Tiger Beetle

Thanks to Peter Hunt for sending in these marvellous images of a beetle I didn’t know about before now. In his own words:

“It may be of interest to your readers to see The Cliff Tiger Beetle, Cylindera germanica, that is found along the south west coast of the Isle of Wight, on our crumbling cliffs.

In July I came across this beetle as it scurries around after prey. It has a formidable pair of jaws and tends to pursue its quarry on foot rather than taking flight. A magnificent beast and a rare one in the UK too.”
It’s perhaps no surprise I’ve not heard of it, as apparently it has only been found in Dorset and on the Isle of Wight since 1970. Peter has blogged about it on his own excellent site, with more local wonders.

Tiger Beetle

Irreplaceable Woodlands Book

Charles Flower has been custodian of the 25-acre Mapleash Copse for thirty years, and in this book he records his knowledge and passion for British woodland and everything that lives within it. He has done an incredible job, as this truly is a masterwork and an absolute joy to read. It blew me away with its depth and breadth and sparkling photography. Brace yourselves – this is going to be a gushingly positive review.

Like many people, I love a walk in the woods, at any time of year, and this book brings those British woods to life. It starts with an in-depth history of Mapleash Copse mixed in with the evolution of British woodland and its place as a critical resource over the millennia that people have lived in these isles. This history is detailed and fascinating, ramming home just how important woodland was, and how deliberately and intensively it was managed. Each type of wood had its particular use, from wheel hubs and spokes to tool handles and charcoal. Really it’s only in the last hundred years that this has ceased to be and most woods have been largely left to their own devices.

People like Charles however have been learning how to manage woodland, via coppicing, pollarding and careful species selection. In this respect the book is a detailed practical guide to managing woodland, especially Hazel coppice, and the 30 years of hard-won experience documented here is gold dust for anyone in a similar position of responsibility. Or simply for anyone that finds it fascinating learning about the surprising intricacies of the woods they walk through.

Irreplaceable Woodlands Pictures

The level of amazing detail extends into the later chapters on the flora and fauna, including super-close up views of lichens, mosses and slime-moulds, alongside woodpeckers, moths and dormice. The photography throughout is top-notch and the publisher has done it justice with loads of full page images, luxuriously printed.

All in all this book is a treasure that has taught me a huge amount and that I will be passing on (or recommending) to several other people that I know.

Irreplaceable Woodlands is available on Amazon for £17. Price correct at time of publication.

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book for review purposes. My review is entirely objective however. This post contains affiliate links.

 

Elephant Hawk Moth Larva

Peter Hunt sent in this cracking shot of an Elephant hawk moth larva. Apparently marooned a couple of inches above the waterline on a pond plant, he moved it to a Fuschia. Caterpillars generally only eat a few specific plants and that’s on the list, so Peter probably gave it a good chance.

Thanks for sending it in!


Red Garden Spider

I saw this very large Garden spider (Araneus diadematus) crawling slowly up my porch – and latterly on the hessian bag where I tempted it for a better photograph in the light. It was a very large example and strikingly coloured a deep red with dark brown legs and ruby red abdomen. I’ve never seen a red variation before and marvelled at it for some time. I had to check online to reassure myself it really was just a standard Garden spider and I hadn’t discovered a new species. What a magnificent brute!

RedGardenSpider2

Massive Garden spider

It’s been a little while, so time for an update! Summer lingered late into September, and I even found myself eating lunch al fresco in October last weekend. Autumn has finally landed however, with plenty of wet and wild weather to knock the leaves off the trees.

  • Garden spiders are everywhere, stringing their massive webs across paths, waiting to trap unsuspecting arachnophobes. The one pictured above was on the front my recycling bin and was about the largest I’ve ever seen. Absolutely massive!
  • One evening I watched a smaller male Garden spider tentatively approaching a female in order to mate. She wasn’t keen and batted him away a few times before he managed to get in there. I might post the video sometime soon.
  • I’ve run into a few foxes recently, in my own garden and whilst out running. I’m always a little nervous when only a couple of yards from a fox – you don’t know what they might do, especially if they’re desperately hungry, ill (usually mange) or feel threatened. Usually it’s “skulk away”.
  • Such a long hot dry period, and yet when the rains come, the slugs and snails are there right away in incredible numbers. I could imagine people of days gone by imagining that they actually come down in the rain itself overnight.

TreeBumbleBee

Veronica sends in this absolutely brilliant close up of what she reckons to be a Tree bumble bee. I’ve no reason to doubt her identification, and some of the other pictures show the white tail. It’s only been in the UK for about 10 years but has spread very rapidly, apparently due to its tendency to nest in our abundant bird boxes.

20. June 2014 · 1 comment · Categories: News

If you’re in the vicinity, why not check out the Sussex Festival of Nature on Sunday (22 June 2014) at Stanmer Park. It’s a free, family friendly event, but they’re keen for you not to arrive by car.

NurseryWebSpider-Jakkii

Jakkii sent in a lovely close-up photo of a Nursery web spider carrying its egg sac. She says that it came out to investigate when she wiggled the plant and has remained resident in the same plant for a while. You may well spot them if you look closely at leafy, low plants at this time of year. Soon they will build the ‘nursery’ for which they are named – a webby tent – and guard the little spiderlings within it.

PoplarHawkMoth

Thanks to Veronica for sending in these fantastic photos of a Poplar Hawk-moth resting on a wall in West Somerset. You can see its characteristic repose, with abdomen curved into the air and hind-wings swung ahead of forewings.

The second picture below gives a brilliantly detailed look at the unusual wing geometry from the side. I also love the way the antennae curve back around like the arms of sports sunglasses. Click for higher resolution versions of each image.

PoplarHawkMoth

 

Harlequin-RobClayton-Small

Photographer Rob Clayton sends in a couple of cracking shots of Harlequin ladybirds. Nice one Rob – excellent pictures! Click through to high-res versions, with some wonderful up close details.

Harlequin2-RobClayton-Small