Sunday, 28 June 2009

Butterwort






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

video

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
video

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.
video
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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.
video
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Greenfinches

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.
video
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Whitethroat

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

Hedgehogs

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.
video

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Nuthatch

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.
video
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