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Please Note....

My apologies for my lack of  blog posts over recent weeks/months. Unfortunately I have been unwell with a fairly serious auto-immune disorder that I am currently being treated for but it has had quite an impact on my time and well being. 
I have still visited the common occasionally during this period when Ive felt well enough and my records from these visits will still be put on iRecord and this blog in due course.

On a positive note, I have decided to continue my studies of Hartlebury Common and Hillditch Pool for 2018 and plan to take a more systematic approuch to some of the recording.

So please do watch this space for future blog posts and wildlife recording news.


Tuesday 15th August

Before I continue with this post I would just like to apologise for the lack of blog activity over the past couple of weeks.  I am still visiting the Common and have much still to blog about but I have been spending my spare time of late putting all my Hartlebury/Hillditch wildlife records for this year online via iRecord.  It's a great website and all the records entered there are verified by experts and forwarded to/can be accessed by various organisations such as Biological Record Centres, British Dragonfly Society and Butterfly Conservation to name but a few.

If you have any records from Hartlebury Common or elsewhere for that matter why not pop them on iRecord.  It's easy to register and get started.  If your interested check out the following link:


Tuesday 15th August 2017:
I undertook a walk around the Lower Heath area of the Common today.  Although it was quite a warm sunny day there didn't seem to be a great numbers of butterflies on the wing today.  That said I did record 1 Brown Argus, 1 Common Blue, 1 Small Copper, 1 Small Heath and 1 Speckled Wood.  Also of note was a rather light colour/washed out Yellow Shell moth.

Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus)

Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria)

Yellow Shell (Camptogramma bilineata)

As i walked around I observed that Parasol Mushrooms were starting to emerge in a number of locations and Devil's Bit Scabious just starting to come into bloom.  I recorded a single Hornet in flight over the heather and a ♂ Mottled Grasshopper was also noted.  Mottled Grasshoppers are a speciality of the Common and only occur in a small number of Worcestershire sites.  The males are fairly easy to identify as they have clubbed tips to their antennae.

Parasol Mushroom (Macrolepiota procera)

The undoubted highlight of today's visit though was seeing two tiny juvenile Common Lizards scuurying about in front of one patch of heather, both of which only measured around an inch and half long (that's approx 38 mm for you metric types).  One actually worked it's way up through the heather and perched partially out in the sunshine.  Needless to say a photo opportunity ensued!

Common Lizard (Zootoca vivipara)

Sunday 13th August

Sunday 13th August 2017:
Today, the wife and I undertook a mid-afternoon walk around the lower terrace and terrace bank of the Common.  The weather for today's visit was cloudy with sunny spells.  What was most noticeable was the huge numbers of hirrundines that were present hawking insects with C.120 House Martin and 6 Swallows recorded.  Also of note were  3 Common Buzzards that were up soaring above the terrace bank.

Butterfly activity was minimal although I did observe a single Small Tortoiseshell and 2 Small Copper.

Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae)

Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas)

On the fungi front Parasol Mushroom was the only species of note.

Parasol Mushroom (Macrolepiota procera)

House Martins en masse over the Common

At dusk I visited Hillditch Pool with my bat detector.  There were 6 bats present hawking about over the water.  They were Soprano Pipestrelles and were echo-locating at around 55kHz on my Magenta Bat 5 heterodyne detector.

Monday 7th and Thursday 10th August

Monday 7th August 2017:
It was a sunny warm day on the Common and I decided to undertake a walk around the lower terrace and along the terrace bank, taking in the heather covered areas that were now in bloom.

Large numbers of Heather Colletes were present feeding on the Ling heather flowers.  Also recorded were 7 Beewolf (2♂, 5♀).  A Brown-banded Carder Bee was observed feeding on the Musk Thistle flowers.

Beewolf (Philanthus triangulum)

Brown-banded Carder Bee (Bombus humilis)

Despite the fine weather conditions there wasn't that much in the way of  butterfly activity, with 5 Small Copper being the exception.  I also recorded a new micro-moth for my site year list in the form of Pearl Grass-veneer.

Pearl Grass-veneer (Catoptria pinella)

Thursday 10th August 2017:
For today's visit I undertook a walk on the lower heath side of the Common and the crossed over the Worcester Road to continue around the lower terrace area.  At the lower heath 1 Brown Argus, 2♂ Common Blue and a Small Copper were noted.

Brown Argus (Aricia agestis)

Also of interest during the walk were a small number of Ramshorn Galls that I discovered on one of the Oak trees.  These galls are caused by the gall wasp Andricus aries.

Ramshorn Gall (Andricus aries) 

Whilst at the lower heath I decided to use my sweep net and sweep through the area of Lady's Bedstraw near the entrance by Cooks.  This proved a worthwhile exercise as I swept 5 Sermylassa halensis flea beetles.  A species that has a preference for Bedstraw as it's main food plant for both adults and larvae.

Sermylassa halensis

Also of note at Lower Heath was a single Common Lizard that was seen scurrying off into the heather and a rather stunning area of Toadflax that was now in bloom on the western edge of the site.

Toadflax (Linaria vulgaris)

From the lower heath I headed across the Worcester Road to the lower terrace.  Here 2 immature Migrant Hawker dragonflies were of observed. This is the first time I have recorded this late summer/autumn species at the site this year.    Also of note on in this area of common was a single female Pantaloon Bee that was feeding on the Musk Thistle flowers.

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta)

Pantaloon Bee (Dasypoda hirtipes)

Tuesday 1st, Saturday 5th & Sunday 6th August

Tuesday 1st August 2017:
I started today's visit at the Wilden Top car park and on walking the footpath along the eastern edge of the Common I picked up on 13 Greenfinch (4 adult & 9 juveniles) feeding in the adjacent paddock, a  good sign that they have successfully bred locally.  Also present in the paddock were 3 Pied Wagtails (1 adult ♂ and 2 juveniles).

It was quite a dull overcast day and not particularly productive on the invert front although I did record a single Red Admiral.  What was interesting however was to see and photograph a Kite-tailed Robberfly perched with it's hoverfly prey.   The species gets it's name from the projecting tab on the last segment which bears a tuft of black hairs.  This tab is normally forked and resembles a kite's tail. 

Kite-tailed Robberfly (Machimus atricapillus)

Saturday 5th August 2017:
Today I undertook another walk around the Lower Heath side of the Common.  I arrived at the site early afternoon as the skies had started to clear following the morning's showers.  In one area of nettles I walked through I flushed 3 Mother of Pearl moths.  Interestingly, nettle is the food plant of the larvae of Mother of Pearl.  I also observed a single Common Carpet moth.  Butterflies noted during this visit included 1♂ Common Blue, 2 Small Copper and 2 Small Heath.

Mother of Pearl (Pleuroptya ruralis)

Common Carpet (Epirrhoe alternata)

As the summer draws on there is more fungi appearing on the Common with 3 Parasol Mushroom and a Mosaic Puffball noted during today's visit.

Parasol Mushroom (Macrolepiota procera)

Mosaic Puffball (Handkea utriformis)

On the bird front it was nice to hear (and then see) a flyover Yellow Wagtail that was heading ENE.

Sunday 6th August 2017:
I only had time for a brief visit to the Lower Heath section of the Common today but was rewarded with another species of  robberfly for my site year list in the shape of a Brown Heath Robberfly.  This is now the third species of robberfly that I've recorded at the site alongside Fan-bristled and Kite-tailed robberflies.

♀ Brown Heath Robberfly (Machimus cingulatus)

Monday 31st July

Monday 31st July 2017:
As sunshine and showers were the order of the day weather wise, I decided to take advantage of a sunny spell and check the thistle flowers in at the lower terrace area of the Common to record what may be feeding on them.  It proved a good move as I actually recorded a stunning ♀ Pantaloon Bee on one flower head and a ♂ Pantaloon Bee on another.  With this species it's definitely the female who wears the trousers!

Pantaloon Bee (Dasypoda hirtipes)

Pantaloon Bee (Dasypoda hirtipes)

From the lower terrace I headed over to the SE side of the Common and undertook a walk/mooch from Lower poolands car park.  On arrival at the parking area I picked up on a Flesh Fly that was perched on the fence.

Flesh Fly (Sarcophaga sp.)

The walk itself was quite productive as I observed a basking Common Lizard and recorded 2 Brown Hawker dragonflies, a Southern Hawker and a ♂ Common Blue butterfly.  The highlight though (other than the lizard which are always a pleasure to see if they don't scurry off into the undergrowth) was a diminutive 22-spot Ladybird.  This is the first I have recorded at the site this year.

Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus)

22-spot Ladybird (Psyllobora 22-punctata)

As well as the wonderful array of inverts it was a good day for Oak galls as I added three more species to my site year list in Common Spangle Gall, Knopper Gall and best of all Ramshorn Gall.  the latter being a species that was formerly scarce but appears to be on the increase in the county.  Ramshorn Galls are are produced on the buds of oak trees by the wasp species Andricus aries.  This species was first recorded in the UK in 1997 and in Worcestershire in 2013.

Ramshorn Gall (Andricus aries)

Knopper Gall (Andricus quercuscalicis)

Towards the end of my amble around I recorded a rather stunning ♀ Meadow Grasshopper with a lovely pink and green colour form.

Meadow Grasshopper (Chorthippus parallelus)

Wednesday 26th & Sunday 30th July

Wednesday 26th July 2017:
I only had time for a brief visit to the Common today so I just walked a short circuit near the Wilden Top carpark.  There wasn't much of note except for a couple of Linnets and a rather showy singing Yellowhammer.  I can honestly say that I never tire of hearing/seeing these stunning arable birds!

Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)

I then headed over to the SE side of the Common for a quick mooch around the Oak woodland, where I discovered a rather nice clump of young Beefsteak Fungus that was exuding its blood like juices

Beefsteak Fungus (Fistulina hepatica)

Sunday 30th July 2017:
Another sunny, mild day saw me pay a visit to the Lower Heath area of the Common.  The first thing that struck me was seeing a flurry of activity around the now flowering Ling heather.  On close inspection I soon picked up on good numbers of Heather Colletes feeding on them.  Heather Colletes is a rather attractive  solitary mining bee that times it's emergance to coincide with the flowering of the heather.  It is quite a small bee (smaller than Honey Bee) with a very prominant stripes/bands around it's abdomen.

Heather Colletes (Colletes succinctus)

Butterflies of note during the visit were as single Red Admiral and 4 Small Heath.  Good numbers of Gatekeeper were still present with some seen feeding on the Ling flowers.

Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus)

Tuesday 25th July

Tuesday 25th July 2017:
It was another hot and sunny day on the Common (weather that seems like a distant memory as I type this post) and I decided to start my visit by checking out the thistle flowers at the lower terrace.

A number of Leafcutter Bees were visiting the flowers and from the photos I have taken I've managed to ID the species as Wood-carving Leaf-cutter (Megachile ligniseca).  One of the key identifying factors of this species are the graded colours of the scopa (the hairs on the underside of the abdomen that are used for carrying pollen)

Wood-carving Leaf-cutter (Megachile ligniseca)

Notable butterflies seen during the visit were 1 Marbled White, 2 ♂ Common Blue, 1 ♂ Brown Argus, 2 Small Copper and 1 Red Admiral.  

Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus)

Brown Argus (Aricia agestis)

During my walk I also discovered a Reticularia lycoperdon slime mold.  This white globular mass that can be found on dead wood isn't actually a fungus.  One of it's common names is the False Puffball due to the similarity in shape and the fact that it eventually splits open releasing a mass of brown spores.

False Puffball Slime Mold (Reticularia lycoperdon)

My final stop on the walk was at Rush Pool which sadly has now dried out to all but a 10ft by 6ft area of shallow water.  That said there were good numbers of Common Darter dragonflies here including three oviposting (egg-laying) pairs.

Common Darters (Sympetrum striolatum) egg-laying


Saturday 22nd July

Saturday 22nd July 2017:
A visit to the lower terrace of the Common gave the opportunity to observe a number of  bee species visiting the numerous thistle flowers.  Although the majority of which were Red-tailed Bumblebee,  I was treated to good views of a slightly faded Vestal Cuckoo Bee

Vestal Cuckoo Bees are kleptoparasites of the Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris).  The female cuckoo bee will enter the Bombus terrisitris nest and kill the queen.  She will then lay her own eggs to be reared by the Bombus terrestris workers.

Red-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius) - worker

Red-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius) - male 

Vestal Cuckoo Bee (Bombus vestalis)

Of interest during the visit were a small number of  Leafcutter Bees (Megachilie sp.) that were visiting the thistles.  

A Field Grasshopper was also recorded.  This individual was of a different colour form to the one shown in my previous blog post.

Field Grasshopper (Chorthippus brunneus)


Monday 17th July

Monday 17th July 2017:
It was a hot, sunny day on the Common and I decided to pay a visit to the Lower Heath (the west side of the Worcester Road).  It proved a worthwhile decision as, shortly after arriving, i picked up on a stunning Brown Argus visiting the Ling flowers not far from Cooks Garden Centre.  This was especially pleasing as it is the first Brown Argus i have recorded at the Common this year.

Brown Argus (Aricia agestis)

Other notable butterflies observed today included 1 ♂ Common Blue, 2 Marbled Whites and 2 Small Copper.  I also found a Eudemis profundana micro moth at rest on an Oak leaf.

Eudemis profundana

I also discovered a young Oak Cherry Gall on the underside of one of the Oak leaves.  This gall will often turn a reddish colour as it matures hence the common name.  It is caused by the tiny gall wasp Cynips quercusfolii.  Interestingly, these galls tend to be smooth when formed on the leaves of English Oaks but warty when formed on the leaves of Sessile Oaks.

Oak Cherry Gall (Cynips quercusfolii

One thing that did really strike me on today's visit to the Common was the sound.  Due to the heat and the time of year the multitudes of Broom seed pods were bursting open in a cacophony of sound.  It sounded like I was walking around in a giant bowl of Rice Krispies with all that snap, crackle and pop going on!

From the Lower Heath I crossed over the Worcester Road to check out the former carpark area.  Here there were 2 ♂ Beewolf, a Comma and a brown form Field Grasshopper present.  Also observed at this location was a Small Copper butterfly that was feeding on the Yarrow flowers.

Field Grasshopper (Chorthippus brunneus) - brown form

Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas)