Is this a dagger I see before me?

Well last Friday, yes it was, a Grey Dagger in fact. As an adult moth I would have struggled to identify it as it is extremely similar to the Dark Dagger and I would have most likely got it wrong. Fortunately the caterpillars are easier and I have to say more interesting with their bright colours. The adult moth’s flight season is in June, so this caterpillar has hatched from this years eggs and will overwinter in it’s pupal state (chrysalis) to emerge as an adult next year. Of all places it was making it’s way down Coastguard Lane! Not sure if this is a first for the Country Park but the NBN Atlas shows well over 15,000 records for this species but none in the Country Park.

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Birch Polypore

I first spotted this fungus probably about a couple of weeks ago, just emerging from the bark of a dead birch in the “Plantation”. It was just a white sphere then but has now developed into something that I have been able to identify. A “bracket” fungus which has no stem (stipe) and whose spores come out of tiny pores (see bottom photo) unlike mushrooms where they come from gills under the cap. A lot of other fungi appearingĀ  at the moment particularly on the cleared areas of the Firehills, so more to follow on this subject.

Porcelain fungus

Having recently recorded some of the common and easily recognisable fungi that I have found in the Country Park, I came across this in the “Plantation”, the wood to the east of the Firehills. Using the key in a book I recently acquired I was able to get an identification quite quickly, much easier than looking at page after page of photos on the internet. It is Oudemansiella mucida and has the common name of Porcelain fungus which is rather apt. The dark spots are not part of the fungus but just little specks that have landed on the caps.

The sound of leather on willow?

In a word, no but it is cricket. Having been seeing masses of Field Grasshoppers on the Firehills this year, I was beginning to wonder if I would ever see anything else when yesterday when this Grey Bush-cricket just jumped onto the access for all trail right in front of me. Not an easy one to identify but have submitted the record and had it verified. The species is said to be scarce, so a good record for the Country Park and is restricted to coastal areas on the south coast and some parts of Wales. This one is a female as can be seen by the upwards curved ovipositor behind the abdomen.

Access for all? Yes

Due to the many steep gradients the Country Park does not have much scope for disabled access. There are 2 “Access for all” trails, one to the east and another to the west of Coastguard Lane. The reason for this post is to show that these trails do provide the possibility to see wildlife as these photos of two Wheatear perched on fence posts, taken earlier in the week, right beside the phase II trail to the west behind the Coastguard cottages demonstrate.

Fairlight Glen on a windy day

Arriving at the top of the western side of Warren Glen today, I decided to go round the top of Fairlight Glen rather than go up Brakey Bank and was treated to the sight of the most Comma butterflies that I have seen in one day for a long time. I also saw 2 more Golden Ringed dragonflies and wonder why I have not seen them at the Country Park before. Got a better photo this time too, the classic view showing the outspread wings, this one is a male. Good to get some records for Fairlight Glen too.

Saxon Pond Moorhen

For some time now a pair of Moorhen have been breeding on Saxon Pond and this year they have had a second brood. I have not seen that previously. Another justification of all the hard work we put in there to open up the pond and breathe some life back into it. Plenty of dragonflies there too, compared to just 2 on Barn pond which is now badly choked up with the invasive alien plant, Parrot’s Feather. There are only 2 small clear patches of water, one where peoples dogs go in the water and another on the opposite side that fishermen have cleared.

One of the adult Moorhen:-

A first brood juvenile:-

A chick from the second brood:-