For 2 weeks in July this Black Swan was present on the Severn in Bewdley town near the bridge. It fed with the other swans but was quite aggressive, pecking them and swimming after them, fluffing up and exposing its white flight feathers. Originally from Australia, these were brought into Britain as ornamental birds, and now breed in various locations. They are increasing in the wild where they compete with our native Mute Swans for food and breeding habitat.
In recent years Dark Green Fritillary butterflies have started to breed in sunny open habitat in the Wyre Forest. The caterpillars feed on violets and the adults are on the wing from mid-June to mid-August. Care is needed to distinguish this butterfly from the slightly larger Silver-washed Fritillary.
2 Pyrausta daytime-flying pyralid moths can be seen in Wyre during the summer. Pyrausta aurata, the commoner of the 2, can be found in gardens too where the caterpillars feed on mints, marjoram and other labiates. Mick Farmer spotted this one in Bewdley. The larvae of Pyrausta purpuralis feed on wild thyme and mints in Wyre.
Whilst walking long the Bewdley quayside in Severn Side South Ann Hill photographed this moss. In the hot weather it was drying out, but mosses soon revive when they are moistened by the next rain and this allows them to survive in dry situations. This species is commonly found on rocks and tree bark as well as man-made structures, especially where the substrate is base-rich.
One male Red-tipped Clearwing moth was attracted to a pheromone lure in Bewdley this week, near the river below the Bewdley bypass bridge. Clearwings were rarely seen before pheromones were developed. These are artificially produced chemicals which are very like the pheromones produced by the female moths, and so they attract the males. All clearwing moths are daytime flyers, but are easily overlooked as they can look like wasps when they are flying.
We were surprised and delighted when Carol Taylor found 2 Bilberry Bumblebees in a meadow near Button Oak recently during a Study Group field meeting. This is the first record for Wyre, the nearest known bees being at Stiperstones in Shropshire. One of the bees was carrying pollen which proves nesting in the locality. The bees are known to feed on Bilberry early in the season, and favour Bird’s-foot Trefoil in June and July, later feeding from Bell Heather. If anyone spots this species elsewhere in the Wyre Forest area, we’d be pleased to hear! Our 2 bees were released to continue their foraging where they’d been found nectaring on Bird’s-foot Trefoil.
This recent hot weather has meant that many butterflies have emerged from pupation and they have been flying in the sunshine. Mick Farmer counted 40+ Marbled Whites in a meadow in Golden Valley, Bewdley and has kindly sent these lovely photos. We are right on the edge of their range and they have been slowly moving northwards. They were first seen in the Wyre Forest in 1997, and reached Bridgnorth in 2015. They like unimproved meadows with long grass, especially Red Fescue, one of the larval food plants.
This migrant daytime flying moth arrives in Britain from southern Europe and northern Africa from April onwards. It can be seen hovering in front of flowers from which it feeds with its long proboscis. Eggs are laid on Ladies Bedstraw, Madder and Hedge Bedstraw and caterpillars may be found between June and October. Mick Farmer did well to capture this photograph of the moth feeding.