Leafmines: Acrocercops brongniardella

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Another Monday, another leaf-mining moth. This one goes by the tongue-twisting name of Acrocercops brongniardella and can be found on the leaves of Oak trees, mostly in southern parts of England, Wales and Ireland. The adult moth is a very smart-looking creature (see the photos on the UK Moths website).

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Fortunately, the larval leafmines are fairly easy to identify as they begin with a distinctive twist before broadening to a large blotch or blister.

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I found my very first Acrocercops brongniardella mines in a small area of woodland on 6 September and have since found more on a tree in a local park, both times on the evergreen Holm oak (Quercus ilex) and the latter rather abundant on leaves at the tips of lower branches. The mines can supposedly be found on all oak species, though I’ve failed to find them in the other local woodlands where I’ve recently been walking and there are not a lot of records for this species of Wales. I’ll be keeping an eye out for more.

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Bizarre larvae

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I don’t know about you but when I see a leaf with holes in it, I feel a compulsion to turn over that leaf to try to determine what caused those holes. And that’s how I discovered today’s rather bizarre-looking creature.

210918 Sawfly Platycampus luridiventris (2)

And once I realised that the holes it made were smaller than many of the other holes in the surrounding leaves, I looked for other leaves with similar sized holes. And so I found several more.

210918 Sawfly Platycampus luridiventris (1)

And then I looked at other Alder trees in the same park, and I found even more.

210918 Sawfly Platycampus luridiventris (3)

It took a bit of googling when I got home but I eventually found a name for my mystery creatures, and that identification has now been confirmed by a national expert. These are the larvae of a sawfly called Platycampus luridiventris, a rather non-descript fly when you consider the larva it develops from. You can see that adult fly and read the scientific information about this species on The Sawflies (Symphyta) of Britain and Ireland website.

210918 Sawfly Platycampus luridiventris (4)

Earthballs

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It’s #FungiFriday, and even the earthballs are smiling!

Though there are several species of earthball fungi in Britain, I’m fairly sure these are Common earthballs (Scleroderma citrinum), as they were found in the typical habitat of ‘acid soils with deciduous trees, usually Oak, Beech or birches’ (Collins Complete Guide to British Mushrooms & Toadstools, p.278).

Little egret

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I don’t walk around Cardiff Bay often during the summer months as I dislike the crowds and the clutter of event equipment, choke on the smell of the herbicides the Council uses to kill off the real wildflowers to create artificial ‘wildflower meadows’, and fear for the safety of the birds when blasted by jetboating thrill seekers. Fortunately, the coming of the cooler weather brings some relief from much of that human activity and so I begin again to explore the Bay.

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And, on my very first walk along the Barrage in some time, I got lucky: a Little egret was standing in amongst the crowd of gulls on one of the floating platforms by the locks. At one point the gulls chased off the intruder but, after a short circuit of the Barrage, it and they returned to the platforms. Little egrets are relatively common birds in Britain now but are not seen often in Cardiff Bay, so this was a very welcome 2021 patch tick for me.

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The last Small copper

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As I walk slowly along a narrow footpath between tall stands of meadowsweet and willowherbs, thistles and fleabane, I catch, out of the corner of my eye, a fleeting flash of orange, and quickly turn my head towards it, follow it, try desperately not to lose sight of it. I’m in luck. It settles, turns, opens its wings. And I don’t know whether to be overjoyed to see this most unexpected, glistening Small copper or saddened at the thought that this will, in all probability, be my last Small copper sighting of the year.

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Leafmines: Phyllonorycter coryli

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For those of you who are new to leafmines, here’s one that’s appearing on leaves right about now, is common in Britain and easy to identify.

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These blisters on Hazel leaves are made by the larvae of the perfectly named Nut leaf blister moth (Phyllonorycter coryli) – you can see what the adult moth looks like on the UK Moths website. In fact, if you’re sharp-eyed, you may have noticed these blisters in July, as this little moth has two broods each year. You can get more details and see more images on the excellent British Leafminers website.

Fruits

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This was @wildflower_hour’s tweet announcing this week’s #WildflowerHour challenge:

Samaras, siliques, nuts, drupes, berries, hips and capsules, how many different types of wild fruit can you find? That’s the challenge this week for #WildflowerHour. Share your pics this Sunday 8-9pm using the hashtag #fruits.

I’m saving my samaras, siliques, nuts and capsules for another day but here are my drupes, berries and hips: an assortment of Black bryony, Bramble, Buckthorn, Crab apple, Dewberry, Red-osier dogwood (with vivid red stems and white fruit) and Common dogwood, Guelder rose, Hawthorn, the hips of Japanese rose (these grow wild at the local country park) and Dog-rose, Sloe, Whitebeam, Woody nightshade and Yew.

Migrating Reed warbler

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As is often the case with this little brown bird, I heard it before I saw it, not the song but the short nasal ‘churring’ call these warblers make to keep in touch with each other deep within the reed beds.

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Luckily for me, as this particularly Reed warbler foraged its way along the brook, I could follow its movement by the bending and shaking of reed stems, and when it occasionally ventured out to the edge of the reeds, I was able to grab some images.

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Small though it is – around 13cm in length, the Reed warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus) migrates from Britain to over-winter in sub-Saharan Africa, so this little bird has quite the journey ahead of it.

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