Painted Lady butterfly

Mick Farmer spotted this Painted Lady in his garden in Bewdley recently, one of the first to be seen locally. It has flown north from its emergence site, probably in North Africa. This cosmopolitan migrant can arrive any time in spring or summer prior to breeding here later in the summer. Eggs are generally laid on thistles and the adults that result in this country show some southerly migration in the autumn.

Painted Lady, Bewdley, May 2017 ©Mick Farmer

Pearl-bordered Fritillary – Boloria euphrosyne

On sunny days in May Pearl-bordered Fritillaries may be seen flying in Wyre. They are often difficult to track as they fly so quickly like golden jewels above the ground vegetation, but Roger Plant was able to get this beautiful photo of a female when the sun went in and it had stopped for a rest.

Female Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Longdon, 13 May 2017 ©Roger Plant

Bullhead with eggs

This Bullhead (also known as Miller’s Thumb) was found underneath a stone in Park Brook. Closer inspection revealed its eggs attached to the stone. Apparently, in the spring the male makes a shallow hollow in the stream bed in which several females lay eggs. Then he guards the eggs until they hatch after about a month. He was certainly very amenable to having his photograph to be taken under water before we gently replaced his stone.

Male Bullhead protecting eggs, Park Brook, 3 May 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall

Bullhead eggs, Park Brook, 3 May 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall

Dotted Bee-fly Bombus discolor

We are seeing Dotted Bee-flies around in Worcestershire this spring, with several records from the Wyre Forest area, and wonder if this is undergoing a range expansion. To distinguish this species from the more frequently recorded Dark-edged Bee-fly Bombylius major, wait until the fly has settled and look carefully for dots on the wings. The black hairs at the end of the abdomen are conspicuous even in flight. I have found this fly less easy to approach for photography than the obliging Dark-edged Bee-fly.

Dotted Bee-fly Bombylius discolor, Bliss Gate, 6 April 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall

Dark-edged Bee-fly Bombylius major, Dick Brook, 7 April 2010 ©Rosemary Winnall

 

Common Lizard (Lacerta vivipara)

Roger Plant captured this excellent photograph of a Common Lizard in Wyre recently. It has shed its skin and is trying to remove the last fragments from its head with its tongue. What a great shot! Lizards moult the thin transparent skin over their scales regularly throughout their life. They can live for 5 or 6 years and hibernate over winter. The males (which have orange/yellow undersides with spots) defend territories in the spring, mate in April and May, and between 3 and 11 black/brown babies are born in July.

Common Lizard, Wimperhill, 5 April 2017 ©Roger Plant

Hazel catkins

In some sheltered places Common Hazel trees can now be seen in flower, showing that spring is just around the corner. The yellow pendulous male catkins are conspicuous and are often present in high numbers. The small delicate red female flowers have to be searched for as tiny red tassels protruding from buds, often on the same twigs as the make catkins. When the yellow pollen is blown onto the female flowers, fertilisation will occur, resulting in Hazel nuts in the autumn, so loved by squirrels, mice, and some birds.

Male Hazel catkins and female flower, Blackstone, 24 January 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall

Female flowers on Hazel bush, Blackstone, 24 January 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall

Micropterix aureatella

This moth is one of 5 species of primitive Micropterix micromoths which are unusual in having chewing mouth parts with which they eat pollen. We don’t find Micropterix aureatella very often in Wyre, although it is probably overlooked at just 4mm long. This one was found feeding on hawthorn blossom, but we have also found them on Bilberry plants.

Micropterix aureatella, Longdon pipe track, 3 June 2016

The much commoner Micropterix calthella is often seen feeding on the pollen of buttercups in May and June, sometimes several moths to one flower.

Micropteryx calthella, Bell Coppice, 21 May 2016

Brimstone moth and Brimstone butterfly

Mick Farmer has sent me his attractive photographs of a Brimstone moth (Opisthograptis luteolata) and a Brimstone butterfly (Gonepteryx rhamni) both of which were found in his Bewdley garden recently. The moth flies at night and there are 2 generations a year. The caterpillars feed on leaves of Blackthorn, hawthorns and a few other species, and they overwinter either as caterpillars or as pupae. The Brimstone moth caterpillars feed on Alder Buckthorn in the Wyre area so it is always worth planting one or two of these shrubs in your garden to attract this beautiful daytime flyer. The adults hibernate overwinter.

Bimstone moth, Bewdley, 29 April 2016 ©Mick Farmer

Brimstone butterfly, Bewdley, 3 May 2016 ©Mick Farmer