Southern Marsh Orchids

Southern Marsh Orchids

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)