Hummingbird hawkmoth

There was a hummingbird hawkmoth right outside our back door this afternoon. Amazing how it hovered still enough to take a fairly crisp photo, with the wings just a blur.


A visit to the nature reserve in an old quarry at Haytor. There were white waterlilies and yellow fringed waterlilies. Fringed waterlilies are native to the Fens and Thames valley, but introduced and increasing in Devon. There were tiny frogs (above), sticklebacks, and a palmate newt. Note his black ‘gloves’ and thread-like tail tip.

Wild parsnip

There are several sturdy plants of wild parsnip in Ivybridge station carpark. I haven’t seen it on any of my other regular walks. There were also lots of butterflies enjoying the ragwort, great willowherb, scabious and knapweed, and a dingy footman on the underside of a leaf. Walking back to Moorhaven, there were two winged casualties on…

Southern hawker

A brilliant green dragonfly cruising over the pond – a southern hawker. She was perfectly camouflaged (top picture) in dappled shade while depositing her eggs. There was also a very pretty marmalade hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus) on flowers at the edge of the pond. This is one of few species of flies that can crush and eat…


A lovely selection of flowers at Mount Wise Redoubt, a part of Plymouth I hadn’t seen before. Many bushes of spiny restharrow (because its tough stems would stop or ‘arrest’ a harrow), with teasels, knapweed and field scabious. I think the knapweed is lesser knapweed but a less common variant that has divided petals like…

Silver-washed fritillary

A beautiful and large butterfly in the garden yesterday. A silver-washed fritillary, according to the lovely people at iSpot Nature. Although it is the most common fritillary, populations are struggling because its favourite habitat of woodland glades has declined drastically since the 1960s, in part because deciduous woodland has been replaced by conifer plantation and in…

Bumblebees and bogs

A surprising find on the moor yesterday, near the head of Ludbrook: ten or more bumblebees in a grassy, mossy nest. There were also lots of dragonflies and damselflies, in particular gold-ringed dragonflies patrolling up and down the brook too fast for photos. Meadow brown and large skipper butterflies were in the long grass beside the lower moorland…

South Milton to Thurlestone

There is a small patch of pyramidal orchids where the coast path passes South Milton Ley nature reserve, and swathes of greater knapweed with occasional agrimony. A solitary specimen of black horehound in the hedge opposite the cafe at South Milton sands. The leaves emit a pungent smell when crushed. Prickly blue sea holly is related to the more common wild…

Garden wildlife

Lucy found some eggs on a bay leaf. After a night in the kitchen, they had hatched into tiny beetles, each only a millimetre or two long. They are common green shield bugs apparently. A gold-ringed dragonfly by the pond, and a white plume moth. Ringlet butterfly

To the station and back

A poppy near the church in Bittaford, and some more poppy buds and capsules further on. All along the verge there are patches of zigzag clover, which is less common than white and red clovers but is plentiful here. Note the tapering, pointed stipules and widely spaced brightly coloured petals. Another interesting flower is agrimony, its tall…

Damselflies and darters

Lucy and I spent a couple of hours surrounded by damselflies and dragonflies at DWT Bovey Heathfield nature reserve. Many damselflies are bright blue and can be distinguished by the shape of the black mark on the second abdominal segment, which means taking a photo from above while they are still. Easier said than done….

South Brent island

There were loads of common red soldier beetles on hogweed and yarrow at the Island.   This is a broad centurion, a type of soldier fly. They are called soldier flies because of their brightly coloured ‘uniforms’. Broad centurion males have bronze abdomens, like this one. Females have blue-green abdomens. This moth is a beautiful golden Y….