Saturday, 18 August 2018

Dock bug day at Cranford CP

Yesterday I was at Cranford CP to complete the weekly UKBMS butterfly transect and it was such a nice day - not too hot and not too cold - that a whole load of other critters were out and about too
No less than seven hoverfly species - ids under each photo and confirmed by Roger Morris
Myathropa florea

Eristalis arbustorum
Sphaerophoria scripta
Syrphus sp

Episyrphus balteatus

Dasysyrphus tricinctus

Volucella zonaria
The cooler weather meant there weren't so many butterflies around but I still clocked up nine species as below
9 x Large White
1 x Small White
1 x Small Copper
1 x Common Blue
12 x Holly Blue
15 x Speckled Wood
3 x Gatekeeper
1 x Meadow Brown
1 x Small Heath
Both Holly Blues and Speckled Woods have two flushes each year which accounts for the double figures these last couple of weeks
Several species of butterfly are now looking well past their prime and their wings are getting a bit tatty
Holly Blues

very tatty Holly Blue

Holly Blues - the bottom one is laying eggs

Holly Blue
tatty Large White

tatty Small Copper

Small Heath
Speckled Wood
Meadow Brown
The cooler weather had also bought out some Ladybirds - these are all 7-spots

Autumn is a good time of the year to spot galls - the photo below I purposely took as a comparison between a normal growing acorn and one that has been parasitised by a tiny wasp called Andricus quercuscalicis
When I uploaded and enlarged my photo (the second one down) I got a little excited that I may have actually got a photo of this tiny little wasp but after posting to a couple of facebook forums it turns out this tiny little critter is in fact Ormyrus nitidulus which is a parasitoid of gall wasps
So I got the gall and the parasite of the wasp that made it - bonus

Just like most other insects it has been a good year for Darters - my id skills aren't great on these smaller dragonflies so I'm tentatively identifying this one as a Ruddy Darter
I think the highlight of my day though was seeing the huge amounts of Dock Bugs basking during the sunny spells - I know every August I rave on about these species of bug but they do fascinate me and make such good photographic subjects
Dock Bug is their common name - they are called Coreus marginatus and also known as Squash Bugs
Just like shield bugs they go through various changes in their short lives - these changes are known as 'instars' and are similar to the various changes us adults go through - from baby to toddler to child to teenager etc
The first photo is of early instar

the next two are of late instar

and the rest are of young adults

Dock Bugs can be seen all year round - they have one generation per year - the adults mate and lay eggs in spring - the nymphs feed on dock and sorrel and the new adults are found from August onwards - they are pretty common and widespread yet I still get a kick when I see my first ones of the season
Another successful visit to Cranford Park with plenty to see and observe



Saturday, 11 August 2018

Dragons and Tigers and Kings and more at Cranford Park today

There was a touch of autumn in the air this lunchtime at Cranford Park - this was reflected in todays butterfly count on the UKBMS transect - just 59 butterflies of 6 species - full list and photos later on
It has been a good year for dragonflies and darters - often when I'm walking the transect I see these flying around me but rarely do they settle long enough for me to get a photo
I was in luck several times today - they were perching all over the place - darters are not my strong point but I think these are all Common Darters

and I think the ones below are all Migrant Hawkers

but I'm happy to be corrected
Other little critters included this very well camouflaged Green Shield bug
and just two hoverfly species - the common tiny Episyrphus balteatus
and the huge Volucella inanis

The butterfly count tally was -
10 x Large Whites
3 x Small Copper
26 x Holly Blue
2 x Comma
16 x Speckled Wood
2 x Meadow Brown
Holly Blue

Speckled Wood

Speckled Wood
very tatty old Comma
 and an added bonus was a rather scruffy Jersey Tiger moth - my fourth seen at Cranford Park this season - there have been hundreds of reports of these stunning looking day flying moths all over the Greater London area this year - what the experts call an 'influx'
Section two of my transect takes me through the top end of the woods and for the last week I've heard a raptor of some sort calling - yesterday I managed to see it for long enough to identify it as a juvenile Sparrowhawk and managed to get one very poor photo before it spotted me and flew off
today I could still hear the juveniles calling but couldn't even see them let alone get a photo
These masters of hunting always seem to nest in the same area of the woods so it was nice to see them this August just as I did the last three Augusts - and it was also nice to confirm we do have some birds of prey breeding at Cranford Park after the sad conclusion that the Kestrels haven't bred this year
It was nice to see some patches of Lords and Ladies have survived to the berry stage of their season - normally these have been eaten by Wood mice or trampled by dogs

My transect route ends by the river at the stone bridge and as I was preparing to put away my clipboard a flash of blue darted past me - the Kingfisher
From following this bird in previous years I know one or two of its favourite perches and that's exactly where I found it a few minutes later - unfortunately I still had my macro lens on my camera and could only manage a record short through the foliage before the bird took off again - look carefully at the centre of the photos below - that's a Kingfisher - honestly !