Sunday 31 July 2022

For the past couple of years, around the end of July, we get lots of house martins gathering on our birch tree. It's difficult to estimate, but I reckon there were about 300 this year.

While out on a run, we came across this fox moth caterpillar who seemed to be eating knotgrass - again a weird foodplant for this species.

And later on in the run we spotted this Jersey Tiger moth and I managed to get a bit closer to it for a slightly better photo than the one from earlier this month.

House martins, Christophstal July 2022

House martins, Christophstal July 2022

House martins, Christophstal July 2022

House martins, Christophstal July 2022

Fox moth caterpillar, Christophstal July 2022

Fox moth caterpillar, Christophstal July 2022

Jersey tiger moth, Christophstal July 2022

Jersey tiger moth, Christophstal July 2022

Saturday 30 July 2022
Comma caterpillar, Christophstal July 2022

Comma caterpillar, Christophstal July 2022

Comma caterpillar, Christophstal July 2022

Comma caterpillar, Christophstal July 2022

Lettuce shark caterpillar, probably L2, Christophstal July 2022

Lettuce shark caterpillar, probably L2, Christophstal July 2022

Common frog, Christophstal July 2022

Common frog, Christophstal July 2022

The caterpillars from today are both fairly routine finds around here. What makes the comma unusual is that it is on hazel. That's not a normal foodplant for this species. I've looked through various sources and elm, nettle and hop are the usual foodplants. I collected this one and have confirmed that he is actually eating that leaf - he isn't just sitting on it.

The second caterpillar is a lettuce shark on Prenanthes purpurea. My guess is this is second instar. I don't think I've ever found an early instar before. Despite being brightly marked, they are quite difficult to spot on this particular plant unless they're full sized.

Just before closing the day, I thought I should check our cellar vent as things tend to fall into there on occasion. This common frog was really lucky - I haven't checked for a couple of weeks. I boxed him up and put him outside and he hopped away.

Thursday 28 July 2022

For the past couple of days we've been discussing the likelihood of seeing a grey-headed woodpecker in the garden, prompted by a leaflet we received from NABU. Today we saw one in our birch. This is out 101st bird species seen from the garden.

Grey-headed woodpecker, Christophstal July 2022

Grey-headed woodpecker, Christophstal July 2022

Grey-headed woodpecker, Christophstal July 2022

Grey-headed woodpecker, Christophstal July 2022

Grey-headed woodpecker, Christophstal July 2022

Grey-headed woodpecker, Christophstal July 2022

Grey-headed woodpecker, Christophstal July 2022

Grey-headed woodpecker, Christophstal July 2022

Sunday 24 July 2022
Pine hawk-moth caterpillar, Christophstal July 2022

Pine hawk-moth caterpillar, Christophstal July 2022

Pine hawk-moth caterpillar, Christophstal July 2022

Pine hawk-moth caterpillar, Christophstal July 2022

We found this huge pine hawk-moth caterpillar on the woodland path while out for a run this morning. I moved him to the edge of the path so he doesn't get squashed.

Saturday 23 July 2022

I went around the garden this evening to see if there was anything interesting. The first thing I saw was this male European Wool Carder bee. We'd seen a female last year. He's a bit wet as I'd just watered that plant (the plant he was on is downy, so he might have been scraping the hairs off that before I splashed him).

Further up the garden, we had our first European firebug. My insect book refers to them feeding on mallow seeds, and guess what plant he was on?

Here are a few other photos of insects which I still need to ID.

Male European wool carder bee, Christophstal July 2022

Male European wool carder bee, Christophstal July 2022

Male European wool carder bee, Christophstal July 2022

Male European wool carder bee, Christophstal July 2022

Male European wool carder bee, Christophstal July 2022

Male European wool carder bee, Christophstal July 2022

European firebug, Christophstal July 2022

European firebug, Christophstal July 2022

Bug TBI, Christophstal July 2022

Bug TBI, Christophstal July 2022

Bee #1 in a mallow flower TBI, Christophstal July 2022

Bee #1 in a mallow flower TBI, Christophstal July 2022

Bee on a marigold flower TBI #2, Christophstal July 2022

Bee on a marigold flower TBI #2, Christophstal July 2022

Bee on a marigold flower TBI #2, Christophstal July 2022

Bee on a marigold flower TBI #2, Christophstal July 2022

Friday 22 July 2022
Adder (deceased), Talstrassle (woodland path), Christophstal July 2022

Adder (deceased), Talstrassle (woodland path), Christophstal July 2022

Altralata albofascialis, Christophstal July 2022

Altralata albofascialis, Christophstal July 2022

While out on a run, we spotted this unfortunate adder. We were really surprised to see one on this shady forest path. It had to have been really unlucky to have got run over there as it isn't very busy.

While showering after the run, I saw a small moth on the blinds in the bathroom. I was expecting a twenty-plume moth or something equally beautiful, but mundane. When I'd got it boxed up, I realised it was something special. This is Atralata albofascialis, a very small (around 10mm across) but wonderfully marked moth. This probably came in with some marigold heads that Christine brought in to dry. The marigolds are right next to some horseheal plants which happen to be the foodplant of this species.

Wednesday 20 July 2022

We had a new butterfly species in the garden this morning. This summer generation map was not only the first record for the garden, but was also the first time I've seen one (they're not present in the UK).

Map butterfly (summer generation), Christophstal July 2022

Map butterfly (summer generation), Christophstal July 2022

Map butterfly (summer generation), Christophstal July 2022

Map butterfly (summer generation), Christophstal July 2022

Monday 18 July 2022
Egyptian geese, Friedrichstal angling ponds July 2022

Egyptian geese, Friedrichstal angling ponds July 2022

Small chocolate-tip moth, Christophstal July 2022

Small chocolate-tip moth, Christophstal July 2022

Small chocolate-tip moth, Christophstal July 2022

Small chocolate-tip moth, Christophstal July 2022

Out on a run this afternoon, I came across a pair of Egyptian geese with their 5 goslings down by the Friedrichstal angling ponds. I'd like to think this is the same pair that spent a great part of the early spring with us.

This small chocolate-tip moth was resting on the wall of our house when I got back.

Sunday 17 July 2022

Grey wagtails and white wagtails are regular visitors to our pond now. They seem to run around the edge plucking larvae out from the water.

One of the red-backed shrike families were gathered in a tree.

And three very cute baby greenfinches were in our hawthorn.

I've been neglecting the butterflies recently - but they're having a really good year too. There were a couple of silver washed fritillaries on our marjoram, along with a small copper, a sooty copper and a common blue.

Grey wagtail, Christophstal July 2022

Grey wagtail, Christophstal July 2022

Red-backed shrike family, Christophstal July 2022

Red-backed shrike family, Christophstal July 2022

Two baby red-backed shrikes, Christophstal July 2022

Two baby red-backed shrikes, Christophstal July 2022

Three baby greenfinches, Christophstal July 2022

Three baby greenfinches, Christophstal July 2022

Silver washed fritillary, Christophstal July 2022

Silver washed fritillary, Christophstal July 2022

Silver washed fritillary, Christophstal July 2022

Silver washed fritillary, Christophstal July 2022

Small copper, Christophstal July 2022

Small copper, Christophstal July 2022

Sooty copper, Christophstal July 2022

Sooty copper, Christophstal July 2022

Common blue, Christophstal July 2022

Common blue, Christophstal July 2022

Saturday 16 July 2022
<em>Chironomus</em> spp. Christophstal July 2022

Chironomus spp. Christophstal July 2022

Baby blackcap, Christophstal July 2022

Baby blackcap, Christophstal July 2022

Male blackcap, Christophstal July 2022

Male blackcap, Christophstal July 2022

Baby red-backed shrike, Christophstal July 2022

Baby red-backed shrike, Christophstal July 2022

Female red-backed shrike, Christophstal July 2022

Female red-backed shrike, Christophstal July 2022

Hawfinch, Christophstal July 2022

Hawfinch, Christophstal July 2022

Baby greenfinch, Christophstal July 2022

Baby greenfinch, Christophstal July 2022

Adult greenfinch, Christophstal July 2022

Adult greenfinch, Christophstal July 2022

Great tit exiting nest box with faecal sac (2nd brood), Christophstal July 2022

Great tit exiting nest box with faecal sac (2nd brood), Christophstal July 2022

Starting out today with a picture of the underside of a midge (Chironomus spp.) taken through a window. These ones don't bite apparently.

These were a lot of birds around today - we had a family of blackcaps, two red-backed shrike families (7 red-backed shrikes!!), a hawfinch (crunching the bird cherry pips) and some baby greenfinches.

To emphasize what a good year it has been for breeding birds, here's a photo of our bird box in use again after the first brood. He's exiting with a faecal sac, so the chicks have already hatched.

Thursday 14 July 2022

While out on a run, just around the corner from home, this Jersey tiger moth flew in front of me. It's a terrible phone photo taken from several metres away. I've never seen one before - these are very seldom seen in the UK.

While watering our potatoes, I discovered this very unwelcome visitor. He was boxed up and put in the freezer I'm afraid. I couldn't find any others so we may be lucky this year.

Jersey tiger, Christophstal July 2022

Jersey tiger, Christophstal July 2022

Colorado beetle, Christophstal July 2022

Colorado beetle, Christophstal July 2022

Monday 11 July 2022
<em>Euclidia</em> caterpillar, Christophstal July 2022

Euclidia caterpillar, Christophstal July 2022

<em>Euclidia</em> caterpillar, Christophstal July 2022

Euclidia caterpillar, Christophstal July 2022

I took a couple more photos of the Euclidia caterpillar I collected a couple of weeks back. These are final instar just prior to pupation. The black dot on the underside is interesting - I don't know if that's a distinguishing feature. I can't find any mention of that.

Sunday 10 July 2022

It's turning out to be a fine summer for fruits and insects. The bird cherries are heavily laden with berries and this hogweed is laden with Rhagonycha fulva beetles.

Not much else to report today apart from this Sermylassa halensis beetle on our house wall.

Bird cherry berries, Christophstal July 2022

Bird cherry berries, Christophstal July 2022

<em>Rhagonycha fulva</em>, Christophstal July 2022

Rhagonycha fulva, Christophstal July 2022

Sermylassa halensis, Christophstal July 2022

Sermylassa halensis, Christophstal July 2022

Saturday 9 July 2022
Scarlet tiger moth, Christophstal July 2022

Scarlet tiger moth, Christophstal July 2022

Green mountain grasshopper, Christophstal July 2022

Green mountain grasshopper, Christophstal July 2022

Crimson clover, Christophstal July 2022

Crimson clover, Christophstal July 2022

Wryneck, Christophstal July 2022

Wryneck, Christophstal July 2022

Wryneck, Christophstal July 2022

Wryneck, Christophstal July 2022

Wryneck, Christophstal July 2022

Wryneck, Christophstal July 2022

<em>Barbitistes serricauda</em>, Christophstal July 2022

Barbitistes serricauda, Christophstal July 2022

<em>Barbitistes serricauda</em>, Christophstal July 2022

Barbitistes serricauda, Christophstal July 2022

Christine found a scarlet tiger underneath our rhubarb and I spotted the first green mountain grasshopper for this year. It's always worrying having changes in the garden in case it upsets some delicate balance, but if the green mountain grasshoppers are still around, it looks like we're OK.

We found yet another new plant species in the garden - crimson clover. This is probably another introduction from our seed mixes.

As we were packing away all our gardening equipment, we were delighted to see a wryneck eating the ants on the steps of one of our sheds. This is the same ant nest that we first saw a wryneck back in 2015 so these must be a particularly tasty species. This ant nest was erupting all day today.

And finally, when I went out for a run in the early evening, I found this spectacular bush cricket, Barbitistes serricauda - a specialist of the black forest and although they're not uncommon, they're rarely seen as they spend a lot of time at the top of trees. The second part of the latin name refers to those serated, sabre-shaped egg laying tubes at the rear end of this female.

Thursday 7 July 2022

We had our first sighting this year of a newly fledged red-backed shrike. The male and female were both about too feeding him/her. It looks like they only had one fledgling whereas we've seen families with two or three in previous years. While waiting to be fed, he/she managed a bit of shut-eye. 

Red-backed shrike fledgling, Christophstal July 2022

Red-backed shrike fledgling, Christophstal July 2022

Red-backed shrike fledgling, Christophstal July 2022

Red-backed shrike fledgling, Christophstal July 2022

Red-backed shrike fledgling, Christophstal July 2022

Red-backed shrike fledgling, Christophstal July 2022

Red-backed shrike fledgling taking a nap, Christophstal July 2022

Red-backed shrike fledgling taking a nap, Christophstal July 2022