This month, I have a collection of weird objects. Take a guess – answers are at the end.
It has been a good month for moth trappers. Adams Road Sanctuary July8/9th turned up Lime, Poplar and Elephant Hawkmoths (David). King’s College continues to monitor the new wildflower meadow invertebrates, with some wonderful moth catches. Observers were greeted each morning by Peregrines on the chapel (picture by Duncan Mackay). The reed beds added to Logan’s Meadow a few years ago have worked their magic and moths found there included several fen specialists and rarities. As well as a thriving colony of Fen Wainscot, there were Garden Dart, once common but now rarely recorded and two rare micromoths: Willow Marble and Willow Knot-horn, a relatively recent UK colonist, which is established in Kent but with very few Cambridge records (Ben). Ionathan’s trap turned up 2 Swallowtail Moths and a Scorched Carpet Moth.
Jesus college hosted some Buff-tip Moth caterpillars on oak (Rhona) and Lottie found Social Pear Sawfly larvae at Newnham. Though they are Hymenoptera and related to ants and bees, Sawflies are a less well-known group, partly because of their considerable diversity. They differ from the bees, wasps and ants in not having a ‘waist’ but may be mistaken for flies or other insects. Most female sawflies possess ‘saw-like’ genitalia with which they cut through plant tissue to lay their eggs. In Britain there are about 500 species (https://www.naturespot.org.uk/gallery/sawflies).
Justin reported a couple of under-recorded insects: Hollyhock Weevil and Fig Psyllid Bug. The fig bugs vanished as quickly as they appeared and were gone in a week. It makes one wonder what they eat the rest of the year. The Red Longhorn beetle Stictoleptura rubra and a Pellucid Hoverfly turned up at Jesus (Rhona) and lots of people sent butterfly records (Suki, Mo, Jeff). Jeff’s Essex Skipper and Ringlet were less usual finds.
A Passion flower being visited by a Buff-Tailed Bumble Bee (Sue) and a Volucella zonaria hoverfly (Duncan) provided lovely pictures.
Hedghogs still seem to be more abundant in the city than the suburbs. However, besides a large guy spotted at Matthews Piece (Sandra), Pam reported a youngster in Newnham – but sadly run over by a car. 2-3 years ago, I stopped re-homing hedgehogs here, because of the invasion of Badgers, so it is slight encouragement that this young one was found. Meanwhile, badgers have gone on to invade the nearby Newnham Croft School grounds for the first time (Veronica). It is possible that King’s building work done in Barton Rd, cutting down a large number of trees in Millington Wood, has disturbed that colony, causing it to disperse locally. In Trumpington, Mo had regular visits from badgers, but no recent sightings of hedgehog.
Pam found a dead Brown Long-Eared Bat – a second one for Owlstone Rd. Water Voles had disappeared at Logan’s Meadow, but recently were seen again (Bob). An update on Jesus foxes suggests 7 fox cubs this year.
Swifts are last to arrive and the first to go – there was a major exodus at the end of July. Pam’s Newnham colony reached a record 20, while Jeff recorded about 60 over Grantchester Meadows, also about 100 House Martins. Darwin Green (Eddington) has about 40 pairs of breeding Skylarks, 20 pairs of Reed Buntings and 3 pairs of Grey Partridges (Ionathan).
Holly’s birding highlight was a very loud Reed Warbler along Snakey Path at Cherry Hinton. Bob records a Reed Warbler singing Logan’s Meadow, a Greenshank at Eddington, a Corn Bunting singing north of the City (unusual) and a single Garden Warbler singing at Logan’s Meadow. June had a Sparrow Hawk’s nest in a tree in the orchard in Chesterton, while Jonathan’s small central garden was the scene of a Sparrow Hawk kill.
Val’s most recent back garden drama: “Two Frogs dislodged when we started shifting a heap of rubble and a ’temporary’ wooden shed (erected 20 years ago). The latter was essentially dissolving and collapsing in on itself, the roof having plainly been held up principally by the compacted strata of miscellaneous boxes inside. Prompted by the horror of our totally outraged grand-daughter – aghast at our slum-clearance project – we kept some of the rubble and constructed what we hope will become an adequate Froggery in the opposite corner of the garden, having first ensured the displaced amphibians were over on that side during the Removals.” Thanks, Val – I seem to remember a previous frog found its way into your house?
Number 1 is the rust Gymnomitrium confusum found in the Botanic Garden on the fruits of the Hawthorn Crataegus pentagyna (Sam Buckton and Chris Preston). Paul Rule had found it on the leaves of common Hawthorn earlier in the month, the first confirmed record for the county. Number 2 is Pseudoinonotus dryadeus fungus on an oak tree (Rhona). When mature, the oak bracket is broad, thick and lumpy with an orangey-brown colour. When young, an amber-coloured liquid oozes from the surface, as in this picture. It is generally bad news for the tree. Number 3 is a ‘new to UK’ plant gall Aceria brachytarsus in Downing College, on walnut leaves (Sam).
Olwen Williams email@example.com