Speckled bush crickets are very common animals but aren’t necessarily seen that often as they are rather good at camouflaging themselves. I found this one at Hembury Woods last week.
As well as supporting 5 species of fritillary (the three from yesterday’s blog along with pearl and small pearl bordered), Hembury is also home to a huge range of other wildlife. Here are a few pictures of some of the species currently out and about.
This is the grayling butterfly – it is a cryptically coloured animal which is easiest to spot if it is disturbed. It is uncommon on Dartmoor – Hembury and the heathland around Castle Drogo are good places to see it.
This is the mottled grasshopper which again is uncommon on Dartmoor but at Hembury it occurs in very large numbers. It is identified by the presence of swollen tips to the antennae which can be clearly seen in this picture.
Another visit to find high brown fritillaries over the weekend drew a blank but I did find a couple of nice species at Hembury Woods on the River Dart.
When I was at Hembury Woods the other day I found a Devil’s Coach Horse beetle. I haven’t seen one for years but do remember them distinctly from my youth. The Devil’s Coach Horse is a type of rove beetle.
Fortunately it didn’t happen to me but they can also exude a foul smelly substance when provoked. They tend to feed on other invertebrates such as woodlice and worms.
Here is the national distribution of the Devil’s Coach Horse – according to this it has only been recorded in Devon in the Plym Valley area – new record for Hembury maybe?
Dark green fritillaries are now out on the wing. I spent quite a bit of time over the weekend at Hembury Woods on the Dart looking for dark green and high brown fritillaries – none of the latter yet but plenty of the former.
Dark green fritillaries are large fast flying butterflies – over the last 50 years they have undergone big declines but are still reasonably common in Devon and on Dartmoor (in the valleys opposed to the high moor). For more information of dark green fritillaries see the Butterfly Conservation website here.
Here are a few photos which I managed to get when they finally stopped flying around!
Dark green fritillaries are very difficult to tell from high brown fritillaries (which are much rarer and more endangered). The most reliable feature is the underwing pattern shown above.
I spent an hour or so over at Hembury Woods in the baking sun yesterday – I had hoped to see a high brown fritillary but no luck there (it is very early in the season for them but they have already been recorded on Dartmoor this year) – instead I found a few other nice insects. The highlight for me was the Western Bee Fly which is very localised nationally.
All maps are courtesy of the National Biodiversity Network
From a distance it looks as if the bluebells are out – they are not – it is still too early. When you get closer you see they are violets – thousands and thousands of them.