Amourobius ferox

Amourobius ferox
By Peter Byles

Thursday, 4 October 2018

On Wednesday 3rd October Andy Truelove (Atlantic Blue) reported seeing two bottle-nosed dolphins in Dale Roads chasing after bass.  With both bass and dolphins leaping from the water.

Monday, 24 September 2018

Otter in the sea at Ceibwr Bay

I saw an otter fishing in the sea, close to the shore, at Ceibwr today - would the county recorder be interested?

I took a couple of photos from the path above the beach but it looked as though a man on the  beach got better photos and had a better camera.


Sunday, 23 September 2018

Piles Beetle

Quite often beetles are attracted to the moth trap. This is one of the smaller diving beetles. What intrigued me was its name. Piles Beetle. Liopterus haemorrhidalis.It was named by Fabricius in 1787. He was a Danish entomologist, professor of zoology Copenhagen and a chum of Linnaeus.
One of my daughters did a bit of digging into how it was so named. Apparently the treatment for piles back in those days was to obtain a lot of this species of beetle. these would be placed in a cup of water. This was applied to the offending pile which was nibbled away by the beetles (this was translated from archaic French by my daughter from a paper written by a physician in Narbonne). Another 'cure' was the application of an ointment made up of mashed-up Spanish Fly beetles, Lytta vesicatoria. This contains a blistering agent Cantharidin.

All I can say is 'Ouch'. Thank goodness we live in the present age.

Best Wishes, Peter Byles.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Porpoises off Dale Fort

Wednesday 19th September:
Very unusually, two harbour porpoises spotted from the library window at Dale Fort.
Many thanks to Hannah Stubbs of The University of Gloucestershire who managed to photograph one of them.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Basking Sharks

2 seen south of Skokholm today, feeding on the algae that has been stimulated by the extended hot weather. One was a relatively small individual, around 6ft long. It had 6-7 lampreys attached to its underside, mainly between the pectoral fins.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Bizarre dispersal mechanism

It is amazing how, when one finds out something about wild things, the answer leads to more questions. Like Kipling's Elephant child some of us have ' satiable curtiosity', but we no longer risk corporal punishment with all our annoying questions. We simply turn to Google. This is how things happened.

 A local lady, Wendy, asked me to identify this beautiful caterpillar she had photographed in her recently planted woodland. It turned out to be a Mottled Umber. I've only ever caught one adult moth in my moth trap. It is a woodland species and flies in mid-winter. Only the males have wings (as with the Winter Moth). What the female adult does, when she emerges from the pupa, is to climb up the trunk of a tree and perch on a twig looking far from pretty, but releasing pheromones which the males find attractive. Mating takes place and the eggs are laid. Next summer the caterpillars hatch and eat the new leaves on the tree.

 This is fine, but how, I asked myself, did the species get to Wendy's Wood? It would take years for a female to crawl there from the nearest woodland. Nothing helpful in my books. The Internet came up painlessly with what the crocodile has for breakfast. Richard Fox, a big name in the moth-ing world, describes a bizarre strategy that wingless moth species have evolved for dispersal. Some eggs are laid on the tree where she mated.  But then to seek woodlands new for her species she offers herself to be eaten by birds such as Tits. She wriggles like a mealworm to make sure she is seen. The fertilised eggs in her body pass through the guts of the bird. The bird flies off, perhaps to another wood  and disperses the species.

 I haven't got a photo of a female Mottled Umber moth, but this Winter Moth looks very similar. Melvin Grey found it by watching male Winter Moths and searching twigs by torchlight.

Peter Byles.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Beautiful Eyes

On my way home along the cliffs a horsefly came and showed great interest in me (as the only meal around). I’ve always wanted to get a good close-up shot of a horsefly’s incredible eyes. It homed in on the paper-thin senile skin of my right hand.  While it sucked my blood I clumsily  lined the camera up with my left hand and repeatedly pressed the shutter button hoping for at least one good shot. Then I realised that the lens cap was on!  I blew on it till it went. Back it came and tried to bite me through my shirt. Then it got onto my left arm and I was able to have a few shots at it. I still haven’t got the perfect shot, but while I still have some blood in my body…..


Peter Byles.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Common Blues

The other day I followed a pair of Common Blues hoping they would mate. The female led the male a merry dance. Whenever she settled the male would join her and examine her rear end, then she would be off again. I shot a lot of photos as my eyesight is poor. It is clear that the tip of her abdomen is raised vertically. No mating took place.
This morning Dave Redhead, our Pembs. Butterfly recorder, came past. He told me that this female was already impregnated and was just wanting to lay her eggs and that the raised tip of her abdomen is a rejection sign. I hope the male eventually left her in peace and found a more suitable and willing partner.
I’ve added a photo of a successful mating. Another couple.
Peter Byles.

Spider crabs fighting

Spider crabs are now in Welsh coastal waters along the Pembrokeshire coastline. The males have been fighting for the right to mate with the smaller females.

Red prawn Palaemon serratus

This large red prawn surprised me by swimming up into mid-water away from the protection of the kelp reef.