Sizzling, speedy, spunky, shimmering, sassy, spry, salient, sensational, shapely, striking, snappy, sparkly, spellbinding, splendiferous! Okay, I got a bit carried away but Small coppers are special.
Most of the scabious I see in local parks and reserves is Devil’s-bit but there is a small area of Field scabious (Knautia arvensis) at Cosmeston Lakes Country Park. The insects love it for its nectar and the birds, in autumn, for its seeds. Can you see what’s lurking on the stem?
Willow warblers are peeping from every bush, Blackcaps are chacking, Swallows and martins are swooping low over the fields at Cosmeston for last minute snacks before they cross their first stretch of water on their way south and, today, at Lavernock, I saw my first Spotted flycatcher of the year. Autumn migration is well and truly underway!
For those who don’t live in Britain, we’ve had some wild weather over the past few days, with torrential rain at times and some very high wind gusts. I was starting to go stir crazy so, as soon as it began to clear around midday today, I headed out for a walk.
I was wondering if I would spot anything unusual the wind had blown in … and I did! This blast of sunshine, a Clouded yellow, an occasional migrant to our shores, was flying around in the east paddock at Cosmeston.
This stunning creature might look like a bee but it’s actually a sawfly, a harmless creature that does not sting and is so-named because the female’s genitalia are capable of ‘sawing’, in vegetation, a hole in which she then lays her eggs.
This particular sawfly may be Abia sericea, a sawfly whose larvae feed on scabious plants, particularly Devil’s-bit scabious, which is very abundant where I spotted this glistening creature.
Finally yesterday I found what I’ve walked many miles, worn out a pair of shoes, sweated buckets to find …my first Jersey tiger moth of the year. And it was worth every ache in my poor old feet!
Though the text books and web sites haven’t yet acknowledged it, we locals are positive we have a colony now established along our piece of the south Wales coast, and the records logged in Aderyn, the Wales biodiversity database, confirm it. These tigers have been recorded every year for over ten years at local sites, including Lavernock Nature Reserve and in gardens in the neighbouring towns of Sully and, latterly, Barry.
Jersey tigers are beautiful moths: triangular shaped, stunningly patterned with black-and-beige stripes, with vibrant orange underwings only usually seen when they’re flying, and a pale apricot body.
They’re currently only seen, as their name suggests, on the Channel Islands, in certain spots along England’s south coast and in London, and in our little area in Wales.
p.s. A Butterfly Conservation staffer from south Wales has since told me that this moth’s establishment in our area is not disputed and that it probably became established around 2012-13 but that it just takes time for websites to update their records.