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Saturday, 16 May 2015

Recent Ffos Las sightings

The slightly warmer weather of the past week or so has brought more butterflies and moths out on Ffos Las as well as various other insect species.

I saw my first small heath of the year on 7th May, this photo taken on the 9th.
My first dingy skipper was on 7th May, a few days later than Isobel's sighting on the adjacent Woodland Trust site.  This photo was taken on 11th May.  I am now seeing these in good numbers - 13 today (Sat) and have seen them every time I have been on Ffos Las since the 7th, so although nothing can ever be guaranteed in nature, anyone wanting to see a dingy skipper has a good chance along footpath number 36/148/1, alongside the Afon Morlais on the north of the site, below where the new housing development "The Padocks" is being built.  I would be very happy to show anyone the way if they wanted.
Ffos Las is also a good site for wall browns and I am seeing a couple on most walks at the moment.
Small copper first seen on 12th May.
I am pretty sure that this is a brown argus, photographed on 12th May. I initially thought it was a female common blue, but the orange spots on the forewing go all the way to the front edge of the wing and there is no blue in the spots on the hind wing.  If it is a brown argus, then it is the first that I have seen on Ffos Las, and I've been through my photos of the past 4 years in case I have mis-identified it before, and I have no other pictures of this butterfly.
There are several larval webs of lackey moth on site, but not as many as I've seen in previous years.
Not a good photo of a common carpet moth, but again my first of the year, 13th May.
I know nothing about hoverflies, but this one has different abdominal markings to those I usually see.
2 for the price of 1.  I don't know the species of bee, but I think that the green beetle is Oedemera nobilis.
A slow worm basking on the path.  I was lucky to see one on Monday and Tuesday this week.


  1. Great selection Maggie - I think the Burnet Companion is a Dingy Skipper

    1. Oops, you were right. I've deleted the photo and will therefore confuse anyone else reading your comment. Thanks for the correction.

  2. The hoverfly is an Eristalis, but there are several similar ones - hard to say for sure which one from a pic. The abdominal marking are very variable in these species and not much use for ID, unfortunately.

  3. I think that your lycaenid butterfly is the blue-tinged form of a female common blue rather than a brown argus, Maggie. Your bumblebee looks like Bombus pascuorum and your Oedemera nobilis is correct; the swollen leg joints show that you`ve got a male of the latter, which gives the species its common name `thick-kneed flower beetle`. It is quite frequent, at least in coastal Carms, but be aware of a smaller, much slimmer relative O. luridus (which is more widespread in our county). Really nice to see the good photos - the presence of wall butterflies is encouraging, and such sites are, as you know, best left unplanted rather than being targeted for tree planting. If you`re in book-buying mode, then a really good book for hoverflies is `Britain`s Hoverflies: a field guide` by Stuart Ball & Roger Morris, 2nd Ed,2015, (c £19).

  4. I'm with Maggie on the Brown Argus. Although it has a hint of blue reflection, Brown Argus can have this too (there was an article on this recently in one of the journals...can't remember if it was Atropos or Entomologists' Record). The strong orange spots, obvious dark discal spot and generally neat appearance all point to Brown Argus. If you google 'Brown Argus' you'll see quite a few with a blueish tinge (and I don't think they're all misidentified!).

  5. Thanks for your comments both. I seem to have divided opinion on the ?brown argus, but as I stated in the original post, I based the identification on the basis of the orange spots on the forewing going all the way to the wing edge and the lack of blue in the spots of the hind wing, as well as the distinct black spot on the forewings. I am always happy to be corrected, as this is the only way for a beginner like me to learn (as I admitted to the wrong identification of a burnet companion which I deleted from the original post following the correction by Barry earlier). It would be interesting to read what anyone else thinks of the blue/argus.

    Is the field guide on hoverflies mentioned by Ian the one in the Wild Guides series? I have the guides to Britain's dragonflies and Britain's day flying moths in that series. I also have Chris Manley's British moths and butterflies and use various websites to help with the identifications.

  6. It`s far better that I`m wrong in this case Maggie, as brown argus inland (even though not too far from the sea) is a great record. It`s known from Pembrey Forest area but even there it`s quite `thin on the ground`. Well done!

  7. I`ve just checked, and the record is the FIRST ever inland Carms record. It may be worth keeping an eye out to see if any storksbill (the food-plant) grows at the site.

  8. I've just looked up storksbill in my reference books as it isn't a plant that I'm immediately familiar with. There is plenty of cranesbill on site and I shall certainly have a good look out for storksbill on my next walk, hopefully this pm when the current cloudburst stops!!

  9. I do not think it is a Brown Argus. Sorry.

  10. Russel Hobson of BCT and Dave Bannister, the County recorder for butterflies are agreeing that it is a brown argus. As a beginner, I can only go by the opinion of others more knowledgeable than me and I'm sure the debate will continue.

  11. I have just asked the opinion of my mentor, who I consider the greatest entomologist in Britain. He has said it is a tricky one, and rightly debated, but has come down on the side of Brown Argus. So I will have to agree with that. In real life it may not have shown up as so blue as the photo makes it seem.

  12. Thank you, Jon, for taking the time and trouble to investigate further. As I said above, I'm reliant on those more knowledgeable and experienced than me.