Beetlemania

After a rather embarrassing faux pas in mis-identifying a Frosted Orange moth as a Barred Sallow (see comments on yesterday’s posting), I’m feeling a little chary about saying too much today,  On the plus side, it at least shows that some of you – well one at least – is paying attention to my ramblings.

Today I was keen to do a preliminary recce for the ‘Going for Gold’ – 50 bird challenge, a walk that I’m to lead tomorrow. This was bequeathed to me by Bob Chapman who, as many of you will know, has now done a reverse migration to his old stamping ground at our Farlington Marshes reserve.

Well I spent a couple of hours out on the reserve and took the opportunity to address some maintenance issues on the hides. Those familiar with the reserve will know that the opening windows have some rather chunky hinges.  These are designed to prevent the windows from closing too rapidly under gravitational action and, hopefully, prevent them dropping on anyone’s head.  Over time the frictional resistance weakens and the adjusting screws need to be tightened, which is what I spent time on today, in between checking out the bird species around. 

I bumped into one couple who had seen the ’50 bird chalenge’ in the diary and had set themselves the challenge today when I left them they had seen 51 species – admittedly a few more than I had, but then they were concentrating on the task .  So I’m quietly confident that its achieveable tomorrow.  Call it my devious mind, if you like, but I’ve just re-read the Diary entry and it does say ’50 bird challenge’  ( no mention of species!!)- so with 40 coot , half a dozen mute swans and a few assorted  ducks we’ll soon get there…..(if you’re booked on tomorrow’s walk I’m only joking).

Although I didn’t find any unusual or unexpected species today among the birds seen were Egyptian and graylag goose, mallard, gadwall, shoveler, tufted duck, lapwing, common sandpiper, grey heron, great spotted and green woodpecker, nuthatch goldfinch, siskin and buzzard. I could go on ( and on and on and on – as my wife usually complains) but I guess you get the picture. Notable omission from today’s list was the great white egret, but it could be lurking out there somewhere.

As I failed to get close enough for any birdy pictures, I’ll finish with a couple of images from the light trap.  As I pointed out yesterday, it isn’t always only moths in the trap. Today there was a shieldbug – a rather magnificent specimen of ( I think[hope!] this is right) a Red-legged Shieldbug

Red-legged Shieldbug

Interesting word ‘legged’ – it divides us into two camps – do you say “leg-ged” or “leg’d”.

Also another beetle – I’m not going to pretend I can identify it, but I’ll bet there’s someone out there who can.

Beetle species

I love the red tips to the antennae – which are probably distinctive. I did have a quick stab at trying to identify it from a book, but gave up. A quote from the book’s introduction says it all about beetles – “The approximately 370,000 species described to date ( 1998) outnumber all the known species of vascular plants; there are six or seven described beetle species for every one of vertebrates”  From my low-level of knowledge, I really didn’t have a chance.  As one famous evolutionary zoologist ( J B S Haldane, I belive) once quipped ” God must be inordinately fond of beetles”.

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