Friday, 31 October 2014

Seeing the Changes 921


An invasive Harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) also came to the light in Loughor.

Seeing the Changes 920




A sudden, late splurg of moths in Loughor. Visited by a Feathered thorn (Colotois pennaria) and a Small autumnal moth (Epirrita filigrammaria).

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Marine Bird Monitor


Somewhat sad news as it looks as if Professor Tim Berkhead's 42 year monitoring of Guillemot (Uria aalge) breeding on Skomer is due to end due to removal of its modest annual funding (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/26/guillemots-study-skomer-wales-budget-cut-tim-birkhead). Berkhead has argued that such monitoring gives us an insight into the general health of our seas (largely due to anthropogenic actions) and to long-term climate change. In other areas Guillemot breeding has been decimated by humans taking their preferred sand eel prey to convert into agricultural fertiliser. It is also notable that the birds now breed some 2.5 weeks earlier than they did at the start of Berkhead's PhD studies.

Seeing the Changes 919



The 'season of mists and mellow fruitfulness' in Loughor is profuse with fungi. A Shaggy ink cap (Coprinus comatus) made an appearance as did masses of small, brown fruiting bodies.

Friday, 24 October 2014

An Enemy for Rhododendron?


Many areas of the UK (e.g. Snowdonia and Brownsea Island in Dorset) have been overgrown by Rhododendron, transported from its Himalayan home by gardeners. This has had detrimental effects on our native flora and fauna. It was interesting to note that the pictured larva appeared to be eating the plant's leaves in the gargen of the Tibetology Institute in Gangtok (Sikkim).

Sikkim 2014 Natural History Highlights



























As usual, there was such a mass of new things in the Indian Himalayas, that it was difficult to make a choice. I have gone with 3 wise Hanuman langurs (Semnopithecus entellus) in West Bengal and Indian muntjac deer (Muntiacus muntjak) in the Himalayan Zoological Park. Birds included a Wall creeper (Tichodroma muraria) at Teesta V, female (yellow) and male (red) Short-billed minivets (Pericrocotus breviostris) at the Tibetology Instiitute and a nice close up of an Oriental magpie robin (Copsychus saularis) at Saramsa Gardens. There was an Argiope spider conveniently next to a Hindu sign at Teesta V. There were impressive insect galls on leaves at the Tibetology Institute. A green-eyed fly (probably a female Tabanus nigrovittatus) was spotted at the Hidden Forest Retreat and a Bibio species at the Himalayan Zoological Park. Got a nice shot of a Praying mantis at the Tibetology Institute. Striking butterflies included a mineral-seeking Red helen (Papilo helenus) at Teesta V; a nectar-taking Paris peacock (Papilo paris) at the Hidden Forest Retreat; a Tropical fritillary (Argynis hyperbius hyperbius) at Temi Tea Plantation as well as a Red-spot jezebel (Delias descombesi) and an Oriental striped tiger (Danaus genutia) both at Saramsa Gardens. Moths included an Owl moth (Erebus macrops) at the Hidden Forest; an Oleander hawk moth (Daphnis nerii) at the Guru Padsamabhava statue; an enormous, brown Saturniid, a Numenes patrana and a Lappet moth (Trabala sp) all at Hidden Forest and a much-spotted Antipercnia belluaria in Gangtok centre. A strikingly-coloured caterpillar was pictured near Rumtek and black and yellow larvae completely defoliated a tree at the Hidden Forest. Little Japanese umbrella-type fungi (Coprinus sp) massed at the Hidden Forest and a single, pink flower was revealed in Rumtek.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Up Up and Away in Pakyong (Sikkim)?


The proposed development of Pakyong airport in Sikkim is also not without problems. This would be a high-altitude commercial (with additions for military use) airport which, in theory, would greatly improve the accessibility of the area. Certainly there is general local (but not from the all the people in direct vicinity to the development) enthusiasm for the project. I am uncertain whether it would really bring in the envisioned masses of older and richer tourists (these, one must also say, are not without attendant problems in other parts of the globe). It might well change the nature of the 'Sikkim experience'. The project has involved the construction of 200 foot high retaining walls (said to be already showing signs of bulging at half the proposed height) and pile-driver induced damage to residential and commercial properties in the near vicinity). One must also note that this is an earthquake zone. Currently, the development is delayed by legal challenges and strike action by workers (who appear to want 'danger money').