Wednesday, 26 June 2013

It's a Quail-ity summer

Apart from biting flies, that make your legs ache. They make your legs ache because you can't get back to the car quick enough when you are being targeted by these horrible insects. One day last year i made the mistake of wearing shorts to Otmoor in the summer. NEVER AGAIN!! I suggest if you are planning a visit, to cover up or use a good repellent. Myself and several others were bitten on Tuesday.
On a happier note. According to an Otmoor stalwart there are several Quail on the reserve at the moment calling from several places on Greenaways, Ashgrave, Closes and the 100 acre field. One in particular around the cattle pen area of Greenaways. Also keep your ears open, because it was about this time of year last year, we had a visit from the now famous Corncrake. A Spoonbill was seen on Monday (Per Jack) flying over the 2nd screen and heading towards Ashgrave. I missed the bird by ten minutes. We walked up to the farm, hoping to be able to see if it had landed on the scrape over the far side of Ashgrave. But to no avail, as the grass is so long, you would have been lucky to see an Ostrich out there let alone a Spoonbill. There are plenty of Grey Herons and Little Egrets on the reserve, so food must be plentiful. Lets hope if it did land, there would be enough food for it to stay awhile.
Warbler numbers are swelling, due to lots of fledglings and the drake ducks are beginning to look ragged as they go into eclipse. Three Turtle doves are still very obliging around the cattle pens and Oak trees along the Greenaways bridleway.

Willow Warbler..

A blog on Otmoor wouldn't be the same without a photo of its resident poser.
The Sedge Warbler along the path to the 1st screen..

Reed Warbler..

Turtle Dove and Turtle dove in flight..

Not the spoonbill. Just a Little Egret..

The bugs continue to impress with Longhorns and Cardinals still to be found along the bridleway and roman road. My first Brown Hawker Dragonfly of the year was hawking in a clearing along the bridleway between Greenaways and Closes field.
I also saw for the 2nd time in two weeks a golden yellow coloured Dragonfly Slightly smaller and thinner bodied than a Four spotted chaser or Broad bodied chaser. I could not make out any other colours on it. But never got close enough to have a good look or take a photo.
A special thank you to Jodie Southgate who sent me three stunning photos of a very strange beast. It's a Scarce fungus Weevil (aka Cramp-ball fungus Weevil) (aka Platyrhinus Resinosus).

Thanks Jodie. What a fantastic beasty.

Butterfly species..
Brimstone, Orange tip and first for the year Red Admirals, Speckled wood and a rather tatty looking Tortoiseshell all seen this week.

Speckled wood..

Tatty Tortoiseshell..

Red Eyed Damselfly Female..

Nasty biters.. Horse flies (Tabanidae family)

Not 100 % on this one i think it is a Ground or Rove Beetle Larva but can't pin down which one. It was shiny black, about an inch long and moved like a centipede, but only appeared to have legs at the front end..If anyone knows it's I'd, it would be great if you could please leave a comment in the comment box at foot of page

Brown Hare..

Friday, 21 June 2013


Just one quick visit to the moor was all i could manage this week. (Wed 19th) and what a scorcher it was. Very hot and high humidity made for a sweltering morning. All nine species of Warbler, that are breeding on the reserve, were seen or heard including two Grasshoppers in the carpark field. Three Turtle doves, Marsh Harrier and Raven all seen from the bridleway. The Insects took centre stage today. As memorable for the fantastic one that got away (From the camera) as the ones i was lucky enough to photograph. The one that got away was a huge parasitic Wasp (Cryptocheilus comparatus) this huge wasp with elongated body catches mainly Wolf Spiders, including in warmer climbs Tarantulas. It stings them to cause paralysis and lays its eggs in the zombified body. Three species of Longhorn Beetle were found. By far the most common is the Agapanthea Villosoviridescens. This magnificent insect with its outrageously long blue and black antennae was found all along the bridleway with seven seen between the Cattle pens and the hide alone. I watched one being stalked by a Wolf spider. As the spider approached, the Longhorn charged at it like a Bull, sending the spider scuttling for cover.

Agapanthea Villosoviridescens..

Longhorn being stalked..

Wolf spider, Longhorn Confrontation..

Another member of the Longhorn family is the Strangalia Maculata. Found along the Roman road, this lovely Beetle was flying between flower heads. It's black and Yellow striped antennae are not quite so impressive as it's cousin's but a beautiful insect nonetheless.

Strangalia Maculata..

In Flight..

The third family member is the Wasp Beetle or Clytus Arietis. It is a fantastic Wasp mimic it can often be seen scurrying along tree branches and logs waving its antennae.

Wasp Beetle..

Another Beetle to look out for is the electric green coloured Oedemera Nobilis. It can be found mostly feeding on nectar in Buttercup flower heads. The swollen thighs on its hind legs are a good identification feature.

Another unusual sighting was a rather fat Scorpion fly gorging itself on food stolen from a Spiders web. In the photo you can clearly see the tail, that gives this insect its name. When threatened it will wave its tail in the air. It feeds on dead animal matter and rotting vegetation.

Soldier flies..
This order of flies hold their wings straight along their backs often covering up a very colourful body.

Beris Clavipes..

Sagus Iridatus..

Large hover or Bee fly..

Other photos...

Cricket with snail shell..

Crab Spider..

Four Spotted Chaser..

Red Eyed Damselfly caught in Spiders Web..

Upside down, Huge Drinker Moth Caterpillar..

Drinker Moth clasp, holding on..

Garden Tiger moth Caterpillar..

Burnet Companion Moth..

Silver Ground Carpet Moth..

Reed Bunting showing tail..

Lesser Whitethroat..


Red Kite..