Thursday, June 21, 2012

A change of county...

I've just returned from a week in Devon and was hoping that this blog entry would be crammed with all the finds from my week in the west country. Sadly, as is becoming the norm this year, expectations eclipsed reality.

Our little terrier 'Herbie' came too and was in seventh heaven, spending most of his time watching the chicken and sheep on the farm where we were staying.



Here he is looking like butter wouldn't melt! Although looking at this photo, it could have been taken anywhere-it was actually at Ham Hill in Somerset where we stopped off en route. Here's a photo of the ham stone that is quarried there, I've messed around with this shot a little and given it a bit of an HDR treatment...


Anyhow, to return to Herbie the terrier (or as a chum likes to call him "Herbie The Love Dog") for a moment. He may look all sweetness and light in the picture: but he brought us back an unwelcome present from Devon, that we didn't discover until we'd been home for 2 days!

This is what I found and only then by accident when stroking him...


Looks horrendous doesn't it. This is 'Ixodes scapularis' a Deer Tick. Judging by the size of its abdomen it had already had quite a good feed too. I've not seen these before but we did spot quite a number of deer closeby and I'm sure that's where he picked this one up. I managed to remove it and despite a thorough search, found no more.

Enough of the gruesome stuff...
Keen to see what was about on the first day of our stay, I scouted round the immediate area but only managed to find this little bee hiding in a flower head of a pot of chives. I think it may have made itself at home there as it was still in the same spot the next morning...


It wasn't that there were no invertebrates at all, but just that I was hoping a change of location and habitat would reward me with some unusual finds.As I'd already witnessed in Kent prior to a change of county, the cantharis species of beetle were everywhere. Even so, it was impossible to resist completely and I have to confess to taking a few shots.


Click on any photo for an even larger view

I think this one pictured above is probably 'Cantharis rustica' but once again, there are several similar species-anyhow, it's a natural light shot taken early one morning.

Monday looked like being a decent day and so we all headed off for Putsborough Sands, close to Croyde and Woolacombe...




After exploring the sands we climbed the hillside above the bay. I was half-hoping that I'd see some fritillary butterflies but the only flutterby I spotted was a speckled wood. I did however find this rather fine chafer beetle...



Aside from the lack of invert finds in Devon, there was still quite a bit happening. For instance,driving through a pine forest on a country lane I spotted a grey squirrel that must have just been hit by a car? It was right in the middle of the opposite side of the road and would be certain to get hit again by the next vehicle.
I reversed back, shoved on the trafficators and jumped out of the car.I managed to encourage it to the verge which it arrived at by wobbling along like it was drunk and then promptly seemed to shake itself and hurtled off into the undergrowth. I assume it must have just been dazed?

Next up was this casualty.....



This little one was sitting in the road close to where we were staying one evening. I'm not even sure of exactly which birdie this will become (if you know, please do tell) but, although we could find no nest nearby, we could hear an adult calling to it just the other side of the hedge bordering the lane.

We decided the best course of action would be to place it close to where we heard the adult, it would at least be safe from traffic there. Even so, it looked a little young to be out of the nest and I wasn't sure if we'd done the right thing.

And so now we're down to a few things that whilst they are still nice finds, are nothing that you wouldn't perhaps expect to see at this time of year...


 An Acorn Weevil


Andrena species of Bee (I think)

My final find of the week couldn't really be included as a holiday-find, as it wasn't until we stopped for a break travelling home, but had already reached Kent that I came across it: even so, these are fabulous beasts and always a real treat to see and photograph.
What am I talking about? The magnificent Green Tiger Beetle! What a stunning creature...







Just look at those powerful jaws-almost antler-like in design. It must be the stuff of nightmares if you happen to be another insect?

That then comprises my total week's worth of bug-hunting. Actually, bug-hunting was secondary to the main purpose of our break. That being to chill for a while and that we did.No noisy neighbours, no traffic noise, no light pollution, plenty to eat and drink and beautiful surroundings-bliss!

More updates soon.

Until the next time then...

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you enjoyed the break JJ. I love the acorn weevil but that tiger beetle is fabulous. I've just turned a similar colour. Derek Cluskey.

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