Amourobius ferox

Amourobius ferox
By Peter Byles

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Wildlife at Stackpole NNR

I enjoyed a great afternoon yesterday capturing common blue butterflies and common darter and emperor dragonflies at Stackpole NNR.






Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Crab spider

Female Misumena vatia spider eating an unidentified hoverfly in a Pembroke Dock garden. This crab spider is able to slowly change its colour to some extent to match the flower it is on so that it can lie in wait for its unsuspecting meal. They are usually white, yellow or greenish. Clearly this is as far as it can go to appear lavender!


Thursday, 6 July 2017

Pembrokeshire Wildlife Recorders


Increasing scope, capacity and enjoyment in Biological Recording

In May 2016 I found myself wandering the Pembrokeshire Countryside with my insect net and notebook and wondering how many more people out there may be interested in wildlife but not actively recording their sightings. Pembrokeshire has a long and established tradition of natural history and wildlife recording but a regular meet up of like-minded people and perhaps the encouragement of some new faces onto the scene seemed somewhat lacking.

With this in mind, I submitted an article to West Wales Biodiversity Centre and the Pembrokeshire Biodiversity Partnership to ask if anyone would like to join me on some recording field days in the Pembrokeshire Countryside. I received a steady trickle of responses and, with the support of WWBIC, an initial evening talk was organised to explain a bit about biological recording and gather ideas for some field exploration! Most of the people who attended had never done any formal recording but all were extremely enthusiastic with a keen interest in finding out more.

Our first field day was soon arranged with an invite from one of the group to his stunning cliff top land over looking Ceibwr Bay in North Pembrokeshire. Eight hardy souls turned up in driving rain and a near-gale on that day in June 2016 to record 113 species, particularly rich in flowers including gems such as Saw-wort, Burnet-saxifrage and Betony. 

Our second trip, again through a personal invite, on private land near Merlin's Bridge in Haverfordwest, saw the attendance of some of our County recorders, including the County mammal and moth recorders, who'd heard about the group. One of the first sightings that day was a group of Greater Horseshoe bats hanging about in the garage (and one very happy County mammal recorder)! 

Our final day for 2016 took place at the wonderful farm of Pembrokeshire's Fungi recording Group co-ordinator, David Harries. On a rather wet day (eased by lots of tea and cake) David shared his wealth of Knowledge about grassland fungi and we were able to record a number of these lovely species in the field. The season ended with a Christmas 'do', with 20 people attending  and even a December moth landing on the door (which promptly got recorded!). We also received a rather nice Christmas present in the form of some funding from both the National Park and the Wildlife Trust to buy field kit and ID guides for the group's use.

We now have a 30 strong mailing list and each field day, organised once a month, is attended by 12-15 people comprising a wonderful mix of enthusiasm, knowledge and learning. Our 2017 season started on May 6th with a sunny visit to Hilton Court, a relatively cultivated but very varied site a few miles north west of Haverfordwest. 

With the support of WWBIC, we are aiming to increase recording in squares where record numbers are low. At Hilton Court, we were able to take the number of species in that particular 1km square from only 26 to over 250. The involvement of the County recorders is greatly helping verification whilst the emphasis on the days is also sharing of knowledge and enjoyment of the Pembrokeshire Countryside. We are receiving invites from organisations such the National Trust, the wildlife trust and private owners to visit their land.

It has been an pleasure to be involved with this group. Each field day, come rain or shine, is hugely enjoyable and is helping to increase recording in the County in liaison with key individuals and organisations. I'm looking forward to next month's meet-up - we just need to decide where to go!

Clare Flynn


Freelance Educator, Naturalist and VC45 Joint County Recorder for Bees

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Tawny owl

Managed to catch the tawny owl sunbathing yesterday in a lovely setting in Pembrokeshire.


Wild West Offshore Adventure 18th June

The shearwaters in the wonderful light at sunset were probably the highlight for me on the trip last Sunday evening.





Thursday, 1 June 2017

Green nettle weevils


Not many butterflies on my transect today, but there were a few other mini-beasts. Like these green nettle weevils - Phyllobius pomaceus.  

Apparently they're only ever found on nettles - according to one website - but those I saw today were mostly on meadowsweet (though there were nettles nearby). But I've just noticed the same website says they are not much more than 1/8 inch long - which isn't what I was seeing.  And indeed the insect book shows them as being at least 3/8 inch.

So, some more googling was required.  It seems there are ten Phyllobius species in Britain, of which P pomaceus is the largest at about 9mm - 1/2 inch.  There is another important feature - a spur or tooth on the on the femur of each leg - which can be seen on the original full-sized pictures.

The author of the first website I looked at must have seen the small green nettle weevil, P. roboretanus which is only 3.5mm.

Incidentally, the name pomaceus refers to the colour, which can be apple-green.  The colour is in the scales, which wear off to reveal the black cuticle beneath.

The moral of the story is to check a number of websites, and come to your own conclusions when identifying mini-beasts.

Annie

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Puffins

The puffins put on a superb show at the Wick on Skomer Island yesterday evening with many birds in flight shots captured back-lit by a setting sun. It doesn't come much better than this as a photographic wildlife experience.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Oil Beetle

Found in the garden today  - the blue legs and antenna were very striking. I think it's a Black Oil Beetle but I'm sure there is somebody out there who can tell me if I'm wrong!


Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Amourobius ferox

My wife called me to the bathroom to see this spider. I potted it and
examined it. I could see it had these amazing palps. I couldn't take a
really good photo, so I took it to my friend Melvin Grey who has constructed
a special light box. What an incredible image was produced.

The ID came within half an hour from srs@britishspiders.org.uk. These
ping-pong ball-like blobs are 'palpal bulbs'. It is a male spider. I imagine
that they play a part in the mating game. I understand that male spiders use
their palps to transfer a package of sperm to the female. If he is lucky he
may escape before she devours him. May be these white bulbs fool the female
into thinking that he hasn't delivered the parcel. He would then have a
chance to escape. That is my theory anyway.

Best   wishes, Peter Byles.




Monday, 16 January 2017

Winter Heliotrope

Winter Heliotrope is in full flower along the roadside outside our house. I picked a flower and put it in a vase to see what the scent was like - it was like a rather sickly vanilla.The flower and the scent lasted for many days.