By Kevin McGee
One was photographed at Tiddesley Wood on 31.7.01. This is my 1st record for the site and one which puzzles me as I visit the wood regularly and have not seen it there before, and to-date I have yet to meet somebody that has! This nationally scarce species is readily seen during daytime at Monkwood, especially in May when the first brood is flying, I also have records for Wyre Forest. The larval foodplant is Wood Spurge (Euphorbia amygdaloides), which is common in Tiddesley. Mine would be a second brood adult, which are always more scarce than the first brood, but this would suggest that first brood adults of the species should be seen regularly earlier in the year. Has anyone else recorded Drab Looper at Tiddesley?
A pair were in-cop amongst low vegetation at Mill Meadow, Drakes Broughton on 1.7.01. My 1st record for the species, which is nationally scarce. I first saw a large yellowish insect flying lazily in a peculiar swaying manner about three feet above the ground. I knew immediately that it was one of the Hornet Moths as it was too bright in colour to be a real Hornet. It then suddenly dropped to the ground amongst the grasses and lush vegetation and as I approached very carefully with my camera at the ready I became aware that another, the female, was already on the ground. I allowed the pair to settle down before taking some photographs. The larva feeds in the lower trunks and upper roots of the Black Poplar and other Poplars. There are no Black Poplars near to Mill Meadow, but plenty of Poplar spp. in the general area.
Hornet Moth. Sesia apiformis
Mill Meadow, Drakes Broughton, Worcestershire. 1.7.2001
One was tubed from the trunk of a pollarded Oak at Mill Meadow, Drakes Broughton, on 2.7.01. I sent the dead specimen to Dr.ANB Simpson who identified the species for me. This is a rare species with few records for the Midlands, the larva feeds in the buds of Hazel Corylus. Dr.Simpson has also previously encountered the moth at Mill Meadow.
This is rather a rare but distinctive little 'Longhorn' Moth that I first became aware of when I discovered a population at Mill Meadow, Drakes Broughton, (Worcestershire Record, Number 7, November 1999). I found two adults on the flowers of Devil's-bit Scabious near Lodgehill Farm, Wyre Forest, on 3.8.01. The larval food-plant is Devil's-bit Scabious Succisa pratensis.
Beautiful Demoiselle Agrion virgo. (Agriidae).
I found a small population of this species at the side of a very small stream along Mill Lane, Drakes Broughton, on 29.5.01. It was at the height of the foot & mouth outbreak when all recording activities were restricted to roadside verges. I'm sure that this population may have gone entirely unnoticed had it not been for the fact that access to the local 'hotspots' was impossible at the time
Beautiful Demoiselle. Agrion virgo (female).
Byctiscus populi. (Attelabidae, pRDB3).
I found two on the foliage of an Aspen sapling at Monkwood on 25.7.01. I was able to take a few photographs of one of them before I tubed the specimen for the purpose of later identification as I knew it was probably pretty special. The beetles are about the size of a 10-spot Ladybird with a beautiful sheen of shot purples and copper colours, quite unlike anything I had encountered previously. Both John Meiklejohn and Paul Whitehead confirmed my identification of this rare Red Data Book species. It is probably the 1st Worcestershire record of a species on the northern edge of its geographic range The larva occurs in leaf rolls of Aspen, White Poplar and Black Poplar. Paul Whitehead has retained the voucher specimen.
This is one of the 'Jewel Beetles', all of which are uncommon and elusive in the British Isles. I managed to eventually capture a specimen from Oak foliage at Mill Meadow, Drakes Broughton, on 29.7.01. They are only active on very hot and sunny days. I have encountered them running quickly amongst the foliage of Oaks, only occasionally stopping to sun bathe momentarily on the hottest position of a leaf surface. A very careful approach is required for closer inspection or capture, they are shy and alert and take to flight readily! Paul Whitehead kindly determined my specimen. All examples of this family should be confirmed by an expert as identification to species level is difficult. The larva develops in the thin dying branches of Oak.
This 'Soldier Beetle' was photographed on the stem of a Cow Parsley at a roadside verge along Mill Lane, Drakes Broughton, on 29.5.01. A rather localised species with very few recent records for the county according to Paul Whitehead, who was able to identify the beetle from my slide. I found it at the height of the foot & mouth crisis when access to reserves was impossible, so another example of a species that may well have been missed.
Phymatodes testaceus. (Cerambycidae, local).
I was pleased to photograph one in our garden, Drakes Broughton, at dusk on 3.7.01. This is one of the 'Longhorn Beetles' that is rather more elusive than those that feed openly on pollen and nectar of umbellifers during sunny weather. P.testaceus is more nocturnal in its habits and very occasionally comes to lights.
Identified by Paul Whitehead from a specimen tubed at Hawthorn flowers along Chevington Lane, Drakes Broughton, on 29.5.01. Very few modern records for Worcestershire.
The 'Bloody-nosed Beetle'. Single specimens encountered on footpaths at Hartlebury Common on 30.5.01 and 28.7.01.
One of the rather striking 'Reed Beetles'. I tubed this one from poolside reeds at Hillditch Pool, Hartlebury Common, on 30.5.01. It was identified as a female of the species by Paul Whitehead. I have found three other Reed Beetle species at the site this year; Donacia simplex, Donacia vulgaris, and Plateumaris sericea. Hillditch Pool is a very good site for Reed Beetles and yet more species could well be present. Most members of this family are either localised or rare and should be sought after in suitable habitats.
Plateumaris affinis (female).
Hillditch Pool, Hartlebury Common. 30.5.2001.
One was tubed from Oak foliage at Mill Meadow, Drakes Broughton, on 22.7.01. Rarely recorded. Identified by Paul Whitehead.
I encountered one at the flowers of Convolvulus at Mill Meadow, Drakes Broughton, on 14.7.01. My 1st record for the species at the Meadow. It is commonly seen on the flowers and foliage of Meadowsweet at nearby Tiddesley Wood during late summer, but as yet this is my only record for Mill Meadow.
One was found on Bramble foliage in roadside woodland near to Hillditch Pool, Hartlebury Common, on 30.5.01. This is the much rarer 'Cardinal Beetle' with the black head.
Has anyone else noticed the rapidly increasing numbers of this distinctive beetle? Usually found feeding on nectar and pollen at flowers, it used to be found only occasionally at flower-rich sites. I am now finding the species almost everywhere that flowers are present, including our garden. On 23.6.01 I estimated a figure of approximately 50 at Mill Meadow, Drakes Broughton, and that is probably being a little conservative.
One was photographed amongst low ground vegetation at Hartlebury Common on 28.7.01. Possibly the 1st record for Worcestershire of this predominantly southern species. I only became aware of it when it flew a short distance from my feet; the bug displays a brightly coloured reddish orange abdomen which probably serves as a warning to ward off predators, otherwise the insect is a dull brown colour which blends in well with its surroundings. The photos are poor due to flash gun failure.
This uncommon bug is solely associated with Dyer's Greenweed Genista tinctoria, which occurs in profusion at Mill Meadow, Drakes Broughton. Small numbers of adults can be found on the plants at the height of their flowering season towards the end of June. One was tubed for confirmation on 23.6.01 at the site.
Oncotylus viridiflavus. (Miridae).
A very localised bug associated with Knapweeds Centaurea. It is a very handsome species with lovely shades of bluish-green and dense black markings on the head and thorax. I have found it this year at Wyre Forest on 24.7.01 and at Monkwood on 25.7.01. On both occasions the bugs were on flowers of Centaurea nigra.
A female was photographed ovipositing in the trunk of a dead Birch tree at Hartlebury Common on 30.5.01.
Zaraea fasciata. (Cimbicidae).
One of the large and distinctive Cimbicid Sawflies with strongly clubbed antennae. I was delighted to find one for the first time at Mill Meadow, Drakes Broughton, on 23.7.01. It was feeding on the flowers of Angelica. By the 29.7.01 three individuals (probably all females) were present at Angelica flowers at the site. I have only previously recorded the species once before, at Monkwood on 25.7.1999. The larva feeds on Honeysuckle Lonicera.
Zaraea fasciata (female).
I photographed this Robber Fly with prey on Oak foliage at Hartlebury Common on 24.6.01. The identification was determined from my slide by Malcolm Smart. This is an unusual species to be found in the Midlands, as it is mainly associated with coastal areas, and heathlands in southern and eastern counties.
Brachyopa bicolor. (Syrphidae, RDB3).
I tubed this very rare species from the trunk of an Oak at Far Forest on 12.5.01. This was actually just (10 metres at most! - Ed) outside the county boundary and therefore in Shropshire by a matter of yards! Mike Bloxham realised what it possibly was and suggested that Rosemary Winnall should take it to the Hoverfly identification course she was due to attend soon. The specimen was determined by R.Morris of English Nature during the seminar. It has become the most westerly record for the species nationally, it is recorded more frequently towards the south and east, particularly in the New Forest area. It is known to be associated with sap-runs on damaged Oaks, although the tree on which I caught this specimen is clearly in good health with no evidence of a sap-run. R.Winnall has retained the voucher specimen.
I am now able to readily identify this fascinating and somewhat localised species in the field following my first encounter with one at Mill Meadow during 2000. I managed a reasonable photo of one at Tiddesley Wood on 31.7.01. Another was found at Mill Meadow, Drakes Broughton, on 25.8.01.
Specimens were photographed in our garden, Drakes Broughton, on a variety of flowers which included Dandelion and Forget-me-not between the dates of 28.4.01 and 6.5.01.
This large and spectacular 'Digger Wasp' is one of the specialities of Hartlebury Common. I estimated at least 100 on 24.6.01 when I managed to capture one in order to safely confirm the correct identity, which was later established by John Meiklejohn who has retained the voucher specimen.
Philanthus triangulum. (Sphecidae).
The 'Bee-Killer Wasp'. Another species that specialises on the sandy habitat provided by Hartlebury Common. A female was observed carrying a Honey Bee to its nest burrow on 28.7.01 and a male was photographed on a Bramble stem on the same date. Two were recorded at the Devil's Spittleful on 1.9.01, one of which was an already dead specimen that I found on the sand and is now retained by Rosemary Winnall.
Philanthus triangulum (male).
Up to three were regularly seen hunting amongst the flowers of Angelica, Fleabane and Devil's-bit Scabious at Mill Meadow, Drakes Broughton, in between 1.7.01 and 7.10.01. On 20.10.01 I found my first record of one at Tiddesley Wood when I encountered a Queen settling down for hibernation in an old Birch log.
Three were seen at midday on 25.2.01 in the middle of Tiddesley Wood. I think they were two bucks and a hind. They were making their way stealthily through a recently thinned out area towards the restricted area that backs on to the shooting range. An adult male was disturbed at the edge of Mill Meadow, Drakes Broughton, on 23.6.01. He quickly melted into the wooded area that borders the meadow.
One adult bounded across Chevington Lane, Drakes Broughton, on the evening of 21.6.01. My only record to date locally.
One adult was searching amongst Rabbit burrows in the middle of Tiddesley Wood on 25.2.01 at the side of the main ride. My first and only encounter with the species at Tiddesley. One was a road casualty on the A44 through Drakes Broughton on 18.6.01.
I saw one running along the waters edge of Dowles Brook in the Wyre Forest at midnight on 1.6.01. It was during a Moth-trapping session at Knowles Mill.
One was disturbed at Hartlebury Common on 20.5.01.
One female flew fairly low across Drakes Broughton towards the south at 5.30pm on 14.8.01. She then climbed higher on the thermals in the general direction of Pershore and Bredon Hill beyond. Watched through binoculars for fully five minutes.
One adult flew over Mill Meadow, Drakes Broughton, on 1.7.01 being mobbed by about ten Swallows. A brown juvenile flew over our house, Drakes Broughton, on 2.9.01.
A single bird was calling from Mill Rough, Chevington Lane, Drakes Broughton, from 19.5.01 to 29.5.01. Two could be heard calling from Dufty Coppice along Mill Lane, Drakes Broughton, on 29.5.01.
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