Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Back from South Africa

I've returned from a 2 week holiday in the Northern and Western Cape. Saw about 300 species of birds with about 160 new for me. Levaillant's Cisticola was my 1000th bird for Africa. Plenty of mammals but insects were few and far between, after all it is their equivalent of March. Here's a few teaser photos while I sort out a trip list, report and photos. It was a good idea to go out the day before the tour started as I had 6 species in Johannesburg that we did not see in the west.

Acacia  Pied Barbet
 Crimson-breasted Shrike
 Northern Black Koorhan
 Yellow Mongoose
 Suricate
 Gemsbok
Kgalagadi (Kalahari) National Park - all photos from Day 1

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Top Llan revisited

Good numbers of hoverfly species about today [24] for this area particularly on Common Fleabane in the hazy sunshine [22c] before the rain came in. With a few species about that haven't been seen too often lately like Riponnensia splendens, Melangyna umbellatarum, Myathropa florea, Cheilosia pagana and Eupeodes luniger.

Other insects included large numbers of Field Cuckoobee, 18 Small Tortoiseshell and a Bee Chafer [Trichius fasciatus]. Otherwise all the usual suspects. Red Kite was in the area as were large numbers of Goldfinch, Linnet and Chiffchaff.

 Bee Chafer has a very restricted distribution in the UK as you can see from the NBN Gateway map, we are luckily at the heart of the dense Welsh population. So we are spoilt for this species.




 Field Cuckoobee
 Eristalis tenax.
 Melangyna umbellatarum
Myathropa florea

Monday, 28 August 2017

Blaencaerau COP

Another warm day hitting 26c, but this didn't seem to bother the hoverflies feeding on the late summer blooms of Water Mint, Fennel, Heather, Common Ragwort, Tormentil, Hen-bit Dead Nettle, Black Knapweed, Creeping Thistle and Devil's Bit Scabious. Recorded 25 species which is more or less back to normal for August. Highlights included Caeraus' first Platycheirus manicatus and Rhingia rostrata but both were too quick to photograph. Also had a Pipiza noctulica which is new for the valley, but needs confirming by DET at the end of season.

 Water Mint at Caerau side ponds is a magnet for hoverflies
 Baccha elongata - cannot get this species to sit still, hence always just out of focus

 Helophilus hybridus - male hiding in the water mint, I have other shots to show the leg colour, but the fused yellow on tergite 2 and 3 is enough for ID.
 Leucozona laternaria

 Sericomyia silentis - not to many around this year
Air ambulance helicopter, lifting up from forestry near skull rocks where a motorcyclist had crashed and broken a leg or two.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Top Llan [SS8487]

Finally some sunshine and warmish temperatures at 20c. The area in top Llangynwyd at the above grid reference is right on the edge of the valley recording area and is probably our best chance of insect migration being only 3 miles from the coast and rich in Angelica and Knapweeds etc. In fact this is where I had Essex Skipper last year. No such luck this time but again butterflies were much in evidence, with second generation Small Heath on the wing and Small Tortoiseshell finally out in good numbers. A small Butterfly Bush was living up to its name holding 3 Painted Lady, 2 Red Admiral, 3 Peacock, 6 Small Tortoiseshell and 2 Speckled Wood. Also nearby were a few worn Small Skipper.

18 species of hoverfly were recorded with Xanthogramma pedissequum and Leucozona glaucia the most colourful. Bumblebees were out in huge numbers including Red-tailed Bumblebee. Green Shieldbug were quite common and the juvenile Lizards are now much bigger than from the previous visit 2 weeks ago.

Finally the Gilfach houses had large numbers of Barn Swallow [40] and House Martin [25] family parties resting on their roofs [former plural rooves has now been discontinued as grammatically correct apparently, according to my spell checker]  in a post breeding gathering. Parties of Long-tailed Tits and Goldcrests were moving through on what looked like passage migration and amongst them were Nuthatch, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler. The eerie sound of Peacocks could be heard from one of the farms and the Alpaca herd is now building up.

 Red-tailed Bumblebee
 Green Shieldbug
 Painted Lady
 Small Heath - 2nd generation
 Small Skipper
 Small Tortoiseshell - good numbers for the first time this year
 Leucozona glaucia
 Xanthogramma pedissequum senso stricto
Common Lizard [juv] - they grow up quick [see last post for this site]

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Other insects this week

 Bloody-nosed Beetle
 Wasp species - unusual face pattern somewhere between Tree and Saxon Wasp, I've put it on I spot
 Bumblebee - another odd looking bumblebee for ispot [they all turn out to be White-tailed Bumblebee]
 Red-tailed Bumblebee
 Weevil species - this one has really got the experts arguing
Leiobunum rotundum - new for the valley, but its only my 3rd 😁😁😁.

Butterlies round up

Despite the weather this week I have recorded Peacock, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Gatekeeper, Grayling, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Common Blue, Small Skipper, Small White, Large White and Green-veined White. A few shots below.

 Common Blue
 Peacock
Speckled Wood

Volucella zonaria at Garnwen and weekly hoverfly roundup

While the other boys in the valley have recorded this species, I've spent the last 2 1/2 years in hope that I finally get one. Today was that day, But I didn't expect to see one up Garnwen feeding on Common Ragwort along a forestry path. My 116th hoverfly for the valley out of a combined total of 120 so far, but I have quite a few species awaiting Det'ing at the end of the year that will also be new.

Weather has been poor for August and have thus far recorded 43 species, last year in August I recorded 63, so some fine settled weather is needed and more searching at the lower end of the valley may bare fruits. Some photos of the last week are below.


 Volucella zonaria - new for me
and again same fly
 Eristalis nemorum
 Meliscaeva cinctella
 Syrphus ribesii
 Eristalis pertinax
 Syritta pipiens
 Eristalis horticola
Cheilosia illustrata - just about finished for the year

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Garnwen/Drysiog loop

Even though the weather was mostly fine at 18c, there was very little about insect-wise, Only 15 species of hoverfly, with nothing special. Leucozona glaucia still out in good numbers, with Chrysogaster solstitialis barely holding on and Cheilosia bergenstammi numbers building up on the Common Ragwort. A Volucella pellucens was doing a good impression of  a Volucella inanis but the black scutellum hairs portrayed its true identity. 6 species of butterfly seen as well as lots of Tree Wasp and a Hairy (Sloe) Shieldbug. Moths seen included Schreckensteinia festaliella and Eupoecilia angustana.

 Hairy (Sloe) Shieldbug.
 Leucozona glaucia
 Peacock
 Red Admiral
 Schreckensteinia festaliella
Volucella pellucens - with black scutellum bristles/hairs. [pale/yellow on inanis]