Southern Marsh Orchids

Southern Marsh Orchids

Tuesday 27 December 2016

Golden Days

At a site, in the mid Cynon Valley, this afternoon, I was photographing the apothecia of the lichen Xanthoria parietina, which appear to be host to a lichinocolous fungus (possibly Lichenoconium xanthoriae), I noticed another yellowish lichen on a nearby branch of the same tree and immediately recognised it as the rare (for Wales, anyway) Teloschistes chrysophthalmus, or Golden-eye Lichen.
In autumn 2015, the first record of it in Wales was made further up the Cynon Valley, though not by me and since then I have been keeping my eye open for it.
Strangely; straight after the first discovery in 2015, I went on holiday to Dorset and accidentally found it on Winfrith Heath nature reserve. It isn't quite so rare down there, but it was a first for the reserve.
The position of the first site is being kept secret, as these foliose lichens on trees are very vulnerable to accidental damage, so I will not divulge its location here. As far as I am aware, this is only the second record in Wales, though hopefully someone will put me right on that.

Sorry about the photo. The camera was on a tripod, but there was just enough breeze to gently move the tree as I tried to photograph it.

Teloschistes chrysophthalmus, The whole lichen is only around 15mm across.

Xanthoria parietina. The middle two apothecia have black dots on them. Those
are the pycnidia of a lichenocolous fungus; possibly Lichenoconium xanthoriae.
I took a specimen and will check it out.

Monday 19 December 2016

December Harvestmen

Two visits this month - the first on 02 December, which I am confident is Opilio canestrinii, and the second on 16 December. I'm not really sure about the second one - it looks like an oddly coloured O. canestrinii, but not sure. Would appreciate confirmation/correction for this one..

Sunday 27 November 2016

Bird Watching day out 27/11/2016

Driving past the water treatment works on the Abercynon back road this pylon is a good Cormorant roost, on the way out in the morning I counted 15 but when comming back later in the aftenoon this had risen to 21 (only twenty in the photo as one flew off). Good for bird watchers but not so good for the anglers, I can not see many fish being left in the Taff after this lot help themselves.



Wednesday 16 November 2016

Just over the Border: Chalara Ash Dieback

Out for a walk, just below the lower Neuadd reservoir, to the south of the Brecon Beacons, on Sunday, I noticed a form of dieback on some Ash saplings, the like of which I hadn't seen before.
The tops two or three feet of most of them were dead and most of them showed dead lateral shoots which had also dies and where they joined the main stem, lesions were formed in the living bark. At the time, I strongly suspected that what I was seeing was Chalara Ash Dieback disease: formally called Chalara fraxinea (a name now reserved for the asexual form of the disease) and which is now called Hymenoscyphus fraxineus, and a search on the internet, once home confirmed it.

According to the forestry commission's distribution map  < >, it is now pretty widespread and was confirmed in that 10km square (SO01) in 2015 and in the same year, it was also confirmed in SO00; the square I live in, though I haven't yet noticed this type of dieback locally.

Sad times!

Saturday 5 November 2016

Creigiau - Minotaur Beetle

Found this guy in Thursday night's moth trap - doing backstroke in a puddle of water in one of the egg boxes. Dried him out and he was ok to be released into the garden yesterday. I've never seen one of these before - a male Minotaur Beetle (Typhaeus typhoeus). Those horns are amazing ......

Wednesday 26 October 2016

Common Toad - Creigiau

First ever sighting of a Common Toad in the garden this morning. Probably quite young as it couldn't have been much more than 2 inches long.

Wednesday 19 October 2016

Nettle Leaf Gall

The nettles in the garden are liberally covered with these galls caused by the nettle Leaf Gall Midge - Dasineura urticae. So, yesterday I put one of the leaves in a pot and this morning several of these small (approx 2mm) larvae were crawling around. S'pose that now I'll have to do some reading to find out when the flies emerge!

Wednesday 12 October 2016

Psocoptera (Barkfly) query

Looking through old images and came across these two tiny little flies (2-3mm long). With the wings so much longer than the abdomen I think they are Barkflies or Psocoptera species.

This image was taken in May 2016, and looks very similar to Ectopsocus briggsi. If correct, there are no current records on Aderyn for East Glamorgan.

The other was seen in July 2016 but I'm not sure on this one. There appear to be several with similar wing venation.

Has anybody else seen/recorded any of these little beasties?

Monday 3 October 2016

Eupterycyba jucunda

Found this little beauty on a towel, hanging out to dry near one of the raised beds. it's another little, <5mm, leafhopper that I've never seen before. Pretty confident on the ID, and, according to Aderyn,  it has previously been recorded in the 2 squares (ST17 & ST18) east of here.

Managed a couple of grab shots before the wind blew it into the flower bed.

Sunday 2 October 2016

Sawfly Query

While at Llyn Fach, this afternoon (ever so slightly in West Glam), I came across this lone Sawfly larva, on a small Birch sapling. What struck me were the colour and the glossiness of it.
I've been looking online and am fairly sure it is Craesus latipes, but would welcome some confirmation on that, please; especially as there is only one Welsh dot on the NBN Gateway map.

Friday 30 September 2016

A weevil new for Wales

A couple of weeks ago I was in town for the Roald Dahl celebrations, which were fun but hectic - I've never seen the city centre so packed with people. While we took a breather in Bute Park I spotted some unfamiliar mines on one of the narrow-leaved willows (possibly Salix fragilis) growing near the castle.
On checking the website back home it became obvious they were the work of one of the Isochnus weevils, but the website told me there are two species on willow which are indistinguishable on mine and larval characters. I emailed Rob Edmunds, who runs the website, and he said the adults are easy to rear - just wrap the leaf petiole in damp tissue and leave in a pot til they hatch. It didn't take long...this week two adults emerged and I was able to confirm, using Morris' RES keys, that these are Isochnus sequensi.
This species was not listed on Adrian Fowles' weevils of Wales online checklist (see here). I emailed Adrian and he has now confirmed this is the first record for Wales of this weevil, which has a mainly eastern distribution in the UK.

Thursday 29 September 2016

Scabious Sawfly (Abia sericea) larva

Found this little beastie on the decking on Tuesday night and after a bit of searching managed to ID it as a Scabious Sawfly - I do have a lot of scabious in the flower beds this year but haven't noticed this quite large (approx 30mm) larva so I don't know where it's been hiding. The adult has a very distinctive appearance so something to look out for in the future.

Tuesday 20 September 2016

housefly with fungal infection

Found this fly dead on a curtain in the house - and after looking at hundreds of pictures trying to identify it I realised that the pale abdominal bands were in fact an indication of fungal spores emerging from between the abdominal segments. Not a particularly nice way to go ... even for a fly!

Monday 19 September 2016

Butterfly Fest at Lavernock Point NR 18/09/2016

A nice sunny day and little wind brought out the butterflies on Sunday with Painted Lady (2), Red Admiral (3), Small Tortoiseshell (1) and alot of Large and Small Whites (circa 460). The largest quantity of Whites were in the middle field.

Creigiau garden - new visitors

Three new visitors to the garden, two species of fly and a beetle - none of which appear to have many records in VC41. All three are approx 4 - 5 mm and very distinctive in appearance, so I'm fairly confident with the IDs.

Meiosimyza decempunctata

Palloptera muliebris - This is one of the 'Trembling-wing Flies' and was continuously on the move, so  I had to try and get images through the sides of a plastic pot. Apologies for the resulting soft images.

Dromius quadrimaculatus

Sunday 11 September 2016

Parc Slip 11 September

Took the camera for a leisurely stroll around Parc Slip this morning, principally looking for damsels & dragons. There was an abundance of Common Darter but very little else, but amongst the many Eristalis sp hoverflies, I did spot a few Helophilus pendulus and a couple of Arctophila superbiens (confirmed by Roger Morris on UK Hoverflies). I've never seen the latter before and, looking on the new LERC Wales Reporting Database (Aderyn), I can't see any reports of sightings at Parc Slip ....

Front & back views of Arctophila superbiens

Wednesday 7 September 2016

see-through larva of ????

Saw this on a Wallflower leaf on Tuesday afternoon. The front end is up - at least that is the direction it was moving. Size was approx 5-10mm. Grabbed some images but was distracted and when I looked back it had gone!

I assume it is a larva of some little garden beastie, but I have no idea where to start with this one. A Google search for 'transparent insect larvae ' came up with a lot of aquatics. Anyone have any ideas?

Monday 5 September 2016

Eupteryx sp leafhoppers

Not seeing so many of these little beasties in the beds this year ... maybe, as they are so small (approx 3mm)  they are not so keen on the persistent wet weather! Have seen sporadic visits from 5 species, 2 of which are new.  I have been seeing them on mint, oregano and New England Aster.

These 3 I saw regularly last year - Eupteryx melissae, E. decemnotata & E. stachydearum

This one is very similar to E. stachydearum, but the black mark on the mid-point of the vertex is deeply cut and so I think it could be E. florida - which would be new for me and the garden. I only managed one grab-shot before it disappeared into the greenery.

This last one was visually larger than the others and I think it may be Euptreyx aurata - again only managed a couple of quick grab-shots.

Sunday 4 September 2016

Steatoda grossa?

On Saturday morning, while checking the underneath of my garden moth trap for stowaway moths, before putting it back in the shed, I noticed a small (body length about 6-7mm) colourful spider. It was very camera shy, but as I was photographing it, the cream coloured band around the front of the abdomen told me it was one of the Steatoda Sp. As far as I can tell, it is S. grossa, but I would welcome any thoughts on that.

I live at 270m ASL, in the northern valleys and although I have heard rumours about false widows being all over the place, I have never encountered any; either at home, or while doing my job, as a gardener and suspect that most local reports are misidentification of the window frame spider Zygiella x-notata.

Last November, I spent a week at a holiday home in Lyme Regis, Dorset. I was amazed, while there, to see that every nook and cranny in the exterior of the house, garage and garden structures was occupied by spiders of the Steatoda genus; some quite large. I thing most of them were Steatoda nobilis, but S. grossa may have been present too and I now wonder whether I may have inadvertently brought one or two back with me and introduced them to my garden.