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Local Weather

Wednesday 26th & Sunday 30th July

Wednesday 26th July 2017:
I only had time for a brief visit to the Common today so I just walked a short circuit near the Wilden Top carpark.  There wasn't much of note except for a couple of Linnets and a rather showy singing Yellowhammer.  I can honestly say that I never tire of hearing/seeing these stunning arable birds!

Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)

I then headed over to the SE side of the Common for a quick mooch around the Oak woodland, where I discovered a rather nice clump of young Beefsteak Fungus that was exuding its blood like juices

Beefsteak Fungus (Fistulina hepatica)

Sunday 30th July 2017:
Another sunny, mild day saw me pay a visit to the Lower Heath area of the Common.  The first thing that struck me was seeing a flurry of activity around the now flowering Ling heather.  On close inspection I soon picked up on good numbers of Heather Colletes feeding on them.  Heather Colletes is a rather attractive  solitary mining bee that times it's emergance to coincide with the flowering of the heather.  It is quite a small bee (smaller than Honey Bee) with a very prominant stripes/bands around it's abdomen.

Heather Colletes (Colletes succinctus)

Butterflies of note during the visit were as single Red Admiral and 4 Small Heath.  Good numbers of Gatekeeper were still present with some seen feeding on the Ling flowers.

Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus)

Tuesday 25th July

Tuesday 25th July 2017:
It was another hot and sunny day on the Common (weather that seems like a distant memory as I type this post) and I decided to start my visit by checking out the thistle flowers at the lower terrace.

A number of Leafcutter Bees were visiting the flowers and from the photos I have taken I've managed to ID the species as Wood-carving Leaf-cutter (Megachile ligniseca).  One of the key identifying factors of this species are the graded colours of the scopa (the hairs on the underside of the abdomen that are used for carrying pollen)

Wood-carving Leaf-cutter (Megachile ligniseca)

Notable butterflies seen during the visit were 1 Marbled White, 2 ♂ Common Blue, 1 ♂ Brown Argus, 2 Small Copper and 1 Red Admiral.  

Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus)

Brown Argus (Aricia agestis)

During my walk I also discovered a Reticularia lycoperdon slime mold.  This white globular mass that can be found on dead wood isn't actually a fungus.  One of it's common names is the False Puffball due to the similarity in shape and the fact that it eventually splits open releasing a mass of brown spores.

False Puffball Slime Mold (Reticularia lycoperdon)

My final stop on the walk was at Rush Pool which sadly has now dried out to all but a 10ft by 6ft area of shallow water.  That said there were good numbers of Common Darter dragonflies here including three oviposting (egg-laying) pairs.

Common Darters (Sympetrum striolatum) egg-laying


Saturday 22nd July

Saturday 22nd July 2017:
A visit to the lower terrace of the Common gave the opportunity to observe a number of  bee species visiting the numerous thistle flowers.  Although the majority of which were Red-tailed Bumblebee,  I was treated to good views of a slightly faded Vestal Cuckoo Bee

Vestal Cuckoo Bees are kleptoparasites of the Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris).  The female cuckoo bee will enter the Bombus terrisitris nest and kill the queen.  She will then lay her own eggs to be reared by the Bombus terrestris workers.

Red-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius) - worker

Red-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius) - male 

Vestal Cuckoo Bee (Bombus vestalis)

Of interest during the visit were a small number of  Leafcutter Bees (Megachilie sp.) that were visiting the thistles.  

A Field Grasshopper was also recorded.  This individual was of a different colour form to the one shown in my previous blog post.

Field Grasshopper (Chorthippus brunneus)


Monday 17th July

Monday 17th July 2017:
It was a hot, sunny day on the Common and I decided to pay a visit to the Lower Heath (the west side of the Worcester Road).  It proved a worthwhile decision as, shortly after arriving, i picked up on a stunning Brown Argus visiting the Ling flowers not far from Cooks Garden Centre.  This was especially pleasing as it is the first Brown Argus i have recorded at the Common this year.

Brown Argus (Aricia agestis)

Other notable butterflies observed today included 1 ♂ Common Blue, 2 Marbled Whites and 2 Small Copper.  I also found a Eudemis profundana micro moth at rest on an Oak leaf.

Eudemis profundana

I also discovered a young Oak Cherry Gall on the underside of one of the Oak leaves.  This gall will often turn a reddish colour as it matures hence the common name.  It is caused by the tiny gall wasp Cynips quercusfolii.  Interestingly, these galls tend to be smooth when formed on the leaves of English Oaks but warty when formed on the leaves of Sessile Oaks.

Oak Cherry Gall (Cynips quercusfolii

One thing that did really strike me on today's visit to the Common was the sound.  Due to the heat and the time of year the multitudes of Broom seed pods were bursting open in a cacophony of sound.  It sounded like I was walking around in a giant bowl of Rice Krispies with all that snap, crackle and pop going on!

From the Lower Heath I crossed over the Worcester Road to check out the former carpark area.  Here there were 2 ♂ Beewolf, a Comma and a brown form Field Grasshopper present.  Also observed at this location was a Small Copper butterfly that was feeding on the Yarrow flowers.

Field Grasshopper (Chorthippus brunneus) - brown form

Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas)