Blog Postings

The postings will be introductions to each of my life lists. The lists themselves will appear in the side margin. I shall do some postings about particular localities and there will also be postings to provide updates every time I add a new species.
Please note that I am not qualified in any aspect of natural history - there will therefore be occasional (or, apparently, in the case of the hoverflies, a lot of) errors.

Friday, 3 October 2008


I’m not sure how many beetle species have actually made it onto my ‘life list’ over the years but the one in the left-hand column is a basic one with most the main species I have seen.

It adds up to about 94 species but equally interesting to me are the various forms of ladybird of which I have photos of 13 species but dozens more forms of those species.

Many people think of beetles as boring black creatures but they are anything but boring and even the black ones often have wonderful hues of violet, blue or green on their wing cases.

Sunday, 21 September 2008


Although the term 'bugs' is used by the general public as a synonym for insects or small invertebrates generally it has a specific meaning to the entomologist - insects in the order Hemiptera. In order to clarify the meaning, members of the order are sometimes referred to as True Bugs.

Bugs are small to moderately large insects with a large, horizontally held head which is generally visible from above. In most species the forewings are partly chitinous and the hindwings membranous but may be absent. They possess a sucking or stabbing proboscis. Bugs have widely differing shapes and habits and some confusion with beetles, cockroaches and psocids is possible.

My favourite bugs are the shield bugs – 11 species seen and photographed so far - which have a fairly distinctive shape and are comparatively easy to recognise as adults. As nymphs, especially in their early instars, they are a lot less easy to recognise but it all adds to the fun. My least favourites are the aphids and as yet I haven’t tried to list the individual species seen.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Moth list

The first list of species I ever compiled was butterflies. The second was British macro-moths and moths remain one of my major interests. It really infuriates me when I find, or attract to my moth light, a species that I am unable to identify. This happened earlier in the year at GB’s where I caught a few carpet moths of the same species to which I couldn’t put a name. I have some reasonable photos so hopefully I will manage to identify it before too long. In the meantime my life list of macro-moths stands at 262. I have photos of the majority of these.

I apologise to anyone who is seeking a logical order in my lists on the left of the page. In some cases they are in alphabetical order; in some they are in families; and a couple are in an order used only by me!

The Moth species are listed accordingly to family and then sub-family / tribe, etc.- from the most primitive to the most developed. I concluded there were too many to make a separate alphabetical list.

Dragonflies and Damselflies


The number of species of dragonflies and damselflies that I have seen has only had one addition in recent years – Keeled Skimmers near Llithfaen on the Lleyn Peninsula in July 2003. However, I am constantly improving the photos that I have taken of the various species.

Even in Helen’s garden in September this year I got better photos of Migrant Hawker and Golden-ringed Dragonfly than I had previously taken.

So far only one species has ventured into the garden (and the house!) at The Willows - the Southern Hawker. But I live in hope.

The list currently stands at 7 species of damselfly and 13 species of dragonfly (with the addition of Highland Darter – a subspecies of the Common Darter - taking it to 14). I have also seen an Emerald dragonfly but I don't know which species.

Friday, 19 September 2008

British Butterflies

There are 58 species of Butterfly which breed on the British mainland (Real’s Wood White occurs only in Ireland) of which one is a re-introduction from the continent after having become extinct - the Large Blue. There are also a number of occasional vagrant and exotic species, some of the latter simply being escapes from captivity. Of these 58 I have seen 39 species in the wild and two more in captivity.

I have photos of nearly all of them – the exceptions being the Small Blue (seen near Grange-in-Borrowdale in the 1960s) and the White Admiral (Forest of Dean 1990s).,
It is a long time since I added a species – the last being the Scotch Argus when on Skye in the 1990s. It is about time I saw a new one!

Thursday, 18 September 2008


Of the five species of frog, toad and newt that I have seen I have only photographed four - the exception being the Natterjack Toad. Although I have seen a number of these at the end of the Fisherman’s Path at Ainsdale I never got a photo. Both Common Frog and Smooth Newt live in the garden at The Willows and we also had a Common Toad at Yew Tree. Palmate Newts swarmed in the pond at the caravan.


I have seen five of the six reptiles found on the mainland of Britain – the missing species being the Smooth Snake. The only photo I have of a Grass Snake is one swimming the pond at Wast Hills near Birmingham but I have seen quite a few that were too quick to photograph. Apart from seeing a couple of Adders I was fortunate enough to get photos of a large one basking in the Wyre Forest.
I’ve got plenty of photos of Viviparous Lizards in various locations and a couple of a Sand Lizard at Formby. I've also seen Sand Lizards at Ainsdale. Last year I added a Slow Worm to my list when we saw some baby ones in Helen and Ian’s garden. This year the adult Slow Worm was kind enough to bask in the garden on many days, despite it not really being basking weather.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Butterflies at The Willows

So far I have seen 11 species of butterfly in the garden at The Willows:-

Holly Blue, Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood, Comma, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Peacock, Orange Tip, Large White, Small White, and Green-veined White.

Thursday, 11 September 2008


When Helen and I sat down to work out our list of British mammals seen in the wild I assumed it would be a quick job and a short list. In practice it turned out to be a much longer list than I had anticipated. It is also complicated by wanting to add those species seen in captivity (something I haven't done with the British birds list but might at some stage).
The list is now done and stands at 28 species / subspecies in the wild with another 8 in captivity.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Volucella inanis


9th September 2008 - A fairly spectacular hoverfly landed briefly in the garden at Frog End while Helen and I were out there. It turned out to be Volucella inanis. Sadly I didn't get a photo so although it took my total up to 52 species I only have photos of 51 of them.
The photo is by Ray Hamblett

Four birds in fourteen years...


No, that heading is not a reference to adultery! It's a reference to my abject failure to add to my lifetime list of avian fauna since 1994. At that time it stood at 166 British species seen in the wild. Since then I have added a few Long-eared Owls seen on various trips to the caravan in N Wales; some very distant Little Egrets at Dawlish Warren; a number of Choughs on the Lleyn Peninsula; and a Water Rail at Stover Country Park the other day. So my life list now stands at 170 species.

I suspect my gradually failing eyesight has been a contributory factor but I've also spent a lot of my country walks looking at invertebrates six inches from my nose and ignoring the birdlife. Even so it is a very poor record. I shall have to take my monocular around with me and look up a bit more.