Friday, 18 December 2015

DANKS DOWN, nr Ford, Wilts Leader: CHRIS WOODS




22 members met in a chilly car park in the hollow of Ford on a promising sunny morning, after the high winds of storm Desmond. Water Forget-me-not in flower was the first of several late flowering plants seen in the morning, as we started our walk over the bridge above the ByBrook. The coppice woodland, which has not been coppiced for a long time, provided good views to most of the group of marsh tit, nuthatch and treecreeper amongst the mixed tit flocks. The Marsh Tit was the first of 4 species of animal to be seen in the same spots as they were observed on pre-walks, the others being the Noon fly, Mesembrina meridian, basking on the first bench, close to mid-day; Jackdaw and a Sparrowhawk. 3 Buzzards were seen in the morning, one being mobbed by corvids.
Several species of fungi, moss & lichens were identified for us by Alan Rayner, including Southern Bracket, Ganoderma australe,  and Beech Tarcrust,  Biscogniauxia nummularia, in the wood at the highest point of the walk, where large amounts of ash regeneration are still ongoing after that part of the wood was heavily thinned by the 1989 storms. This part of the wood also contained several plants of Spurge Laurel, Daphne laureola.
On the return descent, the species rich grassland was examined, with its colonies of Yellow Meadow Ant colonies, where droppings of a Green Woodpecker, were found. The downland here is managed by grazing by a small flock of Wiltshire Horn sheep, though evidence of scrub invasion by thorn and oak was seen, several very young oaks, bearing multiple galls with exit holes, probably Oak Marble Galls, caused by the gall-wasp Andricus kollari.
Close to the brook we found a very late dragonfly, later confirmed as a male Southern Hawker, Aeshna cyanea. This appeared on the Facebook group reports of both the Wiltshire Moths & Butterflies and that of the Wiltshire Dragonflies and Damselflies, where it was confirmed as being the first December record for any Odonata species in Wiltshire and must be one of the latest nationally. It was re posted on the British Dragonfly Society’s sightings page. Recrossing the minor tributary of the ByBrook over the Cotswold stone cattle stile, the remaining head and claw of an alien American red-clawed signal crayfish, Pacifastacus leniusculus, were found in the water, possibly left by a mink or otter. A group of Glistening Ink Caps, Coprinellus micaceus, were noticed in the lower, formerly coppiced woodland.
On returning to The White Hart, 15 members relaxed and chatted over drinks and a meal, which made a pleasant & sociable end to the Field Meeting.

Spurge laurel
Noon fly
                     
                    
   
Southern Bracket fungus
Glistening Inkcap
                                                                    

Southern Hawker (male) - alive

 Picture taken by Lis Allen. Apparently this is the first December record (ever) for any       Odonata species in Wiltshire.





      

Photos  by Geoff Hiscocks, that were taken by Geoff Hiscocks & Chris Woods. 

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Uncommon fungus in Green Park


Here’s a couple of photographs, taken by Marion, of an uncommon fungus, Poplar Fieldcap ( Agrocybe cylindracea) we found yesterday, fruiting on the root of a poplar tree in Green Park, Bath.

Warmest Alan









Thank you Alan and Marion for the post.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Next Meetings

Wednesday 9th December: DANKS DOWN, nr Ford, Wilts

Leader:CHRIS WOODS (01225 742897 or, preferably chris.wods@gmail.com)

Meet: 10.30 am in the car park of The White Hart, Ford, where permission to park has been given. GR ST 841748 Landranger 173/Explorer 156.

Finish: Approx. 13.00. Please contact leader in advance if wishing to lunch at the White Hart, in order to provide indication of likely numbers.

Focus:  Winter wildlife, especially birds, in woodland and grassland habitats.  Possible green and great spotted woodpeckers, buzzards & dipper, with yellow meadow ant colonies.

Description: Mostly easy walking through deciduous broadleaved woodland, climbing gently onto Danks Down, a botanically rich limestone grassland SSSI. Footpaths and a short section on road. Path sometimes sloping and rough with a short fairly steep section, likely to be muddy and slippery in places if wet. Walking boots, waterproofs and warm clothing essential. One Cotswold stone cattle stile.

Informative websites and other information: Parking & toilets available for patrons at The White Hart; drinks, including coffee and tea & meals available all day, http://whitehart-ford.com/location. The Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk .Danks Down SSSI,


Please note that the correct phone number for Chris is 01225 742897 [The last two digits got transposed in Newsletter description].

This could be an enjoyable pre-Christmas gathering.

Please note the request to contact Chris in advance if wanting lunch at the White Hart. It always helps leaders anyway, to know in advance who to expect to attend field meetings.


And also, don’t forget our Indoor Meeting with Mya-Rose Craig on Tuesday 8th December. It would be great to have a good turnout for this.

Warmest

Alan
   

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Meeting in Midger Wood, 7th November 2015

Wood Stereum subtomentosum 

A very wet and windy morning gave way to a drier, calmer afternoon just in time for the start of our meeting in this beautiful ancient woodland, but perhaps not in time to encourage any Bath Nats members to join me and Marion as we started out from the Quarry car park at around 1.40 pm. Instead we were joined by an enthusiastic family of five yet-to-be members and a local bryologist friend as we ventured into an enchanting world of freshly fallen leaves, luxuriant bryophytes, intriguing fungi and an active hornet’s nest that we stood not too close to as we watched arriving and departing flights of these magnificent insects. Amongst the bryophytes we appreciated was a particularly fine growth of Greater Featherwort (Plagiochila asplenioides) on a bank quite close to the entrance to the wood. Amongst the more notable fungi were White Saddle (Helvella crispa),
Collared Earth Star (Geastrum triplex)

Collared Earth Star (Geastrum triplex), Crested Coral (Clavulina coralloides), Inky Mushroom (Agaricus moelleri), Oak Bracket (Inonotus dryadeus), Poplar Bracket (Oxyporus populinus), Yellowing Curtain Crust (Stereum subtomentosum), Stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus) and Green Elfcup (Chlorociboria aeruginascens).


Thanks to Marion for the photos.









Inky Mushroom

Green Elf Cup    

Thanks to Alan Rayner

















Friday, 13 November 2015

Next Trip Sunday 15th November: BATH SKYLINE, Claverton Down

Leader: DIANNE NELSON

Meet: 10.00 am, The Avenue, outside Bath Cats & Dogs Home. GR ST 776642 Landranger 172/Explorer 155. No. 18 (University) Bus.
Finish: 13.00
Focus: Winter birds and other wildlife.
Description: Slow walk of about 2 miles around part of Bath Skyline. Fairly level, but ground rough and potentially muddy, so please wear walking boots or wellies.

Friday, 6 November 2015

TIMSBURY NATURAL HISTORY GROUP


Bees An illustrated talk by Anna Aragon

 7.30pm Monday 16th November

Conygre Hall, Timsbury

Visitors welcome £3.00

Refreshments and raffle


For further information please ring Martin Hunt [Secretary] on 01761 433234

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Dyrham Park Autumn Nature Day, Sunday 25th October, 2015


Following a wet, cloudy, Saturday, the weather for our 2015 Autumn Nature Day at Dyrham Park, simply could not have been better: brilliant sunshine and light breeze after a chilly start. So it was with some optimism that Marion and I arrived amidst wonderful autumn colours to set out our display of fungi, bryophytes, lichens, galls, ferns and fossils – plus a collection of skulls provided by the National Trust – at the Old Lodge. And, as perhaps hundreds of visitors, from very young to quite a lot older, gathered around the display tables, we were made increasingly aware that we had indeed created ‘quite a buzz’ of interest and excitement, especially amongst children. The two circular walks I led out into the parkland and back along the newly opened terrace path, with its avenue of hornbeam trees, also provided plenty of interest of a fungal kind, even though actual specimens were a bit few Pluteus cervinus) I have ever seen around a much decayed tree stump, two pretty  groups of ‘Pleated Ink Caps’ (Parasola leiocephala) at different stages of development, and a ghostly outburst of ‘Veiled Oyster’ (Pleurotus dryinus) from a beech tree trunk.  Our only mild disappointment was that only five current Bath Nats members were present to enjoy the day with us.
Deer Shield
and far between after the dry autumn. Amongst the most notable finds this year were a group of some of the largest ‘Deer Shields’ (











Pleated Inkcap

Oyster Fungus

Alan Rayner

Thank for Photographs of displays of specimens by Marion Rayner

Photographs of Deer Shields, Pleated Ink Caps and Veiled Oyster by John Garrett. 

Trip report Lansdown, Pipley Wood and Further Slate, 17th October 2015



 Lansdown, Pipley Wood and Further Slate, 17th October 2015


A group of nine of us gathered opposite the exit to Lansdown Park & Ride car park on a cool, grey but dry morning. While waiting, Alan Rayner showed some specimens of Tricholoma, Inocybe and Clitopilus fungal species gathered in the car park itself, and pointed out a fine lichen mosaic and accompanying epiphytic bryophytes on the smooth-barked trunk of an ash tree. Rob Randall then led us across the top of Lansdown to the entrance of Pipley Wood, pausing along the way to listen to skylarks and watch an unusual looking Mistle Thrush with marked wing bars, which made some of the more imaginative of us wonder if it could be something rarer. We took a circular walk around the ancient woodland, appreciating the luxuriant diversity of ferns (including the delicate Lady Fern, Athyrium filix-femina), bryophytes (including Dotted Thyme-moss, Rhizomnium punctatum, and Fern-leaved Hook-moss, Cratoneuron filicinum) and fungi (including Hazel Bracket, Skeletocutis nivea; Goldleaf Shield, Pluteus romellii, and a large group of Collared Earth Stars, Geastrum triplex) on display. Several of us who had not previously visited the wood, or only visited it briefly, were favourably surprised by richness of wildlife and habitats it contains, and look forward to returning for closer study. Once we had completed our circular walk, which included some quite long and steep descents and ascents, time was pressing, so we made only a cursory inspection of Further Slate Wood, which was, as expected, very dry on this occasion, before returning to the Park & Ride.


Collared Earth Star





Alan Rayner

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Dyrham Park Pear Perry weekend 3-4. 10.15



As a continuation of Bath Nats outreach work with Dyrham Park we took our display boards and orchard related specimens for this weekend event.
The weather was dry and chilly but a gazebo was provided that gave us a good base amongst the pear trees and other orchard activities organised by the National Trust team to attract families and the public to this lovely orchard.
A quick foray amongst the trees yielded a fallen pear branch festooned in lichens and mosses which we were able to label and display to demonstrate that ‘there’s more to a pear orchard than pears’.
On examining a pear tree we found bright red spots on the surface of some of the leaves which underneath bore strange volcano like eruptions.Gymnosporangium sabinae )a  plant disease caused by spores of a fungus from  ornamental varieties of Juniper that infects the leaves of Pear Trees  to complete its life cycle. This small but unusual specimen was a hit with visitors to our stand- many of whom had seen it on their own pear trees.
This was Pear Rust (
We were also able to find some orchard fungi and these, together with our ‘bugs in a box’, were an attraction for families with young children.
It was a big commitment to be at Dyrham Park for a weekend but we felt it was worthwhile in terms of inspiring the younger generation about nature, and spreading the word about Bath Nats, but we were disappointed that there was only one other Bath Nats member to share it with.


Marion & Alan Rayner

Friday, 23 October 2015

Next trip

Sunday 25th October: DYRHAM PARK, nr BATH. ‘AUTUMN NATURE DAY’

Leader: BETH TAYLOR (National Trust) with Bath Nats Specialists (Contact: ALAN RAYNER)
Meet: Bath Nats members are welcome, free of charge, anytime between 10.30 – 16.00 at Old Lodge picnic and play area, which is accessible on foot from house and garden. There will be two short, guided ‘discovery walks’, at 11.00 – 12.00 and 14.00 – 15.00, during which Bath Nats members will be especially welcome to share their knowledge. Use bus to reach the house and garden from main visitors’ car park at GR ST 749756 Landranger 172/Explorer 155.
Finish: 16.00
Focus: Introducing autumn wildlife to members of the public.
Description: Display, activities and short guided walks for the public, led by Bath Nats specialists.
Informative website: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dyrham-park 

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Wildlife around Bath 8-10-2015

Scalloped hazel (Odontopera bidentata) caterpillar

Family: Geometridae

A truly striking caterpillar, camouflaged against lichen that grows on trees on which it feeds.

Caterpillars of this family are often known as 'loopers' due to the absence of legs in the middle of the body producing a looping motion.

Feeding on a range of deciduous and coniferous trees, the scalloped hazel is a relatively common moth across the UK. 




Thank you Ian Redding

Monday, 5 October 2015

Wildlife around Bath 4-10-2015

Photo by Paul Wilkins
Barred Sallow (Tiliacea aurago) Combe Down, Bath 4-10-2015
Wingspan 27-32 mm.
Mainly distributed in the south and south-east of England, it occurs locally as far north as northern England.
It inhabits wooded valleys, downland and southern heaths, and flies in September and October.
The larvae feed on beech (Fagus) or field maple (Acer campestre), at first on the buds and subsequently on the flowers and leaves.

Photo by Paul Wilkins



Black Rustic, Combe Down, Bath 4-10-2015
Wingspan 40-46 mm.
A rather long-winged species, with little variation from the blackish-brown ground colour and whitish stigmata. The males have white hindwings, the females more dusky.
In Britain the species is common in the south, with a scattered distribution northwards, mainly with a western bias, into Scotland, where it is widely scattered throughout. Mainly coastal in Ireland.
The adults fly in September and October, occupying heathland and downland, and the larvae feed on low plants such as heather (Calluna) and dock (Rumex), as well as various grasses.

Photo by Paul Wilkins
…………………………………

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Alder Bolete at Chew Valley Lake 30/09/2015

In September last year, during the Bath Nats meeting at Chew Valley Lake, we came across Alder Bolete (Gyrodon lividus), a red data list fungus seldom recorded in the UK. Yesterday (28/9/2015), we took advantage of a lovely, sunny afternoon to amble along the lakeside and see if we could find it again. We did. Here are some photographs, showing the distinctive features of the fungus.








Alan and Marion Rayner

Friday, 2 October 2015

Report of visit to Breach Wood , Englishcombe (27/09/15)


A party of 18 met at the start of the visit (including a number of new members) and Alan F explained that Englishcombe Parish was lucky in that it had not only three Ancient Woods (Breach, Middle and Vernham Woods) and that Breach wood was apparently named after the fact that it was adjacent to and part of a breach in the Wansdyke.  That most of the land in Englishcombe was Duchy of Cornwall land was a further benefit in that they are careful and environmentally aware landowners. The woods are very old and are known to have existed in 1611 so qualifying under the 350 year rule.  Alan F pointed out that there were features and plants that would indicate that the wood was ancient and that these would be pointed out as we moved through.
We stopped at one point on the downward path to Breach Wood to see the Wansdyke on the horizon of the facing field which was also clear from the brook at the bottom of the field.  We then turned right into the Breach Wood and found it had grown up greatly since we last visited 4 years ago (at which time it was subject to large scale clearance of the undergrowth).  This militated against seeing many fungi and was compounded by the dry soil conditions.  We did not expect much.
Fortunately part of the wood had not been cleared and coppice stools showed that the last time this part was coppiced was at least 15 years ago.  This was clearer and such fungi as there were might be easier to see.
It was surprising therefore that given the ground conditions a number of fungi were found and this allowed careful explanation by Alan R of their features and we had a range of Inocybes to see all showing the characteristic fibrous cuticle of the cap.  They included: Pear Fibre Cap (Inocybe fraudans, smelling of pears!), Reddening Pear Fibre Cap (Inocybe incarnate also smelling of pears), Lilac Fibre Cap (Inocybe geophylla var. lilacina, a beautiful lilac colour) and its other white form (Inocybe geophylla).
Other fungi found were: Armillaria gallica (Bulbous Honey Fungus), Pluteus leoninus (Lion Shield showing typical free pink gills of the Pluteus genus), Hypholoma fasciculare (Sulphur tuft, it would have been surprising if we had not found this very common fungus which regretfully is NOT edible), Agaricus placomyces (Woodland Yellowe-stainer) and the highlight of the mycological collection was a little “egg” of the Dog’s  Stinkhorn (Mutinus caninus) which when cut in half showed the clear structure of the embryonic stink horn only in minute form.
Features we noted that related to ancient woodland were several plants that indicate “ancientness” such as Dog’s Mercury (Mercurialis perrenis), Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum) and Sanicle (Sanicula europea) and a few substantial Oak trees plus some large coppice stools.
Suk kam Trippier photographed the beautiful larvae of the Green Silverlines moth (which is also very beautiful) on the underside of a hazel leaf and Alan R identified two very  common woodland mosses (Foxtail Feather-moss, Thamnobryum alopecurum and Common Pocket-moss, Fissidens taxifolius;  and two common woodland lichens: Oak Moss Lichen, Evernia prunastri and Floury Ramilina Lichen, Ramalina farinacea.
So despite the conditions we found plenty to note and finished at our starting point almost spot on 13:00 as programmed.

Thank you Alan Feest

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Changes to Bath Nats Indoor Meetings Programme 28/09/2015 - 14:06

Dear Bath Nats and Friends,
I need to bring your attention to two changes in our indoor meetings programme that have become necessary:-
1. On Monday 5th October, Gary Lamont is unable to present his talk on ‘community orchards’, but I am very pleased to say that at very short notice we have been able to arrange an excellent and very suitable replacement speaker:
Richard Cripps: ‘Orchard Management and Wildlife’
Richard Cripps is an acknowledged expert on the management of traditional orchards and was, for 35 years, Lecturer in Countryside Management at Lackham Agricultural College before becoming a freelance consultant in Garden and Estate Management. Prior to his longstanding position at Lackham, Richard worked for Bath Parks Department.
Please note also that this talk follows the ‘Perry Pear Festival’ in the pear orchard at Dyrham Park, in which Bath Nats will be participating.2. Mya-Rose Craig is unable to present her talk, ‘Born a Birder, as previously scheduled on monday 7th December but will instead present it at BRLSI on Tuesday 8th December (doors open 7.00 pm for 7.30 pm start).

 Please note these changes in your diaries.

Warmest Alan

Friday, 25 September 2015

Saturday 5th September: AROUND MARSHFIELD




A party of eleven members met in the layby west of Marshfield and proceeded then on minor roads and footpaths, northwards mainly, to observe birdlife. During the course of the three hours we were out we observed a total of twenty four species of bird. It was pleasing to see the farmland varieties we expected to see, including Linnet, and Yellowhammer, but the highlight was to observe several Wheatears feeding whilst on passage and the appearance of Whinchats too. Summer visitors  - Swallows, House Martins, Chiff Chaff and Willow Warbler were also observed.Over thirty varieties of flowering plants were encountered, these included Marsh Woundwort and Red, White and Bladder Campions. On the field margins Black Bindweed, Fallopia convolvulus, and a small umbellifer, Fool’s Parsley, Aethusa cynapium, were seen and identified. Butterflies  noted were Painted Lady and Small Tortoiseshell.


Black Bindweed

Pansy fruits 
                   
Field Madder 

Thank you Christopher Phillips.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Wildlife around Bath 25-9-2015

Ivy bee Colletes hederae 9-9-2015 my Patch,Batheaston.

Recent colonist to the UK, strongly southern distribution but spreading rapidly. Oligolectic on ivy and has a later flight period than other Colletes (end of September through October)











Lasioglossum calceatum(Slender Mining Bee) 9-9-2015 my Patch,Batheaston
There are 33 species in this genus in Britain. All of which look similar to Halictus species. These bees have short pointed tongues and often nest in soils, collecting pollen on the underside of the abdomen and on the legs. 












Carder Bee Bombus pascuorum 7-9-2012 My Patch Batheaston. Habitat: Parks, gardens and other open spaces. Size: Queen 16-18mm, males and workers 10-14mm Species Account: By far the commonest of the three ginger carder bees to be found in the UK.












Best wishes Steve

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Wildlife around Bath 22-9-2015

Field digger wasp (Mellinus arvensis) with prey
Family: Crabronidae


 A common digger wasp, typically associated with sandy habitats. This one was amongst several other species of diggers between woodland and pasture, around an old wood pile. The adult wasp with provision offspring with multiple flies, buried in tunnels up to around 40cm deep.






Ectemnius cephalotes  Family: Crabronidae
 Another predatory digger wasp, which tunnels in dead wood and provisions offspring with flies.

Thanks to Ian Redding
 

Monday, 21 September 2015

12th September,The Hop Pole Moth Day

On Saturday 12th September Richard Pooley came along to The Hop Pole Inn in Limpley Stoke to set a moth trap for the Limpley Stoke Moth Day being organised by the Freshford and Limpley Stoke Environment Working Group (FLEWG). The contents of the trap were examined the following morning and were kept safe until the pub opened at midday. Although it was a pretty small catch by experienced mothers standards (37 moths in total, of 7 species) it didn’t matter. We had a great turnout of local residents, including many families coming along to see the moths. With 25 Large Yellow Underwings sitting happily in the trap there were plenty of moths to pass around. The children who came were thrilled with the experience of being able to hold the moths and watch them fly away into the trees and bushes. Many people have since commented on what a great afternoon it was. We at FLEWG are very grateful to Richard, without whom the event wouldn’t have been possible.

Thanks to Caroline Ford

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

First record for Somerset


Metalampra italica 28.008 (BF642a) Female
This moth was caught by one of our moth group members and is a first record for Somerset (VC6) Gen Det by Paul Wilkins.
First recorded in Britain in 2003 originally a native of Italy and spreading northwards. Feeds under bark on decaying wood, especially oak.

Thank you Paul Wilkins

Friday, 28 August 2015

Wildlife around Bath

Very interesting one from Ian Redding


Entomophthora muscae (232/365)
Family: Entomophthoraceae
 A hoverfly has become a food source for a fungus. Upon infection, the fungus causes behavioural changes in the host, leading to ascent of a blade of grass before death. This allows the spores to be broadcast widely. The fungus shows itself as the white masses visible between the tergites.
 One of many in woodland at Brown's Folly, near Bath.










Thanks to Ian Redding

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Batheaston Moth Trap.26-8-2015

Common Rustic 
Formerly a single species, this has now been split into a complex of three, giving Lesser Common Rustic (M. didyma) and Remm's Rustic (M. remmi) specific status.
Generally very variable, the three cannot be reliably separated without reference to their genitalia, but the very dark forms with almost white stigmata tend to be mostly didyma.
Flying in July and August, the species is very common throughout Britain and regularly comes to light.
The larvae feed inside the stems of various grasses, including cock's-foot (Dactylis glomerata) and tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea).


Setaceous Hebrew Character
A distinctive species, which is widely distributed throughout Britain, sometimes commonly. The population is sometimes reinforced by immigration in the autumn.
In the southern half of its range, there are two broods, flying in small numbers in May and June, but far more commonly in August and September. In the north there is just one generation, flying in July and August.
The larvae feed on a variety of herbaceous plants, but especially nettle (Urtica).





Flame Shoulder 
Quite a common species throughout Britain, occupying woodland fringes, gardens and meadowland.
There are two generations, flying in May and June and again in August and September.
Its only likely confusion species in Britain is Radford's Flame Shoulder (O. leucogaster), which is a very rare migrant to the south coast.
The nocturnal caterpillars live on low plants such as dock (Rumex) and plantain (Plantago).











Six-striped  Rustic 
Occupying mainly damp woodlands and marshy habitats, this moth is fairly commonly distributed over the greater part of the British Isles.
The single generation flies in July and August, when the adults are attracted to both sugar and light.
The larvae feed on a range of herbaceous plants.







Flounced Rustic 

A common species in England and Wales, but more local in Scotland and Ireland, occupying dry, grassy habitats.
There is one generation, flying in August and September, when the species comes to light.
The larvae feed underground in the bases of grass stems and amongst the roots.






All the best Steve

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Sightings around Bath Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Single Clouded Yellow in rapid flight & a single Spotted Flycatcher at Bannerdown Common, Saturday, August 22nd.


Thank you Chris Woods

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Moth Trap and Walk – Prior Park Landscape Garden – Wednesday 19th August 2015


Little Grebe sitting on nest with chicks 
Twelve members made an early start in the delightful surroundings of Prior Park Gardens adjacent to the lower lake to examine, identify and study the contents of a moth trap left overnight close to the lake and surrounding trees.
Before looking at the moth trap we enjoyed views of a Little Grebe and her two 'humbug' striped chicks searching the dense weed that covers the lake at this time of year providing some excellent photo opportunities. These beautiful little waterfowl were accompanied by the usual resident Coot, Morehen and Mallard along with a Grey Heron standing like a sentry on the roof of the Palladian Bridge.
Philip Delve first heard and then briefly spotted a Peregrine Falcon as it flew low over the lake and into the woodland on the opposite side of lake but unfortunately most of us missed it!
The contents of the moth trap were examined and recorded at a very leisurely pace with us all taking plenty of time to identify and study each individual species whilst at the same time discussing their various individual attributes, larval food-plants and any unusual life cycles. In all twenty seven different species were identified including a number of micro moths two of which had to examined in more detail to establish their exact species.
The highlights of the catch included The Mocha a delicately marked moth whose larvae feed on Field Maple, the Clouded Border another geometer moth with bold black and white markings and a rather late but striking Swallow Prominent which belongs to the Notodontidae family and whose larvae feed on Willow and Sallow.
After a brief comfort break and despite the onset of some light rain we made our way up and out of the garden and into the steeply sloping fields above Prior Park to the east and below Rainbow Wood on the skyline. Here we took time to study one or two of the large and ancient ant hills created by the Yellow Meadow Ant that 'littered' the hillside here, some of which were over half a metre across and up to third of a metre high.
We looked at holes made in the side of the ant hills probably by Green Woodpeckers in an attempt to get at the ants and their eggs as well as taking note of the unique flora that grew on the top of these ant hills including what appeared to be a very fine leaved Bedstraw, Rock Roses and Birds-foot Trefoil.
Also of great interest in the field were the numerous Spear Thistles that were in full flower and stood about a metre or so high which were providing shelter under their 'bulbous' flower heads for a number of species of insects, harvestmen and spiders including various species of Bumble Bee. One unusually coloured fly with a red stripe across the centre of its eyes turned out to be the Thistle Gall Fly (Terellia serratulae). It was also noted that a number of the flower heads had turned brown prematurely and had signs of frass being ejected from a small hole in their base, on closer inspection it was found that each contained a small grey caterpillar with a black head, this was later discovered to be the larvae of a handsome looking micro moth called Phycitodes binaevella.
We soon found our way to the top of the hillside just below Rainbow Wood and despite being overcast and still raining we all enjoyed the views of the City and surrounding hillsides before returning somewhat slowly back down to Prior Park Garden.

Paul Wilkins