Saturday, 22 August 2009

From the Mouths of Babes and Black-headed Gulls

Black-headed Gull with hapless Brambling

Notes on yesterday's video clip.
During a large 'fall' of migrant birds onboard Buchan Alpha on 13th October 2005, a seemingly healthy Brambling was caught by the Black-headed Gull, shaken by the neck until dead, then swallowed whole. With some photography restrictions on Oil Rigs, this was the final opportunity to capture a 'still' of this strange event.

Convolvulus Hawk-moth

Tachina grossa

An early morning walk around Radipole only produced over-flying Sparrowhawk and Greenshank, and with a 2.4 metre spring tide Ferry Bridge was bye-passed. The wander from Tout Quarry to the Bill proved equally fruitless, but at the Observatory it was insects that brightened my day. A Convolvulus Hawk-moth dallying after capture last night was a welcome sight despite visiting my own trap on a number of occasions. This insect can reach a length of about 120mm, so is something of a monster among moths in the UK. It should be noted that since moving from a very productive mothing site in Wyke Regis, I no longer trap here in the heart of suburbia.

Next, I reported to those around me, what I described as a strange looking 'bee' only to be put right very quickly by a 9 year old boy. He told me that it was in fact Tachina grossa the largest of the European Diptera (Flies). He went on to say that it is parasitic on the caterpillars of Oak Eggar Moths, where the female injects her eggs into their body cavity, with the newly hatched gaining nourishment as they eat their way through the caterpillar's living body. A little gruesome for a young lad you may feel, but I got such a kick out of being educated by one so young. This was by no means a 'one off' as he went on to tell me that among many other things he has already seen all of the resident British butterflies. I got a feeling that the future is in good hands.