Bradgate CP, Leicestershire, 25 May 2024

A birthday visit to the surprisingly hilly (and rocky) Bradgate CP, just SW of Loughborough. 

We spent a full day exploring the extensive park from the river right up to the hilltops. Feral flocks of Fallow Deer roam the park but despite their origins were very nervous and skittish. 5 Red Deer, including 4 bucks were also grazing in a marshy area. After Belinda spotted it initially we got some great views of a big Grass Snake in bracken as it kept popping it's head up to look at us.

A singing Reed Bunting was a strange sight in bracken close to one of the hilltops with other birds seen including Yellowhammer, Willow Warbler, Green Woodpecker, Raven and Red Kite

My first Small Heaths of the year were out and in the ruins of Bradgate Hall in the park were several Deadly Nightshade plants.

A couple of new insects for my growing list were Livid Soldier Beetle and Common Leaf Weevil - both on umbellifers.

                                                                                                                                     Red Deer
                                                                                                                                         Fallow Deer
                                                                                                                              Common Leaf Weevil
                                                                                                                                Livid Soldier Beetle

                                                                                                                        Deadly Nightshade


Colwick CP, Nottinghamshire, 23 May 2023

We stayed the night in our motorhome along the entrance road to Colwick CP in the Trent Valley on the outskirts of Nottingham so took the opportunity to have a long late afternoon walk around the lagoons and woodland.

Best for me was a new sawfly Bramble Sawfly with birds being the other attraction. I once twitched a Bufflehead here many years ago but this time had to settle for Kingfisher, Egyptian Goose (not common away from East Anglia) and a huge gathering of c300 House Martins, c10 Sand Martins, c50 Swallows and c30 Swifts over the biggest lagoon. The resident Canada Geese had been busy with the largest congregation of goslings I think I've ever seen!

Balkan Spurge growing beside the lane was a species I've not come across before. 

                                                                                                                              Bramble Sawfly
                                                                                                                                Canada Geese!
                                                                                                                             Balkan Spurge

Barnack Hills and Holes, Cambs, 23 May 2024

A site I've been to a couple of times before but it was almost on our route through to Nottingham so a return visit seemed in order.

And it turned out to be an inspired choice because halfway through our wander around the whole site I flushed a Wryneck which promptly flew off NW towards houses on the edge of the reserve. I find very few good birds so that was quite a moment for me! Just a pity it didn't hang about. 3 Red Kites were also patrolling the area. 

The main reason for going was the wildflowers and they didn't fail us - there were Pasqueflowers everywhere intermingled with scattered Chalk Fragrant Orchids and mostly gone over Green-winged Orchids plus Columbine, Common Rock Rose, Purple Milk Vetch, Eyebright, Hounds-tongue and Horseshoe Vetch. All great limestone grassland plants. Checking one of the fenced enclosures I then managed to find a single Man Orchid and a Common Twayblade.

                                                                                                                            Chalk Fragrant Orchid
                                                                                                                               Purple Milk Vetch
                                                                                                                            Horseshoe Vetch

                                                                                                                                Man Orchid

Hockering Wood, 19 May 2024

It's not often I get to visit a new site in Norfolk but I got to visit the usually off-limits Hockering Wood on Sunday. This is the 3rd largest ancient woodland in the county and has been opened to visitors between April and August this year.

I'd arranged to pick up Jeremy and Vanna in Norwich first and as is often the case they have a few goodies for me to look at. In their garden were the flower bug Closterotomus trivialis, Goldenrod Crab Spider and Little Longhorn Moth while Jeremy had a specimen of Psathyrella panaeoloides, a new fungi for me. I'd also been keen to see Beaked Hawksbeard which is popping up all over verges in this area of Norwich and just around the corner there was the first clump - with a surprise bonus nectaring Buff-tailed Mining Bee, Andrena humilis.

                                                                                                                         Goldenrod Crab Spider
                                                                                                                            Closterotomus trivialis
                                                                                                                       Small Longhorn Moth
                                                                                                                        Psathyrella panaeoloides

                                                                                                                         Beaked Hawksbeard

And so, to Hockering Wood. We spent about 4 and a half hours there walking a loop taking in the whole wood. Birdwise we had Red Kite and a single calling Crossbill but it was insects that we really came to look for. In the first 100 yards we scored with something I have wanted to find for ages - the gorgeous micro moth known as 'Geoff' - Alabonia geoffrella. In fact we found 2. Highlights of our visit came thick and fast with the best being Small-barred Longhorn Moth, Wasp Beetle, Tortoise Shieldbug, Spruce Shortwing Beetle, Two-banded Longhorn Beetle, Belted Click Beetle, Bracken Sawfly, the difficult to see Four-spotted Carrion Beetle, Common Awl Robberfly, Blotch-winged Hoverfly, Common Cardinal Beetle, Malachite Beetle, Humped Orbweb Spider and Downlooker Snipefly. A gruesome discovery of a decaying Roe Deer followed, and it was covered in Red-headed Carrion Beetles. I photographed them while trying not to breathe in! Dragonflies were in evidence too with Broad-bodied Chaser, Four-spotted Chaser, Norfolk Hawker, Azure Damselfly and Large Red Damselfly. New fungi for me were Wood Anemone Rust. Choke and Rhododendron Bud Blast

                                                                                                                                   Alabonia geoffrella
                                                                                                                            Wasp Beetle

                                                                                                                 Two-banded Longhorn Beetles
                                                                                                                         Bracken Sawfly
                                                                                                                          Common Cardinal Beetle
                                                                                                                          Belted Click Beetle
                                                                                                                    Small-barred Longhorn Moth
                                                                                                                           Common Awl Robberfly
                                                                                                                      Four-spotted Carrion Beetle
                                                                                                                        Red-headed Carrion Beetle
                                                                                                                              Broad-bodied Chaser
                                                                                                                         Spruce Shortwing Beetle
                                                                                                                         Wood Anemone Rust

Garden goodies in May

A round up of garden inverts seen over the last week, before the weather turned wet again!

A mating pair of colourful Orange-brown Darwin Wasps, Ophion scutellaris, Chocolate Mining Bee and the spider Philodromus aureolus were along our hawthorn hedge on Sunday.

On Monday I had a more thorough look and found Umbellifer Longhorn Beetle, Plum Tortrix, the tiny but distinctive spider Microlinyphia pusilla, the hoverfly Pipiza austriaca and my first Marmalade Hoverfly of the spring. Indoors the carpet beetle Anthrenus fuscus maybe wasn't so welcome (!) but the best was saved until last. Rescuing a bug from a spider that was just about to have it's lunch it turned out to be the nationally scarce Slender-horned Leatherbug

                                                                                                                    Orange-brown Darwin Wasps
                                                                                                                             Chocolate Mining Bee
                                                                                                                              Philodromus aureolus
                                                                                                                        Anthrenus fuscus
                                                                                                                                Plum Tortrix
                                                                                                                      Slender-horned Leatherbug
                                                                                                                              Microlinyphia pusilla
                                                                                                                      Umbellifer Longhorn Beetle