Southern Marsh Orchids

Southern Marsh Orchids

Wednesday 17 December 2014

hedgehog in December !

Removed a hedgehog from the road in Creigiau yesterday afternoon and placed it under a hedge for safety. Don't think I've ever seen one this late in the year before.

Monday 8 December 2014

Opilio canestrinii

This huge harvestman was on our house wall a couple of days ago.

Opilio canestrinii
This is the second time I've seen canestrinii in the garden, the first being in August last year. It is described as an invasive species: it was first recorded in the UK as recently as 1999 and has spread rapidly, being recorded in Glamorgan for the first time in 2007 (by Greg Jones). Since then there have been quite a few records from across the county.

On the continent it is said to have replaced two other Opilio species in some areas, so it seems that it is not a benign invader - which is a shame as it is rather handsome. This one had a leg span of a whopping 11.5cm. The orangey red body and almost black legs, combined with the large size, are distinctive.

Sunday 30 November 2014

hairy little fly

Put the moth trap out last night - only three moths but dozens of these little things. The grid in the second image is 2mm, so these little beasts are 3-4mm in length. Hairy abdomen and legs and long hairs on the antennae. I have been searching on-line but to no avail - possibly one of the chironomidae? Grateful for assistance with identification.

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Glamorgan Botany Group trip reports

The Glamorgan Botany Group have produced an excellent summary of their six excursions in 2014, all of which took place in East Glamorgan.

A pdf of the document can be downloaded from here:

There are more excursions planned for 2015. If anyone is interested and would like to be added to the mailing list, please email: glamorgan dot botany at yahoo dot co dot uk.

Tuesday 18 November 2014

unidentified dead bugs

Found these two bugs, dead, whilst cleaning the moth trap. They look reasonably fresh so I don't think they have been there long. Help with identification would be most appreciated.

The background grid is 2mm so they are both quite small and they have wings much longer than their bodies. The head of the first suggests a 'hopper' of some variety but as yet I haven't found a match.

and the second has wings with a very distinct vein pattern which are more than twice the body length.

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Oedemera (Oncomera) femoralis

Jake has just given me one of three beetles he and Mike found whilst working the Ivy Blossom at Lavernock a few weeks ago. It is a distinctive species but not well recorded - Oedemera (Oncomera) femoralis. At about 2cm long it's not one you can easily overlook and yet it's not at all well recorded, with less than 30 records in the SEWBReC database for the county.

Friday 7 November 2014

Purple Jellydisc

No, not a child's dessert from the 1970s, but a fungus whose scientific name is Ascocoryne sarcoides.

I came across this specimen on a fallen lime tree while looking for bryophytes in Pontcanna, Cardiff. Apparently it is quite common, though I don't recall having seen it before.


Monday 27 October 2014

Mayfly ?

Another query from Creigiau ....

Found this on the garage window sill this morning. Isn't it a bit late for mayflies?

Sunday 26 October 2014

Tipula pagana query

Lots of these on the garage wall this morning, a mix of males and females. Some of the females had very stunted wings held out as in Dave's second photo (see previous posting), but this one looked much neater with the wings folded. I assume it is the same.


Only one moth in the trap last night, but now getting lots of this Cranefly Tipula pagna. The females are brachypterous.

Thursday 23 October 2014

Zygina leafhopper ?

Found this flitting around at the bottom of the garden. Only 3mm long but obviously showing some colour to the naked eye so I managed to get it into a pot. Too lively to open the pot and unfortunately it didn't survive being placed in the fridge but I did manage to get a couple of shots through the sides - note to self: must clean the bug pots! The grid, placed under the pot, is 2mm.

Obviously a 'hopper' of some sort with a distinct orange/red pattern and after trawling through the British Bugs gallery I think its a leafhopper and probably Zygina flammigera. I would appreciate confirmation or correction.




A couple of days ago, I paid a brief visit, between jobs, to a site, near Penywaun, in the Cynon Valley. I had no particular aim in mind and ended up just shining a torch into dark recesses and holes in a hedge bank. Not surprisingly, I didn't find much, but in one hole, under a hazel, I noticed tiny patches of pale grey/blue, on the otherwise brown sandy clay.

I could only just squeeze my compact camera and enough fingers to operate it, into the hole to get the above image. With the aid of my knife, I also managed to extract a small piece of soil with some of the blue on and using a hand lens, confirmed my suspicion that it was a resupinate fungus.
Running out of time, I had a quick look into other holes and found some more of it inside the entrance of the small burrow of a rodent. This patch was slightly better developed and extended 25 to 30 mm inside the burrow.

As far as identification is concerned, the best I can come up with is a tentative Byssocorticium terrestre, which apparently comes in just about all the colours of the rainbow and is found in such places as here, so it may well be this species.
Given the tentative nature of my identification, I would obviously welcome some advice. It may be B. atrovirens, but that species is, apparently, only to be found on decaying wood.
I have since found more of this growing in similarly dark places, in Cwmbach.

Fungi (?)

Can anyone enlighten me as to what these are on (I think) rotting alder leaves? They are tiny only 1-2mm high. I assume a kind of fungus but very attractive whatever they are! 

Monday 20 October 2014

green lacewing

Found this lacewing in the moth trap on Sunday morning. Only managed a couple of grab shots before it flew away. You can clearly see the hairs on the wing veins so can I log this as Chrysoperla carnea or are there others with this characteristic?

Thursday 16 October 2014

Butterfly Conservation South Wales Branch AGM and Members Day

If you are at a loose end on Saturday, come then how about coming down to Kenfig for the Branch AGM? Non-members welcome!

Thursday 2 October 2014

Parc Slip

As well as the red underwing (see moth blog) on the Visitor Centre there were 6 clouded yellows, including a mating pair, and at least 10 small coppers in one of the new wildflower meadows today.

Yesterday a Wall (first recorded at Parc Slip since 2011) and a diamond-back moth were seen in the stunning 'failed' arable crop field.

Saturday 27 September 2014

Ivy bees at Sully Island

On a visit to Sully Island yesterday afternoon I noticed a colony of the Ivy Bee (Colletes hederae) on the south-facing earth bank at the top of the stony beach.
Colletes hederae
Colletes hederae leaving burrow

Earth bank supporting Ivy Bee colony - the nest holes extended over 50m

This species is unusual for a solitary bee in flying so late in the year. The reason for this is that it is specialised on ivy pollen for provisioning its nest. Interestingly, I couldn't find any ivy in flower on the island  - there was a little ivy on the north side but not yet in flower. This suggests the bees must be commuting about 500m back to the mainland (where there is lots of flowering ivy along the lanes).

I reported on a colony at Barry Island last year. Until now this was the only known Welsh colony east of Porthcawl; the Sully colony is about 5km further east from that at Barry. Worth looking out for this species if you are down at the coast - there's not much it can be mistaken for at this time of year.

BWARS have a mapping project for this species, which only colonised the UK in 2001. Their latest distribution map can be found here.


Friday 26 September 2014

Lavernock butterflies

There were plenty of butterflies in evidence at Lavernock Point nature reserve this afternoon, most of them making use of the abundant Devil's-bit Scabious flowers. Nine species were seen - pretty good for late September: Clouded Yellow, Large and Small White, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Comma, Common Blue, Small Copper and Speckled Wood.

The second field in particular looks a picture at the moment - a blue haze of scabious flowers.


Thursday 25 September 2014

Out of County - one to look for

Ok, so not East Glamorgan, but this Sheildbug was found near the Llanwern steel works yesterday - Eurydema oleracea. As far as we are aware this is only the second Welsh record. It is a species that is spreading west and there is no real reason for it not to turn up in the eastern half of the county, keep your eyes peeled!

Saturday 20 September 2014

This blog

Now Adam has departed for the Emerald Isle the maintenance of this blog has been left in my incapable hands. Things seem to be running pretty smoothly but if you have any problems posting, or if you're not already on the author list and would like to be added (all welcome!), then please email me at the address below.

(georgetordoff at hotmail dot com)

Thursday 18 September 2014

some pictures from a sunny afternoon in the garden

A sunny Sunday afternoon in the garden, slumped in a comfy chair sipping from a can and keeping a watchful eye on the flower beds. The morning had already seen visits from 18 species of bird, including Bullfinch, Great-spotted Woodpecker and a fleeting visit from a female Sparrowhawk, and then the insects came. Mostly on the Ice Plants but some preferring the lavender or other flowers.

Four species of butterfly (Large White, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell & Speckled Wood) and a Common Purple & Gold moth. 

Three species of bee (Common Carder, Honey & Tree),

and a variety of hoverflies were seen, though I couldn’t ID, or photograph some of them. The first I'm pretty sure is Chrysotoxum bicinctum, the second is a Meliscaeva sp, possibly auricollis (lots of these across all the beds) and the final one is, I think, Eristalis pertinax.

Quite a lot of Garden Spiders around at the moment too!

A very pleasant way to spend a sunny afternoon.

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Woundwort Shieldbug

We always get shieldbugs sucking the juice out of our garden raspberries, but usually just the very common Green Shieldbugs (Palomena prasina). Yesterday, however, they were joined by this small but distinctive Woundwort Shieldbug (Eysarcoris venustissimus).

Woundwort Shieldbug
I saw this species in Cornwall earlier this year, but this is the first time I've seen it in Wales. I leave an 'understorey' of Hedge Woundwort to grow beneath the raspberries, as the solitary bees are fond of the flowers, so this presumably explains the origin of the shieldbug.

We've also had an explosion of Birch Shieldbugs (Elasmostethus intersinctus) in the garden recently, with double figure counts in the moth trap some nights, along with occasional Red-legged Shieldbugs (Pentatoma rufipes).

George (Llandaff North)

Caddisflies in Creigiau

I don't usually bother with caddisflies - mainly because I very rarely mange to ID them! However, if any turn up that look to have sufficient detail to give me a chance then I like to have a go.

Recently, these three have been regular visitors. The first I am reasonably confident is Limnephilus lunatus. The other two I am not confident about at all. One could be a Hydropsyche species, possibly contubernalis and the other possibly a Stenophylax species?

Confirmation/correction gratefully requested.

Friday 12 September 2014

A few recent pictures

Little Egret at Kenfig beach 

Sticky Storksbill flower at Kenfig

 I found these odd looking Common Storksbills in Kenfig dunes and as the leaves were sticky, I presumed that these plants were Sticky Storksbill.

Sticky Storksbill leaves
Leaf cutter Bee? in my back garden

Long-winged Conehead? - found in Forest Farm

Monday 8 September 2014

Harvestman course plug

Apologies for the plug, Greg Jones is running an Introduction to Harvestmen course as part of SEWBReC's free training courses for this year. For more details and to register your interest, please see the SEWBReC website:

Saturday 6 September 2014

Garth Hill - bryophytes and other wildlife

There is very little in the way of natural rock exposure in the Cardiff area. One of the best examples is at the eastern end of Garth Hill, where there are some attractive sandstone outcrops.

Last weekend I took a brief stroll up the Garth to have a poke around these outcrops for bryophytes. Before I even got to the hill, I stepped on a patch of Common Crystalwort (Riccia sorocarpa) rosettes, which were abundant in the car parking lay-by.
Riccia sorocarpa (click to enlarge)

The outcrops themselves support a nice bryophyte flora including several species typical of dry acidic rocks and the thin soil surrounding them, such as Bristly Haircap (Polytrichum piliferum) and Juniper Haircap (P. juniperinum), Bristly Fringe-moss (Racomitrium heterostichum), Hair-pointed Grimmia (Grimmia trichophylla) and the rather distinctive liverwort Ciliated Fringewort (Ptilidium ciliare).

Polytrichum juniperinum

Ptilidium ciliare
There were also several Bloody-nosed Beetles feeding on Heath Bedstraw, and the much smaller Sermylassa halensis (recently reported by Mark Evans on this blog) on the same plant.

Bloody-nosed Beetle and Sermylassa halensis
Two peacock butterflies roosting (or hibernating?) under a small rock overhang was a nice surprise.
Roosting Peacocks (just visible behind cobwebs)

Sunday 31 August 2014

salmon at Radyr Weir

Out walking in the sunshine this afternoon and happened across the salmon leaping at Radyr Weir. Truly one of nature's wondrous events! Stayed for approx half hour watching as the salmon tried to negotiate the weir. Of the twenty or so that we saw make the attempt very few succeeded to continue the journey up-river, and we watched one struggling to maintain position half way up the weir only to be drift back down to try again.

I managed to grab a few photographs but they are a bit blurred!.


Thursday 28 August 2014

Garden visitors

Not a lot in the moth trap on Tuesday night but a number of interesting visitors in the garden.

Lots of spiders around, but this one caught the eye. I suspect it is a Walnut Orb Weaver and the white markings made it look quite sinister in the torchlight. it scurried away into the fencing when the flashlight hit it!

This ichneumon wasp was wandering around at the back of the garage and when photographing that I noticed the mating flies on the window frame. These don't look like the regular houseflies but show some similarities.