Tag Archives: invertebrates

It’s been a while

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So here is a very nice Small Skipper. I haven’t seen too many so far this year, although one flew through the garden the other day, which is a first!

There has been some talk  that the weather has made it difficult for butterflies in 2016, which I guess is possibly true, although from my own observations I would say it depends upon the species.

There have been plenty of whites on the wing lately as well as the second generation of Small Tortoiseshells. I have spotted loads of Ringlet butterflies this year too so the conditions must have suited them, whilst there have been far fewer Speckled Wood than in 2014 which seemed to be a bonanza year for all lepidoptera.

Plenty of time left for some nice weather however, so I look forward to many morebutterflies over the coming weeks.

July Butterflies

What with the weather and work and various other obstacles I have not seen so many butterflies of late…still no Skippers this year and I think I have missed the first generation of Wall Brown butterflies that are normally on the wing from late May in this part of the world.

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However, Ringlet and Meadow Brown are now out in force, including these two beautiful insects which were at Havannah nature reserve last week.

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Roll on some warm sunny weather and there is sure to be plenty more butterflies on the wing…perhaps in time for the Big Butterfly Count which starts this weekend?

A disconcerting walk

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What’s wrong with this picture?

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Or how about this one?

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Perhaps it has something to do with this?

These pictures were all taken last weekend close to where I live, in the fields which separate Monkseaton and Murton. What was disconcerting was the almost complete lack of invertebrate life, either on the tracks which bisect the fields or above the crop itself.

Both the venerable old crab apple and the swathes of yellow dandelions that line the track were devoid of life, despite the warm spring sunshine and the fact that these plants should act like beacons to insects at this time of year.

This isn’t the first time I have noticed the lack of biodiversity on my immediate doorstep but it was perhaps the first time the sterility of the local environment really sunk in.

That’s not to say that Murton Gap, as the fields are known, supports no wildlife: Skylark can still be heard over the fields, one or two farmland birds can be unearthed if you look hard enough, Curlew – Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List – sometimes form winter roosts here and foxes rove between Shiremoor and Monkseaton after dark.

But the farmland is a shadow of what it must once have been, of what it could be if it was managed with more sensitivity, or even left to its own devices.

This was the second time in three weeks that I have seen the field being sprayed. This may not have been insecticide but when a crop is often sprayed more than a dozen times with insecticides, fungicides and herbicides, one has to wonder about the effect on the environment.

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The two large fields closest to Monkseaton form a large part of the area likely to be developed for housing under the North Tyneside Local Plan. Whilst it would be defamatory to suggest this area were being willfully damaged because of this, it is clear to see this farmland could be far better managed for wildlife than it currently is.

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It pains me to look out onto green space that has been so needlessly degraded and whilst perversely, conversion to housing may eventually result in some recovery in biodiversity, by then so many species will have vanished from here forever.

Green Veined White

Green Veined White Butterfly

This Green Veined White was resting in the front garden late last Sunday afternoon. I reckon the poor thing had just about had enough of the crazy weather – I think I would be pretty fed up too if were a butterfly lately.

The Green Veined White is the most northerly of the whites but you can’t always tell them apart when they are in flight. When resting it’s another matter as you can see the beautiful markings on their under-wings.

Green Veined White Butterfly

Green Veined White Butterfly

Green Veined White Butterfly

Small Heath

Small Heath butterfly

Small Heath Butterfly

Small Heath butterfly

I have managed to see and photograph quite a few Small Heath butterflies this year, all at Havannah nature reserve, which is, as I have already said, an awesome place for butterflies. The Small Heaths have got very prettily patterned under-wings, perhaps a bit like the Meadow Brown but more subtle. It’s just as well they have as they never settle with their wings open.

On the day I saw these it was quite cool and overcast with a bit of a breeze. The butterfly in the middle photograph was roosting happily on a grass stem. With its forewing tucked in and its slightly fluffy appearance it could easily be mistaken for a moth I think.

Small Tortoiseshell

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly

The weather has been a bit changeable in the north of England this summer, so getting out and about to look for butterflies hasn’t always been easy. Back at the end of July this Small Tortoiseshell was nectaring on some Creeping Thistles I have let grow in the garden, so I didn’t have to go far to get a few photographs. What a stunner!

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly

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Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly