Posts Tagged ‘Crowle Moors’

‘Moor’ Large Heath

June 14, 2015

No sooner a request than a response.  This is excellent and appreciated as we would like to build up a library of images of the range of markings exhibited by the species across Thorne and Hatfield Moors.  Please keep the images coming in.

This example from Crowle Moor is different to the Thorne one but only in so far as the spotting is notably more marked.  It shows stronger spotting and is similar to the image shown in Kirk & Melling (2011).  It exhibits the davus’ characteristic of a full contingent of six large hindwing eyespots with the sixth being a double eyespot.

150611 Large Heath Crowle Moor pl

Large Heath, Crowle Moor: June 11 2015. 

Image: Phil Lee

South Yorkshire populations were traditionally considered ‘polydama’ but Geo. Hyde, an experienced Lepidopterist considered by many to have unparralled experience of the species, considered them more akin to ‘davus’.  The Hyde collection of Large Heath can be viewed at Doncaster Museum.

Thomas & Lewington (2010) illustrate the three ‘subspecies’ and the map does show the South Yorkshire population, but disappointingly they fail to mention it in the text despite reference to Tim Melling whose work they acknowledge the account in their book is based upon (as it was in Emmett et. al.)   Large Heath compared to other butterfly species is short lived, Frowhawk offers between fifteen and twenty days whilst Thomas & Lewington offer three to four days, so clearly the window to see these iconic species is now.  The flight period generally extends to the end of July and into August but for the species to do well it needs good weather and the recent spells of prolonged rain can pose a threat to the adults breeding performance.   In addition to weather risk, and the adults avoids too many losses to Meadow Pipit its main predator it will hibernate as a larva which is quite resilient to flooding and and even to being frozen but prolonged immersion for three to four months is considered harmful.  As if all these risks were not enough there is the parasitic wasp Casinaria petiolaris (Gravenhorst) it is also vulnerable to.

Whilst we recognise the usefulness of photography in our quest for identification and particularly in the ‘library’ aspect of Large Heath data, Atropos published an article by Lewington (2011) Artwork versus Photography, Set Specimen versus Natural Posture which offers useful discussion about the merits of the various forms of ‘record’.  In the interim please keep those digital images particularly of Large Heath coming in.



Large Heath: an iconic species of Thorne & Hatfield Moors.

June 12, 2015

The Large Heath, Coenonympha tullia is a butterfly of wet heaths, bogs and moorland and one of the Humberhead Levels key species.  This stunning image (courtesy of Martin Warne) was taken today and shows reduced spotting with a single forewing spot and with evidence of six hindwing spots but only three showing dark centres.  These characteristics are suggestive that this may be a specimen at the extreme range of the South Yorkshire population, readers are invited to discuss …. likewise offerings of photographs to illustrate the current diversity on Thorne and Crowle Moors, and indeed Hatfield Moors if the introduced population still survives there would be gratefully received via (all images will be acknowledged as copyright photographer and only used with permission).


150612 Large Heath mw

Large Heath, Thorne Moors

Image: Martin Warne.

The first Large Heath of the year were recorded on Thorne Moors week commencing 8 June.  Some 21 were recorded today so moderate numbers on the wing, when will they peak?

Large Heath has responded well to the re-wetting of Thorne Moors, where a remnant population hung on amidst the ravages wrought by drainage to faciltate peat extraction in the 1970 through to the early ‘noughties’.  Readers are recommended to read the paper “An update on the status of Large Heath butterfly on Hatfield Moors” (Kirk & Melling 2011) in Volume 8 of the Thorne & Hatfield Moors Papers.  The paper relates the fortunes of the species on neighbouring Hatfield Moors SSSI.


Don’t forget to book your place for the series of interesting, informative and potentially controvertial presentations 31 July (Crowle Community Hall) “The Flood Untamed”  Wetlands and flooding …. topical?

Another diary date is Hen Harrier Day Sunday 9 August, #HaveYouSeenHenry?

‘Moor moth-athon’ updates

August 3, 2014

Although there are still a few micro moths to be determined, the ‘moth-athon’ on Friday 25 July fell just a little short of the target 200 species.  But, when you factor in the weather with the clear skies, the drop in temperature from around 25 deg in the day to 11 deg in the evening then I think it was a very respectable endeavour particularly for an inland site?

Some eight stations with some 14 lights straddling from east to west across Thorne Moors delivered a total of 186 species to some 19 recorders!  Certainly, any pilots overhead, flying towards Finningley would have wondered at the lighting array very obvious below them?

As reported in previous blog posts some five micro species were new to Thorne Moors along with three other macros and have now delivered a respectable boost to the number of species logged on the Natura 2000 site.

Narrow-winged Pug (below) is a distinctive species of heathland and moorland and the larvae feed on the flowers of calluna.  Generally on the wing in April to June, five specimens caught across the moor suggest a second generation.  Narrow-winged Pug Crowle Moor 25.7.14


White-spotted Pug (below), just a singleton from Crowle Moors is a good record as the only record for Thorne Moors is that of a Porritt record for Medge Hall in 1900 (Porritt 1904).  White-spotted is a species of damp areas and woodland, its second generation larvae feed on flowers and seeds of wild angelica and hogweed, the spring generation on the flowers of elder.

White-spotted Pug Crowle Moor 25.7.14


Another noteworthy Pug recorded was Golden-Rod, another uncommon species with a male and female taken on the western periphery.

Round-winged Muslin (below) is a species feeding on lichens (especially dog lichen) and various mosses.  Small numbers were caught at four of the stations.

Round-winged Muslin 1 Crowle Moor 25.7.14

Thanks to the nineteen brave souls who ventured forth that evening to rise to the challenge of 200 in a single evening, well done!

Harry Beaumont, Matthew Blissett, Phil Cadman, Dave Chesmore, Louise Eaton, Steve Hiner, John Hartley, James Hinchliffe, John Hitchcock,  Catherine Jones, Helen Kirk, Phil Lee, Alf McGowan, Ron Moat,  Margaret Prior, Ted Sabin, Martin Warne,  Darren Whitaker and Trisha Williams.

Here’s to next year and better weather …. in the interim there’s still a good chunk of the season left so keep those records coming in.

Thanks to Phil Lee for sharing his images.

‘Moor’ wind farms? : Old River Don, Crowle.

January 9, 2014

A reminder that there are PUBLIC INFORMATION SESSIONS in respect of proposals to build another 7 turbines which will continue on from the Tween Bridge wind farm on the southern boundary of Thorne Moors SSSI, SPA, SAC.

REG, the developers are inviting people to meet their team in January 2014

Friday 10 January 12 noon till 5pm

at Crowle Community Hub, High Street, Crowle or

Saturday 11 January 10am till 4pm

at Crowle Community Hall, Woodland Gardens, Crowle.

In the interim if people seek more information they ask you to contact Barry from their stakeholder engagement team on 0800 458 6976.  Email:

Please tell them where you heard about their proposal.

Below: Tween Bridge turbines viewed from Green Bank.

120121 TB from Green Bank 771

‘Moor’ wind farms? : Old River Don, Crowle.

December 18, 2013

The Forum has received information about PUBLIC INFORMATION SESSIONS in respect of proposals to build another 7 turbines which will continue on from the Tween Bridge wind farm on the southern boundary of Thorne Moors SSSI, SPA, SAC.

REG, the developers are inviting people to meet their team in January 2014

Friday 10 January 12 noon till 5pm

at Crowle Community Hub, High Street, Crowle or

Saturday 11 January 10am till 4pm

at Crowle Community Hall, Woodland Gardens, Crowle.

In the interim if people seek more information they ask you to contact Barry from their stakeholder engagement team on 0800 458 6976.  Email:

Please tell them where you heard about their proposal.

Below: Tween Bridge turbines viewed from Green Bank.

120121 TB from Green Bank 771


National NATURE Reserves set to become the new ‘country parks’?

November 16, 2013

Recently we have had a few more signatures on our 38 degree petition STOP & RETHINK National Nature Reserves as Open Access areas.

Why I wonder?  I’d hope that it’s consequential of common sense prevailing as well as a mixture of astonishment and disbelief or perhaps even anger and naive expectation that a Government agency would act in an open and transparent manner by demonstrating best practice as well as legislative compliance.  Sadly, neither expectation has been in evidence, in fact quite the reverse.

Have any of you out there heard about Nature Conservation Assessments?  Setting aside the lack of science or any evidence, nor involvement with a wider expertise beyond internal staff, they appear to be a new approach to assessing ‘Likely Significant Effect’ on the interest features of a Natura 2000 site.  At the risk of being accused of scepticism they seem instead to be a way to side step Habitats Directive legislative compliance (Article 6(3)).  We are told that these documents exist for all the 83 NNRs proposed for Dedication as Open Access under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act. 

See JNCC website on the Habitats Directive.  The guidance is extensive on plans and projects which might impact on Natura 2000 sites.  See particularly Assessment of plans and projects significantly affecting Natura 2000 sites.  Methodological guidance on the provisions of Article 6(3) and (4) of the Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC.  Perhaps from an NE perspective, it is easier to re-write the rules and who could blame them?

So, what might that mean for the sensitive habitats and species out there?  What might it mean for the public who visit for the quite enjoyment of the tranquil landscape or to experience the magic of wilderness and wildlife?

Car Park 115aDSC_0003

Car park requirement, litter bins (mmh, they are either full to overflowing or not used at all in my experience), lots of colourful expensive ‘interpretation’ boards (target practice for air gun or rifle enthusiasts) and not forgetting toilets ….  I do so wish they’d sort the variation for dogs as it’s been unpleasant to witness people in wheelchairs suffering the aftermath and deposits of thoughtless pets, or rather the failure of their owners to act responsibly.

The funding for all these?  We are informed that it will come from ‘core’, so despite the fact that budgets are being cut there is the ‘suggestion’ that additional expenditure can be accommodated?  Not possible, so then what is dropped or neglected?  Given that Thorne & Hatfield Moors SSSI for example, have yet to achieve ‘favourable condition status’ (FCS) so if funds are diverted from nature conservation management then how will that situation be addressed?  Thereafter if they fail to achieve FCS are they de-notified and disposed of?

Alarmist, not at all …. how many of you remember the 1997 endeavour by English Nature to denotify large areas of Thorne & Hatfield Moors SSSI when the peat extractors Fison’s funded the hydrological reports upon which the EN case was based?  Interestingly there is no corporate sponsor of the ‘science’ this time, perhaps that’s why there is none?  Perhaps the local authorities who might benefit as they impose more restrictions on dogs in public places are keen to see NNRs become ‘alternative country parks’?

There is the issue of health and safety, Thorne Moors SSSI particularly have very deep and dangerous drains and canals.  Parts of Crowle Moors SSSI too are equally as inviting but just as dangerous.  Worse though are the uncontrolled dogs.  Already there have been two attacks on Hatfield Moors and one was sufficiently serious to be reported to the police.

Dog walker

Please note that the walker and the dog pictured above, are not as far as we are aware the guilty parties of the attack mentioned above.

A Senior Director has tried to suggest that there will be little difference in reality, so why on earth spend funds on the exercise?

As the sites are rewetted through the implementation of the Water Level Management Plan required to assist achieving FSC, the Special Protection Area (SPA) interest feature the enigmatic and crepuscular nightjar will be squeezed to the drier areas.

Nightjar (PP)

What of the woodlark, a Schedule 1 breeding bird?  They too have already been disturbed and displaced by NE access projects in previous seasons.  But, as ‘judge and jury’ NE refused to ‘hear’ the complaint.  These are also the areas which are favoured for picnics and needed for car parks and cafes, toilets etc.

The Forum do not oppose open access in principle, but this plan / project promoted by Natural England has been a communication failure from start to the present time.  The Senior Director was insistent that the Forum have been consulted, rather the reality was that we had been notified and in my South Yorkshire dictionary there is a substantive difference in meaning between the two words!  There has been no ‘science’ to support the proposal this time, but if you examine the proportion of access vs science based staff in NE that is perhaps not surprising and there is negligible commissioned science by the Government agency here in the Humberhead Levels.

So, thank you to those of you who have signed the 38 degree petition, if you are new to the Forum’s blog and haven’t signed the petition then please consider doing so.  Better still, write to your MP, or the Minister (Owen Paterson) or the Chairman of the Board of NE about the issue.  If you would like to know more then please contact us via

‘Moor’ ramblings & rants but not forgetting natural observations ….

September 20, 2013

Readers may recall a recent post pondering the fate of Hatfield Moor’s Neolithic trackway.  I have tried and will continue to try to establish an update from statutory agencies perspective in terms of its condition status, but yes …. please continue to watch this space.  In the interim ….

It was a tad cool to start with on Monday morning as I arrived at Crowle Moors but the autumnal sun appeared and tempted out the last few speckled wood and small tortoisehell butterflies to enjoy the warmth and bramble fruit juices.  A party of house martins of around eight birds were also observed hawking over the ‘nettle crop’ meadow as were a similar number of swallows, all fuelling up before their long migratory flight.  Later on, another small flock flew westwards over Swinefleet Warping Drain towards Thorne Moors and the NE depot as I made my way around the reserve, their constant chittering a reminder of the passing season.

However, by far the best ‘tick’ for the visit were the four superb red deer stags (there might have been a fifth animal but the vegetation obscured an accurate count) feeding, irritatingly the camera was still in my rucksack and as I was up wind of them I simply froze to enjoy the view which I knew would disappear as soon as they picked up my scent.  I had excellent views of three of the substantive beasts, two of them had good number of points or tines,  sadly I have not published the number because of the ‘sporting’ interest in such animals.  The presence of red deer on the Thorne Moors complex is a very contentious issue not least because of financial implications, sporting opportunities and landowner interest.  I can’t remember the last time I was lucky enough to see a Royal and as for a Imperial or a Monarch ….

The image below illustrates antlers from two different animals, one from a Scottish moor the other from Thorne Moors.  Can you tell which from where?


Red antlers 351


Other recent observations include the recent occurence at light of a Brindled Green Dryobotodes eremita at Haxey Turbary recently.   The State of Britains Larger Moths categorises the species as broadly being one of  woodlands and they report it as having increased by nearly 300% up to that date.  UK Moths website describe it as reasonably common.  An oak feeder the species is not a commonly recorded one on the Humberhead Peatlands unless of course you know differently?  In which case, drop us an email so we can update our records.


Brindled Green 3 Haxey Turbary 14.9.13

National Nature Reserves still need our protection, if you’ve not already signed our 38 degree petition here, please think about it.  If you’ve concerns about our stance that are not answered on the petition page then please do contact us.

Images by Phil Lee & Helen Kirk.

‘Moor’ moffin

August 21, 2013

Firstly, a massive thanks you to all blog followers who have signed the 38 degrees campaign petition STOP & RETHINK National Nature Reserves as Open Access areas, if you’ve not already done so then please do consider signing it.  If you’ve already signed, then please pass on the details to your friends, colleagues and network.  They tell me that social media is the way to get these things really good exposure, so if you twitter – please do so in the interests of nature conservation and help ensure that the product (NNR) remains worthy of its label for future generations.

Thanks also to ‘moffin’ colleagues for sending the superb images of recent finds across for the post.  It looks like there have been some good sessions recently with Haworth’s Minor also logged across on Thorne Moors, as well Angle-striped Sallow and Birch Mocha, so the peatlands are still home to quality species.

Barred Chestnut Diarsia dahlii (Hb.) is a species of moorland and wooded heathland on acid soils, so not unexpected but a very welcome addition to the Crowle Moors list.


Barred Chestnut 1 Crowle Moor south 16.8.13


Ling Pug Eupithecia absinthiata (Clerk) a species considered by some authorities to be a distinct species, by others a local form of the similar but larger Wormwood Pug.


Pug Crowle Moor south 16.8.13

Thanks to Phil Lee for the two images above, both Crowle specimens.

John Hartley recorded this specimen of Magpie moth Abraxas grossulariata on neighbouring Thorne Moors and comments that it used to be more common than it appears to be at present and from my own memories I’d probably be inclined to agree with him – would you?  Obviously it depends where you walk but it’s as likely that you might flush a Clouded Border Lomaspilis marginata as the larger cousin.


Magpie 3018 jh



“Moffin” on the Moors

August 17, 2013

Another post after ‘moor’ time spent on Crowle Moors ….

Having made sure the ‘lucky wellies’ were packed and with fingers crossed I headed for Crowle Moors for the second time in a week where a group of hardy naturalists set up two pairs of traps in the hope of attracting Haworth’s Minor, an uncommon species, listed in “The Inventory” as being last recorded on Thorne Moors in 1990 and Hatfiield Moors in 1970.  We set up camp strategically based within a ‘light flight’ to the species foodplant, eriophorum spp. i.e. cotton grass.  It is described as a Local species, known from between 100 – 300 10km squares (based on W,T&L, 2003).

As dusk came, so too the nighjars who graced us with their presence.  At least three birds came to ‘investigate’ our lights and a little later there was a considerable amount of churring for about an hour or so until the evening cooled down and when later condensation was found on the trap boxes and perspex wings.  Clearly still vociferous males out partying late into the season.  The latest date for nightjar on the Humberhead peatlands is as far as I’m aware that of a weak flying juvenile bird I logged on Hatfield Moors on 14 September 1997, which is actually the latest date for the county (Yorkshire).

After the thoroughly enjoyable and not totally unexpected interlude, back to the moths ….  July Highflyers in good numbers and Drinkers by the score, a couple of Ruby Tigers and then at five minutes to ten, a small noctuid landed on top of the tripod net, and a sharp eyed ‘moth-er’ realising its potential jumped into action!  Despite a game of dodge ’ems and chasing charlie it was soon captured and yes, we had our target species!

Haworth's Minor 3

It was also an evening of Canary-shouldered Thorns with perhaps thirty visiting the traps, a common enough species but a ‘bright and cheery’ addition to the list.  Good numbers of Lesser Swallow Prominents and a couple of delightful probable second generation Birch Mocha.  Four species of underwings and a similar numbers of pug species, and a different looking, not quite right Purple Clay which actually turned out to be a Barred Chestnut!  The other good find was Angle-striped Sallow, listed in “The Inventory” for Thorne in 1982, so another good ‘tick’ for the evening.  A good reference source in terms of the status of UK moths is Butterfly Conservation’s The State of the UK Larger Moths 2013.  Also recorded were a couple of Chevron, a variable species with colour forms from yellow through to brown.

Chevron 1

So, an excellent evenings work, good company and the data adding to the catalogue which continues to build a picture of the species present on the peatlands.  All this to some special and evocative background ‘music’ of nighjars, long-eared and tawny owls.  Watch this space for ‘moor’ detail and images from the night.

Images by Matt Blissett.


August 11, 2013

Last Monday was a rather changeable day in terms of weather.  Undeterred I arrived at Crowle Moors and parked up but then decidied that it might be wise to wear a waterproof jacket at least – by the end of the session I debated the wisdom of the action.  Despite the drizzle, butterflies appeared in moderate numbers particularly Gatekeepers or Hedge Browns if you prefer, but just to avoid any doubt Pyronia tithonus.

With the cooler weather there were not as many dragon and damsels active and the bees too were slow to appear.  There was no sign of activity at the entrance of the colony beneath heather roots alongside one of the tracks.

An interesting find were a few poor rain sodden Tansy plants, I’d noticed these in bud a week earlier and nothing unusual in that but as can be seen in the image below there are three growths protruding from the flower heads.  They are caused by the gall midge Rhopalomyia taneceticola (Dipter: Cecidomyiidae).

130805 Rhopalomyia tanaceticola CM hrk 522

As you marvel at the many intriguing and often complex relationships which all contribute to the interactions which deliver functioning ecosystems, you do wonder what of the future?  I sense that there may be a groundswell of discontent in terms of the deal that is not done in terms of the natural environment, the ongoing failure of those in Government to safeguard a healthy natural environment for our grandchildren.  The apathy at the top trickles or perhaps it floods down through the ranks of the statutory agencies and authorities charged with protecting habitats and species.

We’ve all heard of the outcome of the State of Nature, Mark Avery often blogs controvertial topics, which provoke interesting feedback.  The ongoing saga of Wuthering Moors is well worth keeping up with.  Catfield Fen another site under threat is reported on.   The Guardian newspaper published another of their offerings yesterday, Britain’s changing countryside: where next for the conservation movementSome as expected comments, but if nothing else it proves that people were sufficiently motivated to respond after reading it but whether they went that extra mile thereafter remains to be seen?

It would take a brave government to deliver on a quality natural environment which is safguarded for the future as the most important aspect of our [man’s] existence, rather than simply treating everything natural as a ‘resource’, which in the words of Iolo Williams is there to be used and abused.  Should the state take the lead and enforce regulatory safeguards?  Is it my recent reading material but there does appear to be a number of recent articles asking where the next generation of naturalists are but equally as important where are the next generation of environmental champions able to deliver tangible sustainability?

IMc Nr IM Thorne

I’m going for a walk to count the butterflies in my garden and hopefully the kingfisher will signal its presence too as it dashes along the drain ….

Make the most of the wildlife while it’s there

July 17, 2013

The image of a Grass Snake below, sent in by Bryan Wainwright, illustrates clearly the species distinct collar with two yellow patches each with a black crescent-shaped mark to the rear.  Females are larger than males and also have broader heads with less distinctive yellow patches and which in older individuals may be absent.  Whilst reasonably common on Thorne and Hatfield Moors they can also be encountered in gardens, indeed the leathery eggs can often be found in compost heaps or young emerging from those grass heaps in August and September.  A recent slough from my garden measured 75cms maybe a little more but it had begun to dry and ‘shrink’ when I measured it.



This image below, taken by Matt Blissett, depicts an immature Smooth Newt, recently metamorphosised was taken on Crowle Moors at the beginning of July. It is an interesting record as Smooth or Common Newts as they are also known are generally regarded as prefering neutral to slightly alkaline pH.


imm Smooth Newt MB 075


The spectacular image below of the SPA interest feature of Thorne and Hatfield Moors, the enigmatic nightjar shows clearly the distinctive white patches which indicate that this is a male.  They arrive in the uk at the end of May and begin to take up their territories and announce that fact with their evocative and magical churring.  These birds are crepuscular in their habits (appearing at dawn and dusk) but can occasionally be flushed during the day.  The species, which is protected in law, is susceptible to disturbance by walkers, particularly those with dogs off leashes.  An annual survey is undertaken on Thorne and Hatfield Moors but it is a basic count of churring males and does not provide any indication of breeding success, fledging or numbers of broods etc.


Nightjar TM


For more of his spectacular images go to Tim Melling’s flickr site.  See also Mark Avery’s blog where a stunning Purple Emperor adorns Mark’s post.


The ‘spittlebug’ below, taken by Steve Hiner (Natural England) is probably Aphrophora alni Alder Spittlebug.  A common froghopper and recorded from both Thorne and Hatfield Moors.




The image below, another of Steve’s shows Strangalia quadrifasciata a colourful and common longhorn beetle.  Associated with old woodland and particularly oak, alder and sometimes willows.  The larvae are wood borers in wood, stumps and logs.




So, nothing controvertial today, just items of natural history interest while they can still be had, enjoyed and shared.

Nature in the raw – active invertebrates

July 4, 2013
Libellula quadrimaculata oblivious to observation as it tucks in to a hearty lunch!

Libellula quadrimaculata oblivious to observation as it tucks in to a hearty lunch!

The Four-spotted Chaser above, photographed on Crowle Moors recently appeared unconcerned by the attention of admirers as it settled to feed on the Large Red Damselfly it had caught for its lunch.  For more information on dragonfly and damselfly identification and ecology visit the British Dragonfly Society website. 

With the advent of pocket size digital cameras with decent macro options, images are easily obtained and then in many cases identifications can be made from them.  Thanks to all contributors for sharing their finds and adding to the data held on the biodiversity to be found on the Humberhead Levels, particularly Thorne and Hatfield Moors.

Rhagium bifasciatum 504


The three images on today’s post have been sent in by Matt Blisset (Lincolnshire WT).  The two here are of the common longhorn beetle, Rhagium bifasciatum and all are excellent examples of opportunistic recording.  The longhorn beetles are vegetarian in their diet and as such not always popular with foresters.  Their larvae are a food source for woodpeckers who will break open decaying timber to extract them.  In late spring and early summer adults can be observed feeding on pollen so keep an eye on hawthorn, dogwood and hogweed flowers.


Rhagium bifisciatum 516


The one thing that is certain about Thorne and Hatfield Moors is that things are certainly unpredictable. The sites are recognised as being exceptional for the diversity of species to be found by anyone with any degree of patience and observational skill. Rewards there are a plenty, recent blog posts atest to that.

A good website Cerambycidae which will help with identification can be found here.  Another site with excellent images can also be found here.  Happy hunting and let us know what you find.

Remember also that if you’re in York this Sunday come and meet us at the Royal Entomological Society Insect Festival in the Yorkshire Museum Hospitium and Gardens.

Is invertebrate activity increasing at last?

June 11, 2013

Factor in time and patience alongside the advent of digital cameras and a whole host of identification books, websites and the database of biological records soon starts to build up.  Even those species perceived as common have not always been thus, nor is it likely that they will remain thus – whatever happened to the hundreds of House Sparrows I recall feeding on spilt gian in the stack yard of ‘yesterday’?

Below is a fresh Wall butterfly, showing just one tear post its recent emergence.

Wall Crowle Moor south 9.6.13

Volucella bombylans, taken on Crowle Moors is a bumblebee mimic. Its typical form has a red-haired tail, there is a white-haired tail variety and a much rarer variety which has extensively pale hairs all over.

Volucella bombylans Crowle Moor 9.6.13

Chrysotoxum arcuatum is regarded as a northern and western species typical of wooded areas and moorland margins. On the wing May to September and peaking in June.

Chrysotoxum arcuatum Crowle Moor 9.6.13

Leucozona lucorum where a typical specimen is unmistakable, however Stubbs and Falk (2002) comment that a species reported as new to science in 2000 L. inopinata is difficult to seperate and advised care in areas like the East Anglian Brecklands. A useful website is the Hoverfly Recording Scheme part of the Dipterist’s Forum Recording Scheme.

Leucozona lucorum Sedge Hole Close 6.6.13

A new guide to these fascinating flies has been published by WildGuides, written by Stuart Ball and Roger Morris Britain’s Hoverflies: An Introduction to the Hoverflies of Britain. More than 500 remarkable photographs depict all 69 hoverfly genera and the 164 most commonly seen species in Britain that can be identified by eye or with a hand lens. A good companion to the long time standard reference British Hoverflies by Alan Stubbs and Steven Falk published in 2002 by the BENHS.

Thanks to Phil Lee for sharing his images with us.

Saw …. flies, yes seen some excellent ones – a new county record

May 22, 2013

Thanks to Phil Lee for sharing the news of his recent discovery and for continuing to share his excellent images.  Today’s offerings illustrate Strongylogaster mixta (Klug, 1817), seen recently on Crowle Moors.  The species has an affinity with Lady Fern, Athyrium felix-femina.


130512 Strongylogaster mixta Sawfly 3 Crowle Moor pl


Sawflies are regarded as the most primative members of the order Hymenoptera which also includes bees, wasps and ants. There are around 500 species recorded in Britain.   Other excellent images of a variety of sawflies can be seen here. 


130512 Strongylogaster mixta Sawfly 2 Crowle Moor pl


The species which represents a good find for the Humberhead Levels area appears to be infrequently recorded if NBN is anything to judge by, favouring the west side of the country.


130512 Strongylogaster mixta Sawfly 1 Crowle Moor  pl


This discovery adds credence to the view that Thorne and Hatfield Moors, which include Crowle and encompass the other ‘Humberhead Peatlands’ at Epworth and Haxey Turbaries still have hidden gems awaiting discovery.  All it needs is enthusiasm and then patience.  The gauntlets down, let’s find ‘moor’ goodies ….

‘Moor’ moths ….

May 17, 2013

Here are a few more of the species recorded from the recent mothing session on Crowle Moors submitted by Phil Lee.

770 Carpatolechia proximella Crowle Moor 6.5.13


Carpatolechia proximella, is another widespread and common species of woodland and heathand whose larvae feed on birch and alder.


Purple Thorn 1 Crowle Moor 6.5.13


The male Purple Thorn shown above is another common moth recorded from the Humberhead Levels and a colourful addition to an evening’s moth trapping session.  Not surprisingly, it is more difficult to encounter through the day because of its cryptic camouflage.


Scalloped Hook-tip 1 Crowle Moor 6.5.13


The Scalloped Hook-tip shown above is a typical woodland species whose larvae feed on birch.  Three common species but still delightful to encounter and thanks to Phil for sharing them.

For those interested in the changes in moth fortunes, winners and losers then Butterfly Conservation’s report The State of Britain’s Larger Moths 2013 is well worth a read.  Such reports rely upon and draw heavily from volunteer submitted data.  So, as well as enjoying and sharing an interest in the study of nocturnal biodiversity, contributing data helps in conserving it.


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Mark Avery

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a new nature blog

I write about politics, nature + the environment. Some posts are serious, some not. These are my views, I don't do any promotional stuff and these views are not being expressed for anyone who employs me.

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