Monday 27 June 2011


While walking along the beach yesterday evening, a huge number of small black beetles swarmed around my wife, landing on her hair and clothing. Thankfully she's an adult, and not prone to running around screaming, giving me a chance to have a look. Turns out they are Pollen Beetles, which fly in from nearby oilseed rape crops to gather in open flowers where they feed on ripe pollen. Or they land on anything pretty and yellow, or blonde in my wife's case.

Today the beetles are on all the yellow flowers in my garden.

Friday 17 June 2011

Hatching Hermann

The 6th hatchling from this year's eggs - my wife breeds Hermann's Tortoises (Testudo hermanni) - in the wild they can be found throughout southern Europe. The first clutch was laid about 8 weeks ago and started hatching last weekend. Here's some time lapse video of one hatching.

Sunday 12 June 2011

Have you seen a Tree Bee (Bombus hypnorum)?

The Tree Bee has a very distinctive ginger head, black body and white tail. It was first recorded in the UK in 2001 having arrived from continental Europe. It is thought unlikely to impact negatively on existing bee species, making it a welcome addition to our island's fauna. Northumberland is as far north as it has got so far, and judging by the large numbers in Whitley Bay, it's doing very well and likely to progress north of the border sometime soon.

The Bees, Ants and Wasps Recording Society (BEWARS) is keen to receive sightings. You can contact them on their website,

You can download a factsheet on the Tree Bee from

Saturday 11 June 2011

Charva free Garganey

Propa Belta
A late afternoon visit to the public hide at Holywell Pond was well timed.  As I arrived, the drake Garganey untucked his head from under his wing and came dabbling towards me. Thanks to the crap weather, there were no cider soaked charvas to keep me company.

Wednesday 8 June 2011

Ladderless in Cleveland

Having got away from Hartlepool before the 'madness of the ladders' started, I headed off with Tom Tams and Joe Dobinson, to meet Keith Dover in a field at Long Newton, near Stockton, to see what is believed to be the biggest colony of Forester Moths in the UK.

0163 The Forester Adscita statices

Then onto Blackhall cliffs to see The Forester's cousin, Cistus Forester - an even rarer species.

0164 Cistus Forester

And if the day couldn't get better, we also had Northern Brown Argus and a Satin Wave. All species seen without the aid of ladders.

Northern Brown Argus

1709 Satin Wave
Idaea subsericeata

Monday 6 June 2011

White-throated Robin Irania gutturalis

White-throated Robin Irania gutturals (adult female)
My plans for Monday were well and truly flushed down the toilet when the pager shouted 'MEGA'. And for a change, just down the road in Hartlepool. 

The first mainland record and only the second UK record (after one on Skokholm Island).  It has also been recorded on the Isle of Man (apparently not part of the UK).

Several hundred birders rushed to the bowling green that was to be home for this rarity for today - I almost wish I had stayed to see the scene when the 'olds' turned up for their 2pm game of bowls - but there were more rarities to be seen.............more tomorrow.

This made local TV news:

Thursday 2 June 2011

Lunar Horny Moths

When you put 6 Lunar Hornet moths together
you know something's going to happen.
The female pushes out a gland from her tail and releases pheromones
A male arrives within minutes. 
The male gets in position.......
........ a bit of jostling.......
...and it's game on, for 6 hours!
The female then lays eggs on a Willow Tree trunk. Job done.