Archives for the month of: May, 2013

We haven’t posted much recently about what we’ve been up to. This has largely because writing about long trips seemed to be a touch repetitive (“We went here, and then there and it was good/bad/terrifying/a dizzying high”). It might also be because we havent done too many big trips recently. So I’m going to try to recap as much as possible from february until now.

Patch League

I should probably make an entire post about this, but dammit I can do what I please. Like god. Or Cher.

Patch League essentially turned off from February through to early April. The weather was crap, with essentially nothing coming out to play. We were stuck with the overly crappy remnants of winter to keep us amused. There are only so many siskin you can look at before wanting to boil your own eyes.

But as the old phrase goes; spring has happened. There are now butterflies, spiders, and summering birds galore. Africa and Richard are still in contention for the top spot. Myself, James and Jess have been toodling along at a merry old pace. Some people have had to stop or slow down due to stupid life getting in the way. We also have two new members in the shape of Paul and Morgan.

Personal highlights have included a red eared slider, wall brown, green tortoise beetle, grass snakes and actually going to my patch once in a while (instead of staying inside concocting reasons to not leave the house/change into clean clothes).

Dirty Twitches

We went and saw a baikal teal. It was quite good. We also saw the rock thrush by accident. Would have been better if it was a hoopoe.


Due to the generosity of Jess, she invited myself, James and an extra lucky individual to ride the rails for free because of some magic Willy Wonka style ticket she won at a meat raffle or something. So ride the rails we did, like hobos of yore.

Saturday started eventfully, with James deciding that the disabled toilets in the train station needed more sick in them. A bloody minded man, he made sure that this was seen to immediately. While the rest of our posse made sure he emerged unscathed, we missed our planned train to York. Jess and Emma decided on a new destination based on a pretty picture in a brochure (I want to make that sound less sexist, but unfortunately that is exactly as it happened) while James slinked off to a safe house to lie low after his oral protest to railway decor.

We ended up in Cumbria, Appleby to be precise. Not long after getting off the train, we were greeted by a surprise red squirrel. Not literally. It didn’t have informative pamphlets and a cheery wave. After a few hours wandering around, we made the return journey to Hull. We also saw 4 horses push a car. It was weird. Oh, and Jess bought the contents of a crappy shop. We still don’t know why. Who buys a fake train ticket?

Sunday involved Derbyshire, Ladybower Reservoir to be precise. We actually got there without James feeling a need to void himself over public property, although I suspect he wanted to do a poo in the subway in Sheffield. Pied flycatchers, redstarts and healthy resplendence of lichens kept us amused before I tried to kill Jess by making her run up a big hill. We also learnt that train timetables are liars. And men in Sheffield will try to sell you bikes and mobile phones so they can go to their inconsiderately dead sisters.

Monday we saw newts, and a lizard.  I was quite tired by this point and this about all I can remember. I also think we were near Leeds.

Norfolk Substitution

Last year myself and James decided we should to Dorset and see all the awesome reptiles and stuff. 80 emails and some high expectations later we cancelled it because of rain. The exact same thing happened this year. It was a touch shitty. Instead we decided to have a quick nature binge in the Bedfordshire/Norfolk area. It can be summarised as follows;
We tried to see dotterel – We did
We tried to see midwife toad – We didn’t but heard beeps in a garden and saw some great crested newts
We tried to see natterjack Toads – We just didn’t
We tried to see firebugs – We didn’t but I did scare a muntjac in a greenhouse
We tried to see red footed falcon – We didn’t but saw loads of hobbies, stonking view of crane, first odonata of the year, bee flies, and loads of things I’ve probably forgotten
We tried to see lesser spotted woodpecker – We didn’t but I saw a really close cuckoo whilst doing a wee.


We have been on several bat box checks with the East Yorkshire Bat Group. They have been rather brilliant. Plus the following picture demonstrates one of the best things I’m ever likely to see.
Brown Long Eared Bat

It leaves me with an odd mixture of terror and delight bordering on the obscene. I want to kiss it while crying.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten a bunch of stuff but this will suffice for now.


Over a month since a post you say? Should stop being lazy you say? SHUT UP VOICES IN MY HEAD, I’M MY OWN MAN. Plus I’m going to write about beetles now.

7. Wasp beetle

It looks nothing like a wasp really does it? It’s obviously a beetle and no one is fooled, but I feel I should include it because I accidentally killed one once and I’m hoping this will stop the nightmares.
Clytus arietis
Photo from here
6. Badister Bullatus

It’s red and black, which is quite nice, but it’s here mainly because it’s name sounds like a Latin super villain.

Coleoptera: Badister bullatus
Photo from here

5. Rhinoceros beetle

It’s got a horn like a rhinoceros. I bet you don’t.
Horned Stag Beetle - Valsehjort (Chiron cylindricus), Juni 2009
Photo from here

4. Minotaur Beetle

Like above but twice as good.


Photo from here

3. Glow Worm

Most things that are called worms but aren’t actually worms are awesome. Look at slow worms. They are blatently the best reptile. Do I need to explain why? Of course not.

Anyway the glow worm eats snail and glows. Cats do neither of those things, hence they are not on the list. Plus they aren’t beetles obviously. It also looks like roofing slates which have been brought to life by a mischeivous wizard
Lampyris noctiluca
Photo from here

2. Green Tiger Beetle

The only thing that could improve a green tiger beetle is the addition of a small gilded cane and a fur-lined cape.
Gnasher, Green Tiger Beetle, Cicindela campestris

Photo from here

1. Lesser stag beetle

I know what you are thinking. “WOAH WOAH WOAH, WHAT’S THIS LESSER STAG BEETLE NONSENSE?!?!?! iT AIN’T GOT BIG LIKE STAG BEETLE PLUS HORNS AND THAT”. Well, you sound like an idiot. Look at that sentence. It’s largely gibberish. Don’t you have a basic grasp of grammar?

Lesser stag beetle has made it onto the list because it’s actually around. They show up year after year, putting in the effort. Normal stag beetles just swan around london, eating soft cheese with tabloid celebrities, expecting everything on a silver platter. Did you know the number one cause of death for the European stag beetle is drowning in humous? Lesser stag beetles probably die properly, in mills and steel furnaces. Lesser stag beetles actually show up at your birthday party, while European stag beetle say they’ll come but send a text last minute saying that they found a dog in their shed and need to find it’s owner.
Lesser Stag Beetle, Farthing Downs
Photo from here

Next week – Top 6 british native reptiles.