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Monday, 31 August 2015

A night out at Brimham Rocks, VC64, 29 August 2015

Brimham Rocks just north-west of Harrogate is one of my favourite sites and just wish I had trapped there a bit more often in the nine months I lived at Hartwith just down the hill.  The conditions were not looking too favourable in that there was a breeze, clearing skies and a full moon, with the feel that it would go chilly by morning.  As it happened the wind dropped, a veil of high cloud subdued the effects of the moon and the temperature only dropped to +11.  I tried a new spot halfway between the carparks and the visitor centre in an area of mixed woodland, millstone grit rock outcrops and open areas of low scrub including bilberry.  Not big numbers, but at least one new species for me, Grey Mountain Carpet, apparently the first record for the area since the 1980's.
Grey Mountain Carpet
A total of 180 moths of 40-odd species was the final haul with a selection of typical late summer species including Barred Chestnut, Flounced Chestnut and Autumnal Rustic,  A selection of the haul follows:
Argyresthia semifusca

Epinotia ramella  f.costana

Catoptria falsella

Udea lutealis

Barred Chestnut  Diarsia dahlii

Suspected  Parastichtis suspecta
There was a greyish moth which attracted my attention in holding its wings in a slightly tentiform fashion and which did not immediately allow identification.  After some initial excitement in considering species such as Northern Deep-brown Dart, consultation with Charlie Fletcher the County Recorder, we came to the conclusion it was just an odd Flounced Rustic.  

Sunday, 2 August 2015

A week in Zante (part three)

Have been back 10 days now and just perusing the photographs again and picking out a few that may be of interest.  The organised boat trip to see the turtles was followed shortly after by hiring a small powered craft which we used to explore Turtle Island and the sea-cliffs around Keri.
Keri harbour
The boat we hired was one of those in the bottom left of the photo above.  The cliffs themselves were dramatic in themselves with the layers evidence of them once being on the sea-bed before the upheaval of being lifted through seismic activity.  The only birds of interest were up to a dozen Pallid Swifts with their distinctive bi-syllabic calls and a single Alpine Swift.

Turtle Island
The open water between the mainland and the islands was actually quite choppy although some of the shots above do show calm water in the lee of the stiff breeze.  Several opportunities to swim in these coves were taken and including a bit of snorkelling by the girls.

On the road to Keri was an outstanding and attractive plant which I eventually photographed at the end of the holiday.  I have seen it in other places in the Med but I took the trouble to look into the identity of the plant on my return.
Century Plant  Agave americana
The taxonomic name suggests the origin of the plant which is in fact from Mexico, but was introduced and has become naturalized in the Mediterranean over the last 200 years.  This flowering stage is very transient, happening only once the plant is 10-15 years old, the stems holding the flowers growing rapidly up to 10m high in a month, and then the plant dies although side shoots may grow on.  In Mexico the national drink 'pulque' is made from the juice extracted from a severed young flower spike and then fermented.  Additionally the dry flower stems make good razor strops! (per Flowers of the Mediterranean by Polunin and Huxley, 1981)
An interesting but as yet unidentified insect
The shed skin of a Cicada
Our villa was home to a small number of Wall Lizards which were always too quick to photograph, and we also had a Common Wall Gecko that lived in the verandah.  Walking around once dark it became obvious that these reptiles were making us of the lights which attracted various insects and provided them with their tea.
Common Wall Gecko  Tarentola mauritanica
A great week, and there can hardly be more of a contrast with the weather back here since our return.