There wasn't a lot to report in truth and the undoubted star find of the day was one of the strangest, smallest (and rarest) creatures I've ever encountered.
While photographing a Darter on the top bar of the wooden gate just down from the sawmill entrance I noticed a tiny lump of lichen was moving slowly past the dragon. Intrigued I turned my attention to it, getting down to eye level and noting through the camera zoom it appeared to be an insect in a casing made from lichen and grains of earth, like a caddis fly larvae but on dry land. It was no more than 5mm long but as it waddled along at a painstakingly slow pace I was able to photograph it and put the photo on Twitter when I got home to see if it could be identified :
|Dahlica lichenella ?|
The dark head can be made out on the left, with three pairs of legs just behind as it shuffled
along the top of the gate.
Another first (but not quite so exciting) was this Ladybird, which I'd never seen the like of before. Turns out it's one of those invasive Harlequin Ladybirds which I've heard lots about but not seen. They only arrived in this country (from Asia) in 2004 but their expansion has been rapid. Generally larger than our native ladies they have voracious appetites for both aphids and our ladies larvae, which puts them in the pest bracket for the potential extinction of our native species, much like the grey squirrel has done for our reds. In winter they have the habit of finding quiet corners of a house to hibernate in their thousands, which I suppose is handy if we were wanting to wipe large numbers of them out :
And finally to confirm another first; apparently my Glossy Ibis sighting on the 16th (see previous post) was indeed a first confirmed record for Gateshead, so lets have another look at it :-)
|Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus|
A first record for Gateshead
So three firsts in two days at my local patch, not bad going for a much-maligned site.
And should you like further information on the Lichen case-bearing moths, here's the link : http://www.ukmoths.org.uk/species/dahlica-lichenella