Extinct 13-spot Ladybird Found in Devon

In the past few days you may have spotted the news that a 13-spot ladybird, previously though extinct, was discovered here in the Axe Estuary in the wetlands at Seaton recently.

The 13-spot ladybird, also known as Hippodamia 13-punctata, was considered extinct in the UK from the early fifties.

It was discovered by a student who was in the area as part of a widespread effort to categorise and survey the Axe estuary. According to James Chubb of East Devon District Council, the find was an example of “the amazing diversity of wildlife to be found on the wetlands.”

Although buglife.org.uk refers to the Axe estuary and surrounding area as “a sleepy corner of Devon” (which many locals would not whole-heartedly agree with!) they are quite right to get excited about another interesting local find, adding the following for those who might wish to keep an eye out for the 13-spot ladybird:

“The 13-spot ladybird has a similar pattern to the familiar 7-spot ladybird, with between 7 and 15 black spots on a background of orange-red. It’s smaller than a 7-spot ladybird, as well as being longer and thinner, more teardrop-shaped than round.”

We normally hearmore about birds and dragonflies here but the discovery (or re-discovery) of the 13-spot butterfly is great news for conservationists not just in Devon but in the UK as a whole, in fact one of the comments in the Planet Earth Online write-up of the story suggest this rare butterfly is already being found in the North of England!

Please let us know if you spot this creature around Devon!

Close-up Nature Photos from Keith West

All photos © Keith West.

Some more photos from Keith West today. They’ve been sitting in my email for some time so apologies to Keith for not getting them uploaded more quickly!

When sending these, Keith did mention some of the equipment he uses:

For most of the close-up work I have a perspex box 21X15X3.5 c/ms, the lid is on the narrow, long side.
This enables me to photograph through the top and sides.
The camera is a Sony NEX 3 with three interchangeable lenses. The one I use for close-up work is the 18-55mm set to
macro and with two 2 diopter c-u filters fitted. Daylight is the lighting where possible. For most other pictures, it would be the 18-200mm lens.
It’s great to have this sort of insight, especially for people like myself who only dabble in the photography side of things, and wouldn’t know where to start when it comes to creating these fascinating shots. Perhaps the most important points that Keith has to make are these:
All are hand held, no tripod if I can help it. The best asset is being very patient!
My camera is always with me when out, away from home.
In short, great nature photos take time, not only to understand the vast array of equipment and the nuances of each camera and so on, but also in the time it takes for nature itself to be ready to be photographed! Finally, to get those pictures, you really need your camera on you because you don’t always know when the opportunity for a great photo will arise. Thanks again Keith!
If there is anyone else out there just dying to get their photos featured on the site then we would love to hear from you. That includes any tips you might have about equipment, technique, or even a philosophy you have about taking photos of wildlife.

Butterfly Survey at Lower Bruckland Farm, East Devon

Phil Parr of Butterfly Conservation was in East Devon at the end of July. He surveyed the Lower Bruckland Nature Area on 27/7/11 and found the following butterflies on the wing:
  • Small white
  • Green veined white
  • Small skipper
  • Common blue
  • Meadow brown
  • Ringlet
  • Gatekeeper
  • Small tortoiseshell
  • Speckled wood
  • Peacock
  • Red admiral
  • Comma
Phil also passed on the message that we should soon look out for:
  • Small copper
  • Brown argus
Thanks to Phil for the great input as always!

Butterfly Conservation Survey (2006!)

Just moving some stuff over from the old site and I noticed the Butterfly Survey that Phil Parr of Devon Butterfly Conservation supplied to us in 2006. Okay, so it’s 5 years out of date, but we haven’t had too many posts on butterflies recently so I thought it was about time!

You can download the original here:

Butterfly Conservation (Devon Branch) – Lower Bruckland Site Report 2006

But here are the salient points, without the nice butterfly pictures:

Butterfly Conservation (Devon Branch) Survey 2006
Species Max No. Date
Small Red-eyed Damselfly 54 Jul-23
Red-veined Darter 9 Jul-4
Common Blue 6 Aug-17
Clouded Yellow 4 Aug-17
Small White 4 Aug-17
Red-eyed Damselfly 4 Jul-23
Speckled Wood 3 Aug-17
Small Copper 1 39311
Painted Lady 1 Aug-17
Emperor Dragonfly 1 Jul-3
Lesser Emperor 1 Jul-16
Common Darter 1 Jun-13

For those that don’t know, Butterfly Conservation have been studying and helping to protect butterflies in the UK since 1968; thanks to Phil and his colleagues, firstly for doing what they do for butterflies, but also for passing on the reports!

Dingy Skipper

Dingy skipper butterfly
Dingy skipper butterfly

This photo of a Dingy Skipper butterfly was sent in by Steve on Wednesday (many thanks!). He wrote:

Saw this Dingy Skipper at Lower Bruckland Ponds this afternoon.  It’s the first one I’ve seen here and the first one I’ve seen locally away from the cliffs at Branscombe and Axmouth.

The Dingy Skipper (Erynnis tages) is apparently so-called because when it first emerges the darker colours that make up its markings are striking (at least for browns and grays), however over time this fades as scales fall off, leaving its appearance somewhat less exciting than other butterflies (i.e. dingy).

For details on its annual cycles check out UK Butterflies, which also describes its natural habitat as “warm open areas” such as cliffs/stone areas (explaining Steve’s experiences at Branscombe/Axmouth) but also woodland clearings, which might explain why he spotted a Dingy Skipper here too.

April 22, 2011Permalink