Brightness and colour was the theme at Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire at the weekend. These some of the brighter species of moth attracted to the traps -Garden Tiger Arctia caja above and below Eyed Hawk-moth Smerinthus ocellata.
Equally pleasing on the eye were the stunning Buff Arches Habrosyne pyritoides and Peach Blossom Thyatira batis on a weekend in which almost 700 moths of over 100 species were recorded.
Despite not being bright as the ones above, but slightly more relevant to the recording programme – Prays fraxinella Ash Bud Moth was attracted to light for the first time in Tophill history, the previous record was one found in the field last summer by Doug Fairweather, while Udea olivalis is another species rarely trapped on site.
The sunshine also encouraged a few more butterflies onto the wing. Marbled White Melanargia galathea was recorded for the first time this summer, while several Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta and Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae made up the other highlights.
The migratory Scaeva pyrastri put in its first appearance of the summer on Saturday when temperatures eased early evening. No doubt many more of these will be noted in the coming weeks if the settled weather remains. Many hoverflies were seen, but all proved difficult to photograph during the weekend of hot sunshine.
One addition to the Tophill fauna list this weekend was the Soldier Fly Stratiomys potamida Banded General which posed briefly on Sunday before quickly vanishing from view.
The settled weather ensured birding proved to be quiet. Signs of migration were limited to a single Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus on Watton Nature Reserve on Saturday with a Greenshank Tringa nebularia high south early evening, while a Crossbill Loxia curvirostra flew west on Sunday. The regular Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus and Cetti’s Warbler Cettia cetti were noted, while a slight increase in the numbers of Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus suggests it won’t be long before I’ll be taking more interest in Larid spotting. For more of the week’s Tophill news, check out the official Tophill Low blog.
A tour of Hempholme Meadow was undertaken on Sunday. With the volunteers and warden Richard Hampshire tasked with flora survey work, I took the opportunity to do some Odonata recording. Despite facing vegetation over two metres high in places, I made my way around the perimeter ditch and to the two pools. A decent count involved 160 Azure Damselfly Coenagrion puella, 73 Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum, 87 Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura elegans, 2 Hairy Dragonfly Brachytron pratense, 26 Four-spotted Chaser Libellula quadrimaculata, 32 Black-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum, 1 Common Darter Sympetrum striolatatum and 2 Ruddy Darter
It was pleasing to note the Hairy Dragonflies in suitable habitat, while surprising that no Red-eyed Damselfly Erythromma najas were recorded after being present in number during the latter period of last summer.
The weekend saw 13 species of Odonata recorded. The first Ruddy Darter of the campaign was found by Dave Ashton on Saturday while Yorkshire dragonfly expert Paul Ashton picked up the second Broad-bodied Chaser Libellula depressa of the summer. A few more Southern Hawker Aeshna cyanea were noted on the wing this weekend and the annual exuvaie harvest of a pool at the southern end of the site yielded an impressive 58 on Saturday with a further 5 collected on Sunday. News on Yorkshire dragonfly sightings can be found on the Yorkshire BDS website.
Despite the dry conditions, the Myxomycete Fuligo septica was noted for the first time this year, while a few more Dryad’s Saddle Polyporus squamosus specimens were recorded fungi wise.
A fantastic selection of beetle were also on offer. Tophill’s Cerambycidae selection for the year was probably finally completed with the addition of Leptura quadrifasciata Four-banded Longhorn Beetle to the list with the more regularly recorded Agapanthia vilosoviridescens Golden-bloomed Grey Longhorn Beetle and Rutpela maculata Black and Yellow Longhorn Beetle also noted. Nicrophorus vespilloides appeared in the moth trap for the first time this summer, while a new location for Water Ladybird Anisosticta 19-punctata which was only recently added to the site list was discovered by Paul on Saturday. For more of the photos from Saturday, check out Paul’s blog East Yorkshire Wildlife