Every drop counts at Grafham Water
Had a short visit, via a circuitous A14 diversion to Grafham Water reservoir while the sun was shining, drove home in the rain. Intriguingly, there was a warning sign about not swimming and needed higher-spec buoyancy aids because the water is aerated and so, presumably, of lower, less buoyant density than normal water. Anyway, a few photos. Not of the sign. Control Tower at Grafham Water Starling in a tree Waders Boat anglers Birdlife ticked on the morning; Tufted Duck, Great Black-backed Gull, Greylag Goose, Mandarin, Shelduck, Linnet, Robin, Wren, Starling, Stonechat, Meadow Pippet, Yellowhammer, Redwing, Goldfinch, Bla...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - October 17, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Box-tree Moth, Cydalima perspectalis
The Box-tree Moth, Cydalima perspectalis, is an Asian species of moth (usually seen in (Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, the Russian Far East, and India), that is gradually spreading, presumably with the advent of box hedges on new housing estates, across the South East of England. Box-tree Moth, Cydalima perspectalis (Walker, 1859), to actinic light Jul 2019, VC29 It would’ve arrived as eggs/larvae on imported box (Buxus), first recorded here in 2007. Its larvae can destroy a box hedge. Another reason to go native when it comes to planting…probably too late for native box now though. I saw my first one in the tra...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - October 13, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Protected: … on not really trying to be a polymath
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Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - October 7, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Today ’ s wonderful marvel of the day
I only started mothing with a scientific trap a little over a year ago (24 Jul 2018, to be precise) but have logged and photographed well over 300 different species since then. I heard about Griposia aprilina, aka the Merveille du Jour, a few weeks after I started and thought it would be a nice specimen to see. But, its larvae feed on oaks and as far as I know, there are none particularly close to our garden. I was ever hopeful of seeing this little marvel but I didn’t hold out much hope of it ever making an appearance. This beautifully marked green (and black and white) moth usually emerges in adult form in early O...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - October 4, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Life on Athens and Kythira
A trip to the Greek capital Athens and the island of Kythira yielded some good times, lovely views, lots of laughs with new(ish) friends, and sightings of quite a few species of bird, invertebrates and plantlife we’d not all “ticked” before. Here are a few snaps of the various species: Scarce Swallowtail Marginated Tortoise Dark Bush Cricket, Pholidoptera griseoaptera Striped Shieldbug, Graphosoma lineatum Egyptian Grasshopper, Anacridium aegyptium with its striped eyes on mullein Lesser Kestrel, Falco naumanni Grayling on Sea Squill Blue-winged-Grasshopper, Oedipoda caerulescens European Skipper, Thymeli...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - October 3, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

The Greek Island of Kythira
Six days of yoga, walking, swimming, sightseeing, wildlife (mostly birds and invertebrates), Greek food, and beer on the island of Kythira; what could be better? Kythira, Cythera, Kythera, and Kithira. In Greek: Κύθηρα (Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science)
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - October 3, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

The Greek Island of Kythera
Six days of yoga, walking, swimming, sightseeing, wildlife (mostly birds and invertebrates), Greek food, and beer on the island of Kythera; what could be better? Kythira, Cythera, Kythera, and Kithira. In Greek: Κύθηρα (Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science)
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - October 3, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Mount Lycabettus
You can’t miss the tallest peak in Athens, no not the one with The Parthenon at the top (68 metres elevation), but Mount Lycabettus, also known as Lycabettos, Lykabettos or Lykavittos. In Greek, it’s pronounced “likavi’tos”, so the first three syllables flow as a triplet and the emphasis is on the final beat. It stands at 264 metres. Mount Lycabettus across Athens viewed from Acropolis Second full day on our trip to Athens, we took the funicular railway to the top to see the 19th Century St George’s Chapel and take in the views over the city. I’d have chosen to climb to the top, de...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - October 2, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Athenian Architecture
Myself and Mrs Sciencebase finally made it back to Greece after far too long a break from that beautiful country. The trip was to be yoga, walking, and wildlife, with plenty of wonderful food, a lot of Greek beer, and far too many photographs. I took the equivalent of eight 36-exposure reels on average each day of a ten-day trip, thank goodness for digital and 64 gigabyte SD cards. Anyway, before we hit the island of Kithira for the aforementioned R&R, we spent three nights in Athens, a place we had meant to visit properly back in the early 1990s, but a trip we missed out on because of ferry delays, force 6 gales, and ...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - October 2, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

White Stork, Ciconia ciconia
The White Stork, Ciconia ciconia, is a scientific tautonym, its binomial being duplicated to indicate that ciconia is the “type”, the archetype, of the family Ciconia. This is the bird of birth myth, the one that bears the infant baby to the homes of expectant parents. Perhaps the myth arose because they build great nests of straw on chimneys in the summer. Anyway, the White Stork is rarely seen in The British Isles. You might see them nesting on rooftops in Germany, Poland, Finland, and beyond. They are relatively common across Europe and not of conservation concern, wintering in southern Africa and breeding ...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - September 20, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Croc of the Rock
It’s Talk Like a Pirate Day, which holds a special place in the hearts of Mrs Sciencebase and myself that has nothing to do with Dubloons, wooden legs, nor eyepatches. Nevertheless, a day out at a local farm seemed a sensible way to celebrate. So, we headed into deepest, darkest Huntingdonshire, we met no one on the way to St Ives (not that one), flew around RAF Wyton, headed for Pidley (birthplace of our long-gone feline) and took a sharp left after a U-turn to Johnson’s Farm in Old Hurst. Now, Johnson’s farm has sheep and cows, a butchery, and a farm shop and cafe. But, it also has Macaws and Emus, Meer...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - September 19, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Moth of the Moment – Hummingbird Hawk-moth
I’ve seen Hummingbird Hawk-moths, Macroglossum stellatarum, on a few occasions but previously when travelling abroad (specifically, Croatia (2017), Germany (2018), and Italy (2010), and if memory serves many years ago France, 1996). I’ve only ever got awkward, blurry, and low-resolution photos. Earlier in the summer, a friend gave me some red valerian plants, which are a favourite of this species; same friend who donated the snails for our newly resurrected pond, #pondlife. That was back in early June. I had high hopes of seeing swarms of this bird-like Lep, which is an immigrant to the UK but occasionally seen...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - September 18, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Moth of the Moment – The Bristly Nun
The moth mothers often abbreviate as the SHC, the Setaceous Hebrew Character, Xestia c-nigrum, turns up a lot in scientific traps from late summer into the autumn. The name refers to a marking on its forewings that resembles the Hebrew letter, nun, and the setaceous means “bristly” and refers to the hairs around the character. Hence my tongue-in-cheek reference to it being the Bristly Nun. The setaceous separates it from a distant relative but fellow noctuid, the spring-flying Hebrew Character, Orthosia gothica, it has the nun, but is clean-shaven and so lacks those bristles. Setaceous Hebrew Character, Xestia ...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - September 18, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Moth of the Moment – Large Thorn, Ennomos autumnaria
Large Thorn, Ennomos autumnaria, attracted to the UV lamp of the scientific trap, night of 16th September, didn’t get a chance to enter the trap before I potted it to photograph this NFM*. Large Thorn The species, like the other geometers we know as Thorns looks like an autumnal leaf, and occasionally quivers when roosting as if to follow the breeze. It’s a relatively large moth, but the “Thorn” of its vernacular name refers to a spike on the larva and is nothing to do with the adult being at all prickly. A rather worn Orange Sallow Also around the trap at the same time a worn Orange Sallow (worn, b...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - September 17, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Moths Source Type: blogs

Lepidoptera first showing 2019
First appearances in 2019 of various moth species to the scientific trap. Some of these were new for the year (NFY) as I’d seen them in 2018. Some were NFM, new for me. 15 Sep Clepsis consimilana 15 Sep Beautiful Hook-tip 13 Sep Brown-spot Pinion 13 Sep Barred Sallow 10 Sep Common Marble 7 Sep Centre-barred Sallow 4 Sep Feathered Gothic 4 Sep Eudonia angustea 3 Sep Yellow-line Quaker 25 Aug Frosted Orange 25 Aug Jersey Tiger 7 Aug Straw Underwing 6 Aug White-spotted Pinion 5 Aug The Lychnis 5 Aug Rosy Rustic 5 Aug Wax Moth 4 Aug Twin-spotted Wainscot 4 Aug Pale Prominent 4 Aug Flounced Rustic 4 Aug Red Underwing 30 J...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - September 16, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Moth of the moment – Beautiful Hook-tip (Laspeyria flexula)
As autumn rolls on the number of specimens and the diversity of moths to the scientific trap tend to fall. The dedicated keep lighting up for rarities, vagrants, and of course, the Sallows, the Thorns, later the Merveille du Jour moths and then the December Moths. Beautiful Hook-tip (Laspeyria flexula) on a chunk of bark, proper shot, taken after the safety shot That said, it was warm yesterday and stayed balmy all night (minimum of 16 Celsius) albeit a bit wet at some point. So, 93 specimens of 24 species, which is quite a high for mid-September, I think especially given that it was down to 10 species of 35 moths previous...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - September 16, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

All Saints Church Cottenham
A sunny Saturday morning, local church opens its doors for a historical tour and a chance for the lay public to climb the stairs of the bell tower to the  roof and take in the fenland vista with views stretching to Ely Cathedral northwards, King’s College Chapel and the University Library in Cambridge to the south and the surrounding villages, farms, fens, and windfarms. Oh, and there was some wildlife, pigeon eggs on the roof and a bat in the belfry. Pew finial, All Saints’ Church, Cottenham Buttress bust, All Saints’ Church, Cottenham Bat from the belfry, All Saints’ Church, Cottenham Brassy ...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - September 14, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

The arrival of a continental vagrant – Dewick ’ s Plusia
A beautiful immigrant from Southern Europe turned up in our garden last night, attracted to the 40-Watt ultraviolet light of the scientific moth trap. At first glance, I thought it was a confusing aberration of the Silver Y, but it wasn’t quite right, the Y/gamma didn’t have the Y-shape and the other markings and overall shape were wrong. It turns out it is quite a rare vagrant visitor to the British Isles – Dewick’s Plusia, Macdunnoughia confusa (Stephens, 1850). Dewick’s Plusia, Macdunnoughia confusa (Stephens, 1850) According to the UK Moth site, it has only occurred here a few dozen times,...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - September 13, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Moths Source Type: blogs

The Burnished Brass neck cheek of it
One of the more eye-catching of the moths I’ve seen during more than a year of mothing  goes by the name of Burnished Brass (Diachrysia chrysitis). This is also an owlet moth, one of the noctuidae. It rests with its wings folded into a tent shape as many of them do, but what makes it stand out is that, as its name would suggest, it looks metallic. It shimmers in the sunlight and as it begins to warm it set its wings aquiver to speed up the process, revving its engines, as it were, before it can fly away into the garden shrubbery to vanish from sight. But, not before a quick photoshoot, of course. Burnished Brass...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - September 12, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

The second ivy league
Yesterday, I had my birding lens (150-600mm zoom) on the camera when I snapped those invertebrates feeding on the ivy overgrowth in All Saints’ churchyard in Rampton. Today, I took a 90mm macro to get a different type of closeup of the butterflies, bees, flies, and hornets. No hornets in sight and no ivy bees either. Red Admiral Hornet Hoverfly Honeybee Mossy Rose Gall Dandelion clock   (Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science)
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - September 11, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

The ivy league
The enormous ivy (Hedera helix) overgrowth on an old tree behind All Saints Church, Rampton, was heaving with honeybees, bumblebees (various species), hoverflies (and other diptera), ivy bees, hornets, and red admiral butterflies during a sunny and warm lunchtime. I knew it would be, I’ve been keeping an eye on it for a week or two waiting for it to blossom. The acrid and yet pleasantly heady aroma hits you first as you walk into the churchyard. And, almost simultaneously you notice the buzzing. A lot of buzzing, the buzzing of thousands of pairs of tiny wings. Ivy blossom is so important in the autumn for inverteb...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - September 10, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Mothematical update
As of 9th September 2019, I have tallied more than 10000 moth specimens of approximately 300 different species via the scientific trap. I started trapping this year on 20th February and there have been a few short breaks for holidays in between lighting-up sessions. And then there was the outage when I smashed the UV light… These numbers represent a tiny fraction of the total number of moths that will have passed through our garden in that time and the species count is barely 12 percent of the total number of species in the British Isles. Ruby Tiger The red barchart shows the peaks and troughs of total numbers coun...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - September 9, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Before Brexit: Were Cameron ’ s EU concessions full of holes
Swiss researchers have looked at the pre-Brexit settlement negotiated by then UK Prime Minister David Cameron with the European Union and suggest that this was very much a missed opportunity for all parties that might have avoided the need for a referendum on the UK leaving the EU and all that ongoing problems to which that has led, despite the referendum being technically only advisory. The voting turnout for the referendum in June 2016 was not particularly high and the result was almost equally split with a very narrow margin for the leavers rather than the remainers. Nobody was more shocked by the result than many of th...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - September 7, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Bridge of Sighs
I’ve resequenced my latest bunch of songs into a 14-track “album” for streaming/download from BandCamp. At the time of writing, it’s “name your price” which makes it priceless or worthless, depending on your perspective Bridge of Sighs – An immigrant song Shifting Sands – Funk rock folk Running Out of Favours – Doobiesque When the Beat Hits Your Heart – Funk out Almost Heaven – Nostalgic Americana, 30 years in the writing Watch Your Step – Vocal noodles on a Fender Rhodes riff and hiphop beatz Shooting Waste – Acousto-electric un-southern rock On...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - September 6, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Music Source Type: blogs

Espresso Portobello
UPDATE: Mrs Sciencebase in action with the minipresso Sciencebase has had various gadgets to review over the years most of them computing peripherals and related technology. Today, a minipresso from Wacaco Ltd arrived special delivery. As the name would suggest it’s a mini/portable espresso maker. Basically, a container with the requisite metal filter and a push-button pump to build up a head of steam to force hot water through the filter loaded with coffee granules into a receptacle. All looks very easy to use, although I persuaded Mrs Sciencebase to find the instructions online and she followed through with the Y...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - September 4, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Technology Source Type: blogs

Portable Espresso
Sciencebase has had various gadgets to review over the years most of them computing peripherals and related technology. Today, a minipresso from Wacaco Ltd arrived special delivery. As the name would suggest it’s a mini/portable espresso maker. Basically, a container with the requisite metal filter and a push-button pump to build up a head of steam to force hot water through the filter loaded with coffee granules into a receptacle. All looks very easy to use, although I persuaded Mrs Sciencebase to find the instructions online and she followed through with the Youtube demo. Seems like an ideal device for camping whe...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - September 4, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Technology Source Type: blogs

Can you hear me, Mother?
Back in the day, Mrs Sciencebase worked for an innovative and aspirational electronics company. One of the developments they were working on at a time long before mobile phones were ubiquitous was how to make phone calls clearer. They wanted to get rid of the squelch and muffled tones that are commonplace. The idea had to be to do this without increasing the signal bandwidth that is needed to transmit the mutterings of caller and receiver. The problem was never solved and so remains a serious issue particularly for those who have hearing problems. Turning up the volume doesn’t cut it as that simply makes the mid-rang...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - September 2, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Technology Source Type: blogs

The Newcastle Kittiwakes
Kittiwakes live on the tidal river Tyne as far inland as my hometown, Newcastle itself. In fact, this is the farthest inland-dwelling colony of this small gull, known internationally as the black-legged kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla) anywhere in the world. We were in Newcastle for a university graduation ceremony in July, so it seemed somewhat churlish not to get photos of the seabirds in between family photos of us and the graduate and the great city itself. As Stephen Rutt points out in his excellent book The Seafarers, nobody has figured out why these Kittiwakes have come so far inland. The world-famous Tyne Bridge, Newca...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - September 1, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

A local safari around an English country village
Mention going on safari to most people and the assumption is that means a trip to a reserve somewhere far-flung, usually southern Africa, snapping photos of lion, giraffe, elephant, impala, and other big game. A wit might mention in passing the once-trendy concept of a safari supper, but let’s forget foodie affectations and take a safari around our local patch. What are you likely to see on a local safari? Well, aside from the various birds we usually refer to in this column, the buzzards, kestrels, peregrines, hobbies, red kites, marsh harriers, and all those smaller specimens, there are quite a few large animals ar...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - September 1, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Biology Vertebrates Source Type: blogs

Large Yellow Underwing
The Large Yellow Underwing is the kind of moth we used to call a logger when I was a bairn; Northern dialect word, short for loggerhead. On a warm summer’s evening there would almost always be a logger that would be attracted to a kitchen light and come in through an open window. I must confess I don’t ever remember seeing this species, Noctua pronuba (Linnaeus, 1758), specifically, and certainly don’t recall ever noticing any big moths that revealed brightly coloured hindwings when they were startled or fly. Like most people, until they learn, it’s assumed butterflies are colourful and moths are al...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - August 30, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

How did moths and butterflies get their names?
I’ve mention Peter Marren’s book on Lepidoptera nomenclature before – Emperors, Admirals, and Chimney Sweepers. It’s a fascinating read, especially if you love words and leps. But, if you enjoy either one of those things you’ll enjoy his book. Anyway, this morning, I had need to refer to it and put my various moth pots from the scientific trap next to it…ooh, I thought as I did so: photo opportunity. There are seven actual moths on posing on my copy of the book in the photo immediately below. Can you spot them? Angle Shades moth on Marren’s book Canary-shouldered Thorn On the upp...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - August 29, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Categorising Lepidoptera
I’ve simplified my Imaging Storm “Mothematics” photo galleries. We now have – Butterflies, Hawk-moths, Macro Moths, and Micro Moths instead of dividing the macros between geometers, owlets, erebidae, notodontidae, lasiocampidae, drepanidae, and everything else. Ruby Tiger, a member of the Erebidae family of moths Peppered Moth – one of the geometers Puss Moth, member of the Notodontidae Copper Underwing, the owlet (noctuid) moth that got me started on mothing in July 2019 You can take a look at my detailed mothing records for 2019 here. (Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science)
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - August 28, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Moths Source Type: blogs

Hot Moths #MothsMatter
The mercury had been rising for a few days, nudging up the little iron shims on the garden’s max-min thermometer by mid-afternoon. Three days on the trot it has peaked at a little over 30 Celsius in the shade despite it having been a Bank Holiday Weekend. Nights have been sultry, as they say in a certain kind of pulp fiction. Humid, and the mercury not nudging the iron bars below about 16 Celsius. Face to face with an Old Lady, Mormo maura Of course, these are not extremes, these are puny temperatures when compared to much of the rest of the world. But, this is England and our weather is tempered by the Gulf Stream a...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - August 27, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Moths Source Type: blogs

Waxham to Winterton
The main aim of the recent camping trip to the North Norfolk coast aside from camping for the sake of it was to see some of the seals that have a colony at Winterton/Horsey, a couple of miles along the beach from the Waxham campsite. Got to keep the dog and yourselves at a good distance, which we did and so many people didn’t, which is frustrating to witness. Perhaps despite appearances, my photos were all taken from at least 10 metres away, which is what the signs tell you to do. The dog was never allowed anywhere near that proximity. They’re done with a 600mm zoom and then cropped to the frame. Anyway, we...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - August 24, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Waxham to Winterton and Horsey
The main aim of the recent camping trip to the North Norfolk coast aside from camping for the sake of it was to see some of the seals that have a colony at Winterton/Horsey, a couple of miles along the beach from the Waxham campsite. Got to keep the dog and yourselves at a good distance, which we did and so many people didn’t, which is frustrating to witness. Perhaps despite appearances, my photos were all taken from at least 10 metres away, which is what the signs tell you to do. The dog was never allowed anywhere near that proximity. They’re done with a 600mm zoom and then cropped to the frame. I do feel r...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - August 24, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Camping Bullet Points
We like to take at least a couple of camping trips during the summer. It used to be that we would do three or four when the children were still coming along with us but that’s almost ancient history now. Anyway, there are several very important things to remember when camping: Once you arrive, first things first: Unpack the tent, get it erected Make sure the pre-chilled beer gets stowed somewhere cool if not cold and crack one open as a reward for being so efficient with putting the tent up. Then, it’s time to check the toilet block. Not for imminent ablutions after a long drive to the site, but to see if ther...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - August 23, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Fossil fuel
A devoutly Christian friend of mine at school whom I knew from the age of about 9 years told me…at the time…that God made all the fossils to test our faith. The question I never asked at the age of 9 years was why did God want to test our faith in the first place. If God made us as we are, put us on this planet, and wanted us to love and worship him for some strange reason, then why did it all have to be based on faith? #MysteriousWays and all that, but it just seems like a pointless pursuit for an immortal, omnipotent being, doesn’t it? To create some tiny “living” entities in one’s...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - August 12, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Counting down the Top Twenty Moths of 2019
My very good friend Ladybird Farmer, she of the multiple smallholding emoji, was impressed with the last moth blog post and suggested I do a count down of the Top Ten for the year. Well, while I’m holding out for a Merveille du Jour in September and perhaps a December Moth in November, I could have a go at picking out my favourites so far that perhaps highlight the incredible diversity of the 2600 or so Lepidoptera that we see across the British Isles. Of course, all the ones that I’ve photographed were in our small back garden in a rural, but urbanised village north of Cambridge, so it’s quite a limited ...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - August 9, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Moth of the year – Past the mothing peak
It was a slow build from just before the spring to the peak moth count and diversity where I was seeing almost 300 moths of 60 or so species in the scientific trap. At this point in the year there are many fewer moths arriving, just a few dozen this morning of 20 or so species. Still picking up an occasional NFM (new for me) and some NFY (new for year). Old Lady, sometimes known as a Black Underwing Among the recent highlights Oak Eggar, White-spotted Pinion, Red Underwing. But long gone are the days of several Hawk-moths to tally each morning and a range of beauties such as the Peppered Moth, Swallow-tailed Moth, Old Lady...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - August 7, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Red Underwing
Once you get into mothing you will see lots and lots of moths with names that refer to the colour of their hindwings. They refer to it as an “underwing” because the forewings which are usually less colourful but might be wonderfully patterned nevertheless, cover the hind wings where that flash of colour is seen. It’s presumably an adaptation to give predators with colour vision, such as birds, a bit of a shock when the moth flicks its wings open. Beautiful Red Underwing Catocala nupta (Linnaeus, 1767) even when the wings are closed As regulars will know, the first one that got me into the scientific mothi...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - August 4, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

The Sexton
Another Sexton (Burying) Beetle. Thought he needed some macabre riffage to go with his reputation. These creatures drag carcasses underground and lay their eggs within, they also create offensive odour chemicals that mask the smell of death and hide the body from flies and carrion eaters that might interfere with their offspring. The creature here is Nicrophorus investigator. As far as I can tell it has no common, vernacular, name specific to the species. (Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science)
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - July 30, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Invertebrates Source Type: blogs

The moth that sounds like an ex-smoker
This is The Vapourer, Orgyia antiqua (Linnaeus, 1758), an unusual day-flying moth found across The British Isles but most commonly in the south. Mrs Sciencebase spotted one this time last year, just after I’d started mothing, and another this morning a year later almost to the day (2/8/18 vs 29/7/19). I managed to get a resting shot before it flitted away. The Vapourer at rest It seems to amble about on the wing with no clear direction, takes its time to head for a window, back and forth it goes. But, I did manage to get one or two decent in-flight shot out of almost 100 snaps fired off in burst mode. In-flight Vapou...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - July 29, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Mothing Madness
There was a ludicrously ill-informed and essentially anti-scientific letter in The Graun at the weekend. It was from someone who had obviously just learned that there are a handful of people over the country who are amateur lepidopterists and regularly “trap” moths by drawing them to an ultraviolet light at night. Buff-tip The letter talks of the author’s sadness on learning about moth trapping. It goes on to say that moth trapping: must cause terror and damage their fragile wings and bodies. Most adult moths only live for days or weeks, so trapping them overnight is akin to incarcerating a human for year...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - July 29, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

The anything-but-beige brigade
Moth Bird Watch 7 – The anything-but beige brigade Ask most people to describe a moth and usually terms such as dull, grey, brown, night-flying, drab, dingy, useless, clothes eater, are the terms they will use. Some might go so far as to describe them as the boring relatives of butterflies. Well, nothing could be further from the truth the Lepidoptera (meaning scaly winged) are a vast group of insects fare more diverse than just the butterfly sub-group. Many of the 2500 recorded different species in the British Isles are anything but dull and grey, many of them fly during the day and most of them have quite...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - July 29, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Moths Source Type: blogs

The golden moth that laid the eggs
Among the dozens and dozens of Yellow Underwings of various kinds, the milieu of Rustics, the Rose-flounced Tabbies, the Mouse Moth, the Least Carpets, a solitary Elephant Hawk-moth, and several tens of other species, there was a crispy-looking golden wonder that came to the actinic light trap in the night yesterday. A female Oak Eggar, Lasiocampa quercus. Oak Eggar, Lasiocampa quercus The species is sexually dimorphic, so it was obvious this was a female even before she laid a dozen eggs in the specimen pot. Incidentally, the species is called Eggar because the silky cocoons the larvae make are quite large and obviously ...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - July 27, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Moths Source Type: blogs

Cutting back on emoji
For a while back there I had emoji on my twitter profile splitting it to the seams. I’ve trimmed them back again now, but for posterity, here’s how it was. Thanks to @bef_xoxo for asking why I had so many. She is part of the team running NUSU Freshers at NCL this year. You might also note that I have only about 42500 followers as of July 2019. Not two or three years ago that number as closer to 54000. Ah well, general attrition of users leaving and unfollowing over time and a slower rate of uptake by new followers. If you want to follow the new emojically abbreviated @sciencebase, that’s the handle, as e...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - July 26, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

A year of mothing
It’s a year to the day since I first got bitten by the mothing bug, as it were. Initially, it was all about seeing what turned up at the scientific trap and trying to get a photo or two of anything interesting. I did keep a record of new species and I think had logged and photographed approximately 130 of the 2600 or so species we see in the British Isles by the end of the long, hot summer of 2018 and into the winter. Canary-shouldered Thorn, first one of 2019 for me I kept on lighting up until well into December in the vain hope of spotting some of the late autumn and early winter moths with marvellous names such as...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - July 25, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Moths Source Type: blogs

Sciencebase.com – Twenty years on the web
Back in the day, I had a news website (it was a blog before blogs, you might say). It was called Elemental Discoveries, first issue was published in December 1995. It was an online spin-off from my regular column in the RSC youth section magazine, New Elements (to which I gave that name after a redesign from the old Gas Jar). Elemental Discoveries existed on various American university freeserve sites I could access via Telnet at the time and was then supported by a chemistry software company on their servers but editorially I was 100% in control. Eventually, though, to grow, I needed a proper home for my (originally) chem...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - July 20, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Wilding the garden #WildFlowers
Part of our plan with the re-digging of our pond, #PondLife, was to create a slightly wild area behind the pond and a second patch adjacent. I planted various seeds and also let the grass grow, mowing up to an imaginary curved border tangential and sweeping from pond to compost bins. We have some Red Campion (one flower showing), St John’s Wort, Foxgloves, Sweet Basil, all making a start, and several other species of weed that have self-seeded, including Meadow Crane’s-bill, (one flower showing of that too!). Seedlings of nyjer and sunflower have grown where the bird feeders were hanging. Among these flowers th...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - July 19, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Moths come full circle
As regular readers will know, I borrowed a scientific (albeit home-made) moth trap from my good friend Rob, here in Cottenham on the edge of the Cambridgeshire Fens. He had been telling me about mothing for a while and how he and his kids had been keen back in the day. The trap was lying dormant in his garden workshop. Copper Underwing, Amphipyra pyramidea I had occasionally snapped the odd large moth, a Hummingbird Hawk-moth in France a Pale Tussock in our conservatory, some Cinnabar moths and Six-spot Burnets along footpaths of Aldeburgh and other places. The inspiration came to borrow the trap and have a go at mothing p...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - July 18, 2019 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs