Nature Diary for August 2009
Found my first Adder (Vipera berus) on Dunyeats hill, I hadn't seen one here for several years it was a beautiful young male he was warming himself under one of the refugia put down for surveying smooth snake (Coronella austriaca) and Slow-worm (Anguis fragilis). On 3rd Aug I found a pyralid moth (Pyrausta purpuralis) in my garden, this is a beautiful little moth as can be seen in the photograph and has a wingspan 15-22 mm. Jill Floyd emailed me to say she had this little gem pay her garden a visit too, it would be nice to know how many other residents had seen this tiny moth in their garden and not known what its name was, although quite common I had not seen it in my garden or in the recreation ground before.
On 6th Aug my wife discovered a male Speckled bush cricket (Entophytes punctatissima) sunning himself on one of our sunflowers, although this small cricket was first recorded on 29th Aug 2002 in the recreation ground by Dr Pat Mathers this is a first for me. Although being quite common in southern England and Wales it is legally protected on the Isle of Man.
On Saturday the 8th Aug while sitting on one of the benches in the Broadway two Seven spot ladybirds alighted on me, these colourful little insects although classed as beetles (Coleoptera) have their own family within that order (Coccinellidae) meaning clad in scarlet, what a nice description.
On Friday 14th Aug being sunny with a light breeze my wife and I decided to take a short walk on the heath at Dunyeats we were rewarded with the sight of many Grayling butterflies on the wing also Speckled Wood and Gatekeeper, also the buddleias in my garden were smothered with butterflies e.g. Painted Lady, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral and Brimstones. What would summer be like without butterflies? There were no reptiles to be found under the refugia, being the afternoon it was probably too hot. We did spot a juvenile Viviparous Lizard (Lacerta vivipara) sunning himself on one of the paths. Making our way to the large pond we observed several Blue tailed damselflies (Ishnura elegans) mating on the bramble that grows nearby, while male Keeled skimmers (Orthetrum coerulescens) could be seen patrolling back and forth across the boggy pools and heather. Growing nearby among the sphagnum moss the charming carnivorous sundews (Drosera rotundifolia) with their sticky tentacles sparkling in the sun waiting for an insect to alight on one of the leaves are looking their best now. In the heather the commonest spider on the heath (Amaurobius fenesralis) can be seen poking her head out of the web, which is a tubular retreat, made of bluish cribellate silk that extends around the tube entrance and usually contains the remains of insects.
While walking the area of the heath that was burnt earlier in the year I came across a female heath grasshopper (Chorthippus vagans) on some low growing gorse, this grasshopper is quite rare and can only be found locally in the south. If we have many more heath fires it could become extinct in England, it is listed in the county Red Data book of Endangered wildlife in Dorset.
On the 18th Aug I put out the moth trap and listed are the moths taken:-
- 6 Lesser swallow prominent,
- 4 Brimstone moth,
- 1 Maidens blush,
- 4 Light emerald,
- 3 Great oak beauty,
- 1 Sharp angled peacock,
- 2 Hebrew character,
- 1 Canary shouldered thorn,
- 1 Coxcomb prominent,
- 2 Pebble hook tip,
- 4 large yellow underwing,
- 7 Least yellow underwing,
- 1 Shuttle shaped dart,
- 1 Buttoned snout,
- 1 Angle shades.
All the moths were released and records sent to the Dorset Moth Group.
I will keep you up to date on any new and interesting sightings.
Keith Clements - Parks, Nature Reserves & Heathland