Poor old Gilbert is getting restless. Despite the fact that there is more interest in wildlife than ever before, it seems that most of the so-called conservation organisations are losing interest in species. Instead they prefer to babble on about landscape scale conservation and ecosystem services (whatever they are). Could this be because most of their staff don't have any knowledge about species if they don't have four legs?
This is my attempt to encourage an interest in good old-fashioned natural history.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

A good day in Oxfordshire

Well, I never thought I'd use those words. What next, Bedfordshire is great for wildlife? I'm really looking forward to visiting Huntingdonshire?

I went to an MoD firing range (on the day it isn't used!) to look for the larvae of the Biodiversity Action Plan moth Agonopterix atomella which feeds on Dyer's Greenweed and was last recorded on the site in 1987. The firing range itself is mown and the only foodplant was in a narrow strip along the edge but the adjacent field was probably the best meadow I've seen in years. I found lots of spinnings which could have been the work of atomella but they were all empty except for one which contained a larva so small that I need to keep it until it gets bigger before it can be safely identified. Even if it isn't atomella I won't be too disappointed as it will give me an excuse to return next year.

I was so absorbed that the only photo I took was of the common but stunning larva of the Yellow-tail moth.

I then moved on to a Wildlife Trust reserve nearby which had similarly old records of another BAP moth; Grapholita pallifrontana. The reserve is small but unusual in that it has calcareous grassland on one side of the site, a fen in the middle and heathland on the other side. The moth feeds on Wild Liquorice, itself a scarce species.

Whilst looking at the first patch of Wild Liquorice, my attention was drawn to a small moth buzzing around - pallifrontana!

I met the warden who was unaware of the moth or the plant. Perhaps not surprising until you look at the reserve entrance board which features Wild Liquorice! Oh dear.

I wasn't in any rush to get into the rush hour traffic so I spent some time looking round the reserve. This produced a couple of new plants for me and four new butterflies for the year, including Marbled White and Dark Green Fritillary but the most interesting find was a leaf mine in Yellow Rattle. There are only two species listed as mining this plant in Britain and the mine is clearly neither of those so further investigations are needed. Unfortunately the mine was vacated so I can't breed through the insect responsible (I presume it is a fly from the type of mine).

A quick trip to the New Forest this morning to change camera batteries brought the bad news that the 'nest with no name' has been predated. Even worse, the camera had failed so there are no images of who was responsible.

This evening I called in at Farlington Marshes to have a look for a few plants. Subterranean Clover was new for me

as was Knotted Clover.

Back in the winter when things are boring and you have time on your hands, there is a tendency to set yourself challenges for the year ahead. I set myself two challenges; to record 1000 species (in any taxonomic group) that I've not seen before and to record 3000 species in total. I have just passed the one-third of target mark for new species, having seen 336 so far. We are now half way through the year so I should technically have seen over 500 in order to be 'on target' but I always knew that the first half of the year would be difficult, with so much time being spent on Wood Warblers so I'm quite happy with progress so far. I also have lots of insects awaiting my attention in the autumn so that will bump the numbers up a fair bit. The total number of species seen so far is 940, a bit below a third of target, probably due to a relative lack of moth trapping. 

No comments:

Post a Comment