We went to Apedale in the afternoon today. It was warm, muggy, and sunny today.
The first thing we saw was a huge Four-spotted Chaser dragonfly. There are hundreds of them buzzing around in the nature pond area.
It’s called the Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata) because it has four wings, with one spot on each wing. The adult eats mosquitoes, gnats, and midges, and is itself predated by emperor dragonflies and green tiger beetles.
These red damselflies were also at the pond, flying in tandem, as a preliminary to mating. We can’t be sure whether they are small or large red damselflies because we can’t see the legs properly in this photo (Large ones have black legs, whilst small ones have red legs).
The area around the pond was covered in flowers:
These are oxeye daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare). They are also called common daisy, dog daisy, and moon daisy.
This pretty flower is Herb-Robert (Geranium robertianum), but is also known as Red Robin, Death come quickly, Storksbill, Fox geranium, Stinking Bob, Squinter-pip (Shropshire), and Crow’s Foot:
It enjoys the shady places at Apedale. Rub the leaves if you dare – they smell really unpleasant!
This is a marsh thistle (Cirsium palustre). This is a great pollinator plant for pollinators like butterflies and bees:
The hedgerows are beginning to fill with dog roses (Rosa canina), Interestingly, the dog rose is one of the national symbols of Romania.
This small, low-growing yellow flower is common tormentil (Potentilla erecta). It is a marsh-loving plant, growing in ditches at Apedale. It has a fibrous root which is very bitter to eat, but is used to make a liqueur in Bavaria called Blutwurz:
Recently the fences have been replaced on parts of the Apedale site, and we were worried that the Burnet moth caterpillars (Burnet moths of all kinds can be seen at Apedale) would be affected, because they use the fences to pupate on. However, they didn’t seem to be bothered by this at all! They were all on the fences, hundreds of them – some were just getting ready to pupate, some were already in their chrysalises:
Also, some of the chrysalises were on grass stems:
Hopefully over the next few days/weeks we will see some Burnet moths.
It was a really good day for ladybirds and beetles. Here’s a Harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) about to enjoy a banquet of aphids!
The Harlequin ladybird is Asian in origin, and first arrived in the UK in 2004. Because it is an invasive species, the Harlequin Ladybird Survey is collecting information to record sightings – you can contribute by clicking here.
Here is the most common true European ladybird – the 7-spot ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata). They can devour up to 5000 aphids during their year-long life!
Here are two 14-spot ladybirds (Propylaea quatuordecimpunctata) mating. This species has over 100 colour and pattern variations:
This red-headed cardinal beetle (Pyrochroa serraticornis) was sunbathing on a leaf, as this species likes to do. It is common in this country and easy to spot during May-July:
There are various different kinds of soldier beetle – this one is the Cantharis pellucida, identifiable by its red thorax and goggly eyes:
Along the hedgerows, in places, the air was full of these blue/green lacewings (Chrysopa perla):
Like the ladybirds, lacewings love to feed on aphids.
We stood for a long time trying to get a photo of this butterfly – the Dingy Skipper (Erynnis tages) – which was fluttering around in the clover and grasses.
Sadly, this moth-like butterfly is increasingly rare in the UK, so it was good to see. If you look carefully, you can see that one of its wings is rather damaged.
These tiny aphids on a Sycamore leaf caught our eye. The are the common maple aphid (Periphyllus testudinaceus).
We are not sure if the eggs relate to the aphids (they seem quite big for that!), but the silvery white substance also pictured, is definitely not related to them. It is sycamore felt gall caused by a gall mite called Aceria pseudoplatani.
Mum’s favourite photograph and find of the day is this amazing Nursery Web Spider (Pisaura mirabilis):
Here’s what it says about this amazing spider on Nature Spot (our favourite wildlife ID website):
[The Nursery Web Spider] likes to sunbathe and typically holds its front two pairs of legs together pointing forwards. During mating the male presents the female with a carefully wrapped insect as a present. The female carries her eggs in a ball shaped, pea-sized sack with her. Just before the babies hatch she builds a silk tent and puts them inside for protection.
We were so excited to get a photo of the female of the species with her eggs in a sack – we spotted the flash of white in the grass first, so that is something to look out for if you want to get a photo of your own!
As usual, the buzzards (Buteo buteo) were out and about, enjoying the thermals in the warm air:
Danny took this great pic of one circling above the car park.
Dogs were a bit thin on the ground today, maybe it was a bit hot for them. We did meet one lovely friendly border collie, but sadly didn’t get its name. Maybe another time.