July 2016

2nd, Grosmont – Just a flying visit to the cottage today with other commitments meaning we had to get back to the old homestead. In the garden the foxgloves, both pink and white varieties, are now flowering well, especially down by the river, whilst as I mowed the grass on the steep bank I disturbed a Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba), the first I have seen up here this year.

2nd, Tranmire Bog – A short stroll around this lovely spot on what was an otherwise cool and showery late afternoon up here on the edge of the forest, a fresh breeze sweeping across the heather moorlands making it feel even cooler than the thermometer suggested. As a result it was unsurprising that neither dragonflies or butterflies made an appearance, though Rutmoor Beck was once more filled with tadpoles, whilst on the edge of the bogs Round-leaved Sundews (Drosera rotundifolia) were widely in evident. The cotton-grass (Eriophorum) is now flowering in the boggier parts of the moors, whilst in the Mire itself the golden flowers of Bog Asphodel (Narthecium ossifragum) are now apparent. Two types of heather have also begun to flower here and there, with the lovely dark purple Bell Heather (Erica cinerea) flowering in sunny and sheltered spots with Cross-leaved Heather (Erica tetralix) also noted in damper corners of t’ moors.

3rd, Woldgarth – A Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) was heard and briefly seen over the homestead today, always a welcome reminder that despite the ever growing urbanisation of the area some wildness continues to exist. However despite the presence of this raptor in the area the bird feeders remain as busy as ever, the sunflower hearts still attracting a good variety of finches, including at least four adult Bullfinches and two juveniles. Young Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Tits, Dunnocks, and Blackbirds are also nearly ever present, though the juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker seems to be visiting less frequently compared to last week. The adult Great Spot has also become less conspicuous during the past week.

Male Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)

5th, Woldgarth – Just a single Common Blackclock (Pterostichus madidus) in the pitfall trap this morning. Indeed the number of ground beetles being caught in the traps has been very disappointing lately and hopefully things will begin to improve soon.

7th, Woldgarth – The number of juvenile bird visiting the bird feeders is proving to be most pleasing this summer with a good variety of different species being spotted. Blackbirds and Robins have now had at least two separate broods, with three newly fledged youngsters in the garden at the moment, whilst those from earlier in the year and now just starting to develop their distinctive red breast. At least three Bullfinch youngsters are also frequenting the bird feeders at the moment, though the exact number maybe as high as five or six, whilst the young of Blue tits, Great tits, Coal tits, Dunnocks, Goldfinches, Greenfinches, Chaffinches and Great Spotted Woodpecker have also been seen well during the past few weeks.

8th, Woldgarth – It is proving to be another very disappointing summer for butterflies here at the old homestead with hardly any about despite the seemingly favourable weather. Indeed apart from the odd Holly Blue and the occasional other visitor from time to time, the garden is almost butterfly free!

12th, Woldgarth – A few bugs were encountered in the garden this afternoon including a red form 3rd instar Hawthorn Shieldbug (Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale), as well as numerous Flower Bugs (Anthocoridae) , what appeared to be Heterotoma planicornis, and an abundance of Whitefly (Aleyrodidae). Meanwhile Pollen Beetles (Meligethes aeneus) were noted amongst the garden flowers, a Common Marble Moth (Celypha lacunana) was found in the undergrowth, whilst a few female Plasterer Bees (Hylaeus communis) were again encountered around the flowers of the herbaceous border.

Plasterer Bee (Hylaeus communis ?)

18th, Woldgarth – A Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) butterfly was briefly spotted fluttering through the garden today, whilst a few species of White (Pieridae) were also identified. However by and large the number of butterflies in the garden continues to disappoint this summer. Bumblebee wise a Red-tailed (Bombus lapidarius) specimen was good to see, this proving to be a rather elusive species this year, especially in recent weeks, whilst other bumbles included Buff-tail (B. terrestris), Carder (B. pascuorum), Early (B. pratorum) and Garden (B. hortorum). A small species of bee was also noted around the herbaceous border, this possibly being a Furrow-bee species (maybe Lasioglossum calceatum).

Carder Bee (Bombus pascuorum)

19th, Woldgarth – A Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina) was in the garden today, the first I have seen here at Woldgarth this summer. As temperatures soared in the unbroken sunshine a species of bumblebee appeared in my office window, this appearing to be a Vestal Cuckoo Bumblebee (Bombus vestalis), a species which I have never previously recorded at Woldgarth. It was certainly an attractive and fresh looking specimen and it was good to add another species of Bombus to the garden list.

Other news from the garden today included a number of young Bullfinches still, whilst a juvenile Blackcap was also spotted, the first I have seen this year. Overhead a Hobby (Falco subbuteo) was spotted amongst the Swifts, this summer visiting raptor only being an occasional sighting above the old homestead (though they have become increasingly common in recent years), whilst a Sparrow-hawk was also seen, this woodland raptor being chased by the local Swallows as it passed over.

20th, Woldgarth – Ideal mothing conditions last night meant that the trap was rather busy when I went to empty it this morning, indeed many moths escaped before I was able to record them, but nevertheless at the very least 145 moths of 45 species were recorded. One of these moths was actually a new addition to my moth list, this coming in the shape and form of a Small Fan-footed Wave (Idaea biselata), whilst a whole host of other moths were new additions to the year list (not really surprising since I haven’t done any moth trapping for more than three weeks!).

Other new moths for the year list were as follows; Common Footman x3, Yellow-tail x1, Swallowtail x6, Dun-bar x2, Poplar Hawk-moth x1, Small Rivulet x1, Clay x1, Dark Arches x13, Light Arches x1, Common Rustic agg. x3, Fan-foot x4, Single-dotted Wave x4, Smoky Wainscot x1, Lesser Yellow Underwing x3, Dot Moth x1, and Rustic x1. Other moths also recorded included; Green Pug x2, Wormwood Pug x1, Mottled Pug x1, Double-striped Pug x1, Garden Carpet x2, Brimstone x1, Light Emerald x1, Willow Beauty x5, Mottled Beauty x1, Riband Wave 20+, Cabbage Moth x2, Mottled Rustic x1, Bright-line Brown-eye x6, Uncertain x3, Double Square-spot x1, Heart & Dart x2, Large Yellow Underwing x17, Small Angle Shades x2, Marbled Minor agg. x3, Marbled Beauty x3, and Small Fan-foot x1. Micros included Small Magpie x2, Diamond-back Moth 10+, Bee Moth x4, Beautiful Plume x1, Maple Button x1 (Acleris forsskaleana) and Water Veneer 5+ (Acentria ephemerell).

Additional creatures found within the trap included a Common Red Soldier Beetle (Rhagonycha fulva), only the second ever garden record of this species, whilst a Ground Beetle species was also unearthed, this turning out to be a Strawberry Seed Beetle (Harpalus rufipes). Whilst this is a common species of Caribidae it was nevertheless the first time I have ever knowingly encountered it.

23rd, Beverley Parks – The barley harvest in now underway in the local area with a few fields having been collected recently. The wheat is also goldening nicely, the recent sunshine and heat being perfect for this most important and valuable of the local crops.

24th, Woldgarth – A Hawker species of dragonfly was in the garden today (probably Southern Hawker), this being the first Hawker of the year at Woldgarth. Meanwhile the barley harvest continues apace throughout the local countryside, whilst up in Ryedale many fields have not only been harvested but also baled and in a few cases already cleared in preparation for ploughing! A less welcome sight meanwhile was a dead Badger near Cherry Burton, this species being relatively uncommon in the countryside surrounding Beverley.

25th, Grosmont – An interesting species of jumping Spider was found on the outside wall of the cottage, this probably being a Sitticus pubescens. I thought I had come across this spider earlier in the year but today I had a better and longer view which allowed me to more accurately identify this attractive and distinctive species. Meanwhile the river, which is currently very low, hosted a few jumping fish, most of which seemed rather small, whilst the riverbank had a few species of wildflower in bloom, including the attractive purple spikes of Woundwort (Stachys sylvatica). Less welcome however was a dead Jackdaw in the living room, the poor bird having obviously becoming trapped after falling down the chimney a few days ago. It did produce a fair bit of mess but nothing too bad.

25th, Stape – A summer walk in the area around Raindale Head and Cropton Forest Lodge brought some nice sightings, including an abundance of wildflowers. Common Spotted Orchids were particularly plentiful, as were Knapweeds, Yellow-rattle, Tufted Vetch, Meadow Vetchling, Scabious, and my favourite, the diminutive Eyebrights. These flowers attracted a decent number of butterflies and moths, especially Meadow Browns, but other species included Ringlet, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell and at least two species of White. Both Six-spot and Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet moths were also noted along the walk, these being the first I have seen of either this year, whilst the woods were absolutely full of moths. This would certainly be a wonderful location for moth trapping, at least in summer!

27th, Woldgarth – A medium sized species of Hemiptera was found crawling on the kitchen window in this evening, this turning out to be an example of Deroeocoris flavilinea, a new species to me. This species is a relatively new arrival to the British Isles but has already become common in most of southern and central Britain, including parts Yorkshire and VC61.

30th, Woldgarth – The herbaceous flower bed is still attracting large numbers of bumblebees, especially Carder and Early Bumblebees, the latter looking especially attractive and fresh in recent days. A few more Red-tailed Bumblebees have also been spotted in recent days.

Early Bumblebee (Bombus pratorum)

31st, North Cliffe Wood – Our first visit to this lovely little nature reserve near Market Weighton for quite some time was taken on what was a sunny, if somewhat breezy morning. However the moderate breeze did help to keep the dreaded mosquitoes and horseflies at bay, at least for the most part, whilst the wood and heath were reasonably sheltered so that a decent number of butterflies and dragonflies were widely in evidence. Nevertheless the number of odonata was notably lower than what one would usually expect at this time of year, Common Darters (Sympetrum striolatum) for example numbering in just single figures, whilst Migrant Hawkers (Aeshna mixta) were also seen in only small numbers. However 4+ Brown Hawkers (Aeshna grandis) was a decent enough count of this always impressive and striking species, with a female additionally seen ovipositing in the heathland logoon, the level of which is still quite high considering that it is now high summer.

On the damselfly front a healthy number of Emerald Damselflies (Lestes sponsa) were encountered amongst the grasses surrounding the lagoon, including some lovely emerald green female specimens, though numbers were again perhaps not as high as they have been in recent summers (certainly less than a hundred anyway). A few Blue-tailed Damselflies (Ischnura elegans) were also found, as was a single Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella) but interestingly I was unable to locate any Common Blues. Meanwhile butterflies were about in reasonable numbers, Gatekeepers (Pyronia tithonus) proving to be particularly common along the western path and out on the heath, whilst other species included Ringlet (10+), Meadow Brown (5+), Red Admiral (3+), Brimstone (1), Speckled Wood (x1), Green-veined White and Large White.

Further observations of interest included the “ling” heather (Calluna vulgaris) coming into flower out on the heath, this hopefully helping to draw in more butterflies, including the lovely Small Coppers, in the coming weeks, whilst the berries on the rowan trees are already beginning to ripen, especially out on the open heath. Birds included a few late singing Willow warblers & Chiffchaffs, whilst reserve specialists such as Jay, Marsh Tit and Treecreeper were all recorded. Buzzards were also seen and heard whilst I also thought that I heard a Hobby fly over at one point, a summer visiting raptor which has become a regular sighting in this area during the last three or four years.