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.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Astropecten irregularis

 I came across a few new species of things during my Scottish holiday this year but by far the best was the starfish Astropecten irregularis.  I may have seen it before but failed to recognise it.

We rescued this one from an exposed piece of hard sand at Gairloch and placed it on some soft sand in which it buried itself in less than 30 seconds.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Blister Beetle


This tiny, ant-like beetle is a blister beetle of the family Meloidae – perhaps an Anthicus species, possibly Anthicius floralis – the narrow-necked harvest beetle. Like most creatures on the Island it enjoys aggravating humans. In this case it pierces the skin and injects canthadrin – a poisonous chemical which causes blistering of the skin. (Canthadrin is used medically to remove warts). For the purposes of scientific research and a better photo I allowed it to have a go at me. When not busy biting it was sprinting all over my hand which made it difficult to photograph. Once stationery and biting it was easier to photograph – the things I do for science!

I can confirm that being injected with canthadrin hurts.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Birds in the garden

A new bird visitor was added to the garden list today - a female Chaffinch. That makes 24 species we have seen in the garden itself (not counting those that just fly overhead).

The number of species that actually nest in the garden has also increased this year and although no Collared Doves nested, as they often do, (I think the Sparrowhawk is to blame for that) we had 8 species - Robin, House Sparrow, Dunnock, Wood Pigeon, Starling, Blackbird, Great Tit and Blue Tit. Not bad for a small suburban garden.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011



I have often heard Corncrakes on the Isle of Lewis and in the last time I went up there there was one creaking away in the grass between Pat and Dave's and GB's. The previous year GB and I heard a few competing with each other beside the car park by the Gearrannan Black House Village. But I have never seen one.

I knew from pictures what they looked like but nevertheless I was surprised at how small they are when I saw a stuffed Corncrake family at Chester Museum.

(It is worth recording here that when Mum was young they could be heard calling in the fields opposite her house on Queens Drive, Broad Green, Liverpool. Such has been their decline since then that one has to go to the Hebrides to have much hope of hearing one.)

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Baby Jackdaw


A baby Jackdaw at Chirk Castle.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Hummingbird Hawkmoth


On Wednesday Brother-who-blogs took Partner-who-loves-tea and I to Chirk Castle for the day. Highlight of the day for me was not directly to do with the castle or gardens – it was a new moth species – the Hummingbird Hawkmoth.

The wings go up and down at around 70 complete beats per second which makes it hard to photograph – especially as it was on the far side of a wide border. When it decides it has had enough it can zoom off at about 30 mph - making it one of the fastest insects on the planet.