would only have found leeches and tubifex, a sure sign of pollution. This one was found at Shelford by turning over some of the marginal stones.
No bullheads were harmed in the making of this Blog!
Well there goes my first attempt at Blogging. Not convinced that anyone has read a single word of what I have written. Still unsure how to link to other sites without appearing a little cheeky. Not sure how to get my blog viewed by others but I'll keep going. Any tips appreciated. I'll try adding more information in the next couple of days, hopefully it might lead to one or two people thinking it's interesting enough to keep an eye on.
|Aromia - Holme Pierrepont Nottinghamshire|
Happy New Year and welcome to my very first ever blog. This blog aims to inform, educate and hopefully give you all an insight into my area of the world and in particular the insects that I find throughout the coming year. Who is the blog aimed at? Well anyone with an interest in natural history, anyone who wishes to share their knowledge or experiences with me, whether that be local wildlife or UK wildlife in general. My own particular interest is the insects I find in and around the River Trent, Nottinghamshire UK. The blog will regularly cover individual species with habitat notes, hopefully decent photographs (Lamia textor on Flickr) and importantly where you can go and find these fascinating insects.