Plans were laid earlier in the week to head to Tophill Low on my Saturday off, to meet up with a couple of friends, Martin Hodges and Doug Fairweather, also accompanied by my father, David Ashton. It’s always nice to meet up with like-minded people, with the opportunity to always learn something new, and gain further inspiration, something that this years weather has severely dented. Despite the less than inspirational weather, the day ended up being one of my best days so far this year.
The days started with the customary emptying of the Moth traps, Martin and Doug being the stalwarts for recording this genera here. I’ve tried to avoid getting to involved in this group, though thoughts of getting a light trap for home keep drifting through my subconsciousness. There were several Poplar Hawk-moths Laothoe populi in the trap today, one of the commoner hawk-moths, though an Eyed Hawk-moth Smerinthus ocellata was the highlight. Away from the traps a female ‘Longhorn Moth’ Adela reaumurella was the only other moth species that attracted my attention. Whilst writing about the moths, it’s worth finishing with the butterflies, though these were more noticeable by their almost complete absence. There were no big counts and all the following were observed in ones or twos; Green-veined White Pieris napi, Large White Pieris brassicae, Orange-tip Anthocharis cardamines, Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas and Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria. All in all a very disappointing show, and a little worrying.
One of the main species groups focused on during the visit was dragonflies. Talk centred around why some species were absent, or what kind of season they were having. One of these was Hairy Dragonfly Brachytron pratense, Tophill Low being one of the first sites where this species was confirmed to be present in the East Riding. Now we have a better understanding of where they occur, it would appear that this species only occurs at Tophill as a wanderer from Leven Canal, where it can be found in triple figures. So far this year there had been no records of this species, so coupled with the total absence last year, it came as a surprise to have a male flying around the pond in ‘D’ Wood. Despite trying to get a photograph, it didn’t settle long enough to get its portrait into this blog entry. Talk then moved on to Broad-bodied Chaser Libellula depressa, a species that really suffered last year, with only four locations recording this species. Not to be out done by the Hairy Dragonfly B. pratense, this species then promptly put in an appearance at the same pond. Just goes to show, talking is good, though dropping ‘Vagrant Emperor’ in to the conversation didn’t do the trick! In addition the following species were all noted in varying numbers; Azure Damselfly Coenagrion puella, Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum, Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura elegans, Red-eyed Damselfly Erthromma najas, Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula and Four-spotted Chaser Libellula quadrimaculata.
The true inspiration for the day came from the beetle species present, with at least two new species added to the Tophill Low list, both appearing to have only been recorded on a couple of occasions in East Yorkshire. The first was a Greater Thorn-tipped Longhorn Beetle Pogonocherus hispidulus found by David, though my photo doesn’t do it justice due to its antennea being folded back along its body. The second was Scarce Fungus Weevil Platyrhinus resinosus found by Martin, a species that I had also photographed earlier in the year at Broomfleet. Another Longhorn present was Golden-bloomed Grey Longhorn Agapanthia villosoviridescens, a stunning species, with their long ‘rams horn’ style antennae.
Below can be found more beetle and bug photographs of species present on the day, thanks go to Doug for pointing may of these out. Such is the complexity and similarity of some of the species, identification should be treated with caution, therefore some species will only be described to family, and those in brackets should be treated with caution. Please feel free to comment and correct as needed.