*** ALERT: Sometimes photos of spiders appear in this blog. Just letting you know! ***

The main Blog page takes a long time to load when it starts getting large - so I am keeping it to a month or so, and archiving older entries to this tab instead if that's OK.

 

Please feel free to contact me if you'd like to see any corrections - Chalkhill Blue makes no guarantees as to the accuracy of any of these IDs, and does not accept any responsibility for any harm or damage you may incur by accepting them as gospel!

 

Many thanks, ChB

Tue

16

May

2017

Tue 04/02/14

That's Venus, that is

Jupiter is bright in the night sky at the moment, but there are three planets visible to the naked eye in the morning – Mars, which is high in the south-west by the time I go to work, Saturn, a little dimmer and lower and towards the south-east, and Venus, which precedes the sunrise low in the east, and is absolutely as bright as I have ever seen it. This photo was taken at work just after 7:00am when it was getting light, but Venus is still clearly visible!

 

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Thu

18

Aug

2016

Sun 31/07/16

The last day of our pilgrimage to the wilds of East Sussex was gloriously sunny, and the butterflies were out in huge numbers! There were common blues, gatekeepers, various skippers, meadow browns, small and large whites, one solitary painted lady, and red Admirals. First though, a family of moorhens and a Roesel’s bush cricket …

A family of moorhens Gallinula chloropus
A family of moorhens Gallinula chloropus

 

Left:  My favourite bush cricket! This is Roesel’s bush cricket Metrioptera roeselii

 

 

 

Below are the best of my butterflies. A bit disappointed really, because I took loads of shots of common blues, both the blue males and the brown females, and some skippers as well, but they all came out really duff. However, I did get my first ever decent shots of basking meadow browns, so that is a consolation. Gatekeepers are the easiest butterflies to photograph, and give fantastic results too!

A pair of gatekeepers Pyronia tithonus
A pair of gatekeepers Pyronia tithonus
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Thu

18

Aug

2016

Fri 29/07/16

A long walk past some of the lakes small caterpillars on s flower like this. I think it might be the larva of one bore fruit in the way of great crested grebe, a spider or two, some fairly unusually-marked damsel flies, and some as yet unidentified wild flowers amongst other things …

 

Above:  Four-spotted orb weaver Araneus quadratus

 

 

 

 

Left and below:  Great crested grebe Podiceps cristatus


Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta
Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta

Below :  Damselflies, then some wild flowers ...

Chicory
Chicory
Rosebay willowherb
Rosebay willowherb
Loads of this about at the moment:  Marsh mallow!
Loads of this about at the moment: Marsh mallow!

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Wed

17

Aug

2016

Thu 28/07/16

European Badger Meles meles by Chalkhill Blue
European Badger Meles meles by Chalkhill Blue

This was the evening we spent concentrating on badgers! Here’s my best shot of the night (right). 

 

Below are some of the marvellous shots by the boy …

European Badger Meles meles by Boy
European Badger Meles meles by Boy
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Wed

17

Aug

2016

Wed 27/07/16

The Warden did his customary moth show this morning; as always, the kids and I went along. Here are some of the groovier moths.

Here are some other things we saw out on the reserve – a pair of swans with cygnets, a very cute spider, a cinnabar moth caterpillar, (not so many of these around as in previous years), and some nice leguminous plants.

Spider Neoscona adiantum
Spider Neoscona adiantum
Bird’s foot trefoil
Bird’s foot trefoil
Cinnabar moth caterpillar Tyria jacobaeae
Cinnabar moth caterpillar Tyria jacobaeae
Marsh pea
Marsh pea

We went to Dungeness in the afternoon; an grey, overcast and blustery day, but the boy and I found a couple of butterflies and a small caterpillar, and as we were driving slowly along a narrow road, a large moth, which I think was a humming-bird hawk moth, was flying along at the same speed, only three or four feet from the driver’s door! It cleared off across the shingle as soon as I noticed it of course.

I’m pretty sure this raggedy specimen is a small heath. It looks like a meadow brown or a gatekeeper, but much smaller, which doesn’t really show in the photograph
I’m pretty sure this raggedy specimen is a small heath. It looks like a meadow brown or a gatekeeper, but much smaller, which doesn’t really show in the photograph
This is the second time I have found one of these small caterpillars on s flower like this. I think it might be the larva of one of the blue butterflies, but I’m not sure
This is the second time I have found one of these small caterpillars on s flower like this. I think it might be the larva of one of the blue butterflies, but I’m not sure

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Tue

16

Aug

2016

Mon 25/07/16

What a day for birds today! First, a flock of dunlin with a black-headed gull, and a distant curlew on heavy zoom … one of many little egrets, at least one or two to every pond, and a very obliging skylark … and a ringed plover and another little egret cross paths.

 

Although the Rye Harbour guys are always banging on about their huge population of wheatears, I have never managed to get close enough to one for a decent photo, and some years don’t see any at all.

 

However, I got loads of shots of the below couple of birds larking about on the rocks down at the harbour – I’m assuming from the eye markings that they are wheatears, although certainly not the sleek, well-marked specimens we see in the books.

 

Maybe they are juveniles? The one on the right has the eye marking, but it’s almost completely missing in the other specimen.

 

The one on the fence post (right) is the closest I’ve ever got to something like looks like a proper grown-up wheatear.

Wheatear
Wheatear

Although the Rye Harbour guys are always banging on about their huge population of wheatears, I have never managed to get close enough to one for a decent photo, and some years don’t see any at all.

 

However, I got loads of shots of the below couple of birds larking about on the rocks down at the harbour – I’m assuming from the eye markings that they are wheatears, although certainly not the sleek, well-marked specimens we see in the books.

 

Maybe they are juveniles? The one on the right has the eye marking, but it’s almost completely missing in the other specimen.

 

The one on the fence post (above right) is the closest I’ve ever got to something like looks like a proper grown-up wheatear.

Spider Cheiracanthium erraticum
Spider Cheiracanthium erraticum

On a slightly different note, here is a spider I don’t think I have ever seen before. It was inhabiting a sturdy nursery-web in the grass, and I expected to see the nursery-web spider Pisaura mirabilis – in fact I only saw one of those during our sojourn at Rye harbour this year; this was identified for my by Chris the Warden as Cheiracanthium erraticum, a, relatively decent-sized clubionid

Also, our first encounter this year with a badger – more of them later! Like most of my best badger photographs, this one is by the 12-year-old boy.

Spot the badger!
Spot the badger!
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Tue

16

Aug

2016

Sat 23/07/16

Hover fly Helophilus trivittatus
Hover fly Helophilus trivittatus

Here’s a nice hover fly I found down on the reserve. I’m pretty sure this is the migratory species Helophilus trivittatus.

 

We also found  a dead weasel in the road – now that’s not something you see every day round our way.

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Tue

16

Aug

2016

Fri 22/07/16

We were down at Eastbourne today. There were a lot of 6-spot burnet moths up at Beachy Head, and a number of marbled white butterflies – I don’t think we saw one up there the same week last year, although there were a lot the year before. On the other hand, there were loads of chalkhill blues the last couple of years, but they were a bit sparse this year. Marble whites will not settle down and be photographed though.

 

Here are a couple of nice flowers on the cliff top – the pink one looks like an orchid, but the stem is wrong. I shall look it up at some point.

 

Might even look up the yellow one too.

Down in the Nature reserve at Rye Harbour, there definitely were some orchids; these a pyramidal orchids I think. There were quite a few of these around, although I don’t remember seeing any there before. Admittedly we are there just a few days earlier in the season than usual, but I think the cool, wet Spring along with loads of intermittent sunshine has skewed the season a bit; whether earlier or later I can’t tell. The bi-colour one is a bit strange …

Pretty sure these are both ...
Pretty sure these are both ...
... pyramidal orchid Anacamptis pyramidalis
... pyramidal orchid Anacamptis pyramidalis

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Thu

04

Aug

2016

Mon 18/07/16

This moth was just sitting on top of someone’s garden wall when I was walking to work early this morning. It’s the picturesquely-named toadflax brocade; formerly a real rarity, but becoming quite common in the south at least. Those white shoulder flashes are the main diagnostic field mark.

Toadflax Brocade  moth Calophasia lunula
Toadflax Brocade moth Calophasia lunula
Field grasshopper Chorthippus brunneus
Field grasshopper Chorthippus brunneus

This field grasshopper was crawling up someone’s house wall on my way home from work – the bright sunlight and white background again played havoc with the little Samsung’s light-metering system, but it’s rare enough to catch a grasshopper out in the open like this, so I had to give it a shot.

Female glowworm Lampyris noctiluca
Female glowworm Lampyris noctiluca

It’s been unseasonably cool and very wet, but this week the temperature and humidity has taken a bit of an upward swoop, so we took a trip out to Cliffe Pools to try for glowworms. We found a lot, but it was so dark that I couldn’t get any kind of a shot without using flash. The result is that the distinctive green glow is completely washed out, but at least  the shots of the beetles themselves have come out pretty sharp. These are all females; they are flightless and hang on to grass stems trying to attract the winged males. Never seen one of those – maybe next year!

Female glowworm Lampyris noctiluca
Female glowworm Lampyris noctiluca
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Thu

04

Aug

2016

Sun 17/07/16

Found this very small moth in one of the kids’ bedroom today – it’s a pretty common moth called the Double-striped Pug Gymnoscelis rufifasciata. Beautiful marking though, especially fresh specimens like this, with the brick-red shoulders.

Double-striped Pug moth Gymnoscelis rufifasciata
Double-striped Pug moth Gymnoscelis rufifasciata
Unknown spider!
Unknown spider!

The spider is an interesting one – we were out on an evening walk when I saw this one running around on a stone wall around a neighbouring garden. I couldn’t even hazard a guess at the family, let alone the species; it’s only 3 or 4mm long and brick-red, and the photo is not good enough for Chris at Rye Harbour to take a punt either; he says it looks like an Araneid or orb-weaver, but it wasn’t acting like one, so I will have to file it for future reference.

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Thu

04

Aug

2016

Fri 15/07/16

Found a couple of unusual beetles today – the red one is a small weevil of the genus Apion, most likely Apion frumentarium, about 5mm long, although there are half a dozen or so similar species. The bi-coloured beetle is about the same size, but I really don’t know what that one is. Below those are my first comma butterfly of the year, posing nicely on common mallow!

Comma butterfly Polygonia c-album on common mallow Malva sylvestris
Comma butterfly Polygonia c-album on common mallow Malva sylvestris
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Thu

04

Aug

2016

Thu 14/07/16

A Red Admiral butterfly got into the conservatory today!

 

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Thu

04

Aug

2016

Mon 11/07/16

Buff ermine moth Spilosoma lutea
Buff ermine moth Spilosoma lutea

Another couple of moths at the factory: here we have the buff ermine, and the common footman. There are a couple of common species of footman, called the common and the scarce, but the scarce one is not exactly rare. It’s usually the common that I see though. The difference is in the wing profile, (right) – the common is a little rounded, but the scarce is almost rolled up into a tube shape.

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Thu

04

Aug

2016

Sun 10/07/16

Small magpie moth Anania hortulata
Small magpie moth Anania hortulata

Here is a nice small magpie moth in the conservatory at home.

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Thu

04

Aug

2016

Fri 08/07/16

Found this lovely small tortoiseshell butterfly on the dog roses outside the factory today …

Small tortoiseshell butterfly Aglais urticae
Small tortoiseshell butterfly Aglais urticae
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Thu

04

Aug

2016

Thu 07/07/16

Ah, now remember I said that the riband wave moth comes in a couple of common variations (see Monday 20/06/16)? Well here is the other one. I found a couple of these in the factory grounds today; trust me to photograph the one with the big chunk out of its back wing.

Riband wave moth Idaea aversata
Riband wave moth Idaea aversata
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Thu

04

Aug

2016

Wed 06/07/16

Found this little spider in the conservatory today, but I don’t know what it is. There is a tiny red spider mite in the top right-hand corner just for a bit of scale.

A small spider and an even smaller red spider mite
A small spider and an even smaller red spider mite
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Thu

04

Aug

2016

Mon 04/07/16

Found this groovy little crab spider rolled up in a nettle leaf out the front of the factory today …

Crab spider
Crab spider
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Thu

04

Aug

2016

Sat 02/07/16

This is the larva of a harlequin ladybird: 

Larva of the harlequin ladybird Harmonia axyridis
Larva of the harlequin ladybird Harmonia axyridis
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Wed

12

Aug

2015

Addendum

The more observant among you may have noticed that this post is in a different font size and colour than all the previous gumf I've written. That is because, halfway through writing the post below, Jimdo suddenly decided they weren't going to support Internet Explorer any more, except under specific conditions, so basically I have to use something else. Now I have nothing against Google Chrome particularly, but I persevered with Explorer because it displayed the text more clearly and the pictures in a larger format, so it was easier, for me at least, to read while posting. Now I have to either remember to alter the font every time I post, or just let it be different. I'll probably just let it be different, but it does irritate me when corporations tell me what software to use, regardless of what I prefer. which is probably why they are discouraging the Microsoft usage in the first place. Own goal, guys. OK, rant over.

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Thu

05

Feb

2015

Addendum ...

I managed to induce Chris at Rye Harbour nature reserve to have a look at my online blog last week. He came back with a particularly useful ID, as follows:

 

Some good photos on the blog. One that did jump out at me was the bicoloured beetle on 29/01/14. Its Longitarsus dorsalis, a leaf beetle that feeds on ragwort and other aster type things. Its Notable B, so not that common either. Cool!

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