26 August 2014

Two New Flies for Swansea

Andrew Lucas wrote:
Much of my natural history recording in recent years has been devoted to SN6802, my home 1km square, which includes some of Clydach and a small part of the Cwm Clydach RSPB reserve. In the last week, my efforts have been rewarded with a couple of nice finds 
Phasia hemiptera is an impressive tachinid fly that I found flying around hemp agrimony in the beer garden of the New Inn pub, Clydach on 8 August 2014.  Its size, and the reddish orange hairs on the side of the thorax, distinguishes it from other species in the genus.  I caught a female, but the males are even more striking, with boldly metallic blue and white patterned wings.  In the larval stage, the insect is parasitic on shieldbugs.  The female lays her eggs on a bug, which then hatch and eat the insect from the inside out!
SEWBReC have advised that this is the first record they have received  for P. hemiptera in the City and County of Swansea, although its presence is no great surprise, as it has been found a number of times in the Llanelli area.   The species has been recorded as far north as Inverness, but most records come from southern England and the Welsh Marches. 
Rhingia rostrata is a woodland hoverfly, similar to the much more common R. campestris. It is distinguished (Stubbs & Falk 2002) by the uniformly light side to the abdomen, whilst  R. campestris has a dark line along the abdomen edge.  But it’s a much classier insect than R. campestris, with a bluish thorax and lighter abdomen that is obvious even to the naked eye.  I came across several feeding on hogweed along the footpath near the car park at Cwm Clydach RSPB reserve, again on 8 August 2014.. Rhingia hoverflies are unusual amongst the British Syrphidae, in having long mouthparts tucked away underneath the rostrum that projects from the head.  This allows them to feed on deep flowers that are inaccessible to most hoverfly species.  The larval stage of this species is a mystery, although it is thought to feed on rotting material or carrion, as R. campestris is known to use cattle dung.
SEWBReC and the NBN gateway (https://data.nbn.org.uk/) have R. rostrata only recorded once previously in Glamorgan, near Nicholaston Woods in 2009, although the hoverfly recording scheme (http://www.hoverfly.org.uk/portal.php)  has records from SS69 in 2009, and ST09 in 2001.  It has a similar distribution to P. hemiptera, with the northern edge of its distribution lying in the Lake District
Stubbs, A.E. & Falk, S.J. (2002) British Hoverflies.  An illustrated identification guide. BENHS.

25 August 2014

Singleton Park botanic gardens

Myathropa florea
After reading so much negative news about bumblebees in recent years I was pleasantly surprised to see good numbers of our commoner bumblebee species, namely Buff-tailed Bombus terrestris, Red-tailed B. lapidarius, Small Garden B. hortorum, Common Carder B. pascuorum and the now well-established Tree Bee B. hypnorum, all during a gentle stroll through the botanic gardens at Singleton. Hoverflies were also well represented including this fine Death's-head Hoverfly Myathropa florea (shown above).

08 July 2014

Green Woodpeckers breed successfully

It is well-documented (Birds in Wales Welsh Bird Report 2012, Bird Atlas 2007-11) that the Green Woodpecker is declining in the western part of its range in the UK and is now apparently extinct in Pembrokeshire. In this context I was particularly pleased to find that juvenile Green Woodpeckers have fledged successfully in the extreme west of Gower in Mewslade valley. The adult female is with a juvenile female in the photos below, taken today, July 8.

Although this species is declining further west it seems to be holding its own locally, as the map below shows (Gower Ornithological Society data).

On the map confirmed, probable and possible breeding are shown by different sized dots and present only shown as open squares (all records post 2000).

07 July 2014


on the first night in 5 years when I've noticed migration in my garden in Sketty and sorry for the delay. Third Glamorgan record unless I've misread the excellent Moths of Glamorgan or anyone's had one post publication...............

Diasemiopsis ramburialis looks a bit tired! Exif says taken on 14/06/2014 so trap set the night before. I remember a Red Necked Footman which might well also have been a migrant, certainly never seen one there before.

Hedgehog survey - request for volunteers

Dr Dan Forman from Swansea University is helping recruit volunteers for this very worthy survey. Click HERE for more details and/or email Dan at southwalesmammalgroup@gmail.com

06 July 2014

Mediterranean Gull update

This video from Lyndon Evans shows Carmarthenshire's first home-bred juvenile Mediterranean Gull is just a couple of flaps away from successfully fledging... CLICK HERE

03 July 2014

Small Hairy Screw-moss up a tree in Morristion Hospital

Small Hairy Screw-moss on Ohio Buckeye
Among the collection of trees in Morriston Hospital car park are two beautiful Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) trees and a moss-clad specimen of Ohio Buckeye (Aesculus glabra). Among the epiphytes growing on the latter were some nice cushions of Small Hairy Screw-moss (Syntrichia laevipila) along with a surprising quantity of Sessile Grimmia (Schistidium apocarpum), a species more characteristic of base-rich, siliceous rocks.