"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, 25 June 2014

Garden Biodiversity - 365 Challenge - Part 3

Those of you who have been visiting my blog for some time may recall that I've set myself a little challenge this year to try and see 365 species that visit or self-seed in the garden. So any native species planted over the years won't be counted. Finally, I've managed to get my list up to date and in some sort of order. Apologies that the post will be rather repetitive following on from the Garden Bioblitz post. I've tried to pick a few different photos but some may have been posted before.

So here's the list of species added since the end of March.


Chaffinch - Fringilla coelebs
Swift - Apus apus


Daisy - Bellis perennis
Green Alkanet - Pentaglottis sempervirens

Sycamore - Acer pseudoplatarius
Red Dead Nettle - Lamium purpureum
Clover - Trifolium pratense
Rowan - Sorbus aucuparia
Oak - Quercus sp.
Common Whitebeam - Sorbus aria
Spring Beauty - Claytonia virginica

Upright Yellow Sorrel - Oxalis stricta

Lesser Trefoil - Trifolium dubium

Dock - Ramex sp.
Wood Avens - Geum urbanum
Wall Speedwell - Veronica arvensis
Yellow Corydalis - Pseudoformaria lutea

Cat's Ear - Hypochaeris rudicata

Ribwort Plantain - Plantago lanceolata

Common Mouse-ear - Cerastium fontarum


Rough-stalked Feather-moss Brachtyecium rutabulum


Brown Mottle Gill - Panaeolina foenisecii


Caddis Fly - Stenophylax permistus - must admit I am not 100% sure on id of this one - there are a lot of species that look identical :(

I caught this next species in my moth trap and was convinced it was a micro moth - I even found one that looked identical!! I put a photo on Twitter for verification only to be told it was a caddis fly!!! I didn't realise they came this small as most I trap are a similar size to the one above which is several centimetres long whereas this one is tiny. Checking out id I think it may be Cyrnus flavidus. But please feel free to leave a comment and correct me as I really am not positive on these ids.

Large Rose Sawfly - Arge panana

Another sawfly - not 100% sure on id of this one but could be Macrophya alboannulata

Sicus ferrugineus - a parastitic canopid fly

Bee Fly - Bombylius major
House Fly - Musca domestica

Lunar Hoverfly - Eupeodes luniger

Bees, Wasps and Ants

Tawny Mining Bee - Andrena fulva

White-tailed bumble bee - Bombus lucurum
Garden Bumble Bee - Bombus hortorum

Solitary Bumble Bee - Lasioglossum sp
Red Mason Bee - Osmia bicornis
Red-tailed Bumble Bee Bombus lapidarius
Common Carder Bee - Bombus pascuorum

Leaf Cutter Bee - Megachile sp (again its difficult to get these down to species level)

Black Garden Ant - Lasius niger
Red Ant - Myrmica rubica

Other Invertebrates

Silverfish - Lepisma saccharina

Common Green Grasshopper - Omocestus viridulus

Common Earthworm - Lubricus terrestris

Millipede - Cylindroilus caeruleocinctus

Centipede - Cryptid sp.

Common Froghopper - Philaenus spumarius


Hawthorn Shield Bug - Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale
Black Bean Aphid - Aphais fabae


Lily Beetle - Lilioceris lilii


Clay-coloured Weevil - Otiorhynchus singularis


White-lipped Banded Snail - Cepaea hortensis

Garden Snail - Cornu aspersum


Stretch Spider - Tetragnatha extensa
Large House Spider - Tegenaria gigantea


Orange Tip - Anthocharis cardamines

Holly Blue - Celastrina argiolus

Brimstone - Gonepteryx rhammi

Speckled Wood - Parage aegeria

Red admiral - Vanessa atalanta


Lesser Yellow Underwing - Noctua comes


Diurnea fagella
Early Thorn - Gelenia dentaria
Shuttle-shaped Dart - Agrotis puta
Knot Grass - Acronicta rumicis
Lime Hawkmoth - Mimasa tiliae
Muslin Moth - Diaphora mendica
Light Brown Apple Moth - Epiphyas postvittana
Tachystola acroxantha
Small Rivulet - Perizoma alchemillata

Angle Shades - Phlogophora meticulosa

Waved Umber = Menophra abruptaria

Straw Dot - Rivula sericealis
Small Dusty Wave - Idaea seriata
Brimstone Moth - Opisthograotis luteolata
Heart and Dart - Agrotis exclamationis
Common Pug - Eupithecia vulgate
Middle-barred Minor - Oligia fasciuncula

Leaf mine on lilac of Common Slender - Gracillaria syringella

Scalloped Hazel - Odontopera bidentata
Bee Moth - Aphoma sociella
Buff Ermine Spilosoma luteum
Small Magpie - Eurrhypara hortulata
Uncertain - Hoplodrina alsines
Mottled Pug - Eupithecia exiguata
Garden Carpet - Xanthorhoe fluctuata
Bright-line Brown-eye Lacanobia oleracea
Flame - Axylia putris
Turnip Moth - Agrotis segetum
Crambus pascuella
Timothy Tortrix - Aphelia paleana - what a superb name !! :)
Juniper Webber - Dichomeris marginella
Large Yellow Underwing - Noctua pronuba
Riband Wave - Idaea aversata
Willow Beauty - Peribatodes rhomboidaria
Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing - Noctua fimbriata
Dagger Agg - Acronicta sp
Dark Arches - Apamea monoglypha
Eudonia lacustrata

Oh dear its been a bit of a lengthy post - I'll try and do a monthly update from now on which will be more manageable and less like an endless list of species!! It must be as boring to read as it was to type!!!

Coming up to the end of June I am now on 166 species when really I would have preferred to have been on far nearer 200. I've dozens of species still to identify - mainly flies, beetles, lichens, mosses and slugs. Hopefully, the next few months will bring a lot more moths to the trap to boost the total.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Cuttle Pool NR and Garden Moths

Last Thursday afternoon we decided to visit a Warwickshire Wildlife Trust reserve that we hadn't been to before. The site was only given to the Trust in 2012 and prior to that it had been used for gravel extraction until 1975 and then some small scale landfill.

The reserve is situated mid-way between Knowle and Temple Balsall and there are a variety of habitats within the small (4.25 hectare) area - semi-improved woodland, wetland, areas of grassland, pools, a brook and wet flushes.

195 vascular plants have been recorded and here's a few photos of some I saw

Self Heal

Bird's Foot Trefoil? - forgot to check the leaves!

Creeping Cinquefoil (plus Heath Speedwell, Parsley Piert and Thyme-leaved Sandwort)

Lots of Dog Roses flowering in the hedgerows

Scarlet Pimpernel - such a pretty, often overlooked flower. Other names for this species include "Poor Man's Weather Glass", "Shepherd's Sundial", "Wink-a-peep", "John-go-to-bed-at-noon" based on the plant's habit of opening at seven o'clock in the morning and closing at 2. Its petals also close when rain is on the approach. Apparently anyone holding one of the flower's gains second sight!

Cinquefoil, Clover, Speedwell and Pimpernel

Various habitat improvements are in progress - paths are being established and scrub encroachment tackled. The wet flushes will be managed along with the silted up ponds to improve habitats for invertebrates. At present around 764 invertebrate species occur here, 12 of which are nationally scarce and 7 regionally important.

Had a peek under this refugia -

but there was only an ant nest!

Scorpion Fly

I'm still trying to identify this species.

Cinnabar moth - rubbish photo (very heavily cropped) as soon as I got close it immediately took flight.

There were quite a few Ringlets around the reserve and an unidentified blue butterfly too far away to even guess which species. There were quite a few blue damselflies around too but again I couldn't get close enough to identify any.

On the way home we stopped off at Barston Ford

Garden Moths

Finally, I'm trapping more moth species. So a few photos of recent moths.

First of all, a couple of the smaller or "micro" moths. I really do need to start getting to grips with these if I am to stand any chance of reaching 365 species seen in the garden this year (update on that challenge hopefully later next week).

Crambus pascuella

Juniper Webber

Buff Ermine

Bright-line Brown-eye


Willow Beauty

Not 100% sure of this one - think its probably a freshly emerged Willow Beauty again (its not large enough for Great Oak Beauty)

Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (I don't usually start trapping these this early in the year).

Small Magpie

Heart and Dart

Dagger aggregate - there a couple of Dagger species that can only be separated by genitalia dissection which I have no intention of ever doing!

And a so-far unidentified weevil lurking in one of the egg boxes. My file of unidentified species from the garden and elsewhere just gets larger and larger - very hard sometimes to find time for identification especially when just one or two species can take me hours of trawling through books and websites.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Maxstoke Castle, Emperor Moth caterpillar update, A Spitfire flypast and a Ringlet

We went along to Maxstoke Castle last weekend - there is just the one Open Day a year. The weather wasn't very good - it rained on and off throughout the visit - any smudgy marks on the photos are a result of raindrops on the lens!!

Maxstoke Castle is a fortified manor house or castle built around 1345 by Sir William de Clinton, Earl of Huntingdon - who also built the nearby Maxstoke Prior. One hundred years later the castle was partially re-modelled by the Earl of Stafford. At the end of the sixteenth century it became the property of Sir Thomas Dilke and, apart from short periods of time, the castle has remained in the hands of the Dilke (later Fetherston-Dilke) family who still live there today.

The castle is made of red sandstone and today there remains a restored medieval gatehouse, curtain wall and angle towers.

Richard III visited the castle in 1485 on his way north to Nottingham and subsquently on to his death at the Battle of Bosworth.

The Courtyard Garden

We had a look round the inside of the house (no photos allowed) but you can tour the Banqueting Hall, the Oak Drawing Room (with its rather mysterious and ornately carved Whispering Door) and the Library.

We then walked around the outside of the house following the moat walk - roses were clambering all over the walls.

Valerian and Ivy-leaved Toadflax had managed to grow in cracks between the building stones.

At this stage we visited the refreshment tent where last year we had the most delicious cake - but horrors of horrors they had sold out!!! If we go next year we'll go a lot earlier!!

So onwards to the pleasure gardens

There is a lovely meadow and woodland walk with lots of wildflowers flourishing.

Ox-eye Daisies

Is this a Handkerchief Tree?

Views of the castle and moat

Ice House

Glade of Foxgloves

A vegetable garden, tennis court and more herbaceous borders were our last port of call.

Anyone for tennis?

Close by was this wonderful "white" border - could just imagine relaxing here with a Pimms after a game of tennis!!

Herbaceous Border

Astrantia again - just love this plant. I managed to buy one from Coughton Court but they only had the dark pink variety available and I must admit I do like this creamy white/pinky colour.

The Emperor Moth caterpillars are now 5 weeks old and requiring about 5 top-ups of bramble/hawthorn leaves a day. In fact, I have come to the conclusion they never stop munching not even to sleep. I have to admit I will be a little relieved when they pupate which could be any day now. Note their nice new cage!!! Although really there are that many of them I should have bought two!

Last night we went along to Birmingham International Airport as a Spitfire which had been displaying at the nearby Belfry Hotel and Golf course was due to make a brief flypast.

We went a walk along a public footpath near a place called Castle Hills (not far from the Shadowbrook Meadows reserve I visited recently) where you can get a good view of the runway.

The spitfire was due to fly along the runway in a north to south direction i.e. towards us but lo and behold it flew from south to north and I just managed to get this record shot - not helped by shooting into the sun!!!

And here it is again disappearing rapidly from view.

Just as we were leaving I spotted my first Ringlet butterfly of the year in a hedgerow.