Skipwith Common – 31/03/2017

A day of intermittent sun, with a moderate breeze blowing, temperatures in the mid to high teens. One of the highlights of a visit to Skipwith are the resident reptiles, and this visit didn’t disappoint. Common Lizards Zootoca vivipara are readily disturbed as you wander around the heathland, usually a heard rustle, then a quick view of them disappearing into the vegetation is all you get. The board walks at the eastern end of Bombay Heath though are always worth checking out for basking individuals, and on this occasion one was particularly unperturbed by our presence, allowing a close approach and great opportunity to photograph this species. This encounter was however surpassed by a very showy Adder Vipera berus on the Northern Heath, again giving some excellent photo opportunities, the best views I’ve ever had of this scarce East Yorkshire species, showing for around ten minutes before it finally slithered away.

Adder - Vipera berusAdder – Vipera berus

Adder - Vipera berusAdder – Vipera berus

Common Lizard - Zootoca viviparaCommon Lizard – Zootoca vivipara

Several beetle species found today, the best being a new species to me in the shape of Heather Ladybird Chilocorus bipustulatus. These are small at around 2-3mm in size, both found in separate areas. Others found included a Kidney-spot Ladybird Chilocorus renipustulatus and a few 7 Spot Ladybirds Coccinella 7-punctata. There were good numbers of Green Tiger Beetles Cicindela campestris on the heath, though these are extremely difficult to get close to a photograph. A quick check of the Gosse bushes found plenty of the minute Gorse Weevils Exapion ulicis present, their small size also presenting a challenge to photograph them, due to the extremely narrow depth of field on the camera at this scale. Finally a Nut Leaf Weevil Strophosoma melanogrammum was found on a fence post, a species I’ve only seen once before in 2013.

Heather Ladybird - Chilocorus bipustulatusHeather Ladybird – Chilocorus bipustulatus

Kidney-spot Ladybird - Chilocorus renipustulatusKidney-spot Ladybird – Chilocorus renipustulatus

Green Tiger Beetle - Cicindela campestrisGreen Tiger Beetle – Cicindela campestris

Gorse Weevil - Exapion ulicisGorse Weevil – Exapion ulicis

Nut Leaf Weevil - Strophosoma melanogrammumNut Leaf Weevil – Strophosoma melanogrammum

Other bits and pieces found included a few Zebra Spiders Salticus cingulatus, with three individuals noted, and also Cucumber Spider Araniella cucurbitina sensu lato, an aggregate of two species. A few bees around today, with Buff-tailed Bumblebee Bombus terrestris, White-tailed Bumblebee Bombus lucorum and Red-tailed Bumblebee Bombus lapidarius all noted. Had a good search for some Shieldbugs, but couldn’t even find a single Gorse Shields Piezodorus lituratus on the plentiful Gorse, the only true bug found today was a Birch Catkin Bug Kleidocerys resedae. A couple of Bee Flies Bombylius major were noted on the heath, but neither stopped long enough for a photo. A few Peacocks Inachis io and a Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni were nice year ticks, seem to have missed out on these somehow, even though a few have been around for several weeks. Finally a Common Groundhopper Tetrix undulata was found along the main path on the Eastern Heath.

Zebra Spider - Salticus cingulatusZebra Spider – Salticus cingulatus

Cucumber Spider - Araniella cucurbitina sensu latoCucumber Spider – Araniella cucurbitina sensu lato

White-tailed Bumblebee - Bombus lucorumWhite-tailed Bumblebee – Bombus lucorum

Birch Catkin Bug - Kleidocerys resedaeBirch Catkin Bug – Kleidocerys resedae

Peacock - Aglais ioPeacock – Aglais io

Full set of photos from the day can be found on my Flickr site.