"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Garden Biodiversity - 365 Challenge - Part 4

Just a little update on how I'm getting on with my attempt to see 365 species that have arrived in or colonised the garden naturally during 2014.


I haven't added any new bird species to the list since Swift in May but we often get surprise visitors around this time of year as passing migrants stop off so there is still chance to add a few more birds to the list - hopefully!!


Finally, a bat sighting a

Common Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus)

I did spot a mouse running across the garage floor a few evenings ago but it moved liked greased lightning so I have no idea whether it was a House Mouse or Wood Mouse. We have set up one of those humane live traps but so far haven't caught anything. From past experience :( its Wood Mice that are naive enough to visit the trap whereas House Mice don't but I suspect B will be clearing out the garage one weekend very soon so I may yet get an id.


Lots of species flowering in the wildflower meadow and in pots but I am being very honest and not counting these so the only species added are:

Meadow Buttercup (Ranunculus acris) - in the front garden so I have counted this one as its well away from areas we have planted in the back garden

Lesser Hawkbit (Leontodun taraxacoides)

Broad-leaved Willow-herb (Epilobium montanum)

Bryophytes and Fungi

Still have quite a few species to identify!


None added - wish I could find a toad - I haven't seen one in the garden for years


Two species of Caddis Fly have been added - Stenophylax permistus and Cyrnus flavidus
These can be hard to id even though I often catch them in the moth trap so am not sure how many more I will be able to get to species level.

Large Rosesaw Fly - (Arge pagana) I may have mentioned this one in the last update? But frantically trying to get the post finished before I have to get the tea on so I haven't time to check!

Turnip Sawfly (Athalia rosae)

Flesh Fly (Sarcophagus carnaria) - a very pretty looking fly but with some rather horrible habits. Unlike most flies they are ovoviviparous depositing hatched or hatching maggots rather than eggs on carrion, dung or open wounds on mammals. At times like this I am very glad we no longer keep pet rabbits with all the worries of Fly-strike every summer.

Sawfly - Macrophya albo annulata


I am getting really interested in hoverflies - there are so many in the garden (sadly many too small and quick to take photos which means most will probably never be identified). Golden Rod and Cosmos flowers are proving a real magnet to them at the moment. For id I've been using one of the 2 Collin insect guides I have or a free booklet given away with BBC Wildlife Magazine many years ago but I've just treated myself to Britain's Hoverflies : An Introduction to Hoverflies of Britain by Ball and Norris. I just hope it doesn't arrive in the post on a Saturday - some women sneak clothes, shoes handbags etc. into the house with me its books!!

Species added recently include

Marmalade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus)

Tapered Drone Fly (Eristalis pertinax)

Dead Head Fly Myathropa florea


Species Added include:

Cuckoo Bee (Coelyoxis sp) another one I may have mentioned last time?

Field Cuckoo Bee (Bombus campestris)

Honey Bee (Apus melifera)

Other Invertebrates

Common Green Lacewing (Chrysopera carnea)

Common Backswimmer (Notonecta glauca)

Miridae nymph

Its proving difficult, in fact, impossible in some cases to get some insects down to actual species level. So do I count them or not? Well, as this is just a fun challenge I am doing on my own, I have decided that I probably will although I expect purists will frown! If I was taking part in an organised challenge such as Garden Moth Challenge I wouldn't count them though!

Dragon and Damselflies

I'm really disappointed in the lack of Dragon and Damselflies in the garden this year. Blue damsels and hawker dragonflies have bred in the pond in the past but this year I haven't yet seen one damselfly and the few Dragonflies I have spotted have disappeared from the garden by the time I get outside.


Several species were added in July:

Green-veined White (Pieris napi)
Large White (Pieris brassicae)
Comma (Polygonia c-album

Gatekeeper (Celastrina argiolus)

I did see a Skipper species on a lavender plant but by the time I got close enough to try and id it it had flown off never to return :( Just to be perverse I am not counting this! as I really should be able to get butterflies down to species level.


Not surprisingly, most of the additions to the 365 list have been moths - apologies if you've seen some of these photos before.

Cabbage Moth (Mamestra brassicae)

Clay (Mythimna farrago)

Garden Grass-veneer (Chrysoteuchia culmella)

Scalloped Oak (Crocalis elinguaria)

Double Square-spot (Xestia triangulum)

Dun-bar (Cosmia trapexima)

Marbled Beauty (Cryphia domestica)

Codling Moth (Cydia pomonella)

Elephant Hawkmoth (Deilephila elpenor)

Bird's Wing (Dypterygia scabriuscula)

Early Thorn (Selenia dentaria)

Bird-cherry Ermine (Yponomeuta evonymella)

Sycamore (Acronica aceris)

Rustic (Hoplodrina blanda)

Common Rustic Agg

Sallow Kitten (Furcula furcula)

Marbled Minor Agg

Small Fan-footed Wave (Idaea biselata)

Brown House Moth (Hofmannophila pseudospretella)

Common Footman (Eilema lurideola)

Square-spot Rustic (Xestia xanthographa)

Scarce Footman (Eilema complana)

Double-striped Pug (Gymnoscelis rufifasciata)

Orange Swift (Hepialus sylvina)

Small Phoenix (Ecliptopera silaceata)

Flounced Rustic (Luperina testacea)

Straw Underwing (Thalpophila matura)

Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (Noctua janthe)

Small Dusty Wave (Idaea seriata)

The total to date now stands at 216 species. To stand any chance of reaching 365 I really do need to put out the moth trap more often. I've only trapped once in August (we've had rain most nights and, although, the 15w actinic runs "cold" and doesn't need a rain guard I do worry about the electrics). In addition, opening a trap with lots of drowned moths in soggy egg-boxes is not pleasant :(

I have got dozens of photos of species still to be identified such as micro moths, worn macros, spiders and flies but that will be a job for the autumn/winter when hopefully there will be more time to work on them.

If I am honest I don't think I will reach 365 but I am having a lot of fun and it's encouraged me to try and id and study a lot of insect groups I am not familiar with such as saw-flies. Its fascinating too to see just how many species use your garden and how they all interact. I have certainly become a lot more observant!

Sorry for lack of italics for the scientific names - I can never get italics, bold or links to work on the very basic blogger I use. One of these days I'll pluck up courage and switch to the newer version which D tells me is brilliant!


Countryside Tales said...

The Straw Underwing is lovely and I am envious of your hoverfly book. I also have lots to ID when time permits. I think we may have had some of your hovers here, which will save me time on id'ing them :-)

Ragged Robin said...

Countryside Tales - Thank you. I am greatly looking forward to the arrival of the hover book :) Realised that Straw Underwing is superficially similar to Hedge Rustic so will have to examine and photo every one of them now too!

Em Parkinson said...

Wow - amazing haul RR. I agree about hover flies; so interesting and pretty too!

Chris Rohrer said...

I really like this challenge. It's a much more in depth look at the variety of ALL species that comes through our area. Very nice finds. Plus with migration just starting out......you may reach your numbers:)

Ragged Robin said...

Em Parkinson - Thanks so much. Yes, hoverflies are amazing :)

Chris Rohrer - Thanks so much Chris - I am so glad you are enjoying the challenge :) Here's hoping re: migration :)

John Wooldridge said...

Hi Robin. I agree with Chris on this challenge and me thinks I might try the same from January just to see what my presently barren patche attracts as it hopefully matures.... Then again I should do the same for the allotment I guess.....

amanda peters said...

Great job keeping up with the challenge, I tend to waver a little at this time of year as things quieten down.
I have the Hover fly book, it's verrry good, full of information and the photos are excellent.. The shock will be how many Hoverflies we have..it will be a big job to I.D them all but this book will help.
Amanda xx

SeagullSuzie said...

You're doing a fantastic job and enjoying it too. I have seen two new insects this year, a Clouded Yellow and a Hummingbird Hawk Moth, sadly I didn't have the camera with me....grrr!
I just feel lost without my garden and coastal path and so have not felt like getting out and taking photos, although I've hardly had any free time either. So I'm enjoying the wildlife of other peoples blogs at the moment.

Ragged Robin said...

John Wooldridge - Thanks John - yes it is good fun and so satisfying to identify species. I won't stress out too much if I don't reach the 365 because I've learned so much :) Good luck if you attempt something similar next year - its amazing what you can find :)

Amanda Peters - Thanks Amanda. Must admit I have slacked off a bit this month :( I really should be working at it a lot harder but at the end of the day I want it to remain fun and sometimes if you try too hard things like this can become a chore! The book has arrived :) and looks superb. You are right I am in shock at just how many species there are!!!The photos in it are stunning :)

SeagullSuzie - Thanks so much. Well done on the Clouded Yellow - I have never seen one :( Though I keep looking! Congratulations too on the Hummingbird Hawkmoth - we saw one in Dorset in the garden of the cottage we were staying in - I live in hope here! Always the way re: camera (or lack of ) :(

So sorry that you are missing your garden and coastal path - I would feel the same. I really do hope you find a new permanent home soon which has everything you want. Its been so stressful for you recently. Take care.