Thursday, April 18, 2013

Summer Migrants at last

Had a good few hours spare today so went for an in-depth wander round (and around and around...) the square. Yesterday's warmth was never repeated, it was decidedly cool and windy first thing, but I dodged the rain and the temperatures did rise eventually so can't complain.

I'm very aware that I'm leaving myself wide open to be overtaken any day now seeing as I'm not running a moth trap (this may change if I can tempt anyone living in the square to let me trap from their garden...) so I spent a fair amount of time 'trunking' which revealed pretty good numbers of moths! As follows: Diurnea fagella 13, Narycia duplicella 15+, Luffia ferchaultella loads, Psyche casta/Taleporia tubulosa/Proutia betulina empty cases only, Bucculatrix ulmella 6 cocoons and a pug which zipped off before I could ID it. Looked quite large and dark...hmmm. Unfortunately the pug would have been the only valid addition to the tally, but at least I tried. Where DO chestnuts/quakers etc spend the daylight hours???

Tipped off from a recent blogpost, I checked a few slugs and snails and found the mites scurrying into/out of the pneumostome of slugs and visible moving around through the shells of various snails. Positively disgusting, apparently the slugs/snails suffer physically too. I've seen these mites before but had no idea they could be identified without using a scanning electron microscope, and so Riccardoella limacum falls to my list!

Plantwise I picked up a few more species - Butchers Broom being very unexpected. I've never seen it in the square before. Also unexpected was the red-veined form of Wood Dock which I've not seen before and is very attractive. 

I took to the streets of the Wells Estate finding Groundsel Rust on just one plant (lifer) and my first 7-spot Ladybird of the year was found on an ornamental shrub whilst I had a rest stop at the famous Epsom Well (home of the world famous Epsom Salts - in my square!!) Chrysolina americana was prominent in several gardens on Rosemary. 

Back on Epsom Common I was very pleased to note that the two Willow Warblers, several Chiffchaffs and 3 or 4 Blackcaps from yesterday had all increased in numbers. A Swallow overhead earned a salute as it battled (southwards!) into the wind. Two male Whitethroats were in the scrub a mere ten metres outside of the square. I found myself in the rather ludicrous situation whereby I flanked wide and tried to flush them back towards my square. They were having none of it and quickly gave me the slip, dammit. Thankfully one soon reappeared in a tree well inside the boundary (well, c15 metres inside, lol) and Whitethroat was merrily added to the score. 

Final notable was a worm beneath a log. It looked relatively easy to key out, so I potted it and took it home. Yup, it was easy - and Red-headed Worm adds itself to my lifelist. 

Today's additions are as follows:

407 - White-lipped Snail - 2 under a half-buried tarpaulin in woodland
408 - Butcher's Broom - one clump in deep undergrowth behind Wells Estate gardens
409 - Slug Mite Riccardoella limacum - scurrying across a lone Leopard Slug, bless 'em (LIFER!)
410 - Lesser Periwinkle - big patch by Wells Entrance, glabrous calyx and leaf edges
411 - Ant Woodlouse - in a Yellow Meadow Ant's nest. I've only seen them with Black Ants previously
412 - Redcurrant - several small plants coming up near Blake's Pond
413 - Whitethroat - 2 tantalisingly close to the boundary. 1 eventually entered the square :)
414 - Swallow - 1 low overhead. A brief but joyous sight, you just gotta love Swallows!
415 - Groundsel Rust Puccinia lagenophorae - just one infected plant noted, I checked lots (LIFER!)
416 - Caper Spurge - growing by a garden wall, naturalised I think rather than escaped
417 -  7-spot Ladybird - amazingly the first of the year! In a shrub at Epsom Well
418 - Green Alkanet - lots growing by the Wells Centre alleyway
419 - Japanese Knotweed - fresh shoots pushing through, Epsom Common (boo...)
420 - Common Field Speedwell - growing on a grassy bank, Willows Path
421 - Hairy-footed Bee - 2 males at Lungwort flowers. Very nice too.
422 - 'Red-veined'Wood Dock - a clump in an alleyway by railway line
423 - Wavy Bittercress - 6 stamens duly noted. Lots along a damp track.
424 - Red-headed Worm Lumbricus rubellus - under a log, Epsom Common (LIFER!) 

Back to work again tomorrow. Still hopeful of Black Ants anyday soon....




  1. Well done on passing the 400 mark. :)

    I finally had Ant Woodlouse today, they where in with Lasius mixtus.

    Not one mite on the slugs i've looked at so far this year...need to look closer i think.

  2. Get a hand lens and stare INTO a slug's pneumostome...even if there aren't any mites its positively amazing to be looking at the INSIDE of a slug!!! Did you ever see that 60s film where Racquel Welch and some fellas get miniaturised and injected into a human body? Well it's a bit like that...kinda!

    I suspect you'll be hitting 400 pretty darn soon. I also suspect I'll soon slip down the rankings when the insects kick in properly...