So as many of you may know, as well as having my dog and guinea-pig , I am the proud owner of a pet beetle. But it is most certainly not your average beetle. The Churchyard Beetle (Blaps mucronata), named Ben has been with me for almost a decade. 10 years!!! I cannot believe it really, and I am pretty sure he has a good chance of being a world record holder. I thought I would take this time to tell you a little more about him.
When I was younger, Insects were very much at the forefront of my interests. I was a member of a wildlife group, and I spent lots of the time capturing insects, and spent countless hours catching butterflies from the Buddelia with my net. But beetles were always my favourite. My dad told me that his old Biology teacher from school, David Nash, had done much study and research into beetles, and since they had become good friends my dad asked if it would be possible to send a live specimen.
Ben arrived in a small plastic food container, with a small piece of kitchen roll and a slice of cucumber. It was also accompanied by a letter from David himself, with information regarding how to care for my new pet and some interesting info and articles on similar species. Also included was this article (there is also a photograph for those who are unaware of how they look). Ben's current habitat is not quite the luxury he was first introduced to, rather more artificial, but maybe to celebrate 10 years I will treat him to a bit of a nicer abode after Christmas.
Ten years later and after three school visits, Ben is just as active as ever! Last year David wrote this report in 'White Admiral', the newsletter of Suffolk Naturalists' Society (page 24) on Ben's progress, (with two horrific photos). I will make sure I keep you all posted on how he's doing, and try and upload some photos. Here's to another ten years!
Once again I did not go to Tophill as I woke up too late. I made up for this a little bit by going into the garden to see what was around, which provided a good start to my 'Patch Foot List' and a bit of photography practice. Luckily I have a month off now to make up for my laziness!
This post is sort of a filler before I go on my next big twitch (which probably won't be for ages) or my next good, solid day's birding.
So a couple of weeks back, following my trip to Hessle road, I once again got to experience the delights of Waxwings. After a cold, soggy morning of waiting for public transport and lectures, I was rewarded on the train home with a flock of 30 plus at in a garden close to the station. A great Driffield tick, 'Journey to Uni' tick, and self found, which definitely brightened up the day - I even got an excellent record shot!
Just look at the clarity
In other news, as I mentioned previously I have started going to Tophill more regularly again, although the awful weather has been putting me off a little so visits haven't been as regular as I'd have liked. However last Thursday, the lovely Katie Hostad came to visit and so we braved the cold! To say we did a small amount of work would be an overstatement, but because of this we managed to cover the whole reserve. No scarcities or anything of note, but some nice sightings nontheless. Unfortunately, a series of lakes had formed across the site, a result of the torrential downpours East Yorkshire had seen that week, meaning the reserve was fairly quiet on the avian front with the deep water preventing waders from dropping in on the marshes, and the short eared owl's hunting grounds completely submerged.
We began at the south end of the reserve, a few Goldeneye on O res providing a nice start. Between this point and reaching Borrow pits we saw literally nothing. On the approaching path through South Scrub great numbers of Redwing and Fieldfare were on the move; always nice to see. When we arrived, a few Redshank, and a Sparrowhawk being mobbed by crows were the highlights, but pits were much quieter than usual, and so we didn't stick around for long. After a quick break for lunch, we headed up to the north end of the reserve. After filling up the feeders, we sat on the bench for a while. The usual visitors, Coal Tit, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Blue Tit and Great tit were present, but a nice treat was a lovely male Bullfinch. The rest of the north end was probably the worst hit part of the reserve, and so not much else was seen (apart from too much water.)
The beak's not quite right. Drawn from Michael Flowers' twitter profile picture
(hope you don't mind!)
So that is the extent of my birding over the last fortnight. One more week of uni until Christmas, so hoping to maybe go twitch a thing or two sometime soon!