Monday, 3 March 2014

Seen through a window

Last week turned out to be more a week for talking about wildlife, rather than spotting it.  A talk on bumblebees at the Cricklade Meadow monitoring conference on Monday was followed by leading an hour's workshop on ladybird identification at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History on Saturday.  Wandering round the museum is always interesting: I'm pretty sure I've never given a talk in a room filled with taxidermied animals and a skeleton before!
Clearly, someone missed lunch
 A later wander round the (excellent) displays did reveal this interestingly-labelled exhibit...
Neither of these moths is actually a Fur beetle
In between giving talks, writing talks, and troubleshooting databases, I did manage to peer out of the window at the bright spring sunshine, and even pop out briefly at lunchtime, in search of movement.

Then, on Wednesday, something happened for the first time this year.  That's right: I had a shave.  But after that, sitting at my desk editing grid references, I spotted another first for the year speed past the window.  Peering out, something dark was buzzing at the bottom of the garden: finally, a bumblebee!  Nipping out, cup of tea in hand, I saw it was a huge queen red-tailed bumblebee, Bombus lapidarius.  After prospecting around the garden wall and my car for a nest site for a couple of minutes she flew away: the first but hopefully far from the last.

While watching the bumble quartering the base of the wall, I noticed something else new.  Several of the comfrey plants were looking distinctly ragged: a closer look revealed dozens (36!) of inch-long, yellow and black hairy caterpillars - Scarlet Tigers!
This is just one of many...
A spectacular big red, black and white moth with a distinctive green sheen, the Scarlet Tiger, Callimorpha dominula, is something of a speciality of the Thames valley and the south-west.  Flying by both day and night in June and July, it's one of my favourite moths - great to see that it's on course for a good year!

No comments:

Post a Comment