Friday, 31 July 2015

A plethora of insects

As hoped the weather today was much improved for my day off. I had planned that if the weather was fine that I would head to Priory Park in Warwick to photograph butterflies. In areas of the park they leave the grass to grow and in patches thistles grow that attract all kinds of butterflies but nothing prepared me for wealth of insect life that awaited me.


I was distracted from my photography by the sheer number of butterflies present and there and then decided to make as best a count as I was able. This was quite difficult as you can imagine, its surprising how feisty some butterflies are chasing each other and ousting others from their perches but the following is a rough count of what was present.

Species
Number counted in one circuit of the patch
Small Skipper
68
Meadow Brown
19
Comma
1
Large White
1
Gatekeeper
1
Holly Blue
3
Tortoiseshell
1
Total
94

This is an amazing total for a 5 minutes count in such a small patch is due entirely to the councils efforts to allow the grass to grow and provide such excellent habitat.

Small Skipper

Gatekeeper

Small Skipper

Aside from butterflies there were a myriad of other insects and dutifully I tried to identify as many as I could they included:

Six-Spot Ladybirds, Honey Bees, White-tailed Bumblebees, Red-Tailed Bumblebees, Volucella hoverflies, Syrphus hoverflies, Helophilus hoverflies, (excellent site on Hoverfly ID). Dock bug. Green Bottle Fly and a few other as yet unidentified flies.

Late instar Dock Bug


Here is a short video clip, listen to the sounds it highlights the other residents.

video

As you could here aside from the lens on my camera focusing and the breeze on the microphone was the near consistent buzz of grasshoppers and crickets. I spent a little time rummaging through the grass to find out what was present and managed to identify 2 species: the Lesser Marsh Grasshopper and Roesell's Bush-Cricket. The later is a species that was only found in the south of the country 10 years ago but is now spreading ever northwards and was easily the most abundant of the orthoptera present. (Excellet Orthoptera ID site)

Lesser Marsh Grasshopper

Female Roesel's Bush-Cricket - note the ovipositor 

Roesel's Bush-Cricket

Whilst crawling about in the grass I also stumbled across a small common toad that quickly disappeared into the undergrowth. This added to the Rabbits I had seen earlier, the magpies, blackbird, pigeons,Green Woodpecker, Crows Blue Tits and Nuthatch,  that were calling in the trees and the Peacock butterfly I spotted as I left leads to a total species count of 28 for the 1hr 30mins of wildlife watching.