What is it. 32Osmylus fulvicephalus (giant lace winged fly) occurs by streams and rivers, especially those passing through woodland,the carnivorous larvae develop in moss at the water’s edge. Adults are often seen flying low over water in May and June, the flight period extends to early August.
Click pictures for larger photosWhat is it? 33 Ladybirds are not all red with black spots,there are many different species in the British Isles.This one is the 14 Spot Ladybird,Propylea 14-punctata-often found on shrubs.The bright colours of ladybirds are a warning-indicating their bitter taste.The markings are variable.
What is it? 34
Earth's polar skies have exhibited eerie blue-white glowing clouds at twilight every summer since the late 1800’s. These Noctilucent clouds form in upper layers of the Earth’s atmosphere and can be seen from high latitudes on Earth.To see them: The sky must be clear. The atmosphere, where they form, must be sunlit, so the sun must be less than 16 degrees below the horizon. The background sky must be dark enough for clouds to stand out. Viewing location should be at a latitude north of 45 degrees, Eruptions from Krakatoa in 1883 drew attention to noctilucent clouds. Dust from the volcano spewed into the atmosphere causing spectacular colourful sunsets for several years.What causes them?Noctilucent clouds are at altitudes of around 50 miles and normally too faint to be seen, they are only visible when lit by sunlight from below the horizon, while lower layers of the atmosphere are in the Earth's shadow. Ice crystals in clouds grow on dust nuclii: Water gathers on dust forming droplets or ice crystals. This happens all the time in clouds, at altitudes up to about 9.5 miles. It is unlikely that wind-blown dust reaches 50 miles high. So scientists think that dust causing noctilucent clouds may originate from space? Each day, Earth encounters millions of meteoroids ramming into our atmosphere to produce ‘shooting stars’.Tiny particles remain suspended as they break up. Water vapour carried upwards from moist lower atmosphere toward the mesosphere produces clouds at a high altitude.
What is it? 35
Before 1998 Jays never visited gardens. They began visiting possibly to search for food. Magpies once chased them, but nowadays, magpies rarely bother Jays..Jays often visit in pairs, and if three or four birds appear, rivalry starts - one or more birds of an pair chasing the others.The Jay is intelligent and can extract peanuts from peanut bags to be eaten right away or carried off in their crop for later.This is one of a pair which appeared regularly in our garden in April-so I managed to grab a quick shot or two
Rock Samphire (Crithmum maritimum) belongs to the carrot family and is found on coastal rocks.It is edible and aromatic The plant has fleshy, bright-green leaflets and umbels of tiny, yellowish-green flowers between June and September. This is a treat for foragers.The young leaves sprinkled with salt (after removing stalks and flowers), boiled and covered with vinegar, make a tasty pickle. Samphire has been used for thousands of years. It was cultivated and sold on London streets.The name 'samphire' comes from 'herbe de St Pierre' .
What is it? 36Oxford Ragwort still grows in the old railway yard in Cookstown-it has persisted since the railway closed.It was spread by the transport system-mainly railways.
The plant began in UK with a specimen from Mount Etna, replanted in Oxford University gardens. Seeds reached Oxford Railway Station railway station and the plant spread from there. The slipstream caused by trains carried the fluffy seeds far and wide along. railway lines and beyond -the railway carried the plant to Cookstown.
What is it? 37Sky watchers sometimes see rainbow colours in clouds. if the rainbow-like colours are randomly distributed, and the sun is shining– what you are seeing is likely an iridescent cloud-caused by tiny ice crystals or water droplets in the air. Larger ice crystals produce solar halos, but tiny ice crystals cause light to be diffracted creating a rainbow effect in the clouds. Multi-coloured clouds can appear over Britain due to the polar vortex. Colours resemble the inner surface of sea shells (nacreous clouds).Usually such clouds form over the poles during winter when air in the upper stratosphere has a very low temperature ( -78C). Sometimes. the strong wind circling the North Pole (polar vortex) hovers above Britain, bringing icy conditions and allowing the phenomenon to occur. The clouds, known as ‘Polar stratospheric clouds’, are often seen in Scandinavia and N.Canada. They are composed of tiny regularly shaped ice crystals which diffract sunlight passing through the cloud, separating the light into constituent wavelengths. The result is mother-of-pearl coloured clouds - nacreous clouds.
What is it? 38
Cochlearia danica (Scurvy Grass). In recent years this plant has spread from its natural habitat on shingly sea shores to motorway edges. Drive along our M1 in April and see the grass edges and reservation looking quite white in places.Scurvy-grass has spread by seed from lorry and car wheels travelling along the motorway. Salting of roads in winterhas caused similar salinity on roadside verges as sea-shores, providing an environment where the plant can thrive.This has largely happened in the last 20-30 years.Scurvy grass contains a high concentration of vitamin Cand was once taken by sailors (who lacked fresh fruit while at sea) to prevent scurvy caused by a lack of vitamin C (found in citrus fruits). People also take scurvy grass for gout, arthritis, stomach-ache, fluid retention and as a blood purifier. It also acts as a laxative Scurvy grass (Cochlearia officinalis) but should not be confused with watercress. The flowers smell strongly when rubbed.
What is it? 39
These are caterpillars of ‘Peacock Butterfly’ on Nettle leaves (their usual food plant). They hatched from eggs laid on underside of nettle leaves.As they grow,their false legs become orange.Eventually, in autumn they will each form a chrysalis (greenish with gold markings) which hangs from nettle stems by a silk pad.
What is it? 40
This is the Patchwork Leafcutter bee (Megachile centuncularis) identified bythe long pollen hairs beneath the abdomen.Some excellent photos were sent to Roy(Nelson) and it was easily identified-certainly not much recorded in N.I.,although strangely enough Isaw one for first time in our own garden a few weeks later.