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Essex Field Club
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The weblog below is for naturalists to use to report interesting sightings, ask questions, report on field meetings and generally post pictures and any information or questions generally relevant in some way to the wildlife and geology of Essex. You will need to register and be logged-on to post to the forum, and you need to upload pictures first, for use in posts. Find out more

Sat 26th June 2010 11:57 by Graham Smith
Lesser Stag Beetle?
Mary : A coleopterist I am not but your beetle could have been a Lesser Stag Beetle Dorcus parallelpipedus. They occasionally turn up in my moth trap at Ingatestone. Mind you, I have relied on Chinery (1993) for indentification, who states that, unlike the female Stag Beetle, the Lesser has only one tooth on the middle tibia. Identifying beetles from a popular field guide is likely to bring me a severe reprimand from the Club committee! The moth trap also turns up a few other beetles each year; most often the Great Diving Beetle Dytiscus marginalis; Cockchafer Melolontha melolontha, and various Burying Beetles Nicrophorus sp., including one or more species from the beautiful orange banded group and what is probably N.humator, an all black beetle with orange clubs to its antennae. Later in the summer I catch large numbers of Water Boatmen - alright, a bug not a beetle - and painstaking work it is too removing them from the trap and putting them back in the pond! At Blue House reserve last year we caught 26 Great Silver Beetles Hydrophilus piceus in the moth trap; or at least made twenty-six captures, three in a single night on one occasion. Dor or Dung Beetles Geotrupes sp. also turn up occasionally but not as many as you would expect, given the quantity of dung in the fields. I am told this is because the medication they give cattle to treat internal parasites is toxic to beetle larvae feeding on their dung. Finally, if you are still with me, Harlequin Ladybirds have become a frequent bycatch in both traps in recent years although I rarely catch any native species. Whether this is because they are more susceptible to light attraction or because they have eaten all the native ones I am not sure! Graham
Fri 25th June 2010 12:09 by Graham Smith
Wild Flower Walk at Mill Meadows, Billericay
Saturday June 19th : Assisted Chris Huggins, the Country Park Ranger, with a wild flower walk at Mill Meadows, in TQ6894. Six members of the Mill Meadows Support Group attended and despite the weather, which varied between early March and late March, depending on whether the sun came out of hiding or not, we had an enjoyable walk. The site's star attraction at this time of year is a fine display of Common Spotted Orchids. One of the volunteers had counted 5260 spikes a week or so ago but, unfortunately, grazing cattle had broken through a nearby fence line in the interim and although quickly removed they had made the most of this opportunity to stuff their bellies with blooms, leaving swathes of flowerless spikes behind. Good numbers still remained on view, though, while it was also pleasing to see Yellow Rattle in a native setting, rather than so obviously planted, as it has been in many areas. Other species of note included Ragged Robin and Devil's-bit Scabious but we had less luck with Sneezewort, Harebell, Spiked Sedge, Heath Grass and Ivy-leaved Crowfoot, all of which have been recorded here in recent years. Of particular interest to me were several plants of Corky-fruited Water Dropwort, a species that, Ken Adams assures me, is turning up here, there and everywhere in Essex nowadays but which had never come my way before and is a new species for this site. In total we recorded around 130 species during our two hour stroll and these will now be added to the Botany Group's Third Essex Flora database.
Mon 21st June 2010 20:56 by Mary Smith
Stag Beetle in flight
This afternoon my husband spotted a Stag Beetle in flight in our garden in Upminster.  He called me over and we both watched it for a short while.  We think it was not a big male, but possibly a female, or a small male, or a male of the Lesser Stag Beetle.  It made the typical rattling sound of its wing covers as it flew about in a verticla position, and we saw only smallish horns.  The long flying-wings were a dark reddish colour. We have not seen anything like a Stag Beetle in our garden for around 40 years, we think. We do have some long-dead wood at the bottom of the garden, hidden under Hawthorn trees.
Thu 17th June 2010 17:08 by Graham Smith
Moth Night at Epping Forest Woodland Burial Park
A 'Moth Night' was held at the Burial Park on Saturday June 12th, around a dozen people attending. Before the event started someone joked that the majority of those that came would probably be women, the men all being left behind in the pub watching the World Cup! So it proved; indeed, three of those that participated had dropped their husbands there on the way to the event. Their wives probably had the best of the deal - given the quality of the football to date -and as usual at such events there was a keen level of interest in the moths that we (Anthony Harbott, Martin McCleary, Andy McGeehan and myself) caught. Trapping was slow to start with but improved markedly when the security lights around the centre were turned off and by the end of the two hour trapping session 26 species of macro moth had been caught. There was nothing rare among them - Tawny Barred Angle (10), Scorched Wing (8) and Pale Tussock (6) being the most numerous - but they came in all shapes and sizes, which helped stimulate interest; other species including Pebble Hook Tip, Spruce Carpet, Dwarf Pug, Peppered Moth, Pale Oak Beauty, Orange Footman, Ingrailed Clay, Green Silver Lines, Spectacle and White ErmineWhite Ermine Moth Copyright: Graham Smith.Thanks are due to staff members Julia and Dan for heping to make the evening such a success.
Fri 11th June 2010 15:02 by Graham Smith
Orange Tips and Holly Blues
In the Ingatestone area, Orange Tips have had a very extended season. My first record was on April 23rd and the latest, so far, on June 11th. There were very few around during the early part of this period but a mass emergence towards the end of May when warmer temperatures by both day and night kicked in; my maximum counts being 32 on a regular transect at Mill Green and 10 at Blue House Farm, North Fambridge, where their food plant is not so numerous. Holly Blues have also had a good spring locally - again extended between late April and mid-June - with up to 5 in my garden. Have seen very few elsewhere though. Most spring butterflies seem to have had an average, if late, season; the exception hereabouts being the poor old Small Tortiseshell, with only a trio of records, all in April. Common Blues, Small Heaths and Small Coppers have all done well at Blue House (see my entry in May). Among the rarer species, several Green Hairstreaks have been seen during the past ten days at The Backwarden EWT Reserve, Danbury.
Wed 9th June 2010 15:24 by Peter Harvey
Bee chafers are extremely rare in Essex. Trichius fasciatus is western species, not recorded from Essex. The second British species, Trichius zonatus, is extremely rare in Britain, and has been recorded on only a handful of occasions in southern England – Tilbury, Essex 1938 ; Sheppey , Kent 1946 and Marlow, Bucks in 1947 and 1949, Hackney Marshes on Essex/Middlesex border in 2004. It is doubtfully British, but in 2004 there may have been an established population in the vicinity of Hackney Marshes, since two individuals were noted feeding on bramble blossom. To confirm which species, you really need to try and capture the beetle and send it to a beetle specialist like our County Recorder for identification. Either species would be very exciting.
Wed 9th June 2010 14:31 by Ann Faithfull
Bee Chafer
I've spotted what I believe to be a bee chafer in my garden this afternoon, on a scabious. I can't find much information about the insect on line as they seem to be quite rare in this area. I will try to post a photo later if I can get it into the right format. How rare are they in south Essex?
Sun 6th June 2010 14:11 by Grant Maton
Holly Blue and Orange Tip Butterflies
Is it my imagination or does this seem to be a good year for Holly Blue and Orange Tip. I have seen both in numerous locations around Southend and Rayleigh areas, in gardens and other open spaces. Grant Maton


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