Parkhurst Forest – 10th May 2008
This meeting was held in the hope of finding Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Grizzled Skipper, but the poor weather earlier in the spring may have hit the population, or delayed its emergence. One member found a Grizzled Skipper after the main meeting was over. There were no definite sightings of the fritillaries. Two orange butterflies were seen over one of the rides, but these were fleeting views and flying higher than one would have expected. A Wall Brown was seen near one of the fritillary sites. Male Brimstones were seen in good numbers and were the most spectacular feature of the visit, with Holly Blue, and Green-veined White among the other species seen. The moth, Brown Silver-lines, and the caterpillar of the Mottled Umber were found. Pools held both Broad-bodied Chaser and Large Red Damselflies. The most unusual record may have been the discovery of the mine of the moth, Coleophora serratella, on Elm, not recorded from this location before.
There was also a good selection of typical birdlife for this area, with Chiff-chaffs, Long-tailed Tits, Buzzards, Coal Tit, and Blackcaps, Whitethroat and a distant Nightingale being heard.
Alverstone Nature Reserve – 23rd May 2008
This was a successful meeting held in Skinners Meadow, and in woodland on the reserve adjacent to Burnt House Lane, the former habitat yielding the best results. Only Sallow Kitten was found solely at the woodland site. 24 species were seen in all, and of these the commonest were Green Carpet and Common Marbled Carpet. Among the more distinctive species noted were a male Ghost Moth, a Peach Blossom, a Scorched Wing, two Orange Footmen and both Pale and Pebble Prominent. Other species of interest were Broken-barred Carpet, Dingy Shell Rivulet, and a couple of Marbled Browns. Our thanks to John Ralph for hosting this meeting and allowing us the use of his workshop to study the contents of the moth trap.
National Moth Night – 7th June 2008
On a clear cool night, fourteen of us met at my cottage at Moons Hill, where I ran two Robinson moth traps in my garden to celebrate National Moth Night. Numbers were low but by the morning I had recorded forty-three species of macro-moths and nine micro-moths. Species of note included the very local Buttoned Snout, the Cream-spot Tiger and the Small Angle Shades. The Silver Y was the only migrant recorded.
It did not get dark until ten o’clock but we spent the time in conversation imbibing wine, whisky, tea and coffee, and a most enjoyable evening was spent by all.
Eaglehead Copse – 26th June 2008
Five members met to study species at this Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust reserve on the north side of the downs, and were greeted by a fine pair of Ravens flying overhead. The most unusual bird seen was however a male Peacock sitting in the area of chalk grassland to the east of the reserve. A limited number of species were seen including Speckled Wood and a Comma, and numbers of Meadow Brown on the grassland. The Common Emerald, a moth, gave very good views, and there were some interesting hoverflies including the large yellow-tailed Xylota sylvarum, and most extraordinary of all a number of the common hoverfly Platycheirus clypeatus ‘paralyzed’ on the stem of woodland grasses through the effects of a fungus. They were ‘frozen’ with wings wide open. It is thought that the infection affects the internal body parts first, and then the fungus emerges through the soft tissue between the segments of the abdomen. Affected flies die climbing up the plant; it is thought they do this to try to get more air as their supply is increasingly limited by the progression of the fungus.
Among the galls recorded were Aceria thomasi on thyme. Of the hemiptera, the most interesting record was Phylus palliceps, a mirid bug. This was only the fourth record for the Island, the last record being in 1998, and it was the first record in East Wight.
Sibden Hill – 18th August 2008
Four members met on a dull day, at this Local Nature Reserve on the outskirts of Shanklin, and the rain set in after ninety minutes. Conditions were far from ideal, and this reduced the number of species found on the wing. A Meadow Brown and a couple of Speckled Woods were the only butterflies. We saw a single moth, the Mother of Pearl, but there were good numbers of Orthoptera, with Dark Bush Cricket, and Common Field and Meadow Grasshoppers all being observed. The most spectacular views were of a small leafhopper Graphocephala fennahi, the Rhododendron Hopper. These were found in good numbers on the bracken and rhododendrons, just below the remains of the old sunshine recorder at the top of the hill. This was only the fourth record for the Isle of Wight of this species but it was clearly well established here. The species came to England in the 1930s and is well worth looking out for in any area of rhododendrons, particularly in the late summer. They are unmistakable: the wings are viridian and the blue-green colour is offset by a red stripe. The heads are yellow. Even on a dull day this species looks bright.
A number of mines and galls were found which were new for the site. Of these the most interesting was the mine of the micro-moth Phyllonorycter blancardella on Crab Apple, for which this is only the fourth Island record since the 1930s.
Four Swifts were seen flying south, and Jays were heard but not seen.
America Wood – 22nd September 2008
Five members visited America Wood on a fine bright afternoon. Many of the most interesting butterfly species and some of the best bird life were seen on the approaches to the wood from Upper Hyde Farm Road. These included Comma, Small Copper, and at least a dozen Red Admirals attracted by tree sap near the entrance to the wood proper. We spent a lot of time admiring the forays of a couple of Spotted Flycatchers, and there were a pair of Buzzards, a Sparrowhawk and a party of Siskin among the other birds to be seen. Once again there were a number of Jays in evidence.
Inside the wood Large Whites predominated. Harlequin and Sixteen-spot Ladybirds were found, as well as the Hawthorn Shield Bug, a Sloe Bug and the Woundwort Bug. One of the most interesting records was the second record for the handsome bug Liorhyssus hyalinus first recorded on the Isle of Wight in 2007, and which is clearly starting to colonize.
The other record of particular interest was the mine of a sawfly Scolioneura betuleti on Downy Birch. This was recorded as an adult by Saunt, back in 1934 in Shorwell, but this is the first record of the mine of this species on the Island.