Saturday, 24 March 2012


Wembury Beach - there was an Iceland Gull here today but I didn't see it..... (but thanks to Andy for trying to get me on to it). A couple of year ticks though with Common Scoter, Sandwich Tern and Mistle Thrush. A nice day nonetheless and I saw the Common Lizards for the first time in almost exactly a year!

A pair I guess as they are holding hands

One new moth last night - Chestnut. I was worried that I might overlook these.

Oil Beetles

Spring in south Devon can be characterised by many things - today saw some of the best (the Oil Beetles) and the worst (some of the idiots that come out of the woodwork as soon as the sun comes out).

Wembury is a nice easy site for Black Oil Beetle (Meloe proscarabeus). These Beetles emerge in spring and lay their eggs in nest burrows. When the larvae hatch, the climb on to flower and attach themselves to (normally Solitary) Bees that visit the flowers. From there they are transported back to the Bee nest and live on the nectar and pollen collected by the Bees. Plenty around today (at least 7 live and 2 dead) and some nice behaviour too.

Didn't know they ate grass

Nest Burrowing
The next generation starts here

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Day Off

Cheeky day off today so went for a long walk round the patch - only migrants were 12 Chiffs and a very brief glimpse of a probable Willow Warbler. Only other highlight was a 1S Med Gull.

A couple of new moths last night despite the rain:

Dotted Border

Powdered Quaker

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

 A few more from last night. Also the interested helper I had yesterday morning.

Early Thorn

Water Carpet


Early Grey 6
Small Quaker 8
Common Quaker 6
Twin spot Quaker 5
Hebrew Character 3
Early Thorn 1

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The Wonderful World of Moths

Having put it off for years, I finally gave in and bought myself a moth trap. Stuck it out last night quite late and was quite pleased to find 11 moths of 5 species this morning! ID not as hard as I had feared either. Here they are.

Hebrew Character
Common Quaker
Twin Spot Quaker
Small Quaker
Early Grey

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Three Smooth Newts that I found today  in an old fish tank that was about to be thrown away.

Slug Porn

A quick walk revealed these two - I guess that they are two color forms of the same species but I don't know much about slugs. I wonder what the offspring will be like?

Plenty of Bombus terrestris queens around too.

Friday, 16 March 2012

A couple of pics of the mites from the B. lapidarius under the microscope. As far as I can see, they look like Parasitellus talparum - apparently phoretic and possibly even beneficial to Bumblebees by eating other mites.

These guys were about 2 mm long

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Lab Page

Unlike most universities, it seems that staff at Plymouth don't get any web space for a research homepage. Thus, I have added a page about my lab and what we (try) to do. If you don't care about the exciting world of NAD then no need to bore yourself by opening up the tab!

NAD - one of the most interesting of molecules!

Homeopathic A and E

One of my real pet hates - Homeopathy!!
An excellent parody............

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

"(insert object) causes/cures cancer"

Taking a lead from the Great Daily Mail Oncological Ontology Project

Russel Howard ripping off Billy Joel!

Parasitellus mites

My first Bombus lapidarius of the year was covered in mites of some sort - a quick internet search would seem to suggest that they are some kind of Parasitellus. Probably needs a look under the microscope to check.

The Weekend Biologist

Welcome to the Weekend Biologist. I have blogged in the past about various aspects of Natural History but this blog is going to be about a bit of everything to do with my interests across biology and about some of the research that I do in biochemistry.