Archive for the 'Insects' Category

6th June 2012, Wednesday

Phryganea grandis


Caddisflies (Trichoptera) don’t often get a look-in on this site but this one’s a bit special, dwarfing most of the moths in my trap in Rye this morning. The pot lid is 5 cm (2 inches) across. There are nearly 200 British species and Phryganea grandis is the biggest – this is the larger female. Although they fly deceptively like moths, there are many differences such as hairs rather than scales on the wings, palps on the head and no proboscis for feeding. It’s on the Rye Harbour list but I don’t know how common or widespread this species is in Sussex.

3rd June 2012, Sunday

More dragonflies

At Castle Water since last monday Emperor and Black-tailed Skimmer have been emerging. Adults of both species are on the wing during sunny periods and are easily found patrolling the margins at the northern end of Castle Water. The viewpoint is probably the best place to see Downy Emerald, while the ditch on the approach to the hide is a good place to watch Hairy Dragonfly and Four-spotted Chaser.


Emperor Read the rest of this entry »

1st June 2012, Friday

Not quite gone from the Marsh

Yesterday and today I’ve been recce’ing routes around East Guldeford Level, walking tracks along old embankments, across sheep fields and around arable land. As evidence of their great decline, in over 10 miles I found just 2 pairs and 6 other male Yellow Wagtails, 4 Corn Buntings (two pairs?) and a single pair of Tree Sparrows. Even Skylarks were few and far between, and only Reed Warblers and Reed Buntings seem to be holding their numbers. Other wildlife of note included close encounters with a Fox and a Hare, 2 Painted Ladies, 2 Red Admirals and a pair of Mute Swans with 7 cygnets.

29th May 2012, Tuesday

Dragons & damsels at Iden Moat

Or to use its proper name, Mote Place, the remains of a spectacular moated medieval manor house west of Iden – wonderfully tranquil and full of wildlife. Today I counted c.30 White-legged Damselflies at their main local colony, almost all whitish immatures. 50+ Azures, mostly mature males, were on land but there were 200+ pairs on the water with the females egg-laying. Two Blue-tailed, 2 Variable and 4 Red-eyed plus 2 pairs in cop completed the damselflies, and dragons were 3 Hairy Hawkers, 3 Downy Emeralds and 2 Four-spotted Chasers. Additional species seen on the walk were 5 Large Red Damselflies and 5 Broad-bodied Chasers.

28th May 2012, Monday

Castle Water

Butterfly highlights from the hide area today included Brown Argus, Common Blue, Small Copper, Small Heath, Speckled Wood and Comma.


Brown Argus

28th May 2012, Monday

At last

There has been a big emergence of Hairy Dragonfly and Four-spotted Chaser at Castle Water in the ditch north of the hide, today I collected 64 Hairy Dragonfly and 86 Four-spotted Chaser exuviae. Teneral adults were easily found in the long grass nearby and it was a real pleasure to see so many dragonflies take to the air. Sadly there has to be some losers. I found several of each species that had failed to complete full wing expansion and strangely a Four-spotted Chaser larva that had completely failed to start the emergence process.


Female Hairy Dragonfly with one wing that has failed to expand. Read the rest of this entry »

25th May 2012, Friday

Castle Water

The warmer weather this week has encouraged a lot more dragon and damselfly activity around the margins and scrubby areas at CastleWater. Highlights at noon included three Downy Emerald patrolling the willows along the footpath north of the viewpoint, several Four-spotted Chaser could be found around the margins at the northern end of the main pit, small numbers of Large Red Damselfly were at the pond at the entrance to the hide. Hairy Dragonfly, Red-eyed and Variable Damselfly could be found around the bramble scrub near the viewpoint.


Four-spotted Chaser

24th May 2012, Thursday

Cuckoos in the mist

Since my last posting about cuckoos see here – I have been trying to get a photo of them eating the hairy caterpillars. Today in the early morning mist a got a distant shot of one eating a pale grass eggar and using the fence posts for convenient perching places. The best area to watch this is the western part of the Beach Reserve.
Read the rest of this entry »

20th May 2012, Sunday

Dock Bug

Though still a bit windy and chilly in the open there has definitely been a bit more inveretebrate activity over the last few days compared to previously. One of several species abroad in my garden at Lime Kiln Cottage was this dock bug (Coreus marginatus) a species which unsurprisingly gets its name from the fact that it feed on various docks and sorrells. Common in southern Britain, this is a ‘true bug’ with piercing and sucking mouthparts and relatives of this species which occur in America can be a pests of squash plants. Consequently one of the umbrella names for the groups of insects to which this species belongs is ‘squash bugs’
Dock bug

19th May 2012, Saturday

Dragons and damsels

Still not exactly warm, but out of the wind in the sheltered scrubby areas near the viewpoint a good selection of damselflies had gathered. At least 50+ Variable Damselfly, 100+ Blue-tailed  Damselfly, 20+ Red-eyed Damselfy and 30+ Azure Damselfly were enjoying the warmth. Hairy Dragonfly and Downy Emerald were also patrolling the nearby bramble bushes. As the season progresses I keep expecting to find a bigger emergence of Hairy Dragonfly at Castle Water, so far I have only collected twenty exuvia and would expect a lot more by now if recent years are anything to go by. A selection of picture from this morning are below.


One of two male Hairy Dragonfly at stage 2 of emergence near the viewpoint this morning.

Read the rest of this entry »