Friday, 17 July 2009

Painted Lady Caterpillars

There are hundreds, probably thousands of the caterpillars of Painted Lady in spinnings on thistles all along the coast here on the Llyn this year. Mainly on Cirsium vulgare (Spear Thistle) but also on C.arvense (Creeping or Field Thistle). These are bred from eggs laid by the huge influx of migrant Painted Ladies which arrived earlier in the summer. Sadly the adults cannot survive our winters but at least we should have good numbers of the adults flying until early autumn at least

No insects of any sort moving here today as we are battered in yet another severe westerly gale with torrential rain.....what happened to the dry hot bbq summer the met office forecast earlier this year !

Viviparous or Common Lizard's

The clawdd's (hedge/banks)of the local lane I walk most days have numerous colonies of Common lizards scattered all along the lane, no doubt providing at least one food source for the local Adder population which also exist in some numbers along the lane. One particular spot is almost certain to have Lizards most sunny days in spring, summer and early autumn basking. There are a couple of spots on the clawdd which have bare patches of soil and I trim the vegetation back regularly here to keep them open for lizards to bask and to give Sue and I a good view of them when we walk the lane. The lizards have obviously bred this year as we regularly see tiny lizards ranging from around 5cm up to 8cm basking in these spots. One thing we have noticed is that the young lizards never bask in company with the adults, perhaps they are viewed as a potential food source by the adults ? One photo shows two small lizard's hiding as I approached with the camera to take a photo and the image showing the close up of a lizard around 8 cm in length was taken on the way back down the lane in the same spot when I managed to creep up without disturbing them

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Snouty & the Cats

Snouty the resident male hedgehog in the garden is seen here feeding alongside a mother feral cat and one of her four kittens. I will be trying to catch the cat and her kittens over the next few weeks to get them neutered and safely re-homed. Judging by the number of these feral cats I have trapped and passed on to local cat rescue so far in the last 12 months its going to be a permanent ongoing operation

Sunday, 28 June 2009


Butterworts, so called because they are alleged to coagulate milk, are investivorous perennials with solitary flowers and a basal rosette of leaves covered in slime. The common butterwort is one of three native butterwort species in the British Isles and has purple flowers and yellow-green leaves resembling a starfish. The common butterwort the leaf margins curl over insects and glands on the leaf secrete enzymes which digest the soft parts of their prey.

We have found hundreds of these plants on wet seepages on the near the seashore above Edern. I am not sure which of the two species we found, Common Butterwort (Pinguicula vulgaris) or the slightly smaller P. lusitanica which is said to occur in the west of the UK. I suspect they are the latter species as we did see these as small leaved "rosettes" all through the winter which is belive is the differance between vulgaris (no leaves showing in winter) and lusitanica.

The photos show the plant in flower, a patch of the plants growing in a wet seepage and a close up of the leaves showing the small insects trapped by the plants sticky leaves.

Elephant Hawkmoth

We found this Elephant Hawk-moth (Deilephila elpenor) caterpillar crossing a road as we drove past last autumn. The caterpillar was obviously looking for a pupation site as it was in its last instar and we rescued it to prevent in being squashed by passing cars. The caterpillar duly pupated and finally last night emerged as the beautiful adult moth shown. This will be released into a thick patch of Honeysuckle behind the garden later this evening to complete its life cycle in more natural surroundings.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Broad-Bodied Chaser

We have been seeing this species around on a local lane now for the last month of so. The photo shows the female of the species, the male is a stunning pale blue colour. I quite often find that one sees more Dragonflies away from water than actually at a pond. This species in particular I most often seen on local lanes and minor roads but rarely at ponds except when breeding.

Mystery Caterpillars

Some cats that had me totally baffled for a couple of days until Reg Fry put me out of my misery. Sue and I spotted a large number of these cats feeding on Meadowsweet ( Filipendula ulmaria)on the coast a week or so back. The large ones were around 1cm in length and the slightly different looking earlier instars were about .5cm in length. My first though was footman spp, no go as they all feed on lichens or dried plant material. I looked through every book I had, did searches for cats on Meadowsweet, even went through evey cat in Porter book and zilch. I posted the photos on Regs website and he came back with early instar Emperor Moth !!! I would never in a million years have got this despite rearing many found on Moor Tops through in the last instar and from pupa in my native Yorkshire I have never seen the early instars and to find them on Meadowsweet no more than 20 feet from the sea at low altitude was a complete shock.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Large Red Damselfly

We put a half barrel mini pond on the patio in the garden here in Edern in the hopes that it would be colonised by Odonata as is a similar pond back in Yorkshire in our garden. I spotted this pair of Large Red Damselflies(Pyrrhsoma nymphula) in tandem today as the female oviposited in the pond. Also spotted locally in the last few days were:

Broad Bodied Chaser
Common Blue Damselfly
Four Spotted Chaser
Golden Ringed Dragonfly
Emperor (male) a first for me
Banded Demoiselle

Monday, 22 June 2009

Sun Loving Blackbird

One of the young Blackbirds that feed in the garden feeding station here in Edern is definately a sun lover. It spends hours basking on a shed roof just behind the feeders as soon as the sun is out it flies up onto the roof and gets comfy for a sunbath session

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Bumblebees & Badgers

I spotted the ravaged nest site of a bumblebee, which was either a Bombus terrestris or a Bombus lucorum nest, its impossible to tell the worker bees apart without dissection. The nest was in the Clawdd (hedge/bank) of a local lane near the coast that I walk at least once a day all year. I have seen plenty of signs of badger activity on the lane in the past with latrine pits and various diggings where I assume badgers have dug out mouse nests etc. This is the first bee nest I have seen dug out this year by badgers . You can see in this short video clip the remains of the nest site, some surviving worker bees and a few of the cells from the nest.

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Monday, 15 June 2009

Snouty & The Cat

One of the problems on the Llŷn Peninsular and I suppose in most rural locations is the problem of feral cats preying on wildlife. Its obviously not the cats fault its living wild, and if more people with pet cats had them neutered or spayed the problem would gradually die out. The cats are obviously a problem for small mammals and birds but as can be seen from the short video clip they can coexist with Hedgehogs. This particular cat has only been hanging around for the last month or so since I started to feed the hedgehogs. Over the course of last winter I live trapped in a cage trap 3 kittens and two adult cats (one heavily pregnant). These were taken by animal rescue and re-homed after they had been seen by the vet.

Tonight Snouty was back again in his usual spot in the garden and fed happily alongside the cat who has obviously learned that hedgehogs are not on the menu ! Snouty paid no attention whatsoever to the cat and is obviously completely unafraid of being attacked.

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Yet another "family" are regulars at the feeding station in the garden. This time a family of Greenfinces. As can be seen from the video clip, one of the youngsters has not quite got the hang of feeding from the peanut feeder yet.

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Several male Whitethroat have staked out territory on the lane I walk regularly. This one was singing away merrily this morning at 8am.

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Sunday, 14 June 2009


We have been feeding a small hedgehog near the bird feeding station. It started to appear last autumn and then dissapeared we assumed to hibernate. A few weeks back the same hedgehog appeared again under the feeders picking up scraps. We started to scatter dried cat food under the feeders late in the evening for the hedgehog who we had christened Snouty. Imagine our surprise when watching Snouty feeding tonight when another hedgehog appeared ! As can be seen from the short video clip Snouty (nearest the camera) is not the boss ! We place bowls of water out under the feeders for the birds to drink and bathe but Snouty also always take a drink after eating the dried cat food. Snouty seemingly has a set route to follow most nights as she/he can be seen at regular times at various points in or around the garden each evening before we go to bed. If you listen carefully you can hear birdsong and then the hedgies crunching the dried cat food.

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A pair of Nuthatches have been regular visitors to the garden feeding station since the autumn of 2008. The short video clip shows one the pair collecting a peanut from the feeder to take back to the young in a nest hole nearby.

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Great Spotted Woodpeckers

I have a Great Spotted Woodpecker family at the feeding station in the garden here at Edern most of daylight hours now. Video clip shows one of the recently fledged young feeding on the peanut feeder and the adult male flying in bringing some food and then feeding the youngster on the feeder.

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Friday, 15 May 2009

Bloody-nosed beetle (Timarcha tenebricosa)

I have found this species of beetle in great abundance here on the Penllŷn and in most months of the year as an adult, we even found one on the coast path above Nefyn beach at Xmas ! In recent weeks I have been finding large numbers of the larva feeding on Cleavers or Goosegrass ( Galium aparine) as its sometimes called. In my native Yorkshire its also know as sticky willie !

The bloody-nosed beetle is one our largest leaf beetles which can most often be found, in spring and early summer, walking slowly over grassy areas. The beetles gets its common name from a defensive behaviour of exuding a foul-tasting bright red fluid from its mouth to deter birds and other predators. The top photo shows the adult and the other two show the larval stage feeding on Cleavers.

The number of new to me beetles species I have seen in the last few weeks on the Llŷn is truly staggering! For an entomologist like myself to find so many new species of insects in such a short period is akin to a kid let loose in a sweet shop :-))

Rhagium bifasciatum, sometimes called the two-banded longhorn beetle, is one of the most commonly found Longhorn Beetles. It may reach 22mm long and can be distinguished by the two prominent pale yellow bands on each of the elyta, although up to seventeen different patterns have been recognised. Its colouration and patterning enable it to camouflage and blend into its coniferous habitat and this can prevent potential predation. I found my first specimen of this specieson the Llŷn this week at a clear felled commercial woodland I have been working. The photos show the beetle "posed" on a log in my garden. The hole showing in the log is nothing to do with the beetle by the way its one of the holes I drilled into the log to encourage some wasps and bees to use it.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009


Spotted my first live Adder whilst out cycling today. Spotted just about to cross the lane near Tynanelog as I cycled back from a trip up Mynydd Mawr


Andrena cineraria

Andrena haemorrhoa

Andrena fulva - Tawny Mining Bee
Three rather nice solitary mining bees seen in the last month or so. I have seen many other species as well but am unable to be able to identify them with any certainty unfortunately.

Friday, 24 April 2009


Small Tortoiseshell-Aglais urticae

Speckled Wood-Pararge aegeria

Peacock-Inachis io

Holly Blue-Celastrina argiolus

Orange-tip-Anthocharis cardamines

Various butterflies around again today in the much improved weather from earlier in the week. My first Speckled Woods (Pararge aegeria) of the year amongst them.

First Cuckoo of Spring

I heard and saw my first Cockoo of spring on Monday near a small abandoned church near Mynytho. I had speaking with a local resident (thanks Terry) when I was sitting at the church on Sunday admiring the views and tranquility of the place said to be the quietest place on the Penllyn. Terry had brought his daughter up to the area to see if they could hear a Cuckoo and he told me is was the best spot for the first Cuckoo of spring to be heard. Sure enough on Monday as I was cycling along the road to Nanhoron by the church I heard and spotted my first Cuckoo....thanks once again Terry for the friendly chat and tip off, much appreciated by this Saesneg incomer who has fallen in love with the Penllyn

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Insects in the Sun

The recent warm dry sunny weather has started to encourage many insects to venture forth. Lots of solitary bees now around in the hedgrows and verges feeding on spring flowers. The bee shown in the photo is probably on of the Andrena family, most likely A.haemorrhoa which is possible utilised as a host by the Oil beetle larva of the previous post.

The beetle shown with the upturned tail looking almost scorpion like is a member of the Rove beetles (Staphylindae) called the Devils Coach Horse (S olens) which feeds on slugs and other soft bodied invertebrates.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Oil Beetles

The Llyn Peninsular is home to some of Britain's fast declining beetle Oil beetle population. Fortunately here on the Pen Llyn at least they seem to be about in some numbers with several individuals of Meloe proscarabeus (Black Oil Beetle) and Meloe violaceus (Violet Oil Beetle) recorded from scattered parts of the Pen Llyn whilst out cycling in April.

Meloe proscarabeus is the most common of the two but I have found both species in cop so both are confirmed as breeding in the area. Despite the common names of Black Oil beetle and Violet Oil beetle the colour is not confirmation of species as both species can occur in both colours ! The records I have from this year will be passed onto the Invertebrate Conservation Trust (Buglife) who are running an Oil beetle survey. Details can be found at

The happy couple shown in cop are the less common Meloe violaceus (Violet Oil Beetle)

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Badger Spring Clean

Latrine Pit
Entrance above sett


Excavation & tracks

Main entrance

Side entrance
We discovered a large badger sett this week with an an extensive network of paths and holes spread over a large area with three main entrance areas some 100 mtrs apart. The sett we assume must be very old as it covers a very large area with numerous main and minor entrances with link paths between them. We found lots of signs of badger activity such as bedding been taking and and removed from the setts. There were also lots of signs in the surrounding area of badgers digging up grubs and bulb to eat, as well as numerous latrine pits.
As can be seen from the photos the badgers have been very busy with excavation and bedding changing. Judging by the number of latrine pits and there contents the badgers are not going short of food either !

I will not mention the exact location for obvious reasons, but talking with some locals reassured us as to the safety of the setts as they are under observation and protected by alarms.

Signs of Spring

A walk along the coast the other day was very pleasant in the almost spring like temperatures. Plenty of early signs of spring with various flies and honey bees seen feeding on the profusion of Gorse flowers out. Sue and I also spotted our first Primroses of 2009 in flower with lots more just needing a few more days to burst forth.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

199 Psychoides verhuella

I just bagged this species (new lifer for me) here on the Llyn Peninsular this week on Hartstongue fern (Phyllitis scolopendrium).

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Little Egret

Sue and I spotted the bird as we cycled down from ride around Rhiw. Its our first ever Little Egret and really pleasing to see it on the Llyn. The bird rounded off a superb days cycling in glorious sunshine around the most beautiful place in the world.

The bird was seen in a small steam near Saithbont in the Botwnog/Llandedwing area at GR SH270296. Crappy photo but the best we could manage with the camera in the phone.