Catocala Underwings
The Catocala moths are a group of relatively large moths in the family Erebidae. They are often known as “underwing moths” because of the intriguing colours and patterns of their hindwings, which are usually hidden from view under the forewings while the moths are at rest and only revealed either in flight or when the insect is startled. Clifden Nonpareil, Catocala fraxini, the Blue Underwing Not to be confused with dozens of others species in the Noctuidae that have the word underwing as part of their common name (e.g. Yellow Underwing, Straw Underwing, etc) and Geometridae (Orange Underwing). Clifden Nonparei...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - October 16, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Natural Highlights of 2020
It has been a traumatic week an emotional rollercoaster to coin a cliché, you might say. There is a more positive outlook this week than there was this time last week, so I am now doing a little bit of a celebration of life with some of the interesting and intriguing species Mrs Sciencebase and I have seen this year on our rather lockdown-limited excursions. Short-eared Owl, NT Burwell Fen – January 2020 Pipistrelle Bat day-flying along the edge of in Rampton Spinney, February 2020 Female Goosander on The River Tyne near Ryton, March 2020 Emperor Moth, Cottenham – April 2020 Longhorn Moths, Rampton Spinn...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - October 10, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: AllotmentLife Birds Lepidoptera Photography PondLife Source Type: blogs

Clifden Nonpareil, Catocala fraxini (Linnaeus, 1758)
Clifden Nonpareil – For the incomparable moth from Clivedon House, blue is the colour! Blue is not a common colour in British moths The UK Moths website described Catocala fraxini as the Victorian collector’s classic all-time favourite”. It also goes by the name of the Blue Underwing because of the shock of blue on the hindwings, which are usually covered by the forewings when the moth is at rest and are exposed when it reacts to a threat. C fraxini feeds on aspen rather than ash (the frax of its name) The moth was well known in the British Isles in Kent and Norfolk until the middle part of the the 20th c...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - September 29, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Why do accelerating electrons emit photons?
My friend Alice Sheppard, known on Twitter and elsewhere as @PenguinGalaxy, asked her physics pals to explain why it is that an electron emits photons when it is accelerating/change direction? There were several replies that suggested this has been thought about a lot but nobody could come up with a simple, solid explanation. There was a bit of hand-waving and a lot of obscure words that I only vaguely rememberd the meanings of. As I understand it, even the great Dick Feynman got it wrong in one of his famous lectures. Now, I am a lowly chemist, with aspirations, as you all know, to being some kind of award-winning photogr...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - September 23, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Physics Source Type: blogs

Knots taking off and knots landing
As winter encroaches (it’s mid-September and we’re in the middle of an Indian Summer here in East Anglia, ahem), the (Red) Knot, Calidris canutus, start to flock on The Wash and their tidal activity can be seen as the waves break repeatedly and these waders take to to the air in their thousands, if not tens of thousands. We were treated to a wader wonder on 17th September 2020, at Snettisham Beach on the North Norfolk coast. Patiently we watched the tide rise and the birds feeding and occasionally flocking. At the point there was essentially no visible mud flat remaining, the birds flock and make like a murmur...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - September 18, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

The new garden moths of 2020
With Covid-19 lockdown hitting some people very hard, it seems churlish to complain about its effects on me. It felt hard – no pub visits with friends, no limited time outdoors and so not much chance for nature photography and long walks with the dog, no rehearsing with C5 The Band nor the bigMouth choir, no panto to plan for etc, like I say, relatively easy, but still hard. Dark Crimson Underwing As such, I was really hoping for an exciting moth year to keep me sane, and I have had some crackers, but numbers and diversity seem to have been low…all I’ve really seen for the last couple of weeks are quite ...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - September 14, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Lepidoptera Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

The garden moths of 2020
With Covid-19 lockdown hitting some people very hard, it seems churlish to complain about its effects on me. It felt hard – no pub visits with friends, no limited time outdoors and so not much chance for nature photography and long walks with the dog, no rehearsing with C5 The Band nor the bigMouth choir, no panto to plan for etc, like I say, relatively easy, but still hard. Dark Crimson Underwing As such, I was really hoping for an exciting moth year to keep me sane, and I have had some crackers, but numbers and diversity seem to have been low…all I’ve really seen for the last couple of weeks are quite ...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - September 14, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Lepidoptera Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Green Carpet
There is a whole group of moths called “carpets”. This is nothing to do with what their larvae eat. Indeed, there are only a very limited number of moths, possibly just one in the UK, that eat wool or textiles. No, these moths are called carpets because when they were identified and scientifically named carpets were luxury items and the naturalists wanted to honour the beauty of these little creatures by naming them after something luxurious. This Green Carpet was drawn to the actinic light in our back garden last night and photographed this morning. Colostygia pectinataria. (Source: David Bradley Sciencebase ...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - September 13, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Loving science and the arts
Long time readers of this site, which has existed since December 1995 in a pre-Sciencebase form, will know my tagline as Songs, Snaps, Science, but also that I cover a lot of music and arty stuff as well as a load of science. But, jumping up on my soapbox I have to ask… Gameshow hosts often sneer when a contestant gives a wrong answer to a theatrical or musical question, say, but there’s never that response if they don’t get a science or maths question right. Similarly, high-brow interviewers often giggle like school kids if they don’t understand the science feature they’re running and make s...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - September 12, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Free course on Covid-19 and SARS-CoV-2
I mentioned elsewhere that MIT is offering a free online course for anyone interested in learning more about Covid-19 and SARS-CoV-2. You can watch them live or grab the Youtube clips each week. The first lecture offers and excellent summary of our knowledge regarding this emergent pandemic disease as well as looking back briefly at previous viruses, such as previous coronavirus threats SARS and MERS, as well as the retrovirus HIV. The lecture also cautions that we must remain vigilant about future viruses, which are a significant existential threat for the human race (as I wrote in New Scientist in 1997). A virus with the...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - September 7, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Back to school Mums
There’s an amusing, “Which back-to-school Mum are you?” doing the social media rounds. It sees Sue sending her kids back fully PPE’d, Trisha seriously concerned for the teachers’ safety, Betty in floods until they get home, and Mavis foreseeing burnout by the end of the week because of her newly full diary. But, they overlooked one kind of Mum… The one that will insist on her human right not to wear a mask, completely ignores social distancing everywhere, brings husband Mick and Auntie Helen to wave the kids off, storms into the Head’s office shouting her mouth off about the HPV v...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - September 3, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Too much, too soon
The intro to this new song is a bit of a curveball, almost an accidental hint of a funked-up White Stripes, but it quickly pans out into something of a blue-eyed funk rocker with hints of The Police, Chic, Santana, and even the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Given the chord progression, there’s a significant nod to the 1971 live version of one of my favourite songs (“It’s too late“, by Carole King) with a little musical reference to that at the end of the middle-8, and the title itself was an extension of that song title. It all ends with a digitally delayed twist on the Manic Street Preachers who were, at ...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - September 2, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Music Source Type: blogs

The app only you use
I asked my twitter and facebook friends what phone app they used that they thought none of their friends would be using. There were some interesting answers. My app, Merlin (a tool for identifying bird species from a photo) These are the twitter folks in the order they tweeted: James on G – Speed Camalert Debayan S – Notion (notes) (and SkyMap) Gary MacF and VFD – Twitter (!) Martin F – iGeology (rock ID) Steve T – LunaSolCal (Moon and Sun) Nevena H – Skymap (astro) Walter van den B – Michelin app (mapping) Joseph V – A periodic table (chemistry) David B – View Source (...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - August 31, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Lockdown Lepidoptera, incidentally
A slideshow showing a little of the diversity of moths in Cambridgeshire this year Incidental music written and recorded by yours truly, “Spot the G” (Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science)
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - August 30, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Lepidoptera Music Photography Source Type: blogs

RSPB Ouse Fen
I’ve mentioned RSPB Ouse Fen a lot over the last few years, it’s a lovely quiet patch of flooded gravel pits, with some woodland, and reedbeds etc, not far from where we live. There are two ways to get to it, one is a lot closer and takes you into the reedbed side of the reserve, the far side is a longer drive and takes you through the more wooded areas. Both are nice, but I tend to favour the reedbed side. Once bittern – Mrs Sciencebase’s first sighting, about 400m distant We visited again today, quite a lot of avian activity: Cormorant, Great White Egret, Mute Swan, various ducks and other waterfo...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - August 27, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Birds Source Type: blogs

Kicking against the pricks
. Sounds a little crude for a science blog, you think? But, its etymology and meaning are new to me and not what my modern ear imagined them to be. First, the phrase means to show opposition to those in authority, that much was obvious. It means to rebel, to stick it to the man, to stand up against those in charge, but perhaps to no avail. The modern vernacular might imagine the term “prick” to be a crude term of abuse, referring to one in authority euphemistically as a penis. But, the pricks in question are the sharpened sticks, the goads, that an ancient, and modern, cattle handler may use to control cattle. ...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - August 27, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Moths for chemists #mothsmatter
Cinnabar – named for the red colour of the mineral mercury sulfide Mother of Pearl – resembling the natural composite material nacre. There are lots of “pearls” Silver Y – metallic and migratory Brassy Longhorn – its wings have a metallic sheen Burnished Brass – resembles a glistening chunk of scorched alloy Iron Prominent – patina not unlike the colour and timbre of rusty metal Copper Underwing – copper-coloured hindwings Brimstone – named for the alchemists’ name for yellow sulfur Ruby Tiger – tiger moth named for the red aluminium oxide gem Green Si...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - August 26, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Lepidoptera Source Type: blogs

The wildflower meadow myth
What could be more natural more evocative, more quintessentially English than a wildflower meadow nestled in the countryside, teeming with bees and butterflies, day-flying moths and countless other pollinators perhaps home to some ground-nesting birds and dozens of tiny mammals, a complete ecosystem when coupled with the natural reservoir in the neighbouring field? And your wilding projects? Often the packs of seeds we scatter in our gardens to create a wild area or on roadside versions are cultivated mixes of cornflower, ox eye daisy, borage, (bizarrely) California poppy, and a few others. That said, I’ve tried to g...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - August 25, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Botany Source Type: blogs

2020 hindsight
It’s been a funny old year so far, has 2020. I had all sorts of plans, as did everyone else, I assume, the majority of which have been scuppered by the emergence of a lethal coronavirus. From the disadvantage point of lockdown and limits to our outdoor activities from March onwards, the opportunities for photographing animals, landscapes, and life were, to say the least, limited. That said, on those daily allowed exercise outings I generally took a camera with me, they never said you couldn’t do that, as long as you carried on washing your hands frequently and avoided getting any closer than two metres to anyon...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - August 25, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Photography Source Type: blogs

The Rutland Water Ospreys
Rutland Water is a reservoir, an artificial lake in the English Midlands. Several years ago, they introduced Osprey chicks from Scotland in a conservation experiment to see whether this migratory raptor would breed in England again. The experiment was rather successful. You can read all the details on the Wildlife Trust’s site, save me repeating it here… We’ve seen and photographed one of the Ospreys from the road that passes the reservoir having failed to see them from the northside reserve a couple of years ago. But on a visit in August 2020 we took to the hides on the southern shore…just as th...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - August 21, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Dark Crimson Underwing in VC29
I’d heard rumours of a new moth in town…I say town, I mean the countryside in and around the counties of Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. It’s one with dark, but patterned forewings, and a crimson blush to its hind wings, which are often hidden from view when the moth is at rest. Not to be confused with the Red Underwing (which are “everywhere”), this is quite a rarity this far north (Cambridgeshire, Vice County 29, VC29) The Dark Crimson Underwing, Catocala sponsa (Linnaeus, 1767), is usually found the southern-most county of mainland England, Hampshire and in the New Forest where it lays it...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - August 13, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

House Cricket in Cottenham
If you’ve spent even just one of the recent spate of sultry summer nights outside, you may, if you closed your eyes briefly, be forgiven for imagining that the village had been lifted wholesale and transported to a balmy beach resort, a little farther than Bournemouth and certainly not northwards to Barnard Castle, say somewhere on The Mediterranean coast. But, it’s not so much about the heat and humidity that has led to perspiring gents and glowing local ladies, rather it’s the sound. Have you heard it? The chirping, chirruping as the dusk settles and the night draws on? The sound seems to bounce from g...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - August 10, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

The “ Green Fairy ” moth – The Wormwood
If you’ve been with me on Instagram for a while, you might be thinking, oh I know this one, he posted the quiffy little beggar a few weeks ago. Well, you’re close, but no cigar, the previous lepidopteral quiffmeister was The Shark, this is the closely related Wormwood, Cucullia absinthii. As its name would suggest its larvae feed on wormwood (and mugwort) and the adults have evolved to resemble the seedhead of that type of plant. You’ll notice the “absinthii” of its scientific binomial, which refers to the wormwood plants scientific name Artemisia absinthium, which is used to make the Green F...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - August 8, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

The Gypsy Destroyer of Trees
The Gypsy Moth Lymantria dispar (Linnaeus, 1758) is perhaps the archetypal moth, browns and greys enormous protuberant antennae in the male, lots of high-frequency flapping, and definitely drawn to a candle…or in this instance, an ultraviolet, actinic lamp. Gyspy Moth in flight, shutterspeed 1/8192th of a second I remember seeing images of this creature in nature and science books when I was a child along with the caterpillar (larva) of the Puss Moth, the one that looks like it’s got a face painted on its rear end. I also remember being quite perturbed seeing images of such creatures close up, something about ...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - August 6, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Timing social distancing to protect people and hospitals
COVID-19 lockdown and hospital surges A new study suggests that for major cities it would help avoid catastrophoic overloading of hospitals, if local lockdown measures are reinstated when the seven-day average of hospital admissions goes above a certain number. The lockdown would be eased when the admission rate falls of when the hospitals are below 60% of capacity. This would minimize economic and social disruption but at the same time protect health services. One proviso is that high-risk populations must be shielded adequately during the times when the city is not in lockdown. “Timing social distancing to avert un...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - July 30, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

The recency illusion
I was caught out by the recency illusion today. A friend posted a video of a spide weaving its web. I add a comment about research I’d read about when I was writing for the New Scientist in the early 1990s where the scientists showed that plying a spider with different stimulants, such as caffeine and cocaine, or other drugs such as cannabis, led them to produce weird and wonderful alternative web patterns. I revised my comment because I then remembered reading about that research when I was at university in the 1980s. I commented that in my 30+ years as a science writer I reckon I’d seen a lot of research rein...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - July 29, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Health and Medicine Source Type: blogs

The receny illusion
I was caught out by the recency illusion today. A friend posted a video of a spide weaving its web. I add a comment about research I’d read about when I was writing for the New Scientist in the early 1990s where the scientists showed that plying a spider with different stimulants, such as caffeine and cocaine, or other drugs such as cannabis, led them to produce weird and wonderful alternative web patterns. I revised my comment because I then remembered reading about that research when I was at university in the 1980s. I commented that in my 30+ years as a science writer I reckon I’d seen a lot of research rein...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - July 29, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

How to identify British Moths
Sean Foote is a marvel. Over on Twitter he responds to tagged tweets from people who have photographed a UK moth or two and would like to know what species of moth they have. I’ve used his services on numerous occasions often to confirm an identification, but more often when I simply didn’t have a clue as a relative n00B moth-er. It’s an entirely free service although users can “buy him a coffee” here as a mark of appreciation. He keeps records, as you would, and publishes details of the most requested identifications, he’s also got a nice Top 100 with tips on how to identify some of the...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - July 23, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Lepidoptera Source Type: blogs

Hunstanton Fulmars
Recently, I mentioned the presence of an intriguing seabird spotted flying over our very land-locked Cambridgeshire village – the Northern Fulmar, Fulmarus glacialis. The nearest flock of nesting Fulmar is on the layered cliffs that back the North beach at Sunny Hunny, Hunstanton on the North Norfolk coast looking out across The Wash and beyond to St Botolph’s in in the Lincolnshire town of Boston. Fulmars sit in the Petrels and Shearwaters group of birds, the Procellariiformes meaning the tubenoses. So-called because along the crest of their bill they have a tubular structure that encloses one or two nostrils...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - July 19, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Birds Source Type: blogs

Fruit of The Tall Sock Destroyer
This unassuming plant, flowers and fruit in the photo, which just happens to be growing locally along the edge of a sugarbeet field, is actually an endangered species on the “red” list…it’s a type of wild carrot that goes by the scientific name of Torilis arvensis, but you can call it The Tall Sock Destroyer* *It’s also known as Spreading Hedgeparsley, which sounds more like a skin disorder people who run through amber fields of grain might get rather than the worst-ever Marvel comic superhero… Its fruits have sticky little purple barbs that under normal circumstances cling on to the...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - July 18, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Sciencebase in the time of Covid
Up front: Nothing much has changed for my working practices since the coronavirus pandemic struck and we were all put into varying degrees of lockdown and social distancing. I’ve carried on with regular clients covering science news across a wide range of disciplines for the outlets that have all been mentioned here on numerous occasions over the last 25 years of this website… As a household, we never did run out of loo roll nor any other essentials despite not stockpiling nor panic buying… Lockdown did mean more “at home” time, no choir nor band rehearsals, only in-the-house solo music crea...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - July 15, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Spreading Hedgeparsley, The Tall Sock Destroyer
There’s a growing list of wildflowers classed as endangered in The British Isles, among them Apparently, Spreading Hedge-parsley, also known as the Tall Sock Destroyer. A friend of mine, Pam, spotted some growing along a sugarbeet field margin on the north edge of our village. I had to “twitch” it, it seemed so exotic. Spreading Hedge-parsley flowers It’s a delicate-looking plant of the carrot family, I was not particularly worried about ruining my socks even if that vernacular name sounds like its the worse of the DC/Marvel superheroes. Identification has now been confirmed by the county recorder h...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - July 15, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

That ’ s okay, tonight – vocal remix
I can’t leave a finished thing alone…the “instrumental” I wrote and recorded and blogged about last week now has a vocal… Words and Music by David Bradley Vocals, six-string Taylor acoustic guitar, Fender Telecaster, electric guitar, and Yamaha bass, harmony vocals, and production by dB. Drums by Klaus Tropp. Video derived from a “C0” Creative Commons montage of Hong Kong filmed from the air at night. Annotations by dB. That’s okay, tonight Step up to the light, learn you’re not the only dreamer Find a place for you to shine Try as you might, you won’...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - July 11, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Revenge of the toxic zucchini
Allotmenteers growing courgettes on their plot might be thankful if they stockpiled loo roll during lockdown as it has emerged that a batch of Mr Fothergill’s zucchini seeds may contain seeds that will grow into toxic hybrid plants. The courgettes that grow from these hybrids contain high concentrations of a natural plant steroid called cucurbitacin E, which is very bitter but also acts a potent laxative. A warning about the putative lavatorial impact of these courgettes was first reported in June on the Brighton and Hove Allotment Federation web site. A lively discussion with frequent interruptions has grown on thei...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - July 10, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Is that okay tonight?
I suspect most Sciencebase readers are not particularly interested in my songwriting process, but I’ve been posting different strands of my songs, snaps, and science for so long now that if you’re still with me, then you’re still with me and I thank you for your patience and loyalty! Anyway, I talked about the process of a new track – “That’s okay, tonight” – a few days ago, it was always on the cards, though I was in denial, that what was an annotated instrumental would inevitably become a song. The Lockdown EP by Dave Bradley That’s okay, tonight Step up to the light,...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - July 9, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Musical portmanteau – portmantunes
Meanwhile, on a deadline and so needless to say, distracted by a twitter game a guy called Geoff on twitter triggered… He started it with: “Woke up, fell out of bed Dragged a comb across my head, My shaving razor’s cold, And it stings.” A Daydream Believer In The Life Which I think would work better as “In the life of a daydream believer”… That made me come back with: “There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold and she’s buying a highway to hell” — LedC/DeeC and “Ground control to Rocket man” — Elton Bowie and “...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - July 7, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Music Source Type: blogs

That ’ s okay, tonight
Sometimes a guitar lick comes out of nowhere…just morphs from neurons to muscular movements and takes on a life of its own. I noodled about on the guitar with one such riff recently. Simple stuff really, the basic chords were a few majors and a minor, but working up the neck rather than standard first positions. Then a repeat of that but ending with a turnaround taking it back down. It was reminiscent of a hit song by Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons which we sing with bigMouth occasionally. Classic song, Northern Soul style. I left it for a while, I couldn’t just write a new version of The Night. A couple ...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - July 5, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Music Source Type: blogs

Screenie – a Zoom selfie
Not sure whether anyone else has used this term, but a screengrab, screenshot, captured during a video conference, whether Teams, Zoom, Skype, Jitsi or whatever might be called a screenie in a word akin to a selfie. I tweeted the word here in this context on 3rd July 2020 for the sake of provenance.   (Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science)
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - July 5, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Silver-washed Fritillary butterfly
We visited Somerset in the summer of 2019 despite neither of us being fans of cider. We stayed on a beautiful part of the county’s north coast and did a lot of walking and visited a few nature reserves in the hope of seeing bird and insect species we might not commonly see in Cambridge where we live. The Silver-washed Fritillary, Argynnis paphia, was one of the Lepidoptera I hoped to photograph. The species is widespread over the South West and Ireland (see here) and we saw several on flowers in the gardens of a cafe we visited after a five-mile walk. Spotted them only after I’d taken off my walking boots to c...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - July 4, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Lepidoptera Source Type: blogs

Coming out of Covid lockdown, I don ’ t think so …
Fundamentally, we are still riding (just) the first wave of the global Covid-19 pandemic. If there are sudden spikes now, that’s still part of the first wave. Nothing has changed for the virus except that some people have been avoiding contact with other people, so the rates of infection in some places have slowed giving health services a bit of space to mop up and treated those seriously ill with the virus. But, at the time of writing half a million people, at least, have died from Covid-19. I don’t really know how I feel about this coming out of lockdown, to be honest. I suspect that having asthma and being i...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - July 2, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

RSPB Snettisham and beach
Thursday, 25th June…I believe it was the hottest day of the year, so far. So, as lockdown eased somewhat and we are allowed to cautiously travel away from our homes, we headed for the beach. Not Bournemouth nor Lulworth Cove…North Norfolk and specifically Snettisham. We saw barely another soul other than an RSPB Warden who was reminding people not to walk on the areas of the beach and shoreline where birds are nesting. Cock Linnet We also saw a handful of other birders and a dogwalker or two and nodded to each from at least 20 metres rather than the requisite two. The virus hasn’t gone away, governments...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - June 29, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Photography Source Type: blogs

Lepidopteral Garden Safari – Part 96vii/d
Obviously, it’s not really Part 96vii/d (that’s just one of my perennial jokes). I think it’s probably the thirtieth or so post of moth garden safaris though…these are some of the varied species that made an appearance in the garden last night, drawn to the ultraviolet lure. My garden list is almost at 350 different species, there are some 1800 species in the British Isles overall, so still a long way to go and some species will never been seen in this little corner of England. Three Privet Hawk-moths, UK’s largest moth Gold Triangle, one of the smaller moths A dark, but not 100% melanic form...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - June 27, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Nemophora metallica – the Brassy Longhorn
Again today, just seemed to be two Brassy Longhorns, Nemophora metallica, dining on the Field Scabious on the Cottenham Lode today. There are dining partners in several of the shots Thankfully the people who have mowed the upper part of the bank (for some unknown reason) didn’t trim the scabious… (Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science)
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - June 24, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Lepidoptera Source Type: blogs

Lepidopteral update
Sciencebase readers who also partake of my Imaging Storm website will know already that the moth season has taken off. Night-flying leps are coming to the ultraviolet lure at a rate of knots now; 120 specimens of 60 different species last night (night of 23rd June 2020, logged on the morning of the 24th, many of them NFY (new for the year) and some even NFM (new for me, or as some moth-ers do ‘ave it, NFG, new for garden). Latticed Heath, NFY 24 Jun 2020 Acrobasis repandana, NFM 24 Jun 2020 Green Silver-lines, NFY 24 Jun 2020 Varied Coronet, NFM 24 Jun 2020 Red-barred Tortrix, NFM 24 Jun 2020 Double-striped Pug Cloud...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - June 24, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Lepidoptera Source Type: blogs

Green Silver-lines moth
Some moth names are just so obvious. This member of the Lepidoptera is mostly green and has silvery lines on its wings, hence Green Silver-lines. It’s scientific binomial is a little more cryptic, Pseudoips prasinana. Side view of Green Silver-lines, Latticed Heath moth in the background Conventional aerial view of Green Silver-lines Face-on view of Green Silver-lines (Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science)
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - June 24, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Lepidoptera Source Type: blogs

All masked up and nowhere to go
With my blessing, the marvellous Mrs Sciencebase took one of my gig shirts and cut it into pieces, found a PPE mask template online folded and stitched, embedded a layer of silk and created a pocket for an additional filter. I can’t feel my breath through this when breathing hard so I assume it would work to reduce outflow of any viral-laden particles should I ever go out in public again. Incidentally, it’s a good idea to make your mask with two different types of fabric, a tightly-woven cotton layer will catch most wannabe aerosol droplets from nose or mouth and they will be soaked up into the fabric. A synth...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - June 23, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

PondLife update
Regular Sciencebase readers have probably been wondering what happened to our newly re-dug pond, which I did in April 2019 after a twenty year filled in dry spell. Well, it has thrived and become quite the wildlife haven, attended frequently by garden birds for bathing and drinking. We have at least five frogs (I saw five sitting around the perimeter one evening early in the Covid-19 lockdown). There are endless aquatic snails now, they multiplied very quickly. Lots of plants, which are also thriving, and lots of invertebrates attracted including Common Blue Damselfly. We had mimulus in bloom and yellow flag iris, I did me...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - June 21, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: PondLife Source Type: blogs

Moths in the extreme
This is the largest of the resident Lepidoptera of The British Isles: the Privet Hawk-moth, Sphinx ligustri. As its scientific name suggests, this is one of what are commonly known as Sphinx moths in the US and elsewhere. This species can have a wingspan of up to 120 millimetres when its wings are full extended. At the other extreme of size scale is the Satin Grass-veneer, Crambus perlella, is one of the smaller of our moths, oh not the smallest by a long chalk. It is by definition a micro moth, but the division between micro and macro moths (such as the Privet Hawk-moth above) isn’t, as one might assume, about size...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - June 20, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

Shooting the Skipper
Large Skipper, Ochlodes sylvanus, in flight. My old Canon 6D full-frame digital SLR would never have locked focus quickly enough to get a shot like this. This was taken from about 3 or 4 metres away with a 600mm zoom on a Canon 7D mkii. f/6.3, 1/1600s, ISO 500. I should’ve used a faster shutter speed to freeze the wings as they flap very quickly in this skippy little butterfly. The 2/3rds cropped sensor of this camera gives the Sigma lens the equivalent “reach” of a 900mm lens, i.e. nominally 50 percent longer focal length. This is an arbitrary fact really, it’s not optical zoom, it’s equival...
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - June 19, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs

The pyramidal orchid
A friend tipped me off that he’d spotted an unusual plant species, Anacamptis pyramidalis, the pyramidal orchid, in our local woodland. It’s in a very prominent spot where lots of people walk their dogs so was unlikely to last long. I headed there this morning to do my first botanical “twitch”. Pyramidal Orchid Took a Canon 6D and a Tamron 90mm macro with a tripod and a flash to try and get a decent close-up or two. I didn’t even think to sniff it, but apparently it has a “foxy” scent. Hoverfly on Pyramidal orchid   (Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science)
Source: David Bradley Sciencebase - Songs, Snaps, Science - June 16, 2020 Category: Science Authors: David Bradley Tags: Sciencebase Source Type: blogs