Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Back to Purple

There were several nice surprises in the moth trap this morning, with several new moths for the year and one new species for the garden. Probably the best moth was this Purple Thorn, resting in the grass outside the trap.

Purple Thorn

This species rests with its wings held open, an easy was to distinguish it from the similar Early Thorn. This was my second record for the garden, following one seen last summer.

Purple Thorn

The new species for the garden was the Waved Umber. In fact I had three of this species in the trap, including this one that was resting on the outside of the trap itself. This is a moth I have been on the look out for, as it was a glaring omission from the garden list. Its curious shape and habit of resting flat with wings fully spread makes this an intriguing moth.

Waved Umber

There was also my second record of Water Carpet, though quite a faded individual. Despite the name this moth is not particularly associated with wetland habitats, and can be found in woodland, grassland and scrubby areas.

Water Carpet

And finally my first Bright-line Brown-eye of the year. Also in the trap were the years first Small Phoenix and Brown Silver-line, along with a yet to be identified leaf miner.

Bright-line Brown-eye

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Dor Beetle

On a Sunday walk up Batch Valley we found this large beetle in some of the sheep-grazed grass slopes above Robin's Lye. This is of course a Dor Beetle, the archetypal beetle with its classic beetle shape and shuffling gate. The blue sheen, particularly noticeable when the sunshine comes out after the rain, makes this an attractive and familiar insect.

Dor Beetle (Geotrupes stercorarius)

Dor Beetles are a characteristic species of meadows and grassland, particularly were there are livestock present. Like many species of the Geotrupidae group, they are dung feeders and they fill underground burrows with dung for their larvae to feed on. With plentiful sheep and horses on the Long Mynd, I imagine it is close to being Dor Beetle heaven!

Dor Beetle (Geotrupes stercorarius)

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Lounging Lizard

An occasional sight on my walk up Batch Valley is Common Lizard basking on a sun-baked wooden fence. True to form, this individual was seen today.

Common Lizard (Zootoca vivipara)

Here is a picture of what is presumably the same individual lizard a few weeks ago on the same section of fence.

Common Lizard (Zootoca vivipara)

Thursday, 24 April 2014


After a year and a half I have decided to resurrect Batch Valley Wildlife. My diary of sightings in Batch Valley and its surrounds on the Long Mynd. Batch Valley is the entry point to the Long Mynd from where I live, in the village of All Stretton in the Shropshire Hills.

To start here is a delightful monochrome bee that I found resting on some scree in Jonathan's Hollow. This is one of the solitary bees, a male Ashy Mining Bee (Andrena cineraria).

Ashy Mining Bee (Andrena cineraria)

This is apparently quite a common and distinctive solitary bee, which is typically recorded in the spring months. It is apparently increasing in abundance across it's range, and this is hopefully not the last time I will record this in the valley.