Welcome

Welcome to my blog

This is where I post various musings about wildlife and ecology, observations of interesting species (often invertebrates)
and bits of research that grab my attention. As well as blogging, I undertake professional ecological & wildlife surveys
covering invertebrates, plants, birds, reptiles, amphibians and some mammals, plus habitat assessment and management
advice
. I don't work on planning applications/for developers. The pages on the right will tell you more about my work,
main interests and key projects, and you can follow my academic work here.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Highlights of 2013

December's been a quiet month on the blogging front - a large beetle project is ongoing (status review of the UK Chrysomelidae) and then of course the whole festive-season-thing. However, there was a proper summer this year with an extended period of hot dry weather extending into a mild autumn, and this meant some fine invertebrate (and other) sightings after some truly awful, cool, wet summers. The most spectacular (for me as they were all personal firsts) were probably three Lepidoptera finds between July and September - two butterflies, a monarch (Danaus plexippus) and long-tailed blue (Lampides boeticus) and a moth, the Clifden nonpareil (Catocala fraxini). The monarch is a North American species, and although some have been known to cross the Atlantic, it is more likely that this (and one from a nearby friend's garden) had escaped from a butterfly farm, maybe on the Isle of Wight. Certainly there was a small flurry of records of this species in southern England, aided by the fact that monarchs in the UK often visit gardens to seek their foodplant, milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) which is of course also non-native. The other two are scarce migrants seen in higher-than-usual numbers due to the favourable conditions this year. Being native to NE Europe, the Clifden nonpareil is more often seen on the eastern coasts of Britain, but my sighting was in Hampshire, about 10km inland where one large and unmistakable adult was seen basking on warm brickwork near scrub including its foodplants - aspens and other poplars (Populus spp.). Also a rare migrant, the long-tailed blue can be found on various Fabaceae such as everlasting-peas (Lathyrus spp.) and brooms (Cytisus spp.) - as a Mediterranean resident, it's not often seen in this country. I'll stop there, but if you'd like an affordable and user-friendly guide to European butterflies, one of my favourites is Haahtela et al. (2011). More to come from me in 2014, but until then, here are some pics from 2013...

A flock/mob of jackdaws in spring, as seen from my study window.
Adult female smooth newt in our garden pond.
A leaf beetle larva and its defensive shield of faeces and shed skins.
And finally, just to prove that I do go out and do ecology in the field, here I am taking great created newt eDNA samples at Claylands Nature Reserve, Hampshire.

Reference

Haahtela, T., Saarinen, K., Ojalainen, P. & Aarnio, H. (2011). Butterflies of Britain and Europe: A Photographic Guide. A & C Black, London.

2 comments:

  1. I love the photo of the newt in your pond! I hope 2014 is another excellent year for you.

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    Replies
    1. You too :) mustmustmustmust meet soon!

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