Archive for September, 2011


Phlogophora meticulosa or angle shades moth in the kitchen, September 28, 2011

Just a quick post to put on record two observations yesterday.

This moth flew into the kitchen last night, attracted by the light, and I managed to catch it in a glass. I was in the middle of eating, so couldn’t spend too long taking pictures before I let it go again outside. It was a lovely delicate pink and brown but refused to stay still for long.

I think I have now identified it as Phlogophora meticulosa or “angle shades”. These moths have such wonderful common names! Find out more on the UK moths or Butterfly Conservation websites.

Earlier in the day I saw this ladybird (ladybug) at the bus stop and took a picture with my phone. I saw some more of the insects nearby on a lime-tree leaf. I guess it’s time for the annual harlequin ladybird invasion.

The harlequin, Harmonia axyridis, was first spotted (no pun intended) in Britain in 2004 and has gradually spread north and west. Here’s an identification guide.


Harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) and tiny grey insect at the bus stop, September 28, 2011

Can you see the teensy grey insect nearby? These were all over the metal frame of the bus stop, blending in well. Wonder what they are?

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View from a top-floor bedroom at the Warpool Court Hotel, St David's, with Skomer Island in the distance. Must go over to the island to see the puffins one day...

In August we stayed at the Warpool Court Hotel in St David’s, Pembrokeshire, for a few days. Not cheap and not modern but with great food, great character and amazing views!

This post is (more…)

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A drawing of Mary Anning's ichthyosaur, used to illustrate a paper by Everard Home in 1814


My 1969 Hamlyn guide to Prehistoric Animals

OK, I know that’s a ridiculous headline, as an ichthyosaur was a fish-like reptile with no legs, but I wanted to draw the comparison with the BBC’s Walking with Dinosaurs and its latest Planet Dinosaur

There are so many “new” prehistoric creatures these days and I can no longer keep up with all the names. My reference guide as a child in 1969 was Prehistoric Animals by Barry Cox and I could probably still identify 80% of the species illustrated, if I spotted them in the wild. That’s a Stegosaurus and an Ankylosaurus on the cover…

In Mary Anning’s time (21 May 1799 – 9 March 1847) things were even simpler – and it must have been so exciting, naming the first fossils found.

As of last month, I have now seen Mary Anning’s ichthyosaur fossil in the flesh (if you know what I mean) – but I am so kicking myself because I didn’t take a picture!

I hadn’t realised at the time that the ichthyosaur isn’t usually at Mary’s home-town museum in Lyme Regis, Dorset, but has been brought back from the Natural History Museum in London for a couple of months to celebrate the 200th anniversary of her find – on Mary Anning Day, September 24.


A portrait of Mary Anning with her dog Tray. A landslide from the blue lias cliffs killed Tray in 1833 - and almost killed Mary, too...

Mary Anning was (more…)

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Leafy mystery plant in a pot in July 2011...

Back in July I blogged about weeds – and this was one I couldn’t identify at the time.

I have waited patiently for it to flower. It looked like (more…)

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View of St David's Cathedral, Pembrokeshire, from the gatehouse

In August we visited St David’s in the far west of Pembrokeshire and here are my pictures of the wonderful cathedral.

It is believed that it was built on the site of the monastery of St David, Abbot of Menevia, who died in the year 589.

Construction of the cathedral started in 1181, although it has been altered a lot since then, and in the early 14th century Bishop Gower built the nearby bishop’s palace, now a picturesque ruin.


Ruins of the 14th century bishop's palace, St David's, Pembrokeshire

You can (more…)

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My favourite lime tree, whose flowers have a heady scent in July and August

Cardiff’s streets are full of lime trees (the rest of the world seems to call them lindens) and they have been on my muddled mind all summer.

There are three main species in the UK and I have been trying to work out which is which, with many wrong turns in my “investigations”. Please tell me gently if you think my (final) conclusions are wrong!

It had long troubled me (more…)

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The Cobb at Lyme Regis, Dorset


Meryl Streep - and the Cobb at Lyme Regis - feature on the cover of The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles...

I recently visited Lyme Regis, right on the western edge of Dorset where it meets Devon, a county Lyme seems to gravitate towards, rather than looking back through masses of green countryside towards the east of its own county.

I went there hoping to look for fossils, thinking of my childhood heroine Mary Anning, but in September 2011 it’s the 200th anniversary of her ichthyosaur find, so I will leave it until later to blog more about her and about fossils.

Instead, I will look this time at the Cobb, a harbour wall that featured in Jane Austen’s Persuasion and more recently in John Fowles’ book The French Lieutenant’s Woman – it was made even more memorable by the image of Meryl Streep standing, windswept, on the said wall in the movie.

I bought an old (more…)

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