Category

Recording

Ladybirds

Luke Ellison sent us a very comprehensive report of several different species of Ladybirds he had seen and photographed on the Island’s coast. This was in response to our poster which requests sightings. Our Beetle Recorder, Bill Shepard, has a ‘Beetle Drive’ going at the moment. These particular ones included ‘Harlequin Ladybirds’ which we are interested in as an increasing species here.

A rare moth

Mecyna asinalis © HS

Mecyna asinalis © HS

Helen Slade saw a moth on her ceiling in late September and sent us some photo’s in the hope we could say what it was. The answer came back from Tim Norris ‘it is a pyralid, Mecyna asinalis‘ of which he had ‘never seen the adult but the larval feeding damage is very distinctive as it makes large white windows in the leaves of wild madder – very obvious at this time of year. Its an IoW speciality and is very rare in Hants’.

A Hawthorn

Yellow-berried Hawthorn © DW

Yellow-berried Hawthorn © DW

In September Daphne Watson reported finding ‘a spectacular yellow-fruited form of hawthorn in a farm hedge in the Rew valley in full fruit at the moment’. and we asked Dr Colin Pope, our Botany Recorder, about it. He replied ‘How interesting! I’ve never come across this before and I’m unaware of any yellow-fruited cultivars. I assume this is Common Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna). If you’re back that way check that the haws have only a single seed (easily done by crushing between your fingers). There is a yellow fruited cultivar of Midland hawthorn (Crataegus oxycantha ‘aurea’) which may escape from cultivation or be accidentally included in a planted hedge. Crataegus orientalis has orange-yellow fruits. Hawthorn is very variable in the wild. In the spring you can find bushes with a wide range of flower shades from white to deep pink. It sounds as though a yellow-fruited cultivar is garden-worthy and should be taken into cultivation!

Hummingbird Hawk Moths

Hummingbird Hawk Moth © IF

Hummingbird Hawk Moth © IF

Kris Codd & Pete Bradley mentioned finding one of these and asked was it unusual? Ian Fletcher said about it ‘The status given in the field guide says they are immigrant, suspected resident, and goes on to say, “a frequent immigrant from southern Europe and north Africa, most numerous near the south coast, but has reached all parts of the British Isles and the Channel Islands. The number recorded varies considerably annually and in some years exceeds 1000. Suspected breeding resident in south-west England, where it hibernates in small numbers.” and adds ‘we had 3 hummingbird hawk-moths here this year and our next door neighbour has had several at a time on her buddleia. We went today to photograph a moth which needed sending off for identification and the recorder had a couple of them on his buddleia’

Butterfly & Moth

White Admiral © KM

White Admiral © KM

Mrs Hilary Pilcher from Thorley informed us of a ‘Jersey Tiger Moth in my garage on Sunday 23rd July. Also a White Admiral butterfly in the kitchen the week before.’

Blue-spotted Slow worm

Blue-spotted Slow Worm © JL

Blue-spotted Slow Worm © JL

In May Jeff Layfield asked one of our members if we would be interested in ‘a blue spotted slow worm, seen in our Havenstreet garden today’ (we were!). He commented, ‘A web search reveals that this is probably a male of over three years in age and may be found “in a coastal or island environment”!’.

A couple of moths

Cream-bordered Green Pea Moth © GTa

Cream-bordered Green Pea Moth © GTa

Gary Taylor sent two pictures of moths from Apse Heath in July and asked us to confirm his identifications. Ian Fletcher, one of our veteran moth recorders, affirmed “he is right with his identifications. We get ‘festoons’ here in small numbers but have not had the ‘cream bordered green pea.'” So, a new record for Gary, who tells us he’s new to moth recording!

Glanville Fritillaries

Glanville fritillary © CP

Glanville fritillary © CP

Luke Ellison told us about seeing these both as caterpillars in April and as butterflies in June along the Ventnor – Bonchurch cliffs

Ravens nest in Lake

Pair of Ravens at their nest, Lake cliffs © DD

Pair of Ravens at their nest, Lake cliffs © DD

Dave Dana, a member of the Society, contacted us in April with this message.

“Some members will already be aware of the Ravens’ nest at Lake cliffs. Although you can only look up to the nest, you can still see the comings and goings of the adults but you can’t see the nestling(s) yet. Yesterday (Friday 13th April) both adults were away from the nest for about 40 minutes, suggesting that the chick(s) now need both parents to feed them.

The viewing location is on the Sandown to Shanklin revetment near the 9th breakwater from Sandown Pier. There is a solitary green shed behind the sleepers. The nest is about 50 metres south of the shed. It’s about six metres below the top of the cliff. There are Fulmars there as well. It’s not far from the path that comes down from the Heights Leisure Centre area.”

The site is inaccessible and the welfare of the pair and their chicks appears to be assured, so we thought it might be of interest to local residents and visitors.

The Isle of Wight Helleborine refound

Isle of Wight Helleborine © CP

Isle of Wight Helleborine © CP

(from the Bulletin, February 2006)

The Isle of Wight Helleborine is an enigmatic orchid. It was so called because, when originally found near Ventnor in 1913, it was thought to be a new species. It doesn’t seem to have been seen again until the 1930’s in Bonchurch Landslip and then in 1951 when Dr Laidlaw’s father found a specimen at St Lawrence. By that time, it was recognised that the plant was not unique to the Island, but found in scattered localities in England, Wales and Ireland. It became known as the Green-flowered Helleborine. The plant persisted at St Lawrence until around 1959, but there have been no further confirmed Island records until now.

During a particularly hot spell of weather in August 2003, a visiting botanist, Peter Jupp, found an unusual Helleborine close to the footpath in Eaglehead Copse, a Wildlife Trust reserve. He thought it could be Narrow-lipped Helleborine. The plant lasted a very short time in the heat but I sent photographs to the referee, Professor Richards at Newcastle University. He considered that it could well be a specimen of Green-flowered Helleborine.

It did not reappear in 2004, but in August 2005 Peter Jupp was on holiday here again and he alerted local botanists to the fact that it had reappeared. Again photographs, together with a single pickled floret, were sent to Professor Richards. He was able to confirm that this was indeed Green-flowered Helleborine and was, moreover the same type which was originally found at Ventnor in 1931, now known as Epipactis phyllanthes var. vectensis.

So, after an absence of 44 years, the Isle of Wight Helleborine has reappeared on the Island. It is a plant which has a habit of appearing and then disappearing, only to reappear years later somewhere else, so we must enjoy this special Island plant whilst we can.

Colin Pope