North Cave Wetlands – 06/07/2017

A morning visit, mostly overcast with a gentle southerly breeze, temperature reaching 20 degrees. Plenty of Odonata activity around the site with a healthy range of species present at the Dragonfly Ponds. Highlights included my first Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum and Brown Hawker Aeshna grandis of the year. Black-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum are showing well at the newest pond with Emerald Damselfly Lestes sponsa now also starting to appear. Other species present included Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum, Azure Damselfly Coenagrion puella, Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura elegans, Emperor Dragonfly Anax imperator, Four-spotted Chaser Libellula quadrimaculata and Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum.

Ruddy Darter - Sympetrum sanguineumRuddy Darter – Sympetrum sanguineum

Common Darter - Sympetrum striolatumCommon Darter – Sympetrum striolatum

Emerald Damselfy - Lestes sponsaEmerald Damselfy – Lestes sponsa

Blue-tailed Damselfly - Ischnura elegansBlue-tailed Damselfly – Ischnura elegans

Blue-tailed Damselfly - Ischnura elegansBlue-tailed Damselfly – Ischnura elegans

Black-tailed Skimmer - Orthetrum cancellatumBlack-tailed Skimmer – Orthetrum cancellatum

On the lepidoptera front, a nice fresh male Gatekeeper Pyronia tithonus was along Dryham Lane, and at least two Marbled White Melanargia galathea were encountered as I walked the site. A close check of the Small Skipper Thymelicus sylvestris around Far Lake revealed at least two male Essex Skipper Thymelicus lineola in front of the seat overlooking Carp Lake. Other species present included good numbers of Large White Pieris brassicae, Small White Pieris rapi, Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta, Comma Polygonia c-album, Ringlet Aphantopus hyperantus, Meadow Brown Maniola jurtina and a single Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria. Moth wise good numbers of Six-spot Burnet Zygaena filipendulae around Carp Lake, with a couple of Shaded Broad-bar Scotopteryx chenopodiata also noted, along with the ever-present Celypha lacunana.

Essex Skipper - Thymelicus lineolaEssex Skipper – Thymelicus lineola

Essex Skipper - Thymelicus lineolaEssex Skipper – Thymelicus lineola

Small Skipper - Thymelicus sylvestrisSmall Skipper – Thymelicus sylvestris

Gatekeeper - Pyronia tithonusGatekeeper – Pyronia tithonus

Comma - Polygonia c-albumComma – Polygonia c-album

Red Admiral - Vanessa atalantaRed Admiral – Vanessa atalanta

Marmalade Hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus is abundant at the moment around the reserve, along with Syrphus sp. in lesser numbers. Other ‘Hovers’ included Eristalinus sepulchralis, Eristalis pertinax, Eupeodes sp. and Sphaerophoria sp. Highlight of the flies however goes to Large Marsh Horsefly Tabanus autumnalis found on the gate between Main and Village Lake. This, or other Tabanus sp. were on the benches between Carp and Main Lake, so potentially a bit of an influx. Ian Andrews has confirmed that this is a first for VC61. Several Four-barred Major Oxycera rara were along Dryham Lane with a couple of the photogenic females posing well for the camera. Broad Centurian Chloromyia formosa and Common Green Colonel Oplodontha viridula were also evident along the lane. Several Anthomyia sp. were also present, though not able to get to species.

Marmalade Hoverfly - Episyrphus balteatusMarmalade Hoverfly – Episyrphus balteatus

Syrphus sp.Syrphus sp.

Large Marsh Horsefly - Tabanus autumnalisLarge Marsh Horsefly – Tabanus autumnalis

Four-barred Major - Oxycera raraFour-barred Major – Oxycera rara

Broad Centurian - Chloromyia formosaBroad Centurian – Chloromyia formosa

Common Green Colonel - Oplodontha viridulaCommon Green Colonel – Oplodontha viridula

Anthomyia sp.Anthomyia sp.

On the bug front a Blue Shieldbug Zicrona caerulea was present along the Northern Path, still a stunning species even as a nymph. Other bugs recorded included Common Froghopper Philaenus spumarius, Apolygus spinolae, Plagiognathus arbustorum and Deraeocoris ruber.

Blue Shieldbug - Zicrona caeruleaBlue Shieldbug – Zicrona caerulea

Deraeocoris ruberDeraeocoris ruber

Plagiognathus arbustorumPlagiognathus arbustorum

Apolygus spinolaeApolygus spinolae

Many of the Grasshopper nymphs are now emerging as adults, Field Grasshopper Chorthippus brunneus one of the first photographed this year. Also good numbers of Speckled Bush-cricket Leptophyes punctatissima along the lane and around Carp lake.

Field Grasshopper - Chorthippus brunneusField Grasshopper – Chorthippus brunneus

Speckled Bush-cricket - Leptophyes punctatissimaSpeckled Bush-cricket – Leptophyes punctatissima

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis numbers have massively increased this year, easily found around the site, with plenty of adults still to emerge from the numerous pupae to be found. 7-spot Ladybird Harmonia axyridis equally as numerous, and again, good to find at least three 2-spot Ladybird Adalia bipunctata on thistles around the Dragonfly Ponds. 22-spot Ladybird Psyllobora vigintiduopunctata and a single Golden-bloomed Longhorn Beetle Agapanthia villosoviridescens were found along Dryham Lane.

Harlequin Ladybird - Harmonia axyridisHarlequin Ladybird – Harmonia axyridis

2 Spot Ladybird - Adalia bipunctata2 Spot Ladybird – Adalia bipunctata

Other miscellany included a few of the tricky hymenoptera. A Chalcid Wasp Chalcididae speices, of which there are over 1600 species in Britain and Ireland, was along the lane along with Ruby-tailed Wasp Chrysis ignita sensu lato, another that needs microscopic identification. A nice Tenthredo sp. another one not doable from photos.

Chalcid Wasp (Chalcidoidea)Chalcid Wasp (Chalcidoidea)

Chrysis ignita s.l.Chrysis ignita s.l.

Tenthredo sp.Tenthredo sp.

Finally, rare for a mammal to get a mention, even rarer for two. A Mink Neovison vison crossed the western path carrying something it had caught, a destructive non-native species that does some serious damage to the local wildlife. The other species was a showy Stoat Mustela erminea along the eastern path near East Hide.

Stoat - Mustela ermineaStoat – Mustela erminea

Full set of photos from this visit can be found on my Flickr site.