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Wildlife Garden blog

2 Posts tagged with the jersey_tiger_moth tag
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Several unusual, and many common sightings, are logged during the course of a day’s weeding, plant recording or simply sipping coffee near the bird feeding area…


The garden’s first sighting of the Jersey tiger moth was spotted 4 years ago as we were recording plants around the pond margins and has been spotted most years since - and this year in the moth light trap. Here is an image taken last year by volunteer Jo Manning.

 

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Jersey tiger moth nectaring on wild angelica (taken by Jo Manning)

 


One morning recently a green woodpecker announced its presence in the meadow with its familiar laugh [n.b. this is a direct link to a .mp3 file at xeno-canto.org. I've also attached another call to the bottom of the post].

 

It was in the vicinity of an ant hill – they’re rather partial to ants. This was my second sighting ever of a green woodpecker in the Wildlife Garden.

 

A week later, Daniel spotted a great spotted woodpecker on the peanut feeder. It stayed long enough for him to grab the camera and take a shot – not easy as the woodpecker was behind the feeder – but here’s an image he wished he’d shot – (taken by Martin Tipping)

 

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Great spotted woodpecker Dendrocopus major
© David Tippling Photo Library / The Natural History Museum, London

 

Since then this colourful bird has made regular trips to our peanut feeder - usually during lunch time - like today! 

 

Below the bird feeder, pigeons and squirrels squabble over fallen seeds whilst mice dart from their log piles to snatch seeds and peanut droppings.

 

One of my favourite times in the Wildlife Garden is after sunset – sitting near the pond, bat detector in hand….waiting patiently for a pipistrelle.

 

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A late-evening moment with a pipistrelle

 

No, this wasn’t the actual bat I recorded, but is one of many images from the Bat Conservation Trust.

 

Working over-time takes on a new meaning in the presence of pipistrelle bats feeding over our ponds during warm summer evenings....

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Volunteers play an essential role here in our Wildlife Garden. They help with practical tasks including planting and pruning, composting and coppicing or messing about on the pond – more about this later…

 

Observing wildlife is also part of the day’s work for wildlife gardeners and volunteers.

 

Since the day the Garden opened, our gardeners, volunteers, Museum scientists and other specialists have recorded some of the many species that have colonised or visited it.  Of the 2,300 taxa entered on to our database, notable records have been collected over the years from groups including moths and butterflies, dragonflies and waterfleas, bryophytes and lichens - and more.

 

The image below shows a sample of sightings this year - mainly collected during mid week ‘lunch-time recording sessions’ when some of our scientists come outside and share their knowledge, sandwiches and survey methods. Below are some photographs of those lunch-time moments, from August and September this year.

 

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A small selection moths from the previous night’s trapping including Jersey tiger moth (foreground)

Image: Jonathan Jackson NHM

 

 

We set our moth light trap as often as weather permits (so not very often this year!). Martin Honey, Lepidoptera curator, who has recorded and identified over 500 species of moths in the Garden, has a wealth of knowledge, and has patiently taught some of us all we know about moths. Once identified, the moths are carefully released back into the Garden.

 

We spotted the sawfly larvae below during a walk exploring leaf mines and they were initially mistaken as caterpillars but, as Museum lepidopterist Alessandro Giusti explained, the larvae of sawflies (Symphyta) have at least 6 pairs of abdominal legs (pro-legs) compared to 5 or less on Lepidoptera caterpillars. When disturbed, as these were, the larvae lift and curl their abdomen over their heads. Lepidoptera caterpillars also have sclerotized hook-like structures at the end of their prolegs, called crochets. These allow the caterpillar to hold on to surfaces. Sawfly larvae don’t have crochets. However, one might need a hand lens to see these structures.

 

 

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Sawfly larvae on willow – taken by volunteer Sophia Pomiakowski


Stuart Hine, Manager of the Angela Marmont Centre and 'bombuslucorum' on our Identification forums identified these sawfly larvae as Nematis species.


Blow flies have been studied in the Garden but up to now, very few other families of flies (Diptera) have received the same attention.This year, we are learning to love flies, and records have greatly increased since the Museum’s Erica McAlister and Duncan Sivell set up a ‘malaise trap’ earlier this summer. We will be reporting on malaise trapping in the next few weeks so more on the ‘what and how’ at a later date.

 

 

 

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Wildlife gardener, Daniel Osborne examining the malaise trap with a little help from our sheep

 

 

Adrian Rundle, Learning Curator, has led pond life workshops in the Garden for the past 12 years, and has been running training sessions for Wildlife Garden volunteers this summer. We'll share more pond moments in future blogs.

 

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Volunteers Tommy Fieldsend and Alex Lynch investigating pond life during an Explore Aquatic workshop with Adrian Rundle

Image: Naomi Lake (c)

 

 

More of our wildlife sightings in the Garden next week...

 

Caroline